Odds and quads

Disastrous defeat in the Franco-Prussian War led to the birth of the Paris Commune in 1871. A self-governing republican council took over the city and refused to accept a humiliating peace treaty signed by the provisional government.

October 28, 2010

Although it passed a number of radical decrees, it lasted only about 70 days before being crushed by Prime Minister Adolphe Thiers in La Semaine sanglante ("bloody week"), during which 20,000 Communards were killed.

It was in another revolutionary year, 1968, that Eugene Schulkind of the School of European Studies at the University of Sussex created Britain's only collection devoted to the Paris Commune. It now consists of more than 2,500 items, including newspapers, handbills, posters and photographs.

Most vivid, perhaps, are the caricatures and cartoons in hand-coloured lithographs (above), which often rely on obscene imagery to convey anti-monarchist, anti-clerical messages.

Now part of Sussex's special collections in the university library, the material was renamed in honour of Dr Schulkind when he died in 1990.

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