Destruction of Cultural Heritage in 19th-century France

Old Stones versus Modern Identities


Destruction of Cultural Heritage in 19th Century France examines the fate of the building stock and prominent ruins of France (especially Roman survivals) in the 19th century, supported by contemporary documentation and archives, largely provided through the publications of scholarly societies. The book describes the enormous extent of the destruction of monuments, providing an antidote to the triumphalism and concomitant amnesia which in modern scholarship routinely present the 19th century as one of concern for the past. It charts the modernising impulse over several centuries, detailing the archaeological discoveries made (and usually destroyed) as walls were pulled down and town interiors re-planned, plus the brutal impact on landscape and antiquities as railways were laid out. Heritage was largely scorned, and identity found in modernity, not the past.

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Michael Greenhalgh, PhD (1968), Emeritus Professor of Art History at the Australian National University, has published widely on the survival of the Roman world, most recently The Military and Colonial Destruction of the Roman landscape of North Africa (Leiden 2014).

Map of France

Introduction: Heritage and Identity in 19th Century France

1 The Early Architecture of France
Spolia and the Persistence of Re-use
Prehistoric Antiquities
Roman Sites in France
Rome in Imperial Decline
After Antiquity
Conclusion: Preventable Destruction

2 The Defence of France
The Enceintes of Late Antiquity
Old Fortifications Cannot Satisfy New Requirements
New Requirements: Barracks
Le genie de la destruction: The French Military and the Defence of France
Servitude et grandeur militaires – and boulevards
The Genie in North Africa
Conclusion: The Fate of Town Walls and Monuments

3 Technology and Change: Improved Communications
Map-making Military and Civil
Roads, Canals and Bridges

4 Vandalism, Ignorance, Scholarship, Museums
Heritage and Destruction
Preservation, Conservation, Restoration: The Dilemma
Destruction, Resurrection and Vandalism
Ignorance: Workmen, Administrators, Proprietors
Administration and Destruction
The Persistence of Vandalism
Money, Speculators, Scholars

5 The Organisation of Scholarship and Museums
Archaeology and Archaeologists
Cataloguing the Past: Censuses of Antiquities

6 Modernity and its Architectural Consequences
Communications and Industry
Modernisation and Destruction
Bordeaux and Paris: Leaders of the Pack

7 The Île de France and Champagne
Beauvais, Evreux, Reims, Laon, Sens, Soissons

8 Normandy, the North, Burgundy and Points East
Normandy and The Loire
The North
The East
Burgundy (plus Points East and the Upper Rhone Valley)

9 Centre and West
Bourges, Auxerre, Orleans, Limoges, Clermont Ferrand, Perigueux, Poitiers, Saintes, Toulouse

10 Centuries of Destruction: Narbonne and Nîmes

11 Provence and the South: Monumental Losses
Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Dax, St-Lizier, Beziers, Perpignan, Frejus – Cannes – Antibes – Villefranche, Orange, Vaison-la-Romaine

Conclusion: Heritage? What Heritage? The Transformation of Townscape and Landscape

Bibliography: Sources
Bibliography: Modern Scholars
All interested in the survival and influence of the Roman past, attitudes towards it in 19th-century France, including the formation of museums, and debates over preservation and restoration of monuments.
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