Before Paris became Christian, there were several saints and emperors (besides Julius Ceaser) who stayed there. There were; Bishop Saint Denis, Sainte Genevieve, Julien the Apostate who later became Roman Emperor, Roman Emperor Valentinian I, and Saint Martin of Tours that I know about. Then around 250 CE, Lutetia Parisiurum began to become Christian. There are a few important people and events from the next century or 2 but there is much legend and hagiography mixed with the history. Saint Denis, Saint Genevieve, and Clovis are a few of the main characters of this period.
Saint Denis was in Lutetia Parisiurum by 225 CE (I surmise) although the year of his birth is not known. He was martyred in the year 250. He sought to bring Christianity to the region and hagiography states that he was decapitated (for his faith and preaching) on the hill that became known as martyrs' hill (Montmartre) and he then picked up his head and walked with it in his arms for about 6 miles while his head continued to preach about repentance. There are many depictions of this throughout Paris, even on Notre Dame Cathedrals' facade.
Saint Genevieve was born in Nanterre which is about 9 miles to the north west of the island about where La Défense business district now stands. She was born in 419 and died in 512. She is greatly revered by the French and she was actually made the Patron Saint of Paris. Her gravesite is in another of the very first buildings (that still exist more or less intact) that had been constructed in that first suburb of L'île de Cité, Saint Etienne du Mont. The bridges of the main Roman road that crossed the island had fortifications on the banks on either side of the Seine River which were an integral part of Lutetia Parisiurum but the homes that were being built around Saint Etienne du Mont and Thermes de Cluny were like a village. With the rise of Christianity, there arose other such villages around the island; Saint Germain des Prés (originally called Saint-Vincent until after the first bishop of Paris, Saint-Germain was interred there), Saint-Germain L'Auxerrois, Saint Paul, and Saint Marcel. Around these churches rose communities that were like satellite communities to L'île de la Cité. The most ancient would have been the Basilique des Apôtres and St. Etienne du Mont. Basilique des Apôtres would become Basilica of Saint Genevieve. This became the Pantheon after the French Revolution of 1789.
Germanic tribes started invading the Roman communities along the Seine River and the population decided to retreat back onto L'île de la Cité. They decided to build a wall around a good part of the island and the Roman amphitheater suffered greatly from it because a large portion of the amphitheater was taken apart so its stones could be used for the wall. Moving back onto L'île de la Cité, the people destroyed the bridges and built the wall mostly enclosing the eastern side of the island. The wall that they built was about 22 feet or 8 meters high about 8 feet or 2.7 meters wide. No portions of that wall exists today but its location where rue de la Colombe exists can be seen with the double row of cobblestones in the street. The width of the wall can easily be seen in front of 6 rue de la Colombe.
Besides the Germanic tribes attacking Lutetia Parisiurum, there were also the Vikings and the Franks. It was the Franks who eventually subdued all of what is now France. Clovis I was the first to become king of this new kingdom. He was born in Belgium and his father was Childeric I (the king who founded Saint-Vincent church in 453). In 486 CE he defeated all of Roman Gaul. In 511, he makes Lutetia Parisiurum his capital city and renamed it simply "Paris ". His dynasty is known as the Merovingian Dynasty. Clovis I died shortly after he made Lutetia Parisiurum his capital city and renamed it Paris. After his death, his 4 sons divided his kingdom into Austrasia, Neustria, Burgandy, and Aquitaine. Paris, along with Orléans and Tours, were major cities of Neustria. Their Merovingian dynasty lasted until 751 when Pepin the Short deposed Childeric III. The new dynasty of Pepin the Short is known as the Carolingian Dynasty.
The most famous king of the Carolingian dynasty is well known even to me 😄, Charlemagne which is the French version of Charles the Great. He was the son of Pepin the Younger. He united a good portion of Europe and even became Holy Roman Emperor. He ruled France from 768 until 771 as co-ruler with his younger brother until his younger brother (Carloman) died. Pope Leo III crowned him as Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas day in the year 800. Did they already celebrate Christmas by the year 800? I guess that would be interesting to research. Anyway, Charlemagne is also called the Father of Europe and he became devoted to the Catholic church, helping to spread Christianity throughout Europe forcing tribes to convert to Christianity. Louis the Pious became Holy Roman Emperor after his father, Charlemagne, died of old age. The Vikings started rising up and attacking his territory in great numbers because of how Charlemagne had subdivided their Saxon territory that made up what is now called Scandinavia. During this time, the Parisians built another wall on the north bank of the Seine River around what is now Rue de Rivoli and Rue de l'Arbre-Sec. Rue de Rivoli passes along the north side of where the Louvre Museum is now. Rue de l'Arbre-Sec (dry tree street😄) runs along the east side of the ancient Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois church which is just east of the Louvre Museum. Finally, Charles the Simple (Charles III who ruled from 893-923) made a treaty with the Viking chieftain Rollo who later became Rollo of Normandy after becoming Christian, marrying into a noble French family, and showing loyalty to the defense of Paris. These events are actually depicted in the not 100% accurate TV series "Vikings ". Another interesting event in Paris at this time was the creation of a Fun Fair that still exists. It was created in 957 by King Lothair ( or Lothaire) and is now called Foire du Trône.
Between 870 and 990, under the leadership of Charles the Bald, Bishop Gozlin, and Hugh Capet, the bridges Grand Pont and Petit Pont were built and rebuilt and reinforced, defenses strengthened, sieges by the Vikings were repelled, and a siege by Roman Emperor Otto II was also repelled. By the year 1000, the city of Paris was stronger and had hope for the future again.
Around 970, there was the dynasty of Hugh the Great and Hugh Capet. Hugh the Great was the son of Robert the Strong who dominated over a weak and eroding Paris after many years of attacks and sieges. Hilaire Belloc wrote of Paris at this time; "The Norman invasions left behind them confusion and wreckage. Men wondered in the worst of the siege whether the order of things had not changed forever; they doubted whether the empire and the Christian name would stand. As the tide of the sea-men ebbed northward again, the city looked around at desolation only. The mark of the flood was on the ruin of burnt abbeys and on the broken walls; dead men were still unburied in the fields, but the town still stood." It was a Paris in this condition that a military leader of unknown origin like Robert the Strong could create a new dynasty of rulers over Paris.
Hugh Capet was elected king in 987 and lived in a castle built where the Palais de Justice now stands. It is now part of the complex that includes the Concierge fortress and Saint Chapelle today, but he and the other Capetian kings spent more time in Orleans and Vincennes. Robert the Pious ruled from 996 to 1031 and he remained in Paris much longer than did his predecessors. He had the palace rebuilt and also had chapel Saint Nicholas built where Saint Chappelle is now located.
Reconstruction of several churches like Saint Germain des Prés and Saint Martin des Champs Priory began. In 1014, they began building a new nave for Saint-Germain des Prés and King Henry I commissioned the reconstruction of Saint-Martin des Champs in 1060. The 2 buildings of this complex that still exist today were the nave and the priory refectory. This is where the last trial by combat was held. I wrote about this trial by combat in more detail earlier. It was between Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris. These 2 buildings that still exist are now the Musée des Arts et Métiers and they are very Gothic and very impressive.
Work also begins on some of the most well known buildings of Paris. And the new architectural style that originated in northern France, the Gothic, is in vouge. We have the Basilica Royal de Saint Denis, which was completed around 1144, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, (replacing Èglise Etienne which stood in its location previously), begun in 1163 and completed in 1345, and the Louvre which was begun in 1190 and completed many times 😃😃😃.
Students began to arrive into Paris to study at the Episcopal school of Notre Dame church around 1010. Paris also acquired more importance in France because, in 1112, King Louis VI raised the status of the Basilica of Saint Denis resulting in Paris becoming the De facto Capital of the Capetians Kings, overshadowing Orleáns. I guess that is why so many royal personalities have been interred there. Also , in 1113. Petit Pont was rebuilt and Grand Pont was completed. Grand Pont is now known as Pont au Change.
Around 1120, many teachers and their students moved from the cloister of the first Notre Dame Cathedral, which was becoming too crowded, to the area around Saint Etienne du Mont church on Montagne Saint Genevieve, where the Roman Forum used to be located. Their gathering there for academics began what would eventually become known as the Latin Quarter of Paris where many colleges and universities, some non existing and others still going strong today, were created.
In 1137, Champeaux (little fields) is created as a market place to replace the market area of Place de Grève which surrounded Hôtel de Ville area. This area was the location of Maison aux Piliers before Hôtel de Ville. In 1183, 2 market buildings were built at Champeaux and this market place would latter become the famous Les Halles. The Holy Innocents Cemetery was also established in this area. In fact, the modern Les Halles shopping mall and Place Joachim-du-Belly are located there now . It was first used for individual sepulchers but eventually contained mass graves with pits that could hold about 1,500 corpses. When the pits were no longer sufficient to hold any more bodies, there were charnel houses built along the wall of the cemetery. The skeletons would be excavated then placed into the charnel houses. Then the pits could be used again. There was also a mural painted on the back wall of the cemetery that was called the Danse Macabre. It endured until 1669 when the wall it was on was destroyed because the street behind it was widened. Because of overuse, the skeletons had to be removed and reburied below ground in what are now the much visited Paris Catacombs . There was also a fountain in the midst of this cemetery called the Fountain of the Innocents and it still exists.
The next major defensive wall that was built for Paris was that of King Philip Augustus. Many remnants of this wall can still be seen throughout Paris. It took approximately 20 years to build it. Paris was one of the last northern European cities to build such a major wall like this one. Hilaire Belloc wrote that "If Paris had never since the Romans given herself a new defense, it was because a kind of doubt hung over the nature of the city." He also wrote that "...by its building a certain kind of seal and termination was put upon the first stage in the development of the city." The commission to build this wall was made around 1190 and Philip Augustus did not stay in Paris to oversee the construction of it. He had departed Paris for a crusade. He also commissioned the building of the Louvre Fortress. So a good portion of Philip Augustus' plans were being executed while he was out fighting during the third crusade. The right bank portion of the wall was completed in 1208. The left bank portion of the wall was completed in 1213. Hilaire Belloc wrote, "Starting from the river, just where the Rue du Louvre joins the quay, it went northward to the site of the Oratoire; thence a long curve east and north took it in a slant across what are now the streets north of St. Eustache; it ran east and west for a little way, about on the line of the Rue de l'Ours, then curved down southward to the river, just within the site of the present Rue St. Paul and excluding the church of that name. It thus reached the river about opposite the middle of the Isle St. Louis." The wall was at least 25 feet or 8 meters high and 9 feet or 3 meters wide. It had 70 guard towers with especially large towers at the Seine River. With the chains that they stretched across the river in the evenings, the defense of the city appeared to be quite formable. These would be the main defense of Paris for about 150 years. Many portions of the wall and many of the towers have been incorporated into the building of homes or shops. There are maps showing the perimeter of the wall so I hope to follow the walls' path next time in Paris. There are some really interesting portions of this wall and evidence of a few towers to take photos of. I especially would love to take a photo of the Tour de Jean-Sans-Peur. It was built in 1409 and has a visible portion of the wall supporting it. The tower is at 16 rue Étienne Marcel and is very photogenic. I have a book called Curiosities Of Paris. The author is Dominique Lesbros. The third chapter of the book is; On The Trail Of The City Walls. Included in this chapter is a good map that shows the perimeter of Paris that the creation of this wall provided. The whole chapter is actually a clear, easy to follow walk along the former path of the wall. It is suggested that one might prefer to use a bicycle (en vélo) than walk but a walker and hiker like me will walk. I did see the portion of the foundation of the original Louvre fortress in the basement of the museum but I do not remember if I made a photo of it.
Philip Augustus was known to have commissioned other works like the rebuilding of the palace that later became the Concierge prison where Queen Marie Antoinette was imprisoned, paving many of the main streets (with cobblestone) that had not been improved since the Romans created them, enclosing the Cemetery of the Innocents, and arranging for the Les Halles to become an official city market rather than just a swamp surrounded farmers market that it was before .