The Full Wiki

Belle Époque: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

The Belle Époque ( ; French for "Beautiful Era") was a period in European social history that began during the late 19th century and lasted until World War I. Occurring during the time of the French Third Republic and the German Empiremarker, the "Belle Époque" was named in retrospect, when it began to be considered a "golden age" for the upper classes, as peace prevailed among the major powers of Europe, new technologies improved lives that were unclouded by income tax, and the commercial arts adopted Renaissance and eighteenth-century styles to modern forms. In the newly rich United States, emerging from the Panic of 1873, the comparable epoch was dubbed the "Gilded" Age.

The separation between the fortunes and daily life of "haves" and "have nots" in Western Europe and the United States increased dramatically in the last quarter of the century. Cheap coal and cheap labour contributed to the cult of the orchid and made possible the perfection of fruits grown under glass, as the apparatus of state dinners extended to the upper classes; champagne was perfected during the Belle Époque. Exotic feathers and furs were more prominently featured in fashion than ever before, as haute couture was invented in Paris, the centre of the Belle Époque, where fashion began to move in a yearly cycle; in Paris restaurants such as Maxim's achieved a new splendour and cachet as places for the rich to parade, and the Opéra Garniermarker devoted enormous spaces to staircases as similar show places. Bohemian lifestyles gained a different glamour, pursued in the cabarets of Montmartremarker.


The years between the Franco-Prussian War (1874) and World War I (1914-18) were characterized by unusual political stability in western and central Europe. Although tensions between the French and German governments persisted as a result of the French loss of Alsace-Lorrainemarker to Germany during 1871, diplomatic conferences, including the Congress of Berlin in 1878 and the Berlin Congo Conference in 1884, mediated disputes that threatened the general European peace. Indeed, for many Europeans, transnational, class-based affiliations were as important as national identities in the Belle Époque. A middle- or upper-class gentleman could travel through much of Europe without a passport and even reside abroad with minimal bureaucratic regulation. Meanwhile, the international workers' movement also reorganized itself and reinforced pan-European, class-based identities among the classes whose labour supported the Belle Époque. The most notable transnational socialist organization was the Second International.

In terms of domestic politics, there were very few regime changes in Europe, the major exception being Portugal, which experienced a republican revolution in 1910. However, tensions between working-class socialist parties, bourgeois liberal parties, and landed or aristocratic conservative parties did increase in many countries; and it has been claimed that profound political instability belied the calm surface of European politics in the era. In fact, militarism and international tensions grew considerably between 1897 and 1914, and the immediate prewar years were marked by a general armaments competition in Europe. Additionally, this era was one of massive overseas colonialism, known as the New Imperialism, or High Imperialism. The most famous portion of this imperial expansion was the Scramble for Africa.

Science and technology

The Belle Époque was an era of great scientific and technological advancement in Europe and the world in general. Inventions that either are associated with this era or became generally common in this era include the automobile, the aeroplane, the phonograph, the telephone, the cinématographe and the underground railway.

It was during this era that biologists and physicians finally came to understand the true origins of illnesses, and the field of bacteriology was established. Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla and Niels Bohr initiated modern physics. To recognize many of the great advances made in science in this era, the Nobel Prizes were established for physics, chemistry, and physiology or medicine.

The social sciences also flourished with the professionalization and modernization of research techniques for many disciplines, including history and political science. Georg Simmel, Émile Durkheim and Max Weber, along with American Thorstein Veblen, pioneered the field of academic sociology.

Art and literature

The last ball, 1905.
Aurélio de Figueiredo.
The arts underwent a radical transformation during the decades before World War I, and new artistic forms associated with cultural modernity emerged.

Impressionism, which had been considered the artistic avant-garde in the 1860s, gained widespread acceptance. In the early 20th century, Expressionism became the new avant-garde. The visual art style known as Art Nouveau (called Jugendstil in central Europe), characterized by its curvilinear forms, become prominent and dominated design throughout much of Europe. Many successful examples of this style, with notable regional variations, were built in France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Austria (the Vienna Secessionmarker), Hungary, Bohemia and Latvia. It soon spread around the world, including to Mexico and the United States. It is sometimes called "Belle Époque style".

Theatre adopted new modern methods, including Expressionism, and many playwrights wrote plays that shocked contemporary audiences either with their frank depictions of everyday life and sexuality or with unusual artistic elements. Cabaret theater also became popular. Musically, the Belle Époque was characterized by salon music. This was not considered "serious" music but, rather, short pieces considered accessible to a general audience. In addition to works for piano solo or violin and piano, the Belle Époque was famous for its large repertory of songs (mélodies, romanze, etc.). The Italians were the greatest proponents of this type of song, its greatest champion being Francesco Paolo Tosti. Though Tosti's songs never completely left the repertoire, salon music generally fell into a period of obscurity. Even as encores, singers were afraid to sing them at "serious" recitals. In that period, waltzes also flourished. Operettas were also at the peak of their popularity, with composers such as Johann Strauss III, Emmerich Kalman, and Franz Lehár. It was during this era that the motion pictures were developed, though these did not become common until after World War I.

European literature underwent a major transformation during the Belle Époque. Literary realism and naturalism achieved new heights. Among the most famous realist or naturalist authors are Benito Pérez Galdós, Theodor Fontane, Guy de Maupassant and Émile Zola. Realism gradually developed into modernism, which emerged in the 1890s and came to dominate European literature during the Belle Époque's final years and throughout the interwar years. Among the most prominent European modernist authors are Andrei Bely, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, D. H. Lawrence, Thomas Mann, Robert Musil, Marcel Proust, Arthur Schnitzler, Robert Walser and William Butler Yeats.


  1. The American term "Gilded Age" was coined by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in their book, The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (1873).
  2. "Incontestably the favorite flowers of the Belle Époque were orchids and calla lilies," (Gabriele Fahr-Becker, Art Nouveau 2007, p. 112; the fashion for orchids is narrated in Eric Hansen, Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust, and Lunacy, 2000.
  3. The Belle Époque chefs par excellence were not the household chefs of grand aristocrats like Carème, but restaurateurs César Ritz and Auguste Escoffier.
  4. A.J.P. Taylor, English History 1914-1945;A.J.P. Taylor, The Struggle of Mastery in Europe, 1848-1918
  5. Arno J. Mayer, The Persistence of the Old Regime: Europe to the Great War

See also

Further reading

On the Belle Époque architecture in Cairomarker, Egypt:

  • Mercedes Volait Le Caire-Alexandrie: Architectures Européennes 1850-1950 (co-edition IFAO/CEDEJ 2001)
  • Cynthia Myntti, Paris Along the Nile: Architecture in Cairo from the Belle Epoque, American University in Cairo Press, 2003.
  • Trevor Mostyn, Egypt's Belle Epoque: Cairo and the Age of the Hedonists, Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2006.
  • A list of Cairo's Belle Époque architects 1900 - 1950, compiled by Samir Raafat.

External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address