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This is a fine 1874 map of France divided into its constituent departments by Ambroise Tardieu. It covers from the Nord in the north to eastern Pyrenees in the south and from Finistere in the west to Upper and Lower Rhein the east. An inset map near the lower right corner details Corsica.
The French Department system was established on March 4th, 1790 by the National Constituent Assembly to replace the provinces with what the Assembly deemed a more rational structure. They were designed to deliberately break up France's historical regions in an attempt to erase cultural differences and build a more homogeneous nation. Initially there were 83 departments but by 1800 that number increased to roughly 130. Many of the departments that were created in 1790 remain the administrative districts to this day. Nonetheless, the province system was so engrained that most cartographers felt obliged to include two maps of France in their atlases, one showing the current department system, and another defining the defunct provinces.
This map was prepared by Ambroise Tardieu and issued as plate 12 in his 1874 edition of Atlas Universel de Geographie Ancienne et Moderne.
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