A brief abstract of french history

1830Brief summary of the history of France

Contrary to popular belief, our ancestors are not Gaulish, but Celtic (senior men etymologically). They come from central Europe. The territory then is a mosaic of peoples (Arverni (Auvergne), Helvetii (in Switzerland), Eduens (in the Jura), Senons (around the Seine), Carnutes (in Britain), only the language links (and still …).

They are quarrelsome, often make war between them-and against their neighbors, especially the warlike: the Germans . These, excellent warriors repel Helvètes inward Gallic, upsetting the delicate balance. Eduens, tablets this Swiss push, utilize the strong man of the moment: Julius Caesar.

 Roman Gaul (-52 to 486)

Vercingetorix went to Caesar

We are in 50 before Jesus Christ and Caesar puts everyone agrees. He annex Gaul, despite the heroic resistance (including Gergovie ) coalition of the Gallic tribes under the authority of a charismatic leader: Vercingetorix . The Arverne is a great unifying, but lack of experience in the art of war that perfectly mastered the Roman legions.

In 52 BC, after the defeat of Alesia (despite a clear numerical superiority), Vercingetorix lay down its arms at the feet of Caesar .

The victorious emperor returned to Rome, crowned by his victory and crosses, with his legions, the Rubicon (as has forbidden), and taking Rome in Pompey (his son). This finish beheaded by the Pharaoh, anxious to oblige the new master of Rome .

Gaul is and will remain Roman until 486 (Battle of Soissons). Julius Caesar became dictator for life. Murdered by his adopted son Brutus, he left the throne to Augustus, the first emperor of a sad series, the most famous of which are Nero (incendiary Rome) and Caligula.

Pax Romana

For three centuries Gaul knows the carelessness of the Pax Romana , the Roman peace allowing its economic boom. The Latin replaces Celtic and Gallic adopt Roman names. Druidism is abandoned. Taxiways allow trade and rivers are domesticated, opening additional land to agriculture.


But soon the powerful protector (Rome) wobbles under the repeated blows of the barbarian hordes from the eastern borders of the Empire. Occupied Rome, the emperors can not intervene in Gaul. Alans, Vandals (who will occupy northern Africa) and Sueves plunder the country. Then the Burgundians (which give their name to the Burgundy), the Visigoths (who will be moving to southern Spain) and finally the scourge of God ( Attila ) succeed in devastating waves. The saline Franks , from the East, won under the command of CLOVIS, 486 in the Battle of Soissons, the last avatar (Syagrius) Roman Gaul.

Christian pole: Vth century

The Roman Empire is experiencing a difficult period, marked by the simultaneous presence of two headed as Caesar and Augustus. Constantine ended this Tetrarchy. Then he converted to Christianity (324), taking with him his Empire. A new capital city that bears his name was founded in 324: Constantinople.

Clovis , a young chef franc, has seen how religion could cement a Empire. It follows the route taken by Constantine, and 498, converted to Christianity. This political act allows him to submit the rival tribes. The Gaul is now a kingdom franc .

The Merovingians (498-751)

Clovis draws from the pool of his ancestors, including his grandfather Mérovée to give a name to the first dynasty, the Merovingian. Monarchs more or less inspired succession (Thierry, Childeric, Thibaud, Clotaire …), which Dagobert , adding the Burgundy kingdom. At its peak, the Merovingian kingdom covers Belgium, part of Germany, Switzerland and of course Gaul.

In the eighth century, a new threat shows its face: the Prophet of Islam , Muhammad conquered the entire Arabian Peninsula. By fanatical religion, its successors, dynasties Sunni Umayyad then abassydes , conquered North Africa and Spain. It is the South that the Muslims invaded Gaul. We are in 732 and Charles Martel (Charlemagne’s grandfather) is illustrated in Poitiers in « saving » Christendom.

charles martel
Charles MARTEL stopped Arabs in Poitiers

The last Merovingian, Chilpéric III is deposed by Pepin said the « short » (with a favorable opinion of the Pope). Chilperic is mowed and ended his life in a monastery.

The Carolingians (751-987)


Charles Martel inaugurated a new dynasty, the Carolingian . His son, Pepin the Short , succeeded him as first King Dynasty, before giving in to turn the Frankish kingdom to his son, Charlemagne . With its conquests, including the Lombards, Muslims of Spain and the Saxons, he assumes the title of Augustus and Emperor (it receives from the Pope Leo III ), as in disuse since the fall of Rome . His empire covers an area of over one million km2 (France, Italy, Germany).

Charlemagne (Charlus Magnus or Charles the Great) did much for the kingdom: it develops in particular education and not just religious. But the weakness of the Carolingian dynasty, the succession rule (Salic Law) , will be his loss: Charlemagne bequeathed his kingdom to his three heirs, of course, dispute the inheritance. Louis V was the last Carolingian.

The Capetians (987-1792)

Hugues CAPET

In 987, the crown goes to the head of the third dynasty, the Capetians after its sponsor: Hugh Capet . On hand for almost a thousand years of darkness: the king by divine right is powerful and feudalism is the backbone of the kingdom, life is good for some and poverty is guaranteed the rest of the population. Scientific progress is slowed by religious intransigence which prohibits questioning, otherwise pyres, dogma.

In this realm, some pray (the clergy), others fight and administer justice (Nobles) and finally, the last work (the serfs) to support the first two.

Byzantium, the Crusades and the Hundred Years War

The Christian world wobbles. Constantinople (Capital of the Orthodox Christian empire) is threatened by the Persians , and Muslims who launch attacks on offensives. They are going to occupy the holy places ( Jerusalem , site of the Holy Sepulchre , of Golgotha and the temple of Solomon among others). Pope Urban II ( a French) in 1095 called the Frankish kingdom to the rescue. This is the beginning of the First Crusade, under the authority of Godfrey de Bouillon, who gets Jerusalem to Muslims. Baudoin (the leper) became king of Jerusalem. Not for a long time…

Saladin (general Kurdish Sunni ) quickly erases this brilliant result after beating the Crusader army, exhausted by a long march in the desert. Do not forget that Jerusalem is holy for Muslims (it was there that Muhammad ascended to heaven on his winged horse Buraq). The Frankish armies returning defeats the country.

The Hundred Years War (1328-1475)

In 1152, the Duchess of Aquitaine married the tale of Anjou, Duke of Normandy Henry Plantagenet . Henry II becomes King of England and therefore puts a foot, and a large, on the continent. The Hundred Years War will take place.

eanne of Arc

Philip Augustus succeeded nevertheless, with the victory of Bouvine in 1214 to save the kingdom of France, threatened by both belligerent neighbors England and Germany.

From 1328, begins the war that will last a hundred years. Decimated at Agincourt , the nobility of France is threatened with extinction. She is saved by a first time Dugesclin and second by Joan the Maid who boute, from 1430 the English out of France. In 1475, the Treaty of Pecquigny , Louis XI released the France of this interminable war. The English occupy only Calais .

Brief summary of the history of France

The modern France

From 1450, France has virtually its current borders, with the exception of its eastern fringe.

francois 1
François first

With Francis starts the Italian adventure. It retains:

  • the battle of Marignan , which we will not give the date;
  • and the exploits of the Knight Baillard that adoubera Francis.

The boom is also economic.

Lyon became a crossroads of European trade. This is also the time of the chateaux of the Loire and Montaigne . La Boétie wonders, seeing the thousands of peasants in serfdom, the reasons for this Servitude Volunteer.

 « Men are born free and everywhere they are in chains ».

The precursor of the coming revolution, this is it!

The use of French is obligatory. Jacques Cartier , meanwhile, discovered Canada!

Religious wars

The Christian religion which for Jesus Christ, preaches love of neighbor, is again causing deep and deadly upheaval. Paul III, in 1540, had already restored the courts of inquisition and sent Ignatius Loyola and his Jesuit put some order into the French faith.

St. Bathélémy
St. Barthelemy

But Luther in Germany on the one hand and Calvin in Switzerland and France, on the other hand, are pushing for reform: the return to the origin of the faith, the end of the Clergy, this means that usurps the divine power to his profit. They demand the end of indulgences, ask the Mass in French (the use of Latin in fact allowing the clergy to keep a monopoly on holy texts that they alone understand and therefore interpreted to their advantage).

The Guises to enthrone « champions » of Catholics. The great slaughter begins with Henry II. Hatred fueled by Guise reached its peak with the St. Barthelemy. In 1572, on the occasion of the wedding of Margot (Marguerite de Valois) and Henry of Navarre (future Henry IV), the Huguenot passes through windows, are burned by the hundreds, we quartered … What would we not in the name of love of neighbor?

henri IV
Henri IV

Henry of Navarre entered Paris with its famous

 « Paris is worth a mass ». Henry of Navarre

He became Henry IV by abjuring, political calculation, religion and converting to Catholicism. In 1598, he signed the Edict of Nantes, the first text on religious tolerance. Sully straightens finances. But on May 16, 1610, Ravaillac stabs the good King.

Louis XIII succeeds him. The fight against Huguenot starts over again. Richelieu became head of the Council (Prime Minister). But he knows that France needs reformed, especially to keep the economy and seeks a compromise. The Protestant England fanned the embers. Richelieu takes La Rochelle, strong major place of Protestants.

The Sun King (1643-1715)

Louis XIV

Louis XIV is still under the tutelage of Mazarin (successor to Richelieu ) when he succeeded his father. He underwent the sling lords who challenge royal authority. He found the solution: it transforms the old nobility dress nobility; it attracts all these people in the courts of Versailles where he can control the (The state is me!).

Tocqueville brilliantly décriera this phenomenon in his famous The Old Regime and the Revolution .

But by removing the provincial lords, it gives bourgeois lit the task of administering the provinces. A new elite born. It will cause a century of Revolution. Nobles retain their privileges, although they no longer practice their traditional functions: security (serfs) and justice. The unequal treatment thus become increasingly intolerable in the eyes of the little people that thunders.

It is also, with Colbert, the time of creation to large factories, like the Gobelins.

Louis XV (1715-1774) and the Enlightenment

With Louis XV , the phenomenon described by Tocqueville is growing. The upper middle class has access to culture and enriched. Some bourgeois, like Voltaire , are more enlightened than the most brilliant of Nobles and often richer! The revolutionary ideas are already in germ in many authors: Rousseau and his Social Contract , Montesquieu and his Spirit of Laws . Secularism as a guarantor of freedom and tolerance is a concept which rallied many thinkers.

Louis XVI (1776-1793) and the Revolution

Feature on the French Revolution

Louis, the sixteenth name, pays the bill. Indebtedness of the kingdom, famine due to crop failure, it was enough for the outbreak of the Revolution prepared by the enlightened bourgeois elites already cited.

The States-General of May 5, 1789

general state
The States General

Louis XVI, short of money, convenes the States General , only body authorized State to raise new taxes. Necker , budget minister, has the finances sealed by supporting the American War of Independence and the personal expenses of Her Majesty Queen Marie Antoinette. The Third Estate no longer wants the order by one vote, but head! The king, of course, refuses and wants an adjournment. Mirabeau then launched his famous: « We are here by the will of the people and we will leave only by the force of bayonets! The King replied: « they do not want to stay? Well fuck, they stay! « 

Tennis Court Oath game

Members of the third then head to the hall of the Tennis Court (under the authority Bailly , Mayor of Paris) where they take an oath not to separate before the France with a constitution.

Bastille Day – July 14, 1789

The return of La Fayette are nothing. Under the impetus of Camille Desmoulins , outraged by the dismissal of Necker, Parisians took the Bastille on July 14 . Delaunay , its governor is assassinated. The National Assembly is constituted and recognized by the King of appeasement pledge. It will even wear his hat on the tricolor that gives him the general Fayette chief of the National Guard.

The abolition of privileges – August 4, 1789

The abolition of privileges was voted on 4 August 1789 and the declaration of human rights and citizen played by Lafayette on August 26 the same year.

The leak Varennes

But the cons-revolution is already underway in the Vendée first, but also on the borders of the kingdom is where exiles call the King of Prussia and Emperor of Austria. Brunswick , Prussian general in chief, threatening the city of Paris reprisals. This initiative is just up the determination of the revolutionaries.

The flight to Varennes – June 20, 1792

To eliminate any risk of flashback, Saint-Just demanded the death of the King, opponents of rallying: « a king must reign or die! « He told the Assembly. The attempted flight of Louis XVI ends June 20, 1792 in Varennes. The people finally loses confidence in his King.

The storming of the Tuileries – August 10, 1792

Spurred Highlander Danton, the Paris Commune enters insurrectionary mode. The Tuileries are taken August 10, 1792 with the assistance of the Federated Brittany and Marseilles.

The death of the King – January 21, 1793

The King is guillotined on January 21, 1793. The Convention, the seat of legislative power is the scene of a violent clash between the Montagnards Robespierre, Saint-Just, Danton and Marat and the Girondins de Brissot and Vergniaud.

The against-revolution

Marat assassinated

The Chouans , west, revive the against-revolution. Danton , Minister of Justice, set up the Revolutionary Court. Marat, who claims « 100 000 head, » is assassinated. The Girondins were arrested and guillotined.

No one can oppose the rise of Robespierre which sets up a regime of terror.


Desmoulins and Danton , Robespierre that threaten their appeal for clemency in Le Vieux Cordelier, were guillotined. Robespierre became the strongman of a country in turmoil begins to frighten crowned heads of neighboring countries.


European monarchies launched their troops to France. They are crushed at Valmy. Robespierre retreats into paranoid delusions, guillotining the chain opponents and inventing the cult of the Supreme Being. 1794 will be his last year. Tyranny is denounced by Tallien and Barras.

9 Thermidor, he was arrested by Barras at City Hall. He fired a shot in the jaw. Hardly patched up, he’s on the scaffold, leaving a vacuum at the state summit.

the Management Board


The vacuum is filled by an Executive Board (1795-1799) dominated by Barras. The country has finished with terror. Bonaparte, who was noticed by Barras at the siege of Toulon, marries Josephine de Beauharnais , then became head of the army of Italy and won decisive victories over the Austrians at Arcola and Rivoli. He bails out the boxes of the Executive Board by its war chest. It is then assigned a new mission: to cut the route to India from the English by taking Egypt. That’s half a failure. He left the army and returned to Paris.


coup d'etat
Coup of 18 Brumaire of Bonaparte

Just arrived, he organized on 18 Brumaire, a coup to overthrow the Directory. With the help of his brother Lucien, President of the Chamber of five hundred and Murat , he took power by force. Bonaparte becomes Napoleon . He was appointed Consul alongside Sieyes and Ducos , then First Consul, and after the victory of Austerlitz, Emperor (1804) Talleyrand, Bishop of Autun, entered the political arena by Barras under the Directory, became his minister Foreign Affairs and Fouche ‘s police chief. His European dream ended at Waterloo in 1815 . It will leave the civil code (based on the Justinian Code).

Restoration and new Empire

napoleon 3
Napoleon III

A brief restoration follows (Louis XVIII, Charles X, Louis Philippe, the bourgeois king ) before the nephew of the Emperor, after two failed attempts, takes advantage of a new revolution ( 1848 ), a very brief second republic to recover the laurel wreath. Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon III said, is to turn the Emperor (1852), after being elected president of the second republic. It modernizes France intervenes in Crimea (already) against the Russians, and then fought in Sedan (because of the carelessness of General Bazaine), by the Prussians in 1870.

The city of Paris (1870) and the Third Republic (1871)

The city of Paris refuses the surrender of the capital and lifts. Thiers, the height of his « Versailles » matte Parisians in a bloodbath. Communism , however, become one of the great ideology of the twentieth century.

ferry jules

In 1871 , the III Republic was born. Jules Ferry gives the colonial impulse and France set foot in Algeria and Tonkin . Jules Ferry also lays the foundation of the school of the Republic. Jaurès gives voice left, supported (and sometimes fought) by Clemenceau radical.

The Bonapartist and Royalist parties threaten the stability of the republic. Clemenceau dropped ministries before being called inside where he made a name: First cop of France by creating his famous brigades (Tiger).

The Dreyfus case (1899)

Anti-Semitism is so banal. It appears in the press (Edouard DRUMONT) and runs the corridors of the assemblies. The case Dreyfus at the turn of the century, is the most famous example. Journalist Theodor Herzl will use these events to bring out the Zionist idea to create a state in Israel for the Jews. The Dreyfus affair divided France with, on one side, the conservative right (anti-Dreyfus) and the other pro-Dreyfus left (where illustrate Clemenceau, Zola and Jaures).

The Captain Dreyfus, accused of treason, is finally acquitted. The France can focus on the organization of the 1900 World exhibition showcasing the Eiffel Tower.

First World War (194-1918)

German trench

But already the hand of 70 points its nose. Kaiser Wilhelm II and his chancellor Otto von Bismarck want to provoke France.

The assassination of the Austrian Archduke in Sarajevo by a Serb (the organization The Black Hand), causes the release of an alliance mechanism that leads to conflict.

Austria wants to settle accounts with Serbia, supported in this by Germany, which has the support of the Empire OTTOMAN. Serbia, con side, has the support of the Orthodox world and particularly Russia allied with France and Britain. The war is inevitable.

After the lightning invasion of German armies on French territory, the front stabilized in trench warfare.

Russia withdraws from the conflict (Treaty of Brest-Litovsk) after the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks (1917). The Kaiser then concentrated his troops on the Western Front before the arrival of the Americans of Pershing . But it is already too late . Clemenceau proves to be the man for the job. It forced Germany to demand the surrender. He is the father of Victory. Pétain, meanwhile, has shown in Verdun. It will illustrate yet …

The Treaty of Versailles (1919)

Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles – Wilson (US) – Clemenceau (France) – Llyoyd Georges (GB) – Orlando (Italy)

The Treaty of Versailles (1919) rule after the war, regardless of the conquered peoples. It is experienced as a diktat by the Germans and will cause the next war. Meanwhile, the country rebuilds.

The interwar period saw the victory of socialist ideas: Blum makes vote the forty-hour week and retirement at 65. This is the time of the Popular Front of factory occupations.

On the other side of the Rhine, Germany, strangled by the severe conditions of the Versailles Treaty (denounced by the British economist Keynes) sinks into misery and hyperinflation. The hatred of the French settled in a still fragile society between

  • socialist ideals (embodied by the Spartacus League and the Communist Party of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht) and
  • Nationalists (embodied by the Nazi party of Adolf Hitler).

The Second World War

Hitler came to power legally (1933) with 30% of votes on a nationalist and socialist program. He dismisses the old Marshal Hindenburg and assumes the title of President and Chancellor. He banned political parties, begins its segregation policy and rearm Germany. Following the Treaty of Munich (1938), where Chamberlin (for the British) and Daladier (for the French) have left him a free hand, it absorbs the Sudetenland (German frank Czechoslovakia). He does the same with Austria (the Anschluss) and then with Poland).

Displays Vichy propaganda

In 1939, he launched (as he wrote in Mein Kampf ) its tanks on the Ardennes (1939). The Nazis in Paris. De Gaulle saved the honor of France in London since launching his appeal of June 18 The French government retreated to Bordeaux, shared on how to proceed.

Paul REYNAUD , Chairman resigns on June 16 and is replaced by the heroes of the Great War: Marshal Pétain . The government takes up residence in Vichy in the free zone and the National Assembly gives full powers to the old Marshal « in order to promulgate a new constitution by the French State. » The Third Republic is no more. On 3 October 1940, the first laws on Jews are promulgated and France is committed to collaboration.

Free France still struggles in North Africa. At El Alamein, she manages to stop the armies of Rommel.

Allied landings in Provence and Normandy (June 6, 44), Stalin strong pressure on the eastern front, including Allied bombing Dresden, Germany soon had enough. Paris is liberated outraged and Germany capitulated. Churchill, in great visionary, denounced the « iron curtain coming down over Europe. »

The Cold War lasted until 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Fourth Republic and Europe (1945-1958)

1945, the Fourth Republic was born. The National Resistance Council (CNR), created in 1943 in response to Vichy, provides impetus for a program of social reforms and market economy:

  • nationalization of energy (EDF emerge in 46);
  • nationalization of insurance and banking;
  • creation of social security.

To prevent war on the old continent, the idea of European integration made her way: On 9 May 1950, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Robert Schumann says:

« Europe will not happen all at once or in a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.  » Robert SCHUMANN

On 18 April 1951, the Treaty of Paris establishing the first European community (including France, Italy and Germany) is signed. The ECSC became the European Coal and Steel Community. On 25 March 1957 , are signed the Treaty of Rome creating the EEC, the European Economic Community.

The fifth republic and the independence wars

War of Algeria

The Fourth Republic is unstable, de Gaulle immediately offers a Fifth Republic (1958), which aims to give a strong executive in the country. He became its first President (head of the RPF).

In 1954, at Dien Bien Phu, Indochina is lost then it is the turn of the Algeria after the Evian Accords in 1962.

Ben Bellah became the first president of the independent Republic of Algeria). It will be followed by Boumedienne and Chadli . France also lost Tunisia, Morocco and Black Africa.

The 68 half-revolution

May 1968 will not change much, the French voting for conservatism wanted after all reverse. Pompidou provides after-sales service. May 1968 marks the start of sexual liberation.

On 1 July 1968 , is also the beginning the customs union in Europe.

Time unemployment

It’s the end of the « thirty glorious years » with the first oil shock. France, for the first time since the liberation, knows unemployment. The Centrist (UDF) Valéry Giscard d’Estaing is illustrated (1974) as the first President of the deficit, imitated by the Socialist François Mitterrand (1981 and 1988) and the conservative Gaullist Jacques Chirac (1995).

The Maastricht Treaty was signed on 7 February 1992 . It gives European integration a new dimension. The European Union « (EU) replaces the EEC with the objective to provide Europe with a political dimension In 1999, the single currency was created.

Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy was elected in 2007. Shortly helped by the crisis of premiums, it undergoes deficits. With the Socialist François Hollande , the deficit passes the bar of the 2,000 billion.

Since the single currency (2000), financial speculation is no longer between currencies. She moved to the sovereign debt of countries of the eurozone that borrow at rates up to 10%. Competitive devaluation is no longer possible to restore the accounts of the country, as in the days of Pierre Mauroy (1981). The ultra competitiveness of German companies can then be expressed in the euro area, where it exports over 70% of its products. European wealth takes the road to Germany. The most vulnerable country, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain, accumulated deficit, raising fears the explosion of the euro area.

The time for jihad

boko haramTotalitarian regimes of the Muslim world are falling one after the other from the Tunisian Arab Spring (2011). Ben Ali in Tunisia, Mubarak in Egypt, Saddam Hussein in Iraq (driven by US intervention of 2003) Gaddafi in Libya are removed from power, leaving a vacuum quickly filled by mainly Sunni jihadist groups. The Islamic State takes large areas of pan in Iraq and Syria. France agrees with air strikes and knows a wave of terrorist attacks including the murder of 11 members of the Charlie Weekly Team (January 2015) and 23 November in Paris that will more than hundred dead including Bataclan.



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