France History

France History

Pre and early history

Archaeological finds in the area of ​​what is now France suggest that people lived here 100,000 years ago. Several cave paintings have been preserved from the more recent Paleolithic period; The rock carvings of Lascaux in the south of France are among the most important cultural evidence of this period.

Neolithic traces (4000 to 2000 BC) of megalithic culture can be found especially in Brittany in the form of menhirs and in the Paris basin in the form of dolmens.

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Antiquity and the Middle Ages

Around 400 BC Celts and Gauls settled in large parts of the country.

The area between the Rhine, the Alps, the Pyrenees and the Atlantic was from the 1st century BC. Roman province, Julius Caesar had there since about 400 BC. subject to resident Celtic tribes (Alesia 52 BC). In the 5th century AD immigrant Germanic tribes (Franconia) conquered the area, the Merovingian Empire emerged.

In the 8th century the Carolingians took over from the Merovingians, under Charlemagne (768-814, from 800 emperors) a great empire was created, which encompassed today’s France, large parts of Germany and parts of Italy. After the division of the Franconian Empire (Treaty of Verdun, 843), a Western and an Eastern Franconian Empire emerged, the forerunners of later France and Germany. Up to the 10th century rulers of the Carolingian family ruled in the West Franconian Empire. Hugo Capet (987-996) founded the Kapetinger dynasty, which replaced the Carolingians as the ruling royal family.

In the 12th century half of France was under the rule of the English royal family Anjou-Plantagenet (through the marriage of the Eleonore of Aquitaine to Henry II of England).

In the 13th century, France rose under Philip IV (1285-1314) to the strongest power in Europe. He also succeeded in weakening the individual noble families in favor of the kingship and making the papacy a tool in his politics (the pope resided in Avignon from 1309). After the extinction of the Kapetinger family in 1328, the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) came about in connection with the succession to the throne, when the English king Edward III. Filed claims to the French throne. English troops conquered large parts of France, and there were uprisings by citizens and peasants in various regions against the crown. The turning point in favor of France occurred in 1429 when the peasant daughter Joan of Arc led the French army at Orl¨¦ans, the last battle in this was was the French victory at Castillon.

In the middle of the 15th century, France’s longstanding conflict with the Habsburgs, who had been the German emperors since 1440, began. After the death of Duke Charles the Bold in 1477, Burgundy fell to the Habsburgs who had inheritance rights through marriage. From 1483, King Charles VIII of France led several conquests against areas in Italy which were claimed by the Habsburgs.

Modern times

In the 16th century, the bitter religious wars between the Protestant Huguenots and the Catholics or the Catholic kings shook the country. According to AbbreviationFinder, a well-known testimony to this was the so-called Bartholomew’s Night in 1572 when thousands of Huguenots were murdered in Paris. Under King Henry IV, who was originally a Protestant but had to convert to Catholicism in order to attain the crown (1593), the situation calmed down and religious freedom was granted to the Protestants (Edict of Nantes). The kingdom once again became a symbol of national unity.

Age of absolutism

Under King Louis XIII its Chancellor Cardinal Richelieu (1624-42) held political power, he and his successor Mazarin (1643-61) initiated the transformation of France into an absolutist-led state, which the “Sun King” Louis XIV (1643-1715) finally accomplished : The nobility was completely disempowered in favor of the king. The French court in Versailles became the model for courtly aristocratic society in Europe. The art of baroque, classical literature, philosophy and painting experienced an extraordinary boom. On the other hand, Louis XIV lifted the Edict of Nantes, whereupon over half a million Huguenots fled abroad.

The expansion policy of Louis XIV led to the expansion of the French colonies in North America and the state territory in Europe (eg 1667 Peace of Aachen, profit from Lille; 1678 Peace from Nijmegen, profit from Burgundy and parts of the Netherlands). This inevitably brought France into conflict with all other major powers. In 1714, France succumbed to an alliance of European powers as part of the War of the Spanish Succession and lost its claim to hegemony. Attempts to regain lost areas failed in the course of the 18th century. In 1763 France also lost its colonies in North America (Peace of Paris at the end of the Seven Years’ War).

Splendor of the rulers and expensive warfare led to the state finances being completely ruined by 1788. In addition, there was a high tax burden for the aspiring bourgeoisie and privileges for the nobility. This led to harsh criticism by the French Enlightenment (Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau among others) about the social system.

French Revolution

With the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, the French Revolution broke out, which was carried by the bourgeoisie and represented the downfall of absolutism. The declaration of human and civil rights, the abolition of nobility and the expropriation of the clergy were among the first measures that the new National Assembly decided. As the events in France threatened to spread to the surrounding European countries, an alliance of Austrian, Prussian and English troops tried to intervene in the country, but failed due to the popular army built by the revolutionaries (Lev¨¦e en masse). In 1792 the kingdom was abolished in France, the country became a republic (First Republic). Internally, different groups competed,

Napoleon Bonaparte ends the unrest in the country in 1799 with a coup d’¨¦tat: Under his dictatorial leadership (in 1804 he was crowned “Emperor of the French”), a bourgeois social order was created, the foundations of which (equality before the law, liberal economic order) were laid down in the Napoleon Code were. Under Napoleon, large parts of the European continent came under French rule. Napoleon’s campaign in Russia brought about the turning point in 1812 and the liberation wars that followed a year later, which led to the collapse of Napoleonic France (1815 Battle of Waterloo).

Second and Third Republic

A phase of restoration followed, and the Bourbon kings returned to the French throne. In return, the February Revolution of 1848 led to the establishment of the Second Republic. In 1852, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte as Emperor Napoleon III. the French throne, but was dethroned again in 1870 after the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War. The Third Republic was proclaimed in France in August 1871 (until 1940). The Third Republic was characterized by internal crises (eg the uprising of the Paris Commune in 1871, the Dreyfuss affair in 1894-99) and an expansionary colonial policy that brought Indochina, Tunisia, Madagascar and the Congo into French hands.

At the outbreak of the First World War, France stood alongside Russia and Great Britain against the German-Austrian-Hungarian alliance. There was a loss of position was on French soil, which could only be ended with the intervention of the Americans. In the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, France was granted Alsace and Lorraine, which it had to hand over to Germany in 1871. Franco-German relations remained tense, even if the Foreign Ministers of both countries (Stresemann and Briand) tried to compensate for the 1925 Treaty of Locarno. In terms of domestic politics, the consequences of the global economic crisis also led to an increase in left-wing and right-wing radicalism. At first, the French government reacted to the rapidly arming Germany under Adolf Hitler and accepted Austria ‘

The turning point was brought about by the German attack on Poland in September 1939 and the outbreak of the Second World War. France declared was on the German Empire.

In 1940, large parts of France were occupied by German troops in just six weeks. The French government Vichy under Marshal P¨¦tain withdrew to the still unoccupied southern part of the country (“États Français”) and was tolerated there by Germany, with which she worked. An exile government was formed under General Charles de Gaulle in London, which also supports the French resistance movement “R¨¦sistance”. In August 1944, American and French troops liberated Paris. Charles de Gaulle proclaimed the 4th Republic on September 3rd.

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Post war period

In 1949, France joined the North Atlantic Defense Alliance (NATO). In the following years, due to the large diversity of parties, various coalition governments repeatedly replaced each other, and the fourth republic was characterized by both political and economic instability due to the dissolution of the French colonial empire and the resulting conflicts (Indo-China was 1946-54, Algerian crisis from 1958).

In 1958, Charles de Gaulle became Prime Minister of France and founded the Fifth Republic with a new constitution that strengthened the position of President. De Gaulle became the first president of the new republic in 1959. In 1960, under the leadership of de Gaulle (against the opposition of right-wing circles), France released most of its colonies into independence (eg Chad, Congo, Central African Republic, Algeria in 1962). In his reign (until 1969), de Gaulle established a new collaboration with the Federal Republic of Germany and its Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, he saw both states as important players in a future independent Europe (under French leadership). By partially withdrawing from NATO, de Gaulle attempted to break away from America’s dominance.

Among de Gaulle’s successors (1969 to 1974 Georges Pompidou, 1974 to 1981 Val¨¦rie Giscard d’Estaing, 1981 to 1995 François Mitterand, 1995 to 2007 Jacques Chirac, 2007-2012 Nicolas Sarkozy, since 2012 François Hollande) and various coalition governments, in which To replace Gaullists and Socialists as heads of government, France is continuing to expand its course of an independent, strong country within a united Europe. The focus remains on the interest in an independent European security and defense policy. The Franco-American relationship is characterized by skepticism towards the American supremacy and partly tense by different points of view on points such as B. World trade. France is a leading member of the United Nations (both diplomatic and military).

President Nicolas Sarkozy (conservative Gaullist UMP) started a comprehensive reform program in 2007. Projects implemented include a university reform, measures to increase growth (among other things through a new labor law), an adaptation of the loss-making special pension systems in the public sector to the general pension system and the reduction of state benefits. In contrast, numerous protest events and strike actions were directed. The tightening of immigration policy triggered controversy and new unrest in the suburbs (banlieus). In order to improve the situation in the suburbs, which had not eased since the great unrest in 2005, a plan (“Hope for the suburbs”) was drawn up, which included the creation of 45,000 jobs in the banlieues. In 2008, Parliament approved Sarkozy’s largest constitutional reform in 40 years. The changes affected over a third of the constitutional articles. The role of Parliament in particular has been strengthened. The innovations also include the recognition of regional languages ​​and the right to popular referendum initiatives. A referendum is held with every new EU entry. Many of the changes are due to longstanding demands by the socialists.A referendum is held with every new EU entry. Many of the changes are due to longstanding demands by the socialists.A referendum is held with every new EU entry. Many of the changes are due to longstanding demands by the socialists.

Socialist François Hollande has been president since May 2012. The subsequent election of the National Assembly resulted in a clear left majority. The government is committed to fiscal consolidation policies and the European fiscal pact. Another focus is the promotion of growth and employment. In addition, special attention is paid to youth and education as well as to increasing competitiveness. As of late summer 2012, in addition to various tax increases for wealthy and large companies, savings in the public sector were also initiated. A labor market reform was agreed in January 2013.

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