History of france

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Official emblem of the Republic of France

The history of France encompasses developments in the territory of the French Republic from prehistory to the present. It begins in prehistoric times. So let Palaeolithic caves in the Dordogne and megalithic cultures in Brittany evidence. In the Bronze Age from 700 BC onwards BC Celts a. Caesar conquered from 58-51. v. BC Gaul and incorporated the area into the Roman Empire . Through the migration of peoples in the 5th century, Franks flowed ,Visigoths and Burgundians entered the country and adapted to the Gallo-Roman culture . This was followed by the formation of the Franconian Empire (5th – 9th centuries) by Clovis I , who adopted Christianity around 500 . Pippin the Younger founded the Carolingian dynasty in 751 . His son, Charlemagne ( Charlemagne in French ), united the Franconian Empire with Saxony, Bavaria and Northern Italy. In 800 he was crowned emperor by the Pope .

The history of France as an independent state begins around 831/832, when Emperor Ludwig the Pious (778–840) was ousted by his sons. In the Treaty of Verdun in 843 they finally divided the Franconian Empire into an eastern, a central and a western part. The western part can be seen as the beginning of what is now France. The Franconian inheritance law led to an increasing fragmentation of the country in the first centuries. In covenant with the church and the up-and-coming cities, the kings were slowly able to expand their power against the feudal lords . Henry II , Duke of Normandy and King of England since 1154 , acquired large parts of France through marriage , thus increasing the influence of the English in the country. With the rise of the Capetians to the ruling dynasty, a cultural flight of highs was connected. In addition, Philip IV (the fair, 1285-1314) strengthened the royal power and fought for France to dominate Europe by the end of the 13th century.

After the Capetians died out, the English King Edward III. Claim to the French throne and thus gave rise to the Hundred Years War (1339-1453), in which France was finally freed by the English and they were almost completely driven from the continent. The Valois (1328–1589) defended themselves victoriously against Burgundy with the help of the Confederates . From the dispute over the Burgundian possessions arose the centuries-long power struggle against the Spanish-Habsburg power.

The Reformation took hold of the nobility and the bourgeoisie. In 1559–1598 there was tension between Catholics and Huguenots . The Edict of Nantes (1598, repealed in 1685) guaranteed the Huguenots freedom to practice their religion , which initially restored peace. The years of government led by Cardinals Richelieu (1624–1642) and Mazarin (1642–1661) brought the king's central power to a greater extent. Through the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) France regained political and cultural supremacy in Europe. Louis XIV (1661–1715) completed absolutism in France . He led an aggressive foreign policy, which France enlarged at the expense of her neighbors and resulted in a permanent global conflict with England . The country increasingly spent itself, which after the long War of the Spanish Succession 1701–1713 led to increasing national debt . The peasants and workers were also impoverished as a result of the costly wars and the bourgeoisie wanted more participation. The storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 symbolized the overthrow of absolutism and the beginning of the French Revolution , in the course of which the First Republic was proclaimed in 1792 .

Napoleon's seizure of power on November 9, 1799 was followed by the Napoleonic Wars for the conquest of Europe, which ended with the battle of Waterloo (June 18, 1815) in the final defeat of France. In 1815 Europe was reorganized by the Congress of Vienna . France got off lightly. The French border was set to the state of 1792, the monarchy reinstated. With Louis XVIII. the Bourbons returned to the throne.

The republic was restored by the February Revolution in 1848. Louis Napoléon became president of the Second Republic . In 1852 he made himself Emperor Napoleon III. ( Second Empire 1852–1870). He pursued a politics of prestige and acquired further colonies in North and Central Africa, Madagascar and Indochina (see imperialism ). After the defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1870/71) he was deposed and made way for the Third Republic .

Two power blocs were formed in Europe after 1871: on the one hand the two / three alliance (in 1879 the German Empire and Austria-Hungary formed the two alliance; Italy joined it in May 1882), on the other hand the Triple Entente from France and Great Britain and Russia (created 1894–1907). This constellation led to the First World War (1914–1918). In the end, France was on the winning side. Due to internal political conflicts, France was poorly prepared militarily for the outbreak of World War II (September 1, 1939). The Maginot Line , built between 1930 and 1940 , had lost its importance due to the advanced armor technology. The Wehrmacht began on 10 May 1940 the western campaign with a rapid invasion of the Benelux countries. In early June they drove British troops from the mainland ( Battle of Dunkirk ); In mid-June they occupied Paris without a fight . On June 22, 1940, France signed the surrender-like armistice of Compiègne ; so the war for France was initially over - until 1944. At first the Vichy regime ruled the south (the Wehrmacht only occupied the north); In November 1942, Wehrmacht troops also occupied the south (" Company Anton "). Charles de Gaulle took the surrender of Paris on August 25, 1944 as an opportunity to proclaim the Fourth Republic .

The French colonies strived for independence after 1945: they withdrew from Indochina in 1954 , and Morocco and Tunisia became independent in 1956. In Algeria , which was considered part of the motherland, the Algerian War broke out in 1954–1962 . Algeria gained independence in 1962. From 1960 to 1966 there were 17 French nuclear weapons tests in Algeria ; in the last of four surface tests on April 25, 1961, France knowingly exposed a squad of 300 soldiers to ionizing radiation .

From 1958 to April 1969 Charles de Gaulle served as President of the Fifth Republic . During this time he shaped the development of France: He wanted to restore France's old splendor as a world power , made France a nuclear power ( force de frappe ) and initiated the normalization of Franco-German relations (1957 Treaty of Rome; one of them the treaty establishing the European Community ; Franco-German Treaty 1963).


Republics and monarchies

Today's France (French Republic, République Francaise) is understood as the Fifth French Republic and, historically, sees itself as the successor to earlier republics . The first French republic was proclaimed in 1792 and existed until 1804. For the French monarchies, see List of Heads of State in France .

In the Middle Ages, the French kingdom developed continuously from the West Franconian kingdom . The latter was a result of the division of the Franconian Kingdom in 843 . The Frankish empire was created when the pressure prevailing in present-day Belgium salfränkische King I. Clovis (481-511) from the dynasty of the Merovingian other Frankish kingdom (eg. As the the Rhine francs to Cologne) conquered.

The term Franconia is a collective term for various Germanic groups that first became historically tangible in the 3rd century in the regions on the Lower Rhine and in the Rhine delta .

Designation of the state or the heads of state

Clovis I could probably call himself the sole king of the Franks for the first time . Several Frankish kings and minor kings had previously existed. After Clovis's death in 511 until the end of the Merovingian dynasty 751, the Franconian empire (Regnum Francorum) was alternately dominated by the Franconian sub-empires such as Neustria , Australia , Burgundy and Aquitaine and their kings. Franzien (in French France , the same expression as for "France") was a kind of Franconian core area north of the Loire . Successors of Clovis I as ruler of the entire empire and king of the Franks (Francorum Rex, more rarely Rex Francorum) were, among others, Chlothar I (558–561), Chlothar II (613–629), Dagobert I (632–639), Clovis III (691-695) or Childerich III. (743-751).

In the Carolingian era up to the division of Verdun (751–843), the title King of the Franks continued. Charlemagne also assumed the title of Roman Emperor in 800, which his successors also took over (see Roman-German Emperors , List of Roman Emperors (800-924) and List of Roman-German Rulers ). The sub-kingdoms continued to matter. The division of the empire in 843 saw, among other things, the West Franconian Kingdom, from which the Kingdom of France became. The West Franconian rulers retained the title of King of the Franks until the 13th century, and they continued to be elected. Even Charles II. (823-877) was a Roman Emperor.

Even after the change of dynasty in the West Franconian Empire from the Carolingians to the Capetians in 987 - which historiography often saw as the beginning of French kingship next to 843 - the title of King of the Franks (Roi des Francs) continued for a long time. Fellow kings secured the dynastic existence. Until the last French royal year 1848, the kings came from the Capetian dynasty, but from different houses (direct Capetians 987–1328, Valois and branch lines 1328–1589, Bourbon and branch lines 1589–1792, 1815–1848).

Philip II (1180–1223) first used the title King of France (Roi de France, Franciae Rex , more rarely Rex Franciae) around 1190 . Louis IX (1214–1270) changed the official name from King of the Franks to King of France during his reign . The title King of the Franks remained in use until Philip IV (1268–1314). Francorum Rex can be found on coins until the 17th century.

The title King of France and Navarre (Roi de France et de Navarre) was valid from 1285–1328, 1589–1789 and 1815–1830. Between 1328 and 1589, only King of France was used again. After the beginning of the French Revolution, Louis XVI. 1789 expressed as King of the French (Roi des Français) ; this title was used until 1792 and then again 1830-1848. Instead of the territory, reference was made to the population. The addition of the Most Christian King came up under Charles VII . The imperial titles of the years 1804-1815 and 1852-1870 were Empereur des Français (Emperor of the French) .

In parallel to the designation of the ruler, the expression Kingdom of France (Royaume de France) also appeared and was in use in the 13th century, replacing Royaume des Francs (Kingdom of the Franks) and Francie occidentalis (Western Franconia) . In 1791 (two years after the French Revolution) the absolute became a constitutional monarchy , and the Kingdom of France became the Kingdom of the French (Royaume des Français ) for one year .

Names of heads of state or supreme organs (without transition phases):

  • 5.–12./13. Century: King of the Franks
  • 12./13. Century – 1791: King of France (and Navarre)
  • 1791–1792: King of the French
  • 1792–1794: National Convention ( Robespierre )
  • 1795–1799: Directory ( Barras )
  • 1799–1804: Consulate ( Bonaparte )
  • 1804–1815: Emperor of the French
  • 1815–1830: King of France and Navarre
  • 1830–1848: King of the French
  • 1848–1852: President of the French Republic
  • 1852–1870: Emperor of the French
  • 1870–1871: President of the Government of National Defense (Trochu)
  • 1871–1940: President of the French Republic
  • 1940–1944: Head of State ( Petain )
  • 1944–1947: Chairman of the Provisional Government
  • since 1947: President of the French Republic

Designations of the state:

Prehistory and Antiquity

Cro-Magnon and La Ferrassie are among the most important sites from the Aurignacian period , when hunters and gatherers lived in what is now France . The cave paintings of the Chauvet cave and probably the Lascaux cave also date from this period . Finds of the Moustérien and related cultural groups are known in large parts of France from the Middle Paleolithic . Up until the Neolithic Age , peasant cultures from south-west Europe invaded ( Chassey culture ).

Until 1500 BC As in large parts of Eurasia and Africa, other farming cultures have established themselves. During the Late Bronze Age migration period (1250–750 BC), urnfield cultures spread from the east , while Western European bronze cultures persisted in the west.

The Greek colonization phase brought about the foundation of Ionic colony cities on the French Mediterranean coast: Massalia - Marseille , Olbia , Antipolis - Antibes , Nikaia - Nice , Agathe, Rhode (mother city: Phokaia in what is now Asia Minor).

In the fourth century BC Large parts of France were part of the Celtic core area (early Latène culture ). The Celts reached the Mediterranean coast in the following century. The Celtic tribes include B. the Aulerci , Bituriges , Arverner , Haeduer , Volcae and Allobroger .

During the Punic Wars , the Greek colonies of southern France were allies of Rome . The war expedition of the Scipions reached the Carthaginian areas of the Iberian Peninsula via Massilia and Rhodae (218-209 BC).

The expansion of the Roman Empire also brought western Europe under Roman rule. Small areas of today's France in the southeast in Nice (Nicaea) already belonged to Liguria and thus to the Italian core area. The areas near the Mediterranean were established between 154 and 121 BC. BC Roman. Between 58 and 51 BC During the Gallic Wars , Caesar conquered the areas for Rome that had been under Celtic rule until then. The Roman provinces Gallia cisalpina , Gallia Narbonensis , Gallia Belgica and Gallia Aquitania were established.

Above all, the Rhone Valley to Lyon (Lugdunum) and the Mediterranean regions were among the economic centers of the Roman Empire. From Lyon some of the main trade routes radiated from south to north-west and north-east. The place of residence was Arelate . An important Roman naval port was in Forum Iulii .

Shortly before the division of the Roman Empire in 395 , the dioceses XIII ( Galliae ) and XIV ( Septem Provinciarum ) extended over France, which together with XII ( Britanniae ) and XV ( Hispaniae ) formed the prefecture of Gaul in the Western Roman Empire .

In the fifth century, Germanic groups pervaded large parts of the Roman Empire. In what is now France, among others, the Franks in the north and the Burgundians in the southeast settled. 451 the Romans defeated in the battle of the catalaunian plains the Huns under Attila . After the end of the Western Roman Empire around 476, several empires were established:

  • Empire of the Franks in the north (e.g. the Empire of the Salfranken )
  • Empire of the Burgundians in the southeast
  • Empire of the Visigoths in the southwest
  • Parts in the east belonged to the rulership of the Alemanni .
  • Parts in the southeast were part of the Italic Empire of the Odovaker .
  • The empire of Syagrius remained around Paris as a remaining Roman area .
  • In Brittany ( Armorica ) to Celtic could Bretons down.

In the period that followed, the Franks conquered both what would later become France and large parts of Europe.

5th century to 843: Franconian Empire

The Merovingian Clovis I eliminated the other Frankish petty kings and established the Frankish Empire . The Merovingians gradually conquered the surrounding empires and areas 502–507 Alemannia , 507–511 Aquitaine from the Visigoths, 531 also from the Visigoths the area of ​​today's Gascony and Septiman areas on the upper Garonne , 532–534 the empire of the Burgundians and 536 the Ostrogothic Mediterranean areas around Marseille. Brittany was loosely connected to the Frankish Empire.

In the 8th century Moors spread from Africa to Europe and conquered Spain and Septimania. They were subject to the Frankish Empire in 732 at the Battle of Tours and Poitiers . In 759 Septimania also became Frankish. The Frankish empire was ruled by the Carolingians since 751.

Under Charles I (Charlemagne, Charlemagne) the Franconian Empire reached its greatest extent and ruled over large parts of the rest of Europe in addition to what would later become France. This Frankish empire was divided into three parts in 843. From the West Franconian Kingdom the Kingdom of the Franks developed, which has been called the "Kingdom of France" since the 13th century.

In the western areas of the Franconian Empire, the Romance vernacular developed from Vulgar Latin ( Langues d'oïl in the north, Langue d'oc in the south), in the eastern areas the Germanic idioms were further developed ( Old High German , Old Low German ); the Romance-Germanic language border between the North Sea and the Matterhorn leveled off around 1000 .

843–1328: From the West Franconian Kingdom to the Kingdom of France

Division of the Carolingian
Empire in the Treaty of Verdun in 843: Western France

With the division in the Treaty of Verdun in 843, the history of France began as an independent community. The sons of the Carolingian Emperor Ludwig I the Pious (814-840) divided the Franconian Empire into an eastern , a central and a western part, as was customary at the time when the deceased ruler had more than one surviving son. The first king of this West Franconian empire , whose roots lie in earlier divisions of the empire in Neustria and Austrasia , was Charles II the Bald (843-77); this can be seen as the origin of today's France, with the Treaty of Coulaines 843 also appearing subsequently as the founding charter , since it established an independent constitutional system in this part of the country. French scholars go further into history and see Clovis I as the first king. Faramund (French: Pharamond ), on the other hand, is a legendary king who is said to have lived in the early 5th century.

As in eastern France, large territories are formed: the duchies of France , Aquitaine (Guyenne), Gascogne , Brittany and Normandy , the counties of Champagne , Toulouse , Barcelona, Flanders and the margraviate Gothien . Originally, in the Franconian Empire, the kingdom was divided among all sons. This was initially retained in the three Franconian sub-kingdoms. This soon changed and a kind of state identity developed in the west, east and Italy. The Middle Kingdom of Lotharingien was finally added to the Eastern Empire from 925. This change of perspective was associated with changes in dynasty, with the introduction of new names for the empires and with the change from hereditary to elective monarchy ; Through the practice of crowning the ruler's sons while their fathers were still alive and sharing power, dynastic origins became dominant in West and East Franconia . Unlike in East Franconia / Germany, where the Carolingians died out in 911 and never more than five rulers of the same dynasty succeeded one another during the entire Middle Ages, in West Franconia / France dynastic continuity and blood law played an essential role until the 19th century, when kings achieved At the beginning of the 13th century even the establishment of a hereditary monarchy .

At first, West Franconia had a strong position among the Carolingian empires. Charles II the Bald was the last surviving son of Emperor Ludwig I to acquire Italy and was crowned emperor in 875 . However, with the early death of his son and his two grandchildren, the empire dissolved: in 877 Niederburgund (Arelat) and 888 Hochburgund became independent kingdoms, and rule in Italy could not be maintained either. In 880 the claim to Lorraine had to be given up, which fell to Eastern Franconia. In 884 the originally East Frankish king and emperor Karl III. the fat (881-87) ruler of the West Franconian Empire, but because of his passivity in the face of the Norman threat, he was forced to abdicate ( Diet of Tribur ). In 888, Count Odo of Paris from the Robertin family was elected as the first anti-king in West Franconia. In the next hundred years the king's position in western France changed frequently between the Carolingians and the Robertinians. But even after the Robertines finally took over royal rule in western France in 987, French kingship was largely limited to its core area in the Ile de France and only exercised nominal supremacy over the other duchies in France.

The Burgundian monastery of Cluny and the monastic reform movement that originated from it ( Cluniac reform ) developed into a power factor . The founder of Cluny, Duke Wilhelm the Pious of Aquitaine , gave the monastery, founded in 910, a constitution free from any secular and episcopal power; it was only subordinate to the Pope . King Heinrich I of Eastern Franconia (919–36) granted the monastery the privilege of founding daughter monasteries and transferring the reform to them. The power vacuum in the border area of ​​France, the German Empire and the Arelat, so that the Cluniac reform was able to spread quickly - especially in the West Franconian Empire - was beneficial for the expansion. Over time, the monastery grew into a centralized monastic state, to which over 200 abbeys and priories were subordinate in the 12th century . Alongside the Roman-German emperor, Cluny developed into the second important occidental power factor of this time and contributed significantly to the investiture dispute that escalated in the middle of the 11th century .

France in 1030. The Crown Domain, d. H. the real royal property is colored light blue.

After the Carolingian dynasty died out, Duke Hugo Capet von Franzien, a descendant of the anti-king Robert I of the Robertin family, became King of France with the support of Empress Theophanu and founded the so-called Capetian dynasty.

In 1066 Duke William the Conqueror was able to conquer England . He was also a vassal of the French king. The English royal family became the greatest threat to the French crown over the next four centuries.

The Montségur , the last Cathar bastion in the Albigensian Wars

The rise of the Capetians began with Ludwig VI. the thick (1106-1137); By developing feudal rights and privileging cities, he was able to initiate the strengthening of the crown at the expense of the lower nobility . A French national feeling emerged through the attack of Emperor Henry V in 1124 and through the Crusades , in which the French saw themselves as “God's chosen instrument”. Ludwig allied himself with the papacy to "protect against Germany". His chancellor , the Cistercian Abbot Suger , also established a connection between the crown and the Cistercians . His church building, the Saint-Denis basilica , is the burial place of almost all French kings and embodies the growing importance of France as the initial building of the Gothic style , which will dominate European architecture for the next 250 years .

Under Louis VII (1137–1180) the crown suffered a serious blow: Louis' divorced wife Eleanor of Poitou and Aquitaine married in 1152 Heinrich Plantagenet , Duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou , Maine and Touraine , who also became King of England in 1154 . The Angevin Empire thus took up about half of the French national territory. Ludwig's son Philip II August (1180–1223) conquered Normandy in the Franco-English War from 1202 and displaced England from the area north of the Loire . He was able to reject the English recapture attempts in close collaboration with the Hohenstaufen in 1214 in the battle of Bouvines . In the Treaty of Paris , Louis IX. the saint (1226–1270) limit English rule to parts of Gascon and Aquitaine in southwest France, which were grouped under the name of the Duchy of Guyenne . The English King Henry III. (England) also had to Louis IX. recognize as liege lord .

Another almost independent vassal was the Count of Toulouse , who ruled over the Languedoc as well as the County of Toulouse . At the beginning of the 13th century, the French south differed significantly from the north culturally and with Occitan also linguistically. The persecution of "heresy" in the southeastern part of the empire triggered the Albigensian Wars (1209–1229). Béziers and Carcassonne were the first targets of the “conversion”, which was driven forward with extreme brutality . Originally started by the Pope , from 1216 religious questions only played a subordinate role - the war was now up to the king. The crown was victorious here too, and Toulouse and Languedoc also fell to them by 1271. The Pope took over the persecution of the "heretics" (Cathars). The Inquisition , founded for this purpose, received almost unlimited power in the Languedoc. As a result, there were repeated uprisings in the region. In 1244 the fortress of Montségur was conquered in a final campaign .

In 1226 Louis VIII (France) succeeded in making the empire a hereditary monarchy , something that was denied to all ruling families in Germany until modern times. After the death of Emperor Frederick II in 1250, Ludwig IX. the most powerful ruler of the West .

In 1246 King Louis IX awarded The county of Anjou, which fell back to the crown from the Plantagenets in 1204, to his younger brother Karl and thus founded the House of Anjou . Anjou subsequently acquired extra-territorial territories: in 1246 the county of Provence in the Roman-German Empire, 1266–1442 the Kingdom of Naples (papal fiefdom from the Staufer inheritance), 1278–1283 the Principality of Achaia (in the Latin Empire formed by the Crusaders ).

King Philip IV the Handsome (1285–1314) continued to strengthen the kingship through clever financial policies, the liquidation of the Templar order in favor of the crown and the expansion of the Domaine royal ( crown domain ) to include Champagne . The conflict with England intensified again, however, and there was a first military conflict with the traditionally pro-English cities in Flanders in 1297–1305 , in which the king ultimately retained the upper hand.

The conflict with the Pope over his claim to world domination also escalated. In 1303 Philip the Fair imprisoned the Pope, and in 1309 he sealed the Curia's dependence on France by forcing it to move to Avignon . During the more than 100-year-old papacy in Avignon that followed, the church experienced a severe loss of authority.

The Capetian dynasty in the older, direct line died out in 1328 with the death of King Charles IV. It was followed by the Valois dynasty , which also goes back to Hugo Capet in the male line, on the throne (until 1589).

1328–1589: House of Valois

France 1429 to 1453
Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy, King
Charles VII's opponent in the war .

After the death of the last Capetian , Philip of Valois, Count of Anjou, the cousin of the deceased Charles IV. Was elected the new king in 1328 according to Salian inheritance law (male succession) ; he founded the Valois dynasty (until 1498). Eduard III also raised claims to the throne . Plantagenet , King of England and Duke of Aquitaine . Eduard was the nephew of Charles IV in female succession. Against this background, the Hundred Years War broke out from 1339 to 1453 . England achieved great initial success and by 1360 conquered the entire north-west of France alongside Calais . Serious internal conflicts broke out in France - in addition to the plague epidemic of 1348 , the country suffered from the consequences of the war and the civil war of the Armagnacs and Bourguignons . From 1369 onwards, France was able to wear out its opponents in guerrilla warfare and, by 1380 , push them back to a few bases (Calais, Cherbourg , Brest , Bordeaux , Bayonne ).

King John II the Good (1350-1364) enfeoffed his younger sons with the important territories of Anjou , Berry and Burgundy . These branch lines of the Valois had considerable influence in the kingdom until 1477. The House of Burgundy , in particular , was able to amass considerable possessions during this period. Philip the Bold , Duke of Burgundy (1363–1404), took a first step when the Flemish cities rebelled against the high tax burden caused by the war. Philip of Burgundy was able to put down this uprising and received with the hand of the Flemish Countess Margaret of Mâle in 1384 Flanders, with the Artois , Hainaut and the Franche-Comté . Philip and his nephew Ludwig Duke of Orléans (1392-1407) continued to reign for the mentally ill King Charles VI. (1380–1422) true, but were involved in power struggles among themselves.

The state crisis came when England took up the Hundred Years War again with the Battle of Azincourt in 1415 . Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy (1419–1467) sided with England when followers of the Dauphin murdered his father in 1419 . England and Burgundy quickly occupied Normandy and northern France including Aquitaine and the Île-de-France ( crown domain ) with Paris . Salvation came with Joan of Arc (aka "Maid of Orléans"). This was able to spark national resistance, forced England to lift the siege of Orléans in 1429 and led Charles VII (1422–1461) to the anointing in Reims Cathedral . Eventually she was captured by the Burgundians, sold to the English and burned at the stake on May 30, 1431 . Since then she has been considered a national hero in France. She was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church in 1920 . In 1435 the king was reconciled with Burgundy, in 1436 Paris and 1449-1453 finally Normandy was recaptured. The war ended after the Battle of Castillon .

France in 1477

In the meantime, the Burgundians were able to further expand their domain. In 1435 the king could only buy them to turn away from England by releasing Burgundy from French fiefdom. Burgundy owed its rise to the persistent weakness of the French monarchy. However, when in 1461 after the settlement of the Hundred Years War, Ludwig XI. ascended the French throne, the political situation changed: since Burgundy was still considered part of France, the clash was inevitable. The conflict was exacerbated by the aggressive policy of Duke Charles the Bold (1467–1477), who wanted to declare Burgundy an independent kingdom. He made a corresponding agreement with the Habsburg Emperor Friedrich III. (1440–1493), who in return demanded the hand of the Burgundian heiress Maria for his son Maximilian . Karl finally agreed to this, but could no longer reap the fruits of his policy, since he was killed in the battle of Nancy in 1477 .

Franz I.

With the inheritance, Habsburg now also raised claims on French territory. The war broke out; It was not until 1493 that the county of Flanders and the Artois fell to Habsburg with the Treaty of Senlis and were incorporated into the Roman-German Empire . The remaining French territories from the Burgundian heritage ( Burgundy , Nevers , Picardy ) remained with France .

In the course of the Italian wars from 1495 onwards, Spain and France increasingly became power competitors. France tried several times to annex Milan and thus gain sovereignty in Italy. During the reign of Franz I there were violent disputes with Emperor Charles V, who tried to defend his property in southern Italy (Naples). Franz's offensive wars ultimately had no consequences.

His successor Heinrich II also waged wars of aggression against the House of Habsburg , which brought only moderate success. By signing the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis , a stable foreign policy peace was sought, as there were internal conflicts with the Huguenots . Through this peace France lost its position of supremacy to Spain.

There was an internal weakening of France and the crown. Catholic and Protestant camps fought each other in the Huguenot Wars in order to gain influence over the government. On Bartholomew's Night on 23/24 August 1572 in Paris important Protestant figures were murdered. This triggered again flows of refugees .

1589–1789: House of Bourbon

Bourbon arms of France and Navarre since the union of the two crowns in 1589

The end of the direct line of the so-called Valois led to battles in which Henry IV of the Bourbon family finally became lawful king (1589). He was the most important male descendant of the French royal family and nephew of King Francis I, so that he was able to prevail against the pro-Spanish house of Guise , which wanted to usurp the throne. He was a Protestant and had to convert to Catholicism to consolidate his rule; He is said to have commented on this by saying “Paris is worth a fair ”. In 1598, the Edict of Nantes issued by Henry IV brought a temporary calming of the situation, which lasted until the conquest of La Rochelle in 1628.

With Henry IV's accession to the throne, the most important epoch in French history began: France's renewed rise to supremacy in Europe and the establishment of an absolutist-centralist form of government . Heinrich installed a centrally controlled bureaucracy that was completely dependent on the king and adopted an aggressive foreign policy towards Spain. However, his assassination (1610) prevented an invasion of the Spanish Netherlands . His son Louis XIII. was initially under the reign of his mother Maria de Medici . A time followed when two cardinals - Richelieu and Mazarin - directed the fortunes of France in place of the king and vigorously pushed Protestantism back. With the capture of La Rochelle in 1628 , the Huguenots lost the last of the fortified places of retreat granted to them in the Edict of Nantes and were then defenselessly exposed to royal absolutist politics. Under Richelieu's leadership, the power of the crown was further consolidated, the internal opposition eliminated and foreign policy pursued very actively. At the instigation of Richelieu, France actively intervened in the Thirty Years' War in Central Europe in 1635 and thus automatically came into conflict with Spain ( Franco-Spanish War (1635–1659) ). In the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 France was granted territories in Alsace and achieved a permanent weakening of central power in the Holy Roman Empire. With the Peace of the Pyrenees (1659), the time of the hegemony of Spain in Europe visibly came to an end and the age of French dominance in Europe began. This dominance was military and also cultural. Almost all the princes of Europe based themselves on the example of French culture at the court of Versailles Palace .

From the 17th century onwards, French became the lingua franca of the European nobility, initially in Central Europe, and in the 18th and 19th centuries also in Eastern Europe ( Poland , Russia , Romania ); numerous Gallicisms found their way into the languages ​​of Europe. For centuries, French was spoken by the nobility and intellectuals of Europe and was considered the language of the court and the educated ( educational language ).

Louis XIV

In 1643 the then four-year-old Louis XIV inherited the throne, Mazarin continued to run the government. The aristocratic revolt of the so-called Fronde fought in vain against Mazarin's rule and absolutist power. After Mazarin's death in 1661, Louis XIV took control of the government himself. Under him, France reached the height of its power. The king had an unprecedented level of power; he could determine all fate in the country. The Sun King was, so to speak, the central star in the absolutist state, around which everything revolved.

In terms of foreign policy, Louis XIV pursued an expansive policy in the political tradition of his grandfather and Richelieu with the aim of strengthening France's weight in Europe. In the bloody London carriage dispute (1661) he symbolically forced the recognition of the diplomatic priority of the French over the Spanish crown. The French state has been reformed from the ground up by effectively expanding the bureaucracy and simplifying the legal system. The economy was restructured according to the principles of mercantilism and the French standing army became the largest on the continent. A large marine was added. Colbert stood by the king's side. Ludwig's Palace of Versailles and the state organization of France were copied in smaller forms across Europe. Paris grew into one of the largest cities and the scientific and intellectual center of Europe.

During the reign of Louis XIV, France waged four expansive wars: the War of Devolution (1667–1668), the Dutch War (1672–1678), the War of Palatinate Succession against the Augsburg Alliance (1688–1697) and the War of Spanish Succession (1701–1713) . The latter led to an exorbitant national debt close to national bankruptcy and the country suffered badly from the economic stresses of the war. Ultimately, however, France was able to assert itself against the grand coalition of European powers. The wars led to an enormous territorial expansion of France, especially in the east towards the Holy Roman Empire. Due to the sometimes extremely ruthless warfare with the destruction of regions close to the border, for example in the Palatinate War of Succession, anti-French resentments developed, in which the seeds of what later became known as Franco-German hereditary enmity can be seen.

By Louis Edict of Fontainebleau in 1685, the Edict of Tolerance of Nantes was repealed in order to complete the unity of the state. Huguenot churches were destroyed and Protestant schools closed. Anyone who stayed in the country and was still recognizable as a Protestant was persecuted. Despite the ban on emigration in the face of severe threats of punishment, hundreds of thousands of French Protestants fled to neighboring reformed countries (the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Prussia, Hesse, etc.). For France, the mass emigration of mostly well-educated people meant serious economic damage; the immigration countries benefited from it.

France's conquests until the 18th century

Ludwig survived his son and his eldest grandson and died on September 1, 1715. His great-grandson Louis XV. followed him on the throne; In the time of the Régence the economic upswing and the cultural boom continued. The court intrigues surrounding Madame de Pompadour and Madame Dubarry are legendary . Due to his unsuccessful participation in the Seven Years' War (1756 to 1763) against Frederick the Great , Louis XV lost. considerable parts of the French colonies in North America ( Québec , Louisiana ) and parts of India to England.

Louis XV died in 1774; then his grandson Louis XVI came. to the throne who was married to Marie Antoinette , a daughter of the Austrian Archduchess Maria Theresa . Louis XVI made the of Louis XV. The reforms that had been started shortly before his death were largely reversed and he tried to reorganize the state through his own reforms. In doing so, he made the mistake of giving the Supreme Courts of Justice more power, which made it easier for the nobility and clergy to fight his reform plans. This led to a major financial crisis in the 1780s, to which participation in the American War of Independence also contributed. The king reacted with austerity measures and tried to regulate the financial system anew; He also tried to achieve direct taxation of the 1st and 2nd class ( clergy and nobility ). After the extremely hard winter of 1783/84 (see also here ) and the bad harvests of 1787 and 1788 , the king felt compelled in August 1788 to convene the old estates- general (French les États generaux ) to avoid them more solving problems to tackle. On June 17, 1789, the members of the Third Estate declared themselves to be the National Assembly and vowed not to split up until a constitution for France was created ( ball house oath ). These events are considered to be the "beginning of the end" of the Ancien Régime (Eng. "Former rule").

1789–1814: From the French Revolution to the First Empire

Storming the Bastille - July 14th 1789

1789–1799: Revolution

Napoléon Bonaparte as emperor

The French Revolution began with the storming of the Bastille in Paris on July 14, 1789 (now France's national holiday ). The revolutionaries wanted to put an end to absolutism, which after its heyday under Louis XIV. A decadent phase under Louis XVI. had achieved. On August 26, 1789, the National Assembly proclaimed the Declaration of Human and Civil Rights as the first human rights declaration in Europe . After the failed escape of the king to Varennes , the radical Club des Cordeliers organized a demonstration that led to the massacre on the Marsfeld on July 17, 1791 . The constitution of September 3, 1791 changed France from an absolutist to a constitutional monarchy .

The day after the Valmy cannonade , the First French Republic was proclaimed on September 21, 1792 . The intensification of the differences led to the September massacres after the Tuileries storm and ultimately to the beheading of the king on January 21, 1793. After the Jacobin revolt, the Girondins were expelled from the convent . The reign of terror of the twelve-member Jacobin Welfare Committee, headed first by Georges Danton and then increasingly by Maximilien de Robespierre , began with the adoption of the democratic constitution of 1793 , which however never came into force. The Jacobin rule was ended on July 27, 1794 ( 9th Thermidor ) with the arrest and the next day the execution of Robespierre and his followers by the Thermidorians , after which the Directory took power. The beginning of the coalition wars between France and its neighboring countries was marked by numerous French victories, including Napoleon's Italian campaign from 1796 to 1797.

1799–1804: French Consulate

On November 9th, 1799 Napoleon Bonaparte seized power as first consul with the coup d'état of 18th Brumaire VIII . In 1802 he reintroduced slavery, which had been abolished in the course of the revolution, in the colonies, which led to a renewed uprising in the colony of Haiti in 1804, whereupon Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared Haitian independence.

1804–1814: First Empire

The coat of arms of the empire under Napoléon Bonaparte

In the imperial coronation of Napoleon I on December 2, 1804, Napoléon himself put the imperial crown on his head. Napoléon continued the annexation policy of his predecessors and brought most of Europe under his direct or indirect control in the coalition wars. He acted as an imperialist , bringing the conquered countries also the achievements of the revolution and liberalism: legal equality, for example, or the Code civil (“Code Napoléon”).

On December 2, 1805, Napoléon won the Battle of Austerlitz against Russia and Austria , also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors . In October 1806 there was the battle near Jena and Auerstedt , in which the Prussian troops were defeated. The French troops marched into Berlin . Napoleon marched through Poland and signed an agreement with the Russian Tsar Alexander I that divided Europe between the two powers. Napoléon enforced a Europe-wide trade boycott (the so-called continental barrier ) against Great Britain and installed his brother Joseph Bonaparte as king in Spain during the war on the Iberian Peninsula . The Spaniards rose and Napoleon failed to put down the uprising.

The French Empire at its greatest expansion in 1812

In 1809 there was another war with Austria, but this time it was on its own. Napoléon conquered Vienna, but shortly afterwards lost the nimbus of invincibility in the battle of Aspern . A month and a half later he successfully took revenge in the battle of Wagram and Austria had to surrender in the Peace of Schönbrunn .

In that year Napoléon divorced Joséphine because she could not bear him children and married Marie-Louise von Habsburg in 1810 . After the defeat of the Grande Armée ("Great Army") in the Russian campaign in 1812 , the French Empire began to totter. The final defeat of the French came in 1813 in the Battle of the Nations near Leipzig . After the defeat, Napoléon went into exile in Elba , a small Mediterranean island. Louis XVIII was installed as king. As early as 1815 Napoléon returned to the mainland, where the military that were supposed to stop him received him enthusiastically. In Paris, Napoléon took over the rule of the Hundred Days until he was finally defeated at Waterloo , (also known as the "Belle Alliance") near Brussels . France had to give up the conquered territories again, but was able to retain almost all of its old territory (including Alsace-Lorraine) and only had to have the border fortresses of Philippeville , Mariembourg , Saarlouis and Landau in the Palatinate in the Second Peace of Paris, which it had owned since the 17th century resign.

1814–1871: From the Restoration to the Second Empire

The restoration began in France with the Charte constitutionnelle of 1814, which was valid until 1830 after the brief interlude of the Napoleonic hundred days . It was now again installed kings from the House of Bourbon , which with Louis XVIII. and Charles X. ruled more and more despotic. On July 26, 1830, Charles X dissolved parliament. The liberal opposition responded to the “coup d'état” with calls for resistance to the regime. The July Revolution of 1830 came about .

In the July monarchy , Louis-Philippe, considered liberal, came to the French throne from the Orléans branch of the House of Bourbon. As a so-called citizen king , he led his government, supported by the upper classes, initially liberally, but then gave his politics an increasingly reactionary direction, up to and including France's entry into the Holy Alliance , an alliance of states originally founded by Prussia, Russia and Austria and committed to restoration . Louis-Philippe was overthrown by the February Revolution of 1848 that led to the Second French Republic . Louis Napoléon Bonaparte , a nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte , was elected President .

On December 2, 1852, Louis Napoléon Bonaparte was crowned Napoleon III. to the emperor. He secured his power through military and repression measures, through an aggressive foreign policy and through material concessions to the population. His Second Empire lasted until September 2, 1870, when he failed militarily in the Franco-German War and was taken prisoner by Prussia. The Third French Republic was proclaimed on September 4th .

1870–1958: From the Paris Commune to the Fourth Republic

1870–1871: Paris Commune

After the empire capitulated, there was a popular uprising against this capitulation in Paris; the so-called Paris Commune came into being. The municipal representatives called for the establishment of a federal republic. The conservative majority in the French National Assembly sent troops against the commune. After a two-month siege, bitter barricade fighting broke out over the French capital from May 21 to 28, 1871 . Almost a quarter of the working class was killed in the fighting and the mass executions that followed.

1871–1940: Third Republic

As a result, France became a republic again. In 1905, as a consequence of the Dreyfus affair, the law on the separation of church and state was adopted, whereby the complete separation of state and church - French la laïcité , English secularism - was anchored in the French constitution . In the First World War from 1914 to 1918 (French La Grande Guerre ) around 1.5 million French soldiers died. After the war, France was one of the victorious powers of the Entente and dictated harsh conditions to the losers in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles . Alsace-Lorraine , lost to Germany in 1871 , returned to France.

In the interwar period , France initially pursued the policy of security on the Rhine ( occupation of the Ruhr area in January 1923 under Prime Minister Poincaré ), which was followed by Franco-German rapprochement in the Locarno Treaty of 1925. The following years were crisis years with rapidly changing governments. From 1930 to 1936 the Maginot Line was built with up to 20,000 workers ; it was very expensive and in June 1940 (when the Wehrmacht defeated France in the western campaign ) it was labor-intensive and useless. Offensive tactics were not used or used too late; the development of tanks was underestimated (see also: Panzer (1914–1933) #France ).

On February 6, 1934, the fascist Croix de Feu movement and other right-wing extremist leagues took part in a major anti-parliamentary street battle . After the resignation of Édouard Daladier (1934) Gaston Doumergue formed a government of national unity (French Union Nationale ), which had to get along without the consent of the communists and socialists . It lasted 272 days, the following Flandin I government 204 days, the Bouisson government 3 days, and the Laval IV government 229 days. In May 1936, the newly formed Front populaire (translated: Popular Front) made up of socialists, communists and radical socialists won the parliamentary elections (with the slogan "Bread, Peace, Freedom"). The socialist Léon Blum became Prime Minister in 1936/37 and 1938 (386 + 26 = 412 days). He was twice succeeded by the radical socialist Edouard Daladier. The 'Front Populaire' consistently followed the principle of non-interference and was geared towards peace and defense. She pursued a policy of appeasement towards Germany (similar to Neville Chamberlain , who was British Prime Minister from May 1937 to 1940). Since the Maginot Line had been built since 1930 , many felt safe from a German attack (similar to Czechoslovakia, which built the Czechoslovak Wall from 1933 to 1938 ).

As Hitler to September 1, 1939 invasion of Poland began, France and Britain declared him two days later the war . France, however, was hardly prepared militarily. The French army remained on the defensive (" Sitzkrieg ") until May 10, 1940 (the start of the German attack on the Benelux countries ). The western campaign of the Wehrmacht ended after a few weeks (" Blitzkrieg ") with the complete defeat of the French army. On June 14, 1940, German troops occupied the open city of Paris. After the resignation of Prime Minister Reynaud, President Albert Lebrun commissioned Marshal Pétain on June 16, 1940 with the formation of a government and armistice negotiations. Hitler could dictate the conditions to the vanquished; the Compiègne armistice (June 22, 1940) was a de facto surrender.

1940–1944: Second World War

Occupied France and the Vichy regime, late 1942
German checkpoint with barbed wire entanglement and swastika flag on the demarcation line on the Cher River in 1941, admission of the propaganda company . The sign forbids Jews , as defined in the First Ordinance of the Reich Citizenship Law, from entering occupied France.
Resistance in the battle for Paris, 1944

After the 1940 defeat , France remained occupied. The armistice treaty provided for a division of France into different zones. The "zone occupée" (occupied zone), occupied by the Germans and placed under military administration, comprised the north-east and north of the country, the Atlantic and the Channel coasts. There were no plans to assign territories, but the German Empire de facto annexed Alsace and Lorraine . The German military commander (MBF) resided with his authorities in Paris. The Départements Nord and Pas-de-Calais were under the military administration in Belgium and northern France , the extreme southeast to the ally Italy. In the "Zone libre" ( Free Zone ), the German-dependent conservative-authoritarian Vichy regime (the official name was État Français ) emerged, a government that cooperated with Germany until the advance of the Allies in 1944. The government got its name from its seat of government, the spa town of Vichy in Auvergne . Chef de l'État ( Head of State) was Marshal Henri Philippe Pétain . The Free Zone was occupied by Wehrmacht troops ( Operation Anton ) on November 11, 1942 , when the Allies managed to land in North Africa . As in the other states occupied by Germany, there was armed resistance against the occupation and their helpers in France (see Resistance ). A total of around 13,000 to 16,000 French people fell victim to the German fight against partisans, including 4,000 to 5,000 uninvolved civilians.

In a radio address ( Radio Londres , appeal of June 18, 1940 ) Charles de Gaulle called on the French to resist the Nazi regime , while at the same time placing himself at the head of the resistance movement. The French government-in-exile received support from Winston Churchill and the US government's lending and leasing law . During the landing in Normandy and the liberation of France , troops of Free France were also involved to a lesser extent.

1944–1947: Provisional Government

De Gaulle formed a Provisional Government on June 3, 1944. After the retreat or the surrender of the German occupiers, there were first wild riots against compatriots suspected of collaboration ; later a Commission d'Épuration was set up at regional level. Marshal Pétain was sentenced to death on August 15, 1945 (de Gaulle commuted the sentence to life imprisonment two days later) and the Prime Minister of the Vichy regime, Pierre Laval , was executed on October 15, 1945.

On November 13, 1945, the French National Assembly elected de Gaulle Prime Minister; then he formed the cabinet de Gaulle II .

On June 2, 1946, a constituent assembly was elected; a constitutional referendum was held on October 13, 1946, and the first parliamentary election on November 10, 1946. The French Communist Party (PCF) received 182 seats, the MRP 173 and the SFIO 102. Georges Bidault (MRP), Prime Minister since June 24, 1946, formed a coalition of the PCF, MRP and SFIO and stayed for a few weeks after the election Prime Minister; He was followed by Léon Blum ( Cabinet Blum III ), Paul Ramadier (Cabinet I and II ) and Robert Schuman ( I ).

1947–1958: Fourth Republic

The Constitution of the Fourth Republic had already been passed by referendum on October 13, 1946 . The socialist Vincent Auriol took office as the first president in 1947 . 1954 René Coty was his successor. Outstanding fourth republic politicians were René Pleven , Robert Schuman , Pierre Mendès France and Georges Bidault .

Despite the defeat by the German Reich in 1940, France was recognized by the victorious powers ( USA , Great Britain , Soviet Union ) as a power with equal rights ( occupying power ). France also became one of the veto powers in the UN Security Council . During the Fourth Republic there was the Indochina War , which heralded the end of the French colonial empire with the defeat of France in 1954 , and the first years of the Algerian War (1954 to 1962).

In 1958 the crisis of the Fourth Republic culminated (details here ); on June 1, 1958, the French lower house commissioned Charles de Gaulle to form a new government and constitution. Before his election as president, De Gaulle demanded special powers to resolve the Algerian crisis and a constitutional amendment to strengthen presidential authority over government and parliament.

Since 1958: Fifth Republic

1958–1981: Presidencies of de Gaulle, Pompidou and Giscard d'Estaing

In September 1958, the French approved the constitution of the Fifth French Republic by referendum with 80% , which was based on a proposal by Charles de Gaulle. It came into force on October 4, 1958. Since then, France has been considered a semi-presidential democracy, but the term is controversial in political science . In the constitution, the executive power was confirmed and the President de la République continued to represent the state. He is in command of the army , can pass laws and dissolve the Assemblée Nationale at any time.

As President de Gaulle determined the political development of France until 1969. Between 1958 and 1960, the African colonies were given independence. Against the resistance of large parts of the generals and many French Algerians , which culminated in the attacks by the Organization de l'armée secrète (OAS), the Algerian war was ended on March 18, 1962 with the Treaty of Évian . Algerian independence was recognized, and most of the French had to leave Algeria. The development of its own nuclear force (French force de frappe ) and the solution from military integration into NATO served the desired role of an independent great power. Other foreign policy goals were a "Europe of Fatherlands" and rapprochement with the Eastern bloc states. With the Élysée Treaty (1963) rapprochement and cooperation in Franco-German relations intensified . France vetoed Great Britain's accession to the European Economic Community (EEC). In the first direct presidential election in 1965 , de Gaulle was confirmed in office.

The Fifth Republic was badly shaken by student unrest and a general strike in May 1968 , which led to long-term cultural, political and economic reforms in France. In response, de Gaulle dissolved the National Assembly, and the new elections in June 1968 led to a clear victory for the Gaullists . However, 10 months later he lost a referendum on constitutional reform and subsequently resigned from the presidency.

His successor, Georges Pompidou , who was Prime Minister from 1962 to 1968, essentially continued the policy of Gaullism and drove the economic modernization of the country. Its prime minister was initially Jacques Chaban-Delmas , from 1972 Pierre Messmer . Around 1971, even before the oil price crisis of 1973, France decided to make itself more independent of oil by using nuclear energy . Pompidou promoted in particular the French auto industry and the construction of expressways in the cities, on the other hand numerous branch lines were permanently closed in the rail traffic. The concretisation of some major technical projects also fell during his term of office: first flight of a Concorde in 1969, establishment of the Airbus consortium in 1970, first prototype of a TGV in 1972, start of the Ariane program in 1973. In terms of foreign policy, Pompidou advocated political unification of Europe and the expansion of the EEC especially the accession of Great Britain.

After the sudden death of Georges Pompidou in 1974, he was succeeded by the liberal-conservative Valéry Giscard d'Estaing , who was previously Minister of Finance and Economy. He narrowly won the presidential election against François Mitterrand , chairman of the Parti socialiste founded in 1972 and a common candidate for the left. During his tenure, a social reform program was implemented, such as the liberalization of abortion and legislation on divorce by mutual agreement. As a staunch supporter of the European construction process, Giscard d'Estaing justified, among other things, the regular holding of summits of the heads of state and government of the EEC. As a result of the oil crisis, a new form of mass unemployment emerged from 1975 . Thereupon the Prime Minister Jacques Chirac resigned in 1976, his successor Raymond Barre was forced to a strict austerity policy.

1981–1995: Mitterrand presidency

A turning point was the victory of François Mitterrand in the presidential elections in 1981 and the takeover of government by the Socialist Party in the parliamentary elections that followed. Mitterrand was the first socialist head of state of the Fifth Republic. However, he did not change the institutions, but ruled with the same means as his predecessors; since then, the system of the Fifth Republic has also been widely accepted by the left.

The new Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy formed a coalition with the communists . As one of the first measures, the death penalty was abolished and the administration decentralized . There were also far-reaching economic measures such as increasing the minimum wage ( SMIC ) and pensions, nationalizing banks and key industries, and introducing the 39-hour week. Due to poor economic development, the communists left the government and Mauroy's successor was Laurent Fabius , who implemented an austerity program . One year later the sinking of the Greenpeace ship "Rainbow Warrior" by the French secret service in New Zealand was an important event .

In 1986 the left lost its majority in the parliamentary elections and the first cohabitation of the Fifth Republic with Jacques Chirac of the Gaullist RPR as prime minister took place. In the next presidential election in 1988 Mitterrand then prevailed against his prime minister in the second round. During this presidency four prime ministers were in office: the socialists Michel Rocard , Édith Cresson and Pierre Bérégovoy and, from 1993, in another cohabitation, the Gaullist Édouard Balladur . The government introduced the Revenu minimum d'insertion (RMI) welfare scheme as an important social measure . After initial hesitation, Mitterrand agreed to German reunification. France participated in the Second Gulf War in 1991 and ratified the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 .

1995–2012: Chirac and Sarkozy presidencies

In 1995 Chirac won the presidential election against the PS candidate Lionel Jospin , Alain Juppé was appointed Prime Minister . At the end of 1995 there were strikes mainly against the planned reform of pensions and social security; they were the largest strikes since May 1968. After a parliamentary election one year early , in 1997 Chirac lost an absolute majority in the National Assembly . So it came to a five-year cohabitation with a cabinet under Jospin, which was based on an alliance of left parties (French: Gauche plurielle ). To create new jobs, the 35-hour week was introduced, promoted by Minister Martine Aubry . In addition, the government prepared the introduction of the euro as the new common European currency, on January 1, 2002 it replaced the French franc as a means of payment.

In a referendum in 2000, the president's term of office was reduced from seven to five years . In addition, in future parliamentary elections should take place immediately after the presidential elections in order to ensure that the president always has a majority in parliament. In the 2002 elections , Jospin took third place in the first round with 16.18% of the vote, just behind Jean-Marie Le Pen , head of the right-wing National Front (French: le Front National ), among other things because the votes of the left were up divided among many candidates. He then resigned from all offices. In the runoff election, incumbent Chirac was then clearly confirmed in office with 82.21% of the votes. From 2002 to 2007, Conservative governments reigned under Prime Ministers Raffarin ( Raffarin cabinet ) and de Villepin ( de Villepin cabinet ).

In the summer of 2003, a heat wave killed thousands of people, mostly elderly. In the same year Chirac snubbed the USA by refusing to take part in the Iraq war , like Chancellor Gerhard Schröder did in Germany . Two years earlier, France had participated in the intervention in Afghanistan .

On May 29, 2005, the planned EU constitution was rejected in a referendum . Social grievances and a failed integration policy sparked unrest in many French suburbs in autumn 2005 . In response to this unrest, the government wanted to introduce a “first-time employment contract” (French: Contrat première embauche , CPE), which would create more jobs for young adults without protection against dismissal, but withdrew the project after demonstrations. Otherwise, French domestic policy was for a long time determined by the Clearstream affair .

In May 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy , the former Minister of the Economy and the Interior, won the runoff election in the French presidential election against the socialist Ségolène Royal , and he appointed François Fillon as Prime Minister . In mid-2008, Sarkozy launched a major constitutional reform that, among other things, limits the president's term of office to two legislative terms and is intended to give parliament more influence over the country's politics. Furthermore, with the TEPA social law, among other things, the taxation of overtime was reduced and social assistance reformed through the Revenu de solidarité active (RSA). In response to the financial crisis , the Fillon II cabinet passed an aid package of 360 billion euros in 2009. In 2010 France expelled masses of Roma illegally living in the country and thus turned the EU Commission against itself. In terms of foreign policy, Sarkozy returned France to the NATO command structure in 2009 and made a major contribution to the military operation in Libya during the Arab Spring in 2011 .

2012–2017: Hollande Presidency

For the 2012 presidential election , François Hollande was elected candidate for the Parti socialiste and the PRG in a primary election , which for the first time was open to all eligible voters who committed themselves to “the values ​​of the left and the republic”. On May 6, 2012, he won the second round against incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy. He appointed Jean-Marc Ayrault as Prime Minister , who was replaced two years later by the previous Minister of the Interior, Manuel Valls . One of the first measures implemented in 2013 was the introduction of same-sex marriage (French: mariage pour tous ), which also led to counter-demonstrations ( La Manif pour tous ). In 2014, a reform of the regions began with the aim of increasing the efficiency of the administration, which means that since the beginning of 2016 there are only 13 regions in the European part of France instead of the previous 22.

Since taking office, Hollande has been confronted with the Europe-wide crisis , the increasing over-indebtedness of the state and social systems and the ongoing de-industrialization of France. In this context, France's government quota , the ability to reform and other things are also critically discussed.

In 2015 Paris was hit by two Islamist terrorist attacks : on January 7, 2015, masked perpetrators broke into the editorial office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris and killed eleven people. This prompted solidarity rallies for the 17 victims of the attack , on which many posters with the slogan Je suis Charlie (“I am Charlie”) could be seen. On January 11, at least 3.7 million demonstrators gathered nationwide, 1.5 million of them in Paris alone, for the so-called Republican March , in which 44 heads of state and government from abroad also took part. As a political reaction, the highest level “Alerte Attentats” of the Plan Vigipirate security measures catalog was declared . On the evening of November 13 terrorists perpetrated at six different locations in the city attacks , in which 130 people died and were injured over three hundred people sometimes fatal. The attack series was directed against the spectators of a football game in the Stade de France , against the visitors of a rock concert in the Bataclan Theater as well as against the guests of numerous bars, cafes and restaurants. As a consequence of the attacks, to which the terrorist organization " Islamic State " (IS) claimed responsibility, the government declared a state of emergency and declared a three-day state mourning .

Another important event of 2015 was the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris from November 30th to December 12th, chaired by Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius , at which the Paris Agreement was adopted.

In December 2016, Francois Hollande announced that he was not running for a second term.

Since 2017: Macron presidency

Emmanuel Macron , the former economics minister in Manuel Valls ' cabinet , won the 2017 presidential election . He started with a social-liberal , economically liberal and pro-European program and won the second round against Marine Le Pen , the chairwoman of the Front National . Benoît Hamon , the candidate of the left ( Belle alliance populaire ), and François Fillon , the candidate of the right and the center, were both eliminated in the first round. Fillon was the favorite for the elections until he suspected he was misappropriating public funds . Far behind Jean-Luc Mélenchon ( La France insoumise ), Hamon was only fifth.

After taking office, Macron appointed the conservative Édouard Philippe Prime Minister. In the parliamentary elections that followed, the La République en Marche (LREM) party, founded by Macron in April 2016, won an absolute majority of the seats. Around half of the LREM candidates came from civil society without a previous political office.

See also


  • Heinz-Gerhard Haupt u. a .: History of France. Reclam, Stuttgart 2014.
  • Jean Favier (ed.): History of France. 6 volumes, Stuttgart 1989 ff.
  • Ernest Lavisse: Histoire de France depuis les origines jusqu'à la Révolution. 9 volumes, Paris 1903–1911.
  • Nouvelle Histoire de la France contemporaine. 20 volumes, Paris 1972-2005.
  • Wolfgang Schmale: History of France. Ulmer (UTB), Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-8252-2145-8 .
  • Olivier Büchsenschütz u. a .:  Gaul (France). In: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde (RGA). 2nd Edition. Volume 10, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1998, ISBN 3-11-015102-2 , pp. 345-402.
  • Matthias Waechter: History of France in the 20th Century. CH Beck Verlag, Munich 2019
  • Hippolyte Taine : The emergence of modern France , (covers the period from the Ancien Régime to Napoleon and its new state building), six volumes, Berlin 2019, JG Hoof Verlag, ISBN 978-3-936345-98-8

Web links

Commons : History of France  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: France  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. "Soldiers abused for nuclear tests" ( Memento of the original from May 7, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , ORF report from February 17, 2010 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / orf.at
  2. Cf. Joachim Grzega : Latin - French - English: Three Epochs of European Language and Vocabulary History , in: Grzega, Joachim, EuroLinguistischer Parcours: Core Knowledge of European Language Culture , Frankfurt: IKO, ISBN 3-88939-796-4 , p. 73 -114.
  3. from February 9 to November 8, 1934
  4. Peter Lieb : Conventional war or Nazi ideological war? Warfare and the fight against partisans in France 1943/44 , Munich, Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, 2007, ISBN 978-3-486-57992-5
  5. ^ Referendum in France
  6. Library of Congress - Federal Reserve Division: Country Profile France (PDF; 178 kB) , pp. 2–5.
  7. Stephen C. Jett and Lisa Roberts: Modern World Nations - France , Philadelphia 2003, ISBN 0-7910-7607-5 , pp. 35-64.
  8. ^ Start of the reform projects in France Neue Zürcher Zeitung, July 11, 2007
  9. François Hollande will challenge Nicolas Sarkozy welt.de, November 28, 2013,
  10. zeit.de / Gero von Randow (November 16, 2012): Bon courage! - Our most important neighbor could become Europe's worst patient - the fault is an unbelievable reform backlog .
  11. ^ Berthold Seewald: Five reasons for France's inability to reform. welt.de, October 16, 2011
  12. 1.5 million commemorate the victims of terrorism www.österreich.at, January 11, 2015