History of France

France is a traditional pole of arts and culture in the West, France is one of the countries that occupy a central position in the international economic and political system. He is a member of the UN Security Council, the Group of Seven and has a large nuclear arsenal. However, it suffers an economic decline, with rising unemployment, and competes with Germany for leadership in the European Union.

The echoes of his History – of the absolute kings, of the French Revolution , of Napoleon – are present throughout the country, in castles, monuments and museums. The refinement of its cuisine is an international reference, with emphasis on wines and cheeses. Paris, the French capital, is world famous as a stronghold of intellectuals and artists.

Historical facts

According to RECIPESINTHEBOX, the History of France begins with the arrival of Celtic tribes to Gaul, which roughly corresponds to current French territory, in the 9th century BC The Roman emperor Julius Caesar defeats the Gauls and conquered the region between 58 BC and 51 BC The Romans dominated Gaul until the end of the 5th century, when the region was invaded by barbarian tribes.

At the end of the 5th century, under the command of Clovis I, the Franks became lords of the whole country, which was converted to Catholicism. In the 9th century, King Charlemagne became the emperor of the Holy Roman German Empire, which encompasses present-day France and Germany. The empire is dismembered in feudal domains after Charlemagne.


Between 1337 and 1453, France and England were involved in a territorial dispute that would become known as the Hundred Years War. Under the inspiration of Joan of Arc, the French defeated the English in Orleans in 1429. In 1431, Joan of Arc is burned as a heretic in Rouen. France emerges victorious from the conflict and conquers English possessions. In 1572, Queen Catherine of Medicis ordered the murder of Huguenots (Protestants), what would become known as the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew. In 1598, King Henry IV, founder of the Bourbon dynasty, restored religious peace with the Edict of Nantes and weakened the power of the feudal lords. France’s prestige grows during the period of influence of Cardinal Richelieu, Prime Minister of King Louis XIII between 1624 and 1642,

In the reign of Louis XIV, the “King Sol” (1661-1715), absolutism reaches its peak, but successive expansionist wars undermine French supremacy in Europe. Under the reign of Louis XV (1715-1774), the ideas of the Enlightenment (Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau) developed, which combat religious intolerance and absolutism.

French Revolution

Disastrous wars and the inability of King Louis XVI to face the financial crisis of the State triggered the French Revolution in 1789. A National Assembly is formed, which votes on the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen and extinguishes the feudal privileges. Revolutionary France goes to war with European monarchies. The ambiguous position of the king – now a constitutional monarch – and the reaction of the European nobility radicalized the revolution. In 1792, the 1st Republic was born. King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, convicted of treason after trying to flee the country, are executed in 1793.

Maximilien de Robespierre and the Jacobins impose terror, first on counter-revolutionaries, then on dissident Jacobins. Robespierre is deposed and guillotined in 1794.

A military coup by General Napoleon Bonaparte restores political stability in 1799. Bonaparte is crowned Emperor of France in 1804, with the title of Napoleon I. His government is authoritarian, centralizing and expansionist. The Napoleonic Wars panicked the European aristocracy, until Napoleon’s defeat by English and Austrian troops at the Battle of Waterloo (1815). The Bourbon dynasty was restored between 1815 and 1830. A popular revolution, in 1830, overthrew the last Bourbon, Carlos X, and brought to the throne an Orleans, Luís Felipe I.

In 1848, a new revolution, which brings the advent of the workers’ movement in European history, establishes the 2nd Republic. Luís Bonaparte, Napoleon’s nephew, is elected president. In 1851, the president gave a coup d’état and the following year he became an emperor with the title of Napoleon III. The imperial regime is slowly liberalizing and accelerating the industrial revolution in France. Caused by Bismarck, Chancellor of Prussia, Napoleon III drags France into the Franco-Prussian War (1870), in which he is defeated and loses Alsace and Lorraine to Prussia, causing the overthrow of the empire and the establishment of the 3rd Republic.

In 1871, the new regime crushed the Paris Commune, a workers’ insurrection enlivened by socialist ideals.

World Wars

France emerges economically devastated by the First World War (1914-1918), despite being on the side of the victorious powers. The country recovers Alsace-Lorraine. The 3rd Republic is severely affected by the world crisis from 1929 to 1930. Between 1936 and 1938, the government of the Popular Front (a coalition of socialists and communists) introduces labor rights.

France declared war on Germany in September 1939, after Hitler invaded Poland. In 1940, German troops invaded France. The country is divided into two zones: one occupied directly by Germany and the other administered by the collaborative government of Marshal Philippe Pétain. In London, General Charles de Gaulle calls for resistance against the Nazis. The disembarkation of allied troops in Normandy (June 1944) initiates the liberation of France.

Elected president in November 1945, General De Gaulle resigned in January 1946, after the National Assembly rejected his proposal to establish a strong presidency. The 4th Republic (1945-1958) reconstructs the country’s economy, but faces colonial wars and political instability. After being defeated in Indochina in 1954, France insists on smothering the Algerian guerrillas.

In 1958, under pressure from the military, the National Assembly gave De Gaulle the power to draft a new constitution. The 5th Republic is born. Elected president, De Gaulle negotiates Algerian independence and faces armed opposition from right-wing army officers. In 1962, Algeria became independent.

In the De Gaulle government, France moves away from the USA; in 1966, the country withdraws from the military command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the western military alliance. The 1968 student revolt shook the government, which resigned the following year. Georges Pompidou, who succeeds De Gaulle, dies of cancer in 1974. His successor, Valèry Giscard D’Estaing (1974-1981), implements a policy of economic modernization.

The Mitterrand years

In 1981, FBrançois Mitterrand defeats Giscard in the presidential election and becomes the first socialist to reach the Presidency of France. Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy starts his government – in alliance with the communists – by adopting the classic measures of the left: major nationalizations and social reforms. In 1984, Mitterrand turns around: the communists leave the government and Mauroy is replaced by Laurent Fabius, who prioritizes the fight against inflation and integration with the European Economic Community (EEC). In 1986, conservatives won the legislative elections and the 5th Republic had its first experience of “cohabitation”: Gaullist Jacques Chirac became prime minister.

In 1988, Mitterrand is re-elected for another seven-year term in office. Mitterrand’s second government is marked by political instability: three prime ministers (Michel Rocard, Edith Cresson, Pierre Bérégovoy), far-right growth, led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, protests by farmers against Gatt’s reduction agreements agricultural subsidies and against European integration. Unemployment reaches 10%.

The Maastricht Treaty, which provides for the acceleration of European unification, is narrowly approved (50.9% to 49%) in a plebiscite held in September 1992. In the parliamentary elections of March 1993, the left has its worst performance in the polls throughout its history: 15.4% of the votes against 83.2% of the conservatives.

The new Prime Minister Edouard Balladur inaugurates the second period of “cohabitation” with Mitterrand. The economic adjustment measures related to the French accession to the European Union provoke protests – initiated with the strike of Air France in 1993 -, that last until the eve of the presidential elections of 1995.

Chirac President

In Mitterrand’s succession, the socialists manage to go to the second round with Lionel Jospin, but Chirac wins the elections with 52.6% of the votes on May 7, 1995. The new president nominates Alain Juppé as prime minister. In July, bombings in public places, which the government attributes to the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, provoke a strengthening of police control. Despite this, the attacks continue: in August a bomb explodes near the Arc de Triomphe and in September, a car bomb near a school. In less than two months, six terrorist attacks take place in the country with a total of seven dead and 121 wounded.

The celebration of the 206th anniversary of the French Revolution, on July 14, is marked by protests against Chirac’s decision to resume nuclear testing in Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific. Conflicts with ecologists, with New Zealand and Australia, disapproval public opinion of the USA and Japan, and protests in France itself do not prevent the French government from starting tests on September 5 with a power of 20 kilotons.

General data

Official name: French Republic (République Française)

Nationality: French

Capital : Paris

Language: French (official), Breton, Basque, local dialects

Religion: Christianity (mostly Catholic, Protestants), Islam, Judaism, Buddhism

Area: 547,026 km²

Location: Midwest Europe

Limits: Belgium and the English Channel (N), Luxembourg and Germany (NE), Switzerland and Italy (L), Mediterranean Sea (S), Andorra and Spain (SO), Atlantic Ocean (O)

Characteristics: flat and undulating relief (2/3 of the territory), plains (N and O), limited by the Pyrenees Mountains (SO), massif of the Jura and the Alps (SE)

Climate: temperate oceanic, Mediterranean (S)

Local time (in relation to Brasilia): + 4h

Population (1995): 58 million inhab.

Demographic density (inhab./km²): 106.03

Demographic growth: 0.4%

Population in the year 2025: 61.2 million inhab.

Birth rate (per 1,000 inhab.): 13

Infant mortality (per 1,000 inhab.): 7

Fertility (number of children per woman): 1.74

Life expectancy (H / M): 73.8 / 81.3

Government regime: parliamentary republic with strong head of state

Administrative division: 21 administrative regions (with 96 departments)

Administered territories: Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Wallis and Futuna Islands, Martinique, Mayotte, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Réunion, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, Southern and Antarctic Lands

Head of State: President Jacques Chirac (since May 1995)

Head of government: Prime Minister Alain Juppé (since May 1995)

Main parties: Meeting for the Republic, Union for French Democracy, Socialist, National Front, Communist

Legislative Organization: bicameral – National Assembly, with 577 members elected by direct vote. Senate, with 321 members elected by the College of the National Assembly by delegates from the Councils of Departments and Municipalities, for 9-year terms (1/3 renewable every 3 years). Of the 321 members, 296 represent metropolitan France, 13, the territories overseas, and 12, the French living abroad

Current Constitution: 1958

Currency: French franc

Price (for 1 US $): 4.94 (1995)

GDP: US $ 1,251,689 million

GNP per capita: US $ 22,490

Agriculture: 3% of GDP

Industry: 29% of GDP

Manufacturing: 22% of GDP

Services: 69% of GDP

Annual inflation: 5.1%

Circulation of newspapers (per 1,000 inhab.): 205

Diplomatic representation: SES – Avenida das Nações, lot 4, CEP 70404-900, Brasília, DF, tel. (061) 312-9100, fax (061) 312-9108

History of France

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