France, officially the French Republic (French: République française), is a unitary semi-presidential republic located mostly in Western Europe, with several overseas regions and territories. Metropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. France is the largest country in Western Europe and the third-largest in Europe as a whole. France has been a major power with strong cultural, economic, military, and political influence in Europe and around the world.
- 1 History
- 2 Notes and references
- 3 Further readings
French Revolution (1789–1792)
By 1789, the French monarchy faced growing discontent from all aspects of society. Intellectual dissidence, famines and near-bankruptcy of the state led King Louis XVI to convene the Estates General on May 5, 1789.:p.118 The Third Estate, which represented the commoners, had pushing for constitutional reform, but the king and the nobilities ignored their call. On June 17, 1789, the Third Estate had transformed itself as the National Assembly. Under pressures from his family, Louis XVI kept refusing to accept the Estate's call for reforms.
After war of nerves, Louis XVI convened the General again on June 27, but still not yielded to the Third Estate's demands. Jacques Necker, Minister of Finance who was popular among the Third Estate, was dismissed by the king on July 11, 1798, leading to the resentment among the reformers. Necker's dismissal, combined with rising bread prices and economic crisis, resulted to rioting in Paris on July 14, 1789. Parisian crowds took up the arms against the royalty. The attempt to gain gun-powders led to the crowds to attack the fortress prison of the Bastille. The storming on the Bastille signified the start of French Revolution.
On August 26, 1789, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen) was adopted, establishing fundamental rights for French citizens and all men without exception. Immediately, the remnant of feudal system in France was abandoned by the nobilities who feared of the growing revolt. In July 1790, hereditary nobility was abolished. The revolution abolished Ancien Régime absolute monarchy and established a constitutional monarchy in France. Many who had opposing the changes were emigrating out of the country. Increasing public violence forced Louis XVI to ratify the decrees by the Assembly.
Nationalization of church lands followed the public upheavals. In July 1790, the Assembly passed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy that subordinating the church under the state's control. Reactions among the conservative elements of the society against the act resulted to their opposition to the Revolution. The king himself, while publicly acted along to the Assembly's actions, finally had enough and decided to escape from France. The attempted escape, however, was uncovered, leading to the public distrust against the royals. Revolutionaries were not divided between Girondins, who wanted to halt the increasing instability, and Montagnards, who were increasingly radicalized.
First French Republic (1792–1804)
French Empire (1804–1871)
The Allies offered peace terms in the Frankfurt proposals in November 1813. Napoleon would remain as Emperor of the French, but it would be reduced to its "natural frontiers". That meant that France could retain control of Belgium, Savoy and the Rhineland (the west bank of the Rhine River), while giving up control of all the rest, including all of Spain and the Netherlands, and most of Italy and Germany. Metternich told Napoleon these were the best terms the Allies were likely to offer; after further victories, the terms would be harsher and harsher. Metternich's motivation was to maintain France as a balance against Russian threats, while ending the highly destabilizing series of wars.
Although initially refused to accept the terms, Napoleon was finally convinced by his empress to accept it. Napoleon eventually withdrew back into France with his army reduced to 70,000 soldiers and little cavalry; he faced more than three times as many Allied troops. On April 2, 1814, the Sénat conservateur passed the Acte de déchéance de l'Empereur ("Emperor's Demise Act"), which declared Napoleon deposed. After Napoleon was deposed in 1815, his four-year old son, Napoleon II, replaced him. The infant emperor was under the influences of his mother, Empress Dowager Marie Louise, and the Austrian Empire took this opportunity to break-up the weaker French Empire through the Congress of Vienna.
Second French Republic (1871–1940)
Vichy France and Free French (1940–1947)
Third French Republic (1947–1958)
Fourth French Republic (1958–present)
Notes and references
- Price, R. (2014). A concise history of France, Third edition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 118-133
- State, P. F. (2011). A brief history of France. New York: Facts On File, Inc. pp. 153-189
- Price, R. (2014). A concise history of France, Third edition. Cambrige, UK: Cambridge University Press.
- State, P. F. (2011). A brief history of France. New York: Facts On File, Inc.