Keydates in French history

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843Treaty of Verdun, the Carolingian Empire is divided between Charlemagne’s grandsons. West Francia covered most of modern France. Charles the Bald is first king of France.
987 Hugues Capet, seizes power after a coup d’état. He establishes a royal dynasty by direct male line, the Capetians.
1214 Victory of Philip Augustus at Bouvines. Initial assertions of national unity.
1429 Siege of Orleans. The royal city is besieged by English troops and defended by Joan of Arc with the troops of Charles VII. The English raise the siege. Joan of Arc is later burnt at the stake in Rouen at theirbehest.
1515 Battle of Marignano. This easy-to-remember date marks a victory of the armies of Francis I to repossess the duchy of Milan. More importantly, it heralds the transfer to France of the artistic and social tastes of the Italian Quattrocento.
1539 Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts. French is made the official language of the kingdom. All official texts are to be written “in the French mother tongue and not otherwise”.
1572 St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. Protestants are hunted down in many French cities. Several thousand are killed.
1661-1715 Reign of Louis XIV, the longest in the history of the French monarchy. Versailles is the symbol of royal prestige.
1685 Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, issued by Henri IV in 1598 granting tolerance for his Protestant subjects. Many are forced to go into exile, abjure their faith or die.
5 May 1789 Louis XVI convenes the Estates-General, the assembly of the three estates of the realm (clergy, nobility, Third Estate) to address the financial crisis of the AncienRégime. This is Act One of the French Revolution.
26 August 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, inspired by the philosophers of the Enlightenment. From now on, men are born free and equal before the law.
22 September 1792 The First Republic is proclaimed, after the Battle of Valmy won by revolutionary troops against a European coalition assembled to support the monarchy. The king is guillotined in January 1793.
2 December 1804 General Bonaparte, now Emperor of the French, has himself crowned in Notre-Dame, Paris (and crowns his wife Josephine in the presence of the Pope).
1830-1848 The Restoration of royal power is untenable. Popular riots expel Charles X in 1830 and Louis-Philippe in February 1848.
1848 Establishment of adult male suffrage. Definitive abolition of slavery (first abolished in 1794 and restored by Bonaparte in 1802) as a result of slave revolts in Martinique and Guadeloupe and the action of Victor Schoelcher.
1852 Start of Second Empire. Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, elected president of the Second Republic in 1848, becomes Emperor.
1870 Defeat by the Prussians at Sedan, causing the fall of the Empire. France loses Alsace and part of Lorraine (recovered in 1919).
1881-1884 Series of laws on education and public liberties (press, assembly, professional associations and trade unions).
1894-1906 Dreyfus Affair. Captain Dreyfus is accused of spying for Germany. Against a backgroundof anti-Semitism, this legal and political affair deeply divides France for years. Dreyfus’s innocence is recognised in 1906.
1905 Law establishing the separation of Church and State.
1916 Battle of Verdun. In the memory of the French, Verdun remains the symbol of the trench warfare of the First World War, along with the Battle of the Somme. Three hundred thousand men on both sides are killed.
June-July 1940 France is invaded by the German army. Marshal Pétain sues for an armistice, while General De Gaulle in London calls on the nation to resist. In Vichy, where the government has retreated before the German armies, Marshal Pétain is given extraordinary powers and installs the French State, which is collaborationist, racist, destructive of civil liberties and traditionalist (motto: work, family, motherland).
August 1944 The city of Paris is liberated. General De Gaulle, after being recognised in London as leader of the Free French and then in Algiers as President of the Provisional Government of the Republic, enters the capital. The Vichy government is overthrown.
1946 Extensive social legislation passed. Nationalisation of coalmines, railways, etc. Women are given the vote.
1951 Creation of the ECSC, a common market for coal and steel. French leaders Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet are its active proponents.
1954-1962 Algerian War. Under the Evian Agreements, France recognises the independence of Algeria. During this period, almost all French colonies achieve independence.
1957 Treaty of Rome, creating the EEC, a customs union and a common market of six European countries, including France. The EEC becomes the EU in 1993 after the Treaty of Maastricht.
1958 General De Gaulle returns to power as a result of the Algerian crisis. He establishes the Fifth Republic. The Constitution strengthens the powers of the executive.
1968 Social and political crisis shakes the government. The country is paralysed by strikes for more than a month.
1981 Election of François Mitterrand as President of the Republic (re-elected in 1988). His first term is marked by the abolition of the death penalty, laws on regionalisation and a programme to nationalise major enterprises.
1995 Election of Jacques Chirac (re-elected in 2002) on a programme to narrow the “social gap”.
2007 Nicolas Sarkozy is elected President of the Republic for five years.
2012 Election of François Hollande for five years.

Related informations :
France Diplomatie

Dernière modification : 28/02/2013

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