Flint has tutored mathematics through precalculus, science, and English and has taught college history. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Glasgow
From Gaul to Frankia
In Roman times, what is now France was a part of a larger territory named Gaul. Over the next 1500 years, wars and treaties would change the country's borders until they reached their current form in 1947. Despite the fact that Rome lost Gaul, the term Gallic is still used to refer to the French people and culture.
France takes its name, though, from a Germanic tribe called the Franks. In 481 Clovis I, King of the Franks, took advantage of the fall of the Roman Empire and crossed the Rhone River, settling his people in northern France. By 511, he had conquered most of what is now France, and the land was known as Frankia.
Interestingly, while he took France from the Romans, Clovis also converted from paganism to Roman Catholicism. With the conversion of his people, the Roman Catholic Church strengthened and grew, beginning a relationship that continues to this day.
From Clovis to Charlemagne
When Clovis died, Frankia was divided equally among his four sons. They and their descendants both fought among themselves and allied to conquer neighboring areas. The dynasty was weakened by their infighting, and much of the ruling was left to Mayors of the Palace, or Captains of the Guard, who led the people and fought kings' battles for them.
In 732, a Mayor of the Palace named Charles Martel conquered the Muslims at the Battle of Tours. His leadership is credited with stopping the Muslim invasion of Europe, and he earned the nickname, Martel (Hammer), in the process. His son, Pepin the Short, became King of the Franks, starting the Carolingian rule, with the blessing of the Pope and the nobles. Pepin's son, Charlemagne or Charles the Great, would reconquer all of France, along with a small piece of Spain, the northern half of Italy, and much of Germany. He was so powerful that the Muslim leader of the time, Harun al-Rashid, actually sent an emissary to open up diplomatic relations.
Charlemagne's son, Louis the Pious, managed to keep the kingdom together, but his grandsons divided it again, leaving the kingdom to Charles the Bald (who was actually very hairy) according to the Treaty of Verdun (843).
Viking Raids, Crusades, and 100 Years of War
In the 800s, the Vikings raided France, attacking Paris and then Burgundy. They plundered what they wanted, burned everything else, and left once bribes were paid. Their siege of Paris marked the beginning of the end of the Carolingian dynasty, as Charles the Fat not only failed to protect Burgundy but paid the Vikings for leaving France.
After Charles the Fat's descendants died, Hugh Capet became king in 987. He and his descendants would set about reconquering France and the Capetian Dynasty would go on to become one of the longest ruling royal houses in Europe.
In 1095, the First Crusade was declared and France's nobles and people joined in. France sent more crusaders than any other kingdom for every crusade. Back at home, the conquest of France continued until in 1190, Philip II Augustus could call himself the king of France. Hel didn't control Normandy, which was still in the hands of the Norman dynasty in England, but the Normans did swear fealty to him.
In 1328, Charles the Fair died without a male heir. The crown would normally have gone to the son of his sister, his nephew, Edward III of England. However, according to Salic law, inheritance couldn't be through a female line, so Philip of Valois, who was the closest relative through a male line, inherited the throne. In 1337, Edward contested that decision which led to The Hundred Years War. Charles VII finally won the war in 1453, but not before the heroics of Joan of Arc stopped an English advance that might have ended things in 1430.
The 1400s and 1500s saw wars against the Holy Roman Empire to the east and Italy to the south. There was also a French civil war between the Protestant Huguenots and the Catholics that was ended by the Edict of Nantes. The 1600s saw France gaining territories in Canada while Cardinal Richelieu helped to centralize French authority. Louis XIV, known as the Sun King, would take advantage of all these changes, bringing France to its second empire.
Louis XV, his grandson, would lose all of France's overseas territories in The Seven Years War. His court was widely known for its debauchery and callousness toward the poor. Louis died in 1774, and the French Revolution began in 1789, resulting in the execution of his son, Louis XVI and Louis' wife, Marie Antoinette.
Vive La République!
Within ten years, Napoleon Bonaparte controlled France, codifying a system of laws, creating an educational system which is still in use, and all the while attempting to conquer Europe. His conquests forced Europe to ally with each other against him. His successes would exhaust Europe and his failure would cripple France. When he was finally defeated in 1815, a French monarchy was re-established. France vacillated from monarchy to Republic under Napoleon III and back to monarchy during the nineteenth century, gaining territories in China, India, and Africa, until its defeat and Napoleon's abdication during the Franco-Prussian War with Germany in the late 1800s.
Before 1900, France had recognized Germany as a serious threat and had allied itself with England. During World War I, most of the European fighting was done on French soil. When peace was declared, France was one of the many countries that wanted to punish Germany with retribution money. The huge debt it caused helped contribute to the Great Depression.
France was conquered within weeks during World War II, with Charles de Gaulle leading the government in exile from Britain. The French participated in the invasion of Normandy and the reconquest of their country. After the war, they were one of the founding members of NATO under de Gaulle's leadership.
In the following years, France lost all of its overseas possessions. In May of 1968, a social revolution occurred, ending in de Gaulle's resignation. France's economy has been unsteady since then, but it has been a proponent of the European Union. The terrorist attacks on Paris in 2015 generated the largest public rallies in French history.
France has been one of the most powerful and influential kingdoms in Europe for the last 1500 years. Its conquests have helped to spread Christianity, its wars have helped to curb foreign expansion, and Napoleon's wars brought Europe a unity it had never known before. It was this unity that brought Europe against Germany, and which has allowed for the creation of the European Union.
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