France: History

  1. 1789

    The French Revolution begins, and the First Republic, a constitutional monarchy, is established.

  2. 1804-1815

    Napoleon Bonaparte crowns himself the emperor of the First French Empire and proceeds to conquer most of continental Europe. Napoleon reigns until he is defeated in the Battle of Waterloo.

  3. 1871

    The Franco-Prussian War ends with a French defeat and the concession of Alsace-Lorraine. France suffers economically from the loss of valuable iron ore deposits and iron and steel making plants.

  4. 1914-1918

    World War I devastates the French economy, resulting in the death of 1.3 million Frenchmen and the destruction of much of north-east France.

  5. 1919

    The Treaty of Versailles officially ends the war, giving Alsace-Lorraine back to France and forcing Germany to pay enormous reparations.

  6. 1939-1945

    During World War II, Germany occupies much of France. General de Gaulle establishes a government-in-exile in London.

  7. 1946

    A constitutional referendum establishes the Fourth Republic, beginning a period of economic reconstruction and independence for many French colonies.

  8. 1951

    France joins other European nations, including West Germany, in forming the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).

  9. 1957

    The union of the countries in the ECSC leads to the formation of the European Economic Community (EEC).

  10. 1958

    De Gaulle returns to power and creates the Fifth Republic, which is still in place today.

  11. 1992

    France signs the Maastricht Treaty, which forms the European Union.

  12. 2002

    The euro replaces the franc as the national currency.

  13. 2008

    France announces it will inject 10.5 billion euros into the country's six largest banks in order to shore up its financial sector.

  14. 2010

    The French government announces public spending cuts of 45 billion euros to reduce the high level of public debt.


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