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France's Timeline

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BC 51

Julius Caesar completed the Roman conquest of Gaul.

AD 732

Frankish ruler Charles Martel halted the advance of Muslim armies in Europe, routing them between Tours and Poitiers.

800

Charlemagne was crowned emperor of the Romans. After his death his kingdom was divided between France and the Holy Roman Empire.

1309-1377

Avignon served as the seat of the papal court.

1453

France defeated England in the Hundred Years’ War.

1643-1715

Louis XIV ruled France. Absolute royal authority was consolidated during his reign.

1789-1799

The French Revolution overthrew the monarchy. France became involved in a series of wars with European powers that lasted until 1815.

1804

Napoleon I, who took power in 1799, declared the First Empire in Paris.

1814

Napoleon was defeated and the monarchy was restored. A year later Napoleon returned to power, but was ultimately defeated at the Battle of Waterloo.

1848

Revolution led to the declaration of the Second Republic.

1852

Napoleon III declared the Second Empire.

1870-1871

Prussia defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War, ending the Second Empire. The Third Republic was founded.

1914-1918

France fought on the side of the Allies during World War I. Much of the war was fought on French soil.

1940

Germany invaded France and occupied about two-thirds of the country during World War II (1939-1945). The unoccupied zone came under the control of Marshal Henri Pétain, who largely collaborated with the Germans.

1946

After World War II, France adopted a new constitution and the Fourth Republic was founded.

1957

France was a founding member of the European Economic Community.

1958

Charles de Gaulle, who came out of retirement to address the crisis over the French war with Algeria, was elected president after a new constitution established the Fifth Republic.

1962

France granted independence to Algeria after a long and bloody civil war with the colony.

1968

Unrest by students set off a general strike throughout France, which helped bring about de Gaulle’s resignation the following year.

1981

The Socialist party, led by François Mitterrand, came to power in the general elections. Mitterrand was reelected to a second seven-year term as president in 1988.

1994

The tunnel under the English Channel was completed, linking France and Great Britain.

1995

Jacques Chirac, founder and leader of the Rassemblement pour la République (Rally for the Republic) party, was elected the new president of France, replacing the retiring François Mitterrand.

2002

Jaque Chirac defeats the right-wing extremist, Jean-Marie Le Pen.