Originally inhabited by the Gauls, the region was invaded and annexed by the Roman Empire in 51 A.D, after which it was referred to as Galia. After several hundred years of Roman holding, France was conquered by the Germanic Franks and instituted as part of the Kingdom of West Francia, and eventually, France in 987. Several civil and state wars followed this era (as well as a major revolution in the late 18th century), with their end ensuring the stability of France and its assertion as a regional and world power.
France became the first nation, following the United States, to institute a republican government, which led to the end of Absolute Monarchism in France and eventually the rest of Europe. French conquests spanned the globe, from The Americas to Africa and Asia, making it the second largest colonial empire after the United Kingdom by 1917.
In the modern day, France is a global power, and one of the League of Nations' Big 6, being one of the only nations on Earth with nuclear capabilities.
Establishment and Middle Ages (987-1500)
The Kingdom of France was established in 987 A.D, with Hugh Capet as its king, as it broke away from being a part of the Frankish Kingdom, or Kingdom of Francia. Several other French dynasties including the Bourbons and Valois reunited the nation and established a unitary governing power after numerous dynastic wars. French knights made up the majority of soldiers fighting in the Crusades, so much so that Arab knights would often refer to invading Europeans as "Franj" regardless of whether or not they came from France. Both the Knights Hospitaller and Knights Templar were mostly French, making the nation the most involved in the majority of Europe's religious wars.
An extensive war against England in 1337, often referred to as the Hundred Years War, formed a strong French alliance with Spain and cemented a several centuries long rivalry with The United Kingdom in economic, cultural and colonial aspects until the early 20th century.
Early Modern Period (1500-1799)
In France, the Renaissance led to the standardization of French as the nation's official language, as well as extensive cultural growth that lasted over 150 years. The rising commonality of the Protestant sect of Christianity led to a civil war known as the French War, in which the French Huguenots (Protestants) fought for the freedom to practice religion as they pleased across all of France. The war ended with the recognizing of the Protestants as a legitimate sect by the French government, although France's enemies, such as England and Scotland, failed to substantially weaken the nation in order to make it a much less severe threat in many aspects. The Huguenots were granted substantial rights throughout most of the country, although the region in and around Paris was notably absent in this regard. The matter of religion divided France for several hundred years afterwards, until around 1917, when the full integration of Baden and Wurttemburg brought a large number of Protestants into French borders.
France played an integral part in the independence of The United States, supporting the nation as part of its rivalry with Britain. American ideals soon became increasingly popular throughout France, leading its people to challenge the absolute monarchy that had been in place since 987 A.D. Eventually the common man as a collective became so agitated with the low quality of life that an anti-monocratic revolution was triggered. Foreign powers such as the U.K, Austria and Prussia attempted to reinstate an absolute monarchy through several invasions, but the country, then led by general Napoleon Bonaparte, manged to fight back with assistance from allies such as the United States.
Napoleonic Wars and Modern Era (1800-1914)
Napoleon's rise to power and the subsequent attempts by outside forces to remove him from his position as Emperor of France soon led to a series of wars often referred to as the Napoleonic Wars, in which the emperor managed to establish a dynastic empire that spread across half of Europe. The nationalization of states in central Europe such as Bavaria, Saxony and Mecklenberg by Napoleon ultimately resulted in the rise of Prussia as a major power and temporarily allowed the surrounding nations to keep the German states weak, preventing them from unifying.
Upon Napoleon's defeat, France was reverted back to a monarchy, which lasted until 1830. In 1831 a new constitutional reform was introduced, limiting the power of the king, which eventually allowed the 1848 introduction of the Second French republic, in which the monarchy was completely abolished.
The French colonial empire expanded greatly following the installation of the second republic, making France the nation with the most claimed land in Africa by 1914, as well as the entire Indochina region in Southeast Asia.
The Great War and American War (1914-1950)France was one of the first nations, along with the U.K and Russia, to declare war against Austria after its invasion of Serbia. Very little French land was annexed successfully by the Central powers, and Allied forces had manged to push through Baden-Wurttemberg and surround Vienna by 1916. Following the war, France took part in the annexation of the former Ottoman Empire, taking Syria as a colony and assisting the League of Nations by establishing a designated occupation zone in southern Anatolia.
In 1941, one year after the start of The American War, France was invaded and fully occupied by the Axis powers of Italy and Spain. Resistance was strongest amongst French forces, as a sense of national identity was notably present from those who lived in French colonies and territories. Upon liberation from Axis control in 1948, a new Fourth Republic was formed, and in 1952 replaced with the Fifth upon the signing of the League of Nations Decolonization Accords, which released all French colonies from 1952 to 1958.
Contemporary Period (1951-)
In the modern day, France is a nuclear power, as well as one of the League of Nation's "Big 6" security council members, along with The U.K, U.S, China, Ottoman Confederacy and Prussia. France is also a leading economic power with a relatively high GDP and position as a founding member of the European Union and NATO.