French Republic; République Francaise
Flag of France.svg Francecoatofarms1898-2.png
MottoLiberty, Equality, Fraternity.
AnthemLa Marseilliase
(and largest city)
{{{languages_type}}} French (official)
Government Presidential Republic
 -  President Nicholas Sarkozy
 -  Great Consul François Fillon
Legislature Senate of the French Republic
French Revolution
 -  Estates-General Meets May 5, 1789 
 -  Republic Declared July 4, 1792 
 -  2000 census 62,793,432 
Currency Franc

'The French Republic is one of the largest nations by both land area and popultion. The Republic is one of the oldest democracies in existence today, however much of its history has been marked by near despotism.


Rome to Revolution

The borders of modern France are approximately the same as those of ancient Gaul, which was inhabited by Celtic Gauls. Gaul was conquered by Rome under Julius Caesar in the 1st century BC, Plutarch claimed one million people (probably 1 in 4 of the Gauls) died, another million were enslaved, 300 tribes were subjugated and 800 cities were destroyed during the Gallic Wars, and the Gauls eventually adopted Roman speech (Latin), from which the French language evolved) and Roman culture. Christianity first appeared in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, and became so firmly established by the 4th and 5th centuries that St. Jerome wrote that Gaul was the only region “free from heresy”.

In the 4th century AD, Gaul’s eastern frontier along the Rhine was overrun by Germanic tribes, principally the Franks, from whom the ancient name of “France” was derived. The Franks were the first tribe among the Germanic conquerors of Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire to convert to Catholic Christianity rather than Arianism (their King Clovis did so in 498); thus France obtained the title “Eldest daughter of the Church” (La fille aînée de l’Église), and the French would adopt this as justification for calling themselves “the Most Christian Kingdom of France”.

Existence as a separate entity began with the Treaty of Verdun (843), with the division of Charlemagne's Carolingian Empire into East Francia, Middle Francia and West Francia. Western Francia approximated the area occupied by modern France and was the precursor to modern France. The Carolingian dynasty ruled France until 987, when Hugh Capet, Duke of France and Count of Paris, was crowned King of France. His descendants, the Direct Capetians, the House of Valois and the House of Bourbon, progressively unified the country through a series of wars and dynastic inheritance into a Kingdom of France. The Albigensian Crusade was launched in 1209 to eliminate the heretical Cathars of Occitania (the southern area of modern-day France). In the end, both the Cathars and the independence of southern France were exterminated. In 1066, the Duke of Normandy added King of England to his titles. Later Kings expanded their territory to cover over half of modern continental France, including most of the North, Centre and West of France.

The exact boundaries changed greatly with time, but French landholdings of the English Kings remained extensive for centuries. Strong French counterattacks, helped by English weakness during the Wars of the Roses, won back mainland territory until only Calais remained. Under Mary I of England this was lost to the Spanish Netherlands.

Charles IV (The Fair) died without an heir in 1328. Under the rules of the Salic Law adopted in 1316, the crown of France could not pass to a woman, nor could the line of kinship pass through the female line. Accordingly, the crown passed to the cousin of Charles, Philip of Valois, rather than through the female line to Charles' nephew, Edward, who would soon become Edward III of England. In the reign of Philip of Valois, the French monarchy reached the height of its medieval power. However, Philip's seat on the throne was contested by Edward III of England and in 1337, on the eve of the first wave of the Black Death, England and France went to war in what would become known as the Hundred Years' War.

In the most notorious incident during the French Wars of Religion (1562–98), thousands of Huguenots were murdered in the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of 1572.

The monarchy reached its height during the 17th century and the reign of Louis XIV. At this time, France possessed the largest population in Europe and had tremendous influence over European politics, economy, and culture. Since the 18th century, French was the most used language in diplomacy, science, literature and international affairs, before English took the lead in the 20th century. Much of the Enlightenment occurred in French intellectual circles, and major scientific breakthroughs were achieved by French scientists in the 18th century. In addition, France obtained many overseas possessions in the Americas, Africa and Asia.


The Great Cost of these wars led to vast taxes on the peasants. Peasants were the poorest group, and the only ones taxed, as Nobles and clergymen were exempt from taxes. The worsening situation led to the calling of the Estates-General in 1789. The Colonies were not represented so created their own assemblies. (The Assembly of Notables in Louisiana and The Congress of the Confederation in the former English colonies)

The Estates-General was composed almost entirely of dissenters, and was perpetually at odds with the monarchy. When King Louis XVI attempted to dissolve the Estates and act without their consent, They refused. The Third Estate met in the Palace of the Louvre Palace and invited the First and Second Estate to join them, but when very few did, the members declared themselves a quorum and wrote the Interim constitution of the French Republic.

The Constitution established the National Assembly as the National legislature and gave it exclusive power to lay and collect taxes, and to declare war. It's main weakness was that it left almost all power to the King, this constitution was very conservative in that respect. The King, fearing for the monarchy, fled with many nobles to New France, to attempt to revive the old order.

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