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The France Page

France History


1000AD to 1800AD

The regions strenthened their influence. The Normans, Plantagenets, Lusignans, Hautevilles, Ramnulfids, and the House of Toulouse emerged as powerful territories in their own right. Many expanded their territory overseas (including the Norman conquest of England) and the power of the king was severely threatened.

William (the conqueror), Duke of Normandy was crowned king of England 1066.

In Eastern Europe, the muslims had occupied Jerusalem since the seventh century, By 1000AD, they had expanded their ambitions by threatening the Byzantine empire (orthodox christian controlled successor to the East Roman Empire).
Influence of Islam by 750 AD

Influence of Islam by 750 AD

Source : Wikimedia under GNU

This lead Pope Urban to appeal for military aid from christian countries to repel the muslims and reinstate the Byzantine empire. The various French regions had converted to catholic christianity and crusades would dominate military activity for the 200 years after 1096AD.

The church acquired significant property and became a dominant local power.

In 1152 Henry 11 (England) married Eleanor of Aquitaine. Thus the English crown laid claim to a significant part of France.

The king of France gained control of Languedoc in 1250 as a result of his contribution to the Albigensian crusade against the Cathars.

In 1337, the French king, Charles 1V, died and the throne was claimed by Edward 111 (England) which marked the start of the hundred years war. By 1453, the English had been driven back to Calais.

The French royal family became more powerful and claimed sovereignty over roughly the France of today excluding the Flemish areas in the North, Provence & Cote d'Azur, Rousillon, Savoie, Alsace, Lorraine, Corsica and Franche Comte. The separatist areas were gradually added to France over the next 350 years.

From 1562AD to 1598AD, France was embroiled in religious wars between protestants and catholics. Both sides were assisted by other nations and the war developed into a struggle for France. This was eventually resolved by the Edict of Nantes in 1598AD which temporarily ended the conflict.

From 1600AD onwards, the French monarchy became more powerful and extravagant. This period established the French court, scientific breakthroughs, colonisation and developments in the arts which were sponsored by the royal court. However, engagement in serial wars (including further religious wars) drained the national resources and demanded an ever increasing taxation burden. The seeds of unrest were therefore planted in the feudal population.

By 1750, the population were questioning the absolute power of the king, and the local impact of the church. Liberal thinkers such as Voltaire and Rousseau began questioning the current political system.

In 1789, the storming of the Bastille initiated the revolution. Initially there was extreme violence (often death) towards to the nobility, moderates and radicals. Revolutionary committees established control throughout France.

The revolution then lost direction as various groups tried to assume control. During this period of turmoil wars* continued with Russia, Spain, England, Prussia, Austria, The Ottoman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire. France was surrounded by enemies, who formed various anti French alliances. They were afraid that republicanism could spread and therefore preferred a restoration of French monarchy. The newly liberated feudal citizens saw little improvement in their lot and a counter revolutionary movement became established. This was crushed during the reign of terror. In 1795AD a new constitution was adopted by Plebiscite.

The country was still in economic turmoil. The army was increasingly used in France to break up dissenting groups and control riots. This resulted in the rise to power of Napoleon Bonaparte, a succesful Corsican born army general, who installed the Consulate as a new legislative power following a coup in November 1799.

* Anti France wars

1792 : The First Coalition included Austria, Sardinia, Naples, Prussia, Spain, England. Napoleon defeated Austria and signed a peace treaty, leaving only England against him by 1797.

1798 : The Second Coalition included Austria, England, Naples, Ottoman Empire, Papal States, Portugal, and Russia. During these wars France lacked the funds and administrative facilities needed to be succesful. Napoleon, the most effective military campaigner in the First Coalition, was occupied in a campaign in Egypt. France suffered a number of defeats. After Napoleon returned to France and seized power, he was able to defeat Austria again in 1800. Again England continued the war alone.








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