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Colombia: The long road to peace after the civil war - DW Documentary
Gaul was divided into several different provinces. The Romans displaced populations to prevent local identities from becoming a threat to Roman control. Thus, many Celts were displaced in Aquitania or were enslaved and moved out of Gaul. There was a strong cultural evolution in Gaul under the Roman Empire, the most obvious one being the replacement of the Gaulish language by Vulgar Latin. It has been argued the similarities between the Gaulish and Latin languages favoured the transition.
Gaul remained under Roman control for centuries and Celtic culture was then gradually replaced by Gallo-Roman culture. The Gauls became better integrated with the Empire with the passage of time. Emperor Antoninus Pius also came from a Gaulish family. In the decade following Valerian 's capture by the Persians in , Postumus established a short-lived Gallic Empire , which included the Iberian Peninsula and Britannia, in addition to Gaul itself. Germanic tribes, the Franks and the Alamanni , entered Gaul at this time. A migration of Celts appeared in the 4th century in Armorica. They were led by the legendary king Conan Meriadoc and came from Britain. They spoke the now extinct British language , which evolved into the Breton , Cornish , and Welsh languages.
In the Aquitanian province was given to the Goths in exchange for their support against the Vandals. Those same Goths had sacked Rome in and established a capital in Toulouse. He first used the Huns against the Burgundians , and these mercenaries destroyed Worms , killed king Gunther , and pushed the Burgundians westward. The Roman Empire was on the verge of collapsing. Aquitania was definitely abandoned to the Visigoths , who would soon conquer a significant part of southern Gaul as well as most of the Iberian Peninsula. The Burgundians claimed their own kingdom, and northern Gaul was practically abandoned to the Franks. In , Clovis I , leader of the Salian Franks , defeated Syagrius at Soissons and subsequently united most of northern and central Gaul under his rule.
Clovis then recorded a succession of victories against other Germanic tribes such as the Alamanni at Tolbiac. In , pagan Clovis adopted Catholicism. This gave him greater legitimacy and power over his Christian subjects and granted him clerical support against the Arian Visigoths. The Goths retired to Toledo in what would become Spain. Clovis made Paris his capital and established the Merovingian Dynasty but his kingdom would not survive his death in Over time, the borders and numbers of Frankish kingdoms were fluid and changed frequently. Also during this time, the Mayors of the Palace , originally the chief advisor to the kings, would become the real power in the Frankish lands; the Merovingian kings themselves would be reduced to little more than figureheads.
By this time Muslims had conquered Hispania and Septimania became part of the Al-Andalus, which were threatening the Frankish kingdoms. Duke Odo the Great defeated a major invading force at Toulouse in but failed to repel a raiding party in The mayor of the palace, Charles Martel , defeated that raiding party at the Battle of Tours and earned respect and power within the Frankish Kingdom.
The assumption of the crown in by Pepin the Short son of Charles Martel established the Carolingian dynasty as the Kings of the Franks. Carolingian power reached its fullest extent under Pepin's son, Charlemagne. In , Charlemagne reunited the Frankish domains after a further period of division, subsequently conquering the Lombards under Desiderius in what is now northern Italy , incorporating Bavaria into his realm, defeating the Avars of the Danubian plain , advancing the frontier with Al-Andalus as far south as Barcelona , and subjugating Lower Saxony after a prolonged campaign Charlemagne's son Louis the Pious emperor — kept the empire united; however, this Carolingian Empire would not survive Louis I's death.
Two of his sons — Charles the Bald and Louis the German — swore allegiance to each other against their brother — Lothair I — in the Oaths of Strasbourg , and the empire was divided among Louis's three sons Treaty of Verdun , After a last brief reunification — , the imperial title ceased to be held in the western realm, which was to form the basis of the future French kingdom. The eastern realm, which would become Germany, elected the Saxon dynasty of Henry the Fowler. Under the Carolingians , the kingdom was ravaged by Viking raiders. In this struggle some important figures such as Count Odo of Paris and his brother King Robert rose to fame and became kings. This emerging dynasty, whose members were called the Robertines , were the predecessors of the Capetian Dynasty.
Led by Rollo , some Vikings had settled in Normandy and were granted the land, first as counts and then as dukes, by King Charles the Simple , in order to protect the land from other raiders. The people that emerged from the interactions between the new Viking aristocracy and the already mixed Franks and Gallo-Romans became known as the Normans. France was a very decentralised state during the Middle Ages. The authority of the king was more religious than administrative. The 11th century in France marked the apogee of princely power at the expense of the king when states like Normandy , Flanders or Languedoc enjoyed a local authority comparable to kingdoms in all but name.
The Capetians , as they were descended from the Robertians , were formerly powerful princes themselves who had successfully unseated the weak and unfortunate Carolingian kings. The Carolingian kings had nothing more than a royal title when the Capetian kings added their principality to that title. The fact that the Capetians held lands as both Prince and King gave them a complicated status.
They were involved in the struggle for power within France as princes, but they also had a religious authority over Roman Catholicism in France as King. The Capetian kings treated other princes more as enemies and allies than as subordinates: their royal title was recognised yet frequently disrespected. Capetian authority was so weak in some remote places that bandits were the effective power. Some of the king's vassals would grow sufficiently powerful that they would become some of the strongest rulers of western Europe.
The Normans , the Plantagenets , the Lusignans , the Hautevilles , the Ramnulfids , and the House of Toulouse successfully carved lands outside France for themselves. The most important of these conquests for French history was the Norman Conquest by William the Conqueror , following the Battle of Hastings and immortalised in the Bayeux Tapestry , because it linked England to France through Normandy. Although the Normans were now both vassals of the French kings and their equals as kings of England, their zone of political activity remained centered in France. An important part of the French aristocracy also involved itself in the crusades, and French knights founded and ruled the Crusader states. An example of the legacy left in the Middle East by these nobles is the Krak des Chevaliers ' enlargement by the Counts of Tripoli and Toulouse.
The monarchy overcame the powerful barons over ensuing centuries, and established absolute sovereignty over France in the 16th century. A number of factors contributed to the rise of the French monarchy. The dynasty established by Hugh Capet continued uninterrupted until , and the laws of primogeniture ensured orderly successions of power. Secondly, the successors of Capet came to be recognised as members of an illustrious and ancient royal house and therefore socially superior to their politically and economically superior rivals.
Thirdly, the Capetians had the support of the Church , which favoured a strong central government in France. This alliance with the Church was one of the great enduring legacies of the Capetians. The First Crusade was composed almost entirely of Frankish Princes. As time went on, the power of the King was expanded by conquests, seizures and successful feudal political battles. The history of France starts with the election of Hugh Capet — by an assembly summoned in Reims in Hugh's lands extended little beyond the Paris basin; his political unimportance weighed against the powerful barons who elected him.
Many of the king's vassals who included for a long time the kings of England ruled over territories far greater than his own. Count Borell of Barcelona called for Hugh's help against Islamic raids, but even if Hugh intended to help Borell, he was otherwise occupied in fighting Charles of Lorraine. The loss of other Spanish principalities then followed, as the Spanish marches grew more and more independent. Hugh Capet decided so in order to have his succession secured. They agreed to end all claims over each other's realm, setting a new stage of Capetian and Ottonian relationships. Although a king weak in power, Robert II's efforts were considerable. His surviving charters imply he relied heavily on the Church to rule France, much like his father did. Although he lived with a mistress— Bertha of Burgundy —and was excommunicated because of this, he was regarded as a model of piety for monks hence his nickname, Robert the Pious.
Under King Philip I , the kingdom enjoyed a modest recovery during his extraordinarily long reign — His reign also saw the launch of the First Crusade to regain the Holy Land , which heavily involved his family although he personally did not support the expedition. It is from Louis VI reigned —37 onward that royal authority became more accepted. Louis VI was more a soldier and warmongering king than a scholar.
The way the king raised money from his vassals made him quite unpopular; he was described as greedy and ambitious and that is corroborated by records of the time. His regular attacks on his vassals, although damaging the royal image, reinforced the royal power. From onward Louis had the assistance of a skilled religious statesman, Abbot Suger. The abbot was the son of a minor family of knights, but his political advice was extremely valuable to the king. Louis VI successfully defeated, both military and politically, many of the robber barons. Louis VI frequently summoned his vassals to the court, and those who did not show up often had their land possessions confiscated and military campaigns mounted against them.
This drastic policy clearly imposed some royal authority on Paris and its surrounding areas. When Louis VI died in , much progress had been made towards strengthening Capetian authority. Thanks to Abbot Suger's political advice, King Louis VII junior king —37, senior king —80 enjoyed greater moral authority over France than his predecessors. Powerful vassals paid homage to the French king. However, the couple disagreed over the burning of more than a thousand people in Vitry during the conflict against the Count of Champagne.
He later involved the Kingdom of France in the Second Crusade but his relationship with Eleanor did not improve. Abbot Suger's vision of construction became what is now known as Gothic architecture. This style became standard for most European cathedrals built in the late Middle Ages. The late direct Capetian kings were considerably more powerful and influential than the earliest ones. The late Capetians, although they often ruled for a shorter time than their earlier peers, were often much more influential. This period also saw the rise of a complex system of international alliances and conflicts opposing, through dynasties, Kings of France and England and Holy Roman Emperor. The reign of Philip II Augustus junior king —80, senior king — marked an important step in the history of French monarchy.
His reign saw the French royal domain and influence greatly expanded. He set the context for the rise of power to much more powerful monarchs like Saint Louis and Philip the Fair. Philip II spent an important part of his reign fighting the so-called Angevin Empire , which was probably the greatest threat to the King of France since the rise of the Capetian dynasty. He allied himself with the Duke of Aquitaine and son of Henry II— Richard Lionheart —and together they launched a decisive attack on Henry's castle and home of Chinon and removed him from power.
Richard replaced his father as King of England afterward. The two kings then went crusading during the Third Crusade ; however, their alliance and friendship broke down during the crusade. The two men were once again at odds and fought each other in France until Richard was on the verge of totally defeating Philip II. Adding to their battles in France, the Kings of France and England were trying to install their respective allies at the head of the Holy Roman Empire.
The crown of France was saved by Richard's demise after a wound he received fighting his own vassals in Limousin. John's defeat was swift and his attempts to reconquer his French possession at the decisive Battle of Bouvines resulted in complete failure. Philip Augustus founded the Sorbonne and made Paris a city for scholars. Prince Louis the future Louis VIII, reigned —26 was involved in the subsequent English civil war as French and English or rather Anglo-Norman aristocracies were once one and were now split between allegiances. While the French kings were struggling against the Plantagenets, the Church called for the Albigensian Crusade.
Southern France was then largely absorbed in the royal domains. France became a truly centralised kingdom under Louis IX reigned — Saint Louis has often been portrayed as a one-dimensional character, a flawless example of the faith and an administrative reformer who cared for the governed. However, his reign was far from perfect for everyone: he made unsuccessful crusades, his expanding administrations raised opposition, and he burned Jewish books at the Pope's urging. This was said about Louis and French clergy asking for excommunications of Louis' vassals: . For it would be against God and contrary to right and justice if he compelled any man to seek absolution when the clergy were doing him wrong.
Louis IX was only twelve years old when he became King of France. His mother — Blanche of Castile — was the effective power as regent although she did not formally use the title. Blanche's authority was strongly opposed by the French barons yet she maintained her position until Louis was old enough to rule by himself. In the King had to struggle with a long lasting strike at the University of Paris. The Quartier Latin was strongly hit by these strikes. The kingdom was vulnerable: war was still going on in the County of Toulouse, and the royal army was occupied fighting resistance in Languedoc. Count Raymond VII of Toulouse finally signed the Treaty of Paris in , in which he retained much of his lands for life, but his daughter, married to Count Alfonso of Poitou , produced him no heir and so the County of Toulouse went to the King of France.
He landed in at Saint-Malo with a massive force. Henry III's allies in Brittany and Normandy fell down because they did not dare fight their king, who led the counterstrike himself. This evolved into the Saintonge War Louis IX was now the most important landowner of France, adding to his royal title. There were some opposition to his rule in Normandy, yet it proved remarkably easy to rule, especially compared to the County of Toulouse which had been brutally conquered.
The Conseil du Roi , which would evolve into the Parlement , was founded in these times. Saint Louis also supported new forms of art such as Gothic architecture ; his Sainte-Chapelle became a very famous gothic building, and he is also credited for the Morgan Bible. Both proved to be complete failures for the French King. Philip III was called "the Bold" on the basis of his abilities in combat and on horseback, and not because of his character or ruling abilities. Philip III took part in another crusading disaster: the Aragonese Crusade , which cost him his life in This king was responsible for the end of the Knights Templar , signed the Auld Alliance , and established the Parlement of Paris. Philip IV was so powerful that he could name popes and emperors, unlike the early Capetians.
The tensions between the Houses of Plantagenet and Capet climaxed during the so-called Hundred Years' War actually several distinct wars over the period to when the Plantagenets claimed the throne of France from the Valois. This was also the time of the Black Death , as well as several civil wars. The French population suffered much from these wars. It has been argued that the difficult conditions the French population suffered during the Hundred Years' War awakened French nationalism, a nationalism represented by Joan of Arc — Although this is debatable, the Hundred Years' War is remembered more as a Franco-English war than as a succession of feudal struggles. During this war, France evolved politically and militarily.
Charles VII reigned —61 established the first French standing army, the Compagnies d'ordonnance , and defeated the Plantagenets once at Patay and again, using cannons, at Formigny The Battle of Castillon was the last engagement of this war; Calais and the Channel Islands remained ruled by the Plantagenets. The Early Modern period in French history spans the following reigns, from to the Revolution, breaking in This land supported 13 million people in and 20 million people in France had the second largest population in Europe around Britain had 5 million, Spain had 8 million, and the Austrian Habsburgs had around 8 million. Russia was the most populated European country at the time.
France's lead slowly faded after , as other countries grew faster. The sense of "being French" was uncommon in , as people clung to their local identities. Political power was widely dispersed. The law courts "Parlements" were powerful, especially that of France. However, the king had only about 10, officials in royal service — very few indeed for such a large country, and with very slow internal communications over an inadequate road system. Travel was usually faster by ocean ship or river boat. The king not the pope nominated bishops, but typically had to negotiate with noble families that had close ties to local monasteries and church establishments. The nobility came second in terms of wealth, but there was no unity.
Each noble had his own lands, his own network of regional connections, and his own military force. The cities had a quasi-independent status, and were largely controlled by the leading merchants and guilds. Paris was by far the largest city with , people in and a history of steady growth. Lyon and Rouen each had about 40, population, but Lyon had a powerful banking community, a vibrant culture and good access to the Mediterranean Sea. Bordeaux was next with only 20, population in Peasants made up the vast majority of population, who in many cases had well-established rights that the authorities had to respect.
In the 17th century peasants had ties to the market economy, provided much of the capital investment necessary for agricultural growth, and frequently moved from village to village or town. Geographic mobility, directly tied to the market and the need for investment capital, was the main path to social mobility. The "stable" core of French society, town guildspeople and village labourers, included cases of staggering social and geographic continuity, but even this core required regular renewal.
Accepting the existence of these two societies, the constant tension between them, and extensive geographic and social mobility tied to a market economy holds the key to a clearer understanding of the evolution of the social structure , economy, and even political system of early modern France. The Annales School paradigm underestimated the role of the market economy; failed to explain the nature of capital investment in the rural economy; and grossly exaggerated social stability. Although most peasants in France spoke local dialects, an official language emerged in Paris and the French language became the preferred language of Europe's aristocracy and the lingua franca of diplomacy and international relations.
Because of its international status, there was a desire to regulate the French language. Several reforms of the French language worked to make it more uniform. Jacques Peletier du Mans was one of the scholars who reformed the French language. He improved Nicolas Chuquet 's long scale system by adding names for intermediate numbers "milliards" instead of "thousand million", etc. With the death in of Charles the Bold , France and the Habsburgs began a long process of dividing his rich Burgundian lands, leading to numerous wars.
In , Brittany was incorporated into the Kingdom of France. France engaged in the long Italian Wars — , which marked the beginning of early modern France. Francis I faced powerful foes, and he was captured at Pavia. The French monarchy then sought for allies and found one in the Ottoman Empire. During the 16th century, the Spanish and Austrian Habsburgs were the dominant power in Europe. The many domains of Charles V encircled France. The Spanish Tercio was used with great success against French knights. Economic historians call the era from about to the "beautiful 16th century" because of the return of peace, prosperity and optimism across the nation, and the steady growth of population.
Paris , for example, flourished as never before, as its population rose to , by In Toulouse the Renaissance of the 16th century brought wealth that transformed the architecture of the town, such as building of the great aristocratic houses. This ended long-lasting conflicts between France, England and Spain. The Protestant Reformation , inspired in France mainly by John Calvin , began to challenge the legitimacy and rituals of the Catholic Church.
It reached an elite audience. Calvin, based securely in Geneva, Switzerland, was a Frenchman deeply committed to reforming his homeland. The Protestant movement had been energetic, but lacked central organizational direction. With financial support from the church in Geneva, Calvin turned his enormous energies toward uplifting the French Protestant cause. As one historian explains:. He supplied the dogma, the liturgy, and the moral ideas of the new religion, and he also created ecclesiastical, political, and social institutions in harmony with it. A born leader, he followed up his work with personal appeals. His vast correspondence with French Protestants shows not only much zeal but infinite pains and considerable tact and driving home the lessons of his printed treatises.
Between and , more than ministers were sent to France. Nevertheless, French King Henry II severely persecuted Protestants under the Edict of Chateaubriand and when the French authorities complained about the missionary activities, the city fathers of Geneva disclaimed official responsibility. Renewed Catholic reaction — headed by the powerful Francis, Duke of Guise — led to a massacre of Huguenots at Vassy in , starting the first of the French Wars of Religion , during which English, German, and Spanish forces intervened on the side of rival Protestant "Huguenot" and Catholic forces.
King Henry II died in in a jousting tournament; he was succeeded in turn by his three sons, each of which assumed the throne as minors or were weak, ineffectual rulers. In the power vacuum entered Henry's widow, Catherine de' Medici , who became a central figure in the early years of the Wars of Religion. She is often blamed for the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of , when thousands of Huguenots were murdered in Paris and the provinces of France. In revenge, a priest assassinated Henry III in This led to the ascension of the Huguenot Henry IV ; in order to bring peace to a country beset by religious and succession wars, he converted to Catholicism. He issued the Edict of Nantes in , which guaranteed religious liberties to the Protestants, thereby effectively ending the civil war.
When in the Huguenots proclaimed a constitution for the 'Republic of the Reformed Churches of France', the chief minister Cardinal Richelieu — invoked the entire powers of the state to stop it. This conflict ended in the Siege of La Rochelle —28 , in which Protestants and their English supporters were defeated. The following Peace of Alais confirmed religious freedom yet dismantled the Protestant military defences.
In the face of persecution, Huguenots dispersed widely throughout Protestant kingdoms in Europe and America. Imperial Habsburg forces invaded France, ravaged Champagne , and nearly threatened Paris. The French forces won a decisive victory at Rocroi , and the Spanish army was decimated; the Tercio was broken. The Truce of Ulm and the Peace of Westphalia brought an end to the war. Some challenges remained. France was hit by civil unrest known as the Fronde which in turn evolved into the Franco-Spanish War in The terms for the peace inflicted upon the Spanish kingdoms in the Treaty of the Pyrenees were harsh, as France annexed Northern Catalonia.
During the 16th century, the king began to claim North American territories and established several colonies. The early 17th century saw the first successful French settlements in the New World with the voyages of Samuel de Champlain. Louis XIV , known as the "Sun King", reigned over France from until although his strongest period of personal rule did not begin until after the death of his Italian chief minister Cardinal Mazarin. Louis believed in the divine right of kings , which asserts that a monarch is above everyone except God, and is therefore not answerable to the will of his people, the aristocracy, or the Church.
Louis continued his predecessors' work of creating a centralized state governed from Paris, sought to eliminate remnants of feudalism in France, and subjugated and weakened the aristocracy. By these means he consolidated a system of absolute monarchical rule in France that endured until the French Revolution. His military architect, Vauban , became famous for his pentagonal fortresses, and Jean-Baptiste Colbert supported the royal spending as much as possible. The battle was won by the Christians, chiefly through the brave attack of 6, French troops led by La Feuillade and Coligny. France fought the War of Devolution against Spain in France attacked the Dutch Republic and was joined by England in this conflict.
Through targeted inundations of polders by breaking dykes, the French invasion of the Dutch Republic was brought to a halt. Over time, Louis XIV compelled many members of the nobility, especially the noble elite, to inhabit Versailles. He controlled the nobility with an elaborate system of pensions and privileges, and replaced their power with himself. Peace did not last, and war between France and Spain again resumed. Meanwhile, in October Louis signed the Edict of Fontainebleau ordering the destruction of all Protestant churches and schools in France.
Its immediate consequence was a large Protestant exodus from France. Over two million people died in two famines in and France would soon be involved in another war, the War of the Grand Alliance. This time the theatre was not only in Europe but also in North America. Although the war was long and difficult it was also called the Nine Years' War , its results were inconclusive.
The Treaty of Ryswick in confirmed French sovereignty over Alsace , yet rejected its claims to Luxembourg. Louis also had to evacuate Catalonia and the Palatinate. This peace was considered a truce by all sides, thus war was to start again. In the War of the Spanish Succession began. The Habsburg Emperor Leopold opposed a Bourbon succession, because the power that such a succession would bring to the Bourbon rulers of France would disturb the delicate balance of power in Europe. Therefore, he claimed the Spanish thrones for himself.
They inflicted a few resounding defeats on the French army; the Battle of Blenheim in was the first major land battle lost by France since its victory at Rocroi in Yet, the extremely bloody battles of Ramillies and Malplaquet proved to be Pyrrhic victories for the allies, as they had lost too many men to continue the war. Finally, a compromise was achieved with the Treaty of Utrecht in Jules Hardouin Mansart became France's most important architect of the period, bringing the pinnacle of French Baroque architecture.
The wars were so expensive, and so inconclusive, that although France gained some territory to the east, its enemies gained more strength than it did. Vauban, France's leading military strategist, warned the King in that a hostile "Alliance" was too powerful at sea. He recommended the best way for France to fight back was to license French merchants ships to privateer and seize enemy merchant ships, while avoiding its navies:. France has its declared enemies Germany and all the states that it embraces; Spain with all its dependencies in Europe, Asia, Africa and America ; the Duchy of Savoy , England, Scotland, Ireland, and all their colonies in the East and West Indies; and Holland with all its possessions in the four corners of the world where it has great establishments.
France has… undeclared enemies, indirectly hostile hostile and envious of its greatness, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Portugal, Venice, Genoa, and part of the Swiss Confederation, all of which states secretly aid France's enemies by the troops that they hire to them, the money they lend them and by protecting and covering their trade. Vauban was pessimistic about France's so-called friends and allies and recommended against expensive land wars, or hopeless naval wars:. Some of these are sunk in the softness that comes of years of peace, the others are cool in their affections…. The English and Dutch are the main pillars of the Alliance; they support it by making war against us in concert with the other powers, and they keep it going by means of the money that they pay every year to… Allies….
We must therefore fall back on privateering as the method of conducting war which is most feasible, simple, cheap, and safe, and which will cost least to the state, the more so since any losses will not be felt by the King, who risks virtually nothing…. It will enrich the country, train many good officers for the King, and in a short time force his enemies to sue for peace. Louis XIV died in and was succeeded by his five-year-old great grandson who reigned as Louis XV until his death in King Philip V of Spain had to withdraw from the conflict, confronted with the reality that Spain was no longer a great power in Europe. Under Cardinal Fleury 's administration, peace was maintained as long as possible.
However, in another war broke in central Europe, this time about the Polish succession , and France joined the war against the Austrian Empire. This time there was no invasion of the Netherlands, and Britain remained neutral. As a consequence, Austria was left alone against a Franco-Spanish alliance and faced a military disaster. Peace was settled in the Treaty of Vienna , according to which France would annex, through inheritance, the Duchy of Lorraine.
Two years later, in , war broke out over the Austrian succession , and France seized the opportunity to join the conflict. The war played out in North America and India as well as Europe, and inconclusive terms were agreed to in the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle Once again, no one regarded this as a peace, but rather as a mere truce. Prussia was then becoming a new threat, as it had gained substantial territory from Austria. This led to the Diplomatic Revolution of , in which the alliances seen during the previous war were mostly inverted. France was now allied to Austria and Russia, while Britain was now allied to Prussia.
In the North American theatre, France was allied with various Native American peoples during the Seven Years' War and, despite a temporary success at the battles of the Great Meadows and Monongahela , French forces were defeated at the disastrous Battle of the Plains of Abraham in Quebec. In Europe, repeated French attempts to overwhelm Hanover failed. At sea, naval defeats against British fleets at Lagos and Quiberon Bay in and a crippling blockade forced France to keep its ships in port.
Britain's success in the Seven Years' War had allowed them to eclipse France as the leading colonial power. France sought revenge for this defeat, and under Choiseul France started to rebuild. Having lost its colonial empire, France saw a good opportunity for revenge against Britain in signing an alliance with the Americans in , and sending an army and navy that turned the American Revolution into a world war. The war was concluded by the Treaty of Paris ; the United States became independent. The British Royal Navy scored a major victory over France in at the Battle of the Saintes and France finished the war with huge debts and the minor gain of the island of Tobago.
The " Philosophes " were 18th-century French intellectuals who dominated the French Enlightenment and were influential across Europe. Their interests were diverse, with experts in scientific, literary, philosophical and sociological matters. The ultimate goal of the philosophers was human progress; by concentrating on social and material sciences, they believed that a rational society was the only logical outcome of a freethinking and reasoned populace. They also advocated Deism and religious tolerance. Many believed religion had been used as a source of conflict since time eternal, and that logical, rational thought was the way forward for mankind.
It was made possible through a wide, complex network of relationships that maximized their influence. In the early part of the 18th century the movement was dominated by Voltaire and Montesquieu , but the movement grew in momentum as the century moved on. The opposition was partly undermined by dissensions within the Catholic Church, the gradual weakening of the absolute monarch and the numerous expensive wars. Thus the influence of the Philosophes spread. The leader of the French Enlightenment and a writer of enormous influence across Europe, was Voltaire — A witty, tireless antagonist to the alliance between the French state and the church, he was exiled from France on a number of occasions.
Astronomy, chemistry, mathematics and technology flourished. French chemists such as Antoine Lavoisier worked to replace the archaic units of weights and measures by a coherent scientific system. Lavoisier also formulated the law of Conservation of mass and discovered oxygen and hydrogen. A decade later, recent wars, especially the Seven Years' War —63 and the American Revolutionary War —83 , had effectively bankrupted the state. The taxation system was highly inefficient. Several years of bad harvests and an inadequate transportation system had caused rising food prices, hunger, and malnutrition; the country was further destabilized by the lower classes' increased feeling that the royal court was isolated from, and indifferent to, their hardships.
In February , the king's finance minister, Charles Alexandre de Calonne , convened an Assembly of Notables , a group of nobles, clergy, bourgeoisie , and bureaucrats selected in order to bypass the local parliaments. This group was asked to approve a new land tax that would, for the first time, include a tax on the property of nobles and clergy. While the Third Estate demanded and was granted "double representation" so as to balance the First and Second Estate, voting was to occur "by orders" — votes of the Third Estate were to be weighted — effectively canceling double representation. This eventually led to the Third Estate breaking away from the Estates-General and, joined by members of the other estates, proclaiming the creation of the National Assembly , an assembly not of the Estates but of "the People.
After finding the door to their chamber locked and guarded, the Assembly met nearby on a tennis court and pledged the Tennis Court Oath on 20 June , binding them "never to separate, and to meet wherever circumstances demand, until the constitution of the kingdom is established and affirmed on solid foundations. After the king fired his finance minister, Jacques Necker , for giving his support and guidance to the Third Estate, worries surfaced that the legitimacy of the newly formed National Assembly might be threatened by royalists. Paris was soon consumed with riots and widespread looting. Because the royal leadership essentially abandoned the city, the mobs soon had the support of the French Guard, including arms and trained soldiers. On 14 July , the insurgents set their eyes on the large weapons and ammunition cache inside the Bastille fortress, which also served as a symbol of royal tyranny.
Insurgents seized the Bastille prison , killing the governor and several of his guards. Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette , a hero of the American War of Independence , on 15 July took command of the National Guard, and the king on 17 July accepted to wear the two-colour cockade blue and red , later adapted into the tricolour cockade , as the new symbol of revolutionary France. Although peace was made, several nobles did not regard the new order as acceptable and emigrated in order to push the neighboring, aristocratic kingdoms to war against the new regime. The state was now struck for several weeks in July and August by violence against aristocracy, also called ' the Great Fear '.
On 4 and 11 August , the National Constituent Assembly abolished privileges and feudalism , sweeping away personal serfdom ,  exclusive hunting rights and other seigneurial rights of the Second Estate nobility. The tithe was also abolished which had been the main source of income for many clergymen. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was adopted by the National Assembly on 27 August ,  as a first step in their effort to write a constitution. Considered to be a precursor to modern international rights instruments and using the U. Declaration of Independence as a model, it defined a set of individual rights and collective rights of all of the estates as one. Influenced by the doctrine of natural rights, these rights were deemed universal and valid in all times and places, pertaining to human nature itself.
The Assembly also replaced France's historic provinces with eighty-three departments, uniformly administered and approximately equal to one another in extent and population. When a mob from Paris attacked the royal palace at Versailles in October seeking redress for their severe poverty, the royal family was forced to move to the Tuileries Palace in Paris. In November '89, the Assembly decided to nationalize and sell all church property,  thus in part addressing the financial crisis.
This law reorganized the French Catholic Church , arranged that henceforth the salaries of the priests would be paid by the state,  abolished the Church's authority to levy a tax on crops and again cancelled some privileges for the clergy. In October a group of 30 bishops wrote a declaration saying they could not accept the law, and this fueled civilian opposition against it. The Assembly then in late November decreed that all clergy should take an oath of loyalty to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy.
In June , the royal family secretly fled Paris in disguise for Varennes near France's northeastern border in order to seek royalist support the king believed he could trust, but they were soon discovered en route. They were brought back to Paris, after which they were essentially kept under house arrest at the Tuileries. In August , Emperor Leopold II of Austria and King Frederick William II of Prussia in the Declaration of Pillnitz declared their intention to bring the French king in a position "to consolidate the basis of a monarchical government", and that they were preparing their own troops for action.
With most of the Assembly still favoring a constitutional monarchy rather than a republic, the various groups reached a compromise. Under the Constitution of 3 September , France would function as a constitutional monarchy with Louis XVI as little more than a figurehead. The King had to share power with the elected Legislative Assembly , although he still retained his royal veto and the ability to select ministers. He had perforce to swear an oath to the constitution, and a decree declared that retracting the oath, heading an army for the purpose of making war upon the nation or permitting anyone to do so in his name would amount to de facto abdication.
On 1 October , the Legislative Assembly was formed, elected by those 4 million men — out of a population of 25 million — who paid a certain minimum amount of taxes. In response to the threat of war of August from Austria and Prussia, leaders of the Assembly saw such a war as a means to strengthen support for their revolutionary government, and the French people as well as the Assembly thought that they would win a war against Austria and Prussia. On 20 April , France declared war on Austria. Nevertheless, in the summer of , all of Paris was against the king, and hoped that the Assembly would depose the king, but the Assembly hesitated. At dawn of 10 August , a large, angry crowd of Parisians and soldiers from all over France marched on the Tuileries Palace where the king resided.
After am, the Assembly 'temporarily relieved the king from his task'. On 2, 3 and 4 September , some three hundred volunteers and supporters of the revolution, infuriated by Verdun being captured by the Prussian enemy , and rumours that the foreign enemy were conspiring with the incarcerated prisoners in Paris, raided the Parisian prisons. Jean-Paul Marat had called for preemptive action and between 1, and 1, prisoners were murdered within 20 hours September Massacres , many of them Catholic nonjuring priests but also aristocrats, forgers and common criminals. In an open letter on 3 September the radical Marat incited the rest of France to follow the Parisian example. Danton and Robespierre kept a low profile in regard to the murder orgy. From the start the Convention suffered from the bitter division between a group around Robespierre, Danton and Marat referred to as ' Montagnards ' or ' Jacobins ' or 'left' and a group referred to as ' Girondins ' or 'right'.
But the majority of the representatives, referred to as ' la Plaine ', were member of neither of those two antagonistic groups and managed to preserve some speed in the convention's debates. Marat was quickly acquitted but the incident further acerbated the ' Girondins ' versus ' Montagnards ' party strife in the convention. While that committee consisted only of members from la Plaine and the Girondins, the anger of the sans-culottes was directed towards the Girondins. The convention's President Isnard, a Girondin, answered them: "Members of la Commune … If by your incessant rebellions something befalls to the representatives of the nation, I declare, in the name of France, that Paris will be totally obliterated".
On 29 May , in Lyon an uprising overthrew a group of Montagnards ruling the city; Marseille, Toulon and more cities saw similar events. On 2 June , the convention's session in Tuileries Palace —since early May their venue—not for the first time degenerated into chaos and pandemonium. This time crowds of people including 80, armed soldiers swarmed in and around the palace. Incessant screaming from the public galleries, always in favour of the Montagnards, suggested that all of Paris was against the Girondins, which was not really the case.
Petitions circulated, indicting and condemning 22 Girondins. A decree was adopted that day by the convention, after much tumultuous debate, expelling 22 leading Girondins from the convention. Late that night, indeed dozens of Girondins had resigned and left the convention. By the summer of , most French departments in one way or another opposed the central Paris government, and in many cases ' Girondins ', fled from Paris after 2 June, led those revolts. In August—September , militants urged the convention to do more to quell the counter-revolution. A delegation of the Commune Paris city council suggested to form revolutionary armies to arrest hoarders and conspirators. Criteria for bringing someone before the Revolutionary Tribunal , created March , had always been vast and vague.
A week later again 19 politicians. This hushed the Convention deputies: if henceforth they disagreed with Robespierre they hardly dared to speak out. The frequency of guillotine executions in Paris now rose from on average three a day to an average of 29 a day. Meanwhile, France's external wars were going well, with victories over Austrian and British troops in May and June opening up Belgium for French conquest.
On 29 June , three colleagues of Robespierre at the Committee called him a dictator in his face — Robespierre baffled left the meeting. This encouraged other Convention members to also defy Robespierre. On 26 July, a long and vague speech of Robespierre wasn't met with thunderous applause as usual but with hostility; some deputies yelled that Robespierre should have the courage to say which deputies he deemed necessary to be killed next, which Robespierre refused to do. Finally, even Robespierre's own voice failed on him: it faltered at his last attempt to beg permission to speak. A decree was adopted to arrest Robespierre , Saint-Just and Couthon.
After July , most civilians henceforth ignored the Republican calendar and returned to the traditional seven-day weeks. The government in a law of 21 February set steps of return to freedom of religion and reconciliation with the since refractory Catholic priests, but any religious signs outside churches or private homes, such as crosses, clerical garb, bell ringing, remained prohibited. When the people's enthusiasm for attending church grew to unexpected levels the government backed out and in October again, like in , required all priests to swear oaths on the Republic. In the very cold winter of —95, with the French army demanding more and more bread, same was getting scarce in Paris as was wood to keep houses warm, and in an echo of the October March on Versailles , on 1 April 12 Germinal III a mostly female crowd marched on the Convention calling for bread.
But no Convention member sympathized, they just told the women to return home. Again in May a crowd of 20, men and 40, women invaded the convention and even killed a deputy in the halls, but again they failed to make the Convention take notice of the needs of the lower classes. Instead, the Convention banned women from all political assemblies, and deputies who had solidarized with this insurrection were sentenced to death: such allegiance between parliament and street fighting was no longer tolerated.
Late , France conquered present-day Belgium. In October , the Republic was reorganised, replacing the one-chamber parliament the National Convention by a bi-cameral system: the first chamber called the ' Council of ' initiating the laws, the second the ' Council of Elders ' reviewing and approving or not the passed laws. Each year, one-third of the chambers was to be renewed. The executive power lay with five directors — hence the name ' Directory ' for this form of government — with a five-year mandate, each year one of them being replaced. French armies in advanced into Germany, Austria and Italy.
Parliamentary elections in the spring of resulted in considerable gains for the royalists. Not only citizens opposed and even mocked such decrees, also local government officials refused to enforce such laws. In , when the French armies abroad experienced some setbacks , the newly chosen director Sieyes considered a new overhaul necessary for the Directory's form of government because in his opinion it needed a stronger executive. Five directors then ruled France. This was Napoleon 's idea and the Directoire agreed to the plan in order to send the popular general away from the mainland. Napoleon defeated the Ottoman forces during the Battle of the Pyramids 21 July and sent hundreds of scientists and linguists out to thoroughly explore modern and ancient Egypt.
Only a few weeks later the British fleet under Admiral Horatio Nelson unexpectedly destroyed the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile 1—3 August Napoleon planned to move into Syria but was defeated at the Siege of Acre and he returned to France without his army, which surrendered. The Directoire was threatened by the Second Coalition — Royalists and their allies still dreamed of restoring the monarchy to power, while the Prussian and Austrian crowns did not accept their territorial losses during the previous war.
Napoleon then seized power through a coup and established the Consulate in The Austrian army was defeated at the Battle of Marengo and again at the Battle of Hohenlinden While at sea the French had some success at Boulogne but Nelson's Royal Navy destroyed an anchored Danish and Norwegian fleet at the Battle of Copenhagen because the Scandinavian kingdoms were against the British blockade of France. A brief interlude of peace ensued in —3, during which Napoleon sold French Louisiana to the United States because it was indefensible. The policies of the Revolution were reversed, except the Church did not get its lands back. Bishops and clergy were to receive state salaries, and the government would pay for the building and maintenance of churches. Napoleon's rule was constitutional, and although autocratic, it was much more advanced than traditional European monarchies of the time.
The proclamation of the French Empire was met by the Third Coalition. The French army achieved a resounding victory at Ulm 16—19 October , where an entire Austrian army was captured. A Franco-Spanish fleet was defeated at Trafalgar 21 October and all plans to invade Britain were then made impossible. Despite this naval defeat, it was on the ground that this war would be won; Napoleon inflicted on the Austrian and Russian Empires one of their greatest defeats at Austerlitz also known as the "Battle of the Three Emperors" on 2 December , destroying the Third Coalition.
Prussia joined Britain and Russia, thus forming the Fourth Coalition. Although the Coalition was joined by other allies, the French Empire was also not alone since it now had a complex network of allies and subject states. Peace was dictated in the Treaties of Tilsit , in which Russia had to join the Continental System , and Prussia handed half of its territories to France. In order to ruin the British economy, Napoleon set up the Continental System in , and tried to prevent merchants across Europe from trading with British. The large amount of smuggling frustrated Napoleon, and did more harm to his economy than to his enemies.
Freed from his obligation in the east, Napoleon then went back to the west, as the French Empire was still at war with Britain. Only two countries remained neutral in the war: Sweden and Portugal, and Napoleon then looked toward the latter. French armies entered Spain in order to attack Portugal, but then seized Spanish fortresses and took over the kingdom by surprise. Britain sent a short-lived ground support force to Portugal, and French forces evacuated Portugal as defined in the Convention of Sintra following the Allied victory at Vimeiro 21 August France only controlled Catalonia and Navarre and could have been definitely expelled from the Iberian peninsula had the Spanish armies attacked again, but the Spanish did not.
Another French attack was launched on Spain, led by Napoleon himself, and was described as "an avalanche of fire and steel. Although not as decisive as the previous Austrian defeats, the peace treaty in October stripped Austria of a large amount of territories, reducing it even more. In war broke out with Russia, engaging Napoleon in the disastrous French invasion of Russia Napoleon assembled the largest army Europe had ever seen, including troops from all subject states, to invade Russia, which had just left the continental system and was gathering an army on the Polish frontier. Although there still were battles, the Napoleonic army left Russia in late annihilated, most of all by the Russian winter, exhaustion, and scorched earth warfare.
Since the Spanish guerrillas seemed to be uncontrollable, the French troops eventually evacuated Spain. Since France had been defeated on these two fronts, states that had been conquered and controlled by Napoleon saw a good opportunity to strike back. The Sixth Coalition was formed under British leadership. Napoleon was largely defeated in the Battle of the Nations outside Leipzig in October , his forces heavily outnumbered by the Allied coalition armies and was overwhelmed by much larger armies during the Six Days Campaign February , although, the Six Days Campaign is often considered a tactical masterpiece because the allies suffered much higher casualties.
Napoleon abdicated on 6 April , and was exiled to Elba. The conservative Congress of Vienna reversed the political changes that had occurred during the wars. Napoleon suddenly returned, seized control of France, raised an army, and marched on his enemies in the Hundred Days. Browse Apple Music. For when you need that space. Easy Hits Apple Music Pop.
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