French History Timeline
Timeline Description: Once known as Gaul to the ancient world, the country we know today as France has been a land of many changes. From about 1200 B.C. to the early 700s A.D., invading tribes of Celts, Romans, Visogoths, Franks, Burgundians, and Merovingians all settled here, leaving bits and pieces of influence behind until they too were taken over. Another invader, the Muslims from North Africa, had been pushing their way northward. In 732 Charles Martel defeated the Muslim army, putting a halt to their advancement and starting the Carolingian dynasty.

Date Event
768 A.D. Charlemagne starts to rule (768 - 814 A.D.).

Charles Martel's grandson, Charlemagne, comes to power. His goal is to spread Christianity. He conquers more land including Belgium, Germany, Spain, and Italy. In 800 Pope Leo III crowns him the Holy Roman Emperor. He dies in 814.
814 A.D. Civil war and poor leadership (814 - 987 A.D.).

After Charlemagne's death, his land is divided. What was once a thriving empire now starts to fall apart because of infighting. The Carolingian dynasty ends with Louis V who dies within one year of being crowned.
885 A.D. The Viking and the Normans (885 to 911 A.D.).

The Vikings have been leading raids into northern France. They try to take over Paris between 885 to 886 A.D., but without success. In 911 Charles the Simple makes a deal with the Vikings and gives them an area of land in northwestern France known as Normandy. The people are now called Normans.
987 A.D. The Capetians come to power (987 - 1328 A.D.).

Hugo Capet starts the Capetian dynasty in 987. He is succeeded by 13 kings. In 1066 William II, known as William the Conqueror, invades England and becomes king. The Crusades begin around the 11th century. The Capetians gain power when they take the lands of nobles who leave France to fight.
1337 A.D. The Hundred Years War (1337 - 1453 A.D).

The Hundred Years War is a series of small raids and big battles between France and England. Joan of Arc fights in the name of France during this time, though she ends up being burned at the stake when she is captured and falsely accused.
1600 A.D. Arts, exploration, and faith (16th century A.D.).

During the reign of Francis I, the arts flourish as well as French exploration. In 1534 Jacques Cartier crosses the Atlantic Ocean to explore southern Canada. This is also a time of struggle between Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots). Henry IV becomes Catholic in order to keep the peace.
1643 A.D. Louis XIV rules (1643 - 1715 A.D.).

The longest king to reign in France is Louis XIV. He encourages exploration into the New World, supports the arts, fights to obtain new lands, and builds the Palace of Versailles. His extravagant living, however, paid for by the taxes of the people, builds tensions throughout the land.
1756 A.D. The Seven Years War (1756 - 1763 A.D.).

During the reign of King Louis XV, the major powers of Europe fight each other. France is involved in two areas, North America and Europe. When the war ends, the country loses many of its colonial possessions, and the French Navy is crushed.
1789 A.D. The French Revolution (1789

1799 A.D.).=When Louis XVI comes to power in 1774, the people are still burdened with high taxes. By 1787 the country is in deep debt. Louis refuses to set up a new constitution. In protest, a mob storms the Bastille, the French fortress in Paris. The French Revolution begins and lasts until 1799.
1789 A.D. A new leader arises (1789 - 1799 A.D.).

Civil unrest roars throughout the land as a new government is worked out. The king and queen are executed. During this time General Napoleon Bonaparte rises to power. He successfully overthrows the government and assumes control. He sets up a centralized government, a stable currency, and fair taxes.
1799 A.D. Napoleon's rule (1799 - 1815 A.D).

In 1803 Napoleon sells the Louisiana territory to the U.S. for $15 million. The following year he declares himself emperor. By 1812 he has conquered much of Europe until he is stopped by Russia. He is finally defeated at Waterloo in Belgium by Austrian, Prussian, and English troops.
1848 A.D. A new republic forms (1848 - 1871 A.D.).

The Second Republic is established in 1848 after the last king, Louis-Philippe, abdicates. Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon's nephew, becomes Emperor Napoleon III in 1852. He makes many improvements, but is removed during the Franco-Prussian War (1870 -1871).
1889 A.D. The Third Republic (1889 - 1905 A.D.).

A new constitution is written. It sets the stage for a Third Republic in 1889. From 1889 to 1905 France experiences a period of economic growth and stability.
1914 A.D. World War I and beyond (1914 - 1939 A.D.).

France enters the Great War in 1914 when invaded by Germany. Much of the war is fought in France, so the country suffers greatly by the time it ends in 1918. A period of rebuilding goes on after the war, but a worldwide depression in the 1930s leads to political unrest.
1939 A.D. World War II (1939 - 1945 A.D.).

When Germany invades Poland in 1939, Britain and France are forced into World War II. Hitler invades northern France in 1940, and by 1942 he controls all of France. An underground resistance is formed, gathering information and then using that information to wage guerrilla warfare on the Nazis.
1944 A.D. Liberation and the Fourth Republic (1944 - 1945 A.D.).

On June 6, 1944 Allied troops storm the beaches of Normandy in northern France, liberating the country. General Charles De Gaulle, who had led the resistance from London, goes back to Paris. In 1945 the Fourth Republic is set up with a new constitution. Charles De Gaulle is placed in charge.
1948 A.D. Israel and Indochina (1948 - 1954 A.D.).

When Israel seeks to establish itself as a nation in 1948, France is a major supporter. She even supplies the country with weapons. In 1954 France loses its colonies in Indochina after several uprisings.
1956 A.D. Crisis in Egypt.

The Suez Canal in Egypt is owned by France and Britain. In 1956 President Nasser of Egypt declares it belongs to his country. War ensues with help from Israel and Britain, and Egypt loses within days. The Arab nations protest and political pressure comes from all sides. France ultimately is forced to leave.
1958 A.D. Rebellions and a favorite leader (1958 - 1970 A.D.).

African and Asian colonies rebel and declare independence. The troubles divide the country. Charles De Gaulle is asked to help. The Fifth Republic is set up, giving the president more power. De Gaulle works out problems with Algeria. He resigns in 1969 after his reforms are rejected. He dies in 1970. France has seen many changes in its 1300+ years of existence, but it has always been a country that gets back on its feet and continues to move forward.