French History Timeline 
Note: Graphic Intensive 

Originally prepared for: http://www.uncg.edu/rom/courses/dafein/507/syllabus.htm 
Primary resources: 

Prehistory (   -200BC) 
Cro-Magnon engraving, may be lunar notation.  Blanchard,  France 
Dolmen Prehistoric Sculpture 
Sculptures made by Cro-Magnon man, found in Dordogne, France 
Cave Paintings at Lascaux Cave Paintings at Lascaux
Homo Erectus, who lived around 950,000 B.C., was the first human found in France. With the end of the Ice Age, prehistoric man began to settle down in more permanent agricultural settlements (Neolithic Revolution). The Celts came from Central Europe and settled in Gaul around 2500 B.C. The Celts  were iron workers and dominated Gaul until 125 B.C., when the Roman Empire began its reign in southern France. 
    950,000-80,000 BC: Homo Erectus  
    (400,000 B.C. Discovery of Fire)  
    80,000-30,000 BC: Neanderthal  
    33,000-10,000 BC: Homo Sapiens - Cro Magnon Man  
    28,000 BC: Cro-Magnon notation, possibly of phases of the moon, carved onto bone, discovered at Blanchard, France 
    4,000-2,500 BC: Neolithic Revolution  
    2,500-50 BC: Celtic Domination in Gaul
Antiquity (200 BC - 481) 
The Baptism of Clovis I Baptism of Clovis 

Romans in France 
Roman remains in Provence and Arlon
Julius Caesar led the Romans into Gaul during the Gallic Wars (58-51 BC). When Augustus became emperor of Rome, the result was two centuries of relative peace and prosperity known as the Pax Romana. During the 2nd century, Romans brought Christianity into Gaul. However, by the third century the Roman Empire had begun its decline. The fourth century started with Barbarian invaders from the East such as the Franks, the Vandals and the Visigoths. People feared for their safety and began allying themselves with local lords in exchange for protection from the barbarians. In this way, the feudal society that would characterize so much of the Medieval Age began to emerge. Christianity in France received a boost when Clovis, King of the Franks, converted to Christianity. In some ways Clovis' reign brought stability and unity to France, but in some ways it also contributed to fragmentation, because Clovis divided up the territory as gifts and rewards. 
    58-51 BC: Caesar's Gallic Wars 
    52 BC: Lutetia is built, the future Paris 
    43 AD:  Lugdunum (Lyon) becomes the capital of the Gauls 
    2nd century AD: Romans bring Christianity to Gaul 
    485-511: Reign of Clovis I, Merovingian King of the Franks
Middle Ages (481-1453) 
Carolingian Script  (840) 
Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc 

The Bayeux Tapestry Bayeux Tapestry

Coronation of Charlemagne The coronation of Charlemagne 
Notre Dame- Paris Construction of cathedrals; birth of Gothic architecture
Charles Martel was the first leader of the Carolingian dynasty. He expanded the Frankish kingdom and stopped the Muslim advance in 732. He was succeeded by Pepin II, also known as Pepin the Short. Charlemagne (742-814) continued the expansion of the Frankish kingdom.Charlemagne not only was an able military leader, but he was also a great supporter of education and the arts. In fact, there was a Carolingian renaissance during Charlemagne's rule. Shortly after his death, however, the kingdom was divided. All of Charlemagne's sons died except for Louis the Pious, who reigned for 30 years and managed to keep the kingdom together. However, when Louis died, different alliances formed around Louis' three sons, Lothar, Louis the German and Charles the Bald. Louis and Charles agreed to keep the lands where they were most powerful (Louis in German areas and Charles in Frankish areas). They left Lothar with the unorganized lands in the middle. The Treaty of Verdun was the treaty Louis and Charles presented to Lothar. The Carolingian dynasty ended in 987 when Hugh Capet was elected to the throne of France, beginning the Capetian Dynasty. In 1066, William, Duke of Normandy invaded England and was crowned as the English king on Christmas Day, 1066. The marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine, who had previously been married to Louis VII of France, to Henry II of England yielded most of the western part of France to the British Crown. After the death of the last Capetian king Charles IV, Edward III of England claimed the French Throne and started the Hundred Years' War in 1337. With the help of a French peasant girl, Joan of Arc, Charles VIII emerged victorious in the war and drove the English back to Calais. 
    637: Dagobert I, last Mervingian king  
    732: Charles Martel defeats Muslims at Poitiers, stopping Arab invasion  
    751: Pepin II "The Short" becomes king of the Franks 
    755: Franks protect the church against Lombards and create the Papal States 
    768-814: Charlemagne rules as King of the Franks 
    800: Charlemagne crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III  
    814-40: Louis the Pious succeeds Charlemagne as emperor 
    843: Treaty of Verdun partitions the Carolingian Empire 
    870: Treaty of Mersen allows eastern and western Frankish kingdoms to absorb the fragmented middle lands 
    910: Foundation of the monastery of Cluny 
    987: Hugh Capet starts Capetian dynasty  
    1095: Pope Urban II preaches the First Crusade- link: The Crusades 
    1066: William of Normandy invades England; Battle of Hastings 
    1120: St Denis Cathedral is rebuilt: birth of Gothic architecture 
    1189-92: Third Crusade; crusaders fail to recover the Holy Land 
    1200: University of Paris starts messenger service 
    1202: Fourth Crusade launched; crusaders capture Constantinople 
    1209: Pope Innocent III launches the Albigensian Crusade in southern France 
    1305-1378: The Avignon Papacy 
    1337-1443: Hundred Years'  War 
    1453: English out of France except for Calais
Renaissance (1453-1598) 
Leonardo da Vinci- Self Portrait Leonardo da Vinci 
Catherine de Medici Catherine de Medici
Francois I strengthened the French Crown during the early 16th century. He also welcomed to France many Italian artists, such as Leonardo da Vinci. Their influence assured the success of the Renaissance style. The years between 1562 and 1598 saw an increase in the number of the Huguenots (Protestants), which led to the Wars of Religion between Catholics and Protestants. Catherine de Medici ordered the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of hundreds of Protestants. In 1589, Henri IV, who was a target of the massacre, became the first Bourbon king of France and wisely converted to Catholism. Henry ended the Wars of Religion with the Edict of Nantes, which guaranteed religious and political rights to the Huguenots. 
    1464: King of France establishes postal system 
    1494-1559: Italian Wars- France and Austria fight over Italian territories  
    1515: François I crowned King  
    1519: Leonardo da Vinci dies in the arms of François I 
    1547-59: Reign of Henry II 
    1562-98: The Wars of Religion 
    1572: Massacre of Protestants on St. Bartholomew's Eve in Paris  
    1589-1593: Henri IV becomes 1st Bourbon King and converts to Catholicism, ending Wars of Religion
Grand Siecle (1598-1715) 
Cardinal Richelieu 
Cardinal Richelieu 

La Pascaline (1642) 
La "Pascaline" (1642) 
Louis XIV 
Louis XIV 

Versailles Versailles

The 17th century is noted for being a period of extravagance and power for the French Monarchy. King Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu  transformed France's feudal monarchy to an absolute monarchy. Louis XIV, however, is the French king most associated with this period. Also known as the Sun King, Louis strengthened his own power by keeping all the local princes and lords occupied with the elaborate court life at his palace at Versailles. This focus on court life kept the local princes and lords from focusing on trying to undermine Louis' power. This period is also known for the genius of the writers, architects and musicians who were promoted by the royal court. Unfortunately, Louis' extravagance, in particular Louis XIV's endless wars, was expensive, and would leave much of France in financial peril by the end of his reign. Louis also revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Louis XIV died in 1715 and Louis XV assumed the throne. The Bourgeoisie began to demand more political rights, and this would come to pose a great problem for Louis' successors. 
    1608: Founding of Quebec 
    1617: Louis XIII crowned at the age of 17  
    1624: Cardinal Richelieu becomes principal minister 
    1631: A French newspaper carries classified ads 
    1642: Blaise Pascal invents the Pascaline - an automatic calculator 
    1643-1715: Louis XIV becomes king with Mazarin as principal minister 
    1682: Royal court moves to Versailles 
    1685: Louis revokes the Edict of Nantes 
    1715: Louis XIV dies and Louis XV accedes
Revolution (1715-1804) 
Jean Antoine Watteau 
Jean Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) - "The Concert" (1716) 

French Revolution Poster French Revolution Poster

The majority of the population of France was made up of commoners, who resented the privileges enjoyed by the nobles and clergy. In addition, the growth of new ideas during the 18th century's Enlightment resulted in thinkers such as Voltaire and Rousseau beginning to question the principles of the old regime and absolutism. These thinkers spoke of a liberal society that enjoyed free commerce. They also championed equal rights and the abolition of the class system. The notion of revolution was further encouraged by Frenchmen who had been exposed to the ideas behind the American Revolution. In 1789 the crisis came to a head. On July 14th, a Parisian mob revolted and stormed the Bastille prison, which was seen as a symbol of political oppression. The French revolution had begun. On the August 26, 1789 the revolutionaries issued the Declaration of the Rights of Man which embodied the principles of Liberté, Egalité, and Fraternité, and was meant to end the class system. During the Revolution, Louis XVI was guillotined, along with scores of moderates and radicals, at the Place de la Revolution (now the Place de la Concorde). Robespierre and his Committee of Public Safety brought brought on the Reign of Terror in France. 
    1762: Rousseau's Social Contract 
    1769: Napoleon Bonaparte born in Ajaccio, Corsica 
    1774: Louis XVI becomes king  
    1778-83: The kingdom supports the American Revolution 
    1789: French Revolution, storming of La Bastille 
    1792: Louis XVI tried for treason and convicted; monarchy abolished  
    1793: Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette are guillotined in Paris 
    1794: Robespierre overthrown and end of Reign of Terror
Napoleonic Era (1804-1870) 
Napoleon's Coronation Napoleon shocks everyone, especially the Pope, by crowning himself Emperor in 1804 
Jacquard loom (1801) 
Jacquard (1801) invents a "punch- card" loom  
The Rosetta Stone 
Rosetta Stone  
Earliest known photograph (1827) 
Earliest known photograph (1827) - Nicéphore Niépce 

Louis Daguerre  (1787-1851) 
Louis Daguerre  (1787-1851), inventor of the Daguerreotype 
Honoré Daumier's lithograph (1850) - Plead Not Guilty
The Revolution came to an end in 1799 when Napoleon Bonaparte entered Paris and was crowned First Consul. In 1804 he took the title of emperor Napoleon I. He took the crown from the Pope and placed it on his head himself, thereby directly challenging the authority of the church. Napoleon created a powerful central administration, and engaged in many military campaigns that allowed him to expand his empire. Napoleon was defeated in Russia in 1812 and then in Waterloo in 1815. Napoleon was replaced by Louis XVIII, who was then overthrown by Charles X. Charles' reign reminded people too much of the old regime, and this led to the July Revolution of 1830. The July Monarchy elected a king, Louis Philippe (the Duke of Orleans). His reign lasted 18 years (until 1848) and was a period of prosperity. In 1848, Louis Napoleon, the nephew of Napoleon I, was elected the first president of the Second Republic. He was then proclaimed Emperor Napoleon III in 1852 by national plebiscite. It was Napoleon III who commissioned Baron Haussman to redesign Paris and started the French industrial revolution. 
    1796: Napoleon weds Rose de Beauharnais (the future Empress Joséphine) 
    1799: Robert in France invents a paper-making machine 
    1799: French soldiers discover the Rosetta Stone 
    1799: General Bonaparte enters Paris 
    1801: Joseph-Marie Jacquard invents a loom using punch cards  
    1803-15: Napoleonic Wars expand the Empire 
    1804: Bonaparte crowns himself Emperor Napoleon I 
    1808: Napoleon Commercial Code goes into effect, standardizing commercial practices throughout the French Empire 
    1809: The baccalaureate examination is established 
    1814: Napoleon abdicates and is exiled to Elba 
    1814–24: Reign of Louis XVIII 
    1814: Congress of Vienna begins to remake Europe after the downfall of Napoleon 
    1815: Napoleon enters Paris, the beginning of the "100 Days" 
    1815: Napoleon defeated at Waterloo 
    1815: Napoleon  is deported to Santa Helena, an island off the coast of Africa 
    1824–30: Reign of Charles X 
    1827: Nicéphore Niépce makes a true photograph 
    1829: Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787-1851) joins Niépce to pursue photographic inventions 
    1830-48: Reign of Louis Philippe 
    1839: Daguerre annouces invention of first practical camera 
    1852: Napoleon I's nephew crowned as Emperor Napoleon III 
    1853: Haussman redesigns Paris 
    1854: Bourseul in France builds an experimental telephone
19th Century 
La Tour Eiffel 
The Eiffel Tower 
Louis  (1864-1948) and Auguste (1862-1954) 
Claude Monet - Impression: soleil levant (1872)
The Franco-Prussian war began in 1870. The Germans captured Paris and claimed the Alsace and Lorraine regions of France. Following the defeat, Napoleon III was exiled. The Third Republic emerged in France in 1871, indicating the end of monarchy in France. Industrial expansion continued during this time, and a portable movie camera was invented. The Eiffel Tower was constructed during the Universal Exhibition of 1889 in order to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution. Its construction was very controversial at the time, although now the Tower is one of the most well-known and frequently visited monuments in France. The nineteenth century in France is also renowned for its cultural contributions, including the paintings of the Impressionists, the Art Nouveau style, the novelist Flaubert and the satirist Zola
20th Century 
The Big Four in Paris The Big Four meet in Paris in 1919 to discuss the Versailles Treaty: Lloyd George of England, Orlando of Italy, Clemenceau of France, and Wilson of the U.S. 
Charles de Gaulle 
Charles de Gaulle and the liberation of Paris 

Detail- Picasso's Guernica 
Detail from Picasso's Guernica- Guernica was a city in Spain that was bombed by the Germans during the Spanish Civil War; Picasso meant the painting to be a statement about the violence of warfare.
The First World War began in 1914 in northeast France. Initially the Germans won many victories, but eventually both the Germans and the French dug trenches, and the war on the Western Front was deadlocked in trench warfare. The United States eventually entered the war in 1917 and helped France to defeat the Germans. The Allies demanded generous restitutions and payments from the Germans in the Versailles Treaty. The Germans greatly resented the humiliation of this treaty, and this was one of the factors which sparked WWII. During the Entre Guerres (Between Wars) period, France played a leading role in the avant garde movement, attracting artists, musicians and filmmakers from around the world. In 1940, the Germans invaded Paris and occupied the north and west parts of France until 1944. Meanwhile, the country was controlled the puppet government of Vichy, led by Marshal Petain. However, a resistance movement was being organized by General Charles de Gaulle. The Allied Forces invaded Normandy on June 6, 1944, and de Gaulle entered Paris as the head of the new government of the Fourth Republic. The postwar years were characterized by consumerism and technical advancements. In the 1950's and 60's, France's African and Asian colonies were claiming their independence, which led to wars in Algeria and Indochina, as well as general strikes and the student revolts of 1968. 
    1905: CharlesPathé colors black and white films by machine. 
    1907: Lumière brothers  invent still color photography process.  
    1914-18: World War I 
    1919: Versailles Treaty 
    1929-39: The Depression  
    1939: France declares war on Germany 
    1940: Paris falls, Vichy's government formed 
    1944-45: D-Day and Allied victory and Fourth Republic led by de Gaulle 
    1946-54: War in Indochina 
    1954-58: War of Algeria 
    1958: De Gaulle initiates 5th Republic 
    1968: General strikes and students' riots in Paris