France travel guide


France Travel Guide

France History

Europe began being occupied from about 200,000 BC by the Homo sapiens, but they all died 30,000 years ago, supposedly during a period of cold weather. Around 2500 B.C, the Celts came from Central Europe and settled in Gaul. The Celts were iron workers and dominated Gaul until 125 B.C., when the Roman Empire began its reign in southern France. The Greeks and Phoenicians established settlements along the Mediterranean, most notably in Marseille. Julius Caesar conquered part of Gaul in 57-52 B.C., and it remained under Roman rule until the Franks invaded Gaul in the 5th century A.D.

Gaul was divided into seven provinces. The Romans were afraid of populations having local identities and began to displace them, so they avoided a threat to the Roman integrity. That's why many Celts were moved and enslaved out of Gaul. Many changes occurred during the cultural evolution under the Roman Empire. One of them was the change of the Gaulish language by to vulgar Latin. The similarities between the two languages favoured the transition. Gaul was under Roman control for centuries.

In 486, Clovis I, leader of the Salian Franks, defeated Syagrius at Soissons and then united most of northern and central Gaul under his rule. Christianity in France received a boost when in 496, Clovis adopted the Roman Catholic form of Christianity. In some ways Clovis' reign brought stability and unity to France, but in some other ways it contributed to fragmentation, because Clovis divided up the territory as gifts and rewards.

Charles Martel was the first leader of the Carolingian dynasty and was responsible for the expansion of the Frankish kingdom and also stopped the Muslim advance. Charlemagne was not only an able military leader, but was also a great supporter of education and the arts. During Charlemagne's period, there was a Carolingian renaissance, but shortly after his death the kingdom was divided. Hugh Capet was elected to the throne of France, and this way the Carolingian dynasty ended and the Capetian Dynasty began. In 1066, William, Duke of Normandy invaded England and was crowned as the English King of England on Christmas Day, 1066. Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was once married to King Louis VII of France, married Henry II of England, and as a result, most of the western part of France was yielded 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.

France became a centralized state where an absolute monarchy was established, retaining the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings and the explicit support of the established Church. The long Italian Wars (1494-1559) marked the beginning of early modern France. Once Francis I was captured at Pavia, the French monarchy had to look for allies and found one in the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Admiral Barbarossa captured Nice on 5 August 1543, and handed it down to Francis I. During the 16th century, the Spanish and Austrian Habsburgs were the dominant power in Europe, controlling some other duchies and kingdoms across Europe. Despite all of this, French became the preferred language of Europe's aristocracy.

« France History - Part II

About us | Contact us | Disclaimer | Legal Terms | Privacy Policy

© 2005 - 2019 - All rights reserved