top of page
  • Writer's pictureWilliam Tyler

French History: A Foundation

France is not another version of England, its powerful neighbour. Neither is France Paris.

France is different in many ways to its island neighbour.

France only finally achieved unified status under Napoleon in the 19th century.

Because of this, regional differences in France are still profound. Perpignan has little in common with Lille, and Strasbourg with Bordeaux. Regional languages remain a live issue in French culture, especially in Provence,

France's borders have been fought over for centuries, and arguably were only finally settled in 1945.

French history clearly teaches us about France but it also teaches us about the wider Europe in which it has often played a pivotal role.

At two moments in history it has played a global role. Firstly with the philosophers of the 18th century Enlightenment, men such as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Diderot; secondly with the ideas of The French Revolution of 1789.

The France of Louis XIV showed the high culture of Europe's Ancien Regime at its finest, and Napoleon's Army demonstrated what the French refer to as 'la gloire'.

France has contributed much, suffered much, and itself caused much suffering with Napoleon's conquests and its Overseas Empire.

A story both unique and important.

So the questions which have to be answered in any introductory look at French history are:

  1. Who exactly are the French?

  2. How many languages are there in France and what does this tell us about the country?

  3. How has the geography of France shaped its history?

For some background reading please see my blog (

124 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Democracy finally arrived in Germany in the wake of a Civil War that immediately followed the breakdown after World War One. It arrived in the form of The Weimar Republic (named after the city where

Kaiser Wilhelm II C.Clarke The Sleepwalkers (road to war) C.Clarke Ring of Steel (Germany and Austria at war) A.Watson The Three Emperors M.Carter Berlin (in 20th Century) S.M

Once Bismarck had been dismissed by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1890, Germany's Foreign Policy took a distinct turn to what, in the end, became the policy of Weltpolitik, that is world politics; the attempt

bottom of page