France Government - History

France Government - History

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France is a democracy with a President as chief of state. He appoints the Prime Minister and can dissolve the parliament. France has a bicameral parliament, with the National Assembly the stronger part.
PresidentChirac, Jacques
Prime MinisterDe Villepin, Dominique
Min. of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, and Rural AffairsGaymard, Herve
Min. of Civil Service, State Reform, and Regional DevelopmentDelevoye, Jean-Paul
Min. of Culture & CommunicationAillagon, Jean-Jacques
Min. of Defense and War VeteransAlliot-Marie, Michele
Min. of Ecology and Sustainable DevelopmentBachelot-Narquin, Roselyne
Min. of Economy, Finances, and IndustryMer, Francis
Min. of Equipment, Transport, Housing, Tourism and the Seade Robien, Gilles
Min. of Foreign Affairsde Villepin, Dominique
Min. of Health, the Family, and the HandicappedMattei, Jean-Francois
Min. of the Interior, Internal Security, and Local LibertiesSarkozy, Nicolas
Min. of JusticePerben, Dominique
Min. of Overseas TerritoriesGirardin, Brigitte
Min. of Social Affairs, Labor, and SolidarityFillon, Francois
Min. of SportsLamour, Jean-Francois
Min. of Youth, National Education, and ResearchFerry, Luc
Min. Del. for the BudgetLambert, Alain
Min. for Cooperation and Francophone AffairsWiltzer, Pierre-Andre
Min. for European AffairsLenoir, Noelle
Min. for Foreign TradeLoos, Francois
Min. for the FamilyJacob, Christian
Min. for IndustryFontaine, Nicole
Min. for Local LibertiesDevedjian, Patrick
Min. for Parity and Professional EqualityAmeline, Nicole
Min. for Research and New TechnologiesHaignere, Claudie
Min. for SchoolsDarcos, Xavier
Min. for Towns and Urban RenewalBorloo, Jean-Louis
Sec. of State for the DisabledBoisseau, Marie-Therese
Sec. of State for the ElderlyFalco, Hubert
Sec. of State for the Fight Against Poverty and Social ExclusionVersini, Dominique
Sec. of State for Foreign AffairsMuselier, Renaud
Sec. of State for the Justice Ministry Property ProgramBedier, Pierre
Sec. of State for Relations with Parliament and Spokesman for the GovernmentCope, Jean-Francois
Sec. of State for Small and Medium Enterprises, Commerce, and Artisans, Professional Occupations, and Consumer AffairsDutreil, Renaud
Sec. of State for State ReformPlagnol, Henri
Sec. of State for Sustainable DevelopmentSaifi, Tokia
Sec. of State for TourismBertrand, Leon
Sec. of State for Transport and the SeaBussereau, Dominique
Sec. of State for War VeteransMekachera, Hamlaoui
Governor, Bank of FranceTrichet, Jean-Claude
Ambassador to the USLevitte, Jean-David
Permanent Representative to the UN, New YorkRochereau de la Sabliere, Jean-Marc

Services of France

The various service, or tertiary, industries in France account for about two-thirds of the country’s employment and of GDP. These levels were reached following an extended period of sustained growth, notably since the 1960s. This sector covers a highly diverse range of activities, including social and administrative services, such as local government, health, and education wholesaling, distribution, and transport and communication services consumer services, such as retailing and the hotel and catering trades and producer or business services, including banking, financial, legal, advertising, computing, and data-handling services.

Not all tertiary activities have developed in the same way. For example, rationalization in the banking and financial services sector has limited the creation of jobs. Conversely, the continuously strong growth, since the early 1970s, of hypermarkets and other large freestanding retail outlets that allow for purchasing in bulk and in greater variety has led to a significant rise in related employment. In particular the large group of producer services has expanded rapidly. In part this trend is the inevitable consequence of the increasingly complex and highly competitive nature of the modern economy. It also results from companies’ strategies of externalizing (outsourcing) such service requirements for reasons of efficiency and cost savings.

Tertiary activities are located predominantly in urban areas, especially the larger cities. Such concentration is most evident in relation to the capital. The Île-de-France région (Paris region) alone accounts for nearly one-fourth of all tertiary employment while containing less than one-fifth of the population. In Paris the sector’s importance is qualitative as well as quantitative. Paris houses more than two-thirds of the headquarters of the country’s major companies and a disproportionately large share of senior management and research staff. This attraction to the capital is influenced by a number of factors, including the size and diversity of the labour market, the high level of accessibility to other French and international business centres, prestige, and the presence of numerous specialized services.

Political process

Universal suffrage at the age of 21 has existed in France since 1848 for men and since 1944 for women the age of eligibility was lowered to 18 in 1974. Legislation enacted in the late 1990s penalizes political parties for failing to maintain sufficient parity between male and female candidates. Candidates for the National Assembly must receive a majority, not a plurality, of votes, and, if no candidate receives an absolute majority, then a second ballot is held the following week and the post is awarded to the plurality winner. Elections follow the model of single-member districts rather than proportional representation within a district. Two-phase voting is also used for the presidency, with the exception that, if an absolute majority is not reached after the first ballot, then only the two highest vote getters are considered for the second ballot, which is contested two weeks later.

Historically, French political parties have been both numerous and weak, which is generally accepted as the reason governments fell frequently before the advent of the Fifth Republic in 1958. Since then there has been a degree of streamlining, although, especially among centrist groups, parties are still poorly organized and highly personalized. Indeed, there have been many vicissitudes in the fortunes of the main parties since the late 1950s. In the 1960s and early ’70s, Charles de Gaulle’s centre-right party—first named Union for the New Republic (UNR) and later Rally for the Republic (RPR)—dominated the elections. After the election of the centrist Valéry Giscard d’Estaing to the presidency in 1974, the Gaullist party declined, while the centrists (from 1978 as the Union for French Democracy UDF) and Socialists gained in strength. From 1981 and with the election of the Socialist president François Mitterrand, the Socialist Party became dominant, its gains being made primarily at the expense of the Communists. It was the first time since 1958 that the left had taken the leadership in French politics. While the Gaullists achieved a comeback with the appointment of Édouard Balladur as prime minister in 1993 and the election of Jacques Chirac as president in 1995, the Socialists regained control of the government during 1997–2002, when Lionel Jospin served as prime minister. In 2002 Chirac was reelected to the presidency under the coalition banner of the Union for Presidential Majority (UMP), decisively putting down Jean-Marie Le Pen of the far-right National Front, who had surprised many with his strong showing in the first round of balloting. The UMP retained control of the presidency and the government following the 2007 election of Nicolas Sarkozy, but it was swept from office by the Socialists in 2012. François Hollande defeated the incumbent Sarkozy in the presidential race, and the Socialist bloc captured a clear majority in the National Assembly.

The French party system has continued to display volatility, though less so than in the past. Because the dominance of the Gaullist party was relatively short-lived, with other groups from the centre eroding its strength, the parliamentary base of the governments of the centre-right shrank this was especially so since the centrists remained a loose confederation of several groupings, each of which tended to adopt different tactics. The precarious nature of political balance was underscored by recent periods of cohabitation between presidents and prime ministers of opposing parties.

Creating French Culture From Empire to Democracy

France and the United States are rightly considered the birth places of modern democracy. But while Americans have enjoyed the political and institutional stability of the &ldquoone and indivisible Republic&rdquo for over 200 years, the French since 1789 have experienced a succession of short-lived regimes: a Directoire, a consulate, two empires, two monarchies, and five republics, as well as the Vichy regime during World War II. In France, as one President of the Fifth Republic has noted, political crises tend to lead to institutional crises which threaten the regime itself. In such moments, the French have thrice heeded the call of charismatic and prestigious leaders (Napoleon I, Napoleon III, and Marshall Pétain) whose temperaments and politics paid short shrift to democracy. But twice they have turned to General Charles de Gaulle, who led the French Resistance against the Nazis and, in 1958, founded France's current regime, the Fifth Republic. To date, it has proven a robust, prosperous and stable democracy.

The United States has not faced the threat of military invasion since the early nineteenth century. France, on the other hand, was overrun by foreign armies in 1814&ndash1815 and later fought three major wars on her soil over seventy-five years (the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and the two World Wars). Nor have the French been spared civil strife, including revolutions (1830, 1848), civil wars (1871, 1940&ndash45), bitter wars of decolonization in Indochina and Algeria after World War II, and paralyzing nationwide strikes in 1968.

Such cataclysms have inflicted incalculable human and material losses. But they have also provided an inviting canvas of events and ideas for the creative brush strokes of poets, playwrights, novelists, painters, caricaturists, and statesmen -- possible proof that the great artists of the modern era are motivated more by upheaval and injustice than by tranquil prosperity. The result: a remarkably rich and diverse culture, inspired by Enlightenment values and independent as never before from those who hold the reins of power.

Equally impressive has been the ultimate triumph of the revolutionary ideals of 1789: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. That victory owes much to the French men and women who have defended freedom and democracy against domestic and foreign foes alike, often at the peril of their lives. Many of the items in this final section of Creating French Culture bear witness to their courage in the face of censorship and worse, and to their unwavering commitment to principles which Americans, too, have always cherished.

This painting is at the heart of a series of studies on the misfortunes of war and Napoleon's retreat from Russia, which was to result in Géricault's most famous lithograph, Return from Russia. In the middle of the icy plain a one-armed grenadier leads the exhausted horse of a blind cuirassier. The pain, resignation, and despair on their faces summarize this horrible disaster, survived by only a handful of Napoleon's soldiers.

165. Théodore Géricault (b. 1791&ndashd. 1824), Le Retour de Russie (The Return from Russia), around 1818, Department of Prints and Photographs, Dc 141b Rés. vol. 1, Watercolor over pencil on Bristol Board, and lithograph

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Daphnis and Chloë, a novel by the third-century B.C. Greek writer Longus, has been illustrated often throughout the centuries. In 1793, Pierre Didot the Elder, the scion of a dynasty of printers that revolutionized the aesthetic of the book in France, asked Pierre Prud'hon (b. 1758&ndashd. 1823) to illustrate the novel. Prud'hon's three drawings were supplemented by six from François Gérard (b. 1770&ndashd. 1837). The copy exhibited here was produced for Imperial Marshal Andoche Junot (b. 1771&ndashd. 1813).

168. Longus, Daphnis et Chloé (Daphnis and Chloë), Paris, 1802, Department of Rare and Precious Books, Rés. Vélins 835, Vellum

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Champollion's five-volume Egyptian Pantheon drew heavily on his deciphering of hieroglyphics. For each god he provided abundant, accurate, and detached testimony of the classical authors, philological discussions, and excerpts from hieroglyphic texts, accompanied by drawings. Folio 88 reproduces the principal symbols of the Egyptian goddess Hathor whose motto on four columns is &ldquolady of the offerings, eye of the sun residing in its disk, mistress of the heavens, spirit of all the gods.&rdquo

169. Jean-François Champollion (b. 1790&ndashd. 1832), Panthéon égyptien (Egyptian Pantheon), around 1815-1825, Manuscripts Department, Western Section, NAF 20323, Paper

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This set of four sketches by Charles Philipon (b. 1800&ndashd. 1862), executed probably in 1831, begins with an accurate portrait of King Louis-Philippe (1830&ndash1848) whose face the caricaturist gradually transformed into a pear. The pear, as a symbol of the soft, corpulent king, met with immediate success. Louis-Philippe, the so-called &ldquoCitizen King&rdquo was a favorite target of republican caricaturists until censorship was reinstated in September 1835.

170. Charles Philipon, La Métamorphose du roi Louis-Philippe en poire (The Metamorphosis of King Louis-Philippe into a Pear), Department of Prints and Photographs, B 16, Rés. Philipon, Pen-and-bister-ink drawing

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Charles Marville, like Baldus, turned to photography from painting early in the Second Empire. Commissioned by the city of Paris, Marville began in 1858 to photograph the old streets destined to disappear during the urban renewal directed by Baron Georges Haussmann (b. 1809&ndashd. 1891). He also photographed the City Hall. In this print of the oldest, central part of the façade, the richly sculpted Renaissance décor seems carved out by the light from the street lamps.

178. Charles Marville (b. 1816&ndashd. after 1879), L'Hôtel de Ville de Paris (Paris City Hall), Paris, around 1860, Department of Prints and Photographs, Eo 8 grand folio, vol. 3, Albumen print from wet collodion on glass negative

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Hugo wrote Les Misérables, of which this is the autograph manuscript, between 1848 and 1861, to draw attention, as he noted in the preface, to &ldquothe degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of woman by hunger, the wasting of the child by night.&rdquo The work succeeded in drawing attention to the working conditions of women and children. Immediately successful, the novel inspired a stage version, parodies, an American film in 1909, and, more recently, a celebrated musical.

180. Victor Hugo (b. 1802&ndashd. 1885), Les Misérables, n. d., Manuscripts Department, Western Section, NAF 13379, Paper

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The premiere of Giuseppe Verdi's (b. 1813&ndashd. 1901) Aïda (March 22, 1880 at the Paris Opera) benefitted from the advice of Auguste-Edouard Mariette Bey (b. 1821&ndashd. 1881), the famous Egyptologist. The scenery and costumes were designed with the greatest archeological precision. Exhibited here is the model for Scene I, Act I: a hall in the king's palace. The entranceway in the middle leads to the hall of judgment, the gallery on the right to the prison of Radamès.

189. Three- dimensional Model for Verdi's Aïda, n. d., Opera Department, Maquette 130, Cardboard cut out and painted

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In December 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a French Jew falsely accused of treason, was sentenced to lifelong internment on Devil's Island. In January 1898, the famous writer Emile Zola, convinced of Dreyfus's innocence by mounting proof of a military cover up, drafted an open letter to President Félix Faure, denouncing the military establishment. The government filed suit against him, which, as Zola had predicted, ensured that &ldquothe truth is emerging and nothing can stop it&rdquo (folio 33).

193. Emile Zola (b. 1840&ndashd. 1902), J'accuse…! (I accuse…!), January 11&ndash13, 1898, Manuscripts Department, Western Section, NAF 19951, Paper

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In this collection of &ldquoJewish stories&rdquo by Clemenceau (who became one of the falsely accused Captain Dreyfus's staunchest defenders), candid accounts of the Jewish condition, collected during trips to Central Europe, counterbalanced more fanciful portraits (Baron Moses, Mayer the friendly crook). To illustrate the stories, Toulouse-Lautrec observed life in la Tournelle, the Jewish quarter of Paris. The original binding exhibited here is soberly Art Nouveau.

194. Georges Clemenceau (b. 1841&ndashd. 1929), Au pied du Sinaï (At the Foot of Sinai), Illustrations by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (b. 1864&ndashd. 1901), Paris, 1898, Reserve of Rare and Precious Books, Rés. Z. Audéoud 223

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The conception and composition of Pelleas and Melisande, the only opera Debussy completed and one of the major works of the twentieth century, well illustrates the latent conflicts between dominant cultural authorities and an artist aware of the revolutionary character of his work. The autograph manuscript of the orchestra score exhibited here was used in the first performances and for the first edition of the orchestra score published in 1904.

195. Claude Debussy (b. 1862&ndashd. 1918), Pelléas et Mélisande (Pelleas and Melisande), n. d., Music Department, MS 963

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The theme of this volume of Proust's masterpiece is homosexuality, depicted through the experiences of the two main characters, Charlus and Albertine. Cities of the Plain fills seven of the twenty notebooks Proust used for the revised copies of the latter parts of the novel. The notebook displayed here corresponds to the beginning of Cities of the Plain II, which opens (fol. 14) with a high-society party given by the Princess of Guermantes.

197. Marcel Proust (b. 1871&ndashd. 1922), A la recherche du temps perdu: Sodome et Gomorrhe (Remembrance of Things Past: Cities of the Plain), 1915-16, Manuscripts Department, Western Section, NAF 16709

The general policy statement

The general policy statement is a tradition in the Fifth Republic but is not an obligation laid down by the Constitution. Article 49, paragraph 1 stipulates that the Prime Minister can commit the Government by means of a vote of approval by members of parliament on its programme or “potentially on a general policy statement”. The Prime Minister uses this speech to imprint a style and adopt the role of head of the parliamentary majority.

The Government’s commitment is not compulsory when it comes into office. Therefore, some Governments have never made such commitments and accordingly drew legitimacy solely from appointment by the President of the Republic, or, as in the case of the ninth parliament (1988 to 1993) because they did not have an absolute majority in the National Assembly. However, since 1993, all Governments have asked for a vote of confidence by the National Assembly within a few days of appointment.

In particular, several Governments have asked for a vote of confidence by the National Assembly in relation to a special event. In total, Article 49, paragraph 1 has been exercised 35 times since 1958.

Provisions of Article 49 of the Constitution

  • when the Government asks for a vote of confidence on its programme or makes a statement of general policy. In the event of a negative vote by the absolute majority of votes cast, the Government must resign
  • by the tabling of a censure motion by one-tenth of the members of parliament, adopted by the absolute majority of the members of the National Assembly. The Government is consequently overturned
  • when the Government applies Article 49.3 of the Constitution. Members of parliament can table a censure motion and vote on it within 48 hours to object to legislation being adopted without a vote. In this case, the Government is also required to resign.

In 1914, the territory of France was different from today's France in two important ways: most of Alsace and the northeastern part of Lorraine had been annexed by Germany in 1870 (following the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871), and the North-African country of Algeria had been established as an integral part of France (department) in 1848. Alsace-Lorraine would be restored at the end of World War I (only to be lost again, temporarily, to the Germans a second time during World War II).

Unlike other European countries France did not experience a strong population growth in the mid and late 19th century and first half of the 20th century. This would be compounded by the massive French losses of World War I — roughly estimated at 1.4 million French dead including civilians (or nearly 10% of the active adult male population) and four times as many wounded — and World War II — estimated at 593,000 French dead (one and a half times the number of American dead), of which 470,000 were civilians. From a population of around 39 million in 1880, France still had only a population of 40 million in 1945. The post-war years would bring a massive "baby boom", and with immigration, France reached 50 million in 1968. This growth slowed down in 1974.

Since 1999, France has seen an unprecedented growth in population. In 2004, population growth was 0.68%, almost reaching North American levels (2004 was the year with the highest increase in French population since 1974). France is now well ahead of all other European countries in population growth (except for the Republic of Ireland) and in 2003, France's natural population growth (excluding immigration) was responsible for almost all the natural growth in European population (the population of the European Union increased by 216,000 inhabitants (without immigration), of which 211,000 was the increase in France's population alone, and 5,000 was the increase in all the other countries EU combined).

Today, France, with a population of 62 and a half million, or 65 million including overseas territories, is the third most populous country of Europe, behind Russia and Germany.

Immigration in the 20th century differed significantly from that of the previous century. The 1920s saw great influxes from Italy and Poland in the 1930-50s immigrants came from Spain and Portugal. Since the 1960s however, the greatest waves of immigrants have been from former French colonies: Algeria (1 million), Morocco (570,000), Tunisia (200,000), Senegal (45,000), Mali (40,000), Cambodia (45,000), Laos (30,000), Vietnam (35,000). Much of this recent immigration was initially economical, but many of these immigrants have remained in France, gained citizenship and integrated into French society. Estimates vary, but of the 60 million people living in France today, close to 4 million claim foreign origin. This massive influx has created tensions in contemporary France, especially over issues of "integration into French society" and the notion of a "French identity", and in recent years the most controversial issues have been with regards to Muslim populations (at 7%, Islam is the second largest religion in today's France see Islam in France).

Eastern-European and North-African Jewish immigration to France largely began in the mid to late 19th century. In 1872, there were an estimated 86,000 Jews living in France, and by 1945 this increased to 300,000. Many Jews integrated (or attempted to integrate) into French society, although French nationalism led to anti-Semitism in many quarters. The Vichy regime's collaboration with the Nazi Holocaust led to the extermination of 76,000 French Jews (the Vichy authorities however gave preferential treatment to "integrated" Jews who had been in France from two to five generations and who had fought in World War I or held important administrative positions in the government), and of all other Western European countries, this figure is second only to Germany but many Jews were also saved by acts of heroism and administrative refusal to participate in the deportation (three quarters of France's Jewish population was spared, a higher proportion than any other European country touched by the holocaust). Since the 1960s, France has experienced a great deal of Jewish immigration from the Mediterranean and North Africa, and the Jewish population in France is estimated at around 600,000 today.

Around the start of the 20th century, almost half of all Frenchmen depended on the land for their living, and up until World War II, France remained a largely rural country (roughly 25% of the population worked on the land in 1950), but the post-war years also saw an unprecedented move to the cities: only around 4% of the French continue to work in farms and 73% live today in large cities. By far the largest of these is Paris, at 2.1 million inhabitants (11 million in the Parisian region), followed by Lille, Lyon, Marseille (upwards of 1.2 million inhabitants each). Much of this urbanization takes place not in the traditional center of the cities, but in the suburbs (or "banlieues") that surround them (the cement and steel housing projects in these areas are called "cités"). With immigration from poorer countries, these "cités" have been the center of racial and class tensions since the 1960s.

The loss of regional and traditional culture (language and accent, local customs in dress and food), the poverty of many rural regions and the rise of modern urban structures (housing projects, supermarkets) have created tensions in modern France between traditionalists and progressives. Compounding the loss of regionalism is the role of the French capital and the centralized French State.

Independence movements sprang up in Brittany, Corsica and the Basque regions, while the Vichy Regime (echoing Nazi racial propaganda) actively encouraged Catholicism and local "folk" traditions, which they saw as truer foundations for the French nation.

The post-war years saw the state take control of a number of French industries. The modern political climate has however been for increasing regional power ("decentralization") and for reduced state control in private enterprise ("privatization").

It can be assumed that “The First World War initiated a period of sudden, often traumatic transformation. It accelerated changes that had slowly begun to alter French cultural, social, and economic life in the first decades of the twentieth century.” French identity and culture had been completely disheveled after World War I, and that destruction is in part caused by gender-ambiguity. French culture and identity were heavily based on societal gender roles that seemed to have been blurred after the war. Perhaps the “most famous expression of this postwar sense of cultural mortality” came from a 1919 letter by Paul Valery, which discussed that “We modern civilizations, we too now know that we are mortal like the others." [1]

After World War I, when it had lost 1.4 million of its citizens to World War I, France was facing a serious issue. With a casualty rate higher than any other country in Europe at 16.5 percent, along with 3 million wounded and 1.1 million suffering from permanent disability, France was suffering from a low birthrate. At the same time, France was painting a fearful picture of women no long wanting to have children. [2] Because of the flagging birthrate, legislators introduced and passed a bill on July 23, 1920, which penalized the use of propaganda that encouraged and supported abortion and contraceptives. Historians believe that the legislative victory can be interpreted as either a “logical gesture of the postwar conservative, nationalist Block national that came into power in the November legislative elections of 1919,” or they saw the natalist victory as “a response to an already serious demographic problem made worse by wartime casualties.” [2] Prior to World War I, until 1914, abortions were “frequent and virtually unpunished, though outlawed by Article 317 of the Penal Code.” Feminists like Madeleine Pelletier, a female physician and socialist thinker, “developed socio-economic pro-abortion arguments which were already well known to the intellectual working class. Natalists that had pushed this legislation as well as further restrictions against a women’s right not to bear children, as Pelletier observes, “was presented as a class position.” Legislation like this represented the interest of those with a high socio-economic status that “used the working class as a pool of labour to bolster the economy." [3] Throughout the first couple decades of the 20th century, there is a noticeable clash between French feminists, who more aligned with the socialist parties of France, and the natalists, who resonated more with the conservative parties of France.

World War I (1914–1918) Edit

Many French intellectuals welcomed the war to avenge the humiliation of defeat and loss of territory to Germany following the Franco-Prussian War of 1871. After Socialist leader Jean Jaurès. a pacifist, was assassinated at the start of the war, the French socialist movement abandoned its antimilitarist positions and joined the national war effort. Prime Minister Rene Viviani called for unity—for a "Union sacrée" ("Sacred Union")--Which was a wartime truce between the right and left factions that had been fighting bitterly. France had few dissenters. However, war-weariness was a major factor by 1917, even reaching the army. The soldiers were reluctant to attack Mutiny was a factor as soldiers said it was best to wait for the arrival of millions of Americans. The soldiers were protesting not just the futility of frontal assaults in the face of German machine guns but also degraded conditions at the front lines and at home, especially infrequent leaves, poor food, the use of African and Asian colonials on the home front, and concerns about the welfare of their wives and children. [4]

The economy was hurt by the German invasion of major industrial areas in the northeast. While the occupied area in 1913 contained only 14% of France's industrial workers, it produced 58% of the steel, and 40% of the coal. [5] Considerable relief came with the influx of American food, money and raw materials in 1917. [6]

Georges Clemenceau became prime minister in November 1917, a time of defeatism and acrimony. Italy was on the defensive, and Russia had surrendered. Civilians were angry as rations fell short and the threat of German air raids grew. Clemenceau realized his first priority was to restore civilian morale. He arrested Joseph Caillaux, a former French prime minister, for openly advocating peace negotiations. He won all-party support to fight to victory calling for "la guerre jusqu'au bout" (war until the end).

The war brought great losses of manpower and resources. Fought in large part on French soil, it led to approximately 1.4 million French dead including civilians (see World War I casualties), and four times as many wounded. France borrowed billions of dollars from the U.S. that it had to repay. The stipulations of the Treaty of Versailles (1919) were favourable: Alsace and Lorraine were returned to France Germany was required to take full responsibility for the war and to pay war reparations to France that covered its entire war costs, including veterans' benefits. One German industrial area, Saar Basin, a coal and steel region, was temporarily occupied by France. [7]

On The Homefront (1914-1919) Edit

A dichotomy between the two sexes, that had once already been defined, was becoming inflamed. While the majority of men were sent off into the warfront, the majority of women stayed at the homefront. Because many individuals had left to serve away from home, large gaps in the workforce had opened up. Women, being at home, had many opportunities opened up to them. With 3.7 million of the workforce absent, jobs that were defined at particularly masculine were then being practiced by women. While these women were accelerating at their new occupations, with some even quitting their old 'feminine' jobs to take on these more masculine tasks, fulfilling the occupational and family roles that men previously filled, men on the warfront were not pleased. When it comes to viewing the "material contrasts between trench and civilian life, returning soldiers saw the Homefront as a world of extravagance and luxury, whose pleasures they were largely denied." Soldiers returning home soon became lost in a perpetual and mental "no-man's-land." They had come home and witnessed women taking on their jobs, their family responsibilities, they felt stranded in that no-man’s-land. Veterans had felt forgotten. The fact that the women on the homefront had “collapsed conventional notions of sexual difference and reversed the boundaries of social marginality,” women had “become the new insiders,” while the men were left on the cascades of civilization. The way in which civilians passed time had "shocked and offended" these soldiers. The contrast between homefront and warfront life was vast, and women were blamed for the abhorrent ignorance of the traumatic experiences veterans went through on the battlefield Mary Louise Taylor, however, would like to argue that "women's lack of knowledge concerning the war can be ascribed to government censorship rather than to a "demoralization" of the homefront." She writes that the censorship of books and media were extensive and that all of the horrible parts of war, including military defeats and the horrors of the trenches. [8]

Between the wars (1919–1939) Edit

In the congress of Tours in 1920, the socialist party (SFIO) was split in two and the majority broke away and formed the French Communist Party (Section française de l'internationale communiste). The remaining minority, led by Léon Blum, "kept the old house" and stayed in the SFIO. In 1924 and again in 1932, the Socialists joined with the Radical-Socialist Party in the "Coalitions of the Left" (Cartels des Gauches), but refused actually to join the non-Socialist governments led by the Radicals Édouard Herriot and Édouard Daladier. Daladier resigned under pressure of the far-right leagues after the 6 February 1934 crisis, and conservative Gaston Doumergue was appointed president of the Council. The left-wing had feared a right-wing coup d'état as those that had taken place with the 1922 March on Rome and events in Germany. Therefore, under the Comintern's influence, the Communists changed their line and adopted an "antifascist union" line, which led to the Popular Front (1936–38), which won the 1936 elections and brought Blum to power as France's first socialist prime minister. The Popular Front was composed of radicals and socialists, while the communists supported it without participating in it (in much the same way that socialists had supported radicals' governments before World War I without participating in them). Within a year, however, Léon Blum's government collapsed over economic policy, opposition from the bourgeoisie (the famous "200 hundreds families") and also over the issue of the Spanish Civil War (Blum decided that supporting the Spanish Republicans might hasten a more general European war this decision led to huge defections among the French left-wing, while Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini unashamedly armed and supported Francisco Franco's troops).

The French far-right expanded greatly and theories of race and anti-semitism proliferated in many quarters. Numerous far-right and anti-parliamentarian leagues, similar to the fascist leagues, sprang up, including colonel de la Rocque's Croix-de-Feu 1927-1936 which, like its larger rival the monarchist Action Française (founded in 1898, condemned by Pope Pius XI in 1926, Action Française supported a restoration of the monarchy and of Roman Catholicism as the state religion) advocated national integralism (the belief that society is an organic unity) and organized popular demonstrations in reaction to the Stavisky Affair 1934, hoping to overthrow the government (see 6 February 1934 crisis).

In the 1920s, France established an elaborate system of border defenses (the Maginot Line) and alliances (see Little Entente) to offset resurgent German strength. In the 1930s, the massive losses of the war led many in France to choose the popular appeasement policy that supposedly prevented war with Germany over Czechoslovakia, whose alliance with France proved worthless at the Munich Agreement of 1938.

Great Depression Edit

The crisis hit France's economy in 1931, a bit later than other countries. [9] [10] While during the 1920s it grew at the very strong rate of 4.43% per year, in the 1930s it fell to an average of only 0.63%. Despite the enormous disruption to the economy caused by the Great War, by 1924 industrial and agricultural production had been restored to prewar levels, with rapid and widespread growth from 1924 to 1931. [11]

France tried vigorously but without much success to obtain the reparations Germany had been forced to promise at the Treaty of Versailles. This led France to invade and occupy the Ruhr industrial district of Germany. That failed. Finally, all the major nations agreed to accept the American proposals, known as the Dawes Plan of 1924 and the Young Plan of 1929, to stabilize reparation payments. Germany was virtually bankrupt by 1931, and all payments were suspended.

After 1931 rising unemployment and political unrest led to the February 6, 1934 riots. The left banded together and formed the Popular Front, led by SFIO socialist leader Léon Blum, which won the elections in 1936. Ultra-nationalist groups also saw increased popularity, although democracy prevailed until 1940. Economic conditions did not significantly improve, even as the Popular Front reduced the workweek to 30 hours. Fearful of a civil war in France, as was happening in Spain, France led the major nations to call an arms blockade designed to prevent arms shipments to either side during the Spanish Civil War. This effort nonetheless failed to stop arms shipments from Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union. [12]

World War II (1939–1945) Edit

In September 1939 Hitler invaded Poland, and France and Great Britain declared war. Both armies were mobilized to the Western Front, but for the next eight months neither side made a move: this came to be called the "phony war". The German Blitzkrieg began in May 1940, and in six weeks of savage fighting the French lost 130,000 men. The Allied armies crumbled, but the British managed to rescue their own soldiers and about 100,000 French soldiers in the Dunkirk evacuation. [13]

France was defeated and had to sign an armistice with Nazi Germany on June 22, 1940. French soldiers became prisoners of war in Germany, were assigned to munitions factories as forced labor, and served as hostages. Nazi Germany occupied three fifths of France's territory (the Atlantic seaboard and most of France north of the Loire), leaving the rest to the new Vichy collaboration government established on July 10, 1940 under Henri Philippe Pétain. Its senior leaders acquiesced in the plunder of French resources, as well as the sending of French forced labor to Nazi Germany in doing so, they claimed they hoped to preserve at least some small amount of French sovereignty. After an initial period of double-dealing and passive collaboration with the Nazis, the Vichy regime passed to active participation (largely the work of prime minister Pierre Laval). The Nazi German occupation proved costly Nazi Germany appropriated a full one-half of France's public sector revenue. From 1942 to 1944 many French citizens were deported to death camps and Nazi concentration camps in Germany and Poland. [14]

On the other hand, those who refused defeat and collaboration with Nazi Germany, such as Charles de Gaulle, organized the Free French Forces in the UK and coordinated resistance movements in occupied and Vichy France. By August 1944, 260,000 French regulars and 300,000 FFI were fighting in France.

After four years of occupation and strife, Allied forces, including Free France, liberated France in 1944. Paris was liberated on August 25, 1944. On September 10, 1944 Charles de Gaulle installed his provisional government in Paris. This time he remained in Paris until the end of the war, refusing to abandon even when Paris was temporarily threatened by German troops during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. But France could now again participate as a nation in the war. In 1945, the French army numbered 1,300,000 men, 412,000 of whom were fighting in Germany and 40,000 in Italy.

History 1945-1999 Edit

France emerged from World War II to face a series of new problems. After a short period of provisional government initially led by General Charles de Gaulle, a new constitution (October 13, 1946) established the Fourth Republic under a parliamentary form of government, controlled by a series of coalitions. The mixed nature of the coalitions and a consequent lack of agreement on measures for dealing with colonial wars in Indochina and Algeria caused successive cabinet crises and changes of government. The war in Indochina ended with French defeat and withdrawal in 1954. Algeria was no mere colony. With over a million European residents in Algeria (the pieds-noir), France refused to grant it independence,lp until a bloody colonial war (the Algerian War of Independence) had turned into a French political and civil crisis Algeria was given its independence in 1962, unleashing a massive wave of immigration from the former colony back to France. [15]

The threat of a coup d'état in May 1958 by French army units and French settlers opposed to concessions in the face of Arab nationalist insurrection led to the fall of the French government and a presidential invitation to de Gaulle to form an emergency government to forestall the threat of civil war. Swiftly replacing the existing constitution with one strengthening the powers of the presidency, he became the elected president in December of that year, inaugurating France's Fifth Republic.

In July 1961 when Tunisia imposed a blockade on the French naval base at Bizerte, hoping to force its evacuation the crisis culminated in a three-day battle between French and Tunisian forces that left some 630 Tunisians and 24 French dead]], and eventually led to France ceding the city and naval base to Tunisia in 1963.

In 1965, in an occasion marking the first time in the 20th century that the people of France went to the polls to elect a president by direct ballot, de Gaulle won re-election with a 55% share of the vote, defeating François Mitterrand. Meanwhile, the Algerian War went on raging, with de Gaulle progressively adopting a stance favouring Algeria's independence. This was interpreted by his supporters in 1958 as a form of treason, and part of them, who organized themselves in the OAS terrorist group, rebelled against him during the Algiers putsch of 1961. But De Gaulle managed to put an end to the war by negotiating the Evian Agreements of March 1962 with the FLN.

In the end of the 1960s, however, French society grew tired of the heavy-handed, patriarchal Gaullist approach, and of the incompatibilities between modern life and old traditions and institutions. This led to the students' revolts of events of May 1968, with a variety of demands including educational, labor and governmental reforms, sexual and artistic freedom, and the end of the Vietnam War. The student protest movement quickly joined with labor and mass strikes erupted. At one point, de Gaulle went to see troops in Baden-Baden, possibly to secure the help of the army in case it were needed to maintain public order. But after a month-long general strike, most of French people aspired to order, and the June 1968 legislative elections saw a majority of Gaullists in parliament. Still, May 1968 was a turning point in French social relations, with the Grenelle Agreements, in the direction of more personal freedoms and less social control, be it in work relations, education or in private life.

In April 1969, de Gaulle resigned following the defeat in a national referendum of government proposals for decentralization, through the creation of 21 regions with limited political powers. He was succeeded by the Gaullist Georges Pompidou (1969–74), who died during his term. Pompidou's succession pitted the Gaullists against the more classical conservatives who eventually won, headed by the Independent Republican Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (1974–81).

Social movements continued after May 1968. They included the occupation of the Lip factory in 1973, which led to an experience in workers' self-management, supported by the CFDT, the Unified Socialist Party (PSU) and all of the far-left movements. LIP workers participated in the Larzac demonstrations against the extension of a military camp (in which José Bové was present). Maoism and autonomism became quite popular in far-left movements, opposing both the Socialist Party and the Communist Party.

While France continues to revere its rich history and independence, French leaders increasingly tie the future of France to the continued development of the European Union (EU).

The 1972 Common Program between the Socialist Party (PS), the Communist Party (PCF) and the Left Radical Party (PRG) prepared the victory of the Left at the 1981 presidential election, during which for the first time in the Fifth Republic a left-wing candidate won. François Mitterrand, re-elected in 1988, followed a left-wing inspired social and economic program, formulated in the 110 Propositions for France electoral program. However, reforms came to a stop in 1983. Mitterrand's two terms were marked by two cohabitations, the first one in 1986–88 with Jacques Chirac as Prime minister.

Mitterrand stressed the importance of European integration and advocated the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty on European economic and political union, which France's electorate narrowly approved in September 1992.

The conservative President Jacques Chirac assumed office May 17, 1995, after a campaign focused on the need to combat France's stubbornly high unemployment rate. The center of domestic attention soon shifted, however, to the economic reform and belt-tightening measures required for France to meet the criteria for Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) laid out by the Maastricht Treaty. In late 1995, France experienced its greatest labor unrest in at least a decade, as employees protested government cutbacks.

In evaluating Chirac's presidency in 2015, the British magazine The Economist stated:

In his term, unemployment averaged 10 percent, debt mounted, the French said no to Europe, and the suburban banlieues rioted. It was on his watch that France's competitive position sharply declined. His popularity sank to 16 percent. [But today] Jacques Chirac has emerged as an improbable icon of retro taste and a figure of public affection. [16]

History 2000 to present Edit

Macron Presidency Edit

Macron formally became president on 14 May 2017. [17] In the 2017 legislative election, Macron's party La République en marche and its Democratic Movement allies secured a comfortable majority, winning 350 seats out of 577. [18] After The Republicans emerged as the winners of the Senate elections, government spokesman Christophe Castaner stated the elections were a "failure" for his party. [19]

In his first few months as president, Macron pressed for enactment of package of reforms on public ethics, labor laws, taxes, and law enforcement agency powers.

Corruption Edit

In response to Penelopegate, the National Assembly passed a part of Macron's proposed law to stop mass corruption in French politics by July 2017, banning elected representatives from hiring family members. [20] Meanwhile, the second part of the law scrapping a constituency fund was scheduled for voting after Senate objections. [21]

Macron's plan to give his wife an official role within government came under fire with criticisms ranging from it being undemocratic to what critics perceive as a contradiction to his fight against nepotism. [22] Following an online petition of nearly 290,000 signatures on Macron abandoned the plan. [23] On 9 August, the National Assembly adopted the bill on public ethics, a key theme of Macron's campaign, after debates on the scrapping the constituency funds. [24]

Labour policy and unions Edit

Macron aims to shift union–management relations away from the adversarial lines of the current French system and toward a more flexible, consensus-driven system modelled after Germany and Scandinavia. [25] [26] He has also pledged to act against companies employing cheaper labour from eastern Europe and in return affecting jobs of French workers, what he has termed as "social dumping". Under the EU rules, eastern European workers can be employed for a limited time at the salary level in eastern European countries which has led to dispute between the EU states. [27]

The French government announced the proposed changes to France's labour rules ("Code du Travail"), being among the first steps taken by Macron and his government to galvanise the French economy. [28] Macron's reform efforts have encountered resistance from some French trade unions. [29] The largest trade union, the CFDT, has taken a conciliatory approach to Macron's push and has engaged in negotiations with the president, while the more militant CGT is more hostile to reforms. [25] [26] Macron's labour minister, Muriel Pénicaud, is overseeing the effort. [30]

The National Assembly including the Senate approved the proposal, allowing the government to loosen the labour laws after negotiations with unions and employers' groups. [31] The reforms, which were discussed with unions, limit payouts for dismissals deemed unfair and give companies greater freedom to hire and fire employees as well as to define acceptable working conditions. The president signed five decrees reforming the labour rules on 22 September. [32] Government figures released in October 2017 revealed that during the legislative push to reform the labour code, the unemployment rate had dropped 1.8%, the biggest since 2001. [33]

The population held steady from 40.7 million in 1911, to 41.5 million in 1936. The sense that the population was too small, especially in regard to the rapid growth of more powerful Germany, was a common theme in the early twentieth century. [34] Natalist policies were proposed in the 1930s, and implemented in the 1940s. [35] [36]

France experienced a baby boom after 1945 it reversed a long-term record of low birth rates. [37] In addition, there was a steady immigration, especially from former French colonies in North Africa. The population grew from 41 million in 1946, to 50 million in 1966, and 60 million by 1990. The farm population decline sharply, from 35% of the workforce in 1945 to under 5% by 2000. By 2004, France had the second highest birthrate in Europe, behind only Ireland. [38] [39]

Economic growth rates in France, 1900-1999
Decade average annual growth rate
1900s 2.27%
1910s 1.89%
1920s 4.43%
1930s 0.63%
1945-49 2.16%
1950s 3.85%
1960s 4.98%
1970s 3.10%
1980s 2.02%
1990s 1.30%
Source: Jean-Pierre Dormois, The French Economy in the Twentieth Century (2004) p 31

The overall growth rate of the French economy shows a very strong performance in the 1920s and again in the 1960s, with poor performances in the 1910s, 1930s, and 1990s. [40] By the end of the 19th century, France had joined the industrial era. But it had joined late, and comparatively it had lost in the competition with its war-footing neighbor Germany, and with its trade-based chief rival across the Channel, Great Britain. France had great industry and infrastructure and factories, by 1900 but compared to Germany and Britain was "behind", so that people spoke of and French politicians complained of "the French backwardness (le retard français)".

In 1870 the first signs of French industrial and general economic decline started to appear, compared to their new neighbor in Bismarck's newly united Germany, appeared during the Franco-Prussian War. The total defeat of France was less a demonstration of French weakness than it was of German militarism and industrial strength this was in contrast to France's occupation of Germany during the Napoleonic wars. A huge sum had to be paid to Germany to end the war which provided the latter with even more capital.

By 1914, however, German armament and general industrialization had out-distanced not only France but all of its neighbors. Just before 1914, France was producing about one-sixth as much Coal as Germany, made less than a third as much Pig iron and a quarter as much Steel. [41] In a scenario recounted best in Barbara Tuchman's book The Guns of August, [42] France together with Germany's other competitors had entered a "war-footing" rearmament race which, once again, temporarily stimulated spending while reducing saving and investment.

The First World War—the "Great War"—however produced an economic outcome disastrous for all parties, not just for the German losers. As predicted by Keynes in his bitter post-Versailles Conference book, The Economic Consequences of the Peace, [43] the heavy war reparations imposed upon Germany not only were insufficient to fuel French economic recovery, they greatly damaged a Germany which might have become France's leading trade and industrial development partner, thereby seriously damaging France as well.

And their very heavy loss of life, in the "Great War", robbed France of a generation of its youth, and of some of the youthful imagination necessary for facing Germany again, only 25 years later, in the Second World War, when a by-then aged French general staff was ill-prepared and entirely-defensive up against an even more militant German economy and army. Damaged by the Great Depression, the older leaders left in France were reluctant to assume a "war-footing" economy yet again, and France was overrun and occupied by Nazi Germany, and its wartime economy turned entirely to supporting Germany and the German war effort.

The great hardships of wartime, and of the immediate post-war period, were succeeded by a period of steady economic development, in France, now often fondly recalled there as The Thirty Glorious Years (Les Trente Glorieuses). Alternating policies of "interventionist" and "free market" ideas enabled the French to build a society in which both industrial and technological advances could be made but also worker security and privileges established and protected. By the end of the 20th century, France once again was among the leading economic powers of the world, although by the year 2000 there already was some fraying around the edges: people in France and elsewhere were asking whether France alone, without becoming even more an integral part of a pan-European economy, would have sufficient market presence to maintain its position, and that worker security and those privileges, in an increasingly "Globalized" and "transnational" economic world.

Twentieth century French literature was profoundly shaped by the historical events of the century and was also shaped by—and a contributor to—the century's political, philosophical, moral, and artistic crises. [44]

Inspired by the theatrical experiments in the early half of the century and by the horrors of the war, the so-called avant-garde Parisian theater, "New Theater" or "Theatre of the Absurd" around the writers Eugène Ionesco, Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, Arthur Adamov, Fernando Arrabal refused simple explanations and abandoned traditional characters, plots and staging. Other experiments in theatre involved decentralisation, regional theater, "popular theater" (designed to bring working classes to the theater), and theater heavily influenced by Bertolt Brecht (largely unknown in France before 1954), and the productions of Arthur Adamov and Roger Planchon. The Avignon festival [45] was started in 1947 by Jean Vilar who was also important in the creation of the T.N.P. or "Théâtre National Populaire." [46] [47]

The French novel from the 1950s on went through a similar experimentation in the group of writers published by "Les Éditions de Minuit", a French publisher this "Nouveau roman" ("new novel"), associated with Alain Robbe-Grillet, Marguerite Duras, Robert Pinget, Michel Butor, Samuel Beckett, Nathalie Sarraute, Claude Simon, also abandoned traditional plot, voice, characters and psychology. To a certain degree, these developments closely paralleled changes in cinema in the same period (the Nouvelle Vague). [48]

Twentieth century French literature did not undergo an isolated development and reveals the influence of writers and genres from around the world. In turn, French literature has also had a radical impact on world literature. Because of the creative spirit of the French literary and artistic movements at the beginning of the century, France gained the reputation as being the necessary destination for writers and artists. Important foreign writers who have lived and worked in France (especially Paris) in the twentieth century include: Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, William S. Burroughs, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Julio Cortázar, Vladimir Nabokov, Eugène Ionesco. Some of the most important works of the century were written by foreign authors in French (Eugène Ionesco, Samuel Beckett).

France has been more permissive in terms of censorship, and many important foreign language novels were originally published in France while being banned in America: Joyce's Ulysses (published by Sylvia Beach in Paris, 1922), Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita and William S. Burroughs's Naked Lunch (both published by Olympia Press), and Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer (published by Obelisk Press).

Following on the radical developments of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism at the end of the nineteenth century, the first half of the twentieth century in France saw the even more revolutionary experiments of cubism, dada and surrealism, artistic movements that would have a major impact on western, and eventually world, art. After World War II, while French artists explored such tendencies as tachism, fluxus and new realism, France's preeminence in the visual arts was eclipsed by developments elsewhere (the United States in particular).

BRIEF ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF FRANCE France which officially known as French Republic

France which officially known as French Republic. It is one of the world’s oldest nations. France lies near the western end of the great Eurasian landmass, largely between latitudes 42° and 51° N. The Celtic tribes which the Romans know as Gaul consist most of the population of France especially in the center and west as it spread from Central Europe in the period of 500 BCE- 500 CE.
The monarchs of France ruled, first as kings and later as emperors, from the Middle Ages to 1848. There is some disagreement as to when France came into existence. The earliest date would be the establishment of the Merovingian Frankish kingdom by Clovis I in 486 with the defeat of Syagrius, the last Roman official in Gaul. That kingdom’s rulers were deposed in the 8th century. The Treaty of Verdun established the Kingdom of Western Francia in 843. Another date medieval historians believe is 987, the beginning of the Capetian Dynasty.
The Franks, a Germanic group of people, invaded settled the Roman area called Gallic. There was a moderate movement in power as the Roman empire fell and the Franks grew in influence. By AD 509 Clovis I was king over all the Franks with his capital was in Paris, He established the Merovingian dynasty that was named after his grandfather Merovech as the ruling family over Francia (where we get the name France). That dynasty would carry on for almost three hundred years, until the last Merovingian was removed in favor of a man named Pepin (Charlemagne’s father).
Due to the tradition of Frankish kings to split their kingdom between surviving sons, who would inevitably war with each other. Of all the kingdoms the one name Francia would prove to be the most powerful and would eventually become the name of the nation we know today.

The Merovingian Dynasty ruled the Franks for about 300 years in an area known as Francia in Latin that began in middle of the 5th Century. Their territory largely corresponded to ancient Gaul as well as the Roman provinces of Raetia, Germania Superior and the southern part of Germania. The dynasty rose to historical popularity with Childeric I (457-481) who was the son of Merovech but it was Childeric I son Clovis I who united all united all of Gaul under Merovingian rule.

• Chlodio the Long hair.
Chlodio was a king of the Salian Franks from the Merovingian dynasty. He was known as a Long-Haired King and lived at a place on the Thuringian border called Dispargum. From there he invaded the Roman Empire in 428 and settled in Northern Gaul, where already other groups of Salians were settled. Although he was attacked by Romans he was able to maintain his position and 3 years later in 431 he extended his kingdom down south to the Somme River.

Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, 1778 .

Diplomatic relations were established on August 6, 1778, when Conrad Alexandre Gérard, presented to Congress his credentials as France’s Minister-Plenipotentiary and Consul-General. Benjamin Franklin was appointed as the first U.S. Minister Plenipotentiary to France on September 14, 1778, and was accredited by the French Government on March 23, 1779.

Establishment of American Diplomatic Mission in France, 1779 .

An American diplomatic mission in Paris was first established on March 23, 1779, when Benjamin Franklin presented to the French court his letter of credence as Minister-Plenipotentiary.

Diplomatic Relations Interrupted, 1798 .

In July 7, 1798, following the so-called “XYZ affair,” the U.S. Congress abrogated the treaties of 1778 and a pre-existing consular convention. The French, however, did not accept the abrogation as legally-binding until after the ratification of the 1800 Treaty of Friendship and Commerce.

Resumption of Diplomatic and Cultural Relations with France, 1801 .

Following the outbreak of the Quasi-War, the U.S. and France signed a Treaty of Friendship and Commerce on September 30, 1800 (also known as the Treaty of Morfontaine ), which was revised and then later ratified by both sides on July 31, 1801.

Elevation of American Legation to Embassy Status, 1893 .

The American Legation in Paris was elevated to embassy status on April 8, 1893. James B. Eustis, who had served as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary since March 20, 1893, was the first American Ambassador to France. He continued to serve as ambassador until recalled on May 24, 1897.

American Ambassador Separated from the French Government, 1940 .

Germany invaded France on May 15, 1940, and as French resistance collapsed, the French Government left Paris on June 10 to make its way to Bordeaux. The American Ambassador, William C. Bullitt, remained in Paris to oversee the evacuation of American and British civilians, while the American Embassy staff followed the French government. U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull designated Anthony J. Drexel Biddle, Jr., on June 13 as Deputy Ambassador of the U.S. Government near the seat of the French Government, a role that he filled until June 24, when the Department directed him to leave France and resume his duties as Ambassador to the Polish Government in exile. Following the occupation of Bordeaux, the Embassy staff moved with the French government to the vicinity of Clermont-Ferrand , where Bullitt rejoined it on or about June 29, before departing on July 11.

American Embassy Moved to Vichy, 1940 .

On June 16, 1940, French Prime Minister Paul Reynaud resigned in favor of Marshal Henri Philippe Pétain , who requested terms for an armistice from Germany and oversaw France’s surrender on June 22, 1940. On July 10, 1940, the French Parliament met in Vichy and granted full and extraordinary powers to Marshal Pétain, including the power to write a new Constitution. The American Embassy relocated near the seat of the new Vichy regime in the summer of 1940. William D. Leahy presented his credentials as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the French Government in Vichy on January 8, 1941, a position he held until May 1, 1942.

Diplomatic Relations Severed by France, 1942 .

Vichy France severed diplomatic relations with the United States on November 8, 1942, when Prime Minister Pierre Laval informed the U.S. Chargé in Vichy, S. Pinkney Tuck, of his government’s decision. This French decision followed the Anglo-American invasion of French North Africa.

Limited U.S. Recognition of the French Committee of National Liberation, 1943 .

On June 3, 1943, the French Committee of National Liberation (FCNL) was established in Algiers under the leadership of co-Presidents Charles de Gaulle and Henri Giraud . On August 24, 1943, President Roosevelt instructed Acting-Secretary of State Adolf A. Berle to forward a message to U.S. Minister Robert D. Murphy (Roosevelt’s personal representative in Algiers) that was to be distributed to members of the FCNL two days later. The message announced that the U.S. Government “recognizes the French Committee of National Liberation as administering those territories which acknowledge its authority.” The message, however, did “not constitute recognition of a government of France or of the French Empire by the Government of the United States,” but rather signified “recognition of the French Committee of National Liberation as functioning within specific limitations during the war,” after which “the people of France… will proceed in due course to select their own government and their own officials to administer it.”

U.S. Recognition of the Provisional Government of the French Republic, 1944 .

On May 16, 1944, the Acting American Representative to the FCNL at Algiers, Selden Chapin, informed Secretary Hull that the FCNL’s Provisional Consultative Assembly had passed a unanimous resolution to the effect that the FCNL would now be referred to as the Provisional Government of the French Republic (PGFR). On October 19, 1944, Secretary Hull informed the American Representative to the FCNL, Jefferson Caffery , that the President had decided to recognize the PGFR as “the de facto authority established in Paris under the leadership of General De Gaulle, at the time of [the] announcement by the French of the creation of a zone of the interior.” On October 23, 1944, the Department of State issued a press release announcing the recognition of the PGFR by the U.S. Government, and that Caffery would assume the position of U.S. Ambassador to France. On the same day, in Paris, Caffery and representatives from the British, Soviet, and Canadian Governments called on French Foreign Minister, Georges Bidault . They provided him with letters extending diplomatic recognition from their Governments and Bidault reciprocated by acknowledging them as duly-accredited ambassadors to France.

Reopening of American Embassy in Paris, 1944 .

Following the liberation of Paris at the end of the Summer of 1944, the American Embassy in Paris was reopened to the public on December 1, 1944. Jefferson Caffery was appointed Ambassador to France on November 25, 1944, and was in charge pending presentation of his letter of credence, which occurred on December 30, 1944.

France: Government

Since the Revolution of 1789, France has had an extremely uniform and centralized administration, although constitutional changes in 2003 now permit greater autonomy to the nation's regions and departments. The country is governed under the 1958 constitution (as amended), which established the Fifth French Republic and reflected the views of Charles de Gaulle. It provides for a strong president, directly elected for a five-year term an individual is limited to two terms as president. A premier and cabinet, appointed by the president, are responsible to the National Assembly, but they are subordinate to the president. The bicameral legislature consists of the National Assembly and the Senate. Deputies to the 577-seat National Assembly are elected for five-year terms from single-member districts. The 348 senators are elected for six-year terms from each department by an electoral college composed of the deputies, district council members, and municipal council members from the department, with one half of the Senate elected every 3 years.

France's 22 administrative regions (see above under Land) each have a directly elected regional council, primarily responsible for stimulating economic and social activity. The regions are further divided into 96 departments (not including the four overseas departments), which are governed by a locally elected general council, with one councilor per canton. Further subdivisions are districts (arrondisements), cantons, and communes. The districts and cantons have little power. The communes, however, are more powerful because they are responsible for municipal services and are represented in the national government by the mayor.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: French Political Geography

It might sound like something out of “Sesame Street” but the XYZ Affair was, in fact, a diplomatic incident between France and America in the late 18th century that led to an undeclared war at sea. In 1793, France went to war with Great Britain while America remained neutral. . read more

A scandal that rocked France in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Dreyfus affair involved a Jewish artillery captain in the French army, Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935), who was falsely convicted of passing military secrets to the Germans. In 1894, after a French spy at the . read more

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  7. Gabi


  8. Ciardubhan


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