French history 101

From the Gauls to De Gaulle, a brief primer on French history

Vercingetorix throws down his arms at the feet of Julius Caesar (1899) by Lionel Royer. The painting depicts the surrender of the Gallic chieftain after the Battle of Alesia (52 BC). Note that one of the warriors (bottom left) has a torque around his neck. In fact, the torque was reserved only for gods and important members of a royal family. The depiction of Gauls with long hair and mustaches is also called into question today. The horse is a Percheron, although at this time this breed was not in Gaul. In addition, the Gauls rode bareback, but here the horse is saddled and harnessed. The rectangular shield also does not accord with the time when they were mostly oval. (Photo Public Domain)

From prehistoric cave art to warring Gaulish tribes to Julius Caesar and the Roman era


Visigoths, Bretons, and Franks...oh, my! How various Barbarian tribes carved France into the regions we know today—and the Franks came out on top in the Merovingian dynasty


Charlemagne unites the country in early medieval France


Saint Louis and the Middle Ages

Portrait of Louis XIII (after 1760) by Philippe de Champaigne (Photo Public Domain)

The court of young Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu

Louis XIV, King of France (1702) by Hyacinthe Rigaud, hanging in Versailles (Photo Public Domain)

The era of the Sun King

Portrait of Louis XV of France (1748) by Maurice Quentin de La Tour, in the Louvre (Photo Public Domain)

Louis the Beloved reigns for 58 years, but it doesn't go so well

Louis XVI, King of France and Navarre (1754-1793), wearing his grand royal costume in 1779 (painted 1789) by Antoine-François Callet, hanging in Versailles (Photo Public Domain)

Louis XVI and the end of the Divine Monarchy


Viva la Revolution!... until its end in the Reign of Terror


Enter the emperor of France


From a Bourbon monarch to an Orléans monarch to a Second Republic to a Second Empire to a Third Republic, all in the space of 46 years


From the Occupation of Paris to the Liberation of Paris—of the craven Vichy and brave Resistance

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