French History

French History
  • Prehistory
  • Ancient History
  • The Middle Ages
  • Hundred Years' War
  • The Black Death
  • Joan of Arc
  • The Renaissance
  • The 17th century
  • The French Revolution
  • The Era of Napoleon
  • The late 19th century
  • The early 20th century
  • The Fifth Republic

The Era of Napoleon

After the Reign of Terror a new ruling body came into power, known as the Directory. It was very incompetent and riddled with corruption, making it very easy for Napoleon Bonaparte to rise to dictatorship in 1799 and later be crowned emperor. He was an aggressive leader who challenged the authority of the Church itself and embarked on extensive military campaigns through which he greatly expanded his empire.

Napoleon was finally defeated in Russia in 1812, which weakened his position and encouraged his enemies to become allies against him. Napoleon lost his final campaign in Waterloo in 1815. The ruler who replaced the famous general was Louis XVIII, brother of the king guillotined in 1793.

He was then overthrown by Charles X in 1824, who was an ultra-royalist and who reminded the French too much of absolutism. Fearing for their liberal principles, the people ended up protesting and rallying until the July Revolution of 1830 broke out. A new king, King Louise Phillipe, also the Duke of Orleans, was elected by the July Monarchy and went on to reign for 18 years.

During this time France enjoyed a period of prosperity, until in 1848, Napoleon I’s nephew, Louis Napoleon was elected president of the Second Republic, only to be crowned emperor four years later. The resistance by Emperor Napoleon III and the government to adapt the political institutions to the socio-economic changes that were taking place, eventually led to the outbreak of the French industrial revolution.