History of France
Stone tools indicate that early man was present in France at least 1.57 million years ago.
The first modern humans appeared in the area 40,000 years ago. The first written records for the History of France appear in the Iron Age. What is now France made up the bulk of the region known to the Romans as Gaul. Roman writers noted the presence of three main ethno-linguistic groups in the area: the Gauls, the Aquitani, and the Belgae. The Gauls, the largest and best attested group, were a Celtic people speaking what is known as the Gaulish language.
Over the course of the first millennium BC the Greeks, Romans, and Carthaginians established colonies on the Mediterranean coast and the offshore islands. The Roman Republic annexed southern Gaul as the province of Gallia Narbonensis in the late 2nd century BC, and Roman forces under Julius Caesar conquered the rest of Gaul in the Gallic Wars of 58–51 BC. Afterwards a Gallo-Roman culture emerged and Gaul was increasingly integrated into the Roman Empire.
In the later stages of the Roman Empire, Gaul was subject to barbarian raids and migration, most importantly by the Germanic Franks. The Frankish king Clovis I united most of Gaul under his rule in the late 5th century, setting the stage for Frankish dominance in the region for hundreds of years. Frankish power reached its fullest extent under Charlemagne. The medieval Kingdom of France emerged out of the western part of Charlemagne's Carolingian Empire, known as West Francia, and achieved increasing prominence under the rule of the House of Capet, founded by Hugh Capet in 987.
A succession crisis following the death of the last Capetian monarch in 1337 led to the series of conflicts known as the Hundred Years' War between the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet. The wars ended with a Valois victory in 1453, solidifying the power of the Ancien Régime as a highly centralized absolute monarchy. During the next centuries, France experienced the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation, as well as recurring religious conflicts and wars with other powers. A burgeoning worldwide colonial empire was established from the 16th century.
In the late 18th century the monarchy and associated institutions were overthrown in the French Revolution, which forever changed French and world history. The country was governed for a period as a Republic, until the French Empire was declared by Napoleon Bonaparte. Following Napoleon's defeat in the Napoleonic Wars France went through several further regime changes, being ruled as amonarchy, then briefly as a Second Republic, and then as a Second Empire, until a more lasting French Third Republic was established in 1870.
France was one of the Triple Entente powers in World War I, fighting alongside the United Kingdom, Russia, and their allies against the Central Powers.
France was one of the Allied Powers in World War II, but was conquered by Nazi Germany in 1940. The Third Republic was dismantled, and most of the country was controlled directly by the Axis Powers, while the south was controlled by the collaborationist Vichy government. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established.
This was succeeded in 1958 by the French Fifth Republic, the country's current government. After the war decolonization saw most of the French colonial empire become independent, while other parts were incorporated into the French state as overseas departmentsand collectivities. Since World War II France has been a leading member in the UN, the European Union and NATO, and remains a strong economic, cultural, military and political influence in the 21st century.
Constitution of the Year III (1795)
After the fall of Robespierre and the dismantling of the Terror, the National Convention drafted yet another republican constitution. The new constitution was also approved in a referendum and put into effect 26 October 1795. It remained until Napoleon came to power in November 1799. Note that this declaration links duties with rights. It also drops the references to welfare and public assistance and emphasizes family obligations (Art. 4 among duties) for the first time. This declaration also makes clear that “men” refers to males only.
Rights.The French people proclaim in the presence of the Supreme Being the following declaration of the rights of man and citizen:
Duties.1. The rights of man in society are liberty, equality, security, property.2. Liberty consists in the power to do that which does not injure the rights of others.3. Equality consists in this, that the law is the same for all, whether it protects or punishes.4. Security results from the cooperation of all in order to assure the rights of each.5. Property is the right to enjoy and to dispose of one’s goods, income, and the fruit of one’s labor and industry.6. The law is the general will expressed by the majority of the citizens or their representatives.7. That which is not forbidden by the law cannot be prevented. No one can be constrained to do that which it does not ordain.8. No one can be summoned into court, accused, arrested, or detained except in the cases determined by the law and according to the forms which it has prescribed.9. Those who incite, promote, sign, execute, or cause to be executed arbitrary acts are guilty and ought to be punished.10. Every severity which may not be necessary to secure the person of a prisoner ought to be severely repressed by the law.11. No one can be tried until after he has been heard or legally summoned.12. The law ought to decree only such penalties as are strictly necessary and proportionate to the offense.13. All treatment which increases the penalty fixed by the law is a crime.14. No law, either civil or criminal, can have retroactive effect.15. Every man can contract his time and his services, but he cannot sell himself nor be sold; his person is not an alienable property.16. Every tax is established for the public utility; it ought to be apportioned among those liable for taxes, according to their means.17. Sovereignty resides essentially in the totality of the citizens.18. No individual nor assembly of part of the citizens can assume the sovereignty.19. No one can without legal delegation exercise any authority or fill any public function.20. Each citizen has a legal right to participate directly or indirectly in the formation of the law and in the selection of the representatives of the people and of the public functionaries.21. The public offices cannot become the property of those who hold them.22. The social guarantee cannot exist if the division of powers is not established, if their limits are not fixed, and if the responsibility of the public functionaries is not assured.
1. The declaration of rights contains the obligations of the legislators; the maintenance of society requires that those who compose it should both know and fulfill their duties.2. All the duties of man and citizen spring from these two principles graven by nature in every heart: Not to do to others that which you would not that they should do to you. Do continually for others the good that you would wish to receive from them.3. The obligations of each person to society consist in defending it, serving it, living in submission to the laws, and respecting those who are the agents of them.4. No one is a good citizen unless he is a good son, good father, good brother, good friend, good husband.5. No one is a virtuous man unless he is unreservedly and religiously an observer of the laws.6. The one who violates the laws openly declares himself in a state of war with society.7. The one who, without transgressing the laws, eludes them by stratagem or ingenuity wounds the interests of all; he makes himself unworthy of their good will and their esteem.8. It is upon the maintenance of property that the cultivation of the land, all the productions, all means of labor, and the whole social order rest.9. Every citizen owes his services to the fatherland and to the maintenance of liberty, equality, and property whenever the law summons him to defend them.
Frank Maloy Anderson, ed., The Constitutions and Other Select Documents Illustrative of the History of France 1789–1901 (Minneapolis: H. W. Wilson, 1904), 170–74.
“What was the influence of Freemasonry on the French Revolution? The clerical world has always maintained that the latter was the result of a conspiracy of the lodges; the Masonic world has always fought against this thesis. For political reasons, some Masonic authors have denied any, or mostly any, influence their society may have had on revolutionary events, [while] others – concerned with historical truth – have shown the important role played by the lodges, and particularly by their members, on the progress of the Revolution. […] To symbolize its principles and ideals, the Revolution drew upon two sources: the symbols and trappings of classical antiquity, and the rituals of Freemasonry. In the first category belong the goddesses of Liberty, Hercules, the Phrygian caps, fasces, clubs, vanquished hydras, etc.; the second borrowed the square, compass, level, trowel, the triangle with and without a radiant eye, the sun, moon, intertwined hands, knotted tassels, the mirror, the pelican, the eagle bearing its young, the beehive, circumference, etc.” (Karmin, pp. 3, 10)