French History Timeline

Middle Ages to Modern France

This French history timeline shows you the events in France history from the Middle Ages to modern times. There were a ton of wars and a ton of kings. I’ve included links to films you can watch to help bring this French history to life.

The Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages France became very powerful.

Lots of wars with England leading to one that lasts 100 years.

The Church was the glue that held the country together and helped it prosper. The Church built monasteries. The monks had skills like farming, artistic talents, medical, baking and winemaking.

Where to see:

In Burgundy, The Abbaye de Fontenay.

French history timeline:

Gothic France

12th Century

1154 Angevin Empire (Anglo Roman Empire) Henry Plantangenet Count of Anjou & King of England as Henry II

1226 Louis IX

1180 – 1223 Philip Augustus

started to drive the English out of France

100 Years War

1337 – 1453

France Vs England for control of France. 25% of the population died because of the war that brought famine and the bubonic plague (the Black Death).

The French duchies fought on whatever side was to their benefit.

1429 – 1430

Joan of Arc helps drive out the English

Below is a book by an historian that I am fascinated to read:

The Renaissance comes to France

1494 Under King Francoise I, France invades Italy. With it came the Italian Renaissance.

1515 Francoise I invited Italian artists to court.

Where: Chateau de Chenonceau in The Loire Valley, castle of Francoise I.

1519 – 1589

Catherine de Medici widow of Henry II behind the scenes ruler of her sons: Francoise II, Charles IX, and Henry III

1534 Cartier’s expedition to Canada

In the 16th Century The Reformation created the Protestant Church in Europe. In France they were known as Huguenots. Which began many years of war.


War of Religions (Catholic Vs Protestant)

1589 Henry III murdered.

Henry IV became the 1st Bourbon king of France

1593 Henry IV converts to Catholicism thus ending the war.

1610 – 1700

The rise of France to power and influence

1617 Louis XIII becomes king at the age of 17.

1623 Cardinal Richeliu becomes principle minister.

1635 Richeliu involves France in the 30 years war.

1642-2 Richeliu dies and Louis XIII dies.

French history timeline:

The Sun King

Louis XIV becomes king with Mazarin as principle minister.

The King made the Palace of Versailles his headquarters.

1648-52 French Civil War “The Fronde”

1661 Death of Mazarin. Louis XIV decides to become principle minister and absolute rule.

I enjoyed The Taking of Power by Louis XIV a film by Roberto Rosselini which begins with the death of Mazarin. Brings the history to life.

Another film, The Lady and the Duke, by French filmmaker Eric Rohmer is a fictional story taking place during the Revolution. It’s stunning visually. The scenery are painted backdrops.

1775 The beginning of political problems leading to the French Revolution.

see French Revolution timeline for details on this major historic time.

1792 Louis XVI overthrown.

1st Republic established

Napoleonic France

1800 – 1870

1804 Napoleon I crowned emperor

1803 wars

1806 Arch de Triomphe started construction. It was built to celebrate Napoleon’s victories.

1814 Defeat of Napoleon by England, Austria & Prussia. Napoleon is exiled to Elba.

1815 100 days war. Napoleon returns.

Defeated at Waterloo and exiled to St. Helena.

1830 Revolution: Bourbon King Charles X overthrown. In comes July monarchy with Louis Philippe.

1848 Revolution ends July Monarchy establishment of the 2nd Republic

1851 Louis Napoleon coup d’tat

1852 Crowned Emperor Napoleon III

French history timeline:

La Belle Époque

1870 – 1919

Thriving arts and political troubles within.

1870 – 71 Franco Prussian War

Napoleon III overthrown and France must give Alsace & Lorraine to Germany.

1871 3rd Republic

1905 official separation of church and state

1914 WWI

Russian and England helped France defend itself against the Germans.

1916 Battle of Verdun

1917 US enters the war and helps France drive the Germans out and win back their land.

1918 Germany defeated

1919 treaty of Versailles

Avante Guarde France

1920 Communist Party founded

1929-39 the Depression

1936 – 38 The Popular Front: radical social programs introduced including paid vacations.


1939 WWII declared

The Germans invaded Paris in 1940. By 1942 they had the whole country. They divided the country into two regions: The northern part was occupied & run by the Nazis while the south of France, known as the Vichy government, were French who ran the region as the Nazis wanted.

Free French movement “the Resistance” led by De Gaulle

1945 End of WWII. 4th Republic begins.

1954 France leaves Indo-China War

start of Algerian insurrection

1958 5th Republic President Charles DeGaulle

Modern France

1960s less farming and old industries. Rise of technology and service sector Prestige products: Concord, TGV with international acclaim.

1968 left wing students revolt along with intellectuals demanding better pay, study conditions and change in traditional values and institutions.

Go to French History Timeline Stone Age to Pre Middle Ages

Return from French History Timeline to French Culture Adventures

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Copyright ©2024 by Deborah Dutton,
All rights reserved