French Government History

Ancien Regime of Kings reigned up to King Louis XVI, followed by the French Revolution in 1789. Monarchy was formally abolished in France in September 1792 and King Louis XVI executed in January 1793. His young son (Louis XVII) died at the age of 10 in prison in 1795.

First Republic declared in 1792 and lasted until 1804 with its initial leaders being Georges Danton, executed 1793, and Maximilien Robespierre, executed 1794. After their executions, along with their followers, the Presidents of France were formally appointed from November 1795 on a three monthly rotation until 1799 when military leader Napoleon Bonaparte became France's permanently appointed First Consul. In 1804 he became Emperor.

First Empire 1804-1815 under Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Bourbon Monarchy Restoration 1815-1830 under King Louis XVI's two brothers, Louis XVIII (1755-1824) and Charles X (1757-1836) who reigned from 1824 but abdicated in 1830 and went into exile.

The July Monarchy (1830-1848) followed when Charles left the country in the hands of a distant Bourbon relative Louis Philippe (1773-1850), who subsequently declared himself monarch. King Louis Philippe abdicated in 1848.

Second Republic 1848-1851 followed under President Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon's nephew) who lived 1808 - 1873.

Second Empire 1851-1870 under Emperor Louis Napoleon Bonaparte.

Became the source of one of Karl Marx's most quoted statements, that history repeats itself, "the first as tragedy, then as farce", referring respectively to Napoleon I and to his nephew Louis Napoleon who declared himself Napoleon III. The missing Napoleon II incidentally was Napoleon I's son who was said to have become briefly emperor in 1815 after his father's abdication, though never acknowledged as such, and he died young. Napoleon III's reign ended with France's crushing defeat by Prussia, and Napoleon's capture by Bismarck in the Franco Prussian War. The last few years for Bonaparte were then spent in exile in England.

Third Republic 1871-1940 (with Presidents and Prime Ministers) followed by Paris being occupied by Germany in northern France, and Southern France known as Vichy France an unoccupied "free French zone" ruled from the town of Vichy with Germany's approval. This area included Tunisia and Algeria and Morocco (and its largest city Casablanca) in Northern Africa.

Fourth Republic 16 Jan 1947 - 5 Oct 1958 (with Presidents and Prime Ministers). Dissolved by referendum.

Fifth Republic 1958 onwards with Charles de Gaulle as its first President, having significantly increased powers.

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