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Time line

Celts and Romans

Circa 300 BC The north of Gaul occupied by a Celto-Germanic tribe, the Belgae.

153 BC First Roman soldiers enter Gaul.

57 BC Belgian Gaul conquered by Caesar. Bavay, Boulogne and Amiens become important Roman centres.

AD 1C–3C Roman peace. Northern France becomes part of the province of Second Belgium (capital at Reims).

406 German tribes invade Gaul.

Merovingians and Carolingians

486 Territory from the Somme to the Loire rivers occupied by Clovis following the defeat of the Roman army at Soissons: his kingdom was called Francia in Latin.

534–36 Franks conquer Burgundy and acquire Provence.

6C and 7C Creation of bishoprics and founding of many abbeys.

751 Pepin crowned first Carolingian king of the Franks.

800 Charlemagne crowned Holy Roman Emperor.

9C and 10C Norman and Hungarian invasions. Withdrawal of the abbeys into the towns.

911 The Duchy of Normandy created after the Treaty of St Clair-sur-Epte, ending the Normans’ ambitions in Île-de-France.

987 Hugh Capet, duke and suzerain of the land extending from the Somme to the Loire rivers, crowned the first King of France, in Senlis.

The Middle Ages

11C and 12C Period of prosperity. Development of the clothmaking industry in Flanders, Artois and Picardy. Towns obtain charters and build belfries.

1066 William, duke of Normandy, conquers England.

1095 Pope Urban II preaches the first crusade at Clermont.

1154 Henry II becomes king of England and establishes the Angevin Empire of Britain and western and southern France.

1214 Battle of Bouvines: victory for Philippe Auguste over the Count of Flanders and his allies King John of England, the Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV and the counts of Boulogne and Hainault.

1272 Ponthieu under the authority of the kings of England.

1314 Flanders annexed by Philip the Fair.

1337 Beginning of the Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453). The death of Philip the Fair and his three sons (‘the accursed kings’) results in a problem of succession: Philip the Fair’s nephew, Philip de Valois, preferred by the French barons over his grandson, Edward III, King of England. The following century marked by battles between the French and the English who lay claim to the French Crown, as well as between the Armagnacs, supporters of the family of Orléans, and the Burgundians, supporters of the dukes of Burgundy.

1346 Battle of Crécy: victory for Edward III of England.

1347 Calais surrendered to the English with the famous episode of the Burghers of Calais.

1348 The Black Death

1369 Marriage of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, with Marguerite, daughter of the Count of Flanders: Flanders under Burgundian authority.

1415 Battle of Agincourt: victory for Henry V of England.

1420 The Treaty of Troyes signed by Isabeau of Bavaria, wife of the mad king Charles VI, depriving the Dauphin of his rights of succession and designating her son-in-law, Henry V of England, heir to the French throne.

1422 — Death of Charles VI. France divided between the English, the Burgundians and the Armagnacs. Charles VII, the legitimate heir, resident in Bourges.

1430 Joan of Arc taken prisoner at Compiègne, and burned at the stake in 1431, in Rouen.

1435 Reconciliation of France and Burgundy in the Treaty of Arras.

1441 English supremacy over Île-de-France ends with the liberation of Pontoise.

1477 Invasion of Picardy, Artois, Boulonnais and Hainault by Louis XI following the death of Charles the Bold; only Picardy subsequently held. Marriage of Marie of Burgundy, daughter of Charles the Bold, to Maximilian of Austria: Flanders brought under Hapsburg control.

From the Bourbons to the Revolution

16C Through the House of Hapsburg, Flanders included in the empire of Charles V of Spain.

1520 Meeting between Henry VIII of England and François I at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, Guînes.

1529 Peace of Dames signed at Cambrai: claims to Artois and Flanders renounced by François I.

1557 St-Quentin taken by the Spanish.

1558 Calais taken from the English by the Duke of Guise.

1562 Beginning of the Wars of Religion (1562–98).

1585 Philip II of Spain allied with the Catholic League (Treaty of Joinville).

1593 Henry of Navarre converts to Catholicism after capturing most of Île-de-France; crowned King Henri IV of France.

1598 Edict of Nantes grants religious tolerance to the Hugeunots.

1659 Following the Treaty of the Pyrenees, marriage agreed between Louis XIV and Maria-Theresa of Spain; Artois brought under French sovereignty.

1661 The construction of a huge palace at Versailles commissioned by Louis XIV.

1663 Marriage of Louis XIV with Maria-Theresa, who according to local custom was to inherit all of the Brabant region from her mother. When the inheritance passes to another heir, Louis XIV declares the war of ‘Devolution’ on the Spanish Low Countries.

1668 Walloon Flanders given to Louis XIV by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.

1678 Louis XIV allowed to annex the other northern towns by the Treaty of Nimegen.

1713 The borders of northern France established definitively (Treaty of Utrecht).

1789 The French Revolution. Declaration of the Rights of Man, Storming of the Bastille and formation of the National Assembly.

From the First to the Second Empire

1802 Treaty of Amiens: peace with Britain.

1803 Napoleon’s army mustered at the Boulogne Camp for a possible invasion of England.

1804 Napoleon crowns himself Emperor of France.

1814 France invaded. Unconditional abdication by Napoleon at Fontainebleau. Louis XVIII, returned from exile in England, is enthroned in 1815.

1840 Attempted uprising against King Louis-Philippe organised by Louis-Napoleon in Boulogne.

1848 Louis-Napoleon elected President of the Republic; crowned Emperor (Napoleon III) in 1852.

1870–71 Franco-Prussian War. End of the Second Empire signalled by the defeat at Sedan: the Third Republic proclaimed. Paris besieged by Prussians: Alsace and part of Lorraine given up under the Treaty of Frankfurt.

20th century

1914 Outbreak of the First World War. France attacked by German armies through neutral Belgium; four years of bloody trench warfare follow.

1915–18 Battles throughout northern France and Flanders: in Artois (Neuville-St-Vaast, Vimy), in Picardy (Somme Valley, Chemin des Dames in the Aisne Valley, St Quentin) and in Île-de-France (Ourcq Valley, Battle of the Marne).

1918 11 November: armistice signed in Compiègne Forest.

1919 End of the war with the Treaty of Versailles.

1939 Outbreak of the Second World War. In June 1940 France overrun by the German army; occupation of much of the country. The ‘French State’, established at Vichy, collaborates closely with the Germans. The north of France cut off from the rest of the country by a boundary. France’s honour saved by General de Gaulle’s Free French forces and by the courage of the men and women of the Resistance.

By 1942 all France occupied; the French fleet scuttled at Toulon. Allied landing in Normandy in June 1944, and in the south of France in August: Paris liberated. The ‘Dunkirk pocket’ retaken by the Allies. The German surrender signed at Reims on 7 May 1945.

1976 Creation of the ‘Île-de-France’ administrative region.

1987 Start of building works for the Channel Tunnel linking France and England.

1994 6 May: official opening of the Channel Tunnel.

1996 Inauguration of Evry Cathedral.

1998 Inauguration of the Stade de France in St-Denis for the World Cup, won by the French team.

21st century

2004 Lille is designated a European Capital of Culture, a distinction that gives cities a chance to showcase its cultural life and development.

2007 Nicolas Sarkozy is elected President of France: the 6th President of French Fifth Republic, the 23rd President of the French Republic and Co-Prince of Andorra. One of his first ‘social’ acts was to admit singer Barbra Strei­sand the Office of Légion d’Honneur. Paris is one of ten venues in France to host the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

2009 The global financial crisis reaches Picardy and Nord-Pas-de-Calais regions, causing job losses in services for the first time in years.

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