The relationship of French history to the English speaking nations cannot be underestimated. What can be learned from a perusal of French History? Much.
The ‘Franks’ episode opens up the scenario of the arrival of ‘tribes’ from the Urals… tribes that, today, are the main nations of Europe. Everyone’s heard of ‘Asterix the Gaul’, the first album of the comic series, by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo … Gaul is France.
Did you know that Catholic France sided with Protestant Britain during the 30 Years War (1618-1648) one of the bloodiest wars in European history (8 million dead) that set the stage for the establishment of Protestantism, Anglicanism and religious freedom that had been spear-headed by Martin Luther earlier in the 16th century.
In France this led to the rise of the Bourbon dynasty and Louis XIV, known as Louis the Great or the Sun King—a time of absolute rule by a king.
The end of the 18th century brought the French Revolution and The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen became a core statement of the values of the French Revolution and had a major impact on the development of freedom and democracy in Europe and worldwide. This was rule by the people … this is the time of Lafayette and his role in US Independence.
What to say about Napoleon’s authoritarian rule follow-up early 19th century? The question is still asked, was he an autocratic dictator or a successful reformer. He brought about major changes with the military and education in France and his Napoleonic Code is still followed in many European, Middle Eastern, and African countries today, as well as many of his educational reforms.
Within 100 years France alone had been ruled successively by a king, the people and a dictator—to what avail? Which type of rule holds the key?
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