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Formation of Nations (All European Nations)

France/French: Development of a Nation
How France became France, and how the French became French.

FranceHow French as a people, and the country of France as a nation-state, evolved and materialized into current form, in terms of ancestral bloodlines, the French language, borders, culture, and even how they received their name.

Ancestral Background
Development of Language
Formation of Borders
Etymology (How Name Received)
France in 2008


French Ancestral Background:

  1. Begin with Celts in ancient times. Celts were descendents of original inhabitants of central Europe which developed the Celt language (sub-branch of Proto-Indo-European language – the ancestral language of nearly all European languages) and Celt culture. A trace Greek/Phoenician component in southern France was added, due to colonies they settled along Mediterranean coast during ancient times.
    Celt expansion by 250 BC
  2. Celts in the area approximating modern France would come to be known as Gauls by the Romans, who would conquer the region by 51 BC, naming it “Gaul” by 51BC.
  3. Especially after the withdrawal of the Romans from the territory in the 5th century, western and central Europe would be overrun by Germanics. The territory consisting Germanic Franksof modern France was dominated by the Franks, a confederation of Germanic tribes originating in the modern Netherlands, who would become the ruling class of the region corresponding to modern France. The Germanic peoples would intermix with the Romano-Gauls (Celts who inhabited the Roman province of Gaul). This represents the primary genetic composition/lineage of what we consider to be “French” people today.
  4. Other groups would provide minor contributions to the genetic composition of the Franks (“French”), such as the Norse that would settle in the north during the 10th century.

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Development of French Language:

  1. The Roman language of Latin becomes the language of the Roman province of Gaul (modern France) during the Roman era. The Gallic language, which evolved in Gaul, is essentially a dialect of Latin, as it developed along its own individualistic linguistic path as Latin in other regions of the Empire.
  2. After Roman withdrawal, the Franks (confederation of Germanic tribes) consolidate rule in Gaul, becoming the ruling class. However, they adopt the Gallic language (branch of Latin), but place their mark upon it, introducing new words and pronunciations to the Gallic language. This would serve as the basis of modern French.

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Europe 600 AD

Formation of French Borders:

  1. Pyrenees Mountains form natural boundary between modern Spain and France, causing separate “nations” to form on either side. This natural barrier separated the Celtiberians from the Gauls before the Roman Empire. During the Roman Empire, it served as the border between the provinces of Hispania and Gaul. During the Medieval Ages, it separated the Frankish Empire from the Visigothic Kingdom. The mountains deterred the Muslim Moors in the 8th century from conquering France, keeping them contained in the Iberian peninsula. Upon the end of the Frankish Empire, the Pyrenees remained as the border between France and the Spanish petty kingdoms of Spain. Officially recognized as the France/Spain border in 1659.
  2. Frankish EmpireFrankish Empire. In 493, the Franks convert to Christianity, aiding into their crystallization into a tangible political entity. The empire continued to expand, reaching its height under Charlemagne (771), thanks to the premature (and suspicious) death of his brother, preventing a division of the kingdom. Charlemagne has just one son, Louis the Pious, who assumed rule in 814, upon the death of Charlemagne. But Louis has three sons which are heirs to the kingdom. According to Frankish custom, the personal estate of a leader is divided equally among his sons, and the Frankish Kingdom was considered the personal estate of the king. It was divided according to the Western Realm (“Western Francia” – predecessor to modern France), the Central Realm (Netherlands in the north to Italy in the south), and the Eastern Realm (predecessor to modern Germany).
  3. The eastern border would go through several transformations throughout the Middle Ages. Due to marriage and war, regions along the eastern border would switch back and forth between “France” (or petty kingdoms under the banner of the French king based in Paris), and the Holy Roman Empire (German states & principalities).
  4. France would annex Duchy of Burgundy, which had been independent, in 1004.
  5. NormandyIn 1246, France annexes Lower Burgundy, permanently establishing SE border. It was viewed as traditional France territory.
  6. In 1295, County of Burgundy gained by France from HRE through marriage. It would be passed around between various nations/kingdoms, over the next few centuries, until France regained it permanently in 1678.
  7. In 1532, France finally annexes Brittany, the peninsula extending out from the northwest corner of modern France.
  8. In 1601, France annexes modern Dept of Ain from Kingdom of Savoy, forming permanent border with Italy along this area.
  9. During 30 Years War, ending in 1648, France captures territory along current border with both Germany and Switzerland, including Alsace.
  10. 1770 – France purchases the island of Corsica, off the western coast of Italy, still part of France to this day.
  11. During Napoleonic Wars, France gains the region forming the modern Department of Moselle, along current Luxembourg/Germany border. Allowed to keep it after the war, to avoid an enclave carved into France, in order to reduce future conflicts.
  12. FranceIn 1860, Italian revolutionaries cedes modern Dept of Haute Savoie in exchange for support in War of Independence against Spain and Austria, forming permanent French/Italian border in this area.
  13. In 1860, France annexes more territory (County of Nice), permanently forming extreme SE corner.
  14. At conclusion of Franco-Prussian War in 1871, Prussia takes Alsace-Lorraine from France.
  15. At conclusion of WWI in 1918, France would regain Alsace-Lorraine from Germany. Nazi Germany would occupy it during WWII, but would be returned to France at the end of the war. - The World's Largest Maps Store!


France Etymology (How Name Received):

France comes from Latin term for “Land of the Franks”, named after the Franks (confederation of Germanic tribes) which conquered Gaul after Brittany Gained by Francethe withdrawal of the Romans in the 5th century. When Germany became the Holy Roman Empire in the 10th century, only West Francia (modern France) used Francia to identify themselves, keeping the namesake from that time forward.


French Culture:

France has long been a patchwork of diverse localized cultures, bound by a common language, heritage, and French identity. Paris is the heart of French culture, known for its debonair quality, and multi-cultural acceptance. On one hand, France is customarily very contemporary in its views, but on the other hand traditional and even anti-progressive.

Despite its sophistication, France has historically been an elitist, aristocratic society, where the top of the hierarchy enjoyed consumption of the finest the world had to offer, along with top-flight educational opportunities. Yet, much of society has been left to toil in the lower social classes, supporting the upper class in labor and disproportionate taxation.

FranceThis pent-up conflict eventually boiled over into the French Revolution in 1789, which established many of the tenets of modern, egalitarian civilizations, including equal human rights. Yet, with the defeat of Napoleonic France, the revolution ended, with some principles surviving in France, and others surfacing in only other nations.

To this day, France resides a little further toward the socialistic end of the sliding scale than the laissez-faire (free market) end, compared to other western nations. France's duality also helps explain the paradox relating to religion in the country, with both a substantial non-religious and piously Catholic population. Catholicism has a long history of importance in France, beginning with the Frankish Empire, which established itself as the protector of the church. France has consistently fought for the Catholic cause throughout history, opposing Protestantism at almost every turn. Even to this day, Catholicism enjoys the favored position as the state religion, a taboo concept among advocates of church and state separation.


France in 2008:

Germany after World War IEconomy: Fairly socialized (high tax rate, gov’t ownership of many companies, banks, etc.), but working toward greater privatization and open market policies. Since the 90s, economy has grown at a more sluggish rate than other EU nations, but remains one of the largest economies in the world.
Government: Democratic Republic.
Religion: 83-88% Roman Catholic, 5-10% Muslim, 2% Protestant, 1% Jewish. Strong Catholic tradition which is still in force today, long the official religion of the state. With modern secularism trend, most Catholics are not active church goers, likely claiming religious affiliation based on family tradition. Only 34% in recent poll claim to believe in God. 27% other ID, 33% atheist.
Demographics: Majority French, with sizable Arab/Muslim (former colonies in ME and N Africa) and Black African population (African slave trade)
Foreign Policy: Participated in Afghanistan invasion, but denounced invasion of Iraq.
Population: 64,057,790 (2008)


Formation of Nations (All European Nations)


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