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In the administrative division of France, the department (French: département, pronounced: [depaʁtəmɑ̃]) is one of the three levels of government below the national level (“territorial collectivities”), between the region and the commune. There are 96 departments in metropolitan France and 5 overseas departments, which also are classified as regions. HP Pavilion dv7-6184ca CPU Fan

Departments are further subdivided into 342 arrondissements, themselves divided into cantons; the latter two have no autonomy and are used for the organisation of public services and sometimes elections.

France's departments are administered by elected general councils (conseil général) and their presidents, HP Pavilion dv7-3125eo CPU Fan

whose main areas of responsibility include the management of a number of social and welfare allowances, of junior high school (collège) buildings and technical staff, of local roads and school and rural buses, and a contribution to municipal infrastructures. Local services of the State administration are traditionally organised at departmental level, HP Pavilion dv7-2185dx CPU Fan

where the prefect represents the government; however, regions have gained importance in this regard since the 2000s, with some department-level services merged into region-level services.

The departments were created in 1791 as a rational replacement of Ancien Régime provinces in view of strengthening national unity; IBM MCF-C10AM05 CPU Fan

almost all of them are therefore named after rivers, mountains or coasts rather than after historical or cultural territories, unlike regions, and some of them are commonly referred to by their two-digit postal code number, which was until recently used for all vehicle registration plates. They have inspired similar divisions in many of France’s former colonies. SONY Vaio VGN-SZ2XP/C CPU Fan

The first French territorial departments were proposed in 1665 by Marc-René d'Argenson to serve as administrative areas purely for the Ponts et Chaussées (Bridges and Highways) infrastructure administration.

Before the French Revolution, France gained territory gradually through the annexation of a mosaic of independent entities. DELL Latitude E4300 CPU Fan

By the close of the Ancien Régime, it was organised into provinces. During the period of the Revolution, these were dissolved, partly in order to weaken old loyalties.

The modern departments, as all-purpose units of the government, were created on 4 March 1790 by the National Constituent Assembly to replace the provinces with what the Assembly deemed a more rational structure. HP Pavilion dv7-2025es CPU Fan

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Their boundaries served two purposes:

  • Boundaries were deliberately chosen to break up France's historical regions in an attempt to erase cultural differences and build a more homogeneous nation.

Boundaries were set so that any settlement in the country was within a day's ride of the capital of the department. SONY Vaio VGN-FS115Z CPU Fan

  • This was a security measure, intended to keep the entire national territory under close control. This measure was directly inspired by the Great Terror, during which the government had lost control of many rural areas far from any centre of government.

The old nomenclature was carefully avoided in naming the new departments. Most were named after an area's principal river or other physical features. HP 532617-001 CPU Fan

Even Paris was in the department of Seine.

The number of departments, initially 83, was increased to 130 by 1809 with the territorial gains of the Republic and of theFirst French Empire (see Provinces of the Netherlands for the annexed Dutch departments). ACER Aspire 5730Z CPU Fan

Following Napoleon's defeats in 1814-1815, the Congress of Vienna returned France to its pre-war size; the number of departments was reduced to 86, as three of the original departments had been split. In 1860, France acquired the County of Nice and Savoy, which led to the creation of three new departments. HP G56-126NR CPU Fan

Two were added from the new Savoyard territory, while the department of Alpes-Maritimes was created from Nice and a portion of the Var department. The 89 departments were given numbers based on their alphabetical order.

The departments of Moselle, Bas-Rhin, and most of Haut-Rhin were ceded to the German Empire in 1871, following France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. HP Pavilion dv7-6166nr CPU Fan

A small part of Haut-Rhin remained French, however, and became known as the Territoire de Belfort. When France regained the ceded departments after World War I, the Territoire de Belfort was not reintegrated into Haut-Rhin. In 1922, it became France's 90th department. FUJITSU Lifebook A3210 CPU Fan

The reorganisation of Île-de-France (1968) and the division of Corsica (1975) added six more departments, raising the total to 96. Counting the five overseas departments (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion and Mayotte) the total comes to 101 departments. In 2011, the overseas collectivity of Mayotte became the 101st department. DELL Precision M6400 CPU Fan

The departmental seat of government is known as the prefecture (préfecture) orchef-lieu de département and is generally a city of some importance roughly at the geographical centre of the department. This was determined according to the time taken to travel on horseback from the periphery of the department. Compaq Presario CQ60-615DX CPU Fan

The goal was for the prefecture to be accessible by horseback from any town in the department within 24 hours. The prefecture is not necessarily the largest city in the department; for instance, in Saône-et-Loire department the capital is Mâcon, but the largest city is Chalon-sur-Saône. Departments are divided into one or more arrondissements. HP Pavilion dv2660se CPU Fan

The capital of an arrondissement is called asubprefecture (sous-préfecture) or chef-lieu d'arrondissement.

Each department is administered by a general council (conseil général), an assembly elected for six years by universal suffrage, with the president of the council as executive of the department. Toshiba Satellite L500-1XC CPU Fan

Before 1982, the executive of a department was the prefect (préfet) who represents the Government of France in each department and is appointed by thePresident of France. The prefect is assisted by one or more sub-prefects (sous-préfet) based in the subprefectures of the department. DELL GM0503PEB1-8 (L2.M) CPU Fan\

The departments are further divided into communes, governed by municipal councils. As of 1999, there were 36,779 communes in France. In the overseas territories, some communes play a role at departmental level. Paris, the country’s capital city, is a commune as well as a department. HP Pavilion dv7-1098eo CPU Fan

In continental France (metropolitan France, excluding Corsica), the median land area of a department is 5,965 km2(2,303 sq mi), which is two-and-a-half times the median land area of a ceremonial county of England & Wales and slightly more than three-and-half times the median land area of a county of the United States. Toshiba Satellite A205-S5804 CPU Fan

At the 2001 census, the median population of a department in continental France was 511,012 inhabitants, which is 21 times the median population of a U.S. county, but less than two-thirds of the median population of a ceremonial county of England & Wales. Most of the departments have an area of between 4,000 and 8,000 km², and a population between 320,000 and 1 million. HP Pavilion dv7-1240us CPU Fan

The largest in area is Gironde (10,000 km²), while the smallest is the city of Paris (105 km²). The most populous is Nord (2,550,000) and the least populous is Lozère (74,000).

The departments are numbered: their two-digit numbers appear in postal codes, in INSEE codes (including "social security numbers") and on vehicle number-plates.  DELL yy529 CPU Fan

Initially, the numbers corresponded to the alphabetical order of the names of the departments, but several changed their names, so the correspondence became less exact. There is no number 20, but 2A and 2B instead, for Corsica. Corsican postal codes or addresses in both departments do still start with 20, though. Toshiba Qosmio G40-10E CPU Fan

The two-digit code "98" is used by Monaco. Together with the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code FR, the numbers form the ISO 3166-2 country subdivision codes for the metropolitan departments. The overseas departments get three digits, e.g. 971 for Guadeloupe (see table below).

These maps cannot be used as a useful resource of voter preferences, SONY Vaio VGN-CR407E CPU Fan

because General Councils are elected on a two-round system, which drastically limits the chances of fringe parties, for as long as they are not supported on one of the two rounds by a moderate party. After the 1992 election, the left had a majority in only 21 of the 100 departments; after the 2011 election, the left dominated 61 of the 100 departments (Mayotte only became a department after the election). HP Pavilion dv6-1101au CPU Fan

The removal of one or more levels of local government has been discussed for some years; in particular, the option of removing the departmental level. Frédéric Lefebvre, spokesman for the UMP, said in December 2008 that the fusion of the departments with the regions was a matter to be dealt with soon. HP Pavilion dv7-3190ev CPU Fan

This was soon refuted by Édouard Balladur and Gérard Longuet, members of the Committee for the reform of local authorities, known as the Balladur Committee.[1]

In January 2008, the Commission for freeing French development, known as the Attali Commission, recommended that the departmental level of government should be eliminated within ten years.[2] HP Pavilion dv7-1157cl CPU Fan

Nevertheless, the Balladur Committee has not retained this proposition and does not advocate the disappearance of the departments, but simply "favors the voluntary grouping of departments," which it suggests also for the regions, with the aim of bringing the number of the latter down to fifteen.[3] This committee advocates, on the contrary, the suppression of the cantons. HP COMPAQ NX9420 CPU Fan

This article describes the process by which the territorial extent of metropolitan France came to be as it is in 2009. The territory of the French State is spread throughout the world. Metropolitan France is that part which is in Europe.

Occidental France, which arose from the Treaty of Verdun of 843, remained stable for many years. HP Mini 110-1110ET CPU Fan

The first kings, the Capetians, were too much occupied with imposing their authority in their own realm to be expansionist. They deftly exploited dissent among their turbulent vassals, applying pressure on them and on the Church and towns. The great conflicts with the kings of England were important occasions for asserting royal power. HP Pavilion dv7-1157cl CPU Fan

The 13th century re-annexations of Normandy and ofLanguedoc to the French kingdom were two important stages in the unification of the kingdom.

France soon lost the County of Barcelona (Catalonia), from the end of the 9th century. The crossing beyond the Rhone, which for a long time remained the frontier, did not begin until the 14th century, HP Pavilion dv6-3163eo CPU Fan

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with the purchase of the Dauphiné. Louis XI regained his inheritance of the two most powerful prerogatives granted to cadet branches of the dynasty: Burgundy and Anjou includingProvence in the Holy Roman Empire (1481–1482).

The marriage of Anne of Brittany first with Charles VIII then with Louis XII led finally to the effective annexation in 1532, of her duchy which was already within the ambit of the French Kingdom but which had hitherto firmly maintained its distinct existence. ACER Aspire 4743 CPU Fan

From 1635 to 1748, Richelieu and Louis XIV undertook an expansion of the frontiers of the kingdom towards the north and towards the Rhine. Their aim was to check the aspiration of the Austrian royal house towards its own predominance in Europe. The loss of French Flanders (1526) had brought the frontier dangerously close to the French capital. HP Pavilion dv6-2170us CPU Fan

Alsace, Artois and Franche-Comté were annexed between 1648 and 1697. The Duchy of Lorraine remained some time an enclave in the French kingdom before it too was incorporated in 1766. This and the purchase of Corsica in 1768 brought the territory of the kingdom into a consolidated block. Toshiba Satellite L675-S7018 CPU Fan

During the period of the French Revolution and First Empire, France expanded temporarily on the left bank of the Rhine. The frontier in the north east lost its definition. On the whole, it remained stable from 1697 to 1789 when it became vague, following no particular line. It was re-established, more or less on its old line in 1815, by the Congress of Vienna. ASUS F80Q CPU Fan

France did lose some places such as Landau and Saarlouis. These strategic losses and the construction of a powerful German state may be seen as giving rise to later diplomatic and military events. But even after the Armistice of 1918, France was unable to make new territorial gains towards the north-east, into the Saarland. ACER TravelMate 4200 CPU Fan

Subsequently in the 19th century, there were only a few developments. The Duchy of Savoy and the County of Nice were definitively re-attached to France, byplebiscite in 1860. Alsace-Lorraine was annexed by Germany in 1871 but became French again in 1918.[1]

Other alterations were made temporarily, by the occupying power, during the period of World War II. HP 434678-001 CPU Fan

Modern Metropolitan France lies to a large extent, within clear limits of physical geography. Roughly half of its margin lies on sea coasts. In the south-west, its border lies among the peaks of the Pyrenees mountain range. Similarly, in the south-east it lies in part of the Alps. In the East it follows one or another of the Jura ranges until it reaches the River Rhine, HP G70-120EA CPU Fan

which it follows downstream. The remaining section, in the north-east, between the Rhine and the North Sea, is provided with the least clear natural definition.

The Treaty of Verdun of 843 marked the appearance of France and Germany. The arrangement was seen as a temporary sharing out of the inheritance between the heirs of Charlemagne. Toshiba Satellite A300-034 CPU Fan

It set a seal to the creation of the borders of two states which would have each its own development. Their common frontier at that time, was placed approximately along the Saôneand the Rhône.

On the one side, the first Germanic monarchy would weaken itself in trying to re-establish the Carolingian Empire without having sufficient means. HP 606609-001 CPU Fan

On the other hand, the French monarchy would from a modest base, slowly establish itself, ultimately to take the leading role in Western Europe.

In 987, the Carolingians were ousted in France by the election of Hugues Capet who imposed his dynasty. The royal domain of the first Capetians was initially limited to a part of the Île-de-France, between Paris and Orléans, which were its principal towns. Compaq Presario CQ60-301sl CPU Fan

Elsewhere, it was the great lords who exercised their authority, notably the six lay peers of France : the dukes ofAquitaine, of Burgundy and of Normandy, besides the counts of Champagne, of Flanders and of Toulouse.

The first objective of the Capetian kings was the consolidation of their regional authority, which they tried to do in the course of the 11th and 12th centuries. TOSHIBA Satellite L300 CPU Fan

The principal enlargement of the royal domain in the course of that period was the purchase of the Viscounty of Bourges in 1101 which was to become the Duchy of Berry.

The struggle against the Norman and Angevin kings of England was the opportunity for the kings of France to extend their authority. They had it is true; to face up to the formidable challenge with which they were presented. ASUS Eee PC 701 CPU Fan

The Duke of Normandy William the Conqueror became King of England in 1066 through his victory at Hastings over the Saxons. On the extinction of his male line of descent, his heir was the Duke of Anjou, Henry Plantagenet, grandson by his mother of Henry I of England. Two months before he ascended to the English throne, Compaq Presario CQ60-305sa CPU Fan

as Henry II, he married Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, the richest heiress in the French kingdom and ex-wife of the King of France. The kings of France nevertheless, held some trump cards: the prestige and prerogatives of their position, the dissent at the heart of the Plantagenet family and the difficulty the latter had in exacting obedience in the South-West. HP 637607-001 CPU Fan

John Lackland, son of Henry II, caused confusion among his vassals by his irregular and violent behaviour.

The king of France, Phillip Augustus was able to take advantage of this by taking Normandy from him by his capture of the fortress of the Château Gaillard, upstream from Paris (1204). HP Pavilion dv7-3067nr CPU Fan

The conquest of that province was vital as it increased the revenues of the French Crown substantially. Philip Augustus was in fact the first king of whom the authority extended beyond the Île de France. The extent of his field of action and its effectiveness of his authority were enhanced. The king subdued notably, the County of Vermandois, Touraine and the key parts of the County of Auvergne. The last was entrusted to several lords of the royal entourage before being formally reattached to the royal domain in 1531. HP Pavilion dv5-1210ez CPU Fan

The success of Philip Augustus was confirmed by his victory over theHoly Roman Emperor at Bouvines in 1214.

Shortly afterwards, The King of France Louis VIII the Lion exploited the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars of theMidi to impose his authority on the County of Toulouse (1229). Compaq Presario CQ50-211nr CPU Fan

This new conquest was to become the province ofLanguedoc and until The Revolution, comprised essentially eight of the modern French départments in the Midi. Thanks to the troubles of the end of the mediaeval period, Languedoc was to obtain the establishment of its own institutions: a parliament (which was a sovereign court of justice) and États, that is States: assembly which voted on taxes and which decided on communal investments. HP G56-114SA CPU Fan

The cumulative effect of these conquests was to prompt the kings to appoint their younger sons to territories: theapanages or privileges. This policy would allow the kings to progressively impose royal authority on the provinces, since in practice, the apanages would return without difficulty, to the crown whether by inheritance or by confiscation. SONY Vaio VGN-CR21Z/N CPU Fan

This happened for example, in Poitou, in 1271 and Anjou, in 1481. These were two provinces taken by conquest from the kings of England by Phillip Augustus and Louis VIII.

Occasionally, the apanage policy weakened the royal power. When the French king, Charles VI was in conflict with Louis of Orléans, his brother, their cousin, the duke of Burgundy, HP Pavilion dv7-4060eo CPU Fan

Jean Sans Peur, by a series of violent strikes, tried to impose himself on the government. He progressively attracted the hostility of the rest of the group of the royal princes: he ended by being ousted. By a surprise attack in 1418, he seized Paris, forcing the heir to the throne, the future Charles VII, to flee to Bourges. Toshiba Satellite M70-252 CPU Fan

Similarly, counts of the very rich county of Flanders (at this stage, they were the dukes of Burgundy) used their position as top rank peers of France to establish a powerful state. Their policy was facilitated by the fragmentation of power in France and in Germany, at the end of the Middle Ages. The duchy of Burgundy's holdings in the Netherlands were the precursor of the modern Belgium. Toshiba Satellite A100-455 CPU Fan

However, the kings of England remained dukes of Aquitaine. When Philip IV died, his nephew, Philip I count of Valois mounted the throne of France in the end, as Philip VI. Philip VI had married Jean of Champagne, who brought Champagne with her into the royal domain (1284). HP Pavilion dv5-2112br CPU Fan

They had two sons but a new series of conflicts, known as the Hundred Years' War, was provoked by the claim of Edward III of England, grandson of Philip VI through Edward's mother. Edward's aim was to supplant Philip VI. French armies suffered heavy defeats at Crécy (1346) and Poitiers (1356). Later, a third serious defeat was suffered at Agincourt (1415). DELL BFB0505HA CPU Fan

Having temporarily lost territory as a result of the Treaty of Brétigny, the kingdom was again divided by the Treaty of Tours (1420). But a new spirit was born in Joan of Arc who obliged the English king to raise the Siege of Orléans (1429). Having been crowned at Reims, HP Pavilion dv6-3299en CPU Fan

Charles VII returned to Paris and finally established his authority in the South West, that is to say Aquitaine, taking Bordeaux and Bayonne (1453) from the English king.

The Holy Roman Empire, which is represented in the modern world by Germany, sank into political anarchy during the 13th century. This opened the way to all sorts of encroachment. SONY Vaio VGN-NW11Z/T CPU Fan

Philip IV joined the town of Lyon to his realm again (1312). It was a former capital of the Gauls and an important crossroads in European commerce.

The unhappy Phillip VI bought the Dauphiné on 30 March 1349, by the treaty of Romans.

His grandson, the brother of Charles V, Louis was invested as Duke of Anjou. He was further adopted as heir by the Countess of Provence and Queen of Sicily, Joan. Toshiba Satellite L550-20W CPU Fan

He accomplished his conquest of Provence in 1383-1384. His grandson,King René could not however, maintain his position in Italy and transferred his possessions to the King of France, Louis XI: Anjou in France and Provence in the Holy Roman Empire (1481).

Louis XI had the good sense not to adopt René's claims in Italy. HP Pavilion dv7-4183sf CPU Fan

That was not so in the case of his son Charles VIII who not only undertook an expedition to Naples which gave no result but beforehand, abandoned several of his father's conquests; Artois, Franche-Comté and Roussillon, to his eventual competitors.

On the one hand, the succession of the Duchy of Burgundy and on the other, HP Pavilion dv7-3190ev CPU Fan

the desire to gain a foothold in Italy were the cause of a first series of conflicts with the House of Austria, the Habsburgs. On the death of the last Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, his possessions were divided. His daughter, Mary of Burgundy inherited the Burgundian Netherlands and the Burgundian part of the Franche-Comté. HP KSB06105HA CPU Fan

Louis XI took back the Duchy of Burgundy proper and Picardy(1482). The grandson of Mary, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V of Habsburg entered into conflict with Francis I of France.[2] They both wanted the Duchy of Burgundy as well as the Duchy of Milan.

This first phase was interrupted by the French Wars of Religion and it was not decisive for the French monarchy. HP G62-244CA CPU Fan

HP Pavilion dv7-3190ei CPU Fan

After his defeat at Pavia in 1526, Francis I kept Burgundy but renounced in perpetuity, his suzerainty over the County of Flanders. The Burgundian Netherlands which Emperor Charles V had inherited, had hitherto been composed partially of French and partially of German territories. By the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549, they became a separate political entity. HP G62-244CA CPU Fan

Meanwhile, Henry II of France consolidated the frontiers of the French kingdom by the occupation in 1552, of the towns of Metz, Toul and Verdun which became the province of the Three Bishoprics and the re-taking of Calais from the Queen of England (1558).

Elsewhere, the marriage of Louis XII with Ann of Brittany, followed by that of their daughter ClaudASUS A6000R CPU Fan

e to Francis I in 1514 permitted the attachment of the Duchy of Brittany to France again (1532).

At the time of his accession in 1589, Henry IV of France brought the possessions of the last remaining great feudal house, the Albrets, to the royal domain. He was the heir by his mother, Joan of Albret. These possessions were Béarn, Armagnac and Limousin. HP Pavilion dv7-6011sg CPU Fan

Having each developed a strong identity, like Languedoc, these later additions, Béarn, Burgundy and Brittany retained their own institutions such as states and parliament, until the Revolution.

The house of Austria showed a wish for supremacy in Europe, giving an impression of a militant bastion ofCatholicism faced with the emergent Protestant states. Toshiba Satellite L300D-01P CPU Fan

The French monarchy was more worried that this claim would find echoes in Catholic circles in France. Besides, Habsburg possessions encircled its territory: Spain, theNetherlands, Franche-Comté and more distantly, Milan. Until the Spanish Armada was defeated in 1588, it was not clear that England would not become part of this encirclement. Compaq Presario CQ60-409CA CPU Fan

Henry IV of France had inherited a dispute with Spain. By his mother, he was heir to the kings of Navarre who had been dispossessed by the kings of Spain. They had been left with only Lower Navarre. From this time on, the kings of France carried also the title of 'king of Navarre'.

Before taking up the struggle again, Henry IV paid off the French adventure in Italy. HP Mini 110-3010sf CPU Fan

In 1601, he intervened against Duke of Savoy who had supported plots against him. By the Treaty of Lyon, France acquired Bresse, Bugey,Valromey and the Pays de Gex, which together constitute the modern département of Ain. This was in exchange for the marquisate of Saluzzo, the last place he held in Italy. Toshiba Satellite L645D-S4056 CPU Fan

France had taken possession of Saluzzo in 1548, on the death of its last marquis. It had been claimed since the purchase of the Dauphiné.

However, the prospect of a conflict with the house of Austria offended a great part of the Catholics of France, notably the court. Toshiba Satellite M70-142 CPU Fan

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Marie de Médicis and the dukeD' Épernon were notable members of this party. It was in this context that Henry was assassinated by a fanatic, Ravaillac, which put a stop to his project.

The king of France Louis XIII and his prime minister Richelieu retook the offensive in 1635 within the framework of the Thirty Years' War. A first, decisive war against Spain was marked by the victory at Rocroi in 1643. HP 532613-001 CPU Fan

The eastward expansion was aimed at cutting the lines of communication of France's enemies and to facilitate contacts with her allies in Germany, a country then comprising many small, more or less independent states.

Wars against the house of Austria followed each other and the several treaties resulting from them accumulated into a French grasp on several provinces of the Holy Roman Empire: HP Envy 14-1080eo CPU Fan

The Peace of Westphalia (1648) had the effect of an annexation by France of the margraviate of Haute-Alsace, hitherto a Habsburg property, and of the Décapole, a federation of ten Alsatian towns. They also ratified the annexation of the Three Bishoprics, of Metz, Toul and Verdun, occupied since 1552. ACER TravelMate 5230 CPU Fan

  • The Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659) allowed the recovery of the County of Artois (with the exception of Aire ofSaint-Omer), and of Roussillon: at this stage, the frontier with Spain became permanently defined.

The first Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen) in 1668 ended the War of Devolution. Lenovo 3000 G430 CPU Fan

  • Louis XIV took the towns ofLille, Douai and Armentières from the Spanish, thereby allowing France a foothold back in Flanders.

The Treaty of Nijmegen, signed 10 August 1678, ended the Franco-Dutch War. The great loser in the war was Spain, ceding to France a list of places - Franche-Comté, ASUS EEE PC 1215N CPU Fan

  • the forts on the Aire and Saint-Omer, Cambrai, Valenciennes and Maubeuge in Hainaut. From the time of the Revolution, these French lands in Flanders and Hainaut would become the département of Nord.

From 1680 to 1697, Louis XIV emboldened by his early successes, adopted a policy of unilateral annexations and groupings. Dell Vostro 3750 CPU Fan

The French even took part during the temporary conquest of Habsburg-ruled Luxembourg from 1684 to 1697.

By the Treaty of Rijswijk in 1697, which concluded the War of Austrian Succession, he had finally to renounce most of these newly-taken lands but retainedSaarlouis and Lower Alsace, with the town of Strasbourg. Toshiba Satellite L500-018 CPU Fan

The bulk of Alsace was thenceforward, entirely French. The exceptions were Mulhouse and some territories held by German princes.

At the end of Louis XIV's reign, a balance seemed to have been achieved. The other European powers were no longer disposed to accept a new French expansion and were prepared to form alliances to oppose such a thing. COMPAQ Presario CQ42-116TU CPU Fan

The borders had been pushed out far from the French capital. On top of this, they were thenceforward defended by a network of modern fortresses constructed by Vauban. Fortified towns to the north of Lorraine (Montmédy, Thionville, Longwy, Saarlouis)[4] isolated the Duchy from other states of the German (Holy Roman) Empire so as to weaken the independence of the duke. HP Pavilion dv6-2115eg CPU Fan

Since 1632, France had regularly occupied Lorraine in periods of war, without annexing it.[5] The duke, Charles IV, who was allied with the houses of Austria and Bavaria, adopted a policy hostile towards France. He and afterwards, his nephew, Charles V of Lorraine had been officers in the Imperial Austrian Army. Toshiba Satellite L645D-S4056 CPU Fan

It was only later that France was presented with both motive and a favourable occasion to annex the duchy. This was the marriage, in 1736, of Francis de Lorraine to the heiress of the Austrian imperial house, Archduchess Maria Theresa, at a moment when Austria was weakened. The Treaty of Vienna (1738) awarded Lorraine toLouis XV of France, HP 646578-001 CPU Fan

who gave it for life, to his father-in-law, Stanisław Leszczyński. The duchy of Lorraine would be formally annexed to France in 1766, when Stanisław died. In recompense, Duke Francis III was given the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, which was vacant.

Through animosity towards the Habsburgs, France allowed itself to be drawn into the War of Austrian Succession again. SONY VAIO PCG-6L2L CPU Fan

However, after the victory at the Battle of Fontenoy, Louis XV renounced all his new conquests. In 1748, the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen) put an end to the rivalry of the French and Austrian monarchies.

In 1768, the Republic of Genoa ceded Corsica to Louis XV in exchange for annulment of a debt.[6] Toshiba Satellite X205-S9349 CPU Fan

Thus, on the eve of the Revolution, the modern, hexagonal shape of France was accomplished. However, the complexity of the feudal framework which governed the political organization under the Ancien Régime explains the survival of a number of foreign enclaves, particularly in the recent zone of expansion - Alsace, Franche-Comté and Lorraine.  DELL yy529 CPU Fan

The French title of this section has been retained in translation from the French Wikipedia page because the apparently corresponding term in English has not quite the same meaning. English-speaking historians, though they define it otherwise, in effect, regard the term 'contemporary history' as meaning 'within living memory'. HP Pavilion dv7-3020es CPU Fan

French writers on the other hand, are inclined to open the period with the French Revolution.

As a means of loosening old ties of allegiance, and of rationalizing administration, the old divisions based on feudal ownership were replaced by départements of roughly uniform size and named after geographical features such as rivers. HP G62-369TX CPU Fan

Even Paris was in the département of Seine. Nevertheless, in some cases such asNord the modern département comprises broadly, the territory of one period of acquisition.

Following discussion at Plombières, of 21 July 1858, the minister of the Estates of Savoy Camillo Cavour promised Napoleon III the Duchy of Savoy and the county of Nice, HP 13.V1.BJ195.F.GN CPU Fan

in exchange for French support in the policy of the unification of Italy (the Risorgimento), led by king Victor-Emmanuel II of Savoy. That proposition was made official by a treaty at Turin, dated December 1858. It was actually signed in January 1859.

Following the victories over Austria in 1859 (Magenta and Solferino),[11] Toshiba Satellite L675D-S7016 CPU Fan

and the armistice of Villafranca, Austria ceded Lombardy to France, who ceded it immediately to Piedmont/Sardinia, Napoleon III took back Savoy and Nice. With the Treaty of Turin, 24 March 1860, Victor-Emmanuel consented to ceding the duchy of Savoy and the county of Nice, after consulting the populations, which took place in April 1860. HP Pavilion dv7-1451nr CPU Fan

The king released his Savoyard subjects following the plebiscite of the same month.

Since 1848, Menton and Roquebrune, then integral parts of the principality of Monaco, declared themselves to be free towns and were occupied by a Sardinian garrison. Following the secession by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia of the Duchy of Savoy and of the County of Nice to France in 1860, HP G62-a57SG CPU Fan

the inhabitants of Roquebrune and Menton, towns considered in the circumstances as forming part of the County of Nice, chose by referendum, to be reunited with France.

On 2 February 1861, Prince Charles III of Monaco and Napoleon III signed a treaty at Paris by which, in exchange for 4,000,000 francs, SONY Vaio VGN-NR31S/S CPU Fan

the prince and his successors would renounce in perpetuity, in favour of the Emperor of the French, all rights direct and indirect on these two communes.

Following the Franco-Prussian War, of 1870 and by virtue of the Treaty of Frankfurt (10 May 1871), all of Alsace excepting the Territory of Belfort, was annexed by Germany, as were the districts of Sarreguemines, IBM 91P9252 CPU Fan

Metz, Sarrebourg (less 9 communes), Château-Salins (less 10 communes) and 11 communes of the arrondissement of Briey in Lorraine and the cantons of Saales and Schirmeck in the Vosges; a total of 1,447,000 hectares; 1,694 communes and 1,597,000 inhabitants. These territories would be recovered at the end of the First World War.[13] Toshiba Satellite M70-122 CPU Fan

Alsace-Lorraine was annexed de facto to the Third Reich on 27 November 1940. Though the main towns of Alsace-Lorraine were liberated during the autumn of 1944, by troops of Generals Koenig and Leclerc, fighting raged on in the Colmar Pocket until 2 February 1945.

The French colonial empire was constituted of the overseas colonies, protectorates and mandate territories that came under French rule from the 17th century onward. SONY UDQFWPH22FQU CPU Fan

A distinction is generally made between the "First colonial empire", that existed until 1814 and by which time most of it had been lost, and the "Second colonial empire", which began with the conquest of Algier in 1830 and came to an end with the granting of independence to Algeria in 1962. HP Pavilion dv6-2150ei CPU Fan

By 1900, it had become the world's second-largest colonial empire, albeit far behind the British Empire both in terms of population and size.[1] On the eve of World War II, it covered some 12,300,000 km² of land, with a population of 110 million (including France).

In rivalry with England, France began to establish colonies in North America, the Caribbean, HP G42-367TU CPU Fan

and India, following theSpanish and Portuguese successes during the Age of Discovery. A series of wars with Great Britain during the 18th century and early 19th century stripped away most of its first empire.

France took control of Algeria in 1840 but began in earnest to rebuild its worldwide empire after 1870, concentrating chiefly in West Africa, with important holdings in Asia, Toshiba Satellite P100-238 CPU Fan

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