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The Five Republics of France

  1. The First Republic (1792-1804)
  2. The Second Republic (1848-1852)
  3. The Third Republic (1870-1940)
  4. The Fourth Republic (1946-1958)
  5. The Fifth Republic (1958-present)

How It's Used

"Contrary to the Anglo-Saxon penchant for efficiency and stability, the French do not quake at the prospect of rupture and regeneration. France, after all, is a country that in only two centuries has lived through three monarchies, two empires, the Paris Commune, a fascist interlude, and no fewer than five republics."

—Matthew Fraser, "Middle Kingdom: How France Grooms Its Elite," The Globe and Mail, June 13, 1994.

"Nonetheless, on a sunny Tuesday last month, nearly 3m public-sector workers went on strike for a day to protest at the government's cruel and unfeeling policies. According to the opinion polls, some 57% of the public supported them. It all seemed to confirm the view that the French simply will not put up with change. That, after all, is why the country is so prone to revolution (1789, 1830, 1848) and other upheavals (two empires, five republics, the Paris commune of 1871 and what amounted to a civil war in the 1940s). Change, when eventually it has to come, can only come cataclysmically."

—no author, "First Nation Singular," The Economist, November 25, 1995.

"The unification of France into a nation-state created a strong centralised absolute monarchy, notably in the long reign of Louis XIV, which diminished the rival powers of the aristocracy and commanded all the arts, including architecture, to serve the country"s prestige and express its values. To a remarkable extent, two monarchies, two empires and five republics later, this policy continues; much of French cultural life is still funded by the government and les grands projets ordered by President Mitterrand - the Pyramid in the Louvre, the Bastille Opera, the Biblioteque Nationale - follow the path from Versailles and the creation there of the Sun King."

—Ian Irvine, "Architecture special: Why didn"t Britain build like Paris or Rome?" The Independent on Sunday, November 28, 2004.

"By the summer of 1792, the head of state, King Louis XVI, was completely discredited, and the country had blundered into a disastrous war with Austria and Prussia that soon saw the capital itself under threat. Faced with this doomsday scenario, the Parisian radicals took decisive and brutal action: the monarchy was overthrown on August 10, a massive drive to enrol volunteers for the army was launched, the enemy invasion was halted at Valmy on September 20, and the next day the first of France's five republics to date was proclaimed."

—Munro Price, "Liberty, fraternity and brutality: As this lucid study of the French Revolution shows, governments, not individuals, make the best terrorists," The Sunday Telegraph, May 15, 2005.

"The French Revolution produced only what Margaret Thatcher tartly described as 'a pile of corpses and a tyrant.' Since 1789 France -- still trying to make theory work in practice -- has been through three kingdoms, two empires and five republics."

—John Steele Gordon, "With Powdered Wigs and Powerful Ideas, They Changed the Way the World Is Run," The New York Times, September 15, 2007.


Beyond eAlmanac
Wikipedia article on the History of France
Wikipedia article on the Government of France

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One Response to “The Five Republics of France”

  1. […] not talking about 1812-15 but 2004). France knows change is needed and France can certainly change (five republics in and still going). The thing most likely to ensure they don’t change is a bunch of Anglophones […]


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