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Coins of France
During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by the Gauls, a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 B.C., holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia. The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into East Francia, Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia, which became the Kingdom of France in 987, emerged as a major European power in the Middle Ages under King Philip Augustus. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world. The 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots). France became Europe's dominant cultural, political, and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, establishing one of modern history's earliest republics and drafting the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon took power and established the First French Empire. His subsequent Napoleonic Wars (1803?15) shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870. France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, and was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and later dissolved in the course of the Algerian War. The Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, was formed in 1958 and remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s, with most retaining close economic and military connections with France.
|Lorraine was Duchy of the Holy Roman Empire. Charles IV was Duke of Lorraine from 1624 until his death in 1675, with a brief interruption in 1634, when he abdicated under French pressure in favor of his younger brother, Nicholas Francis. He came to lose his duchy because of his anti-French policy; in 1633. Charles was a casualty of the fierce factional infighting in the French court between the King's brother Gaston d'Orléans, and Cardinal Richelieu, even though technically, Lorraine was subject to the Holy Roman Empire and the Emperor Ferdinand II of Austria. French troops invaded Lorraine in 1634 in retaliation for Charles's support of Gaston d'Orléans and he abdicated and entered the imperial service in the Thirty Years' War and was victorious at the Battle of Nördlingen. Shortly thereafter, Nicholas Francis too fled into exile and abdicated his claims, which were now taken up once again by Charles, who remained Duke of Lorraine in exile for the next quarter century.|