A Cheat Sheet for 19th-Century French Military History

The French Revolution begins. On July 14, Parisian citizens storm the Bastille, a prison that had long stood as a symbol of the French monarchy's absolutism and abuse.

The monarchy is officially abolished, and the First French Republic is established.

The Reign of Terror, during which King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette are executed, along with thousands of other perceived enemies of the republic.

Napoleon Bonaparte launches his first military campaign, in Italy and Egypt.

Napoleon seizes control of France, essentially turning the country into a military dictatorship.

The period commonly known as the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon meets the Austrian, British, and Russian armies in battle and incrementally takes over much of Europe.

Napoleon crowns himself emperor of France.

Napoleon invades Russia and suffers his first major military defeat.

Napoleon abdicates his position as emperor and is exiled to the island of Elba. The royal family (the Bourbon dynasty) is re-instated on the French throne, launching the period known as the Bourbon Restoration.

Napoleon escapes from Elba. He returns to Paris in March, overthrows King Louis XVIII, and once again takes control of the French military. In June, he meets the British army at the Battle of Waterloo, where he is swiftly defeated. Napoleon is exiled to the island of St. Helena, where he will die in 1821. The French monarchs once again ascend the throne.

A revolution overthrows the Bourbon king Charles X and establishes a constitutional monarchy under Louis Philippe, Duke of Orléans.

La Fille du Régiment premieres in Paris.

Revolutions break out across Europe. In France, the monarchy is once again toppled, and the so-called Second Republic is established. Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon’s nephew, is made president. Donizetti dies in Italy.

Louis-Napoleon crowns himself emperor, initiating the period known as the Second Empire.

After a disastrous defeat in the Franco-Prussian war, Louis Napoleon is exiled. Once again, a representative government is instated in France. This Third Republic endures until the Nazis invade France during World War II.

Critical Inquiry
What’s an event that happened in your own country during this time?