Charlemagne's descendants ruled France until 987, when Hugh Capet, Duke of France and Count of Paris, was crowned King of France. His descendants, starting with the Capetian dynasty, ruled France until 1792, when the French Revolution established a Republic, in a period of increasingly radical change that began in 1789.
Napoleon Bonaparte seized control of the republic in 1799, making himself Emperor. His armies engaged in several wars across Europe, conquered many countries and established new kingdoms with Napoleon's family members at the helm. Following his defeat in 1815, monarchial rule was restored to France, which was then legislatively abolished and followed by a Second Republic.
The second republic ended when the late Emperor's nephew, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte was elected President and proclaimed a Second Empire. Less ambitious than his uncle, the second Napoleon was also ultimately unseated, and republican rule returned for a third time.
Although ultimately a victor in World Wars I and II, France suffered extensive losses in its empire wealth, manpower, and rank as a dominant nation-state. Since 1958, it has constructed a presidential democracy (known as the Fifth Republic) that has not succumbed to the instabilities experienced in earlier more parliamentary regimes.
In recent decades, France's reconciliation and cooperation with Germany have proved central to the economic integration of Europe, including the introduction of the Euro in January 1999.
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