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set of territories that were under French rule primarily from the 17th century to the late 1960s
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Travel topics > Cultural attractions > Historical travel > French Colonial Empire

France has possessed multiple empires over its existence, but the most recent, the French Empire of the Modern Era, is included here.


The word empire traditionally describes a state ruled by an emperor (with claims to succeed the Roman Empire); a title possessed by Napoleon Bonaparte and Napoleon III. In a more general sense, the French Empire described France's colonies and dominions overseas.

The French Revolution led up to the Napoleonic Wars in which the First French Empire was eventually defeated, and replaced by the Bourbon Monarchy which made concessions to other European great powers.

France's Modern Era Empire began with the conquest of Algiers in 1830.

The 1830 July Revolt overthrew the dynasty and led to the July Monarchy up to 1848, followed by the Second Republic (from 1848), the Second Empire (from 1852) and Third Republic (from 1870). The Second Empire, led by Napoleon III, was particularly expansionist, especially in Africa and Southeast Asia. Around 1930, the French Empire controlled much of Africa and parts of the Middle East and Asia. The colonial empire dissolved in the decades following World War II, and by the 21st century, it had been reduced to small territories, mostly scattered islands.


Historical sitesEdit

Former French coloniesEdit

Current overseas territoriesEdit

See alsoEdit

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