France is a country in western Europe, bordering Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and Italy. Its capital, Paris, is considered a major world cultural center, particularly for fashion and art. In 51 BCE, Rome annexed the region inhabited by the Gauls, retaining power until 476. Sixteenth-century France witnessed religious wars between the Catholics and Protestant Huguenots. The French Revolution beginning in 1789 saw the overthrow of the French monarchy and execution of King Louis XVI and wife Marie Antoinette as the lower class rebelled due to extreme poverty, unjust social laws, and financial inequity. Napoleon Bonaparte rose to power in 1799. Many battles during World War I and World War II were fought in France, with the Nazi Powers eventually taking Paris. France and Britain share a long and often contentious history. The French Revolution and the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte both play a major role in British literary culture.


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