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  • The Algerian-born French writer and thinker Albert Camus remains one of the most important French authors of the 20th century. Often associated with existentialism (although he did not fully identify with this philosophical movement), he was also a courageous activist and social critic, speaking out against totalitarianism in all its forms and fighting for justice and equality for all. In...
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  • The French novelist Émile Zola was one of the most celebrated writers of the 19th century and remains one of the most widely read, translated and studied authors in the world. He was the leading figure of the literary school of naturalism, which sought to apply experimental scientific methods to literature, and an outspoken critic of injustice in all its...
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  • Joan of Arc was a heroine of France who played a significant role in the Hundred Years’ War. She claimed to be carrying a divine message, according to which she was destined to liberate France. She proved a highly effective military leader, recapturing Orléans in May 1429 before being seized, sold to the English and burned at the stake. In just...
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  • John Calvin was a French preacher who was one of the major figures of the Reformation that swept across 16th-century Europe. Known in particular for setting up the Reformed Church and restructuring the educational system in Geneva, Calvin dedicated his life to establishing a way of living in accordance with the Scriptures. In just 50 minutes, you will find out...
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  • Marie-Antoinette was the Queen of France from 1774 to 1791 and the wife of the ruler of the country during the French Revolution. As a queen who did everything she could to stay out of politics, preferring instead to entertain friends at Versailles, she was not a particularly popular ruler, and her image took a hit with the Affair of the Diamond...
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  • The Battle of Algiers unfolded over nine months in 1957 and was a particularly painful and brutal period in the Algerian War, which saw the citizens of this French colony fight for their independence. The French authorities responded to a campaign of guerrilla warfare by the National Liberation Front (FLN) with forced disappearances, torture and summary executions, which tarnished their reputation later on. In...
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  • The Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, was a crucial episode of the Napoleonic Wars and is widely seen as one of Napoleon Bonaparte's greatest successes. On 2 December 1805, Napoleon's Grande Armée showed its tactical and technological superiority over its enemies, inflicting a crushing defeat on the forces of the Russian Empire and the Holy Roman Empire. However, the battle...
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  • The Battle of the Marne was one of the earliest battles in the First World War, and ended in a decisive victory for the Allies on the Western Front. Prior to this battle, German troops had been advancing relentlessly across Western Europe, sweeping through France and Belgium in spite of the latter's neutrality. This all changed with the counter-attack by British and...
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  • The Battle of Verdun was one of the most significant engagements of the First World War, and is widely recognized as one of the most brutal and costly battles in history. Like many of the battles in the four-year war of attrition, it was fought largely through trench warfare, with devastating human and material losses. Indeed, many historians now agree that...
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  • The decisive victory of the forces of the Seventh Coalition at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 put a stop to Napoleon Bonaparte's military ambitions, marked the end of the Hundred Days and saw the French emperor exiled to the island of Saint Helena, where he died in 1821. The battle had major consequences across Europe: it marked a significant decline of French...
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  • The European Union is both one of the most influential and one of the most polarizing supranational bodies in the world. With its own monetary union, the Eurozone, and key rights including free movement throughout the 28 member states for EU citizens, its supporters see it as the most effective means of fostering international cooperation on the continent, while its...
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  • The Hundred Years’ War was one of the most significant conflicts of the Middle Ages and spanned several generations. Known in particular for its scale (it involved many different factions and five generations of kings), the war marked the height and the decline of chivalry. It had a considerable impact on Europe, bringing European monarchies into the age of modernity...
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