Basilica of Saint-Denis
The Basilica of Saint-Denis is a large medieval abbey church in the city of Saint-Denis, now a northern suburb of Paris. The building is of singular importance and architecturally as its choir, completed in 1144, shows the first use of all of the elements of Gothic architecture; the site originated as a Gallo-Roman cemetery in late Roman times. The archeological remains still lie beneath the cathedral. Around 475 St. Genevieve built Saint-Denys de la Chapelle. In 636 on the orders of Dagobert I the relics of Saint Denis, a patron saint of France, were reinterred in the basilica; the relics of St-Denis, transferred to the parish church of the town in 1795, were brought back again to the abbey in 1819. The basilica became a place of pilgrimage and the burial place of the French Kings with nearly every king from the 10th to the 18th centuries being buried there, as well as many from previous centuries. "Saint-Denis" soon became the abbey church of a growing monastic complex. In the 12th century the Abbot Suger rebuilt portions of the abbey church using innovative structural and decorative features.
In doing so, he is said to have created the first Gothic building. The basilica's 13th-century nave is the prototype for the Rayonnant Gothic style, provided an architectural model for many medieval cathedrals and abbeys of northern France, England and a great many other countries; the abbey church became a cathedral in 1966 and is the seat of the Bishop of Saint-Denis, Pascal Michel Ghislain Delannoy. Although known as the "Basilica of St Denis", the cathedral has not been granted the title of Minor Basilica by the Vatican. Saint Denis, a patron saint of France, became the first bishop of Paris, he was decapitated on the hill of Montmartre in the mid-third century with two of his followers, is said to have subsequently carried his head to the site of the current church, indicating where he wanted to be buried. A martyrium was erected on the site of his grave, which became a famous place of pilgrimage during the fifth and sixth centuries. Dagobert, the king of the Franks, refounded the church as the Abbey of Saint Denis, a Benedictine monastery.
Dagobert commissioned a new shrine to house the saint's remains, created by his chief councillor, Eligius, a goldsmith by training. An early vita of Saint Eligius describes the shrine: Above all, Eligius fabricated a mausoleum for the holy martyr Denis in the city of Paris with a wonderful marble ciborium over it marvelously decorated with gold and gems, he composed a crest and a magnificent frontal and surrounded the throne of the altar with golden axes in a circle. He placed golden apples there and jeweled, he made a roof for the throne of the altar on silver axes. He made a covering in the place before the tomb and fabricated an outside altar at the feet of the holy martyr. So much industry did he lavish there, at the king's request, poured out so much that scarcely a single ornament was left in Gaul and it is the greatest wonder of all to this day. None of this work survives; the Basilica of St Denis ranks as an architectural landmark—as the first major structure of which a substantial part was designed and built in the Gothic style.
Both stylistically and structurally, it heralded the change from Romanesque architecture to Gothic architecture. Before the term "Gothic" came into common use, it was known as the "French Style"; as it now stands, the church is a large cruciform building of "basilica" form. It has an additional aisle on the northern side formed of a row of chapels; the west front has three portals, a rose one tower, on the southern side. The eastern end, built over a crypt, is apsidal, surrounded by an ambulatory and a chevet of nine radiating chapels; the basilica retains stained glass of many periods, including exceptional modern glass, a set of twelve misericords. The basilica measures 108 meters long, its width is 39 meters. Little is known about the earliest buildings on the site; the first church mentioned in the chronicles was begun in 754 under Pepin the Short and completed under Charlemagne, present at its consecration in 775. By 832 the Abbey had been granted a remunerative whaling concession on the Cotentin Peninsula.
Most of what is now known about the Carolingian church at St Denis resulted from a lengthy series of excavations begun under the American art historian Sumner McKnight Crosby in 1937. The building was about 60m long, with a monumental westwork, single transepts, a crossing tower and a lengthy eastern apse over a large crypt. According to one of the Abbey's many foundation myths a leper, sleeping in the nearly completed church the night before its planned consecration, witnessed a blaze of light from which Christ, accompanied by St Denis and a host of angels, emerged to conduct the consecration ceremony himself. Before leaving, Christ healed the leper, tearing off his diseased skin to reveal a perfect complexion underneath. A misshapen patch on a marble column was said to be the leper's former skin, which stuck there when Christ discarded it. Having been consecrated by Christ, the fabric of the bui
The Roman Empire was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization. Ruled by emperors, it had large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus. From the constitutional reforms of Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, the Empire was a principate ruled from the city of Rome; the Roman Empire was ruled by multiple emperors and divided in a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and Ravenna, an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustus after capturing Ravenna and the Roman Senate sent the imperial regalia to Constantinople; the fall of the Western Roman Empire to barbarian kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages. The previous Republic, which had replaced Rome's monarchy in the 6th century BC, became destabilized in a series of civil wars and political conflict.
In the mid-1st century BC Julius Caesar was appointed as perpetual dictator and assassinated in 44 BC. Civil wars and proscriptions continued, culminating in the victory of Octavian, Caesar's adopted son, over Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC; the following year Octavian conquered Ptolemaic Egypt, ending the Hellenistic period that had begun with the conquests of Alexander the Great of Macedon in the 4th century BC. Octavian's power was unassailable and in 27 BC the Roman Senate formally granted him overarching power and the new title Augustus making him the first emperor; the first two centuries of the Empire were a period of unprecedented stability and prosperity known as the Pax Romana. It reached its greatest territorial expanse during the reign of Trajan. A period of increasing trouble and decline began with the reign of Commodus. In the 3rd century, the Empire underwent a crisis that threatened its existence, but was reunified under Aurelian. In an effort to stabilize the Empire, Diocletian set up two different imperial courts in the Greek East and Latin West.
Christians rose to power in the 4th century following the Edict of Milan in 313 and the Edict of Thessalonica in 380. Shortly after, the Migration Period involving large invasions by Germanic peoples and the Huns of Attila led to the decline of the Western Roman Empire. With the fall of Ravenna to the Germanic Herulians and the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in 476 AD by Odoacer, the Western Roman Empire collapsed and it was formally abolished by emperor Zeno in 480 AD; the Eastern Roman Empire, known in the post-Roman West as the Byzantine Empire, collapsed when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks of Mehmed II in 1453. Due to the Roman Empire's vast extent and long endurance, the institutions and culture of Rome had a profound and lasting influence on the development of language, architecture, philosophy and forms of government in the territory it governed Europe; the Latin language of the Romans evolved into the Romance languages of the medieval and modern world, while Medieval Greek became the language of the Eastern Roman Empire.
Its adoption of Christianity led to the formation of Christendom during the Middle Ages. Greek and Roman art had a profound impact on the late medieval Italian Renaissance, while Rome's republican institutions influenced the political development of republics such as the United States and France; the corpus of Roman law has its descendants in many legal systems of the world today, such as the Napoleonic Code. Rome's architectural tradition served as the basis for Neoclassical architecture. Rome had begun expanding shortly after the founding of the republic in the 6th century BC, though it did not expand outside the Italian peninsula until the 3rd century BC, it was an "empire" long before it had an emperor. The Roman Republic was not a nation-state in the modern sense, but a network of towns left to rule themselves and provinces administered by military commanders, it was ruled, not by annually elected magistrates in conjunction with the senate. For various reasons, the 1st century BC was a time of political and military upheaval, which led to rule by emperors.
The consuls' military power rested in the Roman legal concept of imperium, which means "command". Successful consuls were given the honorary title imperator, this is the origin of the word emperor since this title was always bestowed to the early emperors upon their accession. Rome suffered a long series of internal conflicts and civil wars from the late second century BC onward, while extending its power beyond Italy; this was the period of the Crisis of the Roman Republic. Towards the end of this era, in 44 BC, Julius Caesar was perpetual dictator before being assassinated; the faction of his assassins was driven from Rome and defeated at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC by an army led by Mark Antony and Caesar's adopted son Octavian. Antony and Octavian's division of the Roman world between themselves did not last and Octavian's forces defeated those of Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, ending the Final War of the Roman Republic. In 27 BC the Senate and People of Rome made Octavian princeps ("first citi
The Seine is a 777-kilometre-long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Source-Seine, 30 kilometres northwest of Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre, it is navigable by ocean-going vessels as far as Rouen, 120 kilometres from the sea. Over 60 percent of its length, as far as Burgundy, is negotiable by commercial riverboats, nearly its whole length is available for recreational boating. There are 37 bridges within dozens more spanning the river outside the city. Examples in Paris include the Pont Alexandre III and Pont Neuf, the latter of which dates back to 1607. Outside the city, examples include the Pont de Normandie, one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the world, which links Le Havre to Honfleur; the Seine rises in the commune of Source-Seine, about 30 kilometres northwest of Dijon. The source has been owned by the city of Paris since 1864. A number of associated small ditches or depressions provide the source waters, with an artificial grotto laid out to highlight and contain a deemed main source.
The grotto includes a statue of a nymph, a dog, a dragon. On the same site are the buried remains of a Gallo-Roman temple. Small statues of the dea Sequana "Seine goddess" and other ex voti found at the same place are now exhibited in the Dijon archaeological museum; the Seine can artificially be divided into five parts: the Petite Seine "Small Seine" from the sources to Montereau-Fault-Yonne the Haute Seine "Upper Seine" from Montereau-Fault-Yonne to Paris the Traversée de Paris "the Paris waterway" the Basse Seine "Lower Seine" from Paris to Rouen the Seine maritime "Maritime Seine" from Rouen to the English channel. The Seine is dredged and ocean-going vessels can dock at Rouen, 120 kilometres from the sea. Commercial craft can use the river from 516 kilometres to its mouth. At Paris, there are 37 bridges; the river is only 24 metres above sea level 446 kilometres from its mouth, making it slow flowing and thus navigable. The Seine Maritime, 123 kilometres from the English Channel at Le Havre to Rouen, is the only portion of the Seine used by ocean-going craft.
The tidal section of the Seine Maritime is followed by a canalized section with four large multiple locks until the mouth of the Oise at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. Smaller locks at Bougival and at Suresnes lift the vessels to the level of the river in Paris, where the junction with the Canal Saint-Martin is located; the distance from the mouth of the Oise is 72 km. The Haute Seine, from Paris to Montereau-Fault-Yonne, has 8 locks. At Charenton-le-Pont is the mouth of the Marne. Upstream from Paris seven locks ensure navigation to Saint Mammès, where the Loing mouth is situated. Through an eighth lock the river Yonne is reached at Montereau-Fault-Yonne. From the mouth of the Yonne, larger ships can continue upstream to Nogent-sur-Seine. From there on, the river is navigable only by small craft to Marcilly-sur-Seine. At Marcilly-sur-Seine the ancient Canal de la Haute-Seine used to allow vessels to continue all the way to Troyes; this canal has been abandoned since 1957. The average depth of the Seine today at Paris is about 9.5 metres.
Until locks were installed to raise the level in the 1800s, the river was much shallower within the city most of the time, consisted of a small channel of continuous flow bordered by sandy banks. Today the depth is controlled and the entire width of the river between the built-up banks on either side is filled with water; the average flow of the river is low, only a few cubic metres per second, but much higher flows are possible during periods of heavy runoff. Special reservoirs upstream help to maintain a constant level for the river through the city, but during periods of extreme runoff significant increases in river level may occur. A severe period of high water in January 1910 resulted in extensive flooding throughout the city; the Seine again rose to threatening levels in 1924, 1955, 1982, 1999–2000, June 2016, January 2018. After a first-level flood alert in 2003, about 100,000 works of art were moved out of Paris, the largest relocation of art since World War II. Much of the art in Paris is kept in underground storage rooms.
A 2002 report by the French government stated the worst-case Seine flood scenario would cost 10 billion euros and cut telephone service for a million Parisians, leaving 200,000 without electricity and 100,000 without gas. In January 2018 the Seine again flooded. An official warning was issued on January 24 that heavy rainfall was to cause the river to flood. By January 27, the river was rising; the Deputy Mayor of Paris, Colombe Brossel, warned that the heavy rain was caused by climate change, that "We have to understand that climatic change is not a word, it's a reality." The basin area is 78,910 square kilometres, 2 percent of, forest and 78 percent cultivated land. In addition to Paris, three other cities with a population over 100,000 are in the Seine watershed: Le Havre at the estuary, Rouen in the Seine valley and Reims at the northern limit—with an annual urban growth rate of 0.2 percent. The population density is 201 per square kilometer. Periodically
A patron saint, patroness saint, patron hallow or heavenly protector is a saint who in Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism or Eastern Orthodoxy, is regarded as the heavenly advocate of a nation, craft, class, family or person. Saints become the patrons of places where they were born or had been active. However, there were cases in Medieval Europe where a city which grew to prominence and obtained for its cathedral the remains or some relics of a famous saint who had lived and was buried elsewhere, thus making him or her the city's patron saint – such a practice conferred considerable prestige on the city concerned. In Latin America and the Philippines and Portuguese explorers named a location for the saint on whose feast or commemoration they first visited the place, with that saint becoming the area's patron. Professions sometimes have a patron saint owing to that individual being involved somewhat with it, although some of the connections were tenuous. Lacking such a saint, an occupation would have a patron whose acts or miracles in some way recall the profession.
For example, when the unknown profession of photography appeared in the 19th century, Saint Veronica was made its patron, owing to how her veil miraculously received the imprint of Christ's face after she wiped off the blood and sweat. The veneration or "commemoration" and recognition of patron saints or saints in general is found in Roman Catholicism, Eastern Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, among some Lutherans and Anglicans. Catholics believe that patron saints, having transcended to the metaphysical, are able to intercede for the needs of their special charges, it is, however discouraged in most Protestant branches such as Calvinism, where the practice is considered a form of idolatry. Although Islam has no codified doctrine of patronage on the part of saints, it has been an important part of both Sunni and Shia Islamic tradition that important classical saints have served as the heavenly advocates for specific Muslim empires, cities and villages. Martin Lings wrote: "There is scarcely a region in the empire of Islam which has not a Sufi for its Patron Saint."
As the veneration accorded saints develops purely organically in Islamic climates, in a manner different to Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christianity, "patron saints" are recognized through popular acclaim rather than through official declaration. Traditionally, it has been understood that the patron saint of a particular place prays for that place's wellbeing and for the health and happiness of all who live therein. However, the Wahhabi and Salafi movements within Sunnism have latterly attacked the veneration of saints, which they claim are a form of idolatry or shirk. More mainstream Sunni clerics have critiqued this argument since Wahhabism first emerged in the 18th century; the critiques notwithstanding, widespread veneration of saints in the Sunni world declined in the 20th century under Wahhabi and Salafi influence. Calendar of saints Guardian angel List of blesseds List of saints Patron saints of ailments and dangers Patron saints of occupations and activities Patron saints of places Patron saints of ethnic groups Saint symbolism Catholic Online: Patron Saints Henry Parkinson.
"Patron Saints". In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. "Patron Saint". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920
A shrine is a holy or sacred place, dedicated to a specific deity, hero, saint, daemon, or similar figure of awe and respect, at which they are venerated or worshipped. Shrines contain idols, relics, or other such objects associated with the figure being venerated. A shrine at which votive offerings are made is called an altar. Shrines are found in many of the world's religions, including Christianity, Hinduism, Chinese folk religion and Asatru as well as in secular and non-religious settings such as a war memorial. Shrines can be found in various settings, such as churches, cemeteries, museums, or in the home, although portable shrines are found in some cultures. A shrine may become a focus of a cult image. Many shrines are located within buildings and in the temples designed for worship, such as a church in Christianity, or a mandir in Hinduism. A shrine here is the centre of attention in the building, is given a place of prominence. In such cases, adherents of the faith assemble within the building in order to venerate the deity at the shrine.
In classical temple architecture, the shrine may be synonymous with the cella. In Hinduism and Roman Catholicism, in modern faiths, such as Neopaganism, a shrine can be found within the home or shop; this shrine is a small structure or a setup of pictures and figurines dedicated to a deity, part of the official religion, to ancestors or to a localised household deity. Small household shrines are common among the Chinese and people from South and Southeast Asia, whether Hindu, Buddhist or Christian. A small lamp and small offerings are kept daily by the shrine. Buddhist household shrines must be on a shelf above the head. Small outdoor yard shrines are found at the bottom of many peoples' gardens, following various religions, including Christianity. Many consist of a statue of Christ or a saint, on a pedestal or in an alcove, while others may be elaborate booths without ceilings, some include paintings and architectural elements, such as walls, glass doors and ironwork fences, etc. In the United States, some Christians have small yard shrines.
Religious images in some sort of small shelter, placed by a road or pathway, sometimes in a settlement or at a crossroads. Shrines are found in many religions; as distinguished from a temple, a shrine houses a particular relic or cult image, the object of worship or veneration. A shrine may be constructed to set apart a site, thought to be holy, as opposed to being placed for the convenience of worshippers. Shrines therefore attract the practice of pilgrimage. Shrines are found in many, forms of Christianity. Roman Catholicism, the largest denomination of Christianity, has many shrines, as do Orthodox Christianity and Anglicanism. In the Roman Catholic Code of Canon law, canons 1230 and 1231 read: "The term shrine means a church or other sacred place which, with the approval of the local Ordinary, is by reason of special devotion frequented by the faithful as pilgrims. For a shrine to be described as national, the approval of the Episcopal Conference is necessary. For it to be described as international, the approval of the Holy See is required."Another use of the term "shrine" in colloquial Catholic terminology is a niche or alcove in most – larger – churches used by parishioners when praying in the church.
They were called Devotional Altars, since they could look like small Side Altars or bye-altars. Shrines were always centered on some image of Christ or a saint – for instance, a statue, mural or mosaic, may have had a reredos behind them. However, Mass would not be celebrated at them. Side altars, where Mass could be celebrated, were used in a similar way to shrines by parishioners. Side altars were dedicated to The Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph as well as other saints. A nativity set could be viewed as a shrine, as the definition of a shrine is any holy or sacred place. Islam's holiest structure, the Kaaba in the city of Mecca, though an ancient temple, may be seen as a shrine due to it housing a venerated relic called the Hajar al-Aswad and being the focus of the world's largest pilgrimage practice, the Hajj. A few yards away, the mosque houses the Maqam Ibrahim shrine containing a petrosomatoglyph associated with the patriarch and his son Ishmael's building of the Kaaba in Islamic tradition; the Green Dome sepulcher of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in Medina, housed in the Masjid an-Nabawi, occurs as a venerated place and important as a site of pilgrimage among Muslims.
Two of the oldest and notable Islamic shrines are the Dome of the Rock and the smaller Dome of the Chain built on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The former was built over the rock that marked the site of the Jewish Temple and according to Islamic tradition, was the point of departure of Muhammad's legendary ascent heavenwards. More than any other shrines in the Muslim world, the tomb of Muhammad is considered a source of blessings for the visitor. Among sayings attributed to
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Eastern Orthodox Church the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with 200–260 million members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods, although half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia; the church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops. As one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, the Near East. Eastern Orthodox theology is based on the Nicene Creed; the church teaches that it is the One, Holy and Apostolic church established by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles. It maintains, its patriarchates, reminiscent of the pentarchy, autocephalous and autonomous churches reflect a variety of hierarchical organisation.
Of its innumerable sacred mysteries, it recognises seven major sacraments, of which the Eucharist is the principal one, celebrated liturgically in synaxis. The church teaches that through consecration invoked by a priest, the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ; the Virgin Mary is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the God-bearer, honoured in devotions. The Eastern Orthodox Church shared communion with the Roman Catholic Church until the East–West Schism in 1054, triggered by disputes over doctrine the authority of the Pope. Before the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, the Oriental Orthodox churches shared in this communion, separating over differences in Christology; the majority of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Southeast and Eastern Europe, Cyprus and other communities in the Caucasus region, communities in Siberia reaching the Russian Far East. There are smaller communities in the former Byzantine regions of the Eastern Mediterranean, in the Middle East where it is decreasing due to persecution.
There are many in other parts of the world, formed through diaspora and missionary activity. In keeping with the church's teaching on universality and with the Nicene Creed, Orthodox authorities such as Saint Raphael of Brooklyn have insisted that the full name of the church has always included the term "Catholic", as in "Holy Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Church"; the official name of the Eastern Orthodox Church is the "Orthodox Catholic Church". It is the name by which the church refers to itself in its liturgical or canonical texts, in official publications, in official contexts or administrative documents. Orthodox teachers refer to the church as Catholic; this name and longer variants containing "Catholic" are recognised and referenced in other books and publications by secular or non-Orthodox writers. The common name of the church, "Eastern Orthodox Church", is a shortened practicality that helps to avoid confusions in casual use. From ancient times through the first millennium, Greek was the most prevalent shared language in the demographic regions where the Byzantine Empire flourished, Greek, being the language in which the New Testament was written, was the primary liturgical language of the church.
For this reason, the eastern churches were sometimes identified as "Greek" before the Great Schism of 1054. After 1054, "Greek Orthodox" or "Greek Catholic" marked a church as being in communion with Constantinople, much as "Catholic" did for communion with Rome; this identification with Greek, became confusing with time. Missionaries brought Orthodoxy to many regions without ethnic Greeks, where the Greek language was not spoken. In addition, struggles between Rome and Constantinople to control parts of Southeastern Europe resulted in the conversion of some churches to Rome, which also used "Greek Catholic" to indicate their continued use of the Byzantine rites. Today, many of those same churches remain, while a large number of Orthodox are not of Greek national origin, do not use Greek as the language of worship. "Eastern" indicates the geographical element in the Church's origin and development, while "Orthodox" indicates the faith, as well as communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
There are additional Christian churches in the east that are in communion with neither Rome nor Constantinople, who tend to be distinguished by the category named "Oriental Orthodox". While the church continues to call itself "Catholic", for reasons of universality, the common title of "Eastern Orthodox Church" avoids casual confusion with the Roman Catholic Church; the first known use of the phrase "the catholic Church" occurred in a letter written about 110 AD from one Greek church to another. The letter states: "Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be as where Jesus may be, there is the universal Church." Thus from the beginning, Christians referred to the Church as the "One, Holy and Apostolic Church". The Eastern Orthodox Church claims that it is today the continuation and preservation of that same early Church. A number of other Christian churches make a similar claim: the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Assyrian Church and the Oriental Orthodox.
In the Eastern Orthodox v
France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona