A number of key features and concepts affected France at the beginning of the 20th century. Some of them strengthened France as a nation, while others significantly weakened her. As it would be almost impossible to discuss all of them I will just briefly talk about those features and concepts that made the biggest mark in France. These include imperialism, militarism, nationalism, technological change and aggression and war. Most of these concepts and features were integrated, meaning that the rise of one issue led to the rise of another. For example the rise of nationalism resulted in the rise of militarism, as the French felt that they should unite in their bid to get revenge on Germany. Nationalism also resulted in imperialism as the French put their interests first and disregarded the needs of other nations.

Imperialism affected France at the beginning of the century in positive and negative ways. It opened up opportunities that otherwise would never have existed, such as the building of the Suez Canal, which was to give France an advantage over Britain by providing them with a shipping route from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. Imperialism also provided France with a new source for markets and resources. On the negative side imperialism created tensions between France and the other powers, that by the beginning of the century, were threatening peace in Europe. It created a number of disputes over land, in particular with Germany, which had joined the ‘scramble for Africa’ after France and the other powers.

Militarism was also an important concept in France at the beginning of the 20th century. This was largely due to the Franco-Prussian war in 1870-71, which was the war that unified Germany and created a change in the balance of power in Europe. The war was relatively easily won by the Prussians and France was forced to pay an indemnity of $1 billion to the Prussians. This at the time was a huge sum of money. What was even more humiliating for France...