This book provides a detailed account of French history from the origins of the Third Republic, born out of the collapse of Napoleon III's Second Empire, to the coming of the Great War in 1914. The earlier years of the Republic were characterized by slow social change, yet French society managed to emancipate itself from the influence of the Church and acquire a more positively democratic outlook. Part I begins with the fall of the 'notables' and the victory of the republicans. Then follows a picture of the economy and society of late nineteenth-century France, and an examination of spiritual and cultural development under the increasing threat from nationalist and socialist forces. The moderate's brief ascendancy at the end of the century, followed by the extreme sentiments unleashed at the time of the Dreyfus affair, brings the story in Part II to a more passionately political period, when the Republic finally became established as a bulwark of bourgeois prosperity, witnessing the rise of the banks and big business, and the dangerous revival of colonial expansion.