Portrait of Louis XVI in 1785 by Joseph Siffrein Duplessis
 (Château de Versailles)

Stendhal was born in the reign of Louis XVI and died in the reign of Louis Philippe. He lived through the most unstable and fascinating period in French history that saw huge changes in the tastes, hopes, expectations and beliefs of all levels of society.

Detail of a portrait of Louis-Philippe by F. X. Winterhalter (1841)
 (Château de Versailles)

1774 - Louis XVI crowned.

1778-83 – France supports the the American Revolution.

1783 - Henri-Marie Beyle born.

1789 - French Revolution, storming of La Bastille.

1792 - Louis XVI is tried for treason and convicted; the monarchy is abolished. 

1793 - Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette are guillotined in Paris.

1794 - Robespierre overthrown.

1799 – Napoleon Bonaparte named First Consul.

1804 – Napoleon crowns himself Emperor.    

1808 - Napoleon Commercial Code goes into effect, standardizing commercial practices throughout the French Empire.

1809: The baccalaureate examination is established.
1812 – Napoleon defeated in Russia.

1814 - Napoleon abdicates and is exiled to Elba.

Louis XVIII crowned king.

Congress of Vienna begins to remake Europe after the downfall of Napoleon.
1815 - Napoleon returns to Paris, the beginning of the "100 Days" 

Napoleon defeated at Waterloo

1815 - Napoleon is deported to Santa Helena, an island off the coast of Africa.

1824 – Louis XVIII dies and his brother, Charles X is crowned king.

1830 – ‘Three Glorious Days’ of the July Revolution. Charles X abdicates in favour of his grandson, the Comte de Chambord but the chamber of deputies refuse to ratify his decision. Louis-Philippe of the Orleans family is crowned king.

1842 - Henri-Marie Beyle dies.

1848 - Abdication of Louis Philippe. Institution of Second Rebuplic. Prince Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte becomes president. After a coup in 1851, he names himself sucessively President for Life and then Emperor, ruling as Napoleon III.