France's Glorious Military History

Feb 2019
345
California
As we all know, France's military reputation is often the butt of jokes as a result of its craven behavior during World War II. France is often spoken of in the same tone as Italy in that regard. Yet unlike Italy, France has quite a glorious military history and, while they always seemed to find the going tough against the Brits, aside from that they were considered pretty much top-dog right up through 1939.

What is your opinion of France -- your gut reaction, if you will -- in terms of its "bravery" or military "glory" or reputation and how great a role does France's one craven surrender play in forming your opinion?

Thanks,

BB
 
Mar 2019
1,956
Kansas
As we all know, France's military reputation is often the butt of jokes as a result of its craven behavior during World War II. France is often spoken of in the same tone as Italy in that regard. Yet unlike Italy, France has quite a glorious military history and, while they always seemed to find the going tough against the Brits, aside from that they were considered pretty much top-dog right up through 1939.

What is your opinion of France -- your gut reaction, if you will -- in terms of its "bravery" or military "glory" or reputation and how great a role does France's one craven surrender play in forming your opinion?

Thanks,

BB
I am not sure I would consider their actions in WW2 as craven.

That being said. They had good times and they had bad. Just like most nations.
 
Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
If it wasn't for WW2 they'd almost certainly be considered to have the greatest military reputation in history, and rightfully so. They dominated the battlefield with some of the best trained soldiers, highest quality equipment and most talented commanders all the way from the High Medieval Era (the stand-out being the Battle of Bouvines) to the First World War, a period of roughly 700 years. They regularly fought off and sometimes won against large coalitions of other European powers despite being surrounded and outnumbered (e.g. Philippe Augustus, Louis XIV, Napoleon), and until the late 19th century when Germany rose to prominence they were pretty much the de facto leader of military thought and innovation. The common soldier also tended - at least in the later period of French military history - to be extraordinarily brave and resilient, most notably during Napoleon's final campaigns when everything went wrong and all was against them, and in the early stages of WW1 when the Germans came within a few kilometres of Paris and appeared unstoppable. If I were a commander and had my pick of any troops throughout history to make up my army, I would probably go with the French (although the Germans are a very close second).
 
Mar 2019
1,956
Kansas
If I were a commander and had my pick of any troops throughout history to make up my army, I would probably go with the French (although the Germans are a very close second).
Interesting question. I would personally go with a mix of French Foreign Legion and Gurkha - God help the poor fool who picked that fight lol
 
Oct 2018
144
Sweden
If it wasn't for WW2 they'd almost certainly be considered to have the greatest military reputation in history, and rightfully so. They dominated the battlefield with some of the best trained soldiers, highest quality equipment and most talented commanders all the way from the High Medieval Era (the stand-out being the Battle of Bouvines) to the First World War, a period of roughly 700 years. They regularly fought off and sometimes won against large coalitions of other European powers despite being surrounded and outnumbered (e.g. Philippe Augustus, Louis XIV, Napoleon), and until the late 19th century when Germany rose to prominence they were pretty much the de facto leader of military thought and innovation. The common soldier also tended - at least in the later period of French military history - to be extraordinarily brave and resilient, most notably during Napoleon's final campaigns when everything went wrong and all was against them, and in the early stages of WW1 when the Germans came within a few kilometres of Paris and appeared unstoppable. If I were a commander and had my pick of any troops throughout history to make up my army, I would probably go with the French (although the Germans are a very close second).
Why do you rate the French above the Germans?
 
Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
Why do you rate the French above the Germans?
If we're taking the entire military history as being relevant, for this hypothetical scenario, the French have a more impressive overall record than the Germans (although I suppose it's unfair to compare them since for most of its history Germany was not unified). If I was choosing solely from the modern era - i.e. the late 19th century to the mid-20th century - I would definitely pick the Germans.
 
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martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,675
Spain
As we all know, France's military reputation is often the butt of jokes as a result of its craven behavior during World War II. France is often spoken of in the same tone as Italy in that regard. Yet unlike Italy, France has quite a glorious military history and, while they always seemed to find the going tough against the Brits, aside from that they were considered pretty much top-dog right up through 1939.

What is your opinion of France -- your gut reaction, if you will -- in terms of its "bravery" or military "glory" or reputation and how great a role does France's one craven surrender play in forming your opinion?

Thanks,

BB
Well, a threat uses the word "Glorious" can not be academici or scientific.. what is to be glorious? How do you know the French are more glorius than Italian? Italian conquered France with Caesar in only 10 years! What the Glorious with "France" or with "Italy" during the Caesar´s days?

France won the military hegemony in Europe between (conventional data) 1659 to 1763 (with the Spanish Sucession War exception).. and between 1792 to 1815.. and again between 1830 to 1870. Not military hegemony after 1870.

It is truth between 1919 to 1940, the French Army was seen as the best army in the world... but the Period 1870-1945 is known as the German Military hegemony. And from 1945 onwards.. the hegemony is in Russian hands. So.. we can say France lost the military hegemony in 1870.

So I wouldn´t say the French Army as the best from Medieval Age (what is not truth) or the Stronger (what is not). France (as others countires as Spain, Prussia, Germany, Turkey etc) had their days...specially between 1659 to 1763, 1792-1815 and 1830-1870.

And about Navy... France NEVER had the hegemony other countries as Spain, Netherland or Britain had. And in overseas.. nor the power reached by Spain, Portugal or Britain.
 
Apr 2019
13
Paris
France has been very strong especially during Louis XIV and Napoleon. One of the reasons is that France was a very populated country compared to the others, it was called "The China of Europe".

In a whole, I would rank UK, Germany, Russia, France and Japan (what of there is no atomic bomb?), the USA and China (went through very weak and strong phases) at the same level. I don't take too many risks :)

Don't forget the Roman army ;-)