France's Glorious Military History

Feb 2016
4,225
Japan
#11
They have been the best, amongst the best and decidedly average at various points in their history, had moments of glory and shame, fought for good causes and bad, showed kindnesd and honour and cruelty and spite in equal measure... in this regard they are no different to Russia, UK, Spain, Italy, Prussia, Austria, USA, Japan or any other nation.

They could fairly described as one of the most warlike nations in Europe until WW1 cured them of that maybe...
 
Mar 2016
741
Australia
#12
fought for good causes and bad, showed kindnesd and honour and cruelty and spite in equal measure
Morality has nothing to do with how successful a nation is at war. The Mongols were very successful for decades against countless foes, but I'm sure they wouldn't have given a toss whether people thought they fought for a good cause or were kind.

They could fairly described as one of the most warlike nations in Europe until WW1 cured them of that maybe...
Not entirely their fault. They were often the target of large coalitions that waged offensive wars to cut France down to size (e.g. Anglo-French War of 1213-4, multiple wars against Charles V and Henry VIII in the 16th century, Nine Years War, War of the Spanish Succession, Revolutionary War, Napoleonic Wars, etc.).
 
Feb 2016
4,225
Japan
#13
Morality has nothing to do with how successful a nation is at war. The Mongols were very successful for decades against countless foes, but I'm sure they wouldn't have given a toss whether people thought they fought for a good cause or were kind.



Not entirely their fault. They were often the target of large coalitions that waged offensive wars to cut France down to size (e.g. Anglo-French War of 1213-4, multiple wars against Charles V and Henry VIII in the 16th century, Nine Years War, War of the Spanish Succession, Revolutionary War, Napoleonic Wars, etc.).
Yes. It was more a statement on the futility of trying to declare something/one “most glorious” or “most successful” when most large/important nations can make the same claims with similar contradictions.

Of course France only has a joke status amongst Americans.
Italy, unfairly, has the similar role amongst the British...

Personally, while I see and recognise France military glory I don’t see anything in it to put it above US, Italy, Germany, UK or Spain.

And I don’t buy any nonsense about “poor” France having wars forced on her. She caused as much trouble as she was dragged into ... again much like all the other powers.
 
Likes: sailorsam

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,005
#14
WWI and the problem of demographics for the French is one of these instances where too much knowledge might not be a universally good thing.

The French "problem" there was that from approx 1850 France hit a form of "demogrpahic maturity" that most European nations didn't experience until after WWII, and some non-western but modern nations aren't coming up against until now.

Basic problem is a fertility rate below replacement levels, and so a bunch of scenarios that seem to inexorably point to population decline. That then needs to be understood in the terms of assessments of strategic strength, where the European tradition since the 17th c. Mercantilism that decreed that the wealth and strength of any nation could be calculated pretty much exclusively but looking at population. (Of course, already the industrialising 18th c. UK proved that wrong in a sense, while at the same time accurate census figures didn't yet exist – Swedish National Institute of Statistics established in 1722 being a world-pioneer, except it's results were so alarming the Swedish state immediately made its findings a Secret of State).

By the late 19th c. these kinds of census and demographic statistics were everywhere. Coupled to the advent of the mass conscription army (again a French invention) and the concept of a nation in arms (also French), suddenly the tables had been turned on France. Had France retained the RELATIVE demographic situation it had in relation to the rest of Europe at the time of the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars, then today France would be a world-bestriding undisputed superpower of 200 million, second only to the US.

It's that loss of relative position that the 19th c. historically conscious French grappled with. The actual demographics never went into actual decline, but numbers were kept up, with a small growth, through immigration.

And that was the situation going into WWI. And then France took relatively larger demographic losses in that war than any of the other major combatants. (Serbia suffered worse relatively.)

Worse, post-WWI demographic calculations again showed not only that France had lost relatively more men IN the war, but that replacing them would be excruciatingly slow. Where the UK was expected to make up the shortfall from the war-dead in 12 years, and the Germans would manage it even faster in only 8, the French were looking at 66 years – the lifespan of a man – to replace theirs.

It was those kinds of statistics that influenced the French inter-war thinking about warfare, where it was generally accepted that whatever happened, the next war France would be fighting, it would do whatever it could to minimize losses. Right or wrong, by common agreement, France just couldn't win any kind of war of attrition involving throwing warm bodies at the enemy.
 
Mar 2016
741
Australia
#16
Yes. It was more a statement on the futility of trying to declare something/one “most glorious” or “most successful” when most large/important nations can make the same claims with similar contradictions
You can sit on the fence all you like, but statistically France does have one of the most successful records of military victories in history, rivaled only by Spain. Their victories dramatically outweigh their defeats, and their win/loss ratio when put alongside the sheer number of the conflicts they were involved in is vastly superior to other countries you mentioned that are on the same level of them such as the US, Italy and Germany.
 
Likes: martin76
Feb 2019
211
California
#17
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.

Obviously when I say "Italy" I do not mean "the Roman Empire." That's a topic for another thread (re which someone will immediately jump down my throat and say "we just did one of those" when I post it but I will not be intimidated! :D)
 
Dec 2014
6,136
Spain
#18
Obviously when I say "Italy" I do not mean "the Roman Empire." That's a topic for another thread (re which someone will immediately jump down my throat and say "we just did one of those" when I post it but I will not be intimidated! :D)

In this case I am with Edric.. by first time.... I cannot see France better or worse than Spain, UK, Germany, Austria, Russia etc Each State had their moments..

About Italy... I know few terrible british phrases.... I don´t understand why they considered Italians so....weak in a battelfield... when Arditi in 1914-1918 were excellent soldiers.
 
Mar 2019
278
Kansas
#19
About Italy... I know few terrible british phrases.... I don´t understand why they considered Italians so....weak in a battelfield... when Arditi in 1914-1918 were excellent soldiers.
Mainly WW2 - By and large the Italians were poorly led and supplied with even poorer equipment. Especially with armor in North Africa. They really had nothing to work with and results support that :(
 
Dec 2014
6,136
Spain
#20
Mainly WW2 - By and large the Italians were poorly led and supplied with even poorer equipment. Especially with armor in North Africa. They really had nothing to work with and results support that :(
Yes I think it is because WW2... about Germans I think it is because 1914 "italian betrayal"... because they also spoke so bad about italian soldiers.