france's military record - overstated?

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,764
At present SD, USA
#31
The Treaty of Bretigny. But that was just Edward's exit strategy to extracate himself from his disastrous siege of Reims. It didn't help that the Black Death was starting to take its toll on both sides.
Then perhaps the war should be split into two wars with that treaty as the point between each war.
 
Oct 2015
1,021
California
#32
And the problem with claiming each coalition as a separate war is that while France could often defeat some of the coalition members she could never beat all of them so the hostilities dragged on. It would make more sense to break them up into campaigns.... to get a more realistic appraisal.


The more realistic appraisal is that France did beat the living daylights out of all of them. War of 1st Coalition, Austrians and Prussians failed in their invasion of France and both were driven back. Not only were they driven back, the French Army of the Rhine also goes on the offensive invading Germany taking several key cities Mainz, Worms, Speyer getting as far as Frankurt by 1792. Meanwhile a French offensive in Belgium defeats the Austrians at Jemappes resulting in the whole of Belgium falling to the French.

By 1797 the Austrians surrendered to Napoleon's army in Italy after Nap beats them and the Sardinians in several battles. Although link up between Napoleon and the Army of the Rhine under Moreau and Jourdan failed, French presence in Germany was pretty much established when the French invaded again. The Austrians ended up signing the Treaty of Compoformio giving the French control over the territories they had taken during the war- the Rhineland, most of Italy and all of Belgium.



And given that France was also fighting what amounted to a civil war from within, and political instablity, to turn around and beat hell out of those coalitions and take the fight to its enemies by invading them is an impressive feat.

The War of Second Coliation ended so well for France that the coalition was forced to sign separate peaces treaties. That is the realistic appraisal. French military power was such that it took 23 years to defeat them.
No amount of "yes but" arguments is going to change this fact.
 
Last edited:
Jun 2015
1,252
Scotland
#33
The more realistic appraisal is that France did beat the living daylights out of all of them. War of 1st Coalition, Austrians and Prussians failed in their invasion of France and both were driven back. Not only were they driven back, the French Army of the Rhine also goes on the offensive invading Germany taking several key cities Mainz, Worms, Speyer getting as far as Frankurt by 1792. Meanwhile a French offensive in Belgium defeats the Austrians at Jemappes resulting in the whole of Belgium falling to the French.

By 1797 the Austrians surrendered to Napoleon's army in Italy after Nap beats them and the Sardinians in several battles. Although link up between Napoleon and the Army of the Rhine under Moreau and Jourdan failed, French presence in Germany was pretty much established when the French invaded again. The Austrians ended up signing the Treaty of Compoformio giving the French control over the territories they had taken during the war- the Rhineland, most of Italy and all of Belgium.



And given that France was also fighting what amounted to a civil war from within, and political instablity, to turn around and beat hell out of those coalitions and take the fight to its enemies by invading them is an impressive feat.

The War of Second Coliation ended so well for France that the coalition was forced to sign separate peaces treaties. That is the realistic appraisal. French military power was such that it took 23 years to defeat them.
No amount of "yes but" arguments is going to change this fact.
Slight sticking point to this is the fact that regardless of beating various European states France was continuously at war with the UK from 1789 to 1814 appart from the short Peace of Amiens. That the coalitions after the first were largely products of British diplomacy and subsidy engineered mostly by William Pitt it would suggest that the the wars from 1789 had enough continuity to be regarded as one maybe two either side of Amiens.
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,764
At present SD, USA
#34
Slight sticking point to this is the fact that regardless of beating various European states France was continuously at war with the UK from 1789 to 1814 appart from the short Peace of Amiens. That the coalitions after the first were largely products of British diplomacy and subsidy engineered mostly by William Pitt it would suggest that the the wars from 1789 had enough continuity to be regarded as one maybe two either side of Amiens.
They were at war, but apart from the naval struggle, a few occasional raids in Belgium/Holland or in support of the Spaniards against Napoleonic occupation, there was actually rather limited British involvement with the wars on the continent. So in a technical sense, war never ceased between France and Britain after the Treaty of Amiens fell apart... neither was there also the sort of major fighting that would be comparable to battles like Austerlitz and Borodino...

In that, I would say that Napoleon had the option to get Britain to negotiate with him, particularly as once Austria and Russia were beaten in the War of the Third Coalition and then Prussia and Russia were beaten in the War of the Fourth Coalition, with his major continental enemies were beaten... and if Napoleon managed better diplomacy that they might not have been so willing to go to war again... and without allies and without active fighting going on between France and Britain, the two sides could have or would have agreed to a new peace or at least agreed to a "ceasefire" in much the same way that has gone on since the Korean War "ended."

However, Napoleon's diplomacy was poor in that challenged too much of the status quo in central and eastern Europe and economically was of little benefit to the other continental powers... And yet Napoleon seemed to try and enforce that at every turn, with I think both the Peninsular War in Spain and the 1812 invasion of Russia being points of this, in which he invaded one ally and one enemy because they could not economically afford to run under the Continental System. That poor diplomatic record is really what gave Britain the ability to fund or push Napoleon's continental enemies to directly oppose him.
 

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,030
Spain
#35
You're talkling about battles:



Which is, one more time, absolutly not the point.

The BBC was refering to major wars



Major wars. Not battles.
So... maybe you haven't read the post... maybe wars and battles are the same to you... I don't know...

Or maybe it's just an other post from you about the same old song. You know... superiority and magnificience of spanish army since the paleolithic and how it outperformed the french one (refrain: Peninsula War). Besides, how could someone possibly say something positive about french army ? Everybody know/should know that 1- Spain. 2- Spain. 3- Any nation but France. 4- Antarctic. 5- France from 1800 to 1801.


Thanks for your unalterable constancy.
I write about Peninsular War because it is not in the list... so.. How the thell I am going to take seriously a list where is not the Peninsular War... Do you take seriously a list about American wars and wasn´t the WW1...

I wrote to you French Army was the best (not in colonial wars, of course) during XVIII century and XIX Century (till the Prussian proved they were better).. the French Hegemony was between Louis XIV and Napoleon.. but French Army was good through XIX Century (till 1860 more or less). It was the best army in Crimena and the best in Lombardy... but France had a lot of defeats in the period 1700-1870...they lost in Spain, in Russia, in Saxony, in Canada, India, Mexico etc etc etc... It was not an incontestable military hegemony in the period... from Blenheim to Sedan through Rossbach, Baylen, Waterloo etc etc.
And the French never fought alone...save in colonial warfare.. and when they fought British in Canada, India, Caribbean, they were easily defeated. (Also Portuguese beat them in Guayana).

So, I don´t care what BBC or a wikipedia list.. I believe in facts and sources. in WW1, the German Army was the best in the world.. and they lost...the French Army was the best in the world under Napoleon.. and they lost... to win or lost is not matched with quality...

In ww1, French Army, i wrote, it was the best in allied side.. in WW2 one of the worst. and the only great european country to be conquested in 42 days...never happened to any other one (Not Italy, not Britain, not Germany, Not Russia and not Spain.. and not Turkey). In fact, Irak in 2003 lasted longer time than France in 1940!!!

So, before to write the list of wars.. YOU SHOULD go into detail in the French Participation to see it was decisive or not...In WW1, yes it was decisive.. in WW2.. not... Luxembourg and Bolivian won the WW2 (and the ww1..but they weren´t decisive.. as France was not decisive in WW2).
It is possible to be in the Winner side and to win by numbers, because you outnumbered the enemy (most of the french victory but not all, were achieved in numerical superiority). and to be in the lost side and to be the best army...
French won the battle of Valmy.. but it was a dissastrous army... French lost the Battle of Essling but they were the best army in the world.

So, List proved NOTHING. If you are talking about the French superiority man to man in a war... I am going to say... NO WAY. Proved. Show here, the French were able to do what not other european people were able to do...
Yes, the French conquested Moscow... ok, it is truth...the only Westerners were able to do it but Germans conquested Norway (a very difficult operation) and Yugoslavia (also very difficult), for example.
 

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,030
Spain
#37
To be fair he was only showing a list of French victories.
As the Peninsular War was a resounding defeat why would he put it on the list.
Hej Edric,

I was talking about the link he put in the forum

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_des_guerres_de_la_France

List of wars involving France (in French)...
Well, in the List...is NOT the Peninsular War!!!!! It is not issue about victory or defeat...but not in list! If you see the link you will see:

The Revolutionary and Napoleonic period is divided in 8 Wars...and it doesn´t appear the Peninsular War...yes, Haiti, Russia but not the Peninsular War...:):)

I know, I know.. La Guerre d´Espagne is a dreadful name.. it is "something" that must not be named..but not to be in the list...:)
It is the best homage never France can do to that war.. not named!!! as the Deivil...it is better not to name not to remember that Terrible War... the "Maudite" Guerre d´Espagne...the Damned Peninsular War!

let us run a pious cloak of silence on that disaster.. we don´t want to remember...:):)
 

Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
4,947
Canary Islands-Spain
#38
martin76 is right, the list of French wars provided hide war defeats for the French: Peninsular War, Aragonese Crusade (where the French king died campaigning), or totally distort the event by showing just the treaty that finished it. For instead, the so called Troisième guerre d'Italie (1501-1504) was a total disaster for France, but it's not shown so.
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,438
#39
"Their business is war, and they do their business."

---Rudyard Kipling, on the French

I'd say that quote was true for much, though of course not all, of French history.
 
Jun 2015
5,581
UK
#40
List of wars France has won since the Carolingian era:

List of major wars France have won:


Wars of Charlemagne (768-814)
Norman Conquest of England (1066) (Yes the Normans were French, linguistically, culturally, ethnically, there is no going around this fact. They may not have called themselves French, but no French from outside of Isle de France did. And the Norman army was composed of knights and soldiers from all over France, not just the Duchy of Normandy)
First Crusade (1096-99) (The only successful Crusade was led and fought by mostly French armies from all over France)
Anglo-French War (1202-14)
Hundred Years' War (1337-1453)
War of the Holy League (1508-16)
Franco-Spanish War (1635)
Franco-Dutch War (1678)
War of the Reunions (1683-84)
War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718-20)
War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48)
American Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1802) (this is not the French Revolution)
War of the First Coalition (1793-97)
War of the Second Coalition (1799-1802)
War of the Oranges (1801)
War of the Third Coalition (1803-06)
War of the Fourth Coalition (1806-07)
War of the Fifth Coalition (1809)
Greek War of Independence (1821-30)
French Conquest of Algeria (1830-47)
First Carlist War (1833-39)
Crimean War (1853-56)
Second Opium War (1856-60)
Second Italian War of Independence (1859)
Mandingo Wars (1883-98)
Sino-French War (1884-85)
First Franco-Dahomean War (1890)
Second Franco-Dahomean War (1892-94)
Franco-Siamese War (1893)
Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901)
Wadai War (1909-11)
World War I (1914-18)
Rif War (1920)
World War II (1939-45) (yes by virtue of being on the allied side)
Gulf War (1990-91)
Operation Serval (2013-14)

The French invented the modern military ranking system, and so many military words have French origins.
Many of these wars were part of coalitions, and even in most of them were not the principal ally. WWII is moot, since France surrendered. At best, and it may seem odd to say, but they both lost and won, since whilst there were Free French troops under General Ike as SHEAF Commander, France surrendered in 1940.