france's military record - overstated?

Feb 2016
4,180
Japan
#41
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...:):)
I see. I was talking about the list he wrote in the forum. Which was a list of victories.
 
Jun 2015
5,581
UK
#42
Hi notgivenaway.
Indeed you have left lot of wars out :)

Here you have a quite comprehensive record (victories in green, draws in violet, defeats in red):

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


I agree with Edric; defining "the best" is quite difficult. I think that the number of battles won by France is indeed one of the best, and the fact that, surrounded by other great powers, France achieved to get the largest territory in Europe (and quite a fertile and prosperous land) pleads to its military history. Finally the fact that France is one of the oldest state in Europe, and that it has always been, until 1939, amongst the "top dogs", compared to UK or Germany for example.
France became powerful once it gained its full shape, after the Hundred years war. it was pretty weak once West Francia split into the duchies and counties. The UK took England's mantle of world power status, which was gained in Tudor times, and even before in the high medieval period and in Anglo-Saxon times England had administrative advances that others did not. If one took a power analysis of European states over 1000 years, I doubt it would differ much overall between England/UK, France, or the Holy Roman Empire/Germany. In 2016, these are still by some way the most powerful countriees in the continent.
 

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,030
Spain
#43
France became powerful once it gained its full shape, after the Hundred years war. it was pretty weak once West Francia split into the duchies and counties. The UK took England's mantle of world power status, which was gained in Tudor times, and even before in the high medieval period and in Anglo-Saxon times England had administrative advances that others did not. If one took a power analysis of European states over 1000 years, I doubt it would differ much overall between England/UK, France, or the Holy Roman Empire/Germany. In 2016, these are still by some way the most powerful countriees in the continent.
I don´t think so... Spain was stronger than France (at least from XV Century till 1660-1670) and stronger than Britain till XVIII century and stronger than the Holy Rome Empire from XV to 1806...
The same we can say about other great powers as Poland-Russia-Austria-Turkey..
1.000 years ago it was year 1016..Almanzor had died in 1002... Cordova was stronger than any other Power in Europe in those days...for example...

So, not..not any constant or continuity... not any French-British-German superiority in History...it would have been that superiority.. Spaniards would have never driven French out from Italy-Greece o taken Paris... and British-French-German would have easily driven out from Low Countries...what didn´t happen...till 200 years later...
In XV Century there were few powers: England-France-Spain-Turkey-Italian cities-HRE?-Portugal
In XVI Century: Spain (Portugal)-France-HRE?-Turkey-Poland
XVII Century: Spain-France-Netherland-Sweden-England-Turkey
XVIII Century: Britain-France-Spain-Prussia-Austria-Russia-Sweden-Turkey
XIX Century: Britain-Russia-France-Germany
XX Century: USA-Russia-Germany-Britain-France-Japan
XXI Century: China-USA-Russia-EU?-Britain-Japan
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,764
At present SD, USA
#44
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.
The Third Republic surrendered, but De Gaulle's Free French fought on and were effectively the government of note by the end of the war and had more than a million men in the field.

I'd tend to maintain that France holds a unique record of 1-2 in WW2...

Their win comes from the Free French and their efforts through 1945...

The first loss is the Third Republic caving in 1940.

The second loss is the Vichy regime being defeated by Allies in 1943 (even with some of the Vichy units turning to support the Free French).
 
Dec 2016
177
USA
#45
I saw this ad in the back of an antique firearms magazine the other day......


For sale.......vintage WWII French rifle. Excellent condition. Never fired, dropped once.


LOL
 
Sep 2016
801
Georgia
#46
It's often said that France has the best military record in Europe. Is this really true?

If we take the date when France split from King Louis's empire (843) as West Francia, then they lost battles to the Norse, Normans, East Franks, defeated the English to gain Normandy, and then again in the Hundred Years War, defeat the Italian states, but lost in wars to the Dutch and Spanish, and then alliances under the Sun King.

They then lost the Seven Years War, helped the Americans defeat the British in the US War of Independence, lost in the end to the anti-Napoleonic coalitions, and like the UK up until WWI defeated Africans and Asians (sometimes together) in colonial conflicts, and technically lost WWII as they surrendered.

I know I may have left things out, but then is France's military record as impressive as made out? Even though the USA is far younger, it has only lost a handful of its wars, even though most of the recent ones were against far weaker enemies or in coalitions.
I know, i'm late to the party. This thread is 2 year old. However, it's still open.

You mentioned Sun King period. Well, during that time France achieved overall victory in Dutch war and moderate one in War of Devolution. Plus another success in War of Reunions.
In Dutch War France defeated Holy Roman Empire, Spain and Brandenburg-Prussia. From Spain they took whole province Franche-Comte and gained 13 cities in Spanish Netherlands. France retained Alsace and gained de-facto possession of Lorraine in struggle with Empire. Brandenburg-Prussia was forced to give back all the conquests they made to Sweden and Brandenburg became an ally for France. With Dutch everything returned to pre-war situation and also tariff of 1667 was changed to 1664. Dutch neutrality towards France and Sweden was established. Though, French didn't accomplish initial goals of 1672 of crushing Republic and Dutch could celebrate that. France after that war was established as most powerful in Europe.

However Nine Years War was disappointment, though French forces faired well in that conflict and put powerful performance. War of Spanish Succession was disaster for France.

Also before that there were successful Thirty Years War, Franco - Spanish War 1635 - 59 and Anglo-French War 1627 - 29.

During period between 1202 - 1214 Philip managed to take majority of colonial English possessions, yes. However, in Battle of Bouvines Emperor Otton IV was defeated as well.

What Niall Ferguson says about number of battles where French took part is ridiculous. It's too small. Napoleon alone had around 60 battles throughout his career. Plus there were plenty of other battles during Revolutionary and Napoleonic period which were conducted by different generals. Also does he count battles during colonial campaigns, which French had ? Does he count only field engagements or sieges as well ? Does he count naval battles as well or just field army ? I wouldn't post that statement of Ferguson. It's obviously flawed.
Yeah, French also were beaten many times during Peninsular War. Got mauled pretty good.

Here is kind of a list of war record in Europe, if we begin from 13th century :

Anglo - French War 1202 - 1214 - French victory

Saintonge War 1242 - 1243 - French victory

Seventh crusade 1248 - 1254 - French defeat

Eighth Crusade - French defeat

Anglo - French War 1294 - 1303 - Draw

Franco - Flemish War 1297 - 1305 - French victory

War of Saint-Sardos 1324 - French victory

Hundred Years War 1337 - 1453 - French victory

War of the Burgundian Succession 1477 - 1482 - France annexed Burgundian territories by Treaty of Arras. Though, in 1493 by Treaty of Senlis, Charles VIII ceded some of territories it Maximilian. However Burgundian heartland and Picardy were gained definitively by France.

French - Breton War 1487 - 1491 - French victory

First Italian War 1494 - 1496 - French defeat

Second Italian War 1499 - 1504 - French victory in 1499 - 1500 campaign against Milan. French defeat in 1502 - 1504 campaign against Spain for Naples.

War of the League of Cambrai 1508 - 1516 - French victory

Italian War of 1521 - 25 - French defeat

War of League Cognac 1526 - 1530 - French defeat

Italian War 1536 - 38 - French moderate victory

Italian War 1542 - 1546 - Stalemate

Italian War 1551 - 1559 - French defeat

Anglo - French War 1557 - 1559 - French victory

Franco - Spanish War 1595 - 98 - Philip II of Spain recognized formerly Protestant Henry as King of France and withdrew his forces from French territory, depriving Catholic League of their support.

Franco - Savoyard War 1600 - 1601 - French victory

Anglo - French War 1627 - 1629 - French victory

Thirty Years War - French victory

Franco - Spanish War 1635 - 1659 - French victory

War of Devolution 1667 - 1668 - French moderate victory

Dutch War 1672 - 1678 - French victory

War of Reunions 1683 - 1684 - French victory

Nine Years War 1688 - 1697 - Draw

War for Spanish Succession 1701 - 1714 - Mostly French defeat, but still managed to install Bourbon on Spanish throne.

War of Quadruple Alliance 1717 - 1720 - French victory

War of Polish Succession 1733 - 1735 - French defeat in struggle for Polish Throne. French success in making territorial gains.

War of Austrian Succession 1740 - 1748 - French military victory. Politically status quo.

Seven Years War 1756 - 1763 - French defeat

Anglo - French War 1778 - 1783 - French victory

War of First Coalition 1792 - 1797 - French victory

War of Second Coalition 1799 - 1802 - French victory

War of Third Coalition 1805 - French victory

War of Fourth Coalition 1806 - 1807 - French victory

Peninsular War 1808 - 1814 - French defeat

War of Fifth Coalition 1809 - French victory

Russian 1812 campaign - French defeat

War of 6th Coalition 1813 - 1814 - French defeat

War of 7th Coalition 1815 - French defeat

Crimean War - French victory

Second Italian War of Independence or Italian War 1859 - French victory

Franco - Prussian War 1870 - 1871 - French defeat

World War I 1914 - 1918 - French victory

Battle for France 1940 - French defeat


Possibly left out or forgot some conflicts. Also, of course in many of these conflicts there were allies or coalition. However there are also such where France was alone or help from allies was negligible/not that significant.

If you want to include, there were also some victories against Normans during 843 - 987 period. Battle of Saucourt-en-Vimeu, for example. Where Louis III and Carloman II achieved victory.
Also Siege of Paris 885 - 886. Were able to successfully defend the city.
 
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