Is France the most successful military power in European history ?

Sep 2016
804
Georgia
notgivenaway I am actually a Georgian.
You're amusing...largely since you're getting worked up at people having different opinions
Read my full discussion with Tokugawa Ieyasu in this thread. He had different opinion on this subject matter. However, he did good job of presenting his arguments and they were solid. They also showed that he has understanding of this subject and knows what he is talking about. When I disagreed with him on several points, he didn't just outright dismissed all my arguments and just continued to say ,, I'm still not convinced that France was a great power ''. Tokugawa Ieyasu also had some solid counterarguments.
 
Feb 2016
4,227
Japan
It will depend on how you define great.
Really only France, Spain, GB, Austria and Russia can be considered.. as they are the most enduring states.

On land.
Russia- might not have always fielded the best troops but always had lots of them, and usually quite tough. So strong. Strong record of success. Produced Suverov. Arguably one of the greatest of his day, and Zhukov. Considered the only power in Europe to rival the US during the 50s-80s.

Spain - most would not think of Spain. And it’s certainly not been a major power since 1808.. but it was possibly the first super power. Had the best army in Europe for a long time.

GB - obviously not mighty in size, it had a small army of proffesionals. Starting in 1702 (I’ll consider England separate). But they had a good record of success, produced a Marlborough and a Wellington.
Though it should be pointed out Wellington had FRENCH military training), solid pattern of success though frequently dependent on allies or its navy to bail them out of situations would have crippled other powers.

France- possibly the strongest contender. Large population means large military. So they had strength for a long time. They had long periods of success. They produced Napoleon, Vauban and Turenne. The FPW surprised even the Prussians... but that shouldnt be a slight on a fairly long record of success.
 
Likes: Gvelion
Feb 2016
4,227
Japan
Some might wonder on me leaving Germany out of it.
It only starts in 1871.
It has a quick victory against France, helps in the boxer rebellion then loses 2 world wars.

The individual German states have a mixed record. Saxony and Bavaria... not so solid. Prussia and Hanover more so.
Though they did produce De Saxe, Ferdinand of Brunswick, Frederick the Great and Clausewitz.
 
Mar 2016
711
Antalya
From an empirical perspective, they couldn't win the wars they needed to win, considering their empires were weak, short-lived and rather small.
 
Jul 2018
496
Hong Kong
Though they did produce De Saxe, Ferdinand of Brunswick, Frederick the Great and Clausewitz.
Three of them either served or ruled the mighty Kingdom of Prussia. The first one was the French military commander. :cool:

The individual German states have a mixed record. Saxony and Bavaria... not so solid. Prussia and Hanover more so.
How dare you put Prussia in league with....those "minor German states" which were obviously far inferior than Prussia not only in military strength, but also in military accomplishment.

In the Seven Years' War, even the Anglo-Hanover-Hesse-Brunswick-Prussian coalition army was once under command of the "Prussian" general (who was also a royal member) Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, who soundly defeated the French army battle after battle, showing the great military leadership on par with Frederick the Great !

And previously, that British-bornt commander the Duke of Cumberland was soundly defeated by the French and got fired in disgrace....

And that's not all...even after the British-Hanover debacle at Hastenback, even after France and Austria rapidly approached Saxony and Silesia from two sides to strangle the little Prussia like a "pincer", even after Frederick suffered the crushing defeat at Kolin, his troops demoralized, and heavily outnumbered, when all hopes seemed lost....The Prussian army under Frederick the Great once again displayed why Prussia was a great military power. He "turned the tide" by two consecutive crushing victories at Rossbach and Leuthen ! He heavily mauled the French and the Austrian army with the flawless manuoever exploiting terrain and element of surprise....and once again, the Prussian army proved himself the "strongest military force" in Europe (at least in AD 1757).

And then Britain "reinvigorated the effort" to defend Hanover and greatly increased his financial aid to Prussia. The Prussian military force decisively "changed the entire strategic situation of Central Europe" at that moment !

So what do you think ?

It only starts in 1871.
Yet the German military tradition and martial spirit directly inherited from Prussia, it's totally unfair to separate Prussia from the "German" military history. Hence, I prefer the coalescence — "Prussia-Germany". It was exactly Prussia played the role of leadership in the unification of Germany. Don't forget this point.

It has a quick victory against France, helps in the boxer rebellion then loses 2 world wars.
This is a gross understatement. I see no point for the conclusion.

Some might wonder on me leaving Germany out of it.
Yet, how about Prussia-Germany ? This Napoleonic website could tell you why Prussia was great in military from the early 18th century to Waterloo with abundant of facts.

Prussian Army of the Napoleonic Wars : History : Organization : Generals
 
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Feb 2016
4,227
Japan
De Saxe served in the French army AFTER serving in the Imperial, and he was a German.
Ferdinand of Brunswick was a Brunswicker. Though he served in the Prussian army as a colonel, his glories were won as a Hanoverian general commanding Hanoverian and Brunswick troops mostly, though in fairness his command was multinational.. British, Hessian and Dutch maybe.

Only Frederick the Great and Von Clausewitz were Prussians.

Bavaria, Saxony and Hanover were not minor league nations... not in comparison to Prussia at any rate. They all had martial traditions, that Prussia eventually dominated them all through betrayal and politicking (despite Hanover handing Prussia its arse) it was more through sharp politics than war. And I’d put Hanoverian troops as being as good as Prussians through out the 18th century.

It is true that the Prussian military machine absorbed many of its brethren armies... Saxony and Bavaria retained separate military systems (though standardised on the Prussian system) until the end of WW1. Noticeably though the after this they lost... but if your going to say that German military tradition exists pre 1871, you can’t single out the one mostly successful part and claim that it is the whole picture. Pre 1871 various other German states lurched from one defeat to another (Saxony, Bavaria) and they are arguably more German than the Prussians.

Yes. It’s an understatement. But when trying to simplify an argument to fairly impossible premise (no European nation has a consistent history of pure success, most nations have had periods of superiority and glory, most nations have churned out 1 or 2 epic generals) I’d consider it normal to understate/overstate. Claiming any one thing “the most successful” “the best” will usually involve overstatement.

Napoleonystkya/Napolun website. Won’t touch that. Famous in Napoleonic circles for many factual errors, also the owners are on record talking on a Napoleonic forum that they deliberately set out to make the British look bad... terrible website. Won’t spit on it.
 
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Sep 2016
804
Georgia
Napoleonystkya/Napolun website. Won’t touch that. Famous in Napoleonic circles for many factual errors, also the owners are on record talking on a Napoleonic forum that they deliberately set out to make the British look bad... terrible website. Won’t spit on it.
Yeah, it doesn't have that good of reputation. Though I've never heard of them outright admitting bias against British. Did it really happen ?

It is ridiculous to what extent some Napoleon fans go to paint British as ,, real bad guys '' and ,, Evil Empire ''. While claiming that Napoleon was just a victim of evil neighbors.
 

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