Strongest military powers throughout history:A Timeline

Jan 2015
5,416
Ontario, Canada
#31
It was a strategic concern, sure, but one the Germans willingly undertook. While the French had a great deal of trouble in pushing the Germans out... there really is no way the Germans could have pushed the past the Marne, take Paris, defeat France, and then turn east. Germany was likely to run out of supplies regardless of what happened in the campaign. The fact that the Germans managed to occupy a large portion of northern France is irrelevant. The French gave 100% and stopped the Germans at the very limits of their attacks...

From there, while the French weren't able to push the Germans out, by the time that the stalemated war on the Western Front began, the war had progressed into a stage that the Germans could NEVER win. They simply had neither the manpower nor the resources to fight on 3 or 4 fronts and win over 4 years of fighting while deprived of all the resources of their colonies due to naval blockade. And that is where Germany MUST be held back.

And in many places, the French did lead the way or did hold an advantage. For example, the first cannon to actually have a feature to allow the gun to recoil without having have the crew reposition the gun was the French 75mm field gun. While the gun wasn't that great in the siege war that would come, on the Marne it was highly effective at dealing with troops in the open which the larger German siege guns COULDN'T deal with. The first army to put a steel helmet into service was the French Army with the Adrian Helmet in 1915... now the German Stalhelm may have been of better quality, the fact remains that the French were first. And while the British were the inventors of the tank, their tanks were essentially armored boxes that would have more in common with a WW2 assault gun than any post WW1 tank. The first tank to have a working turret and to set the pace for tank design for the foreseeable future were the French with the Renault FT 17.
Yes despite all of the obstacles and various problems, not least of which logistical ones, the Kaiser and Moltke still went through with an attack on Paris. Moltke however was feeling unsure about the whole endeavour but went through with it anyway.

I do believe that the French had aerial superiority and the Germans sometimes struggled to keep up.
Great run through at some of the French equipment developments and German strategic obstacles.
 
Jan 2015
5,416
Ontario, Canada
#32
In the previous page I accidentally said that Petain was replaced with Nivelle. I meant to say that Joseph Joffre would be replaced by Robert Nivelle in late 1916. Nivelle for his part was replaced by Philippe Petain in mid 1917.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,071
#33
You are right.. but Marne in 1914, the BEF played a major rol. Of course, it was not possible a victory without French Force.. but British Expeditionary Force played a Major role in Marne in 1914..so I would say it was a French-Britisih victory.. not only French.
In 1916, the British Army was awful... and neve had the quality they had in 1914... but in First Marne.. British Army played a Major Rol.
What the BEF did at the Marne was simply to stop retreating away from the French. It did very little fighting, and none of it crucial. It just happened to be positioned in the gap between 5th and 6th Army. There was no skill or art to the BEF's contribution at the time. Had the BEF been positioned somewhere else on the frontline, and some average French units taken their place the outcome would have been the same — except Joffre wouldn't have had to personally plead with John French to end the BEF's retreat and head back. The BEF still only appeared at the end of the battle, when Franchet d'Esperey was already putting as many men of the 5th Army he could spare into the gap in the German line, into which the BEF walked.

The BEF had been a constant problem for the Joffre up until the Marne, to the extent of detailing French units to screen it so he could get reasonably reliabe info about where it was and what it was doing. John French was walking around the French landscape, fighting his own little war and getting into trouble. For the French in 1914, the BEF was supposed to be located in a quite part of the line. The German plans served to ensure that was turned on its head, and he BEF ended up in the thick of it. Once there, for Joffre the task of stopping the Germans would have been facilitated if he had been able to switch the BEF out of the line and replace it with some French divisions.

That's not to say the BEF wasn't brilliant. The brilliant BEF moves however mostly consisted in not getting caught and destroyed by the Germans. Considering that was exactly what the French army was doing, it's unclear what the BEF supposedly contributed beyond that? Most of the time the BEF was getting itself into trouble by its own actions, from which it had to rescue itself by brilliant soldiering. Which certainly was a good thing, but could have been accmplished in much simpler ways. Which was what the French army was doing. It's just that what the BEF was doing in France in 1914, up until consenting to return to take part in the last stages of the Marne battle, ended up mostly unrelated to what the French were doing. The French were of course in the process of stopping the Germans.

By not being coordinated with the French army, that in itself pretty much ensured the BEF ended up not contributing much beyond a measure of uncertanity for the French. Would they stop and fight when there was no reason to, thus risking getting locked with the enemy, and destroyed? — Mons. Would they get caught in the open and hammered by the German artillery? — Le Catteau. Would they then refuse to take part in French attempts at stopping the Germans advance (due to actually being unable to after the pastings at Mons and le Catteau, as John French gave as the reason)? — Battle of Guise. Would they simply retreat away and head home for Blighty? — Who knew really, since the BEF ended up in retreat about half a days march ahead of the French army?

That last one was the serious question about the BEF at French GHQ in preparation for the Marne. Thus the percived need for Joffre to personally traipse around the landscape to fin Sir John French and make the case for the BEF actually joining the battle. There's some considerable overestimation of the BEF in 1914. Not so much of its qualities as a fighting force certainly, but of how much it actually managed to contribute to the French job of stopping the Germans.
 
Last edited:
Likes: Gvelion

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,071
#35
BEF were to small but in Marne played a great rol. Of course, French armies were decisive.. BEF was the 5% French Armies.
Its great achievement in 1914 was to not get caught and destroyed by the German armies. Due to the BEF's somewhat erratic behaviour it needed to do some brilliant soldiering to avoid that. Had they not been present, the French would still have won. That's the point.

The BEF could potentially have lost the campaign in 1914, by allowing themselves to be destroyed. Thankfully it avoided that, allowing the French to stop the Germans on the Marne. It provided the French with no particular feats of arms to defeat the Germans beyond that.
 
Mar 2013
1,441
Escandinavia y Mesopotamia
#36
Byzantine was continuously crumbling under the weight of Turks. It lasted so long due to the walls of Constantinople and the Ottoman invasion of Timur. Both were lucky elements if not for those 2 it would have wilted right after the Macedonian dynasty.
This is not correct. Had you written “right after Komnenos Dynasty” instead of “right after the Macedonian Dynasty” your post would have made sense.

After the end of the Macedonian Dynasty the Byzantine Empire did not run into a gradual disintegration because of the Turks as you are suggesting. They actually beat the Turks and experienced the golden age of Komnenians which is considered to be the second best dynasty after the Macedonian Dynasty after the Middle East was lost to the Arabs in the 600’s.

It was first with the Crusaders’ sack of Constantinople in 1204-05 that gave the blow to the Byzantine Empire to disintegrate, and then here it would make sense to say that Timur Lenk’s invasion and the walls of Constantinople made Byzantium to last a bit longer. But the Byzantine Empire did not disintegrate after the end of Macedonian Dynasty. They actually experienced another 100 years of resurgence under the Komnenos rulers. It was after the Komnenos Dynasty that they disintegrated slowly.

Try eventual to search after "Komnenian Restoration".
 
Apr 2016
900
Netherlands
#38
it is less a tendency to underestimate than lack of Knowledge.

My vote goes for

Ancient - Han
Pre-Medieval - Francia
Medieval - England/France
Pike and shot- Sweden/HRE
Age Of discovery - Spain/HRE
Napoleonic- Britain/France
Pre-WW1 - Prussia
WW1 - German Empire/France/Britain
1939 - Germany
1940 - Germany
1941- Germany
1942- Germany
1943- Germany/Soviet Union
1944- Germany/SU/USA
1945 - SU/USA
Cold war 45-50 - SU
Cold war 50-60 -SU/NATO
Cold war 60-70 -Warsaw/Nato
Cold war 70-80- Warsaw/Nato
Cold war 80-90- Warsaw/Nato
Modern - USA
I wouldn't put SU above USA ever post 1945, the SU would have never won an engagement with the USA because of their nuclear supremacy.

ALso their general military was far superior to the Soviets (navies and air force don't even compare). The only advantage the SU had was their superior numbers in Europe immediately post WW2.
 
Nov 2014
930
USA
#40
This is not correct. Had you written “right after Komnenos Dynasty” instead of “right after the Macedonian Dynasty” your post would have made sense.

After the end of the Macedonian Dynasty the Byzantine Empire did not run into a gradual disintegration because of the Turks as you are suggesting. They actually beat the Turks and experienced the golden age of Komnenians which is considered to be the second best dynasty after the Macedonian Dynasty after the Middle East was lost to the Arabs in the 600’s.

It was first with the Crusaders’ sack of Constantinople in 1204-05 that gave the blow to the Byzantine Empire to disintegrate, and then here it would make sense to say that Timur Lenk’s invasion and the walls of Constantinople made Byzantium to last a bit longer. But the Byzantine Empire did not disintegrate after the end of Macedonian Dynasty. They actually experienced another 100 years of resurgence under the Komnenos rulers. It was after the Komnenos Dynasty that they disintegrated slowly.

Try eventual to search after "Komnenian Restoration".
You are correct in your assessment of that situation.

The Macedonian empire was actually the Greek Empire of the ancient times dominated by the Macedonian Greeks, while the Byzantine Empire, justifiably called as such by later historians to differentiate it from the Roman Empire, was the Greek Empire of the Middle ages.
You are also correct, the Byzantines beat the Seljuk Turks in more battles especially during the Comnenian dynasty than the other way around.
The destruction actually came not from the Turks, but from the Latins of the West in 1204 by the 4th crusade.
After that three weak kingdoms were set up and by the time the Ottoman Turks showed up in the area in 1299 there wasn't really any Byzantine Empire any more, the so called Empire of Nicaea that assumed the name wasn't really an empire but just a weak kingdom at that time.
It was easy for the Ottomans to conquer all three descendant kingdoms eventually.
 

Similar History Discussions