Talk:Military history of France

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History of French Navy[edit]

History of the French Navy section is currently very incomplete. Unless your motives strive for completeness, do not insert isolated, biased changed which will probably not be followed up on.I may expand the section later, but at this point I do not know when.UberCryxic 04:02, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Even if a section is incomplete, that should not be a motive of inaccuracy.And when accurate information is added it should not be dismissed as "bias".
A sentence like;
>>French Navy was well financed and equipped, managing to resoundingly defeat a combined Spanish-Dutch fleet at the Battle of Palermo<<
It makes it seem that the French defeated the Hispano-Dutch fleet in open combat, winning because they were better equied and perhaps trained.Nevertheless fact is that the French attacked the enemy fleet while she was making repairs and did this with fireships.It also makes it seem as if the French won the Franco-Dutch war.Which they didn't.
Then there's;
>> It also scored several early victories in the Nine Years War against the Royal Navy and the Dutch Navy. <<
It says several, yet it was only 1 victory, could you explain how 1 equals several?!
Another one,
>> Financial troubles, however, forced the navy back to port and allowed the English and the Dutch to regain the initiative. <<
Which is blatantly false.Bad decisions by the French king and his admirals led to the Dutch and English gaining initiative, which in turn led to financial troubles.Quite different.
And of finally;
>> and obliterated the Chinese navy at the Battle of Foochow in 1884.<<
Where I added "inferior" to the chinese navy which I think is accurate when steamships attack of force consisting mainly of wooden ships to call it even.

Rex Germanus Tesi samanunga is edele unde scona 15:38, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

I have done a bit of rephrasing, but I want to talk about a few points that you raised.

First, the Franco-Dutch War was mostly a French victory. The French overran the United Provinces early in the war, and even though they were forced back, they managed to keep their conquests in the Franche-Comte. The Dutch scored some crucial strategic victories at sea, but apart from these the French dominated militarily. At the very least, France came out better in this war than the other powers.

Second, the French did score several naval victories in the Nine Years War. Beachy Head, Barfleur-La Hogue (tactical), Battle of Lagos, and several other minor actions. Furthermore, they also did run out of money. The French maintained a huge army at this point (I believe something like 400,000 at the height of the Nine Years War; such numbers were unseen in Western Europe since Roman times, so you can imagine how it would drain the budget). These financial constraints forced an end to large-scale naval operations. The falsehoods are on your part. Do not involve me in your shortcomings.

The problem I have with your additions is that they are not being done to "complete" the article, but rather to satisfy an agenda. For example, you mention the inferiority of the Chinese navy, which is certainly correct, but why not mention the inferiority of all other losing armies and navies when it is appropriate? In the descriptions for the French colonial empire, for example, there is no mention about the blatant inferiority of many French opponents, particularly in technology. This article is meant as an overview; it is not supposed to detail every little fact, but that is especially true when the motivations are a bit tainted.UberCryxic 01:48, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

Finally, I want to say that I am not looking for a fight. I am in a particularly good mood because the World Cup is just over 60 hours away. Like many others across the globe, I desperately wait for this moment for four long years, and I do not want it spoiled by a useless edit war. Unless, of course, either the Brazilians or the Dutch win. Then I'd be happy as happy can be (they're my two favorite teams).UberCryxic 01:50, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

The french ran out of money because of enemy naval blockades, the chinese navy was inferior (thanks for admitting that) and the 2 battles you list do not exist or seem to be French defeats in earlier wars.

One more thing, you claim you are not looking for a fight yet you try to make as much "minor personal attacks" as possible. I just want to remind you where that got you last time UberCryxic, I'm sure you don't want to create another archive to hide your apologies so soon again. Rex Germanus Tesi samanunga is edele unde scona 12:39, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

The battles do exist of course, Battle of Beachy Head (1690), Battles of Barfleur and La Hougue, and this particular "Battle of Lagos" took place in 1693, wikipedia doesn't seem to have an entry about that one though it's mentionned in various place, for instance Anne Hilarion de Tourville. Equendil Talk 16:36, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

The battles might exist, but this is no excuse whatsoever to leave out vital and accurate information to make the History of the French navy seem more glorious than it truly is. Rex Germanus Tesi samanunga is edele unde scona 20:05, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

  • "Laying in repair" is anything but vital information, similar additions could be made for pretty much any battle, there are always reasons battles are lost: "outnumbered", "caught by surprise", "exhausted troops" etc, this belongs to detailed articles not short overviews.
  • Replacing "several victories" with "one more early victory" is not accurate, UberCryxic cited the battles, you claimed they didn't happen, it's flat out wrong, what now ? Equendil Talk 20:46, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

I agree with Uber. The French won some naval battles in the Nine Years War, and they also did very well on land.68.163.73.50 21:31, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

First of all, do not tamper with my posts. I fully understand that you meant well, and I do appreciate that, but I'm quickly gleaning from this argument that you are not familiar with the history at all. Anyone with a passing familiarity of military events in the Nine Years War should have heard about the Battle of Lagos (1693), which was one of the most famous naval victories in the history of French warfare. Tourville intercepted an Anglo-Dutch convoy, routed Rooke's guarding squadron, and destroyed about 100 out of 400 Allied ships. La Hogue was a strategic disaster from the French perspective, but in the immediate fighting they acquitted themselves fairly nicely. Anyway, right away we can establish that the following statement is biased, "It scored one more early victory....." That's just simply not true, so stop putting it in. On top of these battles, there were also several minor actions in which the French came out ahead. Unless you define what you mean by victory here in the talk page, do not waste my time just 48 hours before the World Cup starts. All I need is to deal with crap like this from people who probably haven't a read a single thing about the Nine Years War. I realize I'm being harsh, but by this point you more than deserve it. And if you also must know, the French navy had great success at the end of the war too, especially when they captured Barcelona in August 1697.

Your second blatantly incorrect and biased statement is this: "..led to a number of tactical and strategic victories which allowed the English and the Dutch to regain the initiative and end the war in their favour." Newsflash: Ryswick simply restored the status quo. The French had to give up some territories gained since 1679 (particular reference to the War of the Reunions), but mostly no one came out ahead in this war. Some lost a little, but they also gained a little, both territorially and politically. France, for example, was compensated with some colonial territories. Militarily, however, the French dominated on the continent. Here's a passing look at the major land engagements in the Nine Years War on the European continent involving the French:

-Battle of Walcourt (1689): Anglo-Dutch victory

and now get ready cuz this next part is monotonous....

-Battle of Fleurus (1690): Decisive French victory

-Battle of Staffarda (1690): French victory

-Fall of Mons (1691): French victory

-Battle of Leuze (1691): French victory

-Siege of Namur (1692): French victory

-Battle of Steenkerke (1692): French victory

-Battle of Landen (1693): French victory

-Battle of Marsaglia (1693): French victory

-Siege of Namur (1695): Dutch victory

-Dutch Offensives (1696): French victory

I want you to know that I am not being selective here. For years under the great Marshal Luxembourg, the French simply kicked the crap out of the English and the Dutch. They went undefeated on land for six years after the initial setback at Walcourt. Only lack of pursuit on the part of the French saved the United Provinces, because otherwise Europe was simply treated to the ferocious military machine that Louis XIV and his astute ministers had constructed. Europeans were so impressed by the French system at this time that they just started to copy France. France introduced national uniforms, other nations followed. France did this or that, and other nations followed.

The main point in this brouhaha is that you almost have no credibility left. It does not appear that you actually know what happened in the Nine Years War. I could be wrong, but I'm basing my assertion simply on your statements, which have been nothing but appalling and inaccurate.UberCryxic 02:51, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

One last thing. I noticed the use of the word "nationalist" in describing our edits. Diplomatic language may not be one of your abilities, but this is still quite inane terminology. I cannot speak for Equendil, who is actually French, but I have no real connection to France. As I've said before, I've never even been to France. The nation that I love first and foremost is Albania, my birthland, and any other insinuation is merely an insult, and one which does hurt. Do not let our disagreements, which are about history, cloud your judgments. You don't have to politicize anything here; it won't get you anywhere.UberCryxic 03:03, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

>>:*"Laying in repair" is anything but vital information, similar additions could be made for pretty much any battle, there are always reasons battles are lost: "outnumbered", "caught by surprise", "exhausted troops" etc, this belongs to detailed articles not short overviews.<<

In that case you're hypocritical as these sentences weren't reverted;

managing to resoundingly defeat a combined Spanish-Dutch fleet --> defeated a Spanish-Dutch fleet Financial difficulties, however, allowed the English and the Dutch to regain the initiative at sea. --> However the English and Dutch regained initiative.

However, in a very impressive effort, a more numerical French fleet under de Grasse managed to defeat an English fleet at the Battle of the Chesapeake which ended in a tactical draw --> However a French fleet under de Grasse managed to engage an English fleet at the Battle of the Chesapeake which ended in a tactical draw

Beyond that, and Suffren's impressive campaigns against the British in India --> Beyond that, and Suffren's campaigns against the British in India

and obliterated the Chinese navy at the Battle of Foochow in 1884 --> of 1838 and defeated the Chinese navy at the Battle of Foochow in 1884


>>:*Replacing "several victories" with "one more early victory" is not accurate, UberCryxic cited the battles, you claimed they didn't happen, it's flat out wrong, what now ? <<

Is it? Several early victories.Several means more than 1.But it doesn't quite cover just 2 early victories, that's flat out wrong, what now?

Then there's my good friend UberCryxic, our discussions go way back don't they? The nine years war of course wasn't a solely naval war, not by far.Yet this section is about the French navy, why bother with the land?

And another, perhaps more vital thing, and I'll but it very bluntly: You'd better cut the crap on inserting small offensive sentences like these;

  • The main point in this brouhaha is that you almost have no credibility left.
  • It does not appear that you actually know what happened
  • Your second blatantly incorrect and biased statement
  • I'm quickly gleaning from this argument that you are not familiar with the history at all

or I'll issue a WP:PA claim. Rex Germanus Tesi samanunga is edele unde scona 18:02, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

You called me a nationalist, implicitly a French one. That's pretty big on the insult hierarchy. Ever think that I love my nation and that I'm just interested in French military history? Furthermore, in our earlier conversations we both committed very blatant personal attacks. Just to refresh everyone's memory on what you said about me (btw, I also said bad things about Rex):

"Ironic that you should make such a remark, you being a non-French French nationalist"

"I'm not warning you to make a public fool of yourself, I'm sure you're perfectly capable of doing that yourself"

"just a little a slap in the face to remind your ego who you are."

...and a continuing refusal for reconciliation on your part despite my best (and sincere, despite your thoughts) attempts. I should also add that cases reported to WP:PAIN are generally very severe, often involving highly deluded individuals with a penchant for cussing and wild accusations. At best, our personal attacks are humorous jibes revealing our frustration with one another. Furthemore, the following is not a personal attack: "Your second blatantly incorrect and biased statement." I am attacking your statement, not you. Anyway, let's get on with business.

I will explicitly say it again: the French had more than two victories in the early phases of the Nine Years War. The battles I mentioned were in 1690, 1692, and 1693. The Nine Years War ended in 1697. I think the term "early" applies fairly well. Once again, you have to define what you mean by "victories." Are you talking about large-scale actions or other naval operations as well? My commentary leaves it wide open, but it does not appear that you have made an effort to actually provide a definition of victory that we can use to specify a certain number of battles that the French won or lost.

Why bother with the land operations? Because of this comment: "regain the initiative and end the war in their favour." That is a false and misleading statement. The naval phase had generally gone for the Dutch and English by the end of the struggle (though not completely, as I mentioned with the French victories in the Mediterranean during the end of the conflict), but not the war, which is what this comment says. You talk about the French navy but your description here involves the entire war.UberCryxic 02:32, 9 June 2006 (UTC)


>>Furthemore, the following is not a personal attack: "Your second blatantly incorrect and biased statement." I am attacking your statement, not you. Anyway, let's get on with business. <<

Calling me biased isn't a WP:PA?

End of Nine years war for France

  • France surrendered Freiburg, Breisach and Philippsburg to the Holy Roman Empire,
  • Regained Pondicherry, after paying the Dutch a sum of 16,000 pagodas.
  • Had to give Catalonia, and the barrier fortresses of Mons, Luxembourg and Kortrijk to Spain.
  • The Duchy of Lorraine, which for many years had been in the possession of France, was restored to Leopold Joseph, a son of Charles IV, Duke of Lorraine
  • The Dutch were to be allowed to garrison some of the chief fortresses in the Spanish Netherlands, including Namur and Ypres.
  • Louis had to recognize William III as king of England, and promised to give no further assistance to James II of England
  • He abandoned his interference in the electorate of Cologne and also the claim which he had put forward to some of the lands of the Electoral Palatinate.

What a great result for France. The Dutch and English however had lost little to nothing, in fact they only gained.And that's what I meant with "regain the initiative and end the war in their favour."

Rex Germanus Tesi samanunga is edele unde scona 12:00, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

The gain of Sainte-Domingue, which you did not mention, outdid all of those things in your list. Sainte-Domingue became a very prosperous French colony, eventually providing something like 2/5 of the world's sugar and being home to several modern-day equivalents of multi-millionaires. Even at the end of the Seven Years War, when the British had won in all colonial theaters, French diplomats were extremely relieved that Sainte-Domingue would remain French because, in reality, it was the most profitable colony of France. More profitable even than all French territory in North America! There is no question that gaining Sainte-Domingue outweighed all of those losses in the long run. Let me give you a cultural idea about how important Sainte-Domingue was....in 1700, sugar in Europe was considered a luxury. By 1800, mostly through the efforts of slaves in Sainte-Domingue, it had become a common commodity. Ultimately, you have no argument here at all. France gave up her conquests in the War of the Reunions (1683-1684), but she was compensated, so it's disengenuous to say the war ended in favor of England and the United Provinces. The War of the Spanish Succession was the only struggle led by Louis XIV in which France could be said to have come behind another power, namely Britain. Otherwise, all those wars were either French victories or draws. The Nine Years War is best classified as the latter.UberCryxic 12:21, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

Oh UberCryxic, don't lie. Rex Germanus Tesi samanunga is edele unde scona 16:27, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

Pardon me?

Whatever....did you see the game earlier today? That was freaking awesome! Props to Robben for the goal, and Holland played spectacularly. Serbia is one of those teams that can only be beaten 1-0 anyway, so the low scoreline didn't bother me. The Dutch will go far if they keep playing like that.UberCryxic 18:12, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

Holland is an archaic Dutch province.The team opposing the Dutch national team was that of the former country of Serbia Montenegro, not Serbia. Furthermore, I don't know if this is common in Albanian culture, or if it's just a personal trait of your own, but I quite honestly do not understand what you try to accomplish with these kind of off topic messages.

My reply was aimed at the fact that the war did not end in a French victory, and that in fact of all participants the Dutch republic, and United Kingdom came out best.And you give me a how happy the French were to be allowed to keep an island which produced sugar (Which says something about the atmosphere during negotiations). Rex Germanus Tesi samanunga is edele unde scona 19:11, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

Well I'd hesitate to judge too much since I don't know you, but experience has shown that you don't seem to be a very friendly fellow. I'm just going to stop trying to get on your good side.

Since we're being annoying and corrective, there was no such thing as the United Kingdom in 1697. What you meant was England, which did not come out ahead in this struggle, and neither did the Dutch. Your dismissive comments about Sainte-Domingue completely miss the fundamental importance of the island, which was a huge French strategic asset throughout the eighteenth century. Again, by itself it was far more important than the fortresses and towns which France gave up in 1697.UberCryxic 21:27, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

Nuclear capabilities[edit]

What does it mean to say that their nuclear capabilities "are being restructured to rapidly deal with emerging threats". Sounds like foreign-policy babble to me. savidan(talk) (e@) 19:17, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

It probably should be clarified, but it refers to how the French have eliminated their ground force nuclear capabilities and moved their warheads to submarines. In the Cold War, French nuclear ground systems were supposed to stop a Soviet thrust through West Germany. After the end of that threat, however, the French developed naval nuclear forces to be able to strike at distant targets, like rogue states.UberCryxic 01:48, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

Renaissance[edit]

The French Renaissance and the beginning of the Ancien Régime, normally marked by the reign of Francis I, saw the nation become far more unified under the monarch. The power of the nobles was diminished as a national army was created.

This is a bit odd for a number of reasons. In the first place, in military history, surely the history of modern France begins with Charles VIII's invasion of Italy in 1494?

Beyond that, the article seems a abit down on the whole early modern period. Why on earth do the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars each get as much space as the entire period between 1500 and 1789? What justifiable basis does that have? Beyond that, why are non-French military leaders like Marlborough and Prince Eugene mentioned (even if only in a caption), but not the great French military leaders of the previous generation, Condé and Turenne, who were, at a time not too far removed from our own, considered iconic figures, behind only Napoleon in the French military pantheon? Why no mention of the Fronde? john k 12:14, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Oh boy! Yeah there have been some questions, and I suppose one could say "problems," regarding what was included in this article and what was not. To put it bluntly: every single person reading this article will have some issue here or there. During FAC, someone suggested that this article should mention the Franco-Polish alliance preceding World War II. There have been a myriad of other exhortations, some implemented, others not. At this point, the article is extremely long, so I would be very hesitant to add material. Turenne was a legend yes, and if you would like to add info about him, then maybe you could put a picture up with a verbose caption?
The Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras received so much attention because, quite simply, they changed warfare forever and laid the foundations for modern conflict, mostly organizationally and professionally at command levels. No one nation had ever dominated Europe as thoroughly as Napoleon's France up to that time, and the reasons for why that occurred most definitely deserve a lot of coverage. Military literature reflects this; there is an exorbitant focus, perhaps too much, on the French Revolutionary Wars and especially the Napoleonic Wars. Whether you or I agree with that coverage is irrelevant, but nonetheless it is there. In French military history, 1792-1815 is matched only by 1914-1918, and to a lesser extent 1667-1714, in awe and respect.UberCryxic 22:34, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree that 1792-1815 deserves more treatment than any other period of the same length, but the current system, where there are essentially segments of the same length for 1) 1515-1792; 2) 1792-1799; and 3) 1799-1815, seems somewhat excessive. I don't particularly see why the French Revolution and Napoleon each need their own section, and it seems ridiculous to have one section for the entirety of the early modern period, which encompasses a whole lot more variety than the revolutionary/napoleonic period does. Moreover, I think that your assumption that the Revolutionary and Napoleonic period was that unique is flawed. The French armies of this period were certainly larger than early armies as a result of the levée en masse, and there were certainly some organizational innovations with the development of the division and the corps, but the idea that the fighting of the French Revolutionary Wars was distinctly different from the fighting of the Austrian Succession or the Seven Years War, or even, really, the War of the Spanish Succession, seems flawed to me. Naval warfare was practically identical, there had been no innovations in transportation or supply, and, to be honest, Louis XIV's armies were pretty huge in the War of the Spanish Succession. Changes in the 16th and 17th centuries, and during the 19th century (after 1815) seem much more significant to me. Marlborough or Turenne could have read an account of Napoleon's campaigns and understood what he was doing. Marlborough and Turenne would have been incomprehensible to Charles the Victorious, or even Francis I; and World War I would have been incomprehensible to Napoleon (hell, it was nearly incomprehensible to Joffre...). I don't buy the unique importance of the Napoleonic era, and I certainly don't buy it being so important as to require two whole sections, and twice as much space as the whole early modern period. I'm not denying that the Revolutionary/Napoleonic period saw a lot of innovations, and the current article does a very good job of discussing the changes that did occur in warfare over this period, but this comes at the expense of the discussion of the ancien régime, which gives no detail at all on technical and tactical innovations, just a very hurried chronological survey. There's been a lot written on early modern military history in the last few decades, and this article manages to convey practically none of it, and doesn't even mention two of France's greatest military heroes from this period or France's last major civil war. This seems indefensible to me.
I read the FAC page on this article, and I know there was a lot of "my favorite thing isn't here"-ing going on, and I suppose my first post did seem like that. But on looking at the article further, I really do think that there's a considerable lack of discussion of the early modern period (which should really be called as such, and not as "ancien régime," btw), and a neglect of major issues in this period. john k 20:53, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

First, some corrections. Divisions were first used by the French during the Seven Years War, not the Revolutionary Wars. Also, the statements about Marlborough and Turenne are, at best, ridiculous. Marlborough fought 30 sieges and 4 set-piece battles in his military career, a sharp contrast to what commanders in the Napoleonic Era would face. The 1805 campaign was revolutionary; the French hurled 200,000 men through Germany, bypassing the major forts (something Marlborough or Turenne could not have thought about doing, much less actually do it) and surrounding the Austrians in the Ulm Maneuver. The article itself describes it well; the sociopolitical changes of the Revolution led to completely new strategic opportunities. In the eighteenth century, no major European capital was ever occupied. In 1805, the French took Vienna after a few months of light fighting and furious marching. Seems very notable to me, and military literature agress.

Overall, however, I can't help but agree that some more information could be included about the Ancien Regime and the Middle Ages...and also the Modern Period. As long as the article doesn't lose its current structure and categorization, I'll give you free reign to make any additions you see fit. I just ask that you don't go way overboard. Thank you!UberCryxic 19:29, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

Two things. First: The formation Broglie experimented with during the Seven Years War was not divisions, but divisions would be developed from them. Second: The importance of the military history of the ancien regime can be said to be even more important than the Revolutionary or the Napoleonic. It created the standing army and the first defence ministry, which started the governments absolute control over the armed forces, something that would shape the world for over 300 years and is only beginning to falter today with al-Qaeda and Hezbollah. The argument is similar to one which invention is more important for a car: the wheel or the engine.Carl Logan 20:04, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

They were not permanent divisions, but they were divisions nonetheless (composed of two brigades). Anything above the regimental level for typical eighteenth century armies did not last long, although later on the French actually did institute semi-permanent divisions. The Ancien Regime under Charles VII "pioneered" the first standing army in the West since Roman times, and this is actually mentioned in the article. I'll agree that generally the centuries preceding Napoleon were collectively far more important than the Revolutionary and the Napoleonic wars, but once again the literature in French military history often focuses on those 23 tumultuous years....mostly the Anglophone literature. Francophone literature is obviously more balanced.UberCryxic 01:14, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
It may not be on the French specifically, but there's a ton of literature out there on early modern military history, especially on the idea of a "military revolution" in this period. Geoffrey Parker and Jeremy Black come to mind as having written on the subject. There's a fair number of recent books on specific conflicts, as well - a book by John Lynn on the Wars of Louis XIV and a couple of recent books on the War of the Austrian Succession, notably. There've also been recent fairly recent studies of the Thirty Years War. john k 02:01, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Yes there is a ton of literature, but generally in the English-speaking world it has not received as much attention as Napoleon's campaigns. This is something to be decried, of course, but that's the way it is. Anyway, I am agreeing with you that earlier periods deserve more mention and are collectively far more important than the 'golden 23' if you will.UberCryxic 03:45, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

I'll try to work on it, but unfortunately I'm not in a good place to do it at the moment - away from all my books and my library, and such, until November at least. Possibly won't be able to take a swing at it until then. john k 22:08, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

anglo-american myth not history[edit]

do you really think this article is neutral? this is a collection, of negative points of view. actually it could be merged with the francophobia article. this article is a pathetic anglo-american view of the arch ennemy not an encyclopedic article. do you really think that terms like "humiliated" and "poor commanders" are neutral and encyclopedic? weren't the US humiliated in Vietnam and Cuba (and soon in Irak with the UK too, what said this British General the other day?) so why using it? You seems to forget that the old good British - who were responsible for the Belgians according to traity - were defeated with the French (and the fighting Belgians who moved to the west after King Leopold's betrayal) at the Battle of France. Featured article? what a joke! The Military History of United Kingdom is a simple list so why this foreign country's history is an argumented article? It's just like reading the North Korean version of the Miitary history of the US. Honnit Soit Qui Mal Y Pense 15:17, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

Yikes! I apologize if the article struck a nerve. I am the author and you should probably know that I am neither English or American. I tried to be as neutral as I possibly could in writing this article, but please understand that it was difficult under current circumstances. There have been some arguing the same thing you are now, but there have also been others who have said this article is too pro-French. My personal impression is that it does a good job at capturing the vast and exciting drama that is French military history. The use of the word "humiliated" was explained in the second archive - the French felt humiliated, so I thought the word was appropriate.
There are many nations that have military history articles with significant prose. Look at Military history of Canada or Military history of the Soviet Union. Those are both featured.UberCryxic 17:23, 18 October 2006 (UTC)
Well, well, that's a change from being accused of pro-french nationalism, isn't it ? :) Equendil Talk 16:03, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Haha yes....and a welcomed change, I guess.UberCryxic 16:17, 19 October 2006 (UTC)


"humiliated" and "poor commanders" seems fine to me (I'm French).
For once I hadn't to read that France surrendered in WWII although France signed an armistice with Germany (the difference may have been little in the facts but in an encyclopedia we're supposed to be given correct facts). BTW the French defeat in the battle of France of WWII was above all strategical, despite all the shortcomings of the French army/mindset of that time.
However some details have drawn my attention. It is said that France was defeated in Mexico and in Algeria, but these were political failures, not military ones. the way it is said gives the wrong impression. In these 2 wars France was victorious on the battlefield but waived its will to dominate/interfere in these lands.
Have a nice day.
waggg 14:28, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Algeria was a political failure, yes, but Mexico in the 1860s devolved fairly quickly after initial French triumphs. That was lost both militarily and politically.UberCryxic 16:34, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Surrender, again[edit]

So I went back to the surrender discussion in the archives and read it. Here are my thoughts on this issue:

I've always loathed the notion that France is a huge loser when it comes to war. As someone pointed out, it was once the most powerful nation in the world. It's really a creation of modern American Francophobia and an inflation of France's actions in one very important war. BUT.. it's worth bringing up here, I think. When I hear "military history of France," I automatically think of humiliation, defeat, and surrender. It's a common stereotype nowadays. I think the article should have something about this and say, "This conception is not supported by the facts and may be considered an offspring of recent events.." or something less POV. Maybe one sentence could be written into the opening paragraph and a link to another article could be provided. But I think it's worth getting out of the way before diving into the history. Brutannica 06:09, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Surely Henry V has something to do with it - the way the French leaders are portrayed there is pretty much an archetype for the generic "mocking French military leaders" that has followed. I think there's a longer pedigree for mockery of the French military, although, as I suggested before, the traditional way to mock them is for over-confidence and over-aggressiveness. This image has been incorporated, I think, into the more recent stereotype of the French as chronic surrenderers. john k 12:15, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Hey Brut, it's nice that you think that, but most of the world does not. One of the many problems with this issue is highlighted in your own comments: this is primarily an "American thing" that doesn't really hold sway in other places (jokes are made in other Anglophone nations, but they are just that, jokes....they're not really quasi-serious perceptions like here in America). I, for example, grew up in Albania and never heard any jokes about the French military. Wikipedia articles are supposed to be written from a global perspective. I hope you can see where the troubles lie in that regard. Another important point was just made by John. The French military has also been stereotyped for incredible bravery and foolishness in war (the French 'elan' and 'cran' preceding World War I stand out). How do you reconcile these two opposing stereotypes? And this is not just a problem with the French. Other peoples and nations have also been ridiculed in this regard. Hell, the French have ridiculed others in the same way that Americans have made fun of them recently. It's just a really tricky matter, and overall it is completely irrelevant to the actual history, so why bother with it at all?UberCryxic 18:55, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

France did had some bad commanders but had also some genious: Du Guesclin, Richemont, Turenne, Condé, Vendome, Luxembourg, Villars, Maurice de Saxe, Kleber, Hoche, Moreau, Napoleon bonaparte, Massena, Lannes, Davout, Canrobert, Saint-arnaud, Pelissier, Petain (of WW I), Franchet d'esperey, Gallieni, Castelnau, Leclerc, Juin, monsabert, Bethouart, De Lattre de Tassigny... we often talk about 1940 (and there we can really see very bad generals) but why always talk about france ? All continental europe was defeated by germany. The soviet union indeed won at last but look at the cost: 20 millions dead ! The Western allies were composed of american, british, french, canadian and polish forces (and also australians or other) and all those army togethernever fought against more than 30 % of the german army, and despite this the victory was all but easy... And in 1940, it was not 30 % of the german army that invaded france, but 80 %. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 90.50.10.249 (talk) 13:46, 3 August 2008 (UTC)


stereotypes are the way of thinking for ignorant and perfidious roastbeefs that never accepted to get their arse kicked by the french in the most important war ever the 100 hundred years war, the rest is peanuts. or maybe was it because the french humiliated them at yorktown and saved the ungrateful yanks. or maybe was it because the french speaking normands defeated the roastbeefs and introduced the french language in their country of savages. or maybe this is just because the french are catholics and the roastbeefs are protestants. the most funny is the yanks are regarded in france as "over-confident" and "over-aggressive" in vietnam, cuba and now irak... but surprisingly "under-confident" and "under-aggressive" with USSR, china and north korea... really funny indeed. Shame On You 06:09, 3 March 2007 (UTC)
Um... getting back to UberCryxic's point, I still think it's important to note stereotypes and common perceptions in places like this. Even if we say "this is an Anglo-American perception mainly and is rooted in a long history of antagonism" it would still be helpful. And I know the stereotypes are kind of contradictory, but as far as I know Americans think of France mostly in light of World War II while the British have a longer experience with it. So the difference might be a national one; seeing as how the British basically conceded defeat in the Battle of France I can see them not wanting to play up that whole affair. Americans also have a perception of French as being snooty, fussy intellectuals and I can see how the cowardice thing would fit well with that.

I'm unsure how prevalent this stereotype is; it's probably mostly just among the uneducated. I won't add anything, though; I'll wait for a consensus. Brutannica 21:53, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

With note to this section and the one above i have one thing to say. Slightly disgusted. I think its quite rich for there to accusations of stereotyping and francophobia when many of these posts respond with little more than Anglophobia. Lets face it, the French military, much like any military has had its ups and downs, and the WW2 capitulation has become an on-going black mark on French histoy, but on the other hand much of the research i've done about the hundred years war reveals that although French troops were often motivated, well-trained and disciplined soldiers/sailors they were often let down by poor or weak military leaders (except perhaps a bright few and Napoleon). 122.148.142.131 (talk) 11:21, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

Common senses and stereotypes are not to be taken as serious stuff, that's all. And if France was always surrending as suggests the most known stereotypes in english spoken countries, how would be possible this country still exists today ?

French military linguistic influence[edit]

Hi UberCryxic, you could even add some more :

soldier, general, army, garrison, regiment, epaulet.

Division seems to be another one.

Even warrior : 1297, from Old North French werreieor (O.Fr. guerreor) "a warrior, one who wages war," from werreier "wage war," from werre (see war).

Maybe even "war" since it came from : late O.E. (c.1050), wyrre, werre, from Old North French werre "war".

Of course, you could even add more but they are originally Italian words taken by the French so I guess it doesn't count.

You can verify all the given words here : http://www.etymonline.com

waggg 13:37, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

Well, we could go on for a long time recounting military words that the English adopted from the French. I think the current list is appropriate enough, but you're more than welcome to add other words if you want.UberCryxic 04:41, 9 January 2007 (UTC)
Welcome to add them to the article ? OK, I'll put the first 6 words, then.
waggg 13:57, 10 January 2007 (UTC)

lacks the Battle of Gergovia[edit]

as much important as the battle of alesia except this one was won by vercingetorix. should be added. Cliché Online 17:06, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

There are many battles during that campaign that were not covered. Perhaps Gergovia should be covered since it was Caesar's first major military defeat. That fact alone makes it important, even though it didn't impact the larger outcome. If you want to incorporate yourself, go right ahead.UberCryxic 20:52, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

german agression[edit]

nothing about the famous battle of Jena (bataille de Iéna) that was led against france by the german empress Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz ? :( Shame On You 06:55, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

The Prussians at the Battle of Jena were not led by Queen Louisa, although she was a vocal political opponent of Napoleon. This article is supposed to be a general summary of the subject; specific battles should be avoided unless they indicate forward movements in military practice or unless they heralded new geostrategic environments, among other important reasons.UberCryxic 17:12, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Histoire militaire de la France[edit]

The article Histoire militaire de la France is freely inspired by this article. So I'll would like to thanks everyone you worked on it. It don't seem it'll become a featured article on the french wikipedia but if there are any french/english translators, they can found some interresting stuff. ThrillSeeker 01:25, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

I'm glad I could be of assistance. The French version is really long! Good job.UberCryxic 02:52, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

extra chapter (1945): french vs japanese in french indochina :)[edit]

this story is mostly unknown in france. i was lucky to find this:

  • a popular myth is french indochina was gave back to france thanks to the british (the british myth as ever - another is in suez 1956 the british were alone...) here is an archive form 1945 showing the french colonial forces training in french algeria in view to free the french indochina from the japanese invaders!! more infos are needed in order to draw the true story of the 1945 events. archive video Shame On You 18:25, 12 May 2007 (UTC)

a load of good quality french military PD pictures for wiki[edit]

check this! and type "FRENCH" as search. Shame On You 04:46, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

Problematic sentence[edit]

In Napoleonic France:

"Defeat for a European power now meant much more than losing isolated enclaves; near-Carthaginian peaces intertwined whole national efforts, sociopolitical, economic, and militaristic, into gargantuan collisions that severely upset international conventions as understood at the time."

I hesitate to rewrite it, but think it needs attention. Mcewan (talk) 07:22, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Request: Military uniforms[edit]

French military uniforms seem to have had some signifigance in European military history (and possibly Japanese military history). ~ R.T.G 17:07, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

An interresting link about the French military uniforms influence over the American ones : [1], [2].DITWIN GRIM (talk) 16:11, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

fourth coalition[edit]

i've added the fourth coalition episode in the intro, because it was there that the french-german enmity became serious. the french kicked the prussian asses then they occupied their land, then came 1870, and 1918 and 1940 and 1945. and voilà. Cliché Online (talk) 08:48, 18 February 2010 (UTC)

Battle of hastings?[edit]

Why is that even mentioned on the military history of France? Normandy wasn't even part of France then, France technically didn't even exist due to such a weak feudal system Dukes just did their own things when Philip, the "King" of "France" noticed William was becoming too powerful he tried to invade Normandy but was defeated and kicked out. It wasn't called the NORMAN conquest for nothing, why do you think the Bretons, Flemish were separate on the battle of hastings belligerent list because they were not part of "France" until the 1300s, and don't give me the the Normans spoke French so they were French because they didn't, they spoke Norman, Like the Bretons spoke a form of Celtic along with the flemmish

Flemmish has got nothing to do with any celtic language. Flemmish is Frankish, that is germanic

Norman was different borrowing heavily from Scandinavian, even if they did speak French "which they didn't" they were still Normans, if a American spoke English does that make them an English citizen, if a Canadian spoke French are they French? No their Canadian I'm not being a Franco-phobic I'm just stating facts!86.181.82.140 (talk) 03:33, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Yeah well, the Normans didn't speak French but they still introduced MASSIVELY the French language into the English one. Apart from that, the Vikings, or whoever were the "ancestors" of the Normans, and who invaded Northern France, were almost exclusively men, males if you prefer. They married and raped gallic women. Their offsprings were the Normans. I'm French and have been interested in the history of my country for a long time and all the historians I've read clearly agree on the fact that the Vikings who conquered Northern France quickly lost their vikingness and merged with the local population faster than anywhere else in Northern Europe. Their tombstones and the toponimy are the proof. I'm not being an Englo-phobic. I'm just stating facts. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Albert fausse-couche (talkcontribs) 21:41, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

the Listing of the Norman Conquest of England from 1066 is odd, as Normandy was not part of France, however I believe it was part of the sphere of influence of the French Monarchy at the time. I am in favour of not listing the 1066 invasion of England and defeat of the Saxons as a French victory, but instead listed as a Norman victory. That is what I was taught in school and what many books I read on the subject suggest; even the page on the Battle of Hastings has this in its first paragraph "It was the decisive Norman victory in the Norman Conquest of England, fought between the Norman army of Duke William II of Normandy and the English army of King Harold II." 95.150.56.127 (talk) 01:50, 12 December 2010 (UTC) (signed in) Legalways (talk) 01:52, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Funny how history can differ from one country to the other...because I can tell you that in France we all see Guillaume le Conquérant (William the Conqueror) as French...about as French as Jeanne d'Arc, if you see what I mean... — Preceding unsigned comment added by Albert fausse-couche (talkcontribs) 21:47, 24 March 2011 (UTC)


The article, as it states at the top, tries to include all military history over the past two millennia (and a bit) involving in major part the region now known as France, which as well as Normandy encompasses those regions known at some stage as the Roman province of Gaul, Burgundy, the Western Frankish Empire, and many other former states besides. Finally, please note that William I, as Duke of Normandy, was in fact technically subject (de jure) to the king of France, even if this had been de facto ignored for some time, and so by our modern ideas of statehood Normandy was still technically part of France.

Map: French India[edit]

The map of the First French Empire grossly exaggerates French Empire in India, coloring half of the extent of the modern country in blue. Though the French had unilateral trade deals there, and the whole area was under a great amount of French influence, this was nowhere near enough to warrant what the map is implying. I'm all for keeping this as relevant information, perhaps by using a different color. Syria and Lebanon, technically League of Nations mandates, were indeed part of the (second) French Empire, but these could perhaps also be filled in a different color, and there are other examples. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 41.185.115.52 (talk) 16:52, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

Incorrect map of French territorial losses and gains[edit]

Why is there a huge jump between 1940-1947? I do not think the map should be there unless corrected simply because it erase one of the most single important war in french history. It is dishonoring the french soldiers which died to protect France from Nazi-Germany. To me the map say nothing happen during 1940-1947. everything was rainbows and sunshine!. please give me a motivation as to why my previous edits has been undone. Why cant i write the loss of France to Nazi-Germany during WW2 is not included.? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 81.225.36.206 (talk) 21:55, 20 March 2011 (UTC)


Niall Ferguson and French military history[edit]

I've deleted the sentence in the lead talking about Niall Ferguson's claims regarding French military history. Why? For several reasons:

1) The sentence as currently constituted misrepresents the source, which talks about battles fought since 387 BCE (and not wars, as did this article!).

2) The sentence mentions 'France' as some constant, unchanging nation-state that has existed since ancient times. Such a view is preposterous. Historians might debate about when exactly the modern nation of France emerged, but all of them would agree that it was not in 387 BCE!!

3) Anyone with elementary knowledge of military history would know that French speakers have participated in thousands upon thousands of battles over the last millennium alone. I have no idea how Niall Ferguson came up with his numbers nor do I care; Ferguson is not a military historian and his opinions on the subject are equivalent to the points on Whose Line Is It Anyway?: they don't matter.

4) The article needs to maintain proper encyclopedic balance. A few years ago, with the political fallout over the Iraq war, some Americans made it another hobby to make fun of French military prowess. Now some are pushing to turn the French into invincible dragons. The truth, as usual, is a tad more boring. Let's stick to a contextual exposition of French military history and avoid rehashing old fights about where France falls on some mythical list.

Take care.UBER (talk) 21:58, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

  • These are cogent arguments, and I'll add one: I don't see any reason why this kind of claim should be in the lead. Drmies (talk) 20:30, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
This info does not appear to have proper vetting. Personally I think Ferguson would be fully qualified to make such a statement, but it should be drawn from a deeper work. A contentious and eye-catching statement like this should, for the sake of serious readers, have a better reference than a column in The Telegraph. SteveStrummer (talk) 20:55, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
I do agree, I, too, would gladly accept better sources. But as it is, I simply see no reason to remove it, as it's providing backed up encyclopedic knowledge (which is what WP is about). 89.156.113.161 (talk) 22:02, 18 August 2014 (UTC)


This is an article about the "Military history of France". As such, I don't see any reason to remove what is a basic statement about France' military history, especially in the lead where it belongs as summarized knowledge, moreover when it's backed up with a proper source. I don't see anything wrong here, and won't imply darker reasons motivating a removal, because we're all supposed to be of good faith, as per WP rules.
Even though, I could agree to some extent with some arguments given by UberCryxic, and will gladly give my opinion about each of his points.
1) This argument is wrong, as the source actually do cite both the number of wars and the number of major battles.
2) It's indeed true, but as the line is arbitrary, the same logic applies to any country, and whatever the epoch. What date would you choose? Conquest by/fall of Roman Empire? First Frank state? Carolingian Renaissance? Capetian/Valois/Bourbon dynasties? French Revolution? Disregarding that, for reasons of his own, Niall Ferguson chose that date as an historian, and that's part of the source. That's the only reason it gets back to 387BCE, until you find a better source. And honestly, militarily speaking, not a lot happened between the Roman conquest and the Franks invasion. It's a petty non-issue.
Note that the article itself is covering BCE, so I don't see any contradiction here.
3) "Major European battles", emphasis on "major". It speaks for itself. Also, no disrespect meant (really), but when it comes to history, between a historian and a wikipedian, I will take the historian.
4) I don't see any encyclopedic disbalance. This is an article about military history, it's stating military history facts. The over-interpretation is left to the reader, but as it is, it's not misguiding nor it appears to be wrong, and thus do the job.
As such I'm opposed to the removal, as it appears to be reliable, as it is erasing a historical data, and as it follows the encyclopedic rules and purpose.
89.156.113.161 (talk) 21:48, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
  • UberCryxic argues pretty convincingly that it's hardly a" basic" statement, if only for the reason that it begs the question of what is meant with "France". Now kindly seek to convince your audience here, not in the article history. Drmies (talk) 21:57, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
Well, as I explained, that's the date chosen by Ferguson, we can't do anything about it but look for better sources. And if I do agree aswell that the meaning of the term "France" is debatable indeed, the article is covering the Gallic and Roman epoch aswell, so I don't really see an issue here.
We have a historical data that fits with the article topic and follows an encyclopedic purpose, from there, it's up to anyone to look for better sources to improve it.
89.156.113.161 (talk) 22:10, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
I cannot see how you would defend such a protrusive statement in the lede by simply saying that sources could be forthcoming. That statement will be challenged by readers from now till doomsday, and it should be, because it's grandiose almost to the point of being smug. As near as I can tell, Ferguson has not written out a case for this (conversational?) statement, and it shouldn't be attributed to him when the real source is a paid writer's uncited puff piece in The Telegraph. SteveStrummer (talk) 03:28, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
What I saw: a sentence summarizing military victories and defeats of France, in the lead of an article covering, wait for it... the military history of France. Backed up with a source citing a professional historian. So, yeah, I don't see anything wrong here as per WP guidelines, and any other encyclopedy for that matter. Just because he's being cited in The Telegraph doesn't mean it's not a reliabe statement (even though I despise this newspaper as much as you, it's not up to you to decide if a media is "acceptable" or not, only facts matters).
What I saw then: someone removing it, over meaningless reasons, and I reacted to it. If you all want to remove an encyclopedic and in-topic data because it makes you feel good, well, go ahead and I hope it relieves you. It doesn't really matter to me, besides the fact that it's conflicting with WP purpose and erasing useful knowledge from an encyclopedy. Cheers.
89.156.113.161 (talk) 07:20, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
This statement of France being Europe's most successful military is ridiculously unscientific and very problematic for various obvious reasons, as multiple people have already pointed out. France as a nation state definitely didn't existed for all this time. Additionally depending of what you count as a battle or a war can produce multiple results. Lots of battles can be split up in smaller battles and so on. Very often the results of wars and especially battles are also disputed. In the end this statement seems to have been inserted as part of some kind of "My military is better than yours" sentiment. For this reasoning I have removed it again. Just because this has been dropped in some popular science show or some click-baity newspaper article does not mean we should include it in an encyclopaedic article. For claims of this magnitude ("best military in modern europe") we would need several high quality sources from peer reviewed journals or related scholary literature. StoneProphet (talk) 15:41, 25 March 2015 (UTC)