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French Military Victories

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One of the classic Internet jokes.

You have two choices - the fake Google search page or the step by step deconstruction.

Summary of Gallic Military ...err ... Pride

  • Gallic Wars

Lost. In a war whose ending foreshadows the next 2000 years of French history, France is conquered by of all things, an Italian. [Or to be pedantic, a Roman.]

  • Hundred Years War

Mostly lost, saved at last by female schizophrenic who inadvertently creates The First Rule of French Warfare; "France's armies are victorious only when not led by a Frenchman." Sainted.

(the reality: Plantagenet claims to the French throne destroyed. All English possessions in France revert to France, except Calais. The house of Valois become the unopposed ruler of France. Stunning French strategic victory ... but as noted still needed leading by 'woman' with gender issues and a fear of swan vestas)

Lost. France becomes the first and only country to ever lose two wars when fighting Italians.

  • Wars of Religion

France goes 0-5-4 against the Huguenots (this is a baseball joke. ... zero wins, 5 losses and 4 draws)

  • Thirty Years War

France is technically not a participant, but manages to get invaded anyway. Claims a tie on the basis that eventually the other participants started ignoring her.

  • War of Revolution

Tied. Frenchmen take to wearing red flowerpots as chapeaux.


  • War of the Augsburg League/King William's War/French and Indian War

Lost, but claimed as a tie. Three ties in a row induces deluded Francophiles the world over to label the period as the height of French military power.

  • War of the Spanish Succession

Lost. The War also gave the French their first taste of a Marlborough, which they have loved every since.

In a move that will become quite familiar to future Americans, France claims a win even though the English colonists saw far more action. This is later known as "de Gaulle Syndrome", and leads to the Second Rule of French Warfare; "France only wins when America does most of the fighting."

  • French Revolution

Won, primarily due the fact that the opponent was also French.

Lost. Temporary victories (remember the First Rule!) due to leadership of a Corsican, who ended up being no match for a British footwear designer.

  • The Franco-Prussian War

Lost. Germany first plays the role of drunk Frat boy to France's ugly girl home alone on a Saturday night.

  • World War I

Tied and on the way to losing, France is saved by the United States [Entering the war late]. Thousands of French women find out what it's like to not only sleep with a winner, but one who doesn't call her "Fraulein." Sadly, widespread use of condoms by American forces forestalls any improvement in the French bloodline.

  • World War II

Lost. Conquered French liberated by the United States [Entering the war late, again] and Britain just as they finish learning the Horst Wessel Song.


  • War in Indochina

Lost. French forces plead sickness; take to bed with the Dien Bien Flu [America enters the war - oh - late. And loses. Which they haven't quite recovered from.]

Lost. Loss marks the first defeat of a western army by a Non-Turkic Muslim force since the Crusades, and produces the First Rule of Muslim Warfare; "We can always beat the French." This rule is identical to the First Rules of the Italians, Russians, Germans, English, Dutch, Spanish, Vietnamese and Esquimaux.

France, keeping in mind its recent history, surrenders to Germans and Muslims just to be safe. Attempts to surrender to Vietnamese ambassador fail after he takes refuge in a McDonald's.

The question for any country silly enough to count on the French should not be "Can we count on the French?", but rather "How long until France collapses?"

"Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion. All you do is leave behind a lot of noisy baggage."

Or, better still, the quote from the Wall Street Journal: "They're there when they need you."

And there's more:

  • Norse invasions, 841-911.

After having their way with the French for 70 years, the Norse are bribed by a French King named Charles the Simple (really!) who gave them Normandy in return for peace. Normans proceed to become just about the only positive military bonus in France's [favour] for next 500 years.

France attempts to take advantage of Mexico's weakness following its thorough thrashing by the U.S. 20 years earlier ("Halls of Montezuma"). Not surprisingly, the only unit to distinguish itself is the French Foreign Legion (consisting of, by definition, non-Frenchmen). Booted out of the country a little over a year after arrival.

  • Panama jungles 1881-1890.

No one but nature to fight, France still loses; canal is eventually built by the U.S. 1904-1914 (Rule 2 again).

  • Napoleonic Wars.

Should be noted that the Grand Armee was largely (~%50) composed of non-Frenchmen after 1804 or so. Mainly disgruntled minorities and anti-monarchists. Not surprisingly, these performed better than the French on many occasions.

  • Haiti, 1791-1804.

French defeated by rebellion after sacrificing 4,000 Poles to yellow fever. Shows another rule of French warfare; when in doubt, send an ally.

  • India, 1673-1813.

British were far more charming than French, ended up victors. Therefore the British are well known for their tea, and the French for their whine (er, wine...). Ensures 200 years of bad teeth in England.

  • Siamese Revolution of 1688.

Lost, got a kicking in the Siege of Bangkok.

  • Barbary Wars, middle ages-1830.

Pirates in North Africa continually harass European shipping in Mediterranean. France's solution: pay them to leave us alone. America's solution: kick their asses ("the Shores of Tripoli"). America's first overseas victories and another Rule 2, won 1801-1815.

  • 1798-1801, Quasi-War with U.S.

French privateers attack U.S. shipping. U.S. fights France at sea for 3 years; French eventually cave; sets precedent for next 200 years of Franco-American relations.

  • Moors in Spain, late 700s-early 800s.

Even with Charlemagne leading them against an enemy living in a hostile land, French are unable to make much progress. Hide behind Pyrennes until the modern day.

French-on-French losses (probably should be counted as victories too, just to be fair):

  • 1208: Albigenses Crusade, French massacred by French.

When a Bishop was asked how to differentiate a heretic from the faithful, his response was "Kill them all. God will know His own." Lesson: French are badasses when fighting unarmed men, women and children.

  • St. Bartholomew Day Massacre, August 24, 1572.

Once again, French-on-French slaughter.

Philip Augustus of France throws hissy-fit, leaves Crusade for Richard the Lion Heart (or, indeed, Coeur de Lion) to finish.

  • Seventh Crusade.

St. Louis of France leads Crusade to Egypt. Resoundingly crushed.

  • Eighth Crusade.

St. Louis back in action, this time in Tunis. See Seventh Crusade.

  • Maginot Madness

Also should be noted that, in WW1 France attempted to hide behind the Maginot line, sticking their head in the sand and pretending that the Germans would enter France that way. By doing so, the Germans would have been breaking with their traditional route of invading France, entering through Belgium (Napoleonic Wars, Franco-Prussian War, World War I, etc.). French ignored this though, and put all their effort into these defences.

  • Seven year War 1756-1763

Lost: after getting hammered by Frederick the Great of Prussia (yep, the Germans again) at Rossbach, the French were held off for the remainder of the War by Frederick of Brunswick and a hodge-podge army including some Brits. War also saw France kicked out of Canada (Wolfe at Quebec) and India (Clive at Plassey).

  • Algeria.

The French consider the departure of the French from Algeria in 1962-63, after 130 years on colonialism, as a French victory and especially consider C. de Gaulle as a hero for 'leading' said victory over the unwilling French public who were very much against the departure. This ended their attempt at colonialism (except Martinique, Djibouti and some dots under a microscope in the Pacific). About 2 million ungrateful Algerians lost their lives in this shoddy affair and Edward Fox fails to kill De Gaulle (although he does trash a melon or two.)