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[Humor] The Complete Military History of France

France Humor

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#21 sierraleone

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Posted 15 February 2003 - 04:25 PM

jon3831, on Feb. 12 2003,07:26, said:

* 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.


* 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."
Aren't we forgetting Charlemange in the middle of there? :) And, was it he, or someone else that pushed out invading Muslims out of France, back into Spain? My history is kinda fuzzy here.

#22 MuseZack

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Posted 15 February 2003 - 05:13 PM

While I like a joke at French expense as much as the next guy, this wave of French-bashing that seems to be overtaking certain quarters of the Internet is just getting offensive and ugly.  

A lot of Americans are forgetting the number of times France has stood by our side, from the very birth of our country all the way through French troops rescuing our civilians from various African hotspots these past few months.

And this attempting to portray the French as a bunch of military incompetents and cowards is just silly and ahistorical, given how it omits everyone and everything from Charles Martel and Charmelagne to the largely Frankish crusaders (the Muslim term for Crusader was actually "franj"), not to mention the Norman Conquest of England and the various colonial wars of the 19th and 20th Centuries.

As for France's infamous defeat in WW2, I highly recommend American historian Ernest May's book "Strange Victory," which pretty definitively shows that the campaign was far from a walkover and was, if anything, a long odds gamble that paid off spectacularly.  Here's a particularly illuminating excerpt:

"...But the more we have studied the period 1938-40, as opposed to the earlier 1930s, the more we have seen indications of a profound change in mood and spirit among people in both France and Britain. By the summer of 1939, when a new Great War clearly impended, Daladier complained that he could not appear in an open place or in a bistro without seeing people stand up and cry, "Lead! We will follow you!" When war came in September, reporters said the prevailing mood in both countries was one of resigned determination. When fighting actually commenced in May 1940, after more than eight months of military inactivity, reporters told of celebrations. A Danish journalist described Paris as "bubbling with enthusiasm."

In the field, soldiers of France and Britain fought well. They won battles. At Hannut in Belgium on May 12-13, 1940, for example, two divisions of French tanks clashed with two divisions of German tanks and carried the day, losing 105 tanks to the Germans' 160. Even when losing, most French military units showed gallantry. At Monthermé, a plaque commemorates a French African regiment's Thermopylae-like defense of a crossing over the Meuse River. At Stonne, a few miles south of Sedan, stands a small monument which says accurately that the town changed hands seventeen times between mid-May and mid-June 1940 and became "a cemetery of tanks."" During the six weeks of fighting, France lost approximately 124,000 men, with another 200,000 wounded. The total number of French battle deaths was two and a half times that of the United States in either the Korean War of 1950-53 or the Vietnam War of 1965-75. Do these bits of evidence suggest "moral laxness"?

And again arises the matter of comparison. Foreigners in Germany in 1939-40, including Italians and Hungarians, whose governments sided with Hitler, described a public with little or no appetite for the war, carried along by sureness that their adored Führer would find a way out of it. In the winter of 1939-40, after the Allies had rejected Hitler's proposal for a negotiated peace, an Italian diplomat in Berlin wrote of "frightening demoralization" among the German people. As for Germany's generals, they believed to a man that Hitler had gotten the country into a war for which it was not prepared and which it might well lose. Among themselves, they talked of a possible coup. When Germany opened its offensive against the Low Countries and France in May 1940, not a single general expected victory to result. The chief of staff of the German army wrote to his wife that his fellow generals thought what they were doing was "crazy and reckless ." Can one say that morale was stronger in Germany than in France? "

(see http://www.fsbassoci...angevictory.htm for a longer excerpt and more information)

Anyway, I don't mean to be a wet blanket here.  I'm just beginning to get irritated with the knee-jerk bashing of a longtime friend and ally just because our two governments are having a dispute over a matter on which reasonable people can and do differ.

And how can one truly bash the country that gave the world Isabelle Adjani, Laetitia Casta, and Julie Delpy?  ;-)

Zack

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#23 sierraleone

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Posted 15 February 2003 - 06:38 PM

^ I mentioned Charlemange, but I only vaguely reconigse the name Charles Martel. I was surprised more people didn't notice the ommision of Charlemange though, considering one of our favourite guest stars played a Nietzchean named after Charlemange ;) And those three ladies you mention at the ends of your post... I don't recongise their names at all... :)
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Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
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#24 tennyson

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Posted 15 February 2003 - 07:17 PM

Charles "the Hammer" defeated a muslim army at Tours in 732 AD, ending thier expansion into Europe from that direction. If I remember correctly he was Charlemagne(Charles the Great)'s father or grandfather. It has been too long since I've wentover early middle ages history.

#25 sierraleone

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Posted 15 February 2003 - 07:20 PM

^ too much royalty has the name Charles ;) Theres a reason I wasn't clear on who threw back the Muslims! ;) :) Or so I tell myself :)
Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
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Rule#4: Be outraged.
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Rule#6: Remember the future.
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#26 BunRab

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Posted 15 February 2003 - 07:41 PM

^Charlemagne was German, not French. Although he was a "Frank" the Franks were not French - they were a tribe based in what is now Germany, and the language he spoke was a Teutonic one.

#27 MuseZack

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Posted 15 February 2003 - 07:46 PM

^^

Oh please.  Now you're just being pedantic.  The French are as directly descended from the Franks (hence the name of the country) as they are from the Gauls.  It's like saying the English shouldn't claim King Arthur as a cultural hero because (if he actually existed) he was a Latin or Celtic speaking Romanized Briton and not an Angle, Saxon, or Norman.

Zack

"Some day, after we have mastered the wind, the waves, the tides, and gravity,
We shall harness for God the energies of Love.
Then, for the second time in the history of the world,
we will have discovered fire."
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#28 Ilphi

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Posted 16 February 2003 - 10:46 PM

It should also be noted that in the chaos after the German Ludendorff offensive in 1918 all Allied forces (including American and British) were placed under the command of a single General, a Frenchman by the name of Ferdinand Foch. He made the allies act as a single unit, and on 18th July launched a great counter-attack and after a fortnight of fighting drove the German's back from the Marne.
Yea, ere my hot youth pass, I speak to my people and say:
Ye shall be foolish as I; ye shall scatter, not save;
Ye shall venture your all, lest ye lose what is more than all;
Ye shall call for a miracle, taking Christ at His word.
And for this I will answer, O people, answer here and hereafter,
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#29 jon3831

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Posted 16 February 2003 - 10:57 PM

Uncle Sid made a post that didn't make it over in the Great Server Migration:

Quote

In addition, by the time of Charlemagne's  grandsons, the rulers of the East Franks (French) and the West Franks (Germans) had languages dissimilar enough that when the Empire was split up and his grandsons Charles the Bald and Louis the German allied with each other, the two leaders had to translate the words of the Oath of Strasbourg into East Frankish and West Frankish which I think are the same think are the same things as Old French and Old German.  This occurs in 842, less than fifty years after Charlemagne was crowned Emperor in Rome, so the divisions must have been already very much in evidence in his own time.

As was pointed out, there were always differences between the area that was going to be France and that which became Germany.  For one thing, future France was Gaul, a long-time province of the Roman Empire and was actually quite Romanized by the fifth century, much like Britain was.  Germany, on the other hand, was only settled infrequently by the Romans and they never had much of any hold on the area.  Thus,  which side of the Rhine you were on would eventually make a big difference in your future cultural heritage. 

As far as being annoyed at the French, I think people in the US do get tired of the moralizing of some European countries, particularly France.  This is because France is mostly in this to see if they can't get back money on their investments in Iraq as well as them working closely with Germany to divide real power in the EU between the two of them.  Indeed, France and Germany have a lot more selfish, concrete reasons for the war not to occur than the US has selfish reasons for supporting a war. 

I have yet to find a single person who actually believes that Saddam Hussein has no illegal weapons, and yet still we much search for them.  I fail to get it. 

Sometimes the things that come out of the Bush White House make me cringe, but in this case the Administration is dead-on.

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#30 Talkie Toaster

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Posted 16 February 2003 - 11:20 PM

Ilphi, on Feb 16 2003, 07:48 PM, said:

It should also be noted that in the chaos after the German Ludendorff offensive in 1918 all Allied forces (including American and British) were placed under the command of a single General, a Frenchman by the name of Ferdinand Foch. He made the allies act as a single unit, and on 18th July launched a great counter-attack and after a fortnight of fighting drove the German's back from the Marne.
German Ludendorff Offensives :D

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Actually, the French produced some fairly decent generals during WW1- like Joffre and Foch.
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#31 Ilphi

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Posted 17 February 2003 - 12:32 AM

Quote

German Ludendorff Offensives

Oh, do be quiet :p

You might also consider adding Philippe Pétain to your list, although the decision to defend Verdun was perhaps questionable. The French had lost 315,000 French and pretty much the city by the end of attack and the Germans only 282,000 men but then again they had failed to break the Western Front.

If Joffre had had his way they would have let the Germans had it, which would have freed up an awful lot of soldiers for the Somme, which in turn might have made the battle come out differently... (Ilphi shuts up before he ventures into dangerous alternate-timeline thoughts) ;)
Yea, ere my hot youth pass, I speak to my people and say:
Ye shall be foolish as I; ye shall scatter, not save;
Ye shall venture your all, lest ye lose what is more than all;
Ye shall call for a miracle, taking Christ at His word.
And for this I will answer, O people, answer here and hereafter,
The Fool - Padraic Pearse

#32 BunRab

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Posted 17 February 2003 - 12:55 AM

MuseZack, on Feb 15 2003, 10:48 AM, said:

<font color='#000000'>^^

Oh please.  Now you're just being pedantic.  
Zack</font>
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#33 Enmar

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Posted 17 February 2003 - 01:13 AM

MuseZack, on Feb 15 2003, 06:48 PM, said:

^^

Oh please.  Now you're just being pedantic.  The French are as directly descended from the Franks (hence the name of the country) as they are from the Gauls.  It's like saying the English shouldn't claim King Arthur as a cultural hero because (if he actually existed) he was a Latin or Celtic speaking Romanized Briton and not an Angle, Saxon, or Norman.

Zack
More than that. The French are more directly descended from the Franks than they are from the Gauls. The identification of the French with the Gauls, entering Gaul heroes into elementary education, Asterix festival etc. – these are all results of a society that felt threatened by other cultures and was looking for the difference. Being descendent from the Gauls gave them a way to separate from the Germans, show a different linage. Asterix, as his inventor said, is the hero that is “short, ugly with a big moustache”, and he comes from the weak opening position. Exactly what French people feel they are [his words, not mine, though not exact quote]. Asterix was an attempt to lure the French kids away from the American super heroes that took over France (and everywhere, for that matter, but only the French people cared). I have the feeling I just returned to the point I tried to avoid, the conflict of these days :p
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#34 Talkie Toaster

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Posted 17 February 2003 - 01:14 AM

Quote

Oh, do be quiet :p

You might also consider adding Philippe Pétain to your list, although the decision to defend Verdun was perhaps questionable. The French had lost 315,000 French and pretty much the city by the end of attack and the Germans only 282,000 men but then again they had failed to break the Western Front.

Pétain was very good at looking after his men and was able to rebuild the moral of the French army after the mutinies in 1917, but he seems to have been average in the field- he didn't seem to cope very well with teh Ludendorff Offensives, panicing and wanting to withdraw his forces after the hammering Fifth Army recieved. It is likely the French army would have done just that had Foch not been quickly appointed Generalismo.

BTW, only? That's nearly a 1:1 kill ratio, both sides gave each other a good thwacking.

Quote

If Joffre had had his way they would have let the Germans had it, which would have freed up an awful lot of soldiers for the Somme, which in turn might have made the battle come out differently... (Ilphi shuts up before he ventures into dangerous alternate-timeline thoughts) ;)

Hmmm, hard to say- Verdun was a symbol of French resistance and the French would not give it up. This was the reason that Falkenhayn decided to launch his attack there. As to changing the Somme- overall, probably not. By their nature, battles on the Western Front in WW1 were mostly bloody, undecisive affairs. Major advances only occured after armies began to feel the strain of attrition. OTOH, if the bulk of troops had been experienced French forces rather than the inexperienced Kitcherner the initial phases of the battle would probably have gone better for the Entente. As with all things what if, it's hard to say.

Oh, I do enjoy a good thread drift. :D

Edited by Talkie Toaster, 17 February 2003 - 01:20 AM.

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#35 StarDust

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Posted 17 February 2003 - 01:24 AM

It is my understanding that France aided us in the Revolution because they hoped to take us over afterward. It was very much a play in the ongoing hostilities between Great Britan and France. And they didn't give a great deal of aid, not that it wasn't appreciated.

However, many of the French who fought here became converts. It's also my understanding that one of the reasons Lafayette died a broken and poor man is that when he returned to France he fought them on attempting to try and conquer us. And in fact became dangerous because of his 'freedom' and 'liberty' stands.

This is much different than GB siding with the confederacy during our Revolution, because they still hoped to reconquer us and felt it would be easier with a divided nation. One of very many attempts to reconquer us. We did not become friendly again with the British until sometime between the Revolution and WW1, probably gradually over time and as their royality lost power.

And since the revolution, I really don't know when France has ever been more than an ally in name.



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