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Sad, Sad, but Funny France

 
 
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2004 04:09 pm
Sad, Sad, but Funny, France

I have always wondered about the following irony:
Throughout their history, the people and the nation of France have vigorously pursued political involvement (and oftentimes dominance), of the European continent. A turn of almost any page, from almost any era, of almost any Western history book, and there is decent odds of you finding mention of French diplomacy, court intrigue, or military action. It is the latter that has put the furrow in my brow.
You see, from an outlook, the French are one of the most bellicose peoples of Europe. They are constantly involved in battles, clashes, and outright wars from the Iberian Peninsula to the Urals. The humor resides not in how often they war, but in how absolutely dismal at it they appear to be. On a rare occasion (I can only think of three), they show some fighting prowess Martel, Charlemagne, and Napoleon have attempted to outsmart their gloomy fortunes, though, the first two Franks were not victorious over powerful established nations but rather invading hordes, indigenous tribes, and mediocre city-states. However, for every one of the victories wrought by the aforementioned three, there remains a number of spectacular defeats and embarrassing failures that bring the thought to my mind.
Are the French merely terribly unlucky, or are they simply the slowest learners in the past two thousand years?
I am curious as to any theories that might shed light as to what is behind the comedy that is French resistance. The answers and opinions may vary from the academic to the satirical. And, since at the present I cannot motivate myself to ponder one, I can only say: "Their champagne is excellent, perhaps their water?"

P.S. Another thought to consider is that in a great many of the battles that ended in total French disaster, had begun with total French superiority.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 4 • Views: 10,037 • Replies: 79
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2004 04:21 pm
Just a small correction:

Martell and Charlemagne lived in times, where no-one was speaking of 'France' (such happened later: Divisio Regnorum 806, leading to the Treaty of Verdun 843, where the three Kingdoms/Empires were established.

The Battle of Tours-Poitiers (732) has long occupied a prominent position in Western historiography.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2004 04:25 pm
Hi!
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2004 04:27 pm
Yes, hi - and hoping, you are doing fine :wink:
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2004 04:32 pm
Ask Mary Tudor about the French - she lost Calais to them....

And hi!!!!!
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Lusatian
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2004 09:37 pm
Walter
I am actually aware that the two Frankish kings of the Carolingian dynasty were not "French" per se. Nevertheless, besides the Little Corporal, they are some of the only men spawned in the homeland of France that may be considered successful warriors. While the Hammer's victory at Tours-Poitiers was indeed significant from the purview of military successes it is vastly dwarfed by the number of momentous defeats the Francais seem to be so practiced at.
Debbie
Though, Mary may have lost Calais, after the English had held it for nearly a hundred years, can the loss of the port city of mediocre value be arraigned as a defense against the string of failure reaching all the way back to Ceasar at Alesia. Crecy, Agincourt, Rossbach, Blenheim, Trafalgar, Sedan, and let's not forget All of France during WWII. And these are merely a handful of the extremely significant battles they have thrown. Another item of note is that I have only mentioned the ones where off the top of my head I remember that the French had significant numerical superiority at the onset of the skirmish.
The part I find funny, is not that they almost invariably lose, but that they continued to maintain such a belligerent attitude and military poise throughout their entire history. They almost make Sylvester appear like a great tactician, (though, Tweety always wins).
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2004 01:58 am
"Debbie"

You have been corrupted, you know.

I think it is time you stopped letting Big Brother push you around....
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2004 02:03 am
"Though, Mary may have lost Calais, after the English had held it for nearly a hundred years, can the loss of the port city of mediocre value be arraigned as a defense against the string of failure reaching all the way back to Ceasar at Alesia. Crecy, Agincourt, Rossbach, Blenheim, Trafalgar, Sedan, and let's not forget All of France during WWII. And these are merely a handful of the extremely significant battles they have thrown. Another item of note is that I have only mentioned the ones where off the top of my head I remember that the French had significant numerical superiority at the onset of the skirmish."


yes.
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fresco
 
  2  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2004 02:04 am
The answer to this is quite simple. All the French "high flyers" were so sick of being in a country of "losers" that they decided to emigrate to England in 1066...the rest is history ! Smile
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2004 02:06 am
It broke Mary's heart
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2004 02:16 am
fresco wrote:
The answer to this is quite simple. All the French "high flyers" were so sick of being in a country of "losers" that they decided to emigrate to England in 1066...the rest is history ! Smile


I thought, they invaded England and brought down the last English dynasty Laughing
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2004 05:08 am
They did - perhaps all English victories since may be considered partly French?????
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joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2004 10:51 am
Re: Sad, Sad, but Funny France
Lusatian wrote:
I am curious as to any theories that might shed light as to what is behind the comedy that is French resistance.

I have a theory: you're wrong.

Although your profound error is, in part, understandable (the image of the "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" -- "les singes capitulards qui mangent des fromages" -- seems to have become an American meme), that doesn't make it any less erroneous.

For every French defeat that you can name, I can name a great victory. Alesia--Soissons (486); Crecy--Orléans; Agincourt--Castillon; Rossbach--Fontenoy; Blenheim--Denain; Trafalgar--Beachy Head (1690); Sedan--Solferino; all of France in 1940--all of Prussia in 1806.

And France has shown its military prowess on more than three occasions. Your deficient historical education, for instance, seems to have skipped the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries entirely, otherwise you would have mentioned Condé, Turenne, Villars, and Saxe. You failed to note that, although the French lost at Agincourt and Crécy (you forgot to mention Poitiers), they won the Hundred Years War. And though you linger on the defeat of 1940, you ignore the tremendous cost -- and ultimate victory -- of France in 1914-18.

But, as I mentioned above, your errors, though regrettable, are understandable. After all, most Americans today seem to learn all their history from shock jocks, MTV, and "The Simpsons." Go forth, then, and learn!
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Acquiunk
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2004 11:16 am
What about Hastings (1066). That's why you eat roast not baked beef.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2004 11:20 am
Acquiunk wrote:
What about Hastings (1066). That's why you eat roast not baked beef.

Eh yes, that's what I wanted to say Laughing
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margo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2004 01:51 pm
Lusatian wrote:

Debbie


Brave (or foolish) fellow, that Lusatian! Twisted Evil
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Lusatian
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2004 03:36 pm
Joe

Your hostile language, notwithstanding, the evidence behind your parry is as mediocre as the pompous tone you present it in. For one thing, you mismatch the battles, placing together events from entirely different periods, and although this is not a very important aspect it does lend an apples to oranges appearance to your entire argument.
Not only are the battles you mentioned unrelated, but they are also quite obscure in historical comparison (besides Orleans, how many people do you think know about Talbot's stand at Castillon - where, apropos, he was vastly outnumbered). For example, save for Crecy every battle I mentioned ended the war that it was fought in, (at least as far as the French were concerned). The events you mentioned, while somewhat significant, were mostly catch-up efforts occuring years later as the French scrounged around trying desperately to make up for lost time and ground (the mere juxtaposition of Rossbach and Fontenoy is hilarious - go check why).
Lastly, your mention of the "tremendous cost, and ultimate victory" of the French in WW1. This my friend qualifies as stand-up comedy. "Tremendous Cost" due to the very poor (by almost all military historians views) French strategy of hold ground at all costs i.e. Verdun 1 and 2. "Ultimate Victory", laughable, the entire French army mutinied in the final months of the war. Victory came as a result of the Americans. LOL

Now there are two possibilities as cause for your such vehement beligerance. One is that you find my facts so flawed you are appalled, but you sound like a very educated individual so that cannot be it. The second is that you very much enjoy a venomous attack in debate form. I understand, I enjoy it too. However, in the future, perhaps we should both use a more concise presentation of fact in the effort to discredit one another, perhaps?

Best of luck Joe. I must get back to my MTV and the Simpsons. Cool

It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated.
Alec Bourne
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2004 04:40 pm
Lusatian wrote:
Joe

Your hostile language, notwithstanding, the evidence behind your parry is as mediocre as the pompous tone you present it in. For one thing, you mismatch the battles, placing together events from entirely different periods, and although this is not a very important aspect it does lend an apples to oranges appearance to your entire argument.

Here's the "mismatched" list:
    Alesia (52 B.C.)--Soissons (486): I offered Soissons as an example of a French army defeating the Romans. Given that neither the Gauls nor the Franks were, strictly speaking, "French," I wouldn't have used either Alesia or Soissons as an example of French military history, but since you did... Crecy(1346)--Orléans(1429): Same war Agincourt(1415)--Castillon(1453): Same war Rossbach(1757)--Fontenoy(1745): Twelve year difference Blenheim(1704)--Denain(1712): Same war Trafalgar(1805)--Beachy Head(1690): I offered Beachy Head as an example of a French naval victory over the British. Sedan(1870)--Solferino(1859): Eleven year difference all of France in 1940--all of Prussia in 1806: Entirely different periods.

Admittedly, three of these examples are chronologically diverse. Of course, since your initial list was similarly diverse, I don't see what the problem is. You seem to suggest that, by picking and choosing various French military defeats from 52 B.C. to 1940, you can somehow say something relevant about the French. I would suppose, then, that my list, stretching from 486 to 1859, is just as valid.

Lusatian wrote:
Not only are the battles you mentioned unrelated, but they are also quite obscure in historical comparison (besides Orleans, how many people do you think know about Talbot's stand at Castillon - where, apropos, he was vastly outnumbered).

Well, I certainly know about Castillon. And now you do too.

Lusatian wrote:
For example, save for Crecy every battle I mentioned ended the war that it was fought in, (at least as far as the French were concerned).

Demonstrably false. Here's your list:
    Alesia(52 B.C.)--Although Alesia was the last battle of the Gallic Wars, Gallic resistance continued for another year; Crecy(1346)--The Hundred Years War would last until 1453; Agincourt(1415)--The Hundred Years War would last until 1453; Rossbach(1757)--The Seven Years War would last until 1763; Blenheim(1704)--The War of the Spanish Succession would last until 1714; Trafalgar(1805)--The War of the Third Coalition would last until the end of 1805; Sedan(1870)--The Franco-German War would last until 1871; all of France in 1940--France capitulated in 1940; the Second World War would last until 1945.

So, of your examples, only one marked the end of French participation in the war. Indeed, for three of your examples, the French won the war. I, on the other hand, did a much better job of listing final battles: Castillon, Denain, and Solferino all were the last battles of their respective wars and all were French victories.

Lusatian wrote:
Lastly, your mention of the "tremendous cost, and ultimate victory" of the French in WW1. This my friend qualifies as stand-up comedy. "Tremendous Cost" due to the very poor (by almost all military historians views) French strategy of hold ground at all costs i.e. Verdun 1 and 2. "Ultimate Victory", laughable, the entire French army mutinied in the final months of the war. Victory came as a result of the Americans. LOL

So much misinformation is packed in such a short paragraph, it's difficult to know where to begin.

1. French strategy was no better and not much worse than anyone else's strategy during the First World War. Certainly, the Germans were the first to develop defense-in-depth in the West in 1917, but only after suffering horrendous losses at Verdun and the Somme in 1916. And German stormtroop tactics were based, in part, on French models.

2. The French strategy of defending ground at all costs was not much different from Falkenhayn's "bite-and-hold" strategy. And the results were roughly the same: at Verdun, the French lost 542,000; the Germans lost 434,000. Furthermore, it should be noted, the French won the battle of Verdun.

3. The "entire French army" most certainly did not mutiny in 1917. According to Tucker, the mutiny seriously affected 46 of 112 French divisions.

4. Although the AEF contributed to the Allied victory in 1918, America's efforts were paltry in comparison to those of France and Britain. I would hardly say that America was responsible for the Allied victory.

Lusatian wrote:
However, in the future, perhaps we should both use a more concise presentation of fact in the effort to discredit one another, perhaps?

I will continue to use facts. And you, Lusatian, may continue doing whatever it is you're doing.
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Acquiunk
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2004 04:45 pm
Thus came England into Normandy's hand
And the Normans could speak but their own speech
And spoke French as at home, and their own children did teach
So that high men of this land, that of her blood come.
Holdeth all like speech that was at home known.
For that a man know French, me telleth of him less
But low men hold to English, their own speech yet.

Robert of Gloucester c1300

http://55.1911encyclopedia.org/R/RO/ROBERT_OF_GLOUCESTER.htm
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2004 05:00 pm
I have always been annoyed that many people are so bent on ridiculing the French, a great people as far as I am concerned.
0 Replies
 
 

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