The shape of France
that we know about today came through a string of French military conquests under King Philip II
, when in the late twelfth century he conquered Flanders
, and Champagne
, and cajolled off Richard
territories in Brittany
. From then on the French did make its mark on the battlefield, perhaps more than what a Google
search would suggest.
1190: King Philip II captured Akko (Acre) on the third Crusade.
1214: King Philip II then beat John (brother of King Richard I of England), the Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV, and the count of Flanders at Bouvines.
1439: Jean d'Arc dispatches the British who were laying seige to Orleans.
1453: The Hundred Years War ended in France's favour with their victory at Castillon-la-Bataille.
1643: In the Thirty Years War the Frogs foil a Spanish invasion at Rocroi.
1677: In the War of 1672 - 1678 the French capture Freiburg off William of Orange.
1690: France's first naval victory - over an Anglo-Dutch flotilla at Beachy Head.
1754: George Washington requested that the French vacate the Allegheny River and return to Canada. The French refused, and subsequently defeated Washington at Fort Necessity.
1755: General Edward Braddock tried to do what George Washington failed to achieve, and he also got creamed at Fort Duquesne.
1756: Feeling happy with themselves, the French under Marquis se Montcalm captured Fort Oswego.
1757: ...And also Fort William Henry.
1781: French forces under Rochambeau, and the French navy at sea, help manage to defeat Cornwallis at Yorktown.
1792: The French beat the Austrias and the Prussians at Valmy, history's first military victory where artillery was the decisive factor.
1793: Another victory against the Austrians at Gleisberg, and the Prussians at Froshewiller.
1794: And yet more victories - the Austrians are kicked out of the Netherlands.
1800: After some setbacks, the French returned with a winning streak, overcoming the Austrians at Marengo in northern Italy and Hohenlinden in Bavaria.
1805: The French under Napoleon defeated the Austrians at Ulm and the Russians at Austerlitz.
1808: The French manage to hold off a British expeditionary force in Galicia, Spain.
1812: The French win at Lützen and Bautzen against the Prussians and Russians.
1815: Napoleon emerges from retirement, raises an army of 280,000 men and beat the allies at Ligny in Belgium.
From this point onwards French victories are a bit harder to find, and this is what has probably lead to the joke in 2003 that if you do a Google search on 'French Military Victories' one would find nothing (in fact you would get websites discussing this story). The only victories in the twentieth century were:
1916: 700,000 French troops stopped the Germans in the Battle of Verdun, despite sustaining heavy casualties. They were also successful getting rid of the Germans in Cameroon.
1941: The Vichy French navy defeated the Thai navy in the Gulf of Thailand (well, they must have had a chance to do something right in World War II)