The French

I’m unsure if this is better suited for IMHO or here.
Are the French considered cowards who surrendering at the drop of a hat by the rest of the world or is this purely an American phenomena?

Guys! Look at his post count before you pile on.

So, is your point that 63 posts is enough to cut him some slack, or that 63 posts means that he should know by now that it might not be an entirely appropriate question? Because I know people who’d argue both.

It’s a stereotype, just like the american view of British people are bowler hat wearing, tea drinking crumpet eating, toothless and sexless freaks, even though we get more action than them!
Heather Graham the bitch, how dare she! Jumping on the Bandwagon.

It’s a stereotype, and a fairly recent one.

Prior to WWI, the French were still considered the warrior race of Europe. After all, they had been conquerors under Napoleon and even under Louis XIV. Czar Alexander was considered a savior for being able to do what no other leader had done – forced France to retreat. And during the 19th century, most of Europe was very wary of France and their military might.

France certainly didn’t roll over and play dead in World War I. And in Vietnam, they did just about as well as the U.S. did. It’s really only World War II that made France look weak, but that was more a question of the Germans employing some brilliant tactics, a style of offense that the world had never seen before. France just never had enough time to react to it, and to adopt an appropriate defense.

Now the Italians, on the other hand…:smiley:

Before we get too carried away here, no one with any knowledge of the events will question the bravery, endurance and devotion to duty of French soldiers. French generals and the French government have, however, made a series of catastrophic decisions from the Franco-Prussian War right down to French Indo-China. The experience of the First World War is typical. A generation of Frenchmen willingly sacrificed themselves under inept leadership and a revenge driven government. The episodes of “mass insubordination” that broke out in 1917 would have happened much earlier in any other western army and happened only when the army was broken by the hair brained offensives that followed the eight month long Battle of Verdun. Alistair Horne’s trilogy, *The Fall of Paris, The Price of Glory * and To Lose a Battle is an excellent discussion of the War of 1870, the Verdun campaign in WWI and the French collapse in 1940. All three are published in paperback by Penguin Books and are directed to the general reader–my only gripe with Horne is that he assumes the reader as an elementary knowledge of French since he keeps sticking French phrases in his text.

All I know about the modern French army is based on 30 year old experiences with a French armored infantry unit stationed in West Germany. It was my impression that they were good soldiers, young, well drilled and motivated although much of their equipment was obsolescent and below US standards for a first line outfit. Any Doper who saw the French units in the Gulf Campaign may be able to add something about their performance.


Realitychuck said.
“Prior to WWI, the French were still considered the warrior race of Europe”.
Ha Ha Ha , Ho Ho Ho
Obviously you do not consider England as part of Europe. (this leads to another discussion, later)
Prior to WW1
Who created the biggest empire the world had ever seen, or is ever likely to see again, covering 1/4 of the world with 1/3 of the population? not the french!
Who defeated Napolean on land and sea!

This is not going to go far as a GQ before it does go into IMHO – indeed maybe we should poll ourselves if that is the perception in our respective country/culture. FWIW, I never heard any denunciation of the French as particularly cowardly until I lived in a predominantly Anglo-American society and then took me a while to run into that stereotype.

Ditto! Frenchmen as cowards is a predominantly Anglo-American stereotype. I have a feeling that it is also a television thing, I haven’t noticed anything of the sort in Latin America. I never thought of Frenchmen as cowards, of course the fact that I can sing “La Marselleise” in its entirety makes me a little biased. :slight_smile:

My own personal opinion, Spavined Gelding, is that while the average French soldier in WW2 was quite brave, there were a few generals and politicians who should have been hung for treasonous, cowardly, fascist bootlickers. Petain and Laval spring most readily to mind, but there were others. Admittedly, I may be biased as all WW2 history I’ve read has been from the American and British viewpoints. Thanks for recommending those books; I must check them out at Christmas.

howard.t: The French Empire was not as big as the British Empire, but it was pretty damn impressive.
As for defeating Napolean, give me a fuckin’ break. Buonaparte was master of the European mainland until he made the mistake of invading Russia in the dead of winter.
British invincibility, yeah, that was demonstrated at Bunker Hill, Saratoga, Trenton, and Yorktown, wasn’t it?

As an “Anglo”, I resent that. I’ve never come across the British regarding the French as being cowards (there’s plenty of other, more applicable, insults). Having moved to the US, I come across the “French are cowards” view much more. I never associated it with either WW, though. I thought it was more a commentary on the French willingness to appease in more recent years - say last 25 years.

The Anglo view is more that the Italians are cowards.

Allow me to smack myself on the head.

I still don’t get used to all this PC labeling… how do we call white Americans this week? That’s what I meant.

It’s quite simple, really: you meant the non-African-Native-Asian-Latin-French-Aboriginal-Americans.

Exactly! :rolleyes:

BTW, while in Northern Europe I never heard anyone suggest they were cowards. The typical slur used to refer to the French was “frog”, I think it’s cute.

Coyote said:
As for defeating Napolean, give me a fuckin’ break. Buonaparte was master of the European mainland until he made the mistake of invading Russia in the dead of winter.

Never set foot in England did he?, whereas The Duke of Wellingtons Army defeated the french on mainland europe, as well as Nelson defeating the combined spanish and french navies.(Note no use of swear words)

British invincibility, yeah, that was demonstrated at Bunker Hill, Saratoga, Trenton, and Yorktown, wasn’t it?

This has nothing to do with the original thread which stated “Prior to WWI, the French were still considered the warrior race of Europe”
If you want to get into a discussion of Englnad/American history go for it.

You’re vastly overstating the importance of the UK military involvment (as opposed to the political and diplomatic involvment) during the revolution and napoleonic wars. The bulk of these wars was bore by the continental countries : Austria, Prussia, Russia,…

Excuse me for breathing, howard.t, but did not Wellington defeat Napolean at Waterloo in 1815?
And did not Napolean invade Russia in 1812?

And was not the American Revolution prior to World War 1?

And if said war has nothing to do with the master warrior race of Europe, then what has the respective sizes of the British and French Empires to do with this burning question?

Yes. Nelson defeated the french navy. But concerning the war on land, except at Waterloo and during the peninsular war (which wasn’t exactly the most important campaign), the british military involvment was very limited. Perhaps you enjoy the concept that the UK “beat the crap out of Napoleon”, but you’re living in your own imaginary world if you believe so. These wars were fought essentially by other countries. The UK main contribution has been to keep the control of the seas (for obvious reason, that was her main concern) and to conduct a very active diplomacy against first the french republic and latter the empire.