Historical Perspective

France has its origins from the Gauls. They were a warlike tribe that came into conflict with the Romans as they expanded into Europe from the Caucasus. Vercingetorix was their leader in their last organized stand against the Romans but eventually Julius Caesar defeated them in 52 B.C.E. Although it took another 10 years to quell them completely. Thereafter the Gauls were absorbed into the Roman Empire. In the dark ages, the Franks under Charlemagne created an empire by 800 A.D. that covered much of central Europe. During the subsequent centuries France's unique identity emerged. This culminated in the glory and decadence of Imperial France that was embodied in Louis XIV, crowned the "Sun King" in 1643 A.D. and manifested in his Palace of Versailles. After a bloody revolution, France became a republic. In this period one of the world greatest military figures in history arose, defeating armies all over Europe with brilliant strategies still studied today, Napoleon Bonaparte started his career as an artillery officer to become the Emperor of France in 1804 A.D. In the 20th century, France has experienced numerous crises, including the devastation of two world wars, and the loss of its colonial empire. It has, however, survived and emerged from the ruins of World War II to become a major partner in the European community.

"The Gauls" were actually the roman name for the Celtic tribes that inhabited the areas now known as France. They moved into the area from east of the Rhine in 900 B.C.E and by 500 B.C.E established a distinct and uniform Gallic culture. They were also introduced to Greek culture through contact along the Mediterranean coast during this time. They eventually came into conflict with the Romans, and managed to sack Rome in 390 B.C.E. However, Rome managed to contain them as their warlike society often put them at odds with other Gallic tribes as much as they did with Rome. Eventually Imperial Rome conquered the area inhabited by the Gauls through the Gallic Wars (58 B.C.E. to 41 B.C.E) and incorporated them into Roman provinces. In 48 A.D., the Roman Emperor Claudius I began admitting Gallic nobles into the Roman senate. He encouraging the Gauls into Emperor worship, and in turn incorporated Celtic pagan beliefs into the religions of Rome.

However by the end of the 5th century A.D., a new wave of Germanic tribes including the Vandals, Visigoth, Alamani, Burgundians and the Franks rested control of the region from the Romans. One of the groups of Frankish tribes, the Merovingians, however managed to unify the Franks and eventually conquered most of Gaul. This established what is now known as the Merovingian dynasty. After the adoption of Christianity, the Frankish Empire reached its zenith under the rule of Charlemagne (768 A.D. to 814 A.D.). He established the Carolingian dynasty and formed what was called the Holy Roman Empire, after wars with the Saxons to the East, Saracens to the South, and the Moors in Southern Spain. Charlemagne's strong and wise rule, which saw the invention of lower case letters to increase literacy, and the beginning of a jury system and responsible government did not last. His feuding descendents eventually broke the Empire apart. So by the middle of the 9th century A.D. the Holy Roman Empire was divided into several Kingdoms; most notable are that of France and the various German Duchies.

Through the Middle Ages, France participated in the numerous Christian Crusades (from 1096 A.D. to 1291 A.D) against the Islamic empires in the Middle East. It also saw the establishment of the order of the Templar Knights in 1119 A.D. However it failed to achieve its goal of taking control of the Holy lands from the Moslems but did achieve a sense of worldliness in the minds of the European Kingdoms.

Crowning of Charlemagne

Frankish Knights in
Pursuit of Saracen Army

Napolean Bonaparte
In the late Medieval period France became embroiled in the "Hundred years war" from 1337 A.D. to 1453 A.D. The French was met with sounding defeats at the hands of the English at the Battle of Crecy in 1346 A.D., then again at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 A.D. English claims to the French throne looked all but assured. In these dark moments, France inspired by the patriotism of Joan of Arc, lead the Dauphin and his army through a series of rapid victories retaking almost all of the territories lost to the English. The Dauphin was crowned King Charles VII of France. Instilling a sense of intense patriotism in France against foreign incursion ever since.

Through 1562 A.D. to 1598 A.D., religious conflicts in France culminated in the massacre of 50,000 Protestant on St. Bartholomew's Day 1572 A.D. This established France as a Catholic Nation henceforth. This set the stage for Cardinal Richelieu to establish the mechanisms for absolute monarchy, and from 1643 A.D to 1715 A.D. embodied by the rule of Louis XIV. His rule was marked by its displays of opulence through the patronage of arts and science to put France on the map in the international arena. During this period France embarked on the exploration and colonization of North America, setting the stage for conflicts between them and the British on both sides of the Atlantic continuing till the early 19th century.

However, by 1789 A.D. the inefficiencies caused by this system of government caused the monarchy and the aristocracy to be put to a bloody end by a republican revolution. Civil Wars and coups continued for the next 10 years. Through the turmoil emerged a military leader of utter brilliance in that of Napoleon Bonaparte. He began his conquests with Egypt in 1799 A.D., achieving stunning victories over superior numbers in battles such as at Ulm and Austerlitz. However, he was checked at sea by the British. Eventually he extended France's influence to almost the entirety of continental Europe. However by 1812 A.D. Napoleon conquest had led him to Moscow but the Russians refused to surrender, and eventually Napoleon was forced to withdraw and by 1814 A.D. was finally defeated by a combined alliance of the Russians, British, Swedes, Prussians and the Austrians. He was sent into exile but returned in 1815 A.D. for what is known as the "Hundred Days" when a renewed alliance defeated his army at the Battle of Waterloo.

Since the French Revolution, the country has flirted occasionally with charismatic regimes a number of times, waffling between dictatorial rule and democracy. The turmoil continued in France as it was embroiled in more wars and civil strife for the century leading up to the present. Fighting in two world wars. However, during this period it saw France drew closer to its former adversary Britain, as the continental ambitions of Germany for French territory proved too much for France to handle alone. Later in the modern era France also saw the lost of several of its major colonies overseas in Algeria and Indochina in bitter wars of national liberation.

Against this backdrop many artists, writers and other visionaries drew inspiration. Attracting renowned artists from all around Western Europe, such notables as Monet, Rodin, Degas, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and later Picasso flocked to France to create their masterpieces.

A visionary French engineer, Gustav Eiffel built the Eiffel tower in 1889 A.D. It is considered one of the world's most enduring symbols of modern industrialization. France is now in what is called the fifth republic. To date it has proven to be a stable, prosperous and stable democracy. It has taken France to become a major partner in the European community, and an important ally in the nations of western democracies.

Eiffel Tower

Overall Strategy for Players Using France

Napoleanic Horse Grenadiers
Napolean once said "Without cavalry, battles are without result." The player using France receives a more powerful form of the main line cavalry unit starting in the second age that one can progress in the game. This provides the French player with the tools that is traditionally used for a very effective rush strategy. That of a powerful high speed unit available early in the game, this line of units continues all the way to the gunpowder age to maintain the pressure should the initial rush prove insufficient to destroy the opponent outright. Their more efficient scouts and spies will also add to better provide the tactical intelligence needed to carry out an effective rush, and to keep the French in step with its opponents.

Their advantages with more effective and cheaper generals, and supply wagons should be a great asset in creating a successful outcome in larger scale battles. It also allows the French player to split his forces with each being lead by a general to multiply the effectiveness of multi-prong strategies like flanking attacks.

France as modelled in Rise of Nations

Unique units

  • Heavy Cavalry Line
Chevalier (Classical Age)
20% more powerful then regular heavy cavalry

Heavy Chevalier (Medieval Age)

Horse Grenadier (Gunpowder Age)

Horse Guard Grenadier (Enlightenment Age)

Unique powers (Power of Leadership)

  • Receive a free supply wagon each time a new seige factory is built
  • Receive a free General each time a new Fort is built
  • Siege factory units 25% cheaper and 50% faster
  • Start with Lumber Mill, and upgrades for free
  • Woodcutters holds +2 citizens
  • +10% Commerce cap on Timber

Written By: One Dead Angel

References,, Creenaught Celtic History Site, Washington State University, UCLA, Upenn, NapoleonSeries.Org.