With a far-reaching history dating back to Roman times (then known as the Gauls - which we include as France here, and then, later, as the Franks), heroic French military exploits begin to cover thousands of years of warfare. The listing below showcases the various successes (and failures) of the French throughout their long-established existence - an existence that brought about the knight as the mounted chivalric warrior and produced military tacticians such as Joan of Arc and Napoleon Bonaparte. France's battlefield commanders would go on to earn military victories against many of the major principalities governing Europe and the Middle East during their respective time periods. Consider the words of first-hand accounts by those having visited the French frontlines of World War 1:
"...and a certain unconscious brutality of hurry and gesture in the men is related to their inexhaustible and extraordinary military courage. (...) Let a fool hate France."
- G.K. Chesterton
"The French soldiers are grand. They are grand. There is no other word to express it."
- Arthur Conan Doyle, A visit to three fronts (1916)
"Their business is war, and they do their business."
- R. Kipling, France at war (1915)
NOTE: While Franks actually represent the beginnings of both the French and German peoples (and, as such, their military victories are often claimed by both parties) we have included them in this listing of French Military Victories. A special thanks for the contributions of Pierre M and Nicolas C via email.
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The outnumbered Gauls, led by Brennus, defeat the army of the Roman Republic led by Quintus Sulpicius and ultimately go on to sack Rome itself.
The outnumbered Gauls and Samniums - under Egnatius - are defeated by Decius Mus and Fabius Maximus Rullianus of the Roman Republic.
The outnumbered Gauls, led by Concolitanus and Aneorestus, are defeated by Atiliua Regulus and Aemilius Papus of the Roman Republic.
The Gallic Tribes, led by Vercingetorix, defeat the Roman Republic army led by Julius Caesar. Despite the victory, the Gauls take heavy casualties among their ranks, forcing a retreat to Alesia.
The Gauls, led by Vercingetorix and Commius, and, despite owning an advantage in numbers, lose upwards of 250,000 men in this decisive Roman victory by Julius Caesar.
The Franks, led by King Clovis I, defeat Syagrius and the remains of the Western Roman Empire.
The Franks, led by Clovis I, are victorious over the Alamanni.
The Franks, led by Clovis I, defeat Alaric II (the conqueror of Spain) and his Visigoths in a decisive victory.
The Carolingian Franks, led by Charles Martel, defeat a large invading Muslim force under the command of Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi.
Charlemagne and his Frankish forces defeat King Desiderius of the Lombards.
The Franks are victorious over the invading barbarians, the hordes having laid seige to the city.
William, the Duke of Normandy and King Henry I of France are victorious against the rebel Normans led by Guy of Burgundy.
A Norman-French Army led by Duke William II of Normandy successfully handles the English led by King Harold Goodwinson. A decisive victory, this marks the beginning of the Norman conquest of England.
Unified Christian Crusaders defeat the Seljuk Turks.
Godfrey de Bouillon and his Crusader army defeat the Fatimids of al-Afdal Shahanshah.
Louis VI of France and his invasion force is defeated by Henry I of England.
King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem and Raynald de Chatillon gain a major victory over Saladin.
Richard I of England is victorious over Philip Augustus of France.
In a preemptive strike, King John of England sends William de Longespee to attack the harbor of Damme, finding only light resistance, whilst King Philip II of France and his army is away in Flanders.
Philip Augustus of France overwhelmingly defeats Germany's Otto IV and Count Ferrand of Flanders.
Louis VIII of France is beaten by King Henry III of England.
The English, led by Edward III of England, are victorious over the French, led by Hugues Quieret and Nicolas Behuchet.
French forces beat back the attacking English and force a retreat.
The French led by Louis of Poiters are defeated by the English, led by Henry, the Earl of Derby.
The House of Blois, allied with France (Charles of Blois), is defeated by the House of Montfort, they being allied with England (Sir Thomas Dagworth).
The French and Raoul II of Brienne lose Caen to Edward III of England.
The French and Gudemar du Foy fail to stop the English river crossing of the Somme by Edward III.
Philip VI of France falls to Edward III of England.
The French under Jean de Fosseux surrender after nearly a year-long seige by Edward III and his English army.
The French along with Duke Charles of Blois are defeated by the English and Sir Thomas Dagworth.
The French force the withdrawal of a combined Anglo-Gascons force.
French forces are victorious over the English.
The French come up losers as a combined Anglo-Breton force earns the final victory.
John II of France is beaten by Edward, the "Black Prince" of England.
The French and Bertrand du Guesclin find victory against Charles II of Navarre.
Charles of Blois falls to Sir John Chandos of England and John de Montfort of France.
Pedro the Cruel and his English allies are victorious over brother Henry of Trastamara and his French allies.
The Franco-Castilian combined forces led by Henry II of Castile find victory against a conglomerate of Portuguese, Jewish, Granadine and Marinid forces led by Pedro of Castile.
The French-Castilion fleet wins control of the Channel after a decisive victory over the English.
French forces, whilst laying siege to Chiset, repel an English relief force.
Louis II of Flanders and Philip the Bold lay waste to Philip Van Artevelde and the Flemish.
The French Crusaders fall to the Ottoman Turks near Nicopolis.
Jean Le Maingre and Charles d'Albret fall to Henry V of England in what would become a massacre of their men-at-arms knights.
The city of Rouen and Guy le Bouteiller fall to an English siege.
A combined force from France and Scotland defeat the English in one of the earliest English defeats of the Hundred Years' War.
The city of Meaux falls to the English.
Comte de Vendome of France falls to Thomas Montacute of England in a renewel of English-Franco hostilities.
England and John, the Duke of Bedford, is victorious over a combined Franco-Scotish force led by Viscount Aumale.
Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc), Gilles de Rais and Jean d'Orleans of France defeat the Earl of Shrewsbury, the Earl of Salisbury and the Duke of Suffolk.
Jeanne d'Arc of France leads victorious against William de la Pole of England.
Jeanne d'Arc delivers yet another French victory over the English.
La Hire and Poton de Xaintrailles of France defeat Sir John Fastolf of England, effectively turning the tide of the Hundred Years' War.
Though Jeanne d'Arc is taken prisoner (and ultimately executed), the French resist the English siege from Philip the Good and John II of Luxembourg.
French forces, led by commander La Hire and Jean Poton Xaintrailles, defeat the English.
The French Army is forced to retreat at the hands of the determined Swiss Pikemen.
Comte de Clermont and Comte de Richemont of France defeat Thomas Kyriell of England.
Charles VII of France defeats John Talbot of England.
French forces are decidedly victorious over the Venetians.
Francis I and his French forces defeat the Swiss.
Francis I loses out to the Spanish-Imperial army under Charles de Lannoy.
French forces defeat the Spanish Imperial Army.
French forces are victorious over the Spanish once more.
French forces are victorious over an army fielded by the Holy Roman Empire.
French forces, once again, defeat the Holy Roman Empire's Imperial army.
A combined Anglo-French army is victorious over the Spanish.
This naval battle sees the French victorious over the Anglo-Dutch.
Another naval battle sees the French victorious over their Anglo-Dutch counterparts.
Marshal Luxembourg and his French forces decidedly defeat an Anglo-Dutch contingent.
A turning point in the War of the Spanish Succession, the Holy Roman Empire, the Dutch Republic, Denmark and England deliver a blow to France and the Electorate of Bavaria. France alone records some 30,000 casualties and Commander-in-Chief Marshal Tallard is taken prisoner by England.
The combined forces of France, Spain and the Electorate of Bavaria fall to the Grand Alliance made up of England and the Dutch Republic during the War of the Spanish Succession.
During this battle of the War of the Spanish Succession, the kingdoms of France and Spain proved victorious over the English, Portuguese and Dutch.
During the War of the Spanish Succession, a combined French and Spanish force defeat a combined army of Austria, the Dutch Republic, Savoy and Great Britain.
The Duke of Burgundy and the Duc de Vendome fall to the coalition of nations made up of Great Britain, the Dutch Republic and the Holy Roman Empire.
France and the Electorate of Bavaria are defeated by Austria, Great Britain, Prussia, the Kingdom of Denmark and the United Provinces.
French forces, led by Marshal Villars, are victorious over the Austrian and Dutch forces.
French forces successfully take Eger.
Part of the War of Austrian Succession, an alliance of British, Hanover and Hesse forces defeat the French Army.
Joining the Spanish in this naval battle against Great Britain (when victory was already within Spanish reach), the French assist in ending a British naval blockade. Part of the War of the Austrian Succession.
Maurice de Saxe and his French army defeat a contingent of Anglo-Austrian-Dutch-Hano troops.
Maurice de Saxe is once again victorious over the Anglo-Austrian-Dutch-Hano forces.
Maurice de Saxe is, yet again, victorious over the Anglo-Austrian-Dutch-Hano forces.
The Galissonniere at Minorca secure the landing of Richelieu by defeating the British Navy led by Admiral Byng.
French forces in Germany defeat an English army.
General Montcalm and his vastly outnumbered French forces are victorious over the British.
French General Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm leads his New French Militia to defeat at the hands of the British led by General James Wolfe outside of Quebec City in what is today Canada. Both generals are mortally wounded in the fray. The defeat signals the beginning for the end for French control in North America.
French forces, allied with the Americans, are victorious over Cornwallis and his English army.
France, coming the aid of America's George Washington, defeats the British in a strategic victory.
France defeats the invading armies of Prussia and Austria.
French Republic forces (to include a young Captain by the name of Napoleon Bonaparte) earn the victory against a combined enemy force led by the British and , Spanish. Also known as the Fall of Toulon.
Jourdan and his French forces are victorious over the Austrians.
France defeats a coalition of Prussian, Austrian and Saxon troops.
Napoleon Bonaparte is victorious over the Piedmontese in Mondovi.
The French beat a force of Austrians.
The French are victorious over the Austrians yet again.
Napoleon Bonaparte I of France leads victorious over the Austrians.
French General Moreau is victorious against Austrian General Staray.
Napoleon's French forces net a victory over the Austrians.
The French First Republic, led by Francois-Paul Brueys d'Aigalliers, is handed defeat at Aboukir Bay in Egypt by the British under Rear-Admiral, Sir Horatio Nelson.
French forces route Egyptian Mamelukes.
Outnumbered French forces decimate a much larger Turkish force.
French General Macdonald loses to the Russians led by General Suvorov.
General Barthelemy Catherine Joubert loses to the combined forces of Austria and Russia led by Fieldmarshal Alexander Suvorov.
Napoleon's French Army defeats another Turkish force in Egypt.
Massena and his French force route the Russians in Switzerland.
Napoleon's French forces are victorious over Melas and his Austrians.
A decisive French victory by General Moreau over the Austrian Empire led by Archduke John.
Napoleon Bonaparte's army, led by Charles LeClerc is defeated by the Haitian indigenous army, led by Dessalines.
Pierre Charles Silvestre de Villeneuve, and his combined Franco-Spanish fleet of 33 ships, is defeated by Viscount Horatio Nelson and his smaller band of 27 British ships in this decisive naval battle of the Napoleonic Wars.
Napoleon I of France is decidedly victorious over Russia and the Austrian Empire.
Napoleon I of France is victorious over Frederick William III of Prussia.
Marshal Lannes of France leads against General Bennigsen of Russia in this inconclusive engagement.
The battle results are inconclusive as Napoleon of France combats the powers of Russia and Prussia led by Bennigsen.
Napoleon Bonaparte is victorious against General Bennigsen's Russians.
Pierre DuPont of France loses to Francisco Castanos of Spain.
Jean Lannes of France is victorious over Francisco Castanos of Spain.
General Victor of France is victorious over General Venegas of Spain.
Napoleon Bonaparte defeats Austrian forces in Landshut.
Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult is unable to prevent the British evacuation of British troops from Spain led by John Moore.
In Napoleon's first major defeat, he loses out to the determined Austrians under Archduke Charles.
A French victory for General Sebastiani against Spain under direction from General Cartojal.
Napoleon and his French forces are victorious over the Austrians in Abensberg.
The French, under Davout, defeat Archduke Charles and his Austrian army.
A decisive victory for Napoleon Bonaparte over Austria's Archduke Charles.
Marshal Victor and his French troops decidedly defeat Cuesta and his Spanish army.
Marshal Soult and his outnumbered French forces crush the Spanish army yet again.
The French score a victory at Astorga.
France, led by Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult, falls to the coalition of nations made up of Britain, Portugal and Spain.
Surrender and retreat by the French garrison to a force of Anglo-Portuguese is one of the bloodiest sieges of the Napoleonic Wars.
A major French defeat for Auguste Marmont against the Anglo-Portuguese-Spanish Alliance.
Napoleon Bonaparte of France is victorious against Russia led by Prince Bagration.
Napoleon Bonaparte of the First French Empire is victorious against Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov of the Russian Empire.
General Delzons of France claims a victory over the Russians led by Marshal Kutuzov. Russians claim a strategic victory. Napoleon's stepson Eugene de Beauharnais is involved in the battle.
The outnumbered French route a larger multi-national contingent.
Napoleon I of France is victorious against Germany's Gebhard von Blucher, Peter Wittgenstein and Gerhard von Scharnhorst.
France, led by Jean-Baptiste Jourdan and Joseph Bonaparte, loses out to the Anglo-Spanish coalition led by Arthur Wellesley.
General Dominique Vandamme of France loses to the allied forces of Austria, Russia, and Prussian led by Field-Marshal Barclay de Tolly.
Napoleon I of France loses decisively to the coalition of Britain, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Prussia, Austria, Sweden and several German states.
Napoleon and his band of 18,000 Frenchmen defeat 30,000 Prussian troops in the final battle of the Six Days Campaign.
Standing as Napoleon's final victory, French forces find success over the Prussians.
In Napoleon's last battle, he loses out to a coalition consisting of England, Russia, Austria and Prussia.
The French defeat the Spanish.
A coalition force of French, British, Irish, Italian, Belgium, United States, Dutch and Russian forces defeat the Ottoman Empire and Egypt in this large-scale sea battle.
French forces invade and conquer the North African country of Algeria.
A coalition of French, British and Turkish troops defeat Russia during this Crimean War engagement.
French forces help in overtaking the Russians.
The French are victorious over the Austrians.
An outnumbered Mexican force led by Ignacio Zaragoza defeats Napoleon III's French forces - led by Charles de Lorencez - giving Mexico its "Cinco de Mayo".
The French Foreign Legion become legendary as 62 soldiers stave off complete elimination against a Mexican Army force of some 2,000 strong. After their showing, the two remaining French survivors are granted safe passage by the Mexican commander in respect to their battlefield conduct.
Patrice MacMahon of France falls to Crown Prince Frederich Wilhelm.
The battle results in a draw as Francois Achille Bazaine of France secures a tactical victory and Helmuth von Moltke of Prussia secures a strategic victory.
Napoleon III, Patrice MacMahon and Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot of France fall to the Germans led by Wilhelm I and Helmuth von Moltke.
Besieged by superior Prussian forces, General Bazaine surrenders his army and the fortress of Metz.
Besieged by superior German forces, and after several unsuccessful sorties, the starving capital of France surrenders.
French navy forces destroy the Chinese navy.
French and British forces fall to the Germans.
France, led by Pierre Ruffey and Fernand de Langle de Cary lose to Germany and Albrecht, the Duke of Wurttemberg and Crown Prince Wilhelm.
A Franco-British force successfully invades the German West African protectorate of Togoland.
A Franco-British (largely French) force led by Joseph Joffre and John French defeat Germany led by Helmuth von Moltke and Karl von Bulow.
French and British troop actions end in a draw with the Germans.
French and British forces gain a victory against Germany.
France earn a draw against Germany.
France and Britain earn a draw against Germany and Crown Prince Rupprecht.
Casualties mount on both sides but French forces ultimately push back the German tide.
The battle, like many others in World War I, results in a draw between French and German forces.
The French take 187,000 casualties of their 850,000-strong commitment against 163,000 German casualties with an overall strength of 480,000, the enemy forces holding Chemin des Dame ridge.
A French-led force beats back the German advance with help from British, Italian and American forces.
French, British and American forces halt the German advance.
France, Britain and the United States led by John J. Pershing and James Harbord are victorious over the German Empire and Crown Prince Wilhelm.
The combined French and American force (largely American) succeeds in taking the Germans by surprise.
French, British, Canadian and Australian forces are victorious over Germany.
French forces rout the Syrian army.
In defense of France proper, French, British, Polish, Belgium and Dutch armies are defeated by the combined Axis powers of Germany and Italy.
Britain and France are soundly beaten by the advancing German army, with hundreds of thousands of survivors eventually seeking refuge across the English Channel in Britain and northern France formally falling to German occupation.
French forces, led by LeClerc, defeat the Italians.
Charged with delaying a combined German-Italian force of 45,000 (led by General Erwin Rommel), the Free French Force - under the command of Brigade General Marie-Pierre Koenig and numbering 3,700 men - digs their heels in the Libyan desert. Though the Axis eventually claim the overall victory, the successful French delay aids in reinforcing Allied strength at El Alamein. "A grain of sand had curbed the Axis advance...this grain of sand was Bir Hakeim" - General Bernard Saint-Hiller.
A combined force - led by the United States, Britain and Canada (including a contingent of Free French) - ultimately turn the tide in war-torn Europe during World War 2 through a large-scale amphibious assault against German-held northern France.
Tassigny and his French forces liberate the towns of Toulon and Marseilles from German control.
French forces cross the Danube River and repel German SS counterattacks.
French forces led by Christian de Castries put up a valiant defense against overwhelming odds, eventually surrendering to the advancing Viet Minh led by Vo Nguyen Giap.
After years of urban and rural warfare, French forces leave colonial Algeria, earning the African country its formal independence.
A limited contingent of French forces, as part of a greater global alliance, assist in the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation.
Operating under the banner of the United Nations, a small French force attempts to provide safety for civilians caught in the middle of the Rwandan genocide. Perhaps as many as tens of thousands are saved by the intervention.
Participating in the War in Afghanistan alongside primary players US and Britain, a French force conducts 140 successful air sorties against suspected Taliban positions before standing down.
French special forces elements join the US/NATO initiative against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
A French peace-keeping force is sent to the Ivory Coast under the flag of the UN during the Ivorian Civil War. A short-lived "peace" is established.
French peace-keeping forces of the United Nations succeed in stabilization of lawless western border.
As part of the United Nations, France provides her troops in the peace-keeping effort.
The French Navy is successful in extracting nearly 15,000 people to safety, an operation brought about by the 2006 Lebanon War.
To manage the cease-fire agreement between Lebanon and Israel, French peace-keepers (as part of the UN) are stationed along the shared border.
French aircraft, as part of a NATO contingent, fly strike missions against the Army of al-Gaddafi in enforcement of a "No-Fly Zone" designed to protect Libyan civilians.
A French military operation involving combined air and ground elements in support of the Mali government against Islamic militant forces attempting to gain control of the country.
French air power joins a U.S.-led effort in conducting strikes against ISIS positions and control points across Iraq.