In 1783 a French foreign office report stated that if France continued down its long line of defeat after defeat, it would soon become “a power of secondary rank limited to Continental Europe”.Indeed, France in the years before the revolution could be considered a failure in war and all things having to do with the military. In 1763 The Seven Years’ War ended, depriving France of much of its colonial holdings in Canada and India. On the continent, the war saw an inferior Prussian army of 22,000 defeat a French army of 34,000. France’s support of the American Revolution beginning in 1778 ended in success for the Americans, but in bankruptcy for the French. Every French initiative during the conflict ended in failure. In 1779 a British fleet of 30 ships turned back a French fleet twice that size bound for an invasion of England. Attacks on the island of Jersey in 1779 and 1781, as well as an attempted siege if Gibraltar in 1783, likewise ended in failure.Why was the most populous, culturally influential, and richestnation in Europe losing battle after battle? Perhaps a more interesting question would be how did this nation in decline rise to conquer all of continental Europe a few decades later? Yet more interesting is the answer. France under Louis XV and Louis XVI had already made the reforms necessary to transform the French army in to a force that was technologically the same as the one Napoleon used to conquer Europe; all that was needed were changes in its management and a revolutionary spirit. In other words, France during The Seven Years’ War and the American Revolution wielded the same technological weapon as it did during the Napoleonic Wars. All that had changed was the motivation and the leadership. In a century that counted only sixteen yearswhen the European continent was completely at peace, there were great changes taking place throughout the militaries of the great powers in the 1…
France Military Paper
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