If real life was like a game of civilization then France started out in one of the luckiest possible positions on the entire map. It is mostly pretty unfair that the geography around France gives it a lot of pretty unique advantages and buffs that a lot of other civilizations in the game didn’t really get it here’s how. France straddles the boundary between northern and southern Europe and it’s the only country that could truly be considered a part of both regions owing to a large series of big and easily navigable rivers like the Rhine, Marne, Siene, Lorie, Rhone and Garrone. France has the capability to exert trading power across every region of Western Europe but the rivers also helped to provide France with an abundance of arable land. France has always been one of the leading agricultural powers in Europe. For this reason and the modern French state has significantly more arable land than any other country in Europe except for Ukraine or Russia. France has always had the capability to produce more food than historical rivals like England or Germany and Paris is France’s capital an administrative center for a very strategic reason as well. it sits at the intersection of the Sun and Marne rivers and enables Paris to exert effective administrative control over trade in and out of the area to the rest of France and Europe. Frances interior is largely made up of highly productive farmland some flat ground or gentle rolling hills in the north, in the West and slightly more mountainous terrain in the south. Because of the high numbers of navigable rivers and the relatively easy to traverse terrain France has always been easy to travel across and it’s all therefore easily connected and ruled by the central authority in Paris. Which has caused the entire region to share a common French identity all circumstances .Which led to France becoming one of the world’s first true nation states but Frances external borders are perhaps her greatest strength. Surrounded by imposing geographic features Frances borders almost serve as a kind of geographic armor against any external threats. To the north is the English Channel, to the west is the Atlantic, to the south are the Pyrenees Mountains that are easy to defend the Mediterranean Sea and to South East are the massive Alps that require almost nothing to defend, to the immediate East is the intimidating grind but to the northeast is France’s only flaw in her geographic defense system. An open plain that’s part of the greater North European plain that can serve as a funnel for enemy troops and people to just walk or drive across .And for well over a thousand years now French rulers across generations have been acutely aware of this weak point in their defence. 1,000 years ago the territory of France, much resembled the territory of modern France, save for a bit more territory in the easternmost direction.
Today France has always been protected by imposing natural geography from every direction except for the east and it’s been one of the biggest foreign policy objectives for every French ruler to try and solve that problem through one of either two means, by militarily conquering territory to expand the frontier to more easily defensible Eastern terrain like the Alps or the Rhine or through diplomatically controlling external threats. Under the rule of louis xiv france gradually expanded her territory to the alps in the southeast and part of the rhine in the immediate east in order to acquire better geographic armor but most of the northeast still remained vulnerable across the plain during the french revolution .Many revolutionary thinkers began discussing the theory on the natural borders of france which argued that france’s natural borders should extend to cover all of the land in europe west of the Rhine River. The Rhine was intended to complete France’s Geographic armor and finally secure the French borders with natural defenses in a 360-degree sense. The revolutionaries feared attacks from the remaining monarchist powers in Europe and believed that the revolutionary gains in France had to be protected by expansion to the more easy to defend Ryan. While the French Revolution succeeded in conquering this territory into France .Napoleon came around and expanded france’s borders to well be gone to the natural borders of the pyrenees, the Rhine and the Alps. For a time France shared land borders with Denmark, Austria and the Ottoman Empire. But once Napoleon was defeated France was essentially reset back to the same borders that she had after the 14th, and was pushed back away from most of the Rhine and with the weak spot in the Northeast across the plains restored. This would prove disastrous in the centuries to come. France would fight three separate wars with Germany in 1870 ,1914 and again in 1939 and in all three of those instances Germany was able to take advantage of the geographic weak point and invaded France across the plain in the Northeast. It worked perfectly the first time almost worked the second time and it worked perfectly again the third time. France attempted to make the situation better after the second time by buffing the area up with man-made defences in the form of the Maginot Line but belgium didn’t ever agree to allow france to extend it across the franco-belgian border until it was too late. When Belgium finally agreed and France started construction, war and the German invasion across it had already begun. the French and the British knew the Germany would probably attack through the plains again so they moved most of their military into the area to defend it. However the French placed a bit too much faith in their geographic armor this time because they assumed that the are dead region would be too rough of a terrain for the Germans to cross and subsequently only left a small force behind to defend it. The Germans were in fact capable of attacking quickly through the region overwhelmed the light French defenses and cooked around to encircle most of the Allied army in the plains. Frances weak point of the plains was exploited by Germany on three separate occasions and France was catastrophically defeated twice and severely crippled the other time. France was only able to survive these attacks through the help of bigger Allied powers and diplomacy. Frances borders were fully restored in 1945 again to what they have mostly been since the days of louis xiv. But this time france has embarked on the other method that they’ve used to secure their geography weakness diplomacy through the creation of the European Union. France hoped that war between European powers would never happen again and particularly hope that it would make another war between France and Germany impossible and with a modern-day friendship and close partnership that exists between the two countries. It seems that that European dream at least is alive and well, war between France and Germany is completely unthinkable in the modern world because of things I think European Union and a shared currency. All prime foreign policy objectives of France and because of that Frances hole in her Geographic armor is entirely secured. Complex diplomacy is oftentimes much more effective than simple forts and bombs.
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