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The French are a playable civ in the third game's vanilla. They are led by Joan of Arc, one of the few games in which Napoleon is absent.
The French are commercial and industrious. They start the game with Masonry and The Alphabet and build musketeers instead of musketmen.
Modern France has its roots in ancient Gaul. In the 2nd century BC Rome intervened on the side of Massilia (Marseilles), a Greek colony founded in 600 BC, in its struggle against the barbarian tribes of the hinterland. The result was the formation, in 121 BC, of the Roman Provincia; between 58 and 50 BC Caesar seized the remainder. From 395 the internal problems of the Empire encouraged barbarian penetration of Transalpine Gaul. By 418, the Franks and Burgundians were established west of the Rhine, and the Visigoths had settled in Aquitaine. The period of the Merovingian and Carolingian Frankish dynasties (476-887) frames the Early Middle Ages.
Following his ascension, the first Merovingian, Clovis (481-511), consolidated the position of the Franks in northern Gaul. Clovis came to believe that his victories were due to the Christian God. Clovis' subsequent conversion assured the Frankish rulers of the support not only of the Catholic Church but of the majority of their own subjects. By the rise of the house of Valois in 1328, France was the most powerful kingdom in Europe. Its ruler could muster larger armies than rivals; he could tap enormous fiscal resources; and the king's courts maintained royal supremacy. The history of France in the Late Middle Ages is dominated by efforts of its kings to maintain their suzerainty, efforts that, despite French advantages, were long frustrated.
The Hundred Years' War was an intermittent struggle between England and France in the 14th-15th centuries over a series of dynastic disputes, including the legitimate succession to the French crown. The war's turning point was reached in 1429, when an English army was forced to raise its siege of Orléans by a relief force organized by Joan of Arc. Her insistence that only consecration at Reims could make a true king, chosen by God, led to further victories. Charles III was anointed in Reims in July 1429. By 1453, England retained only Calais, which it finally relinquished in 1558.
With the ascension of the infant Louis XIII (1610-1643), the security of the country was again threatened as factions disputed the throne. Crown and country, however, were rescued by the most controversial figure of the Bourbon dynasty: Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal de Richelieu. He proved an indefatigable servant of the French crown, intent on securing absolute obedience to the monarchy and on raising its international prestige through the military prowess of the King's elite Musketeers. Under the last Bourbons, France became the industrial and commercial center of Europe.
These developments, although significant by themselves, gave rise to a still more momentous change: the French Enlightenment, a cultural transformation based on rationalism; empiricism, and an amorphous concept of freedom found in the influential writings of Rousseau (1712-78). Hence, what began in 1787 as a conflict between royal authority and aristocrats became a triangular struggle, with "the masses" opposing both absolutism and privilege. By any standard, the fall of the Bastille to the Parisian crowd was a monumental event, a seemingly miraculous triumph of the people. But the Revolution soon degenerated in a reign of terror and chaos. Unlike others before him, Napoleon terminated the bloodshed, but at the price of suppressing freedom altogether. In utter contrast to the Revolution, militarism became the defining quality of the Napoleonic regime. However, the revolutionary fervor of the French citizenry was undiminished by the Napoleonic experience, and led to further revolutions in 1830 and 1848, the latter leading to the Second Republic followed by the Second Empire (1852-1870).
Following defeat in the Franco-Prussia War, the Third Republic was formed - surviving the First World War but collapsing in the face of the German invasion in 1940. The period of the short-lived Fourth Republic (1947-59) was succeeded by the Fifth, adopted in September 1958 by popular referendum.
Unique Unit: the MusketeerEdit
Although often used to designate the flintlock-armed formations of a number of European countries, the term "Musketeer" generally refers to the King's Guard under Louis XIII and Louis XIV of France, immortalized in Dumas's famous novel. As such, the Musketeers served as a training ground for the young nobility, intended to be the elite of the army. Training not only included mastery of all weapons, from epee to musket, but instruction in social skills and military etiquette as well. In peacetime, the Musketeers served as the King's personal escort. Monsieur Treville, one of the Louis XIII's advisors and ardent sponsor of the Musketeers, and Cardinal Richelieu, who maintained his own company of guards, were political adversaries until the banishment of Treville following a 1642 plot to assassinate the Cardinal. Following that, the prestige of the Musketeers declined. In the military reforms that followed the death of Louis XIV, the Musketeers were disbanded and absorbed into the ranks of the French army.
The Musketeer is an upgraded version of the musketman. Like cavalry, it requires saltpeter to build, but it also receives an additional point of offense due to its skill and training. This makes the Musketeer a valuable multipurpose unit, capable of defending a city against almost any offensive threat, but also able to mobilize for offensive purposes if needed.
Attack: 3 (Musketman has 2) Defense: 4 Move: 1