France (481- ) has long been one of the top countries in the West. The Romans called it Gallia. It fell to the Franks after the fall of Rome and became France. Even though the name had been changed, the country kept its Roman ways which in time became what we think of as French.
France has not always been united under the government in Paris. Parts have broken away for a time, such as Burgundy and Aquitaine.
Till the rise of the British Empire in the 1800s, France was physically and politically at the heart of the West. It stood between all of the other large Western countries: Spain, Britain, Germany and Italy.
Much of what we think of as Western is really just French. Their two great conquerors, Charlemagne in the early 800s and Napoleon in the early 1800s, have both made the French way of doing things the Western way.
France has now fallen to a middle power. It still has a good military but it has lost most of its empire and is no match for America. It is a fate it has not yet fully accepted.
France is friends with America. It helped to free America from Britain in the 1780s, while America helped to free France from Germany in the 1940s. Both have stood as examples of freedom and democracy for the West. France does not always agree with America and will stand up to it, but they remain friends. They have too much in common.
France has been attacked by Germany two times in the past 100 years. To prevent this from happening again, France has bound Germany to itself and the rest of Europe through the common market of the European Union. If Germany has too much of its money in France, the thinking goes, it will dare not attack it.
You see where this is going: France also hopes to make the European Union a counterweight to America.
Time and again France has set the course of religion in the West:
- In 496 Clovis I, its first king, became Catholic not Arian.
- In 732 at the Battle of Tours it stopped Islam from taking over the rest of Europe.
- In 1229 the king overcame the Albigensian heretics in the south of France.
- In 1572 on St Bartholomew’s Day the French killed their Protestant countrymen in a horrible bloodbath. This stopped the West from becoming entirely
- In 1789 the French Revolution, overthrew the power of the king and the Church. France became the first secular state in Europe: one based not on religion. It became the example for the West.
Now it seems close to a sixth turning point: the rise of Islam in France. Muslims this time have not come as an army but as Arabs moving to France looking for work.
The Arabs wear their religion in public, refuse to become French and have far more children than the French. The fear is that in a hundred years France will no longer be France but North Algeria.