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2 12, 1:04am
It’s probably more to do with Napoleon than Charlemagne. The French empire under Napoleon was the peak of French smugness over their own excellence and power and it was a heavy fall for them, much to the rejoice of everyone else on the continent. Really everything that happened after the end of the hundred years war has been a build-up of French power until they become the leading military and cultural power of Europe.
So anyway, the French didn’t really get over that “we are the best” mentality and continued to believe that they were indeed the best, which wasn’t that untrue really until the rise of unified Germany which soon left good ol’ France a well deserved second place. Which annoyed, and frightened the French, obviously. So they decided to do something about it, and here starts the sad story that is the military effort of the French military in modern times.
They lost the French-German war in 1870-71 and lost Elsaß-Lothringen to Germany.
Then came the first world war which they only did not loose thanks to their allies and the military incompetence of the Austro-Hungarian forces.
Then came the second world war, which they lost, hard. And in post-ww2 time they also lost their colonial wars, getting their asses handed to them by slanted-eyed jungle farmers and some north african desert hillmen.
Of course in the colonial wars they, like the U.S in Vietnam, had a problem with civil support for the war effort on the homefront, which really was the actual reason they left.
The „we’re the best“ mentality still lives on somewhat amongst the French, and so does the need to ridicule them amongst us others. Hence this funny joke about France always surrendering.