French nationalism

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French nationalism is the nationalism that asserts that the French are a nation and promotes the cultural unity of the French.[1]


The origin of French nationalism and French patriotism is viewed to have begun with Joan of Arc who fought for France and always addressed her supporters as "Frenchmen".[2] French nationalism rose as a movement after the French Revolution in 1789.[2] Napoleon Bonaparte promoted French nationalism based upon the ideals of the French Revolution such as the idea of "liberty, equality, fraternity" and justified French expansionism and French military campaigns on the claim that France had the right to spread the enlightened ideals of the French Revolution across Europe,[2] and also to expand France into its so-called "natural borders." Napoleon's invasions of other nations had the effect of spreading the concept of nationalism outside France.[2]

After Napoleon's defeat and downfall, French nationalism from the 19th to early 20th century took on an assertive and extreme patriotism that supported military force to achieve its political goals.[2] During World War I France pursued irredentist claims on the region of Alsace-Lorraine that had been lost by France to Germany at the end of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. French national pride was damaged in World War I by the long, drawn out war with Germany fought on its soil; especially in World War II when the French government surrendered to Germany in 1940; and after France lost many of its colonies due to decolonization after World War II.[2]

The war hero of Free France, Charles de Gaulle became President of France and sought to resurrect national pride.[2] De Gaulle sought to make France the leader of an independent Europe - free from American and Soviet influence.[3] De Gaulle's government sought Franco-German reconciliation and took a leading role in the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community that sought to resolve economic tensions between France and Germany, that French foreign minister Robert Schuman declared was designed "to end Franco-German hostility once and for all.".[3]

See also


  1. Motyl 2001, pp. 170.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Motyl 2001, pp. 171.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Motyl 2001, pp. 172.