Welcome to the 16th development diary for Europa Universalis Iv and today we will focus on the great nation of France. Or as they are popularly known on the forum by experienced gamers: the big blue blob. France is the country that you either love to play or love to hate, because even though it starts in a somewhat weak position, more often than not, this is the power that can make a player’s life miserable once it gets its act together.
Not that you need to be reminded where it is, but France extends from the Mediterranean Sea in the South to the English Channel and the North Sea in the North, and from the Rhine on the East to the Atlantic Ocean on the West. From its shape, it is often referred to in French as l’Hexagone ("The Hexagon") and these natural borders, including the Pyrenees and Alps, both give it clear definition and a rich homeland from which to dominate Europe.
France doesn’t open the Grand Campaign in command of these vast lands. In 1444 she is still divided, with major chunks of territory to the north and southwest controlled by the hated English, much French territory is still under the rule of vassals or petty princes, and both Brittany and Burgundy command valuable strategic property.
Still, by 1500, a skilled player will have done as the French did and banished most of these worries away – or at least weakened them. France comes to the table with a ton of assets.
First, its immense land size and wealth means that it will always be a major player in the land wars on the continent. Though it starts in a bit of a hole with a large military it can just sustain, before long France is rolling in money with easy access to a number of rich trade nodes. Wealth means more buildings and more soldiers, and France can be rich enough to exceed its military cap. France can move south through the Alps to Italy, cross the Pyrenees to dominate Aragon, or keep a strong iron heel in Germany to prevent anything coming at her from that direction. With a large population and many cities to draw from, reinforcements are rarely an issue.
Second, it has three sea borders, so it can even play a strong naval game, with major fleets ready to go almost anywhere. Western ports are good home for explorers, so though it won’t get the early jump that Portugal and Spain have, France can focus on a colonial empire if its chooses to do so.
Not to mention the fact that a naval France has a chance to eliminate England more easily than other nations since all it has to do is control the English Channel and establish a foothold.
So, like its southern neighbor Spain, France is a land full of options for the player, enhanced by clear natural boundaries, a mostly cohesive culture and tons of manpower.
French Dynamic Historical Events
France has two major historical event series that delve deeply into topics that people should be familiar with if they know anything about the history of this era:
Wars of Religion
The rise of Protestantism in Europe led France into to a bloody three decades of civil war known as the Wars of Religion. With major noble families on both sides of the religious schism and the country crawling with unemployed mercenaries, France would not be spared the violence that was consuming Europe. Blood reigned off the battlefield as well, with The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, seeing thousands of Protestant Huguenots murdered in 1572 on the order of Catholic leaders.
In Europa Universalis IV, the French player can experience the Wars of Religion at any point between 1550 and 1570, if less than 80% of the country has the state religion.
You can expect the usual religious uprisings, of course, but the Wars of Religion were international in scope. As Protestantism expands through parts of Europe, leaders of Catholic nations feel threatened. In an effort to counter the growing power of Protestantism, they may choose to form La Ligue Catholique, a major player in the French Wars of Religion, directed at the eradication of Protestants in France. The League was used not only to defend the Catholic cause, but also as a political tool in an attempt to usurp the French throne. European politics is always so much fun.
The formation of the La Ligue catholique will increase tension and neighboring powers may decide to intervene. Should your capital fall, you might even wonder if Paris is worth a Mass after all.
The French Revolution & Napoleon
y the late 18th century, a combination of bad harvests, rising food prices, and an inadequate transportation system hindering the shipment of bulk foods from rural areas to large population centers led to hunger and malnutrition in France’s cities. The kingdom was near bankruptcy because of France’s financial obligations, largely because of the enormous cost of previous wars and a tax system that subjects the lower classes to a heavy burden while leaving the wealth of the nobles largely untouched. Meanwhile, the royal court was isolated from, and indifferent to, the hardships of the lower classes. Other resentments and middle class aspirations were given new focus by the rise of Enlightment ideas in earlier decades. All these factors contributed greatly to the destabilization of French society and lead up to the Revolution, a Republic and, eventually, a new French monarchy founded by its greatest general.
In Europa Universalis IV, Revolution & Napoleon can happen after 1750 if France is in poor financial shape or is suffering from high war exhaustion, and especially if demands for economic and social reforms have been turned down.
This can cause your nation to enter a period of radical social and political upheaval in France, where the absolute monarchy that has ruled France for centuries can collapse. An epic transformation occurs, as feudal, aristocratic and religious privileges evaporate under a sustained assault from political groups, masses on the streets, and peasants in the countryside. Old ideas about tradition and hierarchy–of monarchy, aristocracy, and religious authority – can be abruptly overthrown by new Enlightenment principles of equality, citizenship and inalienable rights. Events such as The Reign of Terror or The Execution of the King might follow. And an officer by the name of Napoléon Bonaparte might just appear to take the reins.
There are, of course, lots of other dynamic historical events, including the construction of Versailles, and the exploratory missions of Samuel de Champlain.
French Missions & Decisions
France’s national decisions from Europa Universalis III to enable and disable the Edict of Nantes, amongst others, have been kept intact. As with other countries that start fragmented, French missions are mainly focused on uniting the kingdom and establishing its natural borders.
French National Ideas
France traditional power gives them +10% extra income from their vassals, and a +15% manpower boost.
- French Language in All Courts: Allows relations with 2 additional countries without upkeep.
- Estates General: 10% bonus to tax income
- Elan: 33% bonus to Morale and 10% faster morale recovery.
- Native Trading Principle: Native attacks severely reduced
- Vauban Fortifications: 40% bonus to Defensiveness.
- The Philosophes: 10% cheaper technology.
- Liberty, Egalite & Fraternity: +2 tolerance to heathen and heretic religions.
When France has all of its national ideas, they get a +10% bonus to discipline. A fully powered France is clearly a military superpower, with bonuses to almost every major land attribute. The extra tolerance of foreign faiths and reduction of native attacks means that France has unique advantages in building an overseas empire.
Bonus Detail #1: Harsh Treatment
One of the things we wanted to do with Europa Universalis IV was to have more meaningful choices, including more interaction with rebels that are not just defeating their armies in the field. We have mentioned the issue of rebel demands before, so today I'll introduce “harsh treatments”.
In provinces with revolt risk, you now have the option to spend Military Power Points to reduce the chance of revolt for a time. This will cost 5 power per base tax point, and reduces the revolt risk by 5, including the minimum revolt risk. Think of “harsh treatment” as sending in military police or government goons to round up troublemakers before things get out of hand. It’s not a permanent solution, but if you have the Military power to spare.
Now you can use Military, Diplomacy & Administration power, as well as using missionaries to reduce the chances of revolt, or even eliminate the source of rebels entirely.
Bonus Detail #2: Morale recovery.
Morale now recovers much more slowly than in early Europa Universalis games, though there are ideas that can make it recover more quickly. Running army maintenance at low levels is, of course, a severe risk in that it can now take up to a year for a depleted army to raise its morale to the maximum level. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t look at maintenance costs as a place to keep your budget down – just don’t expect your men to be ready as soon as they reach the front.
Ps. And a new Europa Universalis IV Interview with King is live at GameReactor!