This series sets out the historical national and religious characteristics of the Germans, French, Italians, Spanish, Dutch and British as they impact on the integration of the respective groups within the European Union. With respect to the French ...
their key characteristic is a tendency to riot, which emerged from the trauma associated with the Hundred Years War and the Black Death, in which France lost about 70 percent of its population. The French Revolution was such a riot. Later the French built myths about the ideals which supposedly drove them in the Revolution, although in fact the main driving force was a struggle over prestige and power. The French used these myths to lead Europe conceptually (and strategically for a brief historical moment under Napoleon Bonaparte). In 1871 a democratic system of government was instituted in France, but it was not due to a desire for such a system on the part of the masses; rather, it was imposed on them by Bismarck, who wanted to weaken France. The national identity which evolved in France was lost with the outbreak of World War II, and the solution to this collapse of national identity was found in the establishment of the European Union.