1000 Years of Annoying the French

But at the same time, any mention of the history of Quebec rouses burning anti-British and anti-American outrage in a French person’s heart, as if someone was talking about a favourite café of theirs that had been turned into a Starbucks. Canada

His posturing for independence came to its logical climax when in 1966 he ordered all foreign troops out of France, arguing that in the event of war, he would not let French soldiers bow to American command as they had been forced to do in World War Two. The way de Gaulle announced his new policy has gone down in history. Apparently the Général phoned the American President, Lyndon Johnson, to tell him that France was opting out of NATO, and that consequently all American military personnel had to be removed from French soil. Taking part in the conference call was Dean Rusk, the US Secretary of State, and Johnson told Rusk to reply: ‘Does that include those buried in it?

In French eyes, it was of course doubly wrong to execute a beautiful woman.

it must have been hard making a silent movie about a girl who hears voices.)

It was Voltaire who said that ‘in a government, you need both shepherds and butchers.’ The problem in France was that the butchers kept killing the shepherds, while the sheep turned cannibal.

James II’s second wife, an Italian Catholic princess called Mary (at the time, there was an edict whereby all female royals were to be called Mary to confuse future readers of history books),

Orsini and one of his fellow conspirators were guillotined, and an accomplice called Carlo di Rudio was transported to Devil’s Island, the notorious French prison camp in French Guiana. He escaped and later fought alongside General Custer at Little Big Horn. True to form, he survived.

Philippe also brought along musicians - mainly trumpeters and drummers - to scare the enemy. Even then, French music was known to terrify the English.

Tanacharison (who could relate to the cow because he claimed that the French had boiled and eaten his father),

The Frenchmen tried to explain that sexual intercourse between males was taboo (despite anything the Brits might have told them about French sailors),

The prospect of one day being hauled out of the canal by yet another old enemy was hard for France to swallow, even more so when British and French defence specialists discussed their exit strategy in case of an overwhelming Soviet attack, and the Brits proposed a massive evacuation via Dunkirk.

there is a French version of the story, and a true one.

This is a very French trait. Today, if a big manufacturing company is in trouble, it will parachute in a graduate of one of France’s grandes écoles, someone who has studied business theory and maths for ten years but never actually been inside a factory. The important thing to the French is not experience, it is leadership – or, more exactly, French-style leadership, which mainly involves ignoring advice from anyone with lots of experience but no French grande école on their CV.

This is of course the Prince of Wales’s motto to this day, though subsequent princes have not adopted John of Bohemia’s custom of fighting while tied up and blind.

This is probably the most annoying thing of all to the French. Not only do we pronounce the battles incorrectly (Crécy should be ‘Cray-see’ and Waterloo ‘Watt-air-loh’), with Agincourt (‘Ah-zan-coor’) we even get the spelling wrong.

Verrazzano must have been turning in his grave. (Except that he didn’t have one because he’d been eaten.)

When a Quebecker is interviewed for French TV, he or she is often subtitled in ‘normal’ French, as if the language they speak in francophone Canada is so barbarous that Parisians won’t be able to understand