Philip II of France
Philip II, known as Philip Augustus, was King of France from 1180 to 1223, the seventh from the House of Capet. His predecessors had been known as kings of the Franks, but from 1190 onward, Philip became the first French monarch to style himself "King of France"; the son of King Louis VII and his third wife, Adela of Champagne, he was nicknamed Dieudonné because he was a first son and born late in his father's life. Philip was given the epithet "Augustus" by the chronicler Rigord for having extended the crown lands of France so remarkably; the only known description of Philip describes him as "a handsome, strapping fellow, bald but with a cheerful face of ruddy complexion, a temperament much inclined towards good-living and women. He was generous to his friends, stingy towards those who displeased him, well-versed in the art of stratagem, orthodox in belief and stubborn in his resolves, he made judgements with great exactitude. Fortune's favorite, fearful for his life excited and placated, he was tough with powerful men who resisted him, took pleasure in provoking discord among them.
Never, did he cause an adversary to die in prison. He liked to employ humble men, to be the subduer of the proud, the defender of the Church, feeder of the poor". After a twelve-year struggle with the Plantagenet dynasty in the Anglo-French War of 1202–14, Philip broke up the large Angevin Empire presided over by the crown of England and defeated a coalition of his rivals at the Battle of Bouvines in 1214; this victory would have a lasting impact on western European politics: the authority of the French king became unchallenged, while the English King John was forced by his barons to sign Magna Carta and deal with a rebellion against him aided by Philip, the First Barons' War. The military actions surrounding the Albigensian Crusade helped prepare the expansion of France southward. Philip did not participate directly in these actions, but he allowed his vassals and knights to help carry it out. Philip transformed France from a small feudal state into the most prosperous and powerful country in Europe.
He checked the power of the nobles and helped the towns to free themselves from seigniorial authority, granting privileges and liberties to the emergent bourgeoisie. He built a great wall around Paris, re-organized the French government and brought financial stability to his country. Philip was born in Gonesse on 21 August 1165. King Louis VII intended to make his son Philip co-ruler with him as soon as possible, in accordance with the traditions of the House of Capet, but these plans were delayed when Philip, at the age of thirteen, was separated from his companions during a royal hunt and became lost in the Forest of Compiègne, he spent much of the following night attempting to find his way out, but to no avail. Exhausted by cold and fatigue, he was discovered by a peasant carrying a charcoal burner, but his exposure to the elements meant he soon contracted a dangerously high fever, his father went on pilgrimage to the Shrine of Thomas Becket to pray for Philip's recovery and was told that his son had indeed recovered.
However, on his way back to Paris, the king suffered a stroke. In declining health, Louis VII had his 14-year-old son crowned and anointed as king at Reims on 1 November 1179 by Archbishop William of the White Hands, he was married on 28 April 1180 to Isabelle of Hainaut, the daughter of Baldwin V, Count of Hainaut, Margaret I, Countess of Flanders, who brought the County of Artois as her dowry. From the time of his coronation, all real power was transferred to Philip, as his father descended into senility; the great nobles were discontented with Philip's advantageous marriage, while his mother and four uncles, all of whom exercised enormous influence over Louis, were unhappy with his attainment of the throne, which caused a diminution of their power. Louis died on 18 September 1180. While the royal demesne had increased under Philip I and Louis VI, it had diminished under Louis VII. In April 1182 to enrich the French crown, Philip expelled all Jews from the demesne and confiscated their goods.
Philip's eldest son Louis was born on 5 September 1187 and inherited the County of Artois in 1190, when his mother Isabelle died. The main source of funding for Philip's army was from the royal demesne. In times of conflict, he could call up 250 knights, 250 horse sergeants, 100 mounted crossbowmen, 133 crossbowmen on foot, 2,000 foot sergeants, 300 mercenaries. Towards the end of his reign, the king could muster some 3,000 knights, 9,000 sergeants, 6,000 urban militiamen, thousands of foot sergeants. Using his increased revenues, Philip was the first Capetian king to build a French navy actively. By 1215, his fleet could carry a total of 7,000 men. Within two years, his fleet included 10 large ships and many smaller ones. In 1181, Philip began a war with Philip, Count of Flanders, over the Vermandois, which King Philip claimed as his wife's dowry and the Count was unwilling to give up; the Count of Flanders invaded France, ravaging the whole district between the Somme and the Oise before penetrating as far as Dammartin.
Notified of Philip's impending approach with 2,000 knights, he turned around and headed back to Flanders. Philip chased him, the two armies confronted each other near Amiens. By this stage, Philip had managed to counter the ambitions of the count by breaking his alliances with Henry I, Duke of Brabant, Philip of Heinsberg, Archbishop of Cologne. This, together with an uncertain outcome were he to engage the French in battle, forced the Count to conclude a peace. In July 11
Château de Péronne
The Château de Péronne is a ruined castle in the commune of Péronne in the Somme département of France. It consists of the ruins of the curtain walls connecting them; the castle is the property of the commune. It has been listed since 1924 as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture. Within the castle is the Historial de la Grande Guerre, a museum of the First World War. List of castles in France Ministry of Culture listing for Château de Péronne Ministry of Culture photo Historial de la Grande Guerre website
France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona
Ministry of Culture (France)
The Ministry of Culture is the ministry of the Government of France in charge of national museums and the monuments historiques. Its goal is to maintain the French identity through the promotion and protection of the arts on national soil and abroad, its budget is dedicated to the management of the Archives Nationales and the regional Maisons de la culture. Its main office is in the Palais-Royal in the 1st arrondissement of Paris on the Rue de Valois, it is headed by the Minister of a cabinet member. The current position holder is Franck Riester, since 16 October 2018. Deriving from the Italian and Burgundian courts of the Renaissance, the notion that the state had a key role to play in the sponsoring of artistic production and that the arts were linked to national prestige was found in France from at least the 16th century on. During the pre-revolutionary period, these ideas are apparent in such things as the creation of the Académie française, the Académie de peinture et de sculpture and other state-sponsored institutions of artistic production, through the cultural policies of Louis XIV's minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert.
The modern post of Minister of Culture was created by Charles de Gaulle in 1959 and the first Minister was the writer André Malraux. Malraux was responsible for realizing the goals of the droit à la culture, an idea, incorporated in the Constitution of France and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by democratising access to culture, while achieving the Gaullist aim of elevating the "grandeur" of post-war France. To this end, he created numerous regional cultural centres throughout France and sponsored the arts. Malraux's artistic tastes included the modern arts and the avant-garde, but on the whole he remained conservative. Under president François Mitterrand the Minister of Culture was Jack Lang who showed himself to be far more open to popular cultural production, including jazz and roll, rap music, graffiti art, comic books and food, his famous phrase "économie et culture, même combat" is representative of his commitment to cultural democracy and to active national sponsorship and participation in cultural production.
In addition to the creation of the Fête de la Musique and overseeing the French Revolution bicentennial, he was in charge of the massive architectural program of the François Mitterrand years that gave permission for the building of the Bibliothèque nationale, the new Louvre, the Arab World Institute, the Musée d'Orsay, the Opéra-Bastille, the "Grande Arche" of La Défense, the new seat of the French Ministry for the Economy and Finance, the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre, the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie and Cité de la Musique, both in the Parc de la Villette. The Ministry of Jacques Toubon was notable for a number of laws enacted for the preservation of the French language, both in advertisements and on the radio, ostensibly in reaction to the presence of English; the following people were appointed as Minister of Culture of France: Since the French constitution does not identify specific ministers, each government may label each ministry as they wish, or have a broader ministry in charge of several governmental sectors.
Hence, the ministry has gone through a number of different names: The Ministry of Culture is made up of a variety of internal divisions, including: Direction de l'administration générale Direction de l'architecture et du patrimoine - in charge of national monuments and heritage Inventaire général du patrimoine culturel - maintains extensive databases of historical sites and objects. See Base Mérimée, Base Palissy and Monument historique. Direction des archives de France - in charge of the National Archives Direction du livre et de la lecture - in charge of French literature and the book trade Direction de la musique, de la danse, du théâtre et des spectacles - in charge of music and theater Direction des Musées de France - in charge of the National museumsThe Ministry has access to one inter-ministerial division: Direction du développement des médias in charge of developing and expanding the French media The Ministry runs three "delegations": Délégation aux arts plastiques - in charge of the visual and sculptural arts Délégation au développement et aux affaires internationales - in charge of international affairs and French art Délégation générale à la langue française et aux langues de France - in charge of the French language and languages of FranceFinally, the Ministry shares in the management of the National Centre of Cinema, a public institution.
The Alliance française is run by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. For more on the organization of the Ministry, see Ministry of Culture. On the national level, the Ministry runs: Regional Cultural Affairs Departmental Architecture and Monuments Departmental Archives under the direction of the depart
Legion of Honour
The Legion of Honour is the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits, established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte and retained by all French governments and régimes. The order's motto is Honneur et Patrie, its seat is the Palais de la Légion d'Honneur next to the Musée d'Orsay, on the left bank of the Seine in Paris; the order is divided into five degrees of increasing distinction: Chevalier, Commandeur, Grand officier, Grand-croix. During the French Revolution, all of the French orders of chivalry were abolished, replaced with Weapons of Honour, it was the wish of Napoleon Bonaparte, the First Consul, to create a reward to commend civilians and soldiers. From this wish was instituted a Légion d'honneur, a body of men, not an order of chivalry, for Napoleon believed that France wanted a recognition of merit rather than a new system of nobility. However, the Légion d'honneur did use the organization of the old French orders of chivalry, for example the Ordre de Saint-Louis; the insignia of the Légion d'honneur bear a resemblance to those of the Ordre de Saint-Louis, which used a red ribbon.
Napoleon created this award to ensure political loyalty. The organization would be used as a façade to give political favours and concessions; the Légion d'honneur was loosely patterned after a Roman legion, with legionaries, commanders, regional "cohorts" and a grand council. The highest rank was not a Grand Cross but a Grand aigle, a rank that wore the insignia common to a Grand Cross; the members were paid, the highest of them generously: 5,000 francs to a grand officier, 2,000 francs to a commandeur, 1,000 francs to an officier, 250 francs to a légionnaire. Napoleon famously declared, "You call these baubles, well, it is with baubles that men are led... Do you think that you would be able to make men fight by reasoning? Never; that is good only for the scholar in his study. The soldier needs glory, rewards." This has been quoted as "It is with such baubles that men are led." The order was the first modern order of merit. Under the monarchy, such orders were limited to Roman Catholics, all knights had to be noblemen.
The military decorations were the perks of the officers. The Légion d'honneur, was open to men of all ranks and professions—only merit or bravery counted; the new legionnaire had to be sworn into the Légion d'honneur. It is noteworthy that all previous orders were crosses or shared a clear Christian background, whereas the Légion d'honneur is a secular institution; the badge of the Légion d'honneur has five arms. In a decree issued on the 10 Pluviôse XIII, a grand decoration was instituted; this decoration, a cross on a large sash and a silver star with an eagle, symbol of the Napoleonic Empire, became known as the Grand aigle, in 1814 as the Grand cordon. After Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of the French in 1804 and established the Napoleonic nobility in 1808, award of the Légion d'honneur gave right to the title of "Knight of the Empire"; the title was made hereditary after three generations of grantees. Napoleon had dispensed 15 golden collars of the Légion d'honneur among his family and his senior ministers.
This collar was abolished in 1815. Although research is made difficult by the loss of the archives, it is known that three women who fought with the army were decorated with the order: Virginie Ghesquière, Marie-Jeanne Schelling and a nun, Sister Anne Biget; the Légion d'honneur was visible in the French Empire. The Emperor always wore it and the fashion of the time allowed for decorations to be worn most of the time; the king of Sweden therefore declined the order. Napoleon's own decorations were captured by the Prussians and were displayed in the Zeughaus in Berlin until 1945. Today, they are in Moscow. Louis XVIII changed the appearance of the order. To have done so would have angered the 35,000 to 38,000 members; the images of Napoleon and his eagle were removed and replaced by the image of King Henry IV, the popular first king of the Bourbon line. Three Bourbon fleurs-de-lys replaced the eagle on the reverse of the order. A king's crown replaced the imperial crown. In 1816, the grand cordons were renamed grand crosses and the legionnaires became knights.
The king decreed. The Légion d'honneur became the second-ranking order of knighthood of the French monarchy, after the Order of the Holy Spirit. Following the overthrow of the Bourbons in favour of King Louis Philippe I of the House of Orléans, the Bourbon monarchy's orders were once again abolished and the Légion d'honneur was restored in 1830 as the paramount decoration of the French nation; the insignia were drastically altered. In 1847, there were 47,000 members, yet another revolution in Paris brought a new design to the Légion d'honneur. A nephew of the founder, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, was elected president and he restored the image of his uncle on the crosses of the order. In 1852, the first recorded woman, Angélique Duchemin, an old revolutionary of the 1789 uprising against the absolute monarchy, was admitted into the order. On 2 December 1851, President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte staged a coup d'état with the help of the armed forces, he made himself Emperor of the French one year on 2 December 1852, after a successful plebiscite.
An Imperial crown was added. During Napoleon III's reign, the first American was admitted
Monaco the Principality of Monaco, is a sovereign city-state and microstate on the French Riviera in Western Europe. France borders the country on three sides. Monaco has an area of 2.020 km2, making it the second-smallest country in the world after the Vatican. Its population was about 38,400 based on the last census of 2016. With 19,009 inhabitants per km², it is the most densely-populated sovereign state in the world. Monaco has a land border of 5.47 km, a coastline of 3.83 km, a width that varies between 1,700 and 349 m. The highest point in the country is a narrow pathway named Chemin des Révoires on the slopes of Mont Agel, in the Les Révoires Ward, 161 metres above sea level. Monaco's most populous Quartier is Monte Carlo and the most populous Ward is Larvotto/Bas Moulins. Through land reclamation, Monaco's land mass has expanded by 20 percent. Monaco is known as a playground for the famous, due to its tax laws. In 2014, it was noted. Monaco is a principality governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, with Prince Albert II as head of state.
Although Prince Albert II is a constitutional monarch, he wields immense political power. The House of Grimaldi has ruled Monaco, with brief interruptions, since 1297; the official language is French, but Monégasque and English are spoken and understood. The state's sovereignty was recognized by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861, with Monaco becoming a full United Nations voting member in 1993. Despite Monaco's independence and separate foreign policy, its defense is the responsibility of France. However, Monaco does maintain two small military units. Economic development was spurred in the late 19th century with the opening of the country's first casino, Monte Carlo, a railway connection to Paris. Since Monaco's mild climate and gambling facilities have contributed to the principality's status as a tourist destination and recreation centre for the rich. In more recent years, Monaco has become a major banking centre and has sought to diversify its economy into the services sector and small, high-value-added, non-polluting industries.
The state has no income tax, low business taxes, is well known for being a tax haven. It is the host of the annual street circuit motor race Monaco Grand Prix, one of the original Grands Prix of Formula One; the principality has a club football team. Monaco is not formally a part of the European Union, but it participates in certain EU policies, including customs and border controls. Through its relationship with France, Monaco uses the euro as its sole currency. Monaco joined the Council of Europe in 2004, it is a member of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. Monaco's name comes from the nearby 6th-century BC Phocaean Greek colony. Referred to by the Ligurians as Monoikos, from the Greek "μόνοικος", "single house", from "μόνος" "alone, single" + "οἶκος" "house", which bears the sense of a people either settled in a "single habitation" or of "living apart" from others. According to an ancient myth, Hercules passed through the Monaco area and turned away the previous gods; as a result, a temple was constructed there, the temple of Hercules Monoikos.
Because the only temple of this area was the "House" of Hercules, the city was called Monoikos. It ended up in the hands of the Holy Roman Empire. An ousted branch of a Genoese family, the Grimaldi, contested it for a hundred years before gaining control. Though the Republic of Genoa would last until the 19th century, they allowed the Grimaldi family to keep Monaco, both France and Spain left it alone for hundreds of years. France did not annex it until the French Revolution, but after the defeat of Napoleon it was put under the care of the Kingdom of Sardinia. In the 19th century, when Sardinia became a part of Italy, the region came under French influence again but France allowed it to remain independent. Like France, Monaco was overrun by the Axis powers during the Second World War and for a short time was administered by Italy the Third Reich, before being liberated. Although the occupation lasted for just a short time, it meant the deportation of the Jewish population and execution of several resistance members from Monaco.
Since Monaco has been independent. It has taken some steps towards integration with the European Union. Following a land grant from Emperor Henry VI in 1191, Monaco was refounded in 1215 as a colony of Genoa. Monaco was first ruled by a member of the House of Grimaldi in 1297, when Francesco Grimaldi, known as "Il Malizia", his men captured the fortress protecting the Rock of Monaco while dressed as Franciscan monks—a monaco in Italian, although this is a coincidence as the area was known by this name. Francesco, was evicted only a few years afterwards by the Genoese forces, the struggle over "the Rock" continued for another century; the Grimaldi family was Genoese and the struggle was something of a family feud. However, the Genoese became engaged in other conflicts, in the late 1300s Genoa became involved in a conflict with the Crown of Aragon over Corsica; the Crown of Aragon became a part of Spain through marriage and other parts drifted into various pieces of other
Battle of the Somme
The Battle of the Somme known as the Somme Offensive, was a battle of World War I fought by the armies of the British Empire and French Third Republic against the German Empire. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the upper reaches of the River Somme in France; the battle was intended to hasten a victory for the Allies and was the largest battle of the First World War on the Western Front. More than three million men fought in the battle and one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history; the Battle of the Somme was fought in the traditional style of World War I battles on the Western Front: trench warfare. The trench warfare gave the Germans an advantage because they dug their trenches deeper than the allied forces which gave them a better line of sight for warfare; the Battle of the Somme has the distinction of being the first battle fought with tanks. However, the tanks were still in the early stages of development, as a result, many broke down after maxing out at their top speed of 4 miles per hour.
The French and British had committed themselves to an offensive on the Somme during Allied discussions at Chantilly, Oise, in December 1915. The Allies agreed upon a strategy of combined offensives against the Central Powers in 1916, by the French, Russian and Italian armies, with the Somme offensive as the Franco-British contribution. Initial plans called for the French army to undertake the main part of the Somme offensive, supported on the northern flank by the Fourth Army of the British Expeditionary Force; when the Imperial German Army began the Battle of Verdun on the Meuse on 21 February 1916, French commanders diverted many of the divisions intended for the Somme and the "supporting" attack by the British became the principal effort. The first day on the Somme saw a serious defeat for the German Second Army, forced out of its first position by the French Sixth Army, from Foucaucourt-en-Santerre south of the Somme to Maricourt on the north bank, by the Fourth Army from Maricourt to the vicinity of the Albert–Bapaume road.
The first day on the Somme was, in terms of casualties the worst day in the history of the British army, which suffered 57,470 casualties. These occurred on the front between the Albert–Bapaume road and Gommecourt, where the attack was defeated and few British troops reached the German front line; the British troops on the Somme comprised a mixture of the remains of the pre-war regular army. The battle is notable for the first use of the tank. At the end of the battle and French forces had penetrated 10 km into German-occupied territory, taking more ground than in any of their offensives since the Battle of the Marne in 1914; the Anglo-French armies failed to capture Péronne and halted 5 km from Bapaume, where the German armies maintained their positions over the winter. British attacks in the Ancre valley resumed in January 1917 and forced the Germans into local withdrawals to reserve lines in February, before the scheduled retirement to the Siegfriedstellung began in March. Debate continues over the necessity and effect of the battle.
Allied war strategy for 1916 was decided at the Chantilly Conference from 6–8 December 1915. Simultaneous offensives on the Eastern Front by the Russian army, on the Italian Front by the Italian army, on the Western Front by the Franco-British armies, were to be carried out to deny time for the Central Powers to move troops between fronts during lulls. In December 1915, General Sir Douglas Haig replaced Field Marshal Sir John French as Commander-in-Chief of the BEF. Haig favoured a British offensive in Flanders close to BEF supply routes, to drive the Germans from the Belgian coast and end the U-boat threat from Belgian waters. Haig was not formally subordinate to Marshal Joseph Joffre but the British played a lesser role on the Western Front and complied with French strategy. In January 1916, Joffre had agreed to the BEF making its main effort in Flanders, but in February 1916 it was decided to mount a combined offensive where the French and British armies met, astride the Somme River in Picardy before the British offensive in Flanders.
A week the Germans began an offensive against the French at Verdun. The costly defence of Verdun forced the French army to commit divisions intended for the Somme offensive reducing the French contribution to 13 divisions in the Sixth Army, against 20 British divisions. By 31 May, the ambitious Franco-British plan for a decisive victory, had been reduced to a limited offensive to relieve pressure on the French at Verdun with a battle of attrition on the Somme; the Chief of the German General Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn, intended to end the war by splitting the Anglo-French Entente in 1916, before its material superiority became unbeatable. Falkenhayn planned to defeat the large amount of reserves which the Entente could move into the path of a breakthrough, by threatening a sensitive point close to the existing front line and provoking the French into counter-attacking German positions. Falkenhayn chose to attack towards Verdun to make Verdun untenable; the French would have to conduct a counter-offensive on ground dominated by the German army and ringed with masses of heavy artillery, leading to huge losses and bring the French army close to collapse.
The British would have to begin a hasty relief offensive and would suffer huge losses. Falkenhayn expected the relief offensive to fall south of Arra