How To Defeat France as England (EU4 Guide)

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France is bigger than England. Defeating them requires preparation and strong allies.

You’ll need help from two or more European powers, particularly: Castile, Aragon, Austria, and Portugal.

As for when you’re attacking France, you’ll want to defeat them in two steps:

  1. Carve up France
  2. Force France into a Personal Union

Recommended Preparations


Homeland Prep

1. Sell then seize crown land to get money

You do this in the Estate tab. You’ll get around 880 ducats from selling your starting crownland.

Use this money to hire a merc company.

Don’t worry about the negative modifiers from having low crown land. You’ll get more when you conquer new land.

2. Hire advisors

You’ve two -50% discounted advisors at the start. One each for the admin and the diplomatic positions.

Do note that they’re both 50-years-old. They’ve a high risk of passing away each year.

For your military advisor, hire any of these if they’re available:

  • Commandant: +5% Discipline
  • Army Reformer: +10% Army Morale
  • Master Recruiter: +20% National Manpower
  • Quartermaster: +33% Reinforce Speed

3. Start a debate in parliament

The available issues are random. Try to get one that provides positive bonuses to your army or your economy.

4. Dismantle your fort in Montgomery

You don’t need forts on your home isles. Your Royal Navy is enough to fend off invaders.

The one in Northumberland can temporarily remain standing until you’ve subjugated Scotland.

For London, you may leave its fort intact if you prefer some security in your capital, especially against rebels.


Mainland Europe Prep

1. Unstate Guyenne and use “Concentrate Development” on it

The “Concentrate Development” in the State UI becomes clickable only on territories (non-states).

This transfers a portion of their development to your capital.

Taking Dev from Guyenne / EU4
Taking Dev from Guyenne

2. Release Gascony as a vassal and turn them into a march

To do this:

  1. Right-click on one of your provinces to open the Diplomatic view for your own country
  2. Click the “Create a Subject” button on the bottom-right
  3. Select Gascony
  4. After their release, right-click on them to open their Diplomacy view
  5. Select “Influence actions” from the list
  6. Press the “Designate March” button
Releasing a Vassal / EU4
Releasing a Vassal

Gascony has cores on most of southern France. Those’re important to carve up France.

Turning Gascony into a march gives them several military bonuses.

The important one early on is the +20% Fort Defense. This extends the siege time needed before their castle falls.

You want France to be bogged down in Gascony while you strike for Paris.

3. Dismantle your forts in Caen and Calais

These are grassland provinces and don’t give you any defensive bonuses. They’ll be prime targets for the French, who’ll inevitably take them down.

It’s more advantageous if you dismantle these two forts.

That way, if France occupies any of your provinces in mainland Europe, you can quickly ferry in a small commando unit to liberate them. You won’t need to commit an army to a long siege.

4. Sell Maine to Provence

You can do this in the Economy actions in the Diplomacy tab. You can get 45 ducats for selling Maine.

Sell Province Economy Action / EU4
“Sell Province” Economy Action

Getting rid of this province prevents the “Surrender of Maine” event from triggering.

Both France and Provence have a core on it. If you sell it to the latter, France’ll break off their alliance.

This makes it easier to subjugate Provence if they get excommunicated. This will also create holes in France’s perimeter defense.

5. Exploit the base manpower of your provinces

This does two things:

  • You instantly gain a small amount of manpower from a province but decrease its base manpower development by -1.
  • The dev decrease also reduces your max national manpower.

Focus on exploiting your provinces in mainland Europe. Lowering their dev also reduces their impact on your war score and war exhaustion if they get occupied.

Exploit Dev Tab in the Macro Builder / EU4
Exploit Dev Tab in the Macro Builder (hotkey: b)


1. Set France, Scotland, and Denmark as your rivals

You’ll get +25% Spy Network Construction and -10% Aggressive Expansion on your rivals.

You’ll also gain Power Projection points for doing hostile actions against them — including declaring war and annexing their provinces.

Tip: Each Power Projection point increases your army morale by +0.1% among other things. Every little bit counts when fighting France.

2. Embargo your rivals

You’ll get +1–2 Power Projection from each rival.

3. Scornfully insult France

This gives you +10 Power Projection. You’ll also get a +25 opinion boost with France’s enemies, which usually includes Aragon and Castile.


Pre-War Objectives

1. Conquer Ireland

You should have already completed the “Levy the Troops” mission from the prep points above. This gives you permanent claims on the entire Ireland region, as well as a “Subjugation” CB on Scotland.

Completed within the First Month of the Game / EU4
Completed within the First Month of the Game

On December 11, 1444, immediately declare war on any Irish nation.

As soon as you’ve wiped out their army, leave a 4-regiment army to siege their capital. Then declare war on the next Irish nation.

Don’t wait for each war to end. Be aggressive in Ireland.

Once you’ve fully conquered Ireland, turn their provinces into states and reduce their autonomy.

You’ll have a better economy after doing this.

2. End the War of the Roses

It’s imperative that you resolve this disaster fast. You don’t want it to break out while you’re fighting the French.

We’ve written a guide about the War of the Roses, so you can learn how to stop this disaster here.


Forming an Anti-France Alliance

1. Ally Aragon, Castile, and/or Austria

You’re already allied with Portugal at the start, but they’re not enough to take on France. You need help from these other nations, who’re usually rivals of France.

Aragon and Castile will be rivaling each other though. You’ll have to pick only one of them, but they’re both strong on their own.

2A. Curry favors with your new allies

You need 10 favors to invite your allies into an offensive war.

Favors can also be used to increase your allies’ trust in you. They’re more likely to join you in war if you have a high trust rating with them.

This may matter with Austria, who may be reluctant to go to war with France.

Size Difference with Allies / EU4
Size Difference with Allies

2B. (Alternative) Promise French land to your allies

If you want to attack France early but don’t have the favors yet, you can promise land to your allies when calling them to war.

Whether you fulfill that promise is up to you. It’s highly recommended that you do so.

Breaking this promise will damage their trust in you, and they’ll refuse future war invitations.


General Strategy

This will be your general strategy. Refer back to these notes for every war against France.

Two Ways to Fight France / EU4
Two Ways to Fight France

1. Invite Castile/Aragon, Portugal, and Austria to your wars
In particular, Castile/Aragon and Austria will be the key players in your campaign. They’ll be doing most of the fighting for you.

2. Observe how France reacts first
Let your armies wait for a few months on your home isles.France may go south to Castile or east to Austria.

3. Once you’ve confirmed their location, move your forces accordingly

3a. If the French army is going after Castile, ferry your armies to Normandy.

You can also land on Calais if Burgundy has given one of your allies (or France) military access. Make your way to Paris (or just Chartres) and besiege it. Occupy its surrounding provinces as well.

Austria on Paris, England on Chartres, with Portugal Standing Nearby / EU4
Austria on Paris, England on Chartres, with Portugal Standing Nearby

Note: After occupying Paris, do not claim the reward for your “Strategic Control” mission yet. You’ll get the “Force Union” CB on France from it. However, it’ll expire in 25 years.

3b. If the French are in Austria, land your troops in Gascony instead.

Try to occupy as many provinces in the south as you can. Besiege France’s forts on Haut-Poitou and Narbonne.

Ignore the capitals of France’s vassals. Castile can take care of them.


General Tips

1. Give objectives to your allies

You can set war objectives in the Province UI. This gives them an idea on how to fight the war.

However, there’s no guarantee that the AI will follow this order. They’ll try to reach the objective, but they may get distracted along the way.

2. Take provinces directly from France and not from their vassals

Do this when negotiating peace with France. You’ll hurt their economy directly, and their vassals may become disloyal if France gets weak enough.

3. Focus on sieges and not battles

Never fight their armies head-on. France’s army size and manpower reserves are formidable.

Even if you have the better quality troops, France can still overwhelm you. Focus on sieging down their provinces. You gain more war score from occupying land.


Carving Up France


“Reconquest” for Gascony’s cores

1. When you’re ready, declare war on France using the “Reconquest” CB.

2. Set your war goal on an unfortified province that’s closest to Gascony.

3. Follow the general strategy above.

4. Sue for peace after you’ve accumulated enough war score.

Demand all of Gascony’s cores held by France and not their vassals. You can also annex some French land for yourself. This costs diplo mana, but it’s worth it in the early game. If you do, take provinces that have forts, like Chartres.

Your First Win / EU4
Your First Win

“Subjugation” on Scotland

1. (Optional) Take time to recover from the previous war

Your allies may be badly mauled by the French. Their manpower reserves may be depleted or they may be in debt.

If so, they won’t accept your invitation to war. You can’t win against France without them.

2. Declare war on Scotland using the “Subjugation” CB

After your first war, you’ll end up in a long truce with France.

France has a guarantee on Scotland at the start. By declaring war on Scotland, France will be compelled to defend them, nullifying your existing truce.

Note: If your “Subjugation” CB on Scotland has expired, you can use a regular “Conquest” CB instead. You still have permanent claims on them.

3. Follow the general strategy above

You’ll want France to drop out of this war ASAP.

As before, help your allies take Paris.

Once you’ve occupied their capital or have more than 10 war score, you’ll be able to sign a separate white peace with France. This resets your truce to 5 years.

4. Switch your sights to Scotland

You can now focus on actually subjugating Scotland.

Your allies can’t cross the ocean, so you’re on your own for this. Scotland’s an easier target though. You can hire mercs if you need more troops.

5. Sue for peace

Once done, you’ll have secured your control over the British Isles. You can form Great Britain if you’re already at Admin Tech 10.


(Optional) “Conquest” on France

1. Wait for your 5-year truce to end

2. Declare war on France using the “Conquest” CB

3. Set your war goal on Reims (or any unfortified province)

4. Follow the general strategy as usual

5. Sue for peace – annex Paris and any other province that you want. Prioritize the ones that have forts.


Forcing a Personal Union on France

1. After your most recent truce ends, claim the reward from your “Strategic Control” mission.

Getting the PU CB / EU4
Getting the PU CB

2. When you’re ready, declare war on France using the “Force Union” CB.

3. As before, rely on your allies and follow the general strategy.

If you’ve taken Paris, France’s capital will be in another province. It’s most likely that it’ll just have a level 1 fort.

4. Once you’ve enough war score, demand the “Force Union” peace terms from France.

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Louie Nelson Zafico

As a frustrated otter who dreams of getting published, Louie instead wastes his life cuddling his cats. He spent his childhood playing Suikoden, grew up with Total War, and matured (somewhat) with EU4. He hopes to someday find a geopolitical JRPG with the 4X systems of a Paradox game.