France – United Kingdom relations describes relations between the governments of France and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK).
The designation "anglo" specifically refers to England, not the UK. However, modern intergovernmental relations between these two nations are habitually called Anglo-French relations, and understood to refer to the UK and not only England. The term Franco-British relations is also used.
Early Franco-British interactions occurred before Caesar's invasion of Gaul, when the two regions were inhabited by loosely trading Celts fighting the Romans as a common enemy. They continued under the Roman Empire – as both modern day states were ruled from Rome. Both were provinces in the larger Roman Empire.
Recently relations have been cordial and cooperative, with an edge of wariness on both sides, due to historical differences, and more recent disagreements between two of the leaders of the two countries; former French President Jacques Chirac and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. French author Jose-Alain Fralon characterized the relationship between the countries by describing the British as "our most dear enemies". This has changed somewhat since the election of Pro Anglo-American Nicolas Sarkozy as President of France.
Much of the histories of the two countries have been defined by the relationship between the two countries. Today, both France and the United Kingdom are member states of the European Union (EU).
When Julius Caesar invaded Gaul, he encountered allies of the Gauls and Belgae from South-Eastern Britain offering assistance, some of whom even acknowledged the king of the Belgae as their sovereign.
Although all peoples concerned were Celts, and the Angles and Franks had not yet invaded either country that would later bear their names, this could arguably be seen as the first major example of Anglo-French cooperation in recorded history. As a consequence, Caesar felt compelled to invade in an attempt to subdue Britain.
For the next five hundred years, there was much interaction between the two regions, as both Britain and France were under Roman rule. This was followed by another five hundred years with very little interaction between the two, as both were invaded by different Germanic tribes. At the turn of the second millennium, the British Isles were primarily involved with the Scandinavian world, while France's main foreign relationship was with the Holy Roman Empire.
However, in the mid-eleventh century there was a dispute over the English throne, and the French speaking Normans, who were of Viking stock, invaded England under their duke William the Conqueror and took over following the Battle of Hastings in 1066, and crowned themselves Kings of England.
The Norman feudal culture took root in England, and for the next 150 years England was generally considered of secondary importance to the dynasty's Continental territories. The language of the aristocracy was French. To this day the coat of arms of the United Kingdom reads 'Dieu et mon Droit' ('God and my right'). Scotland, Wales and Ireland initially remained largely independent of the new French influence.
The first Norman kings were also the dukes of Normandy, so relations were somewhat complicated between the countries. Though they were dukes ostensibly under the king of France, their higher level of organisation in Normandy gave them more de facto power. In addition, they were kings of England in their own right; England was not officially a province of France, nor even, officially at least, a province of Normandy.
High Medieval era
During the reign of the closely related Plantagenet dynasty, which was based in its Angevin Empire, half of France was under Angevin control as well as all of England. However, almost all of the Angevin empire was lost to Philip II of France under Richard the Lionheart, John and Henry III of England. This finally gave the English a separate identity as an Anglo-Saxon people under a Francophone, but not French, crown.
While the English and French had been frequently acrimonious, they had always had a common culture and little fundamental difference in identity. Nationalism had been minimal in days when most wars took place between rival feudal lords on a sub-national scale. The last attempt to unite the two cultures under such lines was probably a failed French-supported rebellion to depose Edward II. It was also during the middle-ages that a Franco-Scottish alliance, known as the Auld Alliance was signed by King John of Scotland and Philip IV of France.
The Hundred Years War
During the Hundred Years War England and France battled for supremacy. Following the Battle of Agincourt the English gained control of vast French territory, but eventually forfeited all claims
The English monarchy increasingly integrated with its subjects and turned to the English language wholeheartedly during the Hundred Years War (1337–1453). Though the war was in principle a mere dispute over territory, it drastically changed societies on both sides of the Channel. The English, although already politically united, for the first time found pride in their language and identity, while the French united politically.
Several of the most famous Anglo-French battles took place in the Hundred Years War: Crécy, Poitiers, Azincourt, Orléans, and Paris. Major sources of French pride stemmed from their leadership during the war. Guesclin was a brilliant tactician who forced the English out of the lands they had procured at the Treaty of Bretigny, a compromising treaty that most Frenchmen saw as a humiliation. Joan of Arc was another unifying figure who to this day represents a combination of religious fervour and French patriotism to all France. After her inspirational victory at Orléans and what many saw as her martyrdom at the hands of treacherous Burgundians and Englishmen, Dunois eventually forced the English out of all of France except Calais, which was only lost in 1558. Apart from setting national identities, the Hundred Years War is often cited as the root of the traditional rivalry and at times hatred between the two countries.
During this era, the English lost their last territories in France, except Calais, though the English monarchs continued to style themselves as Kings of France until 1800.