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This article is about the civilization in Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. For similar civilizations, see French.
Civilization Technology tree Strategy

Rule the hardy folk of the Francisca axe and establish a dynasty worthy to follow in the footsteps of the Romans! Seize the English crown, lead chivalrous knights and fierce infantry to victories as far away as the Holy Land, and construct imposing castles to defend your productive farmers from enemy incursions. The Frankish unique unit is the Throwing Axeman, a ruthless warrior whose axes spell death to anything that dares to step within range.

The Franks' civilization music theme in the Definitive Edition

The Franks (also known as the French) are a Western European civilization in Age of Empires II based on modern day France. The Franks focus on cavalry. Due to the Franks' straight-forward civilization bonuses on their cavalry and strong early-game economic bonuses, the Franks are an appealing civilization for newer and veteran players alike who want to specialize in the "Knight rush" strategy.

The Franks were the ancestors to the French, who also appear in Age of Empires III and Age of Empires IV (much like the Franks, the French are depicted in the successor games as cavalry-focused civilization with strong economic bonuses and beginner-friendly mechanics).


The Franks are a straightforward cavalry civilization, with the most viable Knight line of all civilizations and lots of Castles for defense. Despite being generally described as a cavalry civilization, their Stable is rather underwhelming outside of the Knight line, such as subpar upgradable Light Cavalry and access to none of the regional units. Their infantry is strong with fully upgraded Champions, Halberdiers and their unique unit Elite Throwing Axemen. Their archers are weak. The Frankish siege weapons are average, as they lack both the Siege Onager and the Siege Ram, but have Siege Engineers and Bombard Cannon. The Franks can use monks with some potential, lacking only Atonement and Redemption. Due to the fact that Castles are 25% cheaper, the Franks can build Castles for a more effective defensive system. That easily compensates the fact they have barely usable towers. Their navy has a hard time keeping up, lacking Elite Cannon Galleon and Shipwright, and the lack of Bracer is a big negative for Frankish Galleons. The Franks get Farm upgrades for free and their Foragers work +15% faster, rendering a fine food economy, but apart from that, their economical technology tree is rather lacking.

Campaign appearances[]

The Franks are a playable civilization in all the scenarios from the Joan of Arc campaign as well as two scenarios from Battles of the Conquerors: Tours and Hastings. They also appear as allies or enemies in other campaigns:

Burgundians, who feature as enemies in all scenarios of Joan of Arc except The Rising, the Holy Roman Emperor scenario of Barbarossa, and A Barbarian Betrothal from Attila the Hun, were represented by Franks before Lords of the West, where they appear as their own civilization.

Similarly, Normans, who play the enemy roles in Bari, were represented by Franks before. But with the release of Lords of the West, they now appear as their own civilization.

Joan of Arc[]

This campaign is played as the Franks.


The Franks are enemies in all appearances.


Attila the Hun[]

El Cid[]

Battles of the Conquerors[]

  • Agincourt
    • Amiens - Enemy
    • French Knights - Enemy
    • Frevent - Enemy
    • Harfleur - Enemy
    • Voyennes - Enemy

Alaric (Definitive Edition)[]


In the HD Edition:

In the Definitive Edition:


The Franks are enemies in all appearances.

In the HD Edition:

In the Definitive Edition:

Battles of the Forgotten[]

  • Cyprus (before the Definitive Edition)
    • Philip Augustus - Ally

Tariq ibn Ziyad[]

  • Razzia
    • Aquitanian Villages - Enemy
    • Bordeaux - Enemy
    • Frankish Army - Enemy

Kotyan Khan[]

The Grand Dukes of the West[]

  • A Kingdom Divided
    • Liège - Enemy
    • Villages - Neutral
    • Rebel Supply Camps - Enemy
  • The Wolf and the Lion
    • French Peasants - Ally
    • Écorcheurs - Enemy
    • Bernard d'Armagnac - Enemy
    • Jean de Bourbon - Enemy
    • Jean d'Alencon - Enemy
    • Charles d'Orléans - Enemy
  • The Cleansing of Paris
    • Paris - Ally
    • Armagnacs - Enemy
    • Bernard d'Armagnac - Enemy
    • Craftsmen - Ally
    • Scholars - Ally
  • Unholy Marriage
    • Cambrésis - Ally
  • The Hook and Cod Wars
    • The Hooks - Enemy
    • The Cods - Ally
    • Dutch Villages - Ally
  • The Maid Falls
    • Choisy - Enemy
    • Compiègne - Enemy
    • Soissons - Neutral → Ally
    • The French Army - Enemy
    • Joan of Arc - Enemy

Jan Zizka[]


Unique unit[]

ThrowingAxemanIcon-DE.png Throwing Axeman: Ranged infantry unit

Unique technologies[]

CastleAgeUnique.png Bearded Axe (Throwing Axeman +1 range)
Unique-tech.jpg Chivalry (Stables work 40% faster)

Civilization bonuses[]

  • Farm upgrades are free.
  • Castles are 25% cheaper.
  • Mounted units have +20% HP (starting in the Feudal Age).
  • Foragers work 15% faster.

Team bonus[]

Knights have +2 Line of Sight.


The Age of Kings[]

The Conquerors[]

  • Initially cannot upgrade to Halberdiers.
  • Bearded Axe introduced. It costs 400 food and 400 gold.
  • With patch 1.0b, the Halberdier was added to the technology tree.

The Forgotten[]

  • Foragers work 25% faster.
  • Squires added to the technology tree.
  • Chivalry introduced, and costs 400 wood, 400 gold.
  • Non-Elite Throwing Axemen have a frame delay of 10.
  • The upgrade to Elite Throwing Axeman costs 1,000F/750G.

The African Kingdoms[]

  • All cavalry get +20% HP instead of just Knights.
  • Throwing Axemen move at a speed of 1.
  • With patch 4.8, Throwing Axemen have 60 (70 for Elite) HP.

Definitive Edition[]

  • Cavalry +20% HP bonus only available from the Feudal Age onwards.

Lords of the West[]

In-game dialogue language[]

In-game, Frankish units speak Middle French.

  • Select 1 Oé? - Yes?
  • Female Select 2 Que - What?
  • Male Select 2 Que y'a? - What's up?
  • Select 3 Prêt - Ready
  • Select 4 Que fais? - What shall I do?
  • Task 1 Certes - Surely
  • Task 2 Oïl - Yes
  • Task 3 Verax - Truly (from Latin)
  • Task 4 L'y vais - I go there
  • Build Bâtisseur - Builder
  • Chop Bûcheron - Woodcutter
  • Farm Villain - Peasant
  • Fish Pecheur - Fisher
  • Forage Maraud - Scavenge
  • Hunt Chasseur - Hunter
  • Mine Mineur - Miner
  • Repair Artisan - Craftsman
  • Attack Certes - Surely (not used)
  • Select 1 Que y'a? - What's up?
  • Select 2 Prêt - Ready
  • Select 3 Que fais? - What shall I do?
  • Move 1 Oïl - Yes
  • Move 2 L'y vais - I go there
  • Move 3 Certes - Surely
  • Attack 1 Assault!
  • Attack 2 À la bataille! - To battle!
  • Attack 3 Ta (In middle French: Thy/Yours)
  • Attack 4 Montjoie!
  • Attack 5 Montmirail!
  • Attack 6
  • Select 1 Que y'a? - What's up?
  • Select 2 - Yes?
  • Select 3 Prêt - Ready
  • Select 4 Que valié? - What do you want?
  • Move 1 Certes - Surely
  • Move 2 - Yes
  • Move 3 Verax - Truly (from Latin)
  • Move 4 L'y vais - I go there
  • Select 1 Que y'a? - What's up?
  • Select 2 - Yes?
  • Select 3 Prêt - Ready
  • Select 4 Que valié? - What do you want?
  • Move 1 Certes - Surely
  • Move 2 - Yes
  • Move 3 Verax - Truly (from Latin)
  • Move 4 L'y vais - I go there

AI player names[]

When playing a random map game against the computer, the player may encounter any of the following Frankish AI characters:

  • Charlemagne (2 April 742 – 28 January 814): Numbered Charles I, was King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards from 774 and Emperor of the Romans from 800. He united much of Europe during the early Middle Ages. He was the first recognised emperor in western Europe since the fall of the Western Roman Empire three centuries earlier. The expanded Frankish state that Charlemagne founded is called the Carolingian Empire.
  • Charles VI: Called the Beloved (French: le Bien-Aimé) and the Mad (French: le Fol or le Fou), was King of France from 1380 to his death.
  • Charles Martel (c. 686 – 22 October 741): A Frankish statesman and military leader who as Duke and Prince of the Franks and Mayor of the Palace, was de facto ruler of Francia from 718 until his death. The son of the Frankish statesman Pepin of Herstal and a noblewoman named Alpaida, Charles successfully asserted his claims to power as successor to his father as the power behind the throne in Frankish politics. Continuing and building on his father's work, he restored centralized government in Francia and began the series of military campaigns that re-established the Franks as the undisputed masters of all Gaul.
  • Charles the Bold: Baptized Charles Martin, was Duke of Burgundy from 1467 to 1477. He was the last Duke of Burgundy from the House of Valois and is sometimes also known as Charles the Rash (moved to the Burgundians in Lords of the West).
  • Constable Richemont: Known as the Justicier and as Arthur de Richemont, was Lord of Parthenay and titular Count (Earl) of Richmond in England and for eleven months at the very end of his life, Duke of Brittany and Count of Montfort after inheriting those titles upon the death of his nephew.
  • Clovis I: was the first king of the Franks to unite all of the Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the form of leadership from a group of royal chieftains to rule by a single king and ensuring that the kingship was passed down to his heirs.
  • Jean Dunois of Orleans: An illegitimate son of Louis I, Duke of Orléans, by Mariette d'Enghien. His nickname, the "Bastard of Orléans" (bâtard d'Orléans), was a term of respect, since it acknowledged him as a first cousin to the king and acting head of a cadet branch of the royal family during his half-brother's captivity.
  • Joan of Arc: The French legendary heroine of and the one of the leaders in the Hundred Years' War, know as "The Maid of Orléans". She inspired a multitude of literary and historical works in many countries.
  • King Philip I: Called the Amorous, was King of the Franks from 1060 to his death.
  • Louis IX: Commonly known as Saint Louis, was King of France and a canonized saint.
  • Louis XI: Called "Louis the Prudent" (French: le Prudent), was a monarch of the House of Valois who ruled as King of France from 1461 to 1483.
  • Pepin the Short: King of the Franks from 751 until his death. He was the first of the Carolingians to become king.
  • Philip II Augustus: King of France from 1180 to 1223, a member of the House of Capet.
  • Philip the Good: Duke of Burgundy as Philip III from 1419 until his death (moved to the Burgundians in Lords of the West).
  • Raymond, Prince of Antioch: Raymond of Poitiers (c. 1115 – 29 June 1149) was Prince of Antioch from 1136 to 1149.
  • Roland: Frankish military leader under Charlemagne who became one of the principal figures in the literary cycle known as the Matter of France. The historical Roland was military governor of the Breton March, responsible for defending Francia's frontier against the Bretons. His only historical attestation is in Einhard's Vita Karoli Magni, which notes he was part of the Frankish rearguard killed by rebellious Basques in Iberia at the Battle of Roncevaux Pass.


The Franks were one of the Germanic barbarian tribes known to the Romans. In the early part of the fifth century, they began expanding south from their homeland along the Rhine River into Roman-controlled Gaul (modern France). Unlike other Germanic tribes, however, they did not move out of their homelands but, rather, added to them. Clovis, a Frankish chieftain, defeated the last Roman armies in Gaul and united the Franks by 509, becoming the ruler of much of western Europe. During the next 1000 years, this Frankish kingdom gradually became the modern nation of France.

The kingdom of Clovis was divided after his death among his four sons, according to custom. This led to several centuries of civil warfare and struggle between successive claimants to the throne. By the end of the seventh century, the Merovingian kings (descendants of Clovis) were rulers in name only. In the early eighth century, Charles Martel became mayor of the palace, the ruler behind the throne. He converted the Franks into a cavalry force and fought so well that his enemies gave him the name of Charles the Hammer. In 732 the Frankish cavalry defeated Muslim invaders moving north from Spain at the Battle of Poitiers, stopping forever the advance of Islam from the southwest.

Charles Martel’s son, Pepin, was made king of the Franks by the pope in return for helping to defend Italy from the Lombards. Pepin founded the dynasty of the Carolingians, and the greatest of these rulers was Charles the Great, or Charlemagne, who ruled from 768 to 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire and was responsible for a rebirth of culture and learning in the West. Charlemagne’s empire was divided among his grandsons and thereafter coalesced into two major parts. The western part became the kingdom of France. Later kings gradually lost political control of France, however. Central authority broke down under the pressure of civil wars, border clashes, and Viking raids. Money and soldiers could be raised only by making concessions to landholders. Fiefs became hereditary and fief holders became feudal lords over their own vassals. By the tenth century, France had been broken into feudal domains that acted as independent states.

In 987 the French nobility elected Hugh Capet their king, mainly because his fief centered on Paris was weak and he was thought to pose no threat. He founded the Capetian line of kings, who worked slowly for two centuries regaining the power by making royal roads safe, adding land to their domain, encouraging trade, and granting royal charters for new towns and fiefs in vacant lands. By allying themselves with the church, the Capetians took a strong moral position and benefited from the church’s cultural, political, and social influence. Royal administrators were made loyal to the king and more efficient by eliminating the inheritance of government offices.

Beginning with Philip II in 1180, three superior rulers established France as one of the most important nations in Europe. They improved the working of the government, encouraged a booming trade, collected fees efficiently, and strengthened their position atop the feudal hierarchy. Although a national assembly called the Estates General was established, it held no real power and was successfully ignored.

From 1337 to 1453 France and England fought the long conflict called the Hundred Years War to decide ownership of lands in France that had been inherited by English kings. The eventual French victory confirmed the king as the most powerful political force in France.


  • The Franks' civilization icon in the Definitive Edition is based on the Fleur-de-lis which was used in the coat of arms of the Capets and his cadet branches.
  • The user interface image in the Definitive Edition displays the Fulda Carolingian cross.
  • The Franks historically utilized the Arbalest, and the word itself was from Medieval French spelling of arcuballista in Latin. Franks lacking this upgrade was both for gameplay balance purposes and because in French, the word was used without clear distinction for both crossbows and arbalests. Many French "crossbowmen" actually wielded arbalests instead, as illustrated in Jean Froissart Chronicle depiction of the Battle of Crécy.
    • In Age of Empires IV, the French have access to the Arbalest.
  • In the game, the Franks represent the Medieval French. However, the Frankish Kingdom not only consisted of France, but also Germany, Low Countries and part of Italy. This can be seen as the Kings of the Frankish Kingdom, many of whom were born in Belgium, and in The Grand Dukes of the West campaign, where a lot of Low Countries religions are represented as Franks.
  • The Teutons and Franks are the only two civilizations that have access to Paladin, but not Hussar.
  • The Franks have currently one of the highest winrates of any civilization on land maps, possibly due of having strong economic bonuses in all stages of the game and strong Knights which are highly popular in the competitive scene for open maps, plus having the most popular Paladin because it is more versatile to use in many situations, unlike the Burgundian, Lithuanian and Teuton Paladin, which can be researched sooner but lacks Bloodlines, needs to collect Relics and is slower, respectively. They also reached a win-rate of 60% in Arabia before the Definitive Edition. Ironically, before The Forgotten, the Franks weren't considered as an effective civilization.
    • On the other hand, the Franks have much lower performance and win–rate in water maps. They do not have any bonuses for their navy and lack several essential technologies such as Shipwright and Bracer. They also lack Two-Man Saw to support their ship production.
    • Their easy economy and straight-forward playstyle makes them an easy civilization to use for new players, a characteristic that shares with their successors of Age of Empires III and Age of Empires IV.
  • As of Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition - Dawn of the Dukes, the Franks are the most prominent civilization in the Campaigns and Historical Battles, with a total of 8 playable appearences and 59 non-playable appearences.
  • The French (along with the Mongols) are the only civilization that have the same civilization icon in all games where they appear: the Fleur-de-lis.


Video overview[]