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 conquered and inhabited modern day France, which was previously known as Gaul. Their unique unit is the Throwing Axeman, which deals melee damage at range. Throwing axes were more popular than bows in the densely forested parts of northern Europe where the Franks came from, and they even take their name from their throwing axe, the Francisca. Their Castle Age unique technology, Bearded Axe, reflect this by giving their Throwing Axemen more range. The Frankish King Charlemagne started the tradition of using armored cavalry who became known as knights, and Frankish Knights fight valiantly with more HP and greater Line of Sight. This tradition also spawned the concept of Chivalry (codes of knights), represented by the technology of the same name which boosts their Stables' working speed. Castles dot France, and the Franks get cheaper Castles to better emulate this. Finally, no castle with a knight as its lord is complete without peasant labor, and thus, Frankish Farms upgrade for free and their Foragers work faster.
The Franks are a straightforward cavalry civilization, with the strongest 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 fully upgradable Light Cavalry and Paladins. Their infantry is very strong with fully upgraded Champions and Halberdiers. Their archers are weak. The Frankish siege weapons are average, as they lack both the Siege Onager and the Siege Ram. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Teutons and Franks are the only two civilizations that have access to Paladin, but not Hussar.
The Franks are now the most powerful civilization in land maps, possible due of having strong economic bonuses in all stages of the game and strong Knights which are highly popular in the competitive scene, 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, the highest of any civilzation in the game. Ironically, before The Forgotten, the Franks weren't considered as an effective civilization. Their effectiveness and popularity in online matches is so high that the Forager bonus was toned down in update 44725, and their unique technologies swapped by ages in update 47820.
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.
When allied with the Indians, neither of their team bonuses will benefit the other.