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Portal:Military history of France

Military history of France

The military history of France includes both those military actions centered on the territory encompassing modern France, and the military history of French-speaking peoples of European descent, both in Europe and in Europe's overseas possessions and territories.

If starting from the Franks, French military history encompasses about 1,500 years. However, the Gauls are the more preferred and popular starting point, partly because Gallo-Roman culture laid the foundation for the current French people. In that case, the breadth and scope of French military history extends for a few more centuries. Such lengthy periods of warfare have allowed peoples of France to often be at the forefront of military developments, and as a result military trends emerging in France have had a decisive impact on European and world history.

Selected article

Battle of Lissa, 13 March 1811 Engraved by Henri Merke after a painting by George Webster, 1812
The Battle of Lissa was a naval action fought between a British frigate squadron and a substantially larger squadron of French and Venetian frigates and smaller ships on 13 March 1811 during the Adriatic campaign of the Napoleonic Wars. The engagement was fought in the Adriatic Sea for possession of the strategically important island of Lissa, from which the British squadron had been disrupting French shipping in the Adriatic. The French needed to control the Adriatic to supply a growing army in the Illyrian Provinces, and consequently despatched an invasion force in March 1811 consisting of six frigates, numerous smaller craft and a battalion of Italian soldiers. The French invasion force under Bernard Dubourdieu was met by Captain William Hoste and his four ships based on the island. In the subsequent battle Hoste sank the French flagship, captured two others and scattered the remainder of the Franco-Venetian squadron. The battle has been hailed as an important British victory, due to both the disparity between the forces and the signal raised by Hoste, a former subordinate of Horatio Nelson. Hoste had raised the message "Remember Nelson" as the French bore down and had then manoeuvred to drive Dubourdieu's flagship ashore and scatter his squadron in what has been described as "one of the most brilliant naval achievements of the war". The Napoleonic Wars, the name for a succession of connected conflicts between the armies of the French Emperor Napoleon and his European opponents, was nine years old when the War of the Fifth Coalition ended in 1809.


Selected picture

Napoleon Crossing the Alps
Credit: Jacques-Louis David

Napoleon Crossing the Alps is the title given to the five versions of an oil on canvas equestrian portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte painted by the French artist Jacques-Louis David between 1801 and 1805. Initially commissioned by the Spanish Ambassador to France, the composition shows a strongly idealized view of the real crossing that Napoleon and his army made across the Alps in 1800.

Unit of the month

1reg.JPG

The 1st Foreign Engineer Regiment (French: 1er régiment étranger de génie) (1er REG) is a Military engineer regiment in the French Foreign Legion. It is a part of the 6th Light Armoured Brigade. The regiment is station in Laudon.

It was created on 1 October, 1939 as the 6th Foreign Infantry Regiment. The manpower came from 3 battalions of the 1st Foreign Infantry Regiment and one from 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment. It was disbanded 1 January 1942 and its soldiers were transeferred into the 1st Foreign Regiment and Foreign Legion depots. (More...)

Selected biography

Sir Jean de Carrouges IV was a fourteenth century French knight who governed estates in Normandy as a vassal of Count Pierre d'Alençon and served under Admiral Jean de Vienne in several campaigns against the English and the forces of the Ottoman Empire. He became infamous in medieval France for fighting in the last judicial duel permitted by the French king and the Parlement of Paris. The combat was decreed in 1386 to contest charges of rape Carrouges had brought against his neighbour and erstwhile friend Jacques Le Gris on behalf of his wife Marguerite. It was attended by much of the highest French nobility of the time led by King Charles VI and his family, including a number of royal dukes. It was also attended by thousands of ordinary Parisians and in the ensuing decades was chronicled by such notable medieval historians as Jean Froissart, Jean Juvénal des Ursins and Jehan de Waurin. Described in the chronicles as a rash and temperamental man, Carrouges was also a fierce and brave warrior whose death in battle came after a forty-year military career in which he served in Normandy, Scotland and Hungary with distinction and success. He was also heavily involved in court politics, initially at the seat of his overlord Count Pierre of Alençon at Argentan, but later in the politics of the Royal household at Paris, to which he was attached as a chevalier d'honneur and Royal bodyguard in the years following the judicial duel. During his life he conducted a long trail of legal and financial dealings which infuriated his contemporaries and may have invited violence against himself and his family. The truth of the events which led him into public mortal combat in the Paris suburbs may never be known, but the legend is still debated and discussed 600 years later.


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Isle of FranceLouis de Brancas de Forcalquier de CéresteChristian Louis de Montmorency-LuxembourgNicolas de Neufville, Duc de VilleroiHenri de La Ferté-SenneterreJean Baptiste Budes de GuébriantPhilippe de La Mothe-HoudancourtCharles de La Porte de MeillerayeJean-Baptiste Louis Andrault de MaulévrierUrbain de Maillé-BrézéUlrich Friedrich Waldemar von LöwendahlEmmanuel Félicité de Durfort de DurasHenri de SchombergPaul de La Barthe de ThermesJacques d'Albon de Saint-AndréOperation BrochetOpération CorseOperation HirondelleRobert NivelleLouis Vincent Le Blond de Saint-HilaireBattle of VerdunSecond Battle of the MarneMartha DesrumeauxBattle of Bapaume (1871)Battle of LutterbergBattle of FreibergAlbert Severin RocheSiege of GroningenSecond Battle of Orleans (1870)Georges Loustaunau-LacauClaude d'AnnebautPhilippe de CulantJean de LescunJacques de TrivulceCharles II d'Amboise de ChaumontRobert Stuart d'AubignyGaspard I de ColignyThomas de Foix-LescunRobert III de La MarckGaspard de SaulxCharles de Choiseul-PraslinAntoine III de GramontJean de GassionArmand-Nompar de Caumont, duc de la ForceJacques Henri de Durfort de DurasGuy Aldonce de Durfort de LorgesRené de Froulay de TesséPierre de Montesquiou d'ArtagnanAlain Emmanuel de CoëtlogonCharles-Armand de Gontaut, duc de BironGaspard de Clermont-TonnerreLouis Antoine de GontautLouis Charles César Le Tellier, duc d'EstréesHubert de Brienne, Comte de ConflansJean Isidore HarispeMarie-Madeleine FourcadeBattle of ZeelandMarcel-Bruno GensoulBattle of Foz de Arouce
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