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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

Assault on Schellenberg. Tapestry detail by Judocus de Vos
The Battle of Schellenberg was fought during the War of the Spanish Succession on 2 July 1704. The assault on the Schellenberg heights on the River Danube was part of the Duke of Marlborough’s campaign to rescue Vienna, the capital of Habsburg Austria, from King Louis XIV's forces ranged in southern Germany. Marlborough had commenced his march from Bedburg, near Cologne, on 19 May; within five weeks the Duke had reached the Danube where he sought to bring the Elector of Bavaria's forces to open battle. However, the Allied army’s lines of supply were established in Franconia and central Germany, too far north to be convenient once the line of the Danube had been crossed. It was therefore necessary not only to secure a bridge across the river, but also to obtain a new supply base. To achieve these objectives, the Allied commanders chose the walled town of Donauwörth, overlooked by the fortress on the Schellenberg Heights. Once the Franco-Bavarian commanders knew of the Allies’ objective, they dispatched Count d’Arco with 12,000 men to strengthen and hold the position. Marlborough’s co-commander, Louis of Baden, preferred a protracted siege; however, with news arriving that Marshal Tallard was approaching with French reinforcements, the Duke insisted on an immediate assault. Within two hours the Allies had secured their objective, but at considerable cost; the coup de main had cost the Allies some 5,000 casualties, and the defenders, 8,000.


Selected picture

Henry IV at the Battle of Ivry
Credit: Peter Paul Rubens

Ivry was the most important battle in the French Wars of Religion; victory there allowed the Protestant Henry IV to ascend to the French throne and establish the Bourbon dynasty, although he converted to Catholicism to soften the political transition.

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

James FitzStuart, Duke of Berwick.png

The Duke of Berwick (August 21, 1670 – June 12, 1734) was a French military leader, illegitimate son of King James II of England and VII of Scotland by Arabella Churchill, sister of the Duke of Marlborough. In 1695 he married Honora Burke, the widow of Patrick Sarsfield, who died in 1698. His second marriage, with Anne Bulkeley, took place in 1700.

As a soldier, Berwick was highly esteemed for his courage, abilities and integrity. As a result of distinguished service in the War of the Spanish Succession, he became a French subject and was appointed a Marshal of France after his successful expedition against Nice in 1706. On the April 25, 1707, Berwick won the great and decisive victory of Almanza, where an Englishman at the head of a French army defeated Ruvigny, a Frenchman at the head of an English army. After Almanza, Berwick was created Duc de Fitz-James in the peerage of France by Louis XIV, and Duque de Liria y Xérica and lieutenant of Aragon by Philip V of Spain. The last great event of the War of the Spanish Succession was the storming of Barcelona by Berwick, after a long siege, on September 11, 1714. (More...)

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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 ArouceMiles VI de NoyersRobert IV de La MarckJean de BaudricourtGaston Pierre de LévisImbert de La PlâtièreRobert of Torigni
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