Open main menu

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

The fall of Edessa, seen here on the right of this map (c.1140), was the proximate cause of the Second Crusade.
The Second Crusade (1147–1149) was the second major crusade launched from Europe, called in 1145 in response to the fall of the County of Edessa the previous year. Edessa was the first of the Crusader states to have been founded during the First Crusade (1095–1099), and was the first to fall. The Second Crusade was announced by Pope Eugene III, and was the first of the crusades to be led by European kings, namely Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany, with help from a number of other important European nobles. The armies of the two kings marched separately across Europe and were somewhat hindered by Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenus; after crossing Byzantine territory into Anatolia, both armies were separately defeated by the Seljuk Turks. Louis and Conrad and the remnants of their armies reached Jerusalem and, in 1148, participated in an ill-advised attack on Damascus. The crusade in the east was a failure for the crusaders and a great victory for the Muslims. It would ultimately lead to the fall of Jerusalem and the Third Crusade at the end of the 12th century. The only success came outside of the Mediterranean, where Flemish, Frisian, Norman, English, Scottish, and some German crusaders, on the way by ship to the Holy Land, fortuitously stopped and helped the Portuguese in the capture of Lisbon in 1147. Some of them, who had departed earlier, helped capture Santarém earlier in the same year. Later they also helped to conquer Sintra, Almada, Palmela and Setúbal, and were allowed to stay in the conquered lands, where they had offspring.


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

JACQUESLECLERC.JPG

Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque (November 22, 1902 - November 28, 1947), was a French general in the Second World War.

Leclerc was born in Belloy-Saint-Léonard, Somme, France, the son of Adrien, Count of Hauteclocque (1864-1945) and of Marie-Thérèse van der Cruisse de Waziers (1870-1956). and in his youth, spent his holidays in the fishing village of Audresselles, Pas-de-Calais. He attended the École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr, graduating in 1924, and entered the French Army; he attained the rank of captain in 1937, brigadier-general in August 1941, and major-general in 1943.

During World War II, he joined the Free French forces upon the Fall of France and made his way to London. Charles de Gaulle upon meeting him promoted him from Captain to Major (commandant) and ordered him to French Equatorial Africa as Governor of French Cameroon from August 29, 1940 to November 12, 1940. He commanded the column which attacked Axis forces from Chad, and having marched his troops across West Africa distinguished himself in Tunisia. (More...)

Did you know...

Nicolas luckner.jpg

Categories

Things you can do

French military history task force:

Attention needed
...to referencing and citation  • ...to coverage and accuracy  • ...to structure  • ...to grammar  • ...to supporting materials 
Popular pages
Full list
Cleanup needed
Richelieu class battleship (have done copyediting, needs content work; copyediting work can be copied to related articles)
Requested articles 
Operation Vesuve (currently redirect) • Charles MontignaultColonial CorpsJules Charles Auguste LefèvrePaul LebloisCadets de la France LibreFrench Liberation ArmyPierre JacquotGilbert SabattierMarguerite de BressieuxJames of MaillySiege of UtrechtFirst Battle of Orleans (currently redirect) • Bombardment of SamogneuxFrench invasions of FlandersAngevin-Capetian ConflictFrench Expeditionary Corps to White RussiaThibaut, Seigneur de MontmorencyVivien de BulondeGaston de ChanmontHugues de ChanmontSimon de Neauphle-le-ChateauEnea DiGuilianoGeorges GuingouihForce NoirDreux IV de MelloGilles II de TrasigniesHumbert VI de BeaujeuRaoul II de ClerminGaucher de ChatillonRobert Morean de FiennesMaschke CommissionGuillaume de BournelNivelon d'ArrasHenry I ClémentJean III ClémentGuillaume de la TournelleFerry PastéJean Guillaume de BeaumontGauthier IIIHenri II ClémentHéric de BeaujeuRenaud de PrécignyFerry de VerneuilGuillaume V du Bec CrespinRaoul V Le FlamencJean de VarennesFoulques du MerleJean de CorbeilJean IV de BeaumontJean des BarresBernard VI de MoreuilRobert-Jean Bertran de BriquebecAnseau de JoinvilleRobert de WaurinRogues de HangestJean IV de MauquenchyLouis II de ChampagnePierre de RieuxClaude de BeauvoirJacques de MontberonAntoine de VergyPierre de Rohan de GiéClaude d'AillyRené de MontjeanOudard du BiezAntoine de Lettes-DesprezJean CaraccioliPierre Strozzi &bull Artus de Cossé-BrissacLouis Prévost de SansacJacques de GoyonGuillaume de JoyeuseClaude de La Chatre de La MaisonfortJean de Montluc de BalagnyJean III de BaumanoirUrbain de Montmorency-LavalGuillaume de Hautemer de GranceyLouis de La Châtre de MaisonfortPons de Lauzières-Thémines-CardaillacAntoine Coëffier de Ruzé d'EffiatCharles de Monchy d'HocquincourtJacques Rouxel de GranceyPhilippe de Clérambault de La PalluauLouis de Foucault de Saint-Germain BeaupréJacques de Mauvisière de CastelnauPhilippe de Montaut-Bénac de NavaillesJean-Armand de Joyeuse-GrandpréNicolas Auguste de La Baume de MontrevelCharles Eugène de Lévis-CharlusLouis Armand de Brinchanteau de NangisLouis de Gand de Mérode de MontmorencyJean-Baptiste de Durfort de DurasClaude Guillaume Testu de BalincourtGuy Claude Roland de Montmorency-LavalLouis Claude de La Mothe-HoudancourtJean Hector de Fay de La Tour-MaubourgEsprit Victor Boniface de CastellaneSerge Asher-RavanelRaoul BoulangerJulien MelineDorothy TartiereHugues de TappieJean Pierre Joseph BruyèreLouis Jacques de CoehornJob Forant
Expansion needed
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
Images needed
Add an article here!
Merging needed
Add an article here!
Citations needed
Richelieu class battleship
Translation needed 
fr:Philippe Pot, fr:Chouannerie

Associated Wikimedia

Related portals: France  •  New France  •  Napoleonic Wars