Portal:Military history of France

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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

Marshal Beresford disarming a Polish lancer at the Battle of Albuera. Print by T. Sutherland, 1831.
The Battle of Albuera (16 May 1811) was an indecisive battle during the Peninsular War. A mixed British, Spanish, and Portuguese corps engaged elements of the French Armée du Midi (Army of the South) at the small Spanish village of Albuera, about 20 kilometres (12 mi) south of the frontier fortress-town of Badajoz, Spain. From October 1810 Marshal Masséna's Army of Portugal had been tied down in an increasingly hopeless stand-off against Wellington's Allied forces, safely entrenched in and behind the Lines of Torres Vedras. Acting on Napoleon's orders, in early 1811 Marshal Soult led a French expedition from Andalusia into Extremadura in a bid to draw Allied forces away from the Lines and ease Masséna's plight. Napoleon's information was outdated and Soult's intervention came too late; starving and understrength, Masséna's army was already withdrawing to Spain. Soult was able to capture the fortress at Badajoz from the Spanish, but was forced to return to Andalusia following Marshal Victor's defeat in March at the Battle of Barrosa. However, Soult left Badajoz strongly garrisoned. In April, following news of Masséna's complete withdrawal from Portugal, Wellington sent a powerful Anglo-Portuguese corps commanded by Sir William Beresford to retake the border town. The Allies drove most of the French from the surrounding area, and laid siege to the remainder in Badajoz.


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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