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

The War of the Fifth Coalition in 1809 pitted a coalition of the Austrian Empire and the United Kingdom against Napoleon's French Empire and Bavaria. Major engagements between France and Austria, the main participants, unfolded over much of Central Europe from April to July, producing horrific casualty rates. Britain, already involved on the European continent in the ongoing Peninsular War, sent another expedition to the Netherlands to take pressure off the Austrians, although this had little impact on the outcome of the conflict. After much campaigning in Bavaria and across the Danube valley, the war ended favorably for the French after the bloody struggle at the Battle of Wagram in early July. The resulting Treaty of Schönbrunn was the harshest that France had imposed on Austria in recent memory. Metternich and Archduke Charles had the preservation of the Habsburg Empire as their fundamental goal, and to this end the former succeeded in making Napoleon seek more modest goals in return for promises of Franco-Austrian peace and friendship. Nevertheless, while most of the hereditary lands remained part of Habsburg territories, France received Carinthia, Carniola, and the Adriatic ports, while Galicia was given to the Poles and the Salzburg area of the Tyrol went to the Bavarians. Austria lost over three million subjects, about one-fifth of her total population, as a result of these territorial changes. While fighting in the Iberian Peninsula would continue, the War of the Fifth Coalition was the last major conflict on the European continent until the French invasion of Russia in 1812 sparked the rise of the Sixth Coalition.


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

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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

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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...)

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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 BrochetOperation HirondelleRobert NivelleLouis Vincent Le Blond de Saint-HilaireBattle of VerdunSecond Battle of the MarneMartha DesrumeauxBattle of Bapaume (1871)Battle of LutterbergBattle of FreibergSiege 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 Gensoul
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