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 Capitulation of Ulm by Charles Thévenin. The decisive finale of the Ulm Campaign led to the surrender of General Mack and 23,000 Austrian troops.
The Ulm Campaign consisted of a series of French and Bavarian military maneuvers and battles to outflank and capture an Austrian army in 1805 during the War of the Third Coalition. The French Grande Armée, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, comprised 210,000 troops organized into seven corps, and hoped to knock out the Austrian army in the Danube before Russian reinforcements could arrive. Through rapid marching, Napoleon conducted a large wheeling maneuver that captured an Austrian army of 23,000 under General Mack on October 20 at Ulm, bringing the total number of Austrian prisoners in the campaign to 60,000. The campaign is generally regarded as a strategic masterpiece and was influential in the development of the Schlieffen Plan in the late 19th century. The victory at Ulm did not end the war, since a large Russian army under Kutuzov was still near Vienna. The Russians withdrew to the northeast to await reinforcements and to link up with surviving Austrian units. The French followed and captured Vienna on November 12. On December 2, the decisive French victory at Austerlitz effectively removed Austria from the war. The resulting Treaty of Pressburg in late December brought the Third Coalition to an end and left Napoleonic France as the major power in Central Europe, leading to the War of the Fourth Coalition with Prussia and Russia the following year. Before Austerlitz, Europe had been embroiled in the French Revolutionary Wars since 1792.

Selected picture

Assault landing one of the first waves at Omaha Beach as photographed by Robert F. Sargent. The U.S. Coast Guard caption identifies the unit as Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.
Credit: U.S. Army's First Division

The Normandy landings (D-Day) is one of the best-known battles of World War II. The invasion force included 4000 landing craft, 130 warships for bombardment and 12,000 aircraft to support the landings. In order to persuade the Germans that the invasion would really be coming to the Pas de Calais, the Allies prepared a massive deception plan, called Operation Fortitude. An entirely fictitious First U.S. Army Group was created, with fake buildings and equipment, and false radio messages were sent.

Unit of the month


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


Pierre André de Suffren de Saint Tropez (July 17, 1729 - December 8, 1788) was a French admiral, the third son of the marquis de Saint Tropez, head of a family of nobles of Provence which claimed to have emigrated from Lucca in the 14th century. He was born in the Château de Saint Canat, near Aix-en-Provence in the present département of Bouches-du-Rhône. He was most famous for his campaign in the Indian Ocean, in which he successfully contended for supremacy against the established British power there, led by Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Hughes.

The French navy and the Order of Malta (where he received the title Bailli de Suffren) offered the usual careers for the younger sons of noble families of the south of France who did not elect to go into the Church. The connection between the Order and the old French royal navy was close. Pierre André de Suffren was destined by his parents to belong to both. He entered the close and aristocratic corps of French naval officers as a "garde de la marine"--cadet or midshipman, in October 1743, in the Solide, one of the line of battleships which took part in the confused engagement off Toulon in 1744. (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 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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