National guard

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National Guard logo since 2016
Fusilier of the National Guard, 1791
Soldier of the National Guard, 1870
French National Guard ( Musée de la Révolution française ).

The national guard (National Guard) was set up on July 13, 1789 (one day before the Bastille storm ) at the suggestion of Edmond Dubois-Crancé during the French Revolution in Paris and organized by the Marquis de La Fayette to act as a kind of people's armament or police body to ensure public safety in the capital. In a later line of tradition, she succeeded the royal Gardes-Françaises .

It replaced the civil guards (garde bourgeoise) of the Ancien Régime and was initially 48,000 strong (with a total Paris population of an estimated 500-600,000). In June 1790 she received her typical blue-white-red uniform , which quoted the colors of the tricolor . The commanding officer from the beginning was the Marquis de La Fayette. Initially, she only accepted active citizens between 18 and 60 years of age, for whom service had been compulsory since October 1791. The National Guard had the right to choose the officers and NCOs themselves. With the French territorial reform in December 1789, the newly founded départements were given the right to set up their own national guards, which were also called federations to distinguish the Parisian militia. In 1791 she was deployed with a nominal 100,000 men to reinforce the field army, with the right to choose the officers and NCOs themselves. At the beginning of 1793 the national guards comprised 110,000 men nationwide. They fought alongside the active army in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Coalition Wars , although they were originally only intended for domestic use.

After a royalist uprising within the Paris National Guard on 13th Vendémiaire 1795 , the National Guard lost its general staff; the cavalry, artillery, and hunters on foot were distributed among the regular army, only the infantry remained. After 1798 the National Guard was largely demobilized and in France mainly took on guard duties and provided fortress crews. In 1799, around 400,000 National Guardsmen and Federals served nationwide. At this point in time, the National Guards had long since opened up to the poorer sections of the population who did not have active citizenship. Between 1806 and 1810 up to 560,000 men served in the National Guard. Reorganized by Napoleon Bonaparte , the National Guard was also deployed in Germany and provided some divisions of the army.

After the restoration of the Bourbon rule in 1814/15 it was subordinated to the prefect . Dissolved in 1827, it was reorganized by the citizen king Louis-Philippe I in 1830 . The National Guard participated in the suppression of the June uprising in 1848 . In 1852 it was placed under the Ministry of War and its rights were restricted. The Defense Act of 1868 assigned all citizens capable of holding arms who had not actively served between the ages of 30 and 60 to the National Guard.

After the conclusion of the armistice in the Franco-Prussian War in January 1871, the Central Committee of the National Guard took power in Paris on March 17 and 18 during the uprising of the Paris Commune and organized free elections. Troops of the French government of Adolphe Thiers under the command of Marshal Mac-Mahon put down the uprising with blood. The Recruiting Act of July 27, 1872 repealed the National Guard after this experience. It was then integrated into the French army .

After the terrorist attacks in Paris ( November 13, 2015 ) and Nice , President François Hollande announced that he would form a new National Guard.

By decree n ° 2016-1364 of October 13, 2016, this project was implemented. The staff is approximately 72,000 guardsmen consisting of reservists from the armed forces, the gendarmerie and the police, as well as volunteers.


  • Gerd Krumeich : On the development of the "nation armée" in France up to the First World War , in: The conscription - emergence, manifestations and politico-military effects , R. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 1994 (= contributions to military history , vol. 43), p 133-145. ISBN 3-486-56042-5

Web links

Commons : Garde nationale  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. August 3, 2016: France plans 84,000 strong national guard
  2. ( French )