Marshal of France

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French marshal's baton , le baton du maréchal de France
Maréchal de France

Marshal of France ( French Maréchal de France ) is the highest military award of the French Republic . It is not a question of a rank or an office, but rather a state honorary designation that is rarely awarded and in several cases only awarded to the honored person after his death.

The title of Marshal of France goes back to the old French monarchy and originally referred to the military deputy of the Crown General of the King of France. The first marshal of France was Albéric Clément , for whom the office was created around 1190 by Philip II .

Ancien Régime

The office of Marshal of France was introduced by King Philip II in 1190 . The first marshal was Albéric Clément , who died in the Third Crusade after only a year in office . There could be several marshals at the same time, but until the beginning of the 16th century the number of marshals appointed by a king always remained in the single-digit range. It was not until the Bourbon kings that a large number of marshals were appointed - Louis XIV appointed a total of 54 marshals during his reign of more than 70 years.

In terms of rank, the Connétable of France stood above the marshals until 1627 . In order to regulate the conflicts of rank and competence among the Marshals of France, one of them was promoted to Maréchal général des camps et armées du roi . He was subordinate to the other marshals and also acted as their deputy until the connétable was abolished . The office of Maréchal général was awarded only seven times between 1594 and 1847.

The name Maréchaussée for the corps of mounted security forces, founded in 1373, which performed judicial and police tasks during the Ancien Régimes, is derived from the office of the maréchal . The Maréchaussée was replaced by the Gendarmerie nationale during the French Revolution in 1791 .

First empire

The title of Maréchal d'Empire was introduced by Napoleon Bonaparte on the day of his imperial coronation in 1804. On that day, 18 generals were appointed "Marshals of the Empire". This title was not to survive the empire, the last to be honored was Emmanuel de Grouchy in 1815.

In addition to these, there were two successive Grand Marshals of the palace : Géraud-Christophe-Michel Duroc and Henri-Gratien Bertrand .

Recent history

After the establishment of the Third Republic , the rank of Marshal of France was only re-established after the outbreak of the First World War :

The last marshals were honored for their achievements during World War II . These were:

While French army generals still wear five stars today, the marshals wore seven stars on the lower sleeves of their tunic, or on the slide tabs of the epaulettes of their uniform shirt, on the front of the kepi and on the marshal's baton.

The sections of the ring boulevard around the outskirts of Paris bear the names of marshals of France. The entire boulevard is called Boulevards des Maréchaux or, in everyday life, just les Maréchaux (the marshals).

Non-French marshals

Among the few foreigners who ever achieved the title of French marshal, six were Germans:

The Austrian general Karl Philipp Fürst zu Schwarzenberg refused the dignity of French marshal offered by Napoleon, citing possible conflicts of loyalty.

See also


  • Christophe Brun, Geneviève Maze-Sencier: Dictionnaire des maréchaux de France. You Moyen Age à nos Jours. Perrin Editions, Paris 2000, ISBN 2-262-01735-2 .
  • Louis Chardigny: Les Maréchaux de Napoléon. Nouvelle édition revue et mise à jour. Tallandier, Paris 2003, ISBN 2-84734-087-4 .
  • Jacques Demougin (Red.): Les Maréchaux de Napoléon. Trésor du patrimoine, Paris 2003, ISBN 2-915118-02-7 .
  • Jacques Jourquin: Dictionnaire des maréchaux du Premier Empire. Dictionnaire analytique, statistique et comparé des vingt-six maréchaux. 4e édition, refondue et très augmentée, Christian et al., Paris 1999, ISBN 2-911090-05-5 .
  • Vincent Rolin: Les aides de camp de Napoléon et des maréchaux sous le Premier Empire. 1804-1815. Editions Napoléon Ier, Saint-Cloud 2005, ISBN 2-9519539-4-1 .
  • Jürgen Sternberger: The marshals of Napoleon. Pro Business, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-86805-172-8 .