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Modern-day baton of a Marshal of France

Shoulder insignia of a Marshal of France

Marshal of France (French language: Maréchal de France, plural Maréchaux de France) is a French military distinction, rather than a military rank, that is awarded to generals for exceptional achievements. The title has been awarded since 1185, though briefly abolished (1793–1804) and briefly dormant (1870–1916) during its centuries of existence. It was one of the Great Officers of the Crown of France during the Ancien Régime and Bourbon Restoration, and one of the Grand Dignitaries of the Empire during the First French Empire (when the title was Marshal of the Empire, not Marshal of France).

A Marshal of France displays seven stars on each shoulder strap. A marshal also receives a baton: a blue cylinder with stars, formerly fleurs-de-lis during the monarchy and eagles during the First French Empire. The baton bears the Latin inscription of Terror belli, decus pacis, which means "terror in war, ornament in peace".

Between the end of the 16th century and the middle of the 19th century, six Marshals of France were given the even more exalted rank of Marshal General of France: Biron, Lesdiguières, Turenne, Villars, Saxe, and Soult.

History[edit | edit source]

The title derived from the office of marescallus Franciae created by King Philip II Augustus of France for Albéric Clément (circa 1190).

The title was abolished by the National Convention in 1793. It was restored as Marshal of the Empire during the First French Empire by Napoleon I, and the title was given to Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, sovereign Prince of Pontecorvo and later King of Sweden. Under the Bourbon Restoration, the title reverted to Marshal of France, and Napoléon III kept that designation.

After the fall of Napoleon III and the Second French Empire, the Third Republic did not use the title until the First World War, when it was recreated as a military distinction and not a rank. Philippe Pétain, awarded the distinction of Marshal of France for his generalship in World War I, retained this title even after his trial and imprisonment and after he was stripped of other positions and titles.

The last living Marshal of France was Alphonse Juin, promoted in 1952, who died in 1967. The latest Marshal of France was Marie Pierre Kœnig, who was made a Marshal posthumously in 1984. Today, the title of Marshal of France can only be granted to a general officer who fought victoriously in war-time.

Direct Capetians[edit | edit source]

Philip II, 1180–1223[edit | edit source]

Louis IX, 1226–1270[edit | edit source]

Philip III, 1270–1285[edit | edit source]

Philip IV, 1285–1314[edit | edit source]

Louis X, 1314–1316[edit | edit source]

Philip V, 1316–1322[edit | edit source]

Charles IV, 1322–1328[edit | edit source]

Valois[edit | edit source]

Philip VI, 1328–1350[edit | edit source]

John II 1350–1364[edit | edit source]

Charles V, 1364–1380[edit | edit source]

Charles VI, 1380–1422[edit | edit source]

Charles VII, 1422–1461[edit | edit source]

  • Amaury de Séverac, Lord of Beaucaire and of Chaude-Aigues (died 1427), Marshal of France in 1424
  • Jean de Brosse, Baron of Boussac and of Sainte-Sévère (1375–1433), Marshal of France in 1426
  • Gilles de Rais, Lord of Ingrande and of Champtocé (1404–1440), Marshal of France in 1429
  • André de Laval-Montmorency, Lord of Lohéac and of Retz (1408–1486), Marshal of France in 1439
  • Philippe de Culant, Lord of Jaloignes, of La Croisette, of Saint-Armand and of Chalais (died 1454), Marshal of France in 1441
  • Jean Poton de Xaintrailles, Seneschal de Limousin (1390–1461), Marshal of France in 1454

Louis XI, 1461–1483[edit | edit source]

Charles VIII, 1483–1498[edit | edit source]

Valois-Orléans[edit | edit source]

Louis XII, 1498–1515[edit | edit source]

Valois-Angoulême[edit | edit source]

Francis I 1515–1547[edit | edit source]

Henry II 1547–1559[edit | edit source]

Francis II 1559–1560[edit | edit source]

Charles IX, 1560–1574[edit | edit source]

Henry III 1574–1589[edit | edit source]

Bourbons[edit | edit source]

Marshal baton during the monarchy

Henry IV 1589–1610[edit | edit source]

Louis XIII, 1610–1643[edit | edit source]

Maréchal de Schomberg

Louis XIV, 1643–1715[edit | edit source]

Maréchal Vauban

Louis XV, 1715–1774[edit | edit source]

Maréchal de Saxe

Louis XVI, 1774–1792[edit | edit source]

Maréchal de Ségur

First Empire[edit | edit source]

Baton of the Napoleonic Marshals

Napoleon I, 1804–1814/1815[edit | edit source]

Napoleon created twenty-six Marshals of the Empire:[5]

Maréchal Ney

The names of many of these have been given to successive stretches of an avenue encircling Paris, which has thus been nicknamed the Boulevards des Maréchaux (Boulevards of the Marshals).

Restoration[edit | edit source]

Louis XVIII, 1815–1824[edit | edit source]

Charles X, 1824–1830[edit | edit source]

July Monarchy[edit | edit source]

Louis-Philippe 1830–1848[edit | edit source]

Second Republic[edit | edit source]

Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, 1848–1852[edit | edit source]

Second Empire[edit | edit source]

Napoleon III, 1852–1870[edit | edit source]

Maréchal Randon

Third Republic[edit | edit source]

Maréchal Foch

Raymond Poincaré, 1913–1920[edit | edit source]

Alexandre Millerand, 1920–1924[edit | edit source]

Fourth Republic[edit | edit source]

Vincent Auriol, 1947–1954[edit | edit source]

Fifth Republic[edit | edit source]

François Mitterrand, 1981–1995[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Steven Runciman, The Sicilian Vespers: A History of the Mediterranean World in the Later Thirteenth Century, (Cambridge University Press, 2000), 93.
  2. Frederic J. Baumgartner, Henry II: King of France 1547–1559, (Duke University Press, 1988), 56.
  3. Marek, Miroslav. "italy/cybo2.html". genealogy.euweb.cz. http://genealogy.euweb.cz/italy/cybo2.html. [better source needed]
  4. Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol 23, Ed. Hugh Chisholm, (1911), 719.
  5. R.P. Dunn-Pattison Napoleon's Marshals Methuen 1909 - Reprinted Empiricus Books 2001

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