Marshal of France
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Marshal of France
Marshal of France
Maréchal de France
Flag of Marshal of France.svg
Rank flag
Shoulder and sleeve insignia
Country France
Service branch French Army
Rank groupGeneral officer
NATO rank codeOF-10
Next higher rankNone
Next lower rankArmy general[a]
Equivalent ranksAdmiral of France
Related articles
HistoryMarshal of the Empire

Marshal of France (French: 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 for a period dormant (1870-1916). 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.

The distinction of Admiral of France is the equivalent in the French Navy.

Terror belli...
...decus pacis
Modern-day baton, belonging to one of the four Marshals of France during World War II (Leclerc, de Lattre, Juin and Koenig)


The title derived from the office of marescallus Franciae created by King Philip II Augustus of France for Albéric Clément (c. 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. Under the Bourbon Restoration, the title reverted to Marshal of France, and Napoleon 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.

Contrarily to ranks, which are awarded by the army, the distinction of Marshal of France is awarded by a special law voted by the French Parliament. For this reason, it is impossible to demote a Marshal. The most famous case is Philippe Pétain, who was awarded the distinction of Marshal of France for his generalship in World War I, and who was stripped of other positions and titles after his trial for high treason due to his involvement with collaborationist Vichy France: due to the principle of separation of powers, the court that judged him did not have the power to cancel the law that had made him a Marshal in the first place.

The last living Marshal of France was Alphonse Juin, promoted in 1952, who died in 1967. The latest Marshal of France was Marie-Pierre Koenig, 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

Philip II, 1180-1223

Louis IX, 1226-1270

Philip III, 1270-1285

Philip IV, 1285-1314

Louis X, 1314-1316

Philip V, 1316-1322

Charles IV, 1322-1328


Philip VI, 1328-1350

John II 1350-1364

Charles V, 1364-1380

Charles VI, 1380-1422

Charles VII, 1422-1461

  • 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

Charles VIII, 1483-1498


Louis XII, 1498-1515


Francis I 1515-1547

Henry II 1547-1559

Francis II 1559-1560

Charles IX, 1560-1574

Henry III 1574-1589


Marshal's baton during the Bourbon monarchy

Henry IV 1589-1610

Louis XIII, 1610-1643

Louis XIV, 1643-1715

Louis XV, 1715-1774

Louis XVI, 1774-1792

First Empire

Graphic representation of a Marshal's baton during the First French Empire

Napoleon I, 1804-1814/1815

Throughout his reign, Napoleon created a total of twenty-six Marshals of the Empire:[5]

Michel Ney received his marshal's baton on 19 May 1804

The names of nineteen of these have been given to successive stretches of boulevards encircling Paris, which has thus been nicknamed the Boulevards des Maréchaux (Boulevards of the Marshals). Another three Marshals have been honored with a street elsewhere in the city. The four Marshals banned from memory are: Bernadotte and Marmont, considered as traitors; Pérignon, stricken off the list by Napoleon in 1815; and Grouchy, regarded as responsible for the defeat at Waterloo.


Louis XVIII, 1815-1824

Charles X, 1824-1830

July Monarchy

Louis-Philippe 1830-1848

Second Republic

Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, 1848-1852

Second Empire

Napoleon III, 1852-1870

Third Republic

Raymond Poincaré, 1913-1920

Alexandre Millerand, 1920-1924

Fourth Republic

Vincent Auriol, 1947-1954

Fifth Republic

François Mitterrand, 1981-1995

See also


  1. ^ Not a rank, but a position and style.


  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".[self-published source][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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