Marshal of France

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Baton of a modern Marshal of France
Imperial coat of arms of marshal of the First French Empire prince Józef Poniatowski with Légion d'honneur, Order of the White Eagle, Virtuti Militari insignia.
Marshal of France shoulder insignia

The Marshal of France (French: Maréchal de France, plural Maréchaux de France) is a military distinction, rather than a military rank, in contemporary France, 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 millennium 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 Great Dignitaries of the Empire during the First French Empire (when the title was not "Marshal of France" but "Marshal of the Empire").

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

Between the end of the 16th century and the middle of the 18th 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 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 during the First French Empire by Napoleon I as Marshal of the Empire, and then 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 his 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

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 baton during the monarchy

Henry IV 1589–1610

Louis XIII, 1610–1643

Louis XIV, 1643–1715

Louis XV, 1715–1774

Louis XVI, 1774–1792

First Empire

Baton of the Napoleonic Marshals

Napoleon I, 1804–1814/1815

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

Michel Ney in his uniform of Marshal of the Empire

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).


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

Uniforms of Marshal of France (Pétain, Foch, Joffre) at Les Invalides.
Ferdinand Foch with the Marshal of France baton

Raymond Poincaré, 1913–1920

Alexandre Millerand, 1920–1924

Fourth Republic

Vincent Auriol, 1947–1954

Fifth Republic

François Mitterrand, 1981–1995

See also


  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.
  4. Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol 23, Ed. Hugh Chisholm, (1911), 719.
  5. R P Dunn-Pattison Napoleon's Marshals Methuen 1909 - Reprinted Empiricus Books 2001