Famous 19th Century French Leaders

Find out more about the greatest 19th Century French Leaders, including Charles de Gaulle, Philippe Pétain, Pierre Laval, Bernadette Soubirous and Georges Clémenceau.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Charles de Gaulle

Charles de Gaulle.
25
Famous As: Former President of France
Birthdate: November 22, 1890
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lille, France
Died: November 9, 1970

Charles de Gaulle was a French statesman and army officer. Charles de Gaulle fought against Nazi Germany in the Second World War by leading the Free French Forces. He also worked towards re-establishing democracy in France. He founded the Fifth Republic, France's current republican system, and rewrote the Constitution of France. He then served as the president of France.

 2 Michel Ney

Michel Ney.
3
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: January 10, 1769
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Saarlouis, Germany
Died: December 7, 1815

Michel Ney was a French military commander. One of the 18 Marshals of the Empire inaugurated by Napoléon Bonaparte, Michel Ney played important roles in the Napoleonic Wars and the French Revolutionary Wars. Nicknamed the Bravest of the Brave by Napoleon himself, Ney was renowned for his valor in wars. 

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 3 Billy Mitchell

Billy Mitchell.
5
Famous As: Military General
Birthdate: December 29, 1879
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Nice, France
Died: February 19, 1936

 4 Napoleon III

Napoleon III.
8
Famous As: Emperor of the Second French Empire
Birthdate: April 20, 1808
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 9, 1873
Napoleon III, nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, was the first president of France, from 1848 to 1852, and the French emperor from 1852 to 1870. He rebuilt Paris and other French cities, apart from reforming the French banks, railways, and marines. He lost the Franco-Prussian War and eventually died in exile.

 5 Louis-Philippe I of France

Louis-Philippe I of France.
8
Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: October 6, 1773
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Domaine National du Palais-Royal, Paris, France
Died: August 26, 1850

 6 Philippe Pétain

Philippe Pétain.
8
Famous As: Marshal of France
Birthdate: April 24, 1856
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cauchy-à-la-Tour
Died: July 23, 1951
French military leader Philippe Pétain, also known as “The Old Marshal,” led France to win the Battle of Verdun during World War I. During World War II, he became the president of the Ministerial Council and collaborated with the Axis. He was later convicted for treason and sentenced to life.

 7 Alfred Dreyfus

Alfred Dreyfus.
4
Famous As: Artillery Officer
Birthdate: October 9, 1859
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Mulhouse, France
Died: July 12, 1935

Alfred Dreyfus was a French artillery officer whose trial and conviction on charges of treason in 1894 became one of the most polarizing political dramas in the history of modern France. The incident, which is referred to as the Dreyfus Affair, was a political scandal that ended with Dreyfus' absolution in 1906.

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 8 Georges Clémenceau

Georges Clémenceau.
3
Famous As: Former French Prime Minister
Birthdate: September 28, 1841
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Mouilleron-en-Pareds, Vendee
Died: November 24, 1929

Georges Clémenceau, or The Tiger, who had served as the French prime minister, is remembered as a key figure of the French Third Republic. He not only played a major role in the Allied victory in World War I, but was also a key framer of the Treaty of Versailles.

 9 Ferdinand Foch

Ferdinand Foch.
4
Famous As: General
Birthdate: October 2, 1851
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tarbes, France
Died: March 20, 1929

Ferdinand Foch was a French military theorist and general who played a key role during the First World War where he served as the Supreme Allied Commander. Ferdinand Foch played a crucial role in stopping a renewed German advance in the Second Battle of the Marne. Foch was promoted to Marshal of France for his role in World War I.

 10 Joachim Murat

Joachim Murat.
3
Famous As: Military commander
Birthdate: March 25, 1767
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Labastide-Murat, Cœur-de-Causse, France
Died: October 13, 1815
Joachim Murat, the king of Naples, came to be known for his outrageous dress sense and earned the nickname The Dandy King. Married to Napoleon’s sister, Caroline Bonaparte, he was also a Marshal of France and earned the title of the First Horseman of Europe.

 11 Louis-Nicolas Davout

Louis-Nicolas Davout
3
Famous As: Military commander
Birthdate: May 10, 1770
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Annoux, France
Died: June 1, 1823

 12 Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord.
3
Famous As: Politician, Diplomat
Birthdate: February 2, 1754
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 17, 1838

While his clubfoot prevented him from joining the army and also earned him the nickname The Lame Devil, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord later became the bishop of Autun. Known for his womanizing ways, he also went down in history as an opportunist who changed sides.

 13 Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
5
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: February 2, 1754
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 17, 1838

French diplomat and bishop Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord is counted among the most pragmatic and prominent diplomats in European history. He served King Louis XVI and thereafter changed sides several times, serving at highest levels of successive French governments of Napoleon I, Louis XVIII and Louis Philippe I. He served as the first Prime Minister of France under Louis XVIII.

 14 Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.
5
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: January 15, 1809
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Besançon, France
Died: January 19, 1865

Often referred to as the Father of Anarchism, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was born to a tavern keeper and grew up working on farms. Largely educated on scholarships, he later became known for his slogan “Property is theft!” and his idea of mutualism. His notable works include What is Property?

 15 Pierre Laval

Pierre Laval
5
Famous As: Politician, Lawyer
Birthdate: June 28, 1883
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Châteldon
Died: October 15, 1945

 16 Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême

Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême
3
Famous As: King
Birthdate: August 6, 1775
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Palace of Versailles, Versailles, France
Died: June 3, 1844

 17 Georges-Eugène Haussmann

Georges-Eugène Haussmann
3
Famous As: Official
Birthdate: March 27, 1809
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 11, 1891

 18 Félix Faure

Félix Faure
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: January 30, 1841
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris
Died: February 16, 1899

Born to a furniture maker in Paris, Félix Faure initially worked as a tanner. After gaining considerable wealth as a merchant later, he became the deputy mayor of Le Havre and then the president of France. He is remembered for his reluctance to reopen the case of Alfred Dreyfus.

 19 Léon Blum

Léon Blum.
4
Famous As: Former Prime Minister of France
Birthdate: April 9, 1872
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris
Died: March 30, 1950

Born into a Jewish family in Paris, three-time French prime minister Léon Blum had initially studied law. He joined politics inspired by the Dreyfus affair. The first socialist and the first Jew to head France, he introduced reforms such as the 40-hour work week and paid vacations.

 20 François-René de Chateaubriand

François-René de Chateaubriand
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: September 4, 1768
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Saint-Malo, France
Died: July 4, 1848

 21 Frederic Bastiat

Frederic Bastiat
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: June 30, 1801
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bayonne, France
Died: December 24, 1850

An ardent follower of Adam Smith’s ideas, French economist Frederic Bastiat propagated the concept of free trade. Apart from launching his journal Le Libre-Échange, he also penned the iconic satire Sophismes économiques and his most notable work The Law. He also introduced what later came to be known as opportunity cost.

 22 Jean Moulin

Jean Moulin.
3
Famous As: An Emblem of the Resistance
Birthdate: June 20, 1899
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Béziers
Died: July 8, 1943

Jean Moulin was a French civil servant who played an important role during the French Resistance, which took place during the Second World War. In 1943, Moulin served as the president of the National Resistance Council, a body that directed the various movements of the French Resistance. Today, Moulin is remembered as one of the heroes of the French Resistance.

 23 Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau

Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau
3
Famous As: General
Birthdate: July 1, 1725
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Vendôme, France
Died: May 30, 1807

 24 François Darlan

François Darlan
4
Famous As: Politician, Military personnel
Birthdate: August 7, 1881
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Nérac
Died: December 24, 1942

 25 Raymond Poincaré

Raymond Poincaré
4
Famous As: Politician, Lawyer, Journalist
Birthdate: August 20, 1860
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bar-le-Duc
Died: October 15, 1934

Former French president and three-time prime minister Raymond Poincaré was a qualified lawyer and the co-founder of the Democratic Republican Alliance. He suggested a retrial in the Dreyfus Affair and was also largely responsible for France’s entry into World War II. He also introduced a highly debated denaturalization law.

 26 Alan Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke

Alan Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke
3
Famous As: Military Officer
Birthdate: July 23, 1883
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bragnieres-de-Bigorre, France
Died: June 17, 1963

Alan Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke, also known as Brookie and Colonel Shrapnel, was a senior British Army officer and a military advisor to Winston Churchill. He had received multiple knighthood honors. An ornithologist, too, he was a skilled bird photographer and had led the Zoological Society of London.

 27 Joseph de Maistre

Joseph de Maistre
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: April 1, 1753
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chambéry, France
Died: February 26, 1821

 28 Adolphe Thiers

Adolphe Thiers
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: April 15, 1797
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bouc-Bel-Air, France
Died: September 3, 1877

 29 Maxime Weygand

Maxime Weygand
3
Famous As: Military personnel, Officer
Birthdate: January 21, 1867
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brussels
Died: January 28, 1965

 30 Paul Reynaud

Paul Reynaud
3
Famous As: Politician, Lawyer, Journalist
Birthdate: October 15, 1878
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Barcelonnette
Died: September 21, 1966

 31 Victor, Prince Napoléon

Victor, Prince Napoléon
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: July 18, 1862
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Domaine National du Palais-Royal, Paris, France
Died: May 3, 1926

 32 Joseph Fouché

Joseph Fouché
3
Famous As: Statesman
Birthdate: May 21, 1759
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Le Pellerin, France
Died: December 26, 1820

 33 Lucien Bonaparte

Lucien Bonaparte
3
Famous As: Statesman
Birthdate: May 21, 1775
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ajaccio, France
Died: June 29, 1840

 34 Maurice Gamelin

Maurice Gamelin
3
Famous As: military personnel
Birthdate: September 20, 1872
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris
Died: April 18, 1958

 35 Charles Maurras

Charles Maurras
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: April 20, 1868
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Martigues, France
Died: November 16, 1952

 36 René Coty

René Coty
3
Famous As: Politician, Lawyer
Birthdate: March 20, 1882
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Le Havre
Died: November 22, 1962

A qualified lawyer, René Coty had been the last president of the Fourth French Republic. His presidency was plagued by issues such as the Algerian question, and his threat to resign during the May 1958 crisis accelerated the election of Charles de Gaulle as the prime minister of France.

 37 Édouard Daladier

Édouard Daladier
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: June 18, 1884
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Carpentras
Died: October 10, 1970

 38 Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: April 1, 1755
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Belley, France
Died: February 2, 1826

 39 Louise Michel

Louise Michel
3
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: May 29, 1830
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vroncourt-la-Côte, France
Died: January 9, 1905

A significant figure of the Paris Commune, Louise Michel was born as an illegitimate child of a maid. She had initially been trained to be a teacher but later began developing an interest in revolutionary socialist ideas. She was also once sent behind bars for inciting riots.

 40 Jean-de-Dieu Soult

Jean-de-Dieu Soult
3
Famous As: Military leader
Birthdate: March 29, 1769
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Saint-Amans-la-Bastide, France
Died: November 26, 1851

 41 Antoine-Henri Jomini

Antoine-Henri Jomini
3
Famous As: Military general
Birthdate: March 6, 1779
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Payerne, Switzerland
Died: March 24, 1869

 42 Aristide Briand

Aristide Briand.
6
Famous As: Prime Minister
Birthdate: March 28, 1862
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nantes
Died: April 7, 1932

Nobel Peace Prize-winning French stateman Aristide Briand had been the prime minister of his country for 11 terms, apart from holding 26 ministerial posts throughout his career. He played major roles in the drafting of the Pact of Locarno and Kellogg-Briand Pact, and had founded journals such as l’Humanité.

 43 Albert Lebrun

Albert Lebrun
2
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: August 29, 1871
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mercy-le-Haut
Died: March 6, 1950

The last French president of the Third Republic, Albert Lebrun had been a skilled mining engineer before venturing into politics. A moderate conservative, he served more as a mediator between the right and the left and called for French unity during World War II, but wasn’t a strong leader.

 44 Charles Ferdinand, Duke of Berry

Charles Ferdinand, Duke of Berry
3
Famous As: Duke
Birthdate: January 24, 1778
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Versailles, France
Died: February 14, 1820

 45 Lazare Carnot

Lazare Carnot
2
Famous As: Mathematician, Politician, Engineer, Officer, Physicist
Birthdate: May 13, 1753
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nolay
Died: August 2, 1823

Lazare Carnot was a French physicist, mathematician, and politician. His role in the Napoleonic Wars and French Revolutionary Wars earned him the sobriquet Organizer of Victory. Carnot is credited with developing innovative defensive designs for forts, such as the Carnot wall which served as a defensive mechanism against infantry and artillery attack.

 46 Robert Nivelle

Robert Nivelle
2
Famous As: Military personnel
Birthdate: October 15, 1856
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tulle
Died: March 23, 1924

 47 Paul Lafargue

Paul Lafargue
2
Famous As: journalist, politician, economist, essayist
Birthdate: June 15, 1842
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Santiago de Cuba
Died: November 26, 1911

 48 Louis-Alexandre Berthier

Louis-Alexandre Berthier
2
Famous As: Military chief
Birthdate: November 20, 1753
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Versailles, France
Died: June 1, 1815

 49 Pierre-Charles Villeneuve

Pierre-Charles Villeneuve
5
Famous As: Naval Officer
Birthdate: December 31, 1763
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Valensole, France
Died: April 22, 1806

 50 Vincent Auriol

Vincent Auriol.
2
Famous As: Former President of France
Birthdate: August 27, 1884
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Revel
Died: January 1, 1966

Vincent Auriol, former French president, was initially a lawyer and also headed the Association of Journalists in Toulouse. A Socialist Party member, he had also served as more of a conciliatory agent between the left and the right wings, as a minister in Charles de Gaulle’s cabinet.