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.
Marquis de Lafayette was a French aristocrat and military officer, who is remembered for fighting in the American Revolutionary War, as the commander of American troops in several battles. After returning to France, he played key roles in the French Revolution of 1789 and the July Revolution of 1830. Considered a hero in both America and France, he advocated the end of slavery.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pierre Laval was a French politician who served as prime minister of France for two non-consecutive terms. A lawyer by qualification, he defended trade unions and leftists against government prosecution. As a politician, he held many governmental positions. After the liberation of France in 1944, he was arrested by the new French government and executed following a flawed trial.
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.
Known as the Victor of the Marne and Papa Joffre, French military commander Joseph Joffre is remembered for his exploits at the Western Front during and after World War I. Following the German invasion of Verdun, he lost his command over the army and was made the Marshal of France.
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.
François-René de Chateaubriand was a French writer, diplomat, historian, and politician. Chateaubriand had a major influence on 19th-century French literature. François-René de Chateaubriand is also remembered for defending the Catholic faith by writing The Genius of Christianity when most intellectuals were turning against the Church. Chateaubriand was a food enthusiast; it is believed that Chateaubriand steak is named after him.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès, also known as the Abbé Sieyès, was a French Roman Catholic Abbé, clergyman, and political writer. He was a chief political theorist of the French Revolution and held offices in the French Consulate government. He is credited to have coined the term sociologie in an unpublished manuscript. He led a rather uninvolved social life.
Adolphe Thiers was a French historian and statesman who served as the French Third Republic's first President. He also served as the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of France in 1840. Apart from playing a major role in the French Revolution of 1830, which ended the Bourbon monarchy, Thiers also played a key role in the French Revolution of 1848.
French poet and historian Alphonse de Lamartine is best remembered for his collection of poems Méditations poétiques. He was a chief force behind the formation of the Second Republic of France. The allowances he gave his sisters depleted his finances, and he died struggling and in oblivion.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Paul Doumer initially worked as a math professor and an editor. He had a successful stint as the governor general of French Indochina and later became the president of France. He was assassinated by a French anarchist, who shot him at a book fair event in Paris.