Famous French Leaders

France has been a dominant force in Europe and the world over since times immemorial, be it culturally, politically or militarily. A global linchpin of art, fashion, science and literature, it has made significant contribution to the world history in every sphere. Till date, the country remains a great power with substantial cultural, economic, military, and political influence. And much of that wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for the chivalrous French leaders who exuded great power, authority and influence to make the country the powerhouse that it is today. Be it the valiant Emperor Napolean I or the heroic King Louis XIV, the exceptional Michel de Montaigne or the Nobel laureate Andre Gide, the avant-garde Erik Satie or the golden age superstar Hector Berlioz, the revolutionary Christian Dior or the contemporary Yves Saint Laurent, the gallant Charles de Gaulle or the pacifist Jean Jaures, French leaders have served as the perfect idols and role models for the world over. They have brought the country to the limelight and made France one of the world capitals in literature, science, music, fashion, commerce, trade, politics, military and tourism. Read this section for the life and works of great French leaders.

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
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Famous As: Former President of France
Birthdate: November 22, 1890
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French
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 Marquis de Lafayette

Marquis de Lafayette
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Famous As: French Aristocrat and Military Leader
Birthdate: September 6, 1757
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: French
Died: May 20, 1834

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.  

 3 Rollo

Rollo
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Famous As: King
Birthdate: 0846 AD
Nationality: French, Norwegian
Died: 0930 AD

 4 Henri de Bourbon

Henri de Bourbon
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Birthdate: December 13, 1553
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: French
Died: May 14, 1610

 5 Louis XIV of France

Louis XIV of France
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Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: September 5, 1638
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: French
Died: September 1, 1715

Louis XIV of France reigned as the King of France from 1643 to 1715. Louis XIV is the longest-reigning monarch of a sovereign country in the history of Europe. Under his rule, France often asserted its military prowess and emerged as the most dominant European monarchy. His life inspired several films, such as The Taking of Power by Louis XIV.

 6 Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte
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Famous As: Emperor of the French
Birthdate: August 15, 1769
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French
Died: May 5, 1821
French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte ruled as the French emperor from 1804 to 1814 and again in 1815. He strengthened France’s position in Europe through the Napoleonic Wars and extended his kingdom. However, he was eventually defeated by the Seventh Coalition at the Battle of Waterloo and sent to exile. 

 7 John Calvin

John Calvin
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Famous As: Protestant Reformer, Theologian, Pastor
Birthdate: July 10, 1509
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French
Died: May 27, 1564

French theologian, pastor, and reformer John Calvin was a major figure during the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. He was influential in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church to embrace Protestantism. As an apologetic writer, he generated much controversy.

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 8 Christine Lagarde

Christine Lagarde
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Famous As: Economist, Lawyer, Diplomat, Politician, Synchronized swimmer, Banker
Birthdate: January 1, 1956
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: French

 9 Toussaint Louverture

Toussaint Louverture
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Famous As: Leader of the Haitian Revolution
Birthdate: May 20, 1743
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: April 7, 1803

Haitian general,  Toussaint Louverture, was the most prominent leader of the Haitian Revolution. A revolutionary leader, he was devoted to the cause of Haitian independence and fought hard until he was killed by the French in a treacherous manner. The revolution continued after his death, leading to Haiti’s independence. He is now known as the Father of Haiti.

 10 Saint Sebastian

Saint Sebastian
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Famous As: Saint
Birthdate: 0256 AD
Nationality: French
Died: 0288 AD
Saint Sebastian, a Christian saint, was almost killed during Diocletian's persecution of Christians. However, he was later rescued by Saint Irene of Rome. Following this, Sebastian tried warning Diocletian about his sins but was instead clubbed to death. Medieval traditions labelled him as a protector against the plague.
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 11 François Mitterrand

François Mitterrand
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Famous As: Former President of France
Birthdate: October 26, 1916
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French
Died: January 8, 1996
François Mitterrand served as the French president from 1981 to 1995, becoming the longest-tenured president in the history of his country. He was the first to name a female prime minister, Édith Cresson. He is known for his investments in several Grands Projets and his opposition of the Fifth Republic.

 12 Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Dominique Strauss-Kahn
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Famous As: Economist, Politician, Lawyer, University teacher
Birthdate: April 25, 1949
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
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 13 Philippe Pétain

Philippe Pétain
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Famous As: Marshal of France
Birthdate: April 24, 1856
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
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.

 14 Louis XVI of France

Louis XVI of France
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Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: August 23, 1754
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French
Died: January 21, 1793

Louis XVI of France reigned as the last king of France from 1774 to 1792 before the French Revolution, which ended the monarchy in France. During his reign, Louis made attempts to remove land and labor tax, abolish serfdom, and improve tolerance toward non-Catholics. However, the proposed reforms were opposed by the French nobility.

 15 Louis The Pious

Louis I The Pious
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Famous As: King of Aquitaine, King of Franks & Co-Emperor (Holy Roman Empire)
Birthdate: April 16, 0778
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: German, French
Died: June 20, 0840
Son of Charlemagne, Louis The Pious, became the king of Aquitaine at age 3. He crowned himself the emperor of the Franks immediately after his father’s death. His reign was riddled with three civil wars, while his death caused another civil war, which finally culminated in the Treaty of Verdun.

 16 Jacques Chirac

Jacques Chirac
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Famous As: Former President of France
Birthdate: November 29, 1932
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: French
Died: September 26, 2019

Jacques Chirac was a French politician who served as France's prime minister on two occasions, first from 1974 to 1976 and then from 1986 to 1988. He also served as France's president from 1995 to 2007. Because of his long career in prominent government positions, Chirac was often caricatured or parodied. He was also depicted in films, such as W.

 17 Valéry Giscard d'Estaing

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
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Famous As: Former President of the French Republic
Birthdate: February 2, 1926
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: French

 18 Bernadette Soubirous

Bernadette Soubirous
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Famous As: Saint
Birthdate: January 7, 1844
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: French
Died: April 16, 1879
Bernadette Soubirous grew up amidst poverty, which contributed to her ill health and her stunted frame of just over 4 feet. At 14, she had visions of the Virgin Mary, which led to the formation of the Marian shrine of Lourdes. She was declared a saint by Pope Pius XI.

 19 Nicolas Flamel

Nicolas Flamel
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Famous As: Scribe
Birthdate: 1330 AD
Nationality: French
Died: March 22, 1418

 20 Philip V of Spain

Philip V of Spain
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Famous As: King of Spain
Birthdate: December 19, 1683
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: French
Died: July 9, 1746

Philip V reigned as the king of Spain from November 1700 to January 1724, and again from September 1724 to 1746. Philip introduced the centralization of monarchy and imposed the Nueva Planta decrees. Philip's accession initiated the 13-year War of the Spanish Succession. His final years were marred by depression.

 21 Jean-Paul Marat

Jean-Paul Marat
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Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: May 24, 1743
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: Swiss, French
Died: July 13, 1793

French political theorist, scientist, and physician Jean-Paul Marat was a key figure of the French Revolution. He published his radical views in pamphlets and newspapers, such as L'Ami du people. He was held responsible for the September massacres. His assassination by a Girondin supporter made him a Jacobin martyr.

 22 Georges Clémenceau

Georges Clemenceau
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Famous As: Former French Prime Minister
Birthdate: September 28, 1841
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: French
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.

 23 François Fillon

François Fillon
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Famous As: Politician, Lawyer, Legislative assistant
Birthdate: March 4, 1954
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: French

 24 Georges Danton

Georges Danton
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Famous As: Revolutionary
Birthdate: October 26, 1759
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French
Died: April 5, 1794

Georges Danton was a major figure in the early stages of the French Revolution. While many historians state that he played a key role in the establishment of the First French Republic, a few scholars refute this claim. He served as the first president of the Committee of Public Safety and was beheaded by the advocates of revolutionary terror. 

 25 Alfred Dreyfus

Alfred Dreyfus
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Famous As: Artillery Officer
Birthdate: October 9, 1859
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: French
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.

 26 Jacques de Molay

Jacques de Molay
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Famous As: Religious Leader
Birthdate: 1243 AD
Nationality: French
Died: March 18, 1314
It is believed Jacques de Molay, the Knights Templar’s last grand master, had cursed King Philip IV of France while being burned to death at his orders. The curse is said to have affected Philip and his descendants, the "Accursed Kings," leading to their downfall and the Hundred Years’ War.

 27 Louis I de Bourbon, prince de Condé

Louis I de Bourbon, prince de Condé
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Famous As: General
Birthdate: May 7, 1530
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: March 13, 1569

 28 Georges Pompidou

Georges Pompidou
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Famous As: Former Prime Minister & President of France
Birthdate: July 5, 1911
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French
Died: April 2, 1974

Georges Pompidou was a French politician whose tenure as prime minister of France between 1962 and 1968 was the longest in the history of France. From 1969 to 1974, Pompidou served as president of France. He is credited with mending France's relationship with the US and maintaining positive relations with many other countries. 

 29 Billy Mitchell

Billy Mitchell
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Famous As: Military General
Birthdate: December 29, 1879
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: French, American
Died: February 19, 1936

 30 François Pinault

François Pinault
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Famous As: Businessperson
Birthdate: August 21, 1936
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French

 31 Bernard of Clairvaux

Bernard of Clairvaux
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Famous As: Abbot
Birthdate: 1090 AD
Nationality: French
Died: August 20, 1153

 32 Michel Ney

Michel Ney
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Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: January 10, 1769
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: French
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. 

 33 David Cage

David Cage
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Famous As: Video game producer, Designer
Birthdate: June 9, 1969
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French

 34 Joachim Murat

Joachim Murat
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Famous As: Marshal of France
Birthdate: March 25, 1767
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: French
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.

 35 Pope Urban II

Pope Urban II
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Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: 1035 AD
Nationality: French
Died: July 29, 1099

Pope Urban II, also known as Otho de Lagery, began as an archdeacon in Reims. He gradually rose through the ranks to become the bishop of Ostia. Later, as the pope, he dealt with conflicts within Christianity and also had a major role in promoting the Crusades against Muslims.

 36 Ségolène Royal

Ségolène Royal
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Famous As: Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy
Birthdate: September 22, 1953
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: French

Born to a French colonel in Senegal, Ségolène Royal had met former French president François Hollande, her future husband, while studying economics at the Paris-based École Nationale d’Administration. The mother of four has also been a Socialist Party presidential candidate and the French minister of ecology.

 37 Najat Vallaud-Belkacem

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: October 4, 1977
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: French, Moroccan

 38 René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle

René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: November 21, 1643
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French
Died: March 19, 1687

 39 Simone Veil

Simone Veil
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Famous As: Politician, Judge
Birthdate: July 13, 1927
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French

 40 Vincent de Paul

Vincent de Paul
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Famous As: Catholic priest
Birthdate: April 24, 1581
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: September 27, 1660

 41 Roch

Roch
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Famous As: Saint
Birthdate: 1295 AD
Nationality: French
Died: August 16, 1327

 42 Philippe Cousteau

Philippe Cousteau
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: December 30, 1940
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: French
Died: June 28, 1979

 43 Martin of Tours

Martin of Tours
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Famous As: Saint
Birthdate: 0316 AD
Nationality: French
Died: November 8, 0397

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

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

 45 Abdülmecid II

Abdülmecid II
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Famous As: Caliph
Birthdate: May 29, 1868
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French
Died: August 23, 1944

 46 Prince Eugene of Savoy

Prince Eugene of Savoy
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Famous As: Officer
Birthdate: October 18, 1663
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: French
Died: April 21, 1736

 47 Tidjane Thiam

Tidjane Thiam
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Famous As: Entrepreneur
Birthdate: July 29, 1962
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French

 48 Robert Louis-Dreyfus

Robert Louis-Dreyfus
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Famous As: Businessperson
Birthdate: June 14, 1946
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: Swiss, French
Died: July 4, 2009

 49 Ned Lamont

Ned Lamont
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Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: January 3, 1954
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: French, American

 50 Anne Hidalgo

Anne Hidalgo
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: June 19, 1959
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: Spanish, French