Famous French Military Leaders

France has had a strong history and a glorious past when it comes to traditions, culture and heritage. While the country today boasts of having an unfaltering air of luxury and cinematography, things hadn’t been the same as always. The country rose to power during the rule of Louis XIV. Throughout its long history, it has exerted strong influence, culturally, economically and politically. What has stood in its favour and helped the Alpine country become a great power today has been its military. The fifth largest military spender in the world, it has been home to major military industries and has one of the largest aerospace industries of the world. And adding to the fame and glory of French military were its leaders - courageous, resilient, valiant and heroic. Unless you have been living under the rock, names like Napoleon, Joan of Arc, Marquis de Lafayette, William the Conqueror and Louis IX of France wouldn’t be unheard of. While Napoleon is till date regarded as the greatest military commander of all times, Louis IX of France was the most powerful European ruler of his time. Marquis de Lafayette’s contribution before and after the French Revolution was ground-breaking for it was he who helped shape France’s political structure. Check out information on famous French military 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 Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte.
Famous As: Emperor of the French
Birthdate: August 15, 1769
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ajaccio
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. 

 2 William the Conqueror

William the Conqueror.
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: 1028 AD
Birthplace: Falaise, France
Died: September 9, 1087

William the Conqueror was the first Norman King of England who ruled from 1066 to 1087. William's conquest had a profound impact on England; his government merged elements of the Norman and English systems that laid the foundations of the medieval English kingdom. He is credited with building castles, mottes, and keeps, including the White Tower and Tower of London.

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 3 Marquis de Lafayette

Marquis de Lafayette.
Famous As: French Aristocrat and Military Leader
Birthdate: September 6, 1757
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chavaniac, France
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.  

 4 Charles de Gaulle

Charles de Gaulle.
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.

 5 Rollo

Famous As: King
Birthdate: 0846 AD
Birthplace: Scandinavia
Died: 0930 AD

Rollo of Normandy, also known as Rolf, is part of Scandinavian lore. A Viking, he was known for his exploits as a pirate on the seas of France, England, and other lands. When he attacked France with his Danish army, he was given Neustria, or Normandy, as part of a truce.

 6 Louis-Philippe I of France

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

 7 Michel Ney

Michel Ney.
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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 8 Billy Mitchell

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

 9 Alfred Dreyfus

Alfred Dreyfus.
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.

 10 Ferdinand Foch

Ferdinand Foch.
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.

 11 Philippe Pétain

Philippe Pétain.
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.

 12 Joachim Murat

Joachim Murat.
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.

 13 Tarrare

Famous As: Showman
Birthdate: 1772 AD
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Died: 1798 AD

 14 André Masséna

André Masséna
Famous As: French military commander
Birthdate: May 6, 1758
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nice
Died: April 4, 1817

 15 Louis-Nicolas Davout

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

 16 Louis I de Bourbon, prince de Condé

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

 17 Louis, Prince of Conde

Louis, Prince of Conde
Famous As: Prince
Birthdate: May 7, 1530
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vendôme, France
Died: March 13, 1569

 18 Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême

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

 19 Geoffrey V Plantagenet, Count of Anjou

Geoffrey V Plantagenet, Count of Anjou
Famous As: Duke
Birthdate: August 24, 1113
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Le Mans
Died: September 7, 1151

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

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

 21 Simone Segouin

Simone Segouin
Famous As: Military officer
Birthdate: October 3, 1925
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Thivars, France

 22 François Darlan

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

 23 Martin Fourcade

Martin Fourcade
Famous As: Biathlete
Birthdate: September 14, 1988
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Céret, France

 24 Louis-Joseph de Montcalm

Louis-Joseph de Montcalm
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: February 28, 1712
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vestric-et-Candiac, France
Died: September 14, 1759

 25 Maxime Weygand

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

 26 Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, vicomte de Turenne

Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, vicomte de Turenne
Famous As: Military leader
Birthdate: September 11, 1611
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sedan, France
Died: July 27, 1675

 27 Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque

Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque
Famous As: Military Personnel
Birthdate: November 22, 1902
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Belloy-Saint-Leonard, Somme, France
Died: November 28, 1947

 28 Gnaeus Julius Agricola

Gnaeus Julius Agricola
Famous As: General
Birthdate: June 13, 0040
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Fréjus, France
Died: August 23, 0093

 29 Henry I, Duke of Guise

Henry I, Duke of Guise
Famous As: Noblemen
Birthdate: December 31, 1550
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: France
Died: December 23, 1588

 30 Maurice Gamelin

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

 31 Jean Lannes

Jean Lannes
Famous As: War General
Birthdate: April 10, 1769
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lectoure, France
Died: May 31, 1809

 32 Ante Gotovina

Ante Gotovina
Famous As: General
Birthdate: October 12, 1955
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pašman

 33 Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester

Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester
Famous As: Nobleman
Birthdate: 1160 AD
Birthplace: Montfort-l'Amaury, France
Died: June 25, 1218

 34 Hugues de Payens

Hugues de Payens
Famous As: knight
Birthdate: 1070 AD
Birthplace: Payns
Died: March 24, 1136

 35 Jean-de-Dieu Soult

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

 36 Antoine-Henri Jomini

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

 37 Francis, Duke of Guise

Francis, Duke of Guise
Famous As: General
Birthdate: February 17, 1519
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bar, France
Died: February 24, 1563

 38 Louis, Grand Condé

Louis, Grand Condé
Famous As: General
Birthdate: September 8, 1621
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: December 11, 1686

 39 Alexandre de Beauharnais

Alexandre de Beauharnais
Famous As: Political figure
Birthdate: May 28, 1760
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Fort-Royal, Martinique, France
Died: July 23, 1794

 40 Robert Nivelle

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

 41 Gaspard II de Coligny

Gaspard II de Coligny
Famous As: Admiral
Birthdate: February 16, 1519
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Châtillon-Coligny, France
Died: August 24, 1572

 42 Louis-Alexandre Berthier

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

 43 François Joseph Paul de Grasse

François Joseph Paul de Grasse
Famous As: Comte de Grasse
Birthdate: September 13, 1722
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Le Bar-sur-Loup, France
Died: January 11, 1788

 44 Pierre-Charles Villeneuve

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

 45 Georges Ernest Boulanger

Georges Ernest Boulanger
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: April 29, 1837
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rennes, France
Died: September 30, 1891

 46 Louis Antoine de Bougainville

Louis Antoine de Bougainville
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: November 12, 1729
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: August 31, 1811

 47 Bertrand du Guesclin

Bertrand du Guesclin
Famous As: Military Commander
Birthdate: 1320 AD
Birthplace: Broons, France
Died: July 13, 1380

 48 Raoul Salan

Raoul Salan
Famous As: Military personnel
Birthdate: June 10, 1899
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Roquecourbe, France
Died: July 3, 1984

 49 Raymond IV, Count of Toulouse

Raymond IV, Count of Toulouse
Famous As: Leader
Birthdate: 1041 AD
Birthplace: Toulouse, France
Died: February 28, 1105

 50 Joseph-François Dupleix

Joseph-François Dupleix
Famous As: French colonial official
Birthdate: January 1, 1697
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Landrecies, France
Died: November 10, 1763