Charles de Gaulle Biography

(Former French President & Army Officer Who Led 'Free France' against Nazi Germany in World War II)

Birthday: November 22, 1890 (Sagittarius)

Born In: Lille, France

Charles de Gaulle is one of the most famous names of France’s political history, who is remembered by the masses even today. Right from his days at the military institution as a teenager, Charles proved his leadership abilities and showed the potential of being a great military leader of his country. He expressed his dislike towards the obsolete war techniques used by his country’s army during the early days as a soldier and even changed the strategy to keep any opposition at bay. The innovative technique he used was that of sneaking into enemy territory and gathering all the information that is being communicated amongst the members of the enemy military force. He also came into the limelight for opposing the French government’s idea of signing a peace treaty with the Nazi German forces. The great military leader even penned a book which analysed the loopholes and strengths of the German forces. His other written work talks about how exactly a military troop should be organized. Eventually, this great leader rose to the ranks of becoming the president of his country and served in this position for a period of eleven years. His life is an excellent example of leadership which inspires people even today

Quick Facts

French Celebrities Born In November

Nick Name: The Great Asparagus, Cyrano, Le grand Charles, La Grande Zohra

Also Known As: Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle

Died At Age: 79


Spouse/Ex-: Yvonne de Gaulle

father: Henri de Gaulle

mother: Jeanne Maillot de Gaulle

siblings: Jaques de Gaulle, Marie-Agnes de Gaulle, Pierre de Gaulle, Xavier de Gaulle

children: Anne de Gaulle, Élisabeth de Gaulle, Philippe de Gaulle

Born Country: France

Presidents Prime Ministers

Height: 6'5" (196 cm), 6'5" Males

political ideology: (1947–55) - Political party Rally of the French People, (1955–58) - National Centre of Social Republicans, (1958–68) - Union for the New Republic

Died on: November 9, 1970

place of death: Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, France

Cause of Death: Aneurysm

Notable Alumni: Ecole Spéciale Militaire De Saint-Cyr, Collège Stanislas De Paris

Ancestry: German French, Irish French

City: Lille, France

Founder/Co-Founder: Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives, Free France, Rally of the French People, École nationale d'administration, Elf Aquitaine, French Community, CNES

More Facts

education: Ecole Spéciale Militaire De Saint-Cyr, Collège Stanislas De Paris

awards: Order of Liberation
1963 - National Order of Merit
Croix de guerre 1914–1918

1915 - Croix de guerre 1939–1945
Royal Victorian Order
1965 - Order of the Elephant
Order of the White Rose of Finland
Order of the Dragon of Annam
Royal Order of Cambodia
1960 - Royal Victorian Chain
Order of the Royal House of Chakri
1920 - Silver Cross

  • 1

    When did Charles de Gaulle become president of France?

    Charles de Gaulle became president of France on January 8, 1959.
  • 2

    What role did Charles de Gaulle play in World War II?

    Charles de Gaulle was the leader of the Free French Forces during World War II and played a key role in the French Resistance against the Nazi occupation.
  • 3

    Why did Charles de Gaulle resign as president in 1969?

    Charles de Gaulle resigned as president in 1969 after a defeat in a referendum on government reforms.
  • 4

    What was Charles de Gaulle's stance on Algeria?

    Charles de Gaulle was known for his policy of granting Algeria independence, a decision that was controversial at the time.
Childhood & Early Life
Charles de Gaulle was one among the five children born to a teacher named Henri de Gaulle, on 22nd November, 1890. The place of his birth was a city named Lille, located in the north of France.
In 1909, Charles enrolled at a defence institution named ‘Saint Cyr’ in a bid to become a military leader.
He graduated from this esteemed institution in 1912 and was ranked 13th amongst the 210 cadets who had enrolled, for his outstanding performance as a cadet. Many of his seniors also felt that de Gaulle would be a great military leader who would make his nation really proud.
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Unlike most other cadets, Charles preferred working in France rather than relocate to another country. Thus, he became a part of the ‘33rd Infantry Regiment’ division of the French armed force and soon shifted base to the Arras region of France.
The French soldiers had to completely prepare themselves for World War-I at that time. Charles utilized his time to the best possible extent by interacting with senior officers at Arras and devising new methods to help them win the battle.
Charles, along with the other fellow soldiers of the ‘33rd Infantry Regiment’, were sent to the Belgian town of Dinant to keep the German army at bay. De Gaulle was severely hurt by a bullet wound during the battle.
He was infuriated by the French Commander, General Charles Lanrezac’s adoption of obsolete, predictable methods of fighting the war. Eventually the French army suffered heavy losses in terms of casualties and ammunitions.
Gaulle grabbed the attention of the military forces by his unique military strategy which he started using in early 1915. The smart soldier managed to cleverly extract information from the enemy territory by crawling into their land.
In 1916, while participating in the ‘Battle of Verdun’, he was cornered by enemies and attacked, which made him physically unfit to fight for the next 32 months. Charles then was detained by the German forces at a military camp.
Poland and Russia were involved in a war in the period 1919-21, during which Charles was one among the few members who were a part of the French Military Mission to Poland. He even tries guiding the Polish troops to success by serving as their chief instructor.
During the 1920’s, Charles was given the responsibility of commanding a light infantry battalion. He even travelled to Syria and Rhineland during this period on work-related assignments.
He was later promoted to the designation of lieutenant Colonel during the 1930’s and was stationed at France.
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His way of managing the soldiers during this battle is one of the few highlights of World War-II, which the country is really proud of. By mid-1940, Charles was promoted to the designation of the Under-secretary of state for ‘National Defence and War’, by the country’s Prime Minister Paul Reynaud.
Reynaud soon stepped down and Marshal Petain succeeded him as the new Prime Minister of France. Petain had thought of entering into a treaty of friendship with Germany, which was then ruled by the Nazis.
Infuriated by this decision of the French Premier, de Gaulle and his other military colleagues rebelled against the new government. He then moved out of the country and formed the ‘Free French Forces’ army troupe, which consisted of many other French natives residing outside France, just like him.
Charles then founded the ‘Free French National’ in 1941 and even held the position of the president.
In the year 1945, elections were held in France to elect a new government, De Gaulle had garnered the support of French nationals during the time this contest was held. Several parties such as the Communists, socialists and the ‘Popular Republican Party’ had gained significant votes during the elections.
Although Charles was elected as the president of the nation, he resigned within a very short period of time owing to difference in opinions with the members of the Communist party.
In 1958, Charles returned to power and secured the title of being the ‘18th President of France’. One of the major tasks he undertook during this period was putting an end to the violence in the war-torn Algeria, which was a French colony. As per his orders, Algeria went on to become a free nation.
Charles had to step down from power in 1969 due to a revolt caused by the students, after serving for a period of eleven years.
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Major Works
Charles de Gaulle was given the responsibility of handling the military division ‘4e division cuirassee’ in 1940, while World War-II was at its peak. Under the leadership of Charles, the troop managed to restrict the aggressive German forces to Caumont region of South-Eastern France.
Awards and Achievements
The military leader was awarded the ‘Grand Croix of the Legion d’Honneur’ in 1945 for proving his excellence as a military leader.
He was also honoured with the ‘Grand Cross of the Order of the Dragon of Annam’ and ‘Chief Commander of the US Legion of Merit’ awards in 1945.
The other honours he has received include the ‘Grand Cordon of the Order of the Two Rivers of Iraq’ and ‘Grand Collar of the Order of the Pahlavi of Iran’.
He has even received several medals such as the ‘Medal of Mexico’ and the ‘Medal of the Rancagua of Chile’.
Personal Life & Legacy
Charles tied the knot with Yvonne Vendroux on 7 April, 1921. The couple later became parents to three children named Elisabeth, Philippe and Anne. Unfortunately, Anne suffered from Down’s syndrome as a child and was later diagnosed with Pneumonia. She then succumbed to the disease at the raw age of 20.
Yvonne was an ardent catholic, who was disliked by a few sections of the French society due to her moral policing act. She raised her voice against pornography and even objected the use of short skirts in the country.
While he was detained by the German forces, Charles penned a book titled ‘The Enemy and the True Enemy’ in which he tried giving an insight of the way the German empire functions. This work was finally released in 1924.
Charles had penned a book named ‘Vers’ larmee de Metier’ in the year 1934, which spoke about how professionally organised an army is supposed to be.
Charles was quite closely connected with all his siblings, namely, Marie-Agnes, Xavier, Jacques and Pierre. He was quite emotionally attached to Pierre, the youngest of all the children, who even bore a striking resemblance to the French military leader.
This famous French military leader passed away on November 9, 1970; he was 80 years old at the time of his death. It’s said that Charles was watching television in the evening when he suddenly collapsed. Later, it was discovered that the rupture of one of his blood vessels was the cause of death.
Facts About Charles de Gaulle

Charles de Gaulle had a unique passion for literature and writing, publishing several books throughout his life, including memoirs and political essays.

He was a skilled pianist and enjoyed playing the piano in his free time, showcasing a lesser-known artistic side to his personality.

Despite his reputation as a serious and disciplined leader, de Gaulle had a playful side and was known to enjoy practical jokes with his close associates.
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