This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

France: Marshal of France's standard

Maréchal de France

Last modified: 2002-11-02 by ivan sache
Keywords: marechal de france | marshal of france | batons: 2 (blue) |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

[Marshal of France's standard]by Zeljko Heimer

See also:

History of the Marshal's title

Marshal of France is not a rank but a State honour granted to a General Officer victorious on battle fields

The word Maréchal is the modern form of Mareschale, which came from Germanic Mareschale, servant in charge of horses [mare and merrie are used for a female horse in modern English and Dutch, repectively].

The dignity of Maréchal (Marshal) seems to have the same origin as the dignity of Connétable (Constable). The Constable, the Chief of the Royal stables, had for servants Marshals, whose statute and duty were progressively increased and precised.

Initially, there was only one Marshal. The first Marshal of France was Albéric Clément I, Lord of Metz, appointed in 1185 by King Philippe-Auguste. From Saint-Louis (1226-1270) to Louis XII (1498-1515), there were two Marshals. François I (1515-1547) appointed a third Marshal and created the Marshal's baton (bâton de Maréchal). The number of Marshals then increased as follows: 4, under the reign of Francois II (1559-1560); 6, under the reign of Charles IX (1560-1574); 8, under the reign of Henri III (1574-1589)

In 1627, under the reign of Louis XIII (1610-1643), the dignity of Constable was suppressed by Richelieu and the Marshals became the first dignitaries of the Army. Under the reign of Louis XIV (1643-1715), there were 20 Marshals, but they had only a ceremonial function at the Court in Versailles. Louis XIV indeed created the Court of Versailles to 'emprison' there in a complicated ritual all the potentially troublesome nobles who might have disputed his absolute power. The number of Marshals decreased to 18 under the reign of Louis XV (1715-1774). In 1791, under the reign of Louis XVI (1774-1792), a Decree stated that the Marshals should have only military functions.

On 21 February 1793, the Convention suppressed the dignity of Marshal, which was reestablished by Napoléon I on 19 May 1804. The first 18 Empire Marshals (Maréchaux d'Empire) were: Berthier, Moncey, Masséna, Murat, Jourdan, Augereau, Bernadotte (later King of Sweden), Brune, Mortier, Lannes, Soult, Ney, Davout, Kellerman, Bessières, Pérignon, Lefebvre, and Sé'rurier. Those names are quite familar to the Parisiens, because the outer boulevards were named after the Empire Marshals and globally nicknamed boulevards des Maréchaux (Marshals' boulevards). Marshal of Empire was a State dignity without command power.

The miitary dignity was reestablished uncder the Bourbon Restoration. In 1839, under the reign of Louis-Philippe, a law prescribed six Marshal positions in peacetime and twelve in wartime. In 1875, under the Third Republic, the law on the Army Officers kept the dignity of Marshal, which, however was not conferred until 1916 (Joffre).

During the XXth century, the dignity of Marshal of France was conferred to the following officers:

  • 1916: Joseph Joffre (1852-1931), Commander-in-chief of the Army in 1915-1916.
  • 1918: Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929), Commander-in-cheif of the Army in 1918. Also Marshall of Great Britain and Poland.
  • 1919: Philippe Pétain (1856-1951), Commander-in-chief of the Army in 1917-1918. Later chief of the French State (1940-1945).
  • 1921: Emile Fayolle (1852-1928), commander of an Army group in 1918.
  • 1921: Louis Franchey d'Esperey (1856-1942), Commander-in-chief of the Allied troops in Macedonia in 1918.
  • 1921: Louis-Hubert Lyautey (1854-1934), founder of the French Protectorate in Morocco in 1912, Minister of War in 1916-1917.
  • 1921 (posthumously): Joseph Galliéni (1849-1916), Governor of Paris in 1914, Minister of War in 1915-1916.
  • 1923 (posthumously): Joseph Maunoury (1847-1923), one of the winners of the Marne battle in 1914.
  • 1952 (posthumously): Jean-Marie de Lattre de Tassigny (1889-1952), Commander of the 1st French Army in 1944-1945, later High-Commissioner and Commander-in-Chief in French Indochina (1950-1952).
  • 1952 (posthumously): Philippe de Hauteclocque, a.k.a. Leclerc (1902-1947), commander of the 2nd Armoured Division and liberator of Paris in 1944, later Commander in French Indochina (1946) and Inspector of the Army in Northern Africa, where he died in a mysterious plane accident.
  • 1952: Alphonse Juin (1888-1967), Commander of the expeditionary corps in Italy and winner of the Garigliano battle (1944), later Resident-General in Morocco (1947-1951), and Commander of the Atlantic forces of the Center-Europe sector (1953-1956).
  • 1984 (posthumously): Marie-Pierre Koenig (1898-1970). Winner of the Bir-Hakeim battle (1942), Commander of the Inner French Forces (1944), Minister of National Defence (1954-1955)

The length of the Marshal's baton is 50 cm, its diameter is 4.5 cm. The baton is covered in blue velvet ornated with golden fleur-de-lys (Kingdom), eagles (Empire) or stars (Republic). Both ends of the baton are capped with a vermeil calotte. One calotte bears the Marshal's name, the other the Latin motto:Terror belli, Decus pacis (Terror of war, honour of peace).

Source: Grand Larousse Illustré du XXe siècle (1932) and other Larousse encyclopaedia.

Ivan Sache, 13 November 2001

Other sources claim that the word Maréchal came to French from the Breton word for knight. Indeed, the Breton word for horse is Marc'h.

Marc Pasquin, 14 November 2001

Description of the flag

Since there is no Maréchal de France still alive, the flag is prescribed but not in use. It is a square white field with the French Tricolore in canton and two crossed blue marshal's batons in lower fly.

Source: Album des Pavillons [pay00]

Car flag

[Car flag of a Marshal of France]by Zeljko Heimer

As above, but in proportion 7:8.

Source: Album des Pavillons [pay00]

CHANNELS :: Compare Country infoCountry guide & StudyFlagsMapsSightseeingTravel WarningsHotel Directory DESTINATIONS :: AsiaAfricaCaribbean Middle EastNorth AmericaSouth AmericaCentral AmericaOceania PacificEuropePolar Regions UTILITIES :: WeatherWorld TimeISD CodesTravel Links Link Exchange
DestinationsMonuments WONDERS :: AncientModernNatural | Privacy Policy