National Guard (France)

Last updated

National Guard
Garde Nationale
Active1789–1827
1831–1872
2016–present
CountryFlag of France.svg  France
Branch French Armed Forces
Type National Guard Gendarmerie
Size75,000
Part of French Armed Forces
Motto(s)Honneur et Patrie
"Honour and Fatherland"
Engagements (List of wars involving France)
Website gouvernement.fr/garde-nationale
Commanders
Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly
Secretary General for the National GuardGeneral Gaëtan Poncelin de Raucourt
Notable
commanders
Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette

The National Guard (French: Garde nationale) is a French military, gendarmerie, and police reserve force, active in its current form since 2016 but originally founded in 1789 after the French Revolution.

Gendarmerie military force charged with police duties among civilian populations

A gendarmerie or gendarmery is a military component with jurisdiction in civil law enforcement. The term gendarme is derived from the medieval French expression gens d'armes, which translates to "armed people". In France and some Francophone nations, the gendarmerie is a branch of the armed forces responsible for internal security in parts of the territory with additional duties as a military police for the armed forces. This concept was introduced to several other Western European countries during the Napoleonic conquests. In the mid twentieth century, a number of former French mandates or colonial possessions such as Lebanon, Syria, and the Republic of the Congo adopted a gendarmerie after independence.

French Revolution Revolution in France, 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

Contents

For most of its history the National Guard, particularly its officers, has been widely viewed as loyal to middle-class interests. It was founded as separate from the French Army and existed both for policing and as a military reserve. However, in its original stages from 1792 to 1795, the National Guard was perceived as revolutionary and the lower ranks were identified with sans-culottes. It experienced a period of official dissolution from 1827 to 1830, but was reestablished. Soon after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71, the National Guard in Paris again became viewed as dangerously revolutionary, which contributed to its dissolution in 1871. [1]

French Army Land warfare branch of Frances military

The French Army, officially the Ground Army to distinguish it from the French Air Force, Armée de l'Air or Air Army, is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces. It is responsible to the Government of France, along with the other four components of the Armed Forces. The current Chief of Staff of the French Army (CEMAT) is General Jean-Pierre Bosser, a direct subordinate of the Chief of the Defence Staff (CEMA). General Bosser is also responsible, in part, to the Ministry of the Armed Forces for organization, preparation, use of forces, as well as planning and programming, equipment and Army future acquisitions. For active service, Army units are placed under the authority of the Chief of the Defence Staff (CEMA), who is responsible to the President of France for planning for, and use, of forces.

A military reserve, reserve formation, or simply reserve, is a group of military personnel or units that is initially not committed to a battle by its commander, so that it remains available to address unforeseen situations or exploit sudden opportunities. Such a force may be held back to defend against attack from other enemy forces, to be committed to the existing battle if the enemy exposes a vulnerability, or to serve as relief for troops already fighting. Some of the different categories of military reserves are: tactical reserve, operational reserve, and strategic reserve.

Revolutionary person who either actively participates in, or advocates revolution

A revolutionary is a person who either participates in, or advocates revolution. Also, when used as an adjective, the term revolutionary refers to something that has a major, sudden impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavor.

In 2016, France announced the reestablishment of the National Guard in response to a series of terrorist attacks in the country. [1] [2] [3]

Creation

The raising of a "Bourgeois Guard" ("garde bourgeoise") for Paris was discussed by the National Assembly on 11 July 1789 in response to the King's sudden and alarming replacement of prime minister Jacques Necker with the Baron de Breteuil on that day. The replacement caused rapidly spread anger and violence throughout Paris. The National Assembly declared the formation of a "Bourgeois Militia" ("milice bourgeoise") on 13 July. In the early morning of the next day, the search for weapons for this new militia led to the storming of the Hotel des Invalides and then the storming of the Bastille.

Jacques Necker French statesman of Genevan birth and finance minister of Louis XVI

Jacques Necker was a banker of Genevan origin who became a finance minister for Louis XVI and a French statesman. Necker played a key role in French history before and during the first period of the French Revolution.

Louis Auguste Le Tonnelier de Breteuil French diplomat

Louis Charles Auguste Le Tonnelier, Baron de Breteuil, Baron de Preuilly was a French aristocrat, diplomat and statesman. He was the last Prime Minister of the Bourbon Monarchy, appointed by King Louis XVI only one hundred hours before the storming of the Bastille.

Storming of the Bastille part of the French Revolution

The Storming of the Bastille occurred in Paris, France, on the afternoon of 14 July 1789.

Lafayette was elected to the post of commander in chief of the Bourgeois Militia on 14 July, and it was renamed the "National Guard". Similar bodies were spontaneously created in the towns and rural districts of France in response to widespread fears of chaos or counter-revolution. When the French Guards mutinied and were disbanded during the same month, the majority of this former royal regiment's rank and file became the full-time cadre of the Paris National Guard.

Initially each city, town and village maintained its own National Guard, until they were united on 14 July 1790 under Lafayette, who was appointed "Commandant General of all the National Guards of the Kingdom".

Organization

The officers of the National Guard were elected. Under the law of 14 October 1791, all active citizens and their children over 18 years were obliged to enlist in the National Guard. Their role was the maintenance of law and order and, if necessary, the defence of the territory. Following a nationwide scheme decided on in September 1791, the National Guard was organised on the basis of district or canton companies. Five of these neighbourhood units (designated as fusiliers or grenadiers) made up a battalion. Eight to ten battalions comprised a legion. Districts might also provide companies of veterans and young citizens, respectively drawn from volunteers of over 60 or under 18. Where possible, there was provision for mounted detachments and artillerymen. [4]

The citizens kept their weapons and their uniforms at home, and set forth with them when required. The initially multi-coloured uniforms of the various provincial National Guard units were standardised in 1791, using as a model the dark blue coats with red collars, white lapels and cuffs worn by the Paris National Guard since its creation. [5] This combination of colours matched those of the revolutionary tricolour.

Revolution until 1827

Role during the Revolution

Soldiers of the Garde nationale of Quimper escorting royalist rebels in Brittany (1792). Painting by Jules Girardet. Revolte Fouesnant.jpg
Soldiers of the Garde nationale of Quimper escorting royalist rebels in Brittany (1792). Painting by Jules Girardet.

The former Guet royal had held responsibility for the maintenance of law and order in Paris from 1254 to 1791, when the National Guard took over this role. In fact, the last commander of the Guet royal (Chevalier du Guet), de La Rothière, was elected to head the National Guard in 1791. In the summer of 1792, the fundamental character of the guard changed. The fédérés were admitted to the guard and the subsequent takeover of the guard by Antoine Joseph Santerre when Mandat was murdered in the first hours of the insurrection of 10 August placed a radical revolutionary at the head of the Guard. After the abolition of the monarchy (21 September 1792), the National Guard fought for the Revolution and it had an important role in forcing the wishes of the capital on the French National Assembly which was obliged to give way in front of the force of the "patriotic" bayonets.

After 9 Thermidor, year II (27 July 1794), the new government of the Thermidorian Reaction placed the National Guard under the control of more conservative leadership. Part of the National Guard then attempted to overthrow the Directory during the royalist insurrection on the 13 Vendémiaire, year IV (5 October 1795), but were defeated by forces led by Napoleon Bonaparte in the Battle of 13 Vendémiaire. The Paris National Guard thereafter ceased to play a significant political role.

First Empire

Philippe Lenoir, (1785-1867), French painter, in his National Guard uniform. By Horace Vernet (1789-1863). Philippe Lenoir by Horace Vernet.jpg
Philippe Lenoir, (1785–1867), French painter, in his National Guard uniform. By Horace Vernet (1789–1863).

Napoleon did not believe that the middle-class National Guard would be able to maintain order and suppress riots. Therefore, he created a Municipal Guard of Paris, a full-time gendarmerie which was strongly militarised. However, he did not abolish the National Guard, but was content to partially disarm it. He kept the force in reserve and mobilised it for the defence of French territory in 1809 and 1814. In Paris during this period the National Guard comprised twelve thousand bourgeois property owners, serving part-time and equipped at their own expense, whose prime function was to guard public buildings on a roster basis. [6] Between 1811 and 1812 the National Guard was organized in "cohorts" to distinguish it from the regular army, and for home defence only. By a skilful appeal to patriotism, and judicious pressure applied through the prefects, it became a useful reservoir of half-trained men for new battalions of the active army. [7]

After the disastrous campaign in Russia in 1812, dozens of National Guard cohorts were called up for field duty the next year; four cohorts being combined to form one line infantry regiment. The 135ème to 156ème Régiments d'Infanterie de Ligne were thus formed. [8] Many of these fought in the campaigns in Germany in 1813 and the invasion of France by allied Austrian, Prussian, Russian and British armies in 1814. Existing National Guard units, such as those of Paris, were deployed as defence corps in their areas of recruitment. Mass conscription was extended to age groups previously exempt from military service, to provide more manpower for the expanded National Guard. Students and volunteers from gamekeepers and other professional groups formed separate units within the National Guard. Clothing and equipment was often in short supply and even the Paris National Guard was obliged to provide pikes as substitute weapons for some of its new recruits. [9] These field and regional units were disbanded in 1814 after the abdication of Napoleon I.

The national Guard of Paris at the Battle of Paris, 1814. Horace Vernet - La Barriere de Clichy.jpg
The national Guard of Paris at the Battle of Paris, 1814.

Six thousand national guardsmen took part in the Battle of Paris in 1814. Following the occupation of Paris by the allied armies, the National Guard was expanded to 35,000 men and became the primary force for maintaining order within the city. [10]

The Restoration

Under the Restoration in 1814, the National Guard was maintained by Louis XVIII. Initially the Guard, purged of its Napoleonic leadership, maintained good relations with the restored monarchy. The future Charles X served as its Colonel-General, reviewed the force regularly and intervened to veto its proposed disbandment on the grounds of economy by the Conseil Municipal of Paris. [11] However, by 1827, the middle-class men who still composed the Guard had come to feel a degree of hostility towards the reactionary monarchy. Following hostile cries at a review on 29 April Charles X dissolved the Guard the following day, on the grounds of offensive behaviour towards the crown. [12] He neglected to disarm the disbanded force, and its muskets resurfaced in 1830 during the July Revolution.

National Guard following 1831

A new National Guard was established in 1831 following the July Revolution in 1830. It played a major role in suppressing the Paris June Rebellion of 1832 against the government of King Louis-Phillipe. However, the same National Guard fought in the Revolution of 1848 in favour of the republicans. This change in allegiance reflected a general erosion in the popularity of Louis-Phillipe and his "Bourgeois Monarchy", rather than any fundamental change in the make up of the National Guard, which remained a middle-class body.

Second Empire

Napoleon III confined the National Guard during the Second Empire to subordinate tasks to reduce its liberal and republican influence. During the Franco-Prussian War the Government of National Defense of 1870 called on the Guard to undertake a major role in defending Paris against the invading Prussian army. During the uprising of the Paris Commune, from March to May 1871, the National Guard in Paris was expanded to include all able-bodied citizens capable of carrying weapons. Following the Commune's defeat by the regular French Army, the National Guard was officially abolished and its units disbanded. Also disbanded was the Mobile National Guard (Garde Nationale Mobile) raised in 1866 to provide personnel and officers for rapid deployment operations nationwide, as well as to provide reserve personnel for the armed forces.

End of the National Guard

French Garde Nationale soldier with Tabatiere rifle, 1870. French Garde Nationale soldier with Tabatiere rifle 1870.jpg
French Garde Nationale soldier with Tabatière rifle, 1870.

Despite its major role in the Franco-Prussian War, the National Guard was disbanded soon after the establishment of the Third Republic. Having been converted from a volunteer reserve into a much larger force composed mainly of conscripts, the National Guard had lost its identity and raison d'être. It also faced opposition from the army which was opposed to such a large armed force outside its direct control. The role of the Paris units of the National Guard in the uprising of the Paris Commune led to a great degree of hostility towards the National Guard, especially from the army.

Perceived as an embodiment of the revolutionary republican "nation in arms" at the time of the Revolution of 1789, the National Guard was formally disbanded on 14 March 1872 as a threat to the security and order of the new Third Republic.

The National Guard was superseded by the creation of territorial regiments, made up of older men who had completed their period of full-time military service. These reserve units were embodied only in times of general mobilisation but remained an integral part of the regular army.

Recreation of the National Guard

After several terror attacks in France, which intensified in 2014 and 2015 (see List of terrorist incidents in France#21st century), French President François Hollande declared the establishment of a new National Guard. By his words, the Guard will be formed using military reserve forces. Hollande expected to start parliamentary consultations in September 2016 about this matter. [2]

On 12 October 2016, during a weekly meeting of the Cabinet, the National Guard was officially reconstituted after 145 years as the fifth service branch of the French Armed Forces under the Ministry of the Armed Forces. [3] The revitalized Guard will also reinforce elements of the National Gendarmerie and the National Police in securing major events nationwide while performing its historical responsibility as a national military and police reserve service.[ citation needed ]

It is expected that the new Guard will grow to a 72,500-member force in 2017 and grow to an 86,000-member national reserve in 2018. [13] [14] The formation of the revived Guard will be assisted with a dedicated 311 million euro budget and its personnel will now come from the reserves, members from the private sector and active personnel seconded to the service. Unlike the Guard of the Revolutionary Wars, its officers are today seconded from both the Army and the National Gendarmerie and are graduates of their respective academies.[ citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

French Armed Forces Military forces of France

The French Armed Forces encompass the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the National Guard and the Gendarmerie of the French Republic. The President of France heads the armed forces as chef des armées.

Louis XVIII of France Bourbon King of France and of Navarre

Louis XVIII, known as "the Desired", was a monarch of the House of Bourbon who ruled as King of France from 1814 to 1824, except for a period in 1815 known as the Hundred Days. He spent twenty-three years in exile, from 1791 to 1814, during the French Revolution and the First French Empire, and again in 1815, during the period of the Hundred Days, upon the return of Napoleon I from Elba.

Swiss Guards Swiss soldiers who have served as guards at foreign European courts

Swiss Guards are the Swiss soldiers who have served as guards at foreign European courts since the late 15th century.

Flight to Varennes

The royal Flight to Varennes during the night of 20–21 June 1791 was a significant episode in the French Revolution in which King Louis XVI of France, his queen Marie Antoinette, and their immediate family unsuccessfully attempted to escape from Paris in order to initiate a counter-revolution at the head of loyal troops under royalist officers concentrated at Montmédy near the frontier. They escaped only as far as the small town of Varennes, where they were arrested after having been recognized at their previous stop in Sainte-Menehould.

National Constituent Assembly (France) former political body formed from the National Assembly on 9 July 1789 during the first stages of the French Revolution

The National Constituent Assembly was formed from the National Assembly on 9 July 1789 during the first stages of the French Revolution. It dissolved on 30 September 1791 and was succeeded by the Legislative Assembly.

French Revolutionary Wars series of conflicts fought between the French Republic and several European monarchies from 1792 to 1802

The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted France against Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia and several other monarchies. They are divided in two periods: the War of the First Coalition (1792–97) and the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802). Initially confined to Europe, the fighting gradually assumed a global dimension. After a decade of constant warfare and aggressive diplomacy, France had conquered a wide array of territories, from the Italian Peninsula and the Low Countries in Europe to the Louisiana Territory in North America. French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe.

July Revolution July 1830 revolution in France

The French Revolution of 1830, also known as the July Revolution, Second French Revolution or Trois Glorieuses in French, led to the overthrow of King Charles X, the French Bourbon monarch, and the ascent of his cousin Louis Philippe, Duke of Orléans, who himself, after 18 precarious years on the throne, would be overthrown in 1848. It marked the shift from one constitutional monarchy, under the restored House of Bourbon, to another, the July Monarchy; the transition of power from the House of Bourbon to its cadet branch, the House of Orléans; and the replacement of the principle of hereditary right by popular sovereignty. Supporters of the Bourbon would be called Legitimists, and supporters of Louis Philippe Orléanists.

Imperial Guard (Napoleon I)

The Imperial Guard was originally a small group of elite soldiers of the French Army under the direct command of Napoleon I, but grew considerably over time. It acted as his bodyguard and tactical reserve, and he was careful of its use in battle. The Guard was divided into the staff, infantry, cavalry, and artillery regiments, as well as battalions of sappers and marines. The guard itself as a whole distinguished between the experienced veterans and less experienced members by being separated into three sections: the Old Guard, Middle Guard and Young Guard.

Carabinier light cavalry or gendarme armed with a carbine

A carabinier is in principle a soldier armed with a carbine. A carbine is a shorter version of a musket or rifle. Carabiniers were first introduced during the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. The word is derived from the identical French word carabinier.

Gardes Françaises regiment

The French Guards were an infantry regiment of the Military Household of the King of France under the Ancien Régime.

French Revolutionary Army

The French Revolutionary Army was the French force that fought the French Revolutionary Wars from 1792 to 1802. These armies were characterised by their revolutionary fervour, their poor equipment and their great numbers. Although they experienced early disastrous defeats, the revolutionary armies successfully expelled foreign forces from French soil and then overran many neighboring countries, establishing client republics. Leading generals included Jourdan, Bonaparte, Masséna and Moreau.

National Gendarmerie gendarmerie branch of the French Armed Forces

The National Gendarmerie is one of two national police forces of France, along with the National Police. It is a branch of the French Armed Forces placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior—with additional duties to the Ministry of Defense. Its area of responsibility includes smaller towns, rural and suburban areas, while the Police Nationale—a civilian force—is in charge of cities and downtowns. Due to its military status, the Gendarmerie also fulfills a range of military and defense missions. The Gendarmes also have a cybercrime division. It has a strength of more than 100,000 personnel as of 2014.

When the National Constituent Assembly dissolved itself on 3 September 1791, it decreed as a final measure that King Louis XVI should have a Constitutional Guard, also known as the garde Brissac after its commander Louis Hercule Timolon de Cossé, duc de Brissac. This guard's formation was the only court reform to be put into effect, but it only lasted a few months, being superseded by the National Guard.

Maison militaire du roi de France Military branch of the French royal household

The maison militaire du roi de France, in English the military household of the king of France, was the military part of the French royal household or Maison du Roi under the Ancien Régime. The term only appeared in 1671, though such a gathering of units pre-dates this. Like the rest of the royal household, the military household was under the authority of the Secretary of State for the Maison du Roi, but it depended on the ordinaire des guerres for its budget. Under Louis XIV, these two officers of state were given joint command of the military household.

Louis Klein French general

Dominique Louis Antoine Klein served in the French military during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars as a general of cavalry.

French Royal Army (1652–1830)

The French Royal Army served the Bourbon kings beginning with Louis XIV and ending with Charles X with an interlude from 1792 until 1814, during the French Revolution and the reign of the Emperor Napoleon I. After a second, brief interlude when Napoleon returned from exile in 1815, the Royal Army was reinstated. Its service to the direct Bourbon line was finished when Charles X was overthrown in 1830 by the July Revolution.

Cent-gardes Squadron

The Cent-gardes Squadron,, also called Cent Gardes à Cheval, was an elite cavalry squadron of the Second French Empire primarily responsible for protecting the person of the Emperor Napoleon III, as well as providing security within the Tuileries Palace. It also provided an escort for the emblems of the Imperial Guard and their award ceremony with flag and standard bearers.

The Guards Rifles Battalion was an infantry unit of the Prussian Army. Together with the Guards Ranger Battalion it formed the light infantry within the 3rd Guards Infantry Brigade in the 2nd Guards Division of the Guards Corps. The battalion consisted of four companies.

References

  1. 1 2 "France to create new National Guard 'to protect its citizens'". Local.fr. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  2. 1 2 "France to form National Guard to counter terrorist threat, Hollande says". France 24. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  3. 1 2 France creates National Guard to battle terrorism
  4. Crowdy 2004, p. 14.
  5. Philip Haythornthwaite, page 87 Uniforms of the French Revolutionary Wars, ISBN   0 7137 0936 7
  6. Mansel 2003, p. 4.
  7. PD-icon.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a work now in the public domain : Maude 1911 , p. 229.
  8. https://www.napoleon-series.org/military/organization/c_frenchinf.html
  9. E.G. Hourtouille, page 127 "1814 The Campaign for France", ISBN   2-915239-56-8
  10. Mansel 2003, p. 13.
  11. Mansel 2003, p. 217.
  12. Mansel 2003, p. 218.
  13. La « garde nationale », un vivier de 72 000 réservistes en 2017, Le Monde, 12 October 2016 issue
  14. Garde nationale, la génération « Charlie Hebdo », Le Monde, 27 October 2016 issue

Bibliography

Further reading