Théodore Laurent

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Théodore Laurent

Theodore Laurent (1863-1953).jpg

Théodore Laurent
BornFrancois Arthur Théodore Laurent
(1863-12-18)18 December 1863
Saint-Jean-d'Angély, Charente-Maritime, France
Died 21 August 1953(1953-08-21) (aged 89)
Paris IX, France
Nationality French
Occupation Industrialist
Known for President of Marine-Homécourt

Théodore Laurent (18 December 1863 – 21 August 1953) was a French engineer and industrialist who was president of the steelmaker Marine-Homécourt for many years. He was a major force in organizing the French steel industry before and after World War II.


Early years (1863–1908)

François Arthur Théodore Laurent was born on 18 December 1863 in Saint-Jean-d'Angély. He was the son of Aimé Laurent a banker and cognac dealer in Saint-Jean-d'Angély, and Anne Nancy Cora Valleau. [1] He attended the École Polytechnique from 1883 to 1885, then the École des mines de Paris from 1885. He became a member of the Corps des mines, and worked for the Corps des Mines in Moulins, then Angers. [2] On 28 September 1889 he married Elisabeth Marie Sophie Hallé (4 July 1870 – 18 April 1928) at Châtres, Seine-et-Marne. [3] They had four sons, Jacques, Daniel, Pierre and Jean. [1] [lower-alpha 1]

Saint-Jean-dAngély Subprefecture and commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Saint-Jean-d'Angély is a commune in the Charente-Maritime department in southwestern France.

École Polytechnique French institution of higher education and research in Palaiseau

École polytechnique is a French public institution of higher education and research in Palaiseau, a suburb southwest of Paris. It is one of the most prestigious and selective French scientific and engineering schools, called grandes écoles in French. It is known for its ingénieur polytechnicien scientific degree program which is equivalent to both a bachelor and master of science. Its entrance exam, the X-ENS exam, is renowned for its selectivity with a little over 500 admitted students out of the 53 848 students enrolled in the preparatory programs for the French scientific and engineering schools entrance exams.

Corps des mines

The Corps des mines is the foremost of the technical Grand Corps of the French State. It is formed of the State Engineers of the Mines. The Corps is attached to the French ministry in charge of economy, industry and employment. Its purpose is to entice the brightest French students in mathematics and physics to serve the government and train them for executive careers in France.

Laurent left the Corps des mines to become Engineer at the Chemins de fer du Midi, then Chief Engineer and Deputy Chief of Equipment at the Chemins de fer d'Orléans, two railway lines. During this period he came to know the main leaders of the French metallurgical industry. [2] At the start of 1908 he was offered the post of deputy-director of the Compagnie des forges et aciéries de la marine et d'Homécourt (Marine-Homécourt). He accepted the job after some hesitation at the end of the year. [2]

Chemins de fer du Midi defunct French railway company (1852–1934)

The Compagnie des chemins de fer du Midi, also known in English as the Midi or Southern Railway, was an early French railway company which operated a network of routes in the southwest of the country, chiefly in the area between its main line – which ran from Bordeaux, close to the Atlantic coast, to Sète on the Mediterranean – and the Pyrenees.

The Compagnie du chemin de fer de Paris à Orléans (PO) was an early French railway company.

The Compagnie des forges et aciéries de la marine et d'Homécourt (FAMH) was a French industrial enterprise that made iron and steel products for the French navy, army and railroads. It is often known as Saint-Chamond from its main location in Saint-Chamond, Loire.

Marine-Homécourt (1908–52)

Soon after joining the company, Laurent arranged for Marine-Homécourt, Aciéries de Micheville and Pont à Mousson to form the MarMichPont group to acquire Belgian and German coal mines and coking ovens to address their common shortage of fuel. In 1911 he was made director-general in succession to Claudius Magnin. He reported to Emile Heurteau, his former boss at the Paris-Orleans railway and chairman of Marine from 1915 to 1927. [4] During World War I (1914–18) Laurent lived at Saint-Chamond, Loire, organizing production of munitions. [4] He built up the Marine-Homécourt works into one of France's main arsenals. [1] After the war he rebuilt the plant at Homécourt and expanded the company both nationally and internationally. [4]

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Saint-Chamond, Loire Commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Saint-Chamond is a commune in the Loire department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in central France. The town dates to the Roman period.

Laurent succeeded Heurteau as head of Marine-Homécourt in 1927. [4] Laurent, François de Wendel and Eugène Schneider formed a triumvirate that dominated French steel-making in the inter-war period. Laurent transformed Marine-Homécourt, already a powerful company, into an industrial empire. [5] Laurent decided to remove his son Jacques from the succession, although Jacques was vice-president of the Marine-Homécourt group from 1928 to 1967. Instead he groomed Léon Daum as his successor. [5] In April 1925 Léon Daum was appointed deputy director general of Marine-Homécourt and in 1927 he was made general director by Laurent. [6]

François de Wendel French politician

François de Wendel was a French industrialist and politician. He inherited the leadership of a major steel manufacturer in Lorraine at a time when it was part of Germany, and in Meurthe-et-Moselle in France to the west. He entered national politics just before World War I (1914–18), holding office first as a deputy and then as a senator until after the defeat of France in World War II (1939–45). His position as a deputy and also as head of the largest industrial enterprise in France inevitably led to accusations that he was manipulating policy in favor of his business empire.

Eugène Schneider French businessman

Joseph Eugène Schneider was a French industrialist and politician. In 1836, he co-founded the Schneider company with his brother, Adolphe Schneider. For many years he was a Deputy, and he was briefly Minister of Commerce and Agriculture in 1851.

Léon Daum

Léon Daum was a French mining engineer, company director and senior European administrator. He was a member of the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community from 1952 to 1959

Laurent was involved in many enterprises, and constantly adapted them to changing conditions. In 1940 he held 79 directorships. It was due in part to his example that the government passed a law on 16 November 1940 that limited the number of directorships one person could hold. He promoted industrial concentrations, particularly Sidelor (1950) and the great metallurgical combinations of the Loire. [1] He had a paternalistic attitude to the workers, taking a serious interest in their welfare, but having little discussion with them. He took part in commissions to fight tuberculosis, founded the Saint-Hilaire du Touvet sanatorium, and was involved in social housing. [5]

Last years (1952–53)

Laurent was made a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor. [1] On 24 April 1952 Léon Daum, now vice president and general manager of Marine-Homécourt, was made a commander of the Legion of Honour by Théodore Laurent. [6] Although he had been trained to succeed Laurent as managing director of Marine-Homécourt, when Laurent was reappointed for yet another six years Daum gave up and resigned. [7] On 10 August 1952 Daum was appointed chairman of the European Coal and Steel Community finance, investment & production group. [8] Laurent finally resigned from the presidency of Marine-Homécourt in March 1953, a few months before his death. He participated in meetings of the board of directors until the last days before his death. The end of his reign was difficult. Although his mind was still lively he had an irascible temper, poor eyesight and was almost deaf. [5] Théodore Laurent died in Paris IX on 21 August 1953 at the age of 89. [3]

The Legion of Honour is the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits, established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte and retained by all later French governments and régimes.

European Coal and Steel Community international organisation serving to unify European countries after World War II

The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was an organization of six European countries created after World War II to regulate their industrial production under a centralised authority. It was formally established in 1951 by the Treaty of Paris, signed by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany. The ECSC was the first international organisation to be based on the principles of supranationalism, and started the process of formal integration which ultimately led to the European Union.


Publications included: [9]


  1. Théodore Laurent's son Jean Laurent volunteered for the army and died on 23 May 1917 at the age of 20 just after receiving the Legion of Honour. [1]
  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 François Arthur Théodore LAURENT... Annales.
  2. 1 2 3 François-Poncet, Daum & Mgr. Méjacaze 1955.
  3. 1 2 Pierfit.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Smith 2006, p. 367.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Mioche & Roux 1988.
  6. 1 2 Léon DAUM ... Annales des Mines.
  7. Vinen 2002, p. 100.
  8. Members of the High Authority ... CVCE, p. 2.
  9. Théodore Laurent (1863-1953) – BnF.


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