How many marshals does France need?

Mar 2015
883
Europe
Well, how many?
In beginning of year 1778, when France assailed British Empire to deprive Britain of her American colonies, after 15 years of peacetime, the muster roll of French marshals seems to have been:

  1. Tingry, promoted 1734
  2. Jean-Baptiste de Durfort, duke of Duras, 1741
  3. Clermont-Tonnerre, 1747
  4. Richelieu, 1748
  5. Biron, 1757
  6. Bercheny, 1758
  7. Contades, 1758
  8. Soubise, 1758
  9. Broglie, 1759
  10. Brissac, 1768
  11. Harcourt, 1775
  12. Noailles, 1775
  13. Nicolai, 1775
  14. Fitz-Janes, 1775
  15. Mouchy, 1775
  16. Emmanuel de Durfort, duke of Duras, 1775
  17. Saint-Germain, 1775
Quite a substantial muster, right?
Actually, no marshals were added during the war, and by 1783, nrs. 2, 6, 10 and 17 had died. But in 1783, after the war was over, 10 marshals were promoted, bringing the muster up to 23 until death of Harcourt later that year.
Napoleon I created, in 1804, 18 marshals (14 active and 4 retired). Plus one marshal of France was alive (Rochambeau).
In 1807, Napoleon promoted 1 (Victor) and Rochambeau died; muster 19 all of Empire;
in 1809, Lannes fell and 3 were promoted, muster 21;
1811-12 2 promotions, muster 23;
1813 1 promotion, 2 deaths;
1815 1 promotion, 4 deaths.
The number of living marshals of Napoleon I peaked at 23 thrice (from promotion of Saint-Cyr to fall of Bessieres; during the days Poniatowski was marshal; from promotion of Grouchy till death of Brune).

Now, at the accession of Napoleon III, December 1852, there were no marshals of Empire (Marmont having died in March). The muster was:

  1. Reille, 1847
  2. Jerome Bonaparte, 1850
  3. Harispe, 1851
  4. Vaillant, 1851
  5. Saint Arnaud, 1852
  6. Magnan, 1852
  7. Castellane, 1852
By the end of Second Empire, the muster was:

  1. Vaillant
  2. Hilliers, 1854
  3. Randon, 1856
  4. Canrobert, 1856
  5. MacMahon, 1859
  6. Forey, 1863
  7. Bazaine, 1864
  8. Leboeuf, 1870
Now, Third Republic ran completely out of marshals with death of Canrobert in 1895, and began Great War without marshals till Joffre was promoted in the end of 1916. By end of 1921, the muster was:

  1. Joffre, 1916
  2. Foch, 1918
  3. Petain, 1918
  4. Lyautey, 1921
  5. Esperey, 1921
  6. Fayolle, 1921.
By Second World War, France had just 2 marshals left - Petain and Esperey - and with degradation and death of Petain, ran out of marshals again in 1951.
Juin was a marshal 1952 to 1967, and has been the last.

So: how many marshals should France have, seeing how Louis XVI had 23 in peacetime?
 
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Sep 2016
1,330
Georgia
Yet there were only six Marshal Generals or to be more exact ,, Marshal General of the King's camps and armies '' in history of France.
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,860
Cornwall
Some weren't active, some were little more than nominal, some political and Grouchy surely only got it because most others discreetly avoided the 100 days?
 
Jul 2018
309
London
I have no specific experience but it appears that they create the rank during conflict times, rather than always having some at hand...
 
Feb 2019
345
California
Well, how many?
In beginning of year 1778, when France assailed British Empire to deprive Britain of her American colonies, after 15 years of peacetime, the muster roll of French marshals seems to have been:

  1. Tingry, promoted 1734
  2. Jean-Baptiste de Durfort, duke of Duras, 1741
  3. Clermont-Tonnerre, 1747
  4. Richelieu, 1748
  5. Biron, 1757
  6. Bercheny, 1758
  7. Contades, 1758
  8. Soubise, 1758
  9. Broglie, 1759
  10. Brissac, 1768
  11. Harcourt, 1775
  12. Noailles, 1775
  13. Nicolai, 1775
  14. Fitz-Janes, 1775
  15. Mouchy, 1775
  16. Emmanuel de Durfort, duke of Duras, 1775
  17. Saint-Germain, 1775
Quite a substantial muster, right?
Actually, no marshals were added during the war, and by 1783, nrs. 2, 6, 10 and 17 had died. But in 1783, after the war was over, 10 marshals were promoted, bringing the muster up to 23 until death of Harcourt later that year.
Napoleon I created, in 1804, 18 marshals (14 active and 4 retired). Plus one marshal of France was alive (Rochambeau).
In 1807, Napoleon promoted 1 (Victor) and Rochambeau died; muster 19 all of Empire;
in 1809, Lannes fell and 3 were promoted, muster 21;
1811-12 2 promotions, muster 23;
1813 1 promotion, 2 deaths;
1815 1 promotion, 4 deaths.
The number of living marshals of Napoleon I peaked at 23 thrice (from promotion of Saint-Cyr to fall of Bessieres; during the days Poniatowski was marshal; from promotion of Grouchy till death of Brune).

Now, at the accession of Napoleon III, December 1852, there were no marshals of Empire (Marmont having died in March). The muster was:

  1. Reille, 1847
  2. Jerome Bonaparte, 1850
  3. Harispe, 1851
  4. Vaillant, 1851
  5. Saint Arnaud, 1852
  6. Magnan, 1852
  7. Castellane, 1852
By the end of Second Empire, the muster was:

  1. Vaillant
  2. Hilliers, 1854
  3. Randon, 1856
  4. Canrobert, 1856
  5. MacMahon, 1859
  6. Forey, 1863
  7. Bazaine, 1864
  8. Leboeuf, 1870
Now, Third Republic ran completely out of marshals with death of Canrobert in 1895, and began Great War without marshals till Joffre was promoted in the end of 1916. By end of 1921, the muster was:

  1. Joffre, 1916
  2. Foch, 1918
  3. Petain, 1918
  4. Lyautey, 1921
  5. Esperey, 1921
  6. Fayolle, 1921.
By Second World War, France had just 2 marshals left - Petain and Esperey - and with degradation and death of Petain, ran out of marshals again in 1951.
Juin was a marshal 1952 to 1967, and has been the last.

So: how many marshals should France have, seeing how Louis XVI had 23 in peacetime?

You forgot D'Artagnan :)
 
Sep 2017
783
United States
Well, what distinct purpose did these marshals serve in the French military and how has the role changed over the years?

Now is a time of relative peace, where France's military primarily just needs to be able to protect itself and provide some anti-terror efforts. The structure and way of commanding armies as far as I understand it is a lot different now than it would've been in the late 18th century as well.

The over-cluttering and overlapping of a bureaucracy is something I'm always weary of.
 
Mar 2015
883
Europe
You forgot D'Artagnan :)
No, excluded.
First, I listed marshals as of 1778, and D´Artagnan died in 1673.
Second, D´Artagnan was never a Marshal. Only captain-Lieutenant.
In 1673 when D´Artagnan died, France had 10 marshals in total, including the Marshal-General (Turenne).
 
Feb 2019
345
California
No, excluded.
First, I listed marshals as of 1778, and D´Artagnan died in 1673.
Second, D´Artagnan was never a Marshal. Only captain-Lieutenant.
In 1673 when D´Artagnan died, France had 10 marshals in total, including the Marshal-General (Turenne).
I know. I was just funnin.....