Louis Franchet d'Esperey
Louis Félix Marie François Franchet d'Espèrey (lwi feliks maʁi fʁɑ̃ʃɛ dɛpɛʁɛ; frǎnʃɛ dɛpɛrɛ̂(ː) (25 May 1856 – 8 July 1942) was a French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 general during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...


Early life

He was born in Mostaganem
Mostaganem is a port city in and capital of Mostaganem province, in the northwest of Algeria. The city, founded in the 11th century lies on the Gulf of Arzew, Mediterranean Sea and is 72 km ENE of Oran...

 in French Algeria
French Algeria
French Algeria lasted from 1830 to 1962, under a variety of governmental systems. From 1848 until independence, the whole Mediterranean region of Algeria was administered as an integral part of France, much like Corsica and Réunion are to this day. The vast arid interior of Algeria, like the rest...

, the son of an officer of cavalry in the Chasseurs d'Afrique
Chasseurs d'Afrique
The Chasseurs d'Afrique were a light cavalry corps in the French Armée d'Afrique . First raised in the 1830s from regular French cavalry posted to Algeria, they numbered five regiments by World War II...

. He was educated at Saint-Cyr
École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr
The École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr is the foremost French military academy. Its official name is . It is often referred to as Saint-Cyr . Its motto is "Ils s'instruisent pour vaincre": literally "They study to vanquish" or "Training for victory"...

 and graduated in 1876. He served in French Indochina
French Indochina
French Indochina was part of the French colonial empire in southeast Asia. A federation of the three Vietnamese regions, Tonkin , Annam , and Cochinchina , as well as Cambodia, was formed in 1887....

, China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 (in the Boxer Rebellion
Boxer Rebellion
The Boxer Rebellion, also called the Boxer Uprising by some historians or the Righteous Harmony Society Movement in northern China, was a proto-nationalist movement by the "Righteous Harmony Society" , or "Righteous Fists of Harmony" or "Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists" , in China between...

 in 1900, during which his cousin the German plenipotentiary Clemens von Ketteler was killed) and Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 before 1914. He received command of I Corps
I Corps (France)
The I Corps was first formed before World War I. During World War II it fought in the Campaign for France in 1940, on the Mediterranean islands of Corsica and Elba in 1943 - 1944, and in the campaigns to liberate France in 1944 and invade Germany in 1945....

 in 1913.

First World War

In 1914, Franchet d'Espèrey did well as a corps
A corps is either a large formation, or an administrative grouping of troops within an armed force with a common function such as Artillery or Signals representing an arm of service...

 commander at the Battle of Charleroi
Battle of Charleroi
The Battle of Charleroi , or the Battle of the Sambre , was fought on 21 August 1914, between French and German forces and was part of the Battle of the Frontiers. The French were planning an attack across the Sambre River, when the Germans launched an attack of their own...

, and as result he rose rapidly through the ranks during the war. On the eve of the First Battle of the Marne
First Battle of the Marne
The Battle of the Marne was a First World War battle fought between 5 and 12 September 1914. It resulted in an Allied victory against the German Army under Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke the Younger. The battle effectively ended the month long German offensive that opened the war and had...

, Franchet d'Espèrey was given command of the Fifth Army. By March 1916, Franchet d'Espérey was in command of the Eastern Army Group and by January 1917 the Northern Army Group. He was badly defeated by the Germans at the Battle of Chemin des Dames in May 1918. He was removed from the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

 and appointed commander of the Allied armies at Salonika.

Between September 15–29, 1918 General Franchet d'Espèrey, in command of a large army of Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 (9 divisions), French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

 (6 divisions), Serbs (6 divisions), British
British people
The British are citizens of the United Kingdom, of the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands, or of any of the British overseas territories, and their descendants...

 (4 divisions) and Italians (1 division) - staged a successful offensive in Macedonia
Macedonia (region)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of the Balkan peninsula in southeastern Europe. Its boundaries have changed considerably over time, but nowadays the region is considered to include parts of five Balkan countries: Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, as...

 that knocked Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 out of the war. General Franchet d'Espèrey followed up this victory by overrunning much of the Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 and by the war's end, his troops had penetrated well into Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...


During this final campaign, he was given the nickname
A nickname is "a usually familiar or humorous but sometimes pointed or cruel name given to a person or place, as a supposedly appropriate replacement for or addition to the proper name.", or a name similar in origin and pronunciation from the original name....

 "Desperate Frankie" by the British officers.

Post World War I career

On February 8, 1919, Franchet d'Espèrey entered Constantinople
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 on a white horse, emulating Mehmed the Conqueror's entrance in 1453 after the Fall of Constantinople, signifying that Ottoman sovereignty over the imperial city was over. When he rode his horse over a Turkish flag laid on a street in Galata
Galata or Galatae is a neighbourhood in the Beyoğlu district on the European side of Istanbul, the largest city of Turkey. Galata is located at the northern shore of the Golden Horn, the inlet which separates it from the historic peninsula of old Constantinople. The Golden Horn is crossed by...

 district, he gained the instant animosity of the local Turkish population, a resentment that contributed to the creation of the Turkish resistance movement
Turkish National Movement
The Turkish National Movement encompasses the political and military activities of the Turkish revolutionaries which resulted in the creation and shaping of the Republic of Turkey, as a consequence of the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I....

. After World War I ended, General Franchet d'Espèrey directed operations against the Hungarian Soviet Republic
Hungarian Soviet Republic
The Hungarian Soviet Republic or Soviet Republic of Hungary was a short-lived Communist state established in Hungary in the aftermath of World War I....

 in 1919.

He was made a marshal of France
Marshal of France
The Marshal of France is a military distinction in contemporary France, not a military rank. It is granted to generals for exceptional achievements...

 on February 19, 1921, and was given an honorary title of Vojvoda (equivalent of Field-Marshal) from the Serbs. He represented France at the coronation
A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and/or their consort with regal power, usually involving the placement of a crown upon their head and the presentation of other items of regalia...

 of Haile Selassie of Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

 in Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia...

 on 1 November 1930. He was elected to the Académie française
Académie française
L'Académie française , also called the French Academy, is the pre-eminent French learned body on matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution,...

 on 15 November 1934.


Franchet d'Espèrey had drive and great energy and his victories against Bulgaria and the remnants of the German and Austro-Hungarian armies were independent of the situation on the Western front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

, demonstrated by the fact that they came before the main assault on the Hindenburg Line
Hindenburg Line
The Hindenburg Line was a vast system of defences in northeastern France during World War I. It was constructed by the Germans during the winter of 1916–17. The line stretched from Lens to beyond Verdun...

 and against a still capable army that offered strong resistance to the British and Greeks in the Battle of Doiran
Battle of Doiran
The third Battle of Doiran was fought from 18 September to 19 September 1918, with the Greeks and the British assaulting the positions of the Bulgarian First Army near Dojran Lake. The battle was part of World War I and took place in the Balkan Theatre...

. As a consequence of his generalship Bulgaria signed armistice on 29 September, thus becoming the first Central Power to sign an armistice. In terms of personality, he was vain and pompous, if able. In terms of politics, Franchet d'Espèrey was a nationalist Royalist
Ultra-Royalists or simply Ultras were a reactionary faction which sat in the French parliament from 1815 to 1830 under the Bourbon Restoration...

 whose loyalty to France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 outweighed his loyalty to the Bourbons
House of Bourbon
The House of Bourbon is a European royal house, a branch of the Capetian dynasty . Bourbon kings first ruled Navarre and France in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Bourbon dynasty also held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma...

. He died in Albi, France.

In the Serbian capital Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

, one boulevard has been named after him, as well as one street in the center of the second biggest city of Greece, Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...



  • Légion d’honneur
    • Knight (21 August 1886)
    • Officer (29 December 1904)
    • Commander (31 December 1912)
    • Grand Officer (30 December 1914)
    • Grand Cross (10 July 1917)
  • Médaille militaire
    Médaille militaire
    The Médaille militaire is a decoration of the French Republic which was first instituted in 1852.-History:The creator of the médaille was the emperor Napoléon III, who may have taken his inspiration in a medal issued by his father, Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland...

  • Croix de guerre 1914-1918
    Croix de guerre 1914-1918 (France)
    The Croix de guerre 1914–1918 is a French military decoration.-Creation:Soon after the outbreak of World War I, French military officials felt that a new military award had to be created...

     with 3 palms
  • Médaille Interalliée de la Victoire
  • Médaille commémorative du Maroc
    Médaille commémorative du Maroc (1909)
    The Médaille commémorative du Maroc was a French colonial medal. It was given to the participants of the Second Franco-Moroccan War ....

  • Médaille Commémorative de la Grande Guerre
  • Médaille Coloniale with bars "Tonkin" and "Maroc"

External links

Notice biographique sur le site de l'Académie française Biographie sur Chemins de mémoire
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