Patrice MacMahon, duc de Magenta
Marie Edme Patrice Maurice de Mac-Mahon, 1st Duke of Magenta (patʁis də makma.ɔ̃; 13 July 1808 – 17 October 1893) was a French general and politician with the distinction 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...

. He served as Chief of State of France from 1873 to 1875 and as the first president of the Third Republic, from 1875 to 1879.

Early life

Born in Sully
Sully, Saône-et-Loire
Sully is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in the region of Bourgogne in eastern France.-People:It was the birthplace of the President Patrice de Mac-Mahon.-References:*...

 (near Autun
Autun is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in Burgundy in eastern France. It was founded during the early Roman Empire as Augustodunum. Autun marks the easternmost extent of the Umayyad campaign in Europe.-Early history:...

), in the département of Saône-et-Loire
Saône-et-Loire is a French department, named after the Saône and the Loire rivers between which it lies.-History:When it was formed during the French Revolution, as of March 4, 1790 in fulfillment of the law of December 22, 1789, the new department combined parts of the provinces of southern...

, Patrice de Mac-Mahon was the 16th of 17 children of a family already in the French nobility (his grandfather Jean-Baptiste de Mac-Mahon was named Marquis de Mac-Mahon and Marquis d'Eguilly (from his wife Charlotte Le Belin, Dame d' Eguilly) by King Louis XV
Louis XV of France
Louis XV was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1 September 1715 until his death. He succeeded his great-grandfather at the age of five, his first cousin Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, served as Regent of the kingdom until Louis's majority in 1723...

, and the family in France had decidedly royalist politics).

His ancestors settled in France from County Limerick
County Limerick
It is thought that humans had established themselves in the Lough Gur area of the county as early as 3000 BC, while megalithic remains found at Duntryleague date back further to 3500 BC...

 in Ireland (although they were originally from County Clare
County Clare
-History:There was a Neolithic civilisation in the Clare area — the name of the peoples is unknown, but the Prehistoric peoples left evidence behind in the form of ancient dolmen; single-chamber megalithic tombs, usually consisting of three or more upright stones...

 and may also have had earlier connections with County Monaghan
County Monaghan
County Monaghan is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Border Region and is also located in the province of Ulster. It is named after the town of Monaghan. Monaghan County Council is the local authority for the county...

) during the reign of William III
William III of England
William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

 due to their support of the deposed James II
James II of England
James II & VII was King of England and King of Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685. He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland...

. They applied for naturalization
Naturalization is the acquisition of citizenship and nationality by somebody who was not a citizen of that country at the time of birth....

 in 1749.

Patrice de Mac-Mahon was educated at the College of Louis Le Grand and at the Academy of St-Cyr, graduating in 1827.

Military career

He served in the Army as aide-de-camp to General Achard
Achard is a surname, and may refer to:* Achard of St. Victor , French bishop* Albert Achard , French World War I flying ace* Antoine Achard , Swiss Protestant minister* Count Achard of Lecce, Norman count of Lecce...

, and went to the campaign in Algiers
' is the capital and largest city of Algeria. According to the 1998 census, the population of the city proper was 1,519,570 and that of the urban agglomeration was 2,135,630. In 2009, the population was about 3,500,000...

 in 1830. He stayed in Algeria
French rule in 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...

 from 1834–1854, and was wounded during an assault on Constantine
Constantine, Algeria
Constantine is the capital of Constantine Province in north-eastern Algeria. It was the capital of the same-named French département until 1962. Slightly inland, it is about 80 kilometres from the Mediterranean coast, on the banks of Rhumel river...

 in 1837. He became commander of the Foreign Legion
French Foreign Legion
The French Foreign Legion is a unique military service wing of the French Army established in 1831. The foreign legion was exclusively created for foreign nationals willing to serve in the French Armed Forces...

 in 1843, and was promoted to Division General in 1852.

In the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

, he distinguished himself in the Battle of Malakoff
Battle of Malakoff
The Battle of Malakoff, during the Crimean War, was fought between the French and Russian armies on 7 September 1855 as a part of the Siege of Sevastopol and resulted in a French victory under General MacMahon. In one of the war's defining moments, the French zouave Eugène Libaut installed the...

 at Sevastopol
Sevastopol is a city on rights of administrative division of Ukraine, located on the Black Sea coast of the Crimea peninsula. It has a population of 342,451 . Sevastopol is the second largest port in Ukraine, after the Port of Odessa....

 (8 September 1855), during which he reputedly uttered the famous quotation now attributed to him: J'y suis, j'y reste ("Here I am, here I stay"). He was offered the top French Army post after the war but declined, preferring to return to Algeria.

He was appointed to the French Senate
French Senate
The Senate is the upper house of the Parliament of France, presided over by a president.The Senate enjoys less prominence than the lower house, the directly elected National Assembly; debates in the Senate tend to be less tense and generally enjoy less media coverage.-History:France's first...

 in 1856.

He fought in the Second Italian War of Independence
Second Italian War of Independence
The Second War of Italian Independence, Franco-Austrian War, Austro-Sardinian War, or Austro-Piedmontese War , was fought by Napoleon III of France and the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia against the Austrian Empire in 1859...

 as commander of the Second Corps ("Army of Italy
Army of Italy (France)
The Army of Italy was a Field army of the French Army stationed on the Italian border and used for operations in Italy itself. Though it existed in some form in the 16th century through to the present, it is best known for its role during the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic...

"). He secured the French victory at Magenta
Battle of Magenta
The Battle of Magenta was fought on June 4, 1859 during the Second Italian War of Independence, resulting in a French-Sardinian victory under Napoleon III against the Austrians under Marshal Ferencz Gyulai....

 (4 June 1859) and rose to the rank of marshal
Marshal , is a word used in several official titles of various branches of society. The word is an ancient loan word from Old French, cf...

 while in the field. He was later created Duke of Magenta
Duc de Magenta
John MacMahon, an Irish doctor born in Limerick, was naturalised in France in 1749 and married Charlotte Le Belin, Dame d'Eguilly, on 13 April 1750. The same year he was created Marquis d'Eguilly by King Louis XV. His son, the second Marquis, served in the American War of Independence and was a...

 by Napoleon III
Napoleon III of France
Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte was the President of the French Second Republic and as Napoleon III, the ruler of the Second French Empire. He was the nephew and heir of Napoleon I, christened as Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte...

 as a result.

Franco-Prussian War

He served as Governor-General of Algeria from 1 September 1864, returning at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

, during which he led an Alsatian
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

 army unit (although attrition throughout the war led to men from other areas being added to this).

In the Franco-Prussian War MacMahon commanded the I and V French Corps on the Rhine Army's Southern line. On 4 August 1870 the Prussian 3rd Army attacked the Southern line, and immediately won the border city of Wissembourg
Wissembourg is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in northeastern France.It is situated on the little River Lauter close to the border between France and Germany approximately north of Strasbourg and west of Karlsruhe. Wissembourg is a sub-prefecture of the department...

 from the French; quickly moving onto capture the city of Woerth two days later.

After less than a week of fighting, the entire French Rhine Army's Southern line could not withstand the Prussian attacks and retreated West, further into French territory. The Prussians were relentless. The Prussian 3rd Army was capturing town after town, while their defeated opponents I and V Corps hastily retreated to Chalon-s.-Marne making sure to stay out of the way of the advancing Prussians by heading southwest while the Prussians drove West.

Mac-Mahon left his Corps and led the 120,000 strong remnants of the French Rhine army (I, VII, XII Corps), reformed as the Army of Châlons
Army of Châlons
The Army of Châlons was a French army which took part in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71. It was formed in August 1870 from parts of the Army of the Rhine not blockaded at Metz...

, with Napoleon III. They began marching from Châlons-sur-Marne North/Northeast, in an attempt to relieve the besieged army at Metz
Siege of Metz
The Siege of Metz lasting from 19 August – 27 October 1870 was fought during the Franco-Prussian War and ended in a decisive Prussian victory.-History:...

 over 130 km to the East. But the Prussian 3rd Army advance was incredible; in less than 3 weeks the army covered over 325 km, and intercepted the French army along the Meuse
Meuse is a department in northeast France, named after the River Meuse.-History:Meuse is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790...

 River, and for three days battled it (29 to 31 August), forcing the French to fall to Sedan
Sedan, France
Sedan is a commune in France, a sub-prefecture of the Ardennes department in northern France.-Geography:The historic centre is built on a peninsula formed by an arc of the Meuse River. It is around from the Belgian border.-History:...

. Meanwhile, the Prussians had created a 4th Army, and marched it to the southern flank of Sedan, while the 3rd Army dug in North of Sedan.

On 1 September 1870, the Prussians thus laid siege to the city of Sedan. Standing at the gates was a powerful force of 200,000 Prussian soldiers under the command of General Helmuth von Moltke. Mac-Mahon was highly indecisive, allowing the Germans to move in reinforcements to completely encircle Sedan.

Mac-Mahon was wounded and command passed to General De Wimpffen who announced the surrender of the French army. On 2 September Napoleon III surrendered, along with his remaining 83,000 French troops (Battle of Sedan
Battle of Sedan
The Battle of Sedan was fought during the Franco-Prussian War on 1 September 1870. It resulted in the capture of Emperor Napoleon III and large numbers of his troops and for all intents and purposes decided the war in favour of Prussia and its allies, though fighting continued under a new French...


Paris Commune and Third Republic

When the Paris Commune
Paris Commune
The Paris Commune was a government that briefly ruled Paris from March 18 to May 28, 1871. It existed before the split between anarchists and Marxists had taken place, and it is hailed by both groups as the first assumption of power by the working class during the Industrial Revolution...

 was suppressed in May 1871, Mac-Mahon led the Versailles troops. The French army spent eight days massacring workers, shooting civilians on sight. Tens of thousands of Communards and workers were summarily executed (as many as 30,000); 38,000 others imprisoned and 7,000 were forcibly deported.

As president of France, he controversially dismissed the republican Prime Minister Jules Simon
Jules Simon
Jules François Simon was a French statesman and philosopher, and one of the leader of the Opportunist Republicans faction.-Biography:Simon was born at Lorient. His father was a linen-draper from Lorraine, who renounced Protestantism before his second marriage with a Catholic Breton. Jules Simon...

, replacing him with the Orleanist
The Orléanists were a French right-wing/center-right party which arose out of the French Revolution. It governed France 1830-1848 in the "July Monarchy" of king Louis Philippe. It is generally seen as a transitional period dominated by the bourgeoisie and the conservative Orleanist doctrine in...

 duc de Broglie, before dissolving the French National Assembly
French National Assembly
The French National Assembly is the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of France under the Fifth Republic. The upper house is the Senate ....

 on 16 May 1877 in an effort to halt the rise of Republicanism
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

 and boost the prospects of a restoration of the monarchy under the Comte de Chambord
Henri, comte de Chambord
Henri, comte de Chambord was disputedly King of France from 2 to 9 August 1830 as Henry V, although he was never officially proclaimed as such...

. This event is known as the 16 May 1877 crisis
16 May 1877 crisis
The 16 May 1877 crisis was a constitutional crisis in the French Third Republic concerning the distribution of power between the President and the legislature. When the Royalist President Patrice MacMahon dismissed the Opportunist Republican Prime Minister Jules Simon, parliament on 16 May 1877...


The Assembly having (9 November 1873) fixed his term of office at seven years, he declared in a speech delivered 4 February 1874 that he would know how to make the legally established order of things respected for seven years. Preferring to remain above party, he rather assisted at than took part in the proceedings which, in January and February 1875, led up to the passage of the fundamental laws finally establishing the Republic as the legal government of France. And yet Mac-Mahon writes in his still unpublished memoirs: "By family tradition, and by the sentiments towards the royal house which were instilled in me by my early education, I could not be anything but a Legitimist." He felt some repugnance, too, in forming, in 1876 the Dufaure
Jules Armand Dufaure
Jules Armand Stanislas Dufaure was a French statesman.-Biography:Dufaure was born at Saujon, Charente-Maritime, and began his career as an advocate at Bordeaux, where he won a great reputation by his oratorical gifts. He abandoned law for politics, and in 1834 was elected deputy...

 and the Jules Simon
Jules Simon
Jules François Simon was a French statesman and philosopher, and one of the leader of the Opportunist Republicans faction.-Biography:Simon was born at Lorient. His father was a linen-draper from Lorraine, who renounced Protestantism before his second marriage with a Catholic Breton. Jules Simon...

 cabinets, in which the Republican
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

 element was represented.

When the episcopal charges of the bishops of Poitiers
Poitiers is a city on the Clain river in west central France. It is a commune and the capital of the Vienne department and of the Poitou-Charentes region. The centre is picturesque and its streets are interesting for predominant remains of historical architecture, especially from the Romanesque...

, Nîmes
Nîmes is the capital of the Gard department in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in southern France. Nîmes has a rich history, dating back to the Roman Empire, and is a popular tourist destination.-History:...

, and Nevers
Nevers is a commune in – and the administrative capital of – the Nièvre department in the Bourgogne region in central France...

, recommending the case of the captive
Roman Question
thumb|300px|The breach of [[Porta Pia]], on the right, in a contemporaneous photograph.The Roman Question was a political dispute between the Italian Government and the Papacy from 1861 to 1929....

 Pope Pius IX
Pope Pius IX
Blessed Pope Pius IX , born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was the longest-reigning elected Pope in the history of the Catholic Church, serving from 16 June 1846 until his death, a period of nearly 32 years. During his pontificate, he convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, which decreed papal...

 to the sympathy of the French Government, were met by a resolution in the Chamber, proposed by the Left, that the Government be requested "to repress Ultramontane manifestations" (4 May 1877), Mac-Mahon, twelve days later, asked Jules Simon to resign, summoned to power a conservative ministry under the Duc de Broglie
Albert, 4th duc de Broglie
Jacques-Victor-Albert, 4th duc de Broglie was a French monarchist politician.-Biography:Albert de Broglie was born in Paris, France, the third child and eldest son of Victor, 3rd duc de Broglie, a liberal statesman of the July Monarchy, and Albertine, baroness Staël von Holstein, the fourth child...

, persuaded the Senate to dissolve the Chamber, and travelled through the country to assure the success of the Conservatives in the elections, protesting at the same time that he did not wish to overturn the Republic. However, the elections of 14 October resulted in a majority of 120 for the Left; the de Broglie ministry resigned on 19 November, and the president formed a Left cabinet under Dufaure. He retained his office until 1878, so as to allow the Exposition Universelle
Exposition Universelle (1878)
The third Paris World's Fair, called an Exposition Universelle in French, was held from 1 May through to 10 November 1878. It celebrated the recovery of France after the 1870 Franco-Prussian War.-Construction:...

 to take place in political peace, and then, the senatorial elections of 5 January 1879, having brought another victory to the Left, Mac-Mahon found a pretext to resign (30 January 1879), and Jules Grévy
Jules Grévy
François Paul Jules Grévy was a President of the French Third Republic and one of the leaders of the Opportunist Republicans faction. Given that his predecessors were monarchists who tried without success to restore the French monarchy, Grévy is seen as the first real republican President of...

 succeeded him.

"I have remained a soldier", he says in his memoirs, "and I can conscientiously say that I have not only served one government after another loyally, but, when they fell, have regretted all of them with the single exception of my own." In his voluntary retirement he carried with him the esteem of all parties: Jules Simon, who did not love him, and whom he did not love, afterwards called him "a great captain, a great citizen, and a righteous man" (un grand capitaine, un grand citoyen et un homme de bien). His presidency may be summarised thus: on the one hand, he allowed the Republic to establish itself; on the other hand, so far as his lawful prerogatives permitted, he retarded the political advance of parties hostile to the Catholic Church, convinced that the triumph of Radicalism would be to the detriment of France. The last fourteen years of his life were passed in retirement, quite removed from political interests.

He died at the Château de La Forest at Montcresson
Montcresson is a commune in the Loiret department in north-central France....

, Loiret in 1893. He was buried, with national honours, in the crypt of the Invalides.


Patrice de Mac-Mahon is also remembered in France for unfortunate or naive quotes not always correctly attributed.
  • Concerning the floods of the Garonne
    The Garonne is a river in southwest France and northern Spain, with a length of .-Source:The Garonne's headwaters are to be found in the Aran Valley in the Pyrenees, though three different locations have been proposed as the true source: the Uelh deth Garona at Plan de Beret , the Ratera-Saboredo...

     river of 1875, in Toulouse
    Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

     he exclaimed "So much water! So much water!" (Que d'eau! Que d'eau!).

  • After the Republicans' victory in the elections of 1877, Léon Gambetta
    Léon Gambetta
    Léon Gambetta was a French statesman prominent after the Franco-Prussian War.-Youth and education:He is said to have inherited his vigour and eloquence from his father, a Genovese grocer who had married a Frenchwoman named Massabie. At the age of fifteen, Gambetta lost the sight of his right eye...

     told him to "submit or resign (se soumettre ou se démettre) to which Mac-Mahon replied: "I'm here. I'm staying here! (J'y suis. J'y reste!)

  • On typhoid: "Typhoid fever is a terrible sickness. Either you die from it or you become an idiot. And I know what I'm talking about, I had it." (La fièvre typhoïde est une maladie terrible. Ou on en meurt, ou on en reste idiot. Et je sais de quoi je parle, je l'ai eue.)

  • On the Foreign Legion during the Battle of Magenta: "The Legion is here, it's in the bag! ("Voici la Légion! L'affaire est dans le sac!").

See also

  • Irish Brigade (French)
    Irish Brigade (French)
    The Irish Brigade was a brigade in the French army composed of Irish exiles, led by Robert Reid. It was formed in May 1690 when five Jacobite regiments were sent from Ireland to France in return for a larger force of French infantry who were sent to fight in the Williamite war in Ireland...

  • Flight of the Wild Geese
    Flight of the Wild Geese
    The Flight of the Wild Geese refers to the departure of an Irish Jacobite army under the command of Patrick Sarsfield from Ireland to France, as agreed in the Treaty of Limerick on October 3, 1691, following the end of the Williamite War in Ireland...

  • Irish military diaspora
    Irish military diaspora
    The Irish military diaspora refers to the many people of either Irish birth or extraction who have served in foreign military forces, regardless of rank, duration of service, or success....

  • Irish regiments
  • Irish nobility
    Irish nobility
    This article concerns the Gaelic nobility of Ireland from ancient to modern times. It only partly overlaps with Chiefs of the Name because it excludes Scotland and other discussion...

  • 16 May 1877 crisis
    16 May 1877 crisis
    The 16 May 1877 crisis was a constitutional crisis in the French Third Republic concerning the distribution of power between the President and the legislature. When the Royalist President Patrice MacMahon dismissed the Opportunist Republican Prime Minister Jules Simon, parliament on 16 May 1877...

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.