Lieutenant General (France)

In France, under the ancien regime, several officers bore the title of lieutenant-general. In general, this title refers to an alternate or delegate vested with all the powers of the person it is intended to replace.

The contemporary French military rank equivalent to Lieutenant general (NATO code OF-8) in other armies is the Général de corps d'armée.

Lieutenant General of a province

The Lieutenant General of a province was a person, often coming from the high aristocracy, who represented the king in the provinces of the kingdom. His role was theoretically ensure the replacement of the governor. In fact, the kings and their influences hoped they would neutralize each other, preventing any attempt at revolt. The office of Lieutenant-General became the 17th century and especially in 18th centutry purely honorary: the holder resided at the court and was content to receive income without performing actual work. Moreover, the kings tended to appoint successors son of their father, which made the lieutenant general offices almost became part of the heritage of the aristocratic families.

We must not confuse the office of lieutenant general with that of "Lieutenant of the King." The Lieutenant of the King was subordinated to lieutenant general and his role (essentially the same: to represent the king in the provinces) was held in much smaller regard.

Lieutenant-General of a bailiwick

The Lieutenant-General of a bailiwick or seneschalty was the name given to the Juge-mage deputized by the bailiff or seneschal in legal matters.

Police Lieutenant General

The title of Lieutenant-General of Police was established in 1667, in Paris, to ensure the maintenance of order there. From 1699, other police lieutenant generals were established in major cities of France.

Lieutenant General of the Kingdom

The title of lieutenant-general of the kingdom appointed a temporary function whose kings in circumstances of crisis, investing an eminent person to exercise on their behalf all or part of the royal authority. The following were responsible for this function:

Lieutenant-general of the armies

The rank of lieutenant-general of the army or lieutenant-general of the naval forces for the Navy, was the highest rank in the military hierarchy of the ancien regime, inaccessible to a commoner. It was surpassed by the marshals and the colonel generals, the army, and the admirals and vice-admirals of France, for the navy, holders not a military rank but one of the Great Officers of the Crown of France, dignity both honorary and lucrative. Lieutenant General rank was equivalent to the current rank of Général de division and that of lieutenant-general of the naval forces of Vice Admiral.

The ranks of lieutenant general of the armies were renamed Général de division and Vice Admiral in 1791. In 1814 the rank of Général de division said the name of lieutenant-general of the armies, before finally setting the titles of générals in 1848.


This article is based on the article Lieutenant-général from the French Wikipedia, retrieved on March 3, 2016.
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