Year XI system

Canon de 6 système An XI, founded in Douay in 1813.
Canon de 12 court, modèle 1803 (short 12pdr cannon, Mk 1803), Le Papegay, Year XI system. Founded in 1824 in Douai. Caliber: 120 mm (rifled in 1858). Length: 210 cm. Weight: 880 kg. Ammunition: 6 kg metal ball.

The Year XI system (French:"Système An XI", after of the 11th year of the French Republic, i.e. 1803) was a French artillery system developed during the rule of Napoleon. The Year XI system was original in that it brought various improvements to the highly successful Gribeauval system, on which many successes of the Napoleonic Wars relied. It especially consisted in streamlining the existing Gribeauval designs.[1] The main proponent of the new system was General Marmont.[2]


In light of the French Revolutionary Wars it appeared especially that the Gribeauval 4-pdr was too light, and that the 8-pdr was too heavy for medium field artillery.[3] These two guns had not appeared adequate against enemy 6-pdr guns.[4]

In order to define the new improved system, Napoleon formed a committee of Artillery on 29 December 1801, presided by general Augustin Gabriel d'Aboville, First Inspector of Artillery. The committee accomplished its research from 11 January 1802 to 21 July 1802.[5] Napoleon himself participated in the proceedings:

"The artillery should have but 4 calibres, the 6, 12, 24 prs. and the 5½-in. howitzer. In this way we abolish 4 calibres. We should add 3 prs. for mountain equipment. In abolishing the Rostaing guns, we get rid of stubborn beasts not worth the trouble they give. 3 prs. should be a minimum caliber."
Napoleon, on Gribeauval system.[6]

The committee gave its results on 2 May 1803.[7]

Mortar of 324 mm. Strasbourg, 1811.

One of the main findings of the committee was as follows:


Canon obusier de 11 pouces (11-inch gun-howitzer), système An XI, bronze founded in 1810 at Douai. Caliber: 297 mm. Length: 2.56 m. Weight: 6,174 kg. Ammunition: shells.

The Year XI system would be further improved with the Valée system in 1828.

See also

Media related to Year XI system at Wikimedia Commons


  1. The Roots of Artillery Doctrine: Napoleonic Artillery tactics reconsidered by B McConachy - 2001
  2. Chartrand (1) pp.23-34
  3. Dawson et al (2007) p 70
  4. Napoleon's Guns, 1792-1815 - René Chartrand p.21
  5. Dawson et al (2007) p 70
  6. Dawson et al (2007) p 73
  7. Dawson et al (2007) p 74
  8. Dawson et al (2007) p 74, 173 and 177-179


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