Honneur et Fidélité: The French Foreign Legion

By | September 27, 2019

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The French Foreign Legion at Bastille Day rehearsals in 2015. Source: (LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)

Coming in the wake of a revolution, France created its Foreign Legion, a military division destined for historic fame and dark allure as a home to the dispossessed who wish to restart their lives.

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King Louis-Philippe. Source: (Wikimedia Commons)


In July 1830, the French king, Charles X, was driven into exile. He was the last of the Bourbon kings who had ruled the country for centuries with a brief intermission during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Era. He was replaced by a new constitutional monarchy under Louis-Philippe of the House of Orleans. The new king reorganized the country, and part of this effort was a purge of the army against his enemies. Meanwhile, France was flooded with foreign refugees who had fled to France in the general disruption of the period due to industrialization. These undesirables were seen as a danger to the new regime.

Louis-Philippe's solution was a military one, create a division of the army which would be composed of foreigners.