Charles De Gaulle : important dates
22 November 1890: Charles De Gaulle is born in Lille to a Catholic and patriotic family. His father, Henri De Gaulle is a History and Arts professor.
1896-1907: Primary and secondary education in Paris.
1908: Preparation to attend the Saint-Cyr military academy (Stanislas School) in Paris.
1909: Accepted to Saint-Cyr, he joins the 33rd Infantry Regiment (IR) at Arras, commanded by Colonel Pétain.
1910: Enters Saint-Cyr as an officer student (his class was known as the "Fez" class).
1911: As second lieutenant, he goes to the 33rd IR at Arras.
1914-1918: Wounded three times and gassed, he is made prisoner by the Germans. He attempts escape five times. Captain, the War Cross, Knight of the Legion of Honor.
1919-1921: Dispatched to the Polish Army, he participates in a new campaign. He marries Yvonne Vendroux, with whom he will have three children: Philippe, Elisabeth, and Anne.
1922-1924: Enters the "Ecole Supérieure de la Guerre" (an elite military academy). He publishes many articles and his first book: "Discord Among the Enemy".
1925-1928: Staff officer of Marshal Pétain. The Rhine Army at Trèves. Promoted to Major.
1929-1931: Assigned to the Levant (Beirut)
1931-1932: Secretary-General of the National Defense Department. Henri De Gaulle dies. Publication of "The Edge of the Sword" by Berger-Levrault publishers.
1933-1934: Lieutenant-Colonel. "Towards a Professional Army" is published in 1934, in which he develops his theories about the combination of tanks and aviation in the context of modern-day warfare. He moves to La Boisserie.
1935-1937: Tries to get a law passed regarding the creation of the armored divisions he recommends. Junior lecturer at the Center for Higher Military Studies.
1937-1938: Promoted to colonel. Commands the 507th Tank Regiment in Metz. He publishes "France and its Army".
1939: In September, he is given the command of the Tank Brigade attached to the 5th Army in Lorraine.
Charles De Gaulle in 1939
May 17th-30th: Wins renown fighting against the Germans in Montcornet and Abbeville. Records the radio-broadcast speech (on June 2nd) at Savigny-sur-Ardres (the Marne).
June 1st: he is temporarily named Brigadier General.
June 5th: Paul Reynaud names him Under-Secretary of State for National Defense and War.
June 17th: Leaves Bordeaux and arrives in London. Radio-broadcast speech by Pétain.
June 18th : at the BBC, around 8 pm, Appeal to the Resistance. Birth of the Free French movement.
From June 18th, 1940, the history of the life of Charles De Gaulle is inextricably entwined with the history of Free France. (Cf. Chronology 1940-1945).
1945-1946: The major reforms: Social Security, state allowances to families, nationalizations, women's vote, workers' councils, creation of the Political Studies Institute, the National School of Administration (ENA) and others. De Gaulle disagrees with the Assembly and the exclusive regime of the parties, and resigns from his post (January 20th, 1946). The Bayeux speech (June 16th).
1947-1954: Creation of the French People's Union. Publication of the "Speeches and Messages". Travels to Africa and the Indian Ocean. First volume of his War Memoirs ("The Appeal").
1955-1958: Second volume of the War Memoirs ("Unity"). Retires to Colombey ("Crossing the Desert").
1958: Prime Minister (May 29th). The new Constitution is approved by referendum (September); President of the Republic (December 21st).
1959: Third volume of the War Memoirs ("The Salute").
For almost eleven years, Charles De Gaulle is at the core of the profound changes within the Government and the French way of life:
- The decolonization and tragedy of Algeria,
- Foreign policy: Withdrawal from NATO. Partner of both the West and the East. He supports closer ties with Germany (the cornerstone of the European Community),
- Strategy: The French military forces,
- A new Constitution. Election of the President of the Republic through universal suffrage. Use of referendum.
The elderly General De Gaulle
May of 1968: The country is in a turmoil. The students will obtain the disappearance of the traditional University.
April 27th, 1969: Defeated at the referendum for the Reform of the Senate and regionalization, General De Gaulle resigns and retires to Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises.
1970: Publication of the "Speeches and Messages" (5 volumes) and the first volume of the "Memoirs of Hope" ("Renewal"). Charles De Gaulle dies in La Boisserie (November 9th).