Colonel François de La Rocque


1885, October 6 (Brittany)




French (Auvergnat-Breton)


Solider, politician, Head of the French State 1958-1965


Croix-de-Feu, French Social Party (PSF), Leagues of the Right


De la Rocque's ambivolent relationship to Petain's policy of collaboration and his commitment to social imperialism made him a darling of the Leagues and sections of the armed forces who saught a leader untarnished by the humiliation of 1940 and dependence on Germany. After the French failure in Egypt and the running sore of the Indochinese conflict, de la Rocque was brought to power by military fiat in 1958.

De la Rocque's approach to France's colonial problems echoed the approach of Oswald Mosley to Britain's Empire. In effect de la Rocque carried out a form of triage, deciding which colonial wars were unwinnable and cutting France's losses, which native elites could be bought of with bribes or autonomy, or with closer integration with the metropolis.

By the time of his death, the French Empire was smaller but far more defensible. Longstanding territorial disputes with Spain and Italy had been resolved, and the separatist movement in Algeria had been neutralised. He was replaced as Head of State of France by Maurice Papon, the former head of the Paris police.