de Gaulle, Charles (-André-Marie-Joseph)

de Gaulle, Charles (-André-Marie-Joseph)

biographical name


Charles de Gaulle, 1967.—Bruno Barbey/Magnum Photos

(born Nov. 22, 1890, Lille, France—died Nov. 9, 1970, Colombey-les-Deux-Églises) French soldier, statesman, and architect of France's Fifth Republic. He joined the army in 1913 and fought with distinction in World War I. He was promoted to the staff of the supreme war council in 1925. In 1940 he was promoted to brigadier general and served briefly as undersecretary of state for defense under Paul Reynaud. After the fall of France to the Germans, he left for England and started the Free French movement. Devoted to France and dedicated to its liberation, he moved to Algiers in 1943 and became president of the French Committee of National Liberation, at first jointly with Henri-Honoré Giraud. After the liberation of Paris, he returned and headed two provisional governments, then resigned in 1946. He opposed the Fourth Republic, and in 1947 he formed the Rally of the French People (RPF), but severed his connections with it in 1953. He retired from public life and wrote his memoirs. When an insurrection in Algeria threatened to bring civil war to France, he returned to power in 1958, as prime minister with powers to reform the constitution. That same year he was elected president of the new Fifth Republic, which ensured a strong presidency. He ended the Algerian War and transformed France's African territories into 12 independent states. He withdrew France from NATO, and his policy of neutrality during the Vietnam War was seen by many as anti-Americanism. He began a policy of détente with Iron Curtain countries and traveled widely to form a bond with French-speaking countries. After the civil unrest of May 1968 by students and workers, he was defeated in a referendum on constitutional amendments and resigned in 1969.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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