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Charles de Gaulle: A Biography of a French Icon



Charles de Gaulle

Charles de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who acted as leader of the Free French during the Second World War. He was one of the most influential French politicians of the Twentieth Century, helping found the Fifth Republic in 1958 and serving as its first President from 1959 to 1969.

Charles de Gaulle

Charles de Gaulle

He was born on November 22, 1890 in Lille in the Nord department, the third of five children. He was raised in a devoutly Catholic and traditional family. His father, Henri de Gaulle, was a professor of history and literature at a Jesuit college and eventually founded his own school


Charles de Gaulle’s political career spanned both world wars and his political career, interrupted by a temporary retreat from public affairs in the 1950s, occurred during the hardships of the 1940s and then a number of serious challenges to political stability in the 1960s.

De Gaulle rose from French soldier in World War I to exiled leader and, eventually, president of the Fifth Republic, a position he held until 1969. His time as a commander in World War II would later influence his political career, providing him with a tenacious drive.