Creation of the French foreign legion

The French foreign legion was created by King Louis Philippe in 1831 to meet the needs of the French colonial empire. Recruits were volunteers, mainly foreigners, who did not have to give any information about their past.

Originally created for action abroad, the Foreign Legion has made exceptions to the rule several times when France’s national territory has been threatened such as in 1870 and during the two world wars.

It mainly participated in operations outside the country, conducting perillous actions such as that of Kolwesi in 1978. Today, it has 8,900 members from 140 different countries who obey a special code of honour whose emblem is “honour and fidelity”. An elite corps, it has many traditions and its training is often challenging.

For further information...

Book : André-Paul Comor, Montety Etienne, La légion étrangère, Robert Laffont, 2013

Article : La Légion étrangère – Historique [on-line], available on


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