Family tree of Édouard DE CURIERES DE CASTELNAU

World Wars & Contemporary Wars, Soldier in the First World War

FrenchBorn Noël Marie Joseph Édouard DE CURIERES DE CASTELNAU

French general in World War I

Born on December 24, 1851 in Saint Affrique, Aveyron , France

Died on March 19, 1944 in Montastruc-la-Conseillère, Haute-Garonne , France

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Born in Gascony to a family with a long history of military service, he joined the army in 1870 and fought in the Franco-Prussian War, 1870–1871. He was Catholic and nicknamed le Capucin Botté (the fighting friar).

From 1912 to 1914 he was Chief of Staff to Joseph Joffre and helped to develop the strategic Plan XVII for the recapture of Alsace-Lorraine as part of an invasion of Germany. Although the plan almost led to disaster in the Battle of the Frontiers in August 1914, Castelnau was able to organize a defence at Nancy.


In 1914 he was appointed to command the Central Army Group, where he persisted with the doctrine of the offensive, leading to the distastrous First Battle of Champagne.

In 1915 he served again as Chief of Staff to Joffre, and in 1916 he organised the initial defence at the Battle of Verdun, before appointing Philippe Pétain to the command.

After the dismissal of Joffre and the appointment of Robert Nivelle in 1916 Castelnau was retired from active service. When Nivelle was dismissed and replaced with Philippe Pétain, Castelnau was recalled to the command of the Eastern Army Group where he commanded the advance into Lorraine in 1918.

Recognizing the hopelessness of modern trench warfare, he once remarked: "Ah, Napoleon, Napoleon. If he were here now, he'd have thought of something else."

Three of Castelnau's sons were killed in the war.

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Geographical origins

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