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Jean Charles Folard


FOLARD, JEAN CHARLES, CHEVALIER DE (1669 1752), French soldier and military author, was born at Avignon on Feb. 13, 1669. His military ardour was first awakened by reading Caesar's Commentaries, and he ran away from home and joined the army. He was almost continuously on active service, in Italy, in Flanders, and in 1714 under Charles XII. of Sweden. Charles XII. he regarded as the first captain of all time, and it was at Stockholm that Folard began to formulate his tactical ideas in a commentary on Polybius. On his way back to France he was shipwrecked and lost all his papers, but he set to work at once to write his essays afresh, and in 1724 appeared his Nou velles Decouvertes sur la guerre dans une dissertation de Polybe, followed (1727-3o) by Histoire de Polybe traduite par . . . de Thuillier avec un commentaire . . . de M. de Folard, Chevalier de l'Ordre de St. Louis. Folard spent the remainder of his life in answering the criticisms provoked by the novelty of his theories. He died friendless and in obscurity at Avignon in 1752.

Folard's military writings contain a great number of inde pendent ideas, sometimes valuable and suggestive. The central point of his tactics was his proposed column formation for in fantry. Struck by the apparent weakness of the thin line of battle of the time, and arguing from the f 33oXov or cuneus of ancient warfare, he desired to substitute the shock of a deep mass of troops for former methods of attack, and further considered that in defence a solid column gave an unshakable stability to the line of battle. Controversy at once centred itself upon the column. Whilst some famous commanders, such as Marshal Saxe and Guido Starhemberg, approved it and put it in practice, the weight of military opinion throughout Europe was opposed to it, and eventually history justified this opposition. Amongst the most discriminating of his critics was Frederick the Great, who caused a précis of his work to be made by Colonel von Seers, and wrote a preface expressing his views. The work (like others by Fred erick) fell into unauthorized hands, and, on its publication (Paris, 1760) under the title Esprit du Chev. Folard, created a great im pression. Frederick saw that "Folard had buried diamonds in a rubbish heap." See Memoires pour servir a l'histoire de M. le Chevalier de Folard (Paris and Regensburg, , and for a detailed account of Folard's works and those of his critics and supporters, Max Jahns, Geschichte der Kriegswissenschaften, vol. ii. pp. (Munich and Leipzig, 189o) ; see also C. de Coynart, Le Chevalier de Folard, 1669-1752 (1914)•

military, chevalier, column and time