PARIS, June the 13th and 14th of 2013



The organizers will have needed boldness, courage and word in order to put up this exceptional operation: a big international colloquium of history on an ever-approached theme. Why some countries of the world have a gendarmerie, and why others don’t have it? The result was as high as the risk.

If both co-organizers were chasing, through this colloquium, a common goal, each of them also had his own objective. The purpose was to gather, on this theme, the utmost number of researchers in history, from the whole world, in order to study, in France, reference country for numerous gendarmeries in the world, the evolution of a sometimes lauded Public Force – ‘Police’ system, sometimes also controversial, over a long period, that of the two last centuries.

The organizers’ perseverance, the multiple assistants and the unsuspected interest of numerous historians from the planet for this topic transformed this vast undertaking, with an initially uncertain outcome, into a total success. As far as Paris-Sorbonne University was concerned, the operation fell just on time in order to dedicate in this way thirteen years of continuous research on the history of the gendarmerie.

For the Société Nationale de l’Histoire et du Patrimoine de la Gendarmerie (French Gendarmerie History and Heritage National Company), it was also the opportunity to develop, in its way, the international cooperation between the various gendarmeries of the world, while underlining the multiple adaptations of this ‘Police System’, in the course of history, in countries as different as Japan, Austria, Algeria, Cameroon and around thirty others.

" I believe in the teachings of the history ". It is through these words strong of sense that General of the Army Favier, French National Gendarmerie General Director, inaugurated this colloquium in the Foch amphitheatre, within the Military Academy, on June 13th in the morning. 300 persons, historians, members of the diplomatic corps, French and foreigners Gendarmerie officers and diverse public were attending this introductory session.

Mr. Barthélémy Jobert, Paris-Sorbonne University President succeeded to General Favier in order to present his university big orientations and underline how much this colloquium was entering completely in its objectives.


After these major interventions, Professor Jean-Noël Luc and Arnaud Houte, Senior lecturer, developed with talent, and not without humour, the general theme, under two forms exposed in paradox. How some countries can live without gendarmes ? How can we live with gendarmes ?

At the pace of two or three on half-days, specific sessions allowed the different Speakers to share their knowledge with a public of heterogeneous appearance but united by the same interest for this world gendarmeries history.

Creating a gendarmerie: actors, contexts and stakes
How, from Mexico to Siam via Iran and Brazil, exported Gendarmeries, from or copied under the French Gendarmerie model, were born? Paris-Sorbonne, São-Paulo, Oxford and Copenhagen University historians answered this question.

From a gendarmerie to another one: transplants, transfers and rejections.
The creation and especially the preservation of a gendarmerie submitted to the vagaries of the history, this is not obvious. Adaptations are necessary. Belgians and Swiss know something about it.

Gendarmeries, original armed forces in the service of the State sovereignty
Protecting the citizen, certainly; but also, preserving, maintaining and keeping the State. The relationship to the State in disturbed situations or of risk is precisely examined, during the Netherlands Police Academy and the Istanbul, Edinburgh and Lisbon universities historians’ conferences, each one for her/his country, in particular for the 19th century and the 20th century periods.

Gendarmeries in the police systems
Under this angle, Central and North European countries Gendarmerie study is presenting a particular interest, notably in their relationships with the other police forces. This is what the historians of the Max Planck Society for Germany, the Graz University for Austria and the Marie Curie-Sklodowska university of Lublin for Poland are highlighting.

Behind the gendarmerie, the gendarmes
Two historians, one French and another Italian, in the research, either of the gendarmerie, but the gendarme, of the First empire for the French one and of the beginning of the 20th century for the Italian one, share their researches with us and make clearer images that were remaining rather vague until now.

Gendarmeries, imperial control instruments
Gendarmeries are not the privilege of the only nation-states. Less present in the States of federal type, this public-force/police-system is, on the other hand, very involved in all the 19th and 20th centuries’ empires. It is what show, for the Spanish and the Japanese empires, the London School of Economics and Political Science and the International Research Centre for Japanese Studies of Tokyo’s historians.

Creation and evolution of the colonial gendarmeries
The colonial expeditions of the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century have had, among others effects, to create a whole wave of the French Gendarmerie model exportation in some parts of the world until then foreign to this mean of strength. During the same period, the consequences of the big world conflicts brought nations to unite themselves. Thus, the first deployments for the French Gendarmerie under international mandates began. From Lebanon to Cameroon through Mauritania and Vietnam, the Paris-Sorbonne and Paris 1 universities historians are announcing their researches.

The gendarmeries of the independent African countries
The decolonization could have brought out the disappearance of gendarmeries implanted by France in particular in Africa. Not at all. On the contrary. In the construction of their new nation, these former colonies understand all the interest that presents a gendarmerie. The Yaoundé and Lome universities and Cocody-EPHE’s historians present the cases of the Cameroon, Togo and Ivory Coast gendarmeries.

The Maghreb New gendarmeries.
In the Maghreb, if the transformation of the colonial gendarmeries into national Gendarmerie could be conceived within the Tunisia and Morocco former protectorates, such a possibility seemed absolutely unthinkable in Algeria, after the war. And nevertheless this « unexpected inheritance » remains doubtless the most surprising legacy of the French gendarmerie in Algeria. It is what the French gendarmerie Captain Benoît Haberbush is developing.

The present time Gendarmerie
The world gendarmeries history does not stop at the decolonization. The last thirty years geopolitical transformations have led to a new wave of development of this type of police. The Soviet system disappearance, the terrorism development and the new major powers emergence have engendered new risks and led nations to look for new parries. The public force – Police Systems of the Gendarmerie type know a revival. It is what the Rumanian, Chinese and French Speakers show during this last session.

A history of gendarmeries for the tomorrow world
It is what result from the Société Nationale de l’Histoire et du Patrimoine de la Gendarmerie (French Gendarmerie History and Heritage National Company) President General Georges Philippot’s final speech, to whom returned the honour to conclude this important international colloquium of history. This colloquium, which will have contributed, by these historians’ crossed looks, to highlight the fundamental characteristics common to all the gendarmeries of the world, will also have shown that public force - military police system is in full development nowadays.


After the studious works in the Military Academy lecture halls, it is in the prestigious frame of Paris Saint-Louis des Invalides cathedral that was ending, in this evening of June the 14th, this important event, by the concert that was given by the Republican Guard Harmony Orchestra, always so remarkable. Splendidly conducted by lieutenant colonel Sébastien Billard, it gave the best of itself, registering thus in the memory of our foreign historians hosts the souvenir image, musical and visual, of this colloquium of exception.