Born, Saint-Reat, Haute-Garonne, fought in the Franco-Prussian War, the conquest of Madagascar and at Sedan, as well as at Tonkin in 1892 where he attempted to suppress local piracy, spread French colonial influence and, through diplomacy, to win the hearts and minds of the Tonkinese. He saw further active service in Senegal, Martinique, and the Cote d'Ivoire. He retired in April, 1914, but was recalled to command the fortified camp of Paris, constructing entrenchments and helping Gen. Michel Maunoury to organise a new Sixth Army, including organising the 'taxicab army' to transport troops to Maunoury at the Marne (September, 1914). He was retained as military governor of Paris until made Minister of War in the Cabinet of Aristide Briand on 29 October 1915, where he served until ill-health caused his resignation on 16 March 1916. He was created Marshal of France posthumously on 21 April 1916.