(b. December 7th 1861, Feurs, France, d. January 29th 1931, Paris, France)

Image description

This image shows the bust of the French general.

He is wearing a military cap with stylized oak leaves ornaments – they appear to be golden in the original image.

He has a moustache and a goatee, which are herein represented through a texture of fine vertical lines.

The collar of his military tunic is represented through discontinuous diagonal lines and the epaulettes on his shoulders are represented with a waved texture.

The tunic itself is presented with a texture of thick diagonal lines, and from his right shoulder down to his left side there is a diagonal ornamental element which was an original part of his military uniform.

He wears medals pinned to his chest, herein represented by two pieces, one cross-shaped and one round.


Historical information

When he came to lead the French Military Mission in Romania, Henri Berthelot was a French serviceman with a long career, which had started at the prestigious Saint-Cyr Military Academy [Reference 1]. Afterwards he had attended the War College in Paris [Reference 2]. He had gained vast military experience by participating in diverse missions in the French colonies in Algeria (1883) [Reference 3], Tonkin (1883-1885) and Annam [Reference 4]. In 1907 he entered the French army’s General Staff, where he serviced for 12 years. In this time he took part alongside general Joseph Joffre in the elaboration of Plan XVII, the programmatic document concerning French strategy in the Great War, and he was seen as the „brains” behind the entire undertaking [Reference 5]. On March 9th 1913 he ardently argued for the necessity of adopting a more assertive standing in order to counterbalance the rising German military potency, insisting upon the fact that France would be otherwise defeated, which would have meant “the end of our position in Europe, territorial losses and the death of our nation” [Reference 6].


When 1916 came with a very difficult situation for Romania, newly entered in the war on the side of the Entente, and after a call made by King Ferdinand, I. G. Duca and Ion I. C. Brătianu, a French military mission led by general Henri Berthelot came to aid the Romanian military [Reference 7]. The French Military Mission came to Romania in October 1916 and contributed in a decisive way to the reorganization of the Romanian army, after the defeats that had beforehand conditioned the retreat to Moldova of the main institutions of the Romanian State. Adding up to approximately 1.500 individuals, of which 300 officers, the Military Mission provided specialized training in using the new war technique and in applying new tactics, especially ones concerning the war of position [Reference 8]. First of all, the presence of French officers and petty officers in the Romanian units had an important effect on morale, bringing in optimism and self-confidence [Reference 9]. Romanian military and political leaders were encouraged by Berthelot’s activity and by his unyielding trust in the Entente’s final victory. One of Berthelot’s main concerns in this time was to obtain material resources for the reorganization of the Romanian army. Only under his insistent solicitations did the French leaders which doubted the potential of the Romanian military forces accept to firstly send equipment for 10 of the 15 Romanian divisions that were being reorganized by Berthelot [Reference 10]. Beside his efforts to prepare the Romanian troops for war, Berthelot also worked towards the melioration of soldiers’ living conditions, as they were not receiving proper food, clothing and shelter [Reference 11].


Through his personal relation to King Ferdinand and to the Chief of the General Staff, Constantin Prezan, Berthelot had a say in all major decisions [Reference 12]. After the signing of the Focşani Armistice in December 1917 and of the Bucharest Peace Treaty in March-April 1918 he left Romania, going back to France [Reference 13]. His departure on March 9th 1918, which seemed very sad to the French general, brought much emotion to the Romanian public and was preceded by a festive banquet organized in his honor by the King and Queen [Reference 14].


He remained close to the Royal Family and in 1922 he was invited to participate in the coronation ceremony of King Ferdinand and Queen Mary (Maria) at Alba Iulia. As a sign of gratitude for the help he gave during the war, general Berthelot was given Romanian citizenship and a property in Hunedoara County, which he donated to the Romanian Academy, of which he had become an honorary member [Reference 15].



1, 2, 6, 10, 11, 12. Glenn E. Torrey, Henri Mathias Berthelot. Soldier of France, Defender of Romania, The Center for Romanian Studies, Iaşi, Oxford, Portland, 2001, p. 15-16; p. 28-30; p. 47; p. 185; p. 186; p. 181.

  1. Douglas Porch, The March to the Marne. The French Army 1871-1914, Cambridge, 1981, p. 151-153.
  2. Charles Fourniau, Annam-Tonkin 1885-1896: Lettrés et paysans vietnamiens face à la conquête coloniale, Editions L’Harmattan, Paris, 1989, p. 5-8. [Vietnamese literats and peasants in the face of colonial conquest]
  3. Victor Marguerette, Au Bord du Gouffre (Aoȗt-Septembre 1914). Avec des documents inédits et 8 cartes, Editeur Ernest Flammarion, Paris, 1920, p. 71. [At the edge of the abyss (August-September 1914). With unpublished documents and 8 maps]

7, 9. Constantin Stan, Generalul Henri M. Bertehlot şi românii, Editura Paideia, Bucureşti, 2008, p. 6; p. 26. [General Henri M. Berthelot and the Romanians]

  1. Keith Hitchins, România. 1866-1947, ediţia a II-a revăzută şi adăugită, traducere din engleză de George Potra şi Delia Răzdolescu, Editura Humanitas, Bucureşti, 2004, p. 309. [Romania. 1866-1947, second, revised and supplemented edition, translation from English by George Potra and Delia Răzdolescu]

13, 15. Doru Dumitrescu, Mihai Manea, Mirela Popescu, Mica enciclopedie a Marelui Război (1914-1918), Editura Corint, Bucureşti, 2014, p. 8; p. 9. [The small encyclopaedia of the Great War (1914-1918)]

  1. General Henri Berthelot, Jurnal şi corespondenţă 1916-1919, Ediţia a II-a, Traducere din limba franceză de Oltiţa Cîntec, Ediţie, studiu introductiv şi indice de Gheorghe I. Florescu, Presa Universitară Clujeană, 2000, p. 286. [Journal and correspondence 1916-1919. Second edition, translation from French by Oltiţa Cîntec, Edition, introductory study and notes by Gheorghe I. Florescu]


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