Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain (24 April 1856 – 23 July 1951), generally known as Philippe Pétain or Marshal Pétain (Maréchal Pétain), was a French general who reached the distinction of Marshal of France, and was later Chief of State of Vichy France (Chef de l’État Français), from 1940 to 1944. Pétain, who was 84 years old in 1940, ranks as France’s oldest head of state.
Because of his outstanding military leadership in World War I, particularly during the Battle of Verdun, Pétain was viewed as a national hero in France. He was sometimes nicknamed The Lion of Verdun.
During World War II, with the imminent fall of France in June 1940, Pétain was appointed Prime Minister of France by President Lebrun at Bordeaux, and the Cabinet resolved to make peace with Germany. The entire government subsequently moved briefly to Clermont-Ferrand, then to the spa town of Vichy in central France. His government voted to transform the discredited French Third Republic into the French State, an authoritarian regime.
After the war, Pétain was tried and convicted for treason. He was originally sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison. Pétain died in 1951.