Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Pétain, generally known as Philippe Pétain, Marshal Pétain and sometimes, The Old Marshal, was a French general officer who attained the position of Marshal of France at the end of World War I, during which he became known as The Lion of Verdun. In collaboration with Nazi Germany, he then served as the Chief of State of Vichy France from 1940 to 1944. Pétain, who was 84 years old in 1940, ranks as France's oldest head of state.
During World War I, Pétain led the French Army to victory at the nine-month-long Battle of Verdun. After the failed Nivelle Offensive and subsequent mutinies he was appointed Commander-in-Chief and succeeded in repairing the army's confidence. Pétain remained in command for the rest of the war and emerged as a national hero. During the interwar period he was head of the peacetime French Army, commanded joint Franco-Spanish operations during the Rif War and served twice as a government minister. During this time he was known as Le Vieux Maréchal.