The Gendarmerie nationale is one of France oldest institutions. It is the natural heir to the Royal Constabularies «Maréchaussée de France», i.e, the military forces which remained the only corps in charge of policing the country for centuries. Initially in charge of judicial and police missions to control scaterred soldiers and looters, the scope of their competence was progressively extended during the Renaissance to general policing. The creation of the Gendarmerie nationale «units» forming the basis of the current organisation dates back to 1720.
In 1791, the Maréchaussée was renamed Gendarmerie nationale. The Act dated « Germinal 28, Year VI of the French Revolution » (April 17, 1798) established the principles of action, missions and assignments in terms of general and judicial police. Today, the Gendarmerie nationale ensures public safety on 95 % of the national territory for 50 % of the population. Twenty-four hours a day, the institution protects, rescues, intervenes, investigates, arrests and fights.