Un chef d'État est une personne physique, parfois une personne morale, qui représente symboliquement la continuité et la légitimité de l'État. Diverses fonctions lui sont traditionnellement rattachées : représentation extérieure, promulgation des lois, nomination aux hautes fonctions publiques. Selon le pays, il peut être le plus éminent détenteur du pouvoir exécutif effectif, ou au contraire personnifier le pouvoir suprême exercé en son nom par d'autres personnalités politiques. L'expression vient du latin caput regni, la tête de l'État, issue de l'Ancien Régime, et faisant donc référence à une concentration du pouvoir.
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle (// or / /; French: [ʃaʁl də ɡol] ( listen); 22 November 1890 – 9 November 1970) was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969. A veteran of World War I, in the 1920s and 1930s, de Gaulle came to the fore as a proponent of mobile armoured divisions, which he considered would become central in modern warfare. During World War II, he earned the rank of brigadier general (retained throughout his life), leading one of the few successful armoured counter-attacks during the 1940 Battle of France in May in Montcornet, and then briefly served in the French government as France was falling. De Gaulle was the most senior French military officer to reject the June 1940 armistice to Nazi Germany right from the outset. When his superior, the maréchal Pétain gave a radio address to convince the french people to give in to allow the Germans to take over, he happened to be in Britain for military reasons and responded to it the next day by giving a famous radio address, broadcast by the BBC on 18 June 1940, exhorting the French people to resist Nazi Germany and organised the Free French Forces with exiled French officers in Britain. As the war progressed, de Gaulle gradually gained control of all French colonies except Indochina. By the time of the Allied invasion of France in 1944 he was heading what amounted to a French government in exile. From the very beginning, de Gaulle insisted that France be treated as a great power by the other Allies, despite her initial defeat. De Gaulle became prime minister in the French Provisional Government, resigning in 1946 because of political conflicts.