The article focuses on the evolution of the military technical corps in France between the mid-Eighteenth century and the Restoration, and proposes for them the notion of "State corporation". This phase - an intermediate one between the corps de métier and the corps d’État - was attained first by the engineers and the artillery. These corps selected their officers by competitive examination, which functioned both as an intellectual filter and a social one. The distinction generated by this filter - nurtured by an elitist approach based on meritocracy was not overridden by the Revolution. On the contrary, it was further consecrated by the creation of the École polytechnique, which soon became controlled by the military technical corps. The "State corporation" model was then extended through the École polytechnique to the geographical engineers and the civil public services. The institutional conflicts among the technical corps during the National Constituent Assembly and those between them and the École polytechnique (1794-1799) are analyzed along these interpretative lines. While the former show their corporative resistance of geographical engineers in the name of equality, the latter bring out their corporative resistance to external education of candidates.
Keywords: Military technical corps, meritocracy, State corporation, French Revolution, École polytechnique