History of France 1815-1914 - 19th Century Encyclopedia Entries



Meyer 1902-1909 : 1815-1848, 1848-1871, since 1871
Nordisk Familjebok 1904-1926


Meyer's Konversationslexikon 1902-1909, Article : Frankreich
Restauration and the July Monarchy
While benevolent and understanding, Louis XVIII. proved incabable of resisting the reactionary influence of his surroundings (the "Pavillion Marsan"; namely his brother, the Count of Artois, his niede and daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Angouleme, pressed him to take strong measures of revenge, such as the execution of Ney and the banishment of the Regicides (murderers of the king, i.e. all members of the Convent, who had voted for the execution of Louis XVI.); even Fouche and Talleyrand in the fall of 1815 were ousted from the cabinet, although they considerably had contributed to the Bourbons being recalled. The Napoleonic army was completely dissolved. In the south, "White Terror" ruled, the bloody persecution of the Bonapartists and of the Protestants by the mob, secretly being encouraged by the administration. The elections to the chamber produced a diligent royalist majority, which considerably restricted the promised amnesty, which increased the revenue of the clergy, restored the property of the dead hand, abolished divorce etc. The Duke of Richelieu, a moderate royalist, who since 1815 stood at the head of the government, in the fall of 1816 dissolved the chamber, but also the second [chamber] proved so docile to reactionary tendencies, that it was called the "chambre introuvable" (unlocatable chamber). At the end of 1818 Richelieu was dismissed by the king, who attempted to rule through the moderate-liberal cabinet Dessolle-Decazes. But the assassination of the Duke of Berry, the son of the Count of Artois, by the fanatic Republican Louvel (February 13th 1820) caused the fall of the Liberal cabinet. Even Richelieu, who in Decazes' place took over the lead of the government, did not satisfy the Royalist Ultras, who based on the new election law (June 29th 1820) had gained the majority in the chamber, and in December 1821 he was replaced by Villele. Now the corps of state officials was cleansed of free-spirited elements, the entire education system entrusted to the clergy, by a preventive press laws any free publication suffocated. In conformity with the decisions of the Holy Alliance, the French government in April 1823 sent a French army across the Pyrenees, in order to suppress the revolutionary movement in Spain, and in order to restore the disgraceful despotism of Fernando VII., in which it easily succeeded in September. After by the dissolution of chamber and by new elections at the end of 1823 almost all liberal elements had been eliminated from it, the clergy achieved new concessions. Despite the bad impression of these reactionary measures, agriculture, industry and trade, as well as arts and sciences, flourished under the protection of external peace, which was provided by the rule of Louis XVIII. after the storms which the eras of Revolution and Empire had brought for France.
After the death of Louis XVIII. (September 16th 1824) his brother succeeded, the Count of Artois, as Charles X. (1824-1830). He issued an amnesty and lifted censorship, but expressed his true political views by, on May 29th 1825 in Reims having himself crowned in a medieval ceremony, and having himself blessed with sacred oil. The chambers passed a law on sacrilege, which threatened the desecration of church items with the death penalty, and a law on the compensation of the emigres by a billion in pensions. Despite all of this the chamber, because it seemed not sufficiently obedient, was dissolved. But the elections did not produce the expected result; in consequence of the energetic activity of the club "Aide toi, le ciel t'aidera" the Doctrinaires under Royer-Collard and the Liberals (independants) gained the majority. Therefore Villele resigned on January 4th 1828, and the moderate royalist Martignac replaced him. The latter wished for a decentralization of the administration, in order to by more autonomy of municipalities and cantons make possible a proper development, but met the skeptic resistance of the chamber. The king, after his budget was accepted and the chamber's session was concluded, dismissed Martignac, and on August 8th 1829 appointed Polignac head of a strictly reactionary cabinet. Polignac at first tried to appease the vanity of the people by successes in foreign policy. When the French consul Deval was insulted by the Dei of Algiers, the government in April 1830 decided on the conquest of Algiers. But the Chamber of Deputees, in an address accepted by 221 against 181 votes, resolutely insisted on the constitutional rights against Polignac, and when it was dissolved again on May 16th 1830, the people, despite the king, by admonition and threats, interfered in the election process, at the end of June reelected 202 of the 221 deputees who had voted for the address. Encouraged by the conquest of Algiers (July 5th) Charles X. decided to implement a coup d'etat. On Sunday, July 25th 1830, he signed five ordinnances, which were published on July 26th in the "Moniteur", and which made the issuance of any publication dependent from the permission of the authorities, which dissolved the Chamber of Deputees, and which arbitrarily restricted the election law and the rights of the chamber.
Already on July 27th the newspapers published a protest formulated by Thiers. After three days of struggle (July 27th to 29th) the rebellious masses were victorious, finally the troops evacuated Paris. The July Revolution had won, but their main protagonists, the workers, did not achieve their goal : the republic. The Liberal deputees took guidance of matters into their hands, appointed a Provisional Government, and immediately called for the chambers to meet. Charles X. with his family fled to England. The majority of the chambers believed to best secure freedom and order by raising the Duke of Orleans, who always had sided with the Liberals, onto the throne. After having adopted a constitution written by Guizot on August 7th, which guaranteed the personal rights of the citizens, extended the rights of the chambers, that now in France parlamentary system ruled, and by the introduction of a high census the number of voters was limited to 200,000, that of those qualified to run for election to 24,000 Frenchmen, transferred all power to the wealthy (Bourgeoisie), on August 9th 1830 the Duke of Orleans was proclaimed King of the French Louis Philippe.
The new king replaced the white flag as the natiuonal flag by the Tricolore, and called the leaders of the Liberals, first Laffitte (until 1831), then Casimir-Perier (until 1832) to lead the cabinet. Despite these measures his throne was on a shaky basis, was sharply attacked by the Legitimists, who regarded the king a traitor, and by the Republicans who felt betrayed of their victory. Already in 1832 in the Vendee the Legitimists under the Duchess of Berry and in Paris a Republican rebellion broke out, conspiracies and assassination attempts did not cease. In 1832 a coalition cabinet, the cabinet of October 11th, was formed, the presidency of which seemingly was held by Napoleonic Marshals such as Soult, Gerard and Mortier, but the most influential ministers of which were Thiers and Guizot, and which held on for four years with only minor changes. The government controlled the elections by its influence, as well as by direct and indirect bribery, and always created a majority for itself in the Chamber of Deputees, which by fulfilling the wishes of individual deputees it kept malleable and obedient. The peers appointed by the kimg were even less autonomous. The shameful greed and corruption of the ruling classes became public knowledge by several scandalous events. The king also lost public respect because of his greed and the eagerness by which he pursued the interests of his family; his Bourgeois simplicity was regarded stingyness, and he openly was accused of speculation for profit. But trusting in her legal power, the government did not respond to any symptom of dissatisfaction. The assassination attempts on the king, ever increasing in number, so that by Fieschi (July 28th 1835), repeated workers' rebellions in Paris, Lyon and Saint-Etienne, which already had Socialist character, were responded to by an increasing restriction of the freedom of the press and of association; political trials were taken away from juries and transferred to the Chamber of Peers.
In foreign policy Louis Philippe, in order to gain the favour of legitimate monarchs, had shown restraint; he had not supported the Polish Rebellion, and he had restrained himself to maintain French influence in Italy by the occupation of Ancona (1831) vis-a-vis Austria, and to protect the independence of Belgium by military intervention. The conquest of Algeria, with glorious successes of the French arms, was continued, by the fleet French interests in America and Oceania secured. The unruly ambition of the army, also of a part of public opinion, was not satisfied this way, and Thiers, who after the resignation of the conservative cabinet Mole in January 1840 took over the lead in the cabinet, flattered the chauvinist tendencies of the nation by bringing back the mortal remains of Napoleon I. from Saint Helema to Paris, and by a bold policy in the Orient, where he supported Mehmed Ali of Egypt against the Porte and the powers allied with the latter in the Quadruple Alliance of July 15th 1840. He seemed willing to risk a great war, in which he hoped to win the Rhine border. But Louis Philippe did not dare to take that risk, and so Thiers on October 21st 1840 was dismissed. While the attempts of Prince Louis Napoleon. to induce the army to an insurrection for Bonapartism in 1836 and 1840 failed, the July Monarchy by her pitty, narrow-hearted foreign policy, mainly by siding with the Swiss Sonderbund, and by intrigues in the question of the Spanish marriages, lost more and more reputation. A serious loss was the tragic death of Louis Philippe's most popular son, the heir apparent Duke of Orleans (July 13th 1842). But most damage was done by Guizot, who since 1840 in practicality, since 1847 in name was head of the government, by his stubbornness, with which he dismissed all accusations and complaints in regard to the egotism of the ruling Bourgeoisie and the corruption of the peers and deputees, and with which he rejected an extension of the franchise. The closure of factories and poor harvests increased the misery. On the other hand, agitation for the extension of the franchise increased from year to year, in ever-increasing dimensions, and spread to all social classes. Even a part of the supporters of the July Monarchy, the so-called Dynastic Opposition under Odilot, Barrot and Thiers, joined the agitation and allied with the Republicans to host public banquets for the extension of the franchise. From July to December 1847 70 of such reform banquets were held. In February 1848 the government forbade such a reform banquet planned by the 12th arrondissement in Paris. The committee still issued invitations to the latter, for February 22nd 1848. The government concentrated large numbers of troops in and around Paris, prevented the banquet and suppressed unrest which occurred in consequence of this. But on February 23rd the National Guard joined the people, in the evening because of a few incautious shots open fight between military and people broke out (February Revolution); everywhere barricades arose. The soldiers were tired and discouraged, all the more because the king showed himself unsteady. The masses, joined by several regiments of the line, in February 24th moved on the Tuileries, Louis Philippe fled, after having abdicated in favour of his grandson, the Count of Paris. But the rebels invaded the session hall of the chamber and demanded the appointment of a Provisional Government under the presidency of Lamartine, composed in part of Republicans such as Arago, Coemieux, Garnier-Pages, in part of Socialists, such as Ledru-Rollin, Louis Blanc and Albert, a worker. So the July Monarchy collapsed, and this time the leaders of the insurrection achieved their goal, the establishment of the Republic.

The Second Republic and the Second Empire (1848-1870)
The new government established its seat in Paris City Hall and immediately proclaimed the republic, and called for a National Assembly to be elected, which was to decide on the constitution. The Socialist symbol, the red flag, was rejected, a Socialist demonstration on April 16th by the National Guard kept under control. But the establishment of "National Factories" to employ and nourish the Socialist workers had to be conceded. After the opening of the Constituant National Assembly, elected by universal adult manhood suffrage (May 4th) the Provisional Government was replaced by an Executive Commission composed of Lamartine, Arago, Mariem Garnier-Pages and Ledru-Rollin. But the National Assembly was much more conservative-minded than the population of Paris, and on June 21st decreed the dissolution of the national factories and the removal of unemployed workers into the province. This caused the eruption of a terrible workers' rebellion on June 24th, which was suppressed by minister of war Cavaignac after a bloody struggle lasting three days (June Battle, June 24th 0 26th) using troops of the line and National Guard, over 10,000 workers were killed, many prisoners were deported. The Republican-spirited Executive Commission was removed by the National Assembly, Cavaignac as prime minister was given sole leadership of the executive, severe measures were taken against clubs and the press. Under the impression of these events the constitution was debated. At the proposal of Lamartine the assembly decided that the president of the republic was not to be elected by itself, but directly by the people (plebiscite), to be elected for 4 years. So it came that the new constitution was proclaimed to the people on November 12th. In the presidential election on December 10th not the candidate of the National Assembly Cavaignac, but the candidate of the Monarchists, Bonapartists, Clericals and Socialists, Prince Louis Napoleon, was elected with 5,434,226 of 7,327,345 votes. Louis Napoleon, "Prince=President", took on his office on December 20th, swore the oath on the constitution, but from the beginning regarded himself as the one chosen by the nation.
After the Constituant National Assembly in March 1849 decided the expedition against Rome to restore the pope [to secular power] and to extend French influence in Italy, it dissolved on May 26th and on May 28th the newly elected Legislative Assembly was opened. In this the Monarchists and Clericals held the majority; the Moderate Republicans had lost all influence, the press and the clubs were restricted by stern laws. In Rome, after the city was taken (July 2nd), papal despotism was restored, early in 1850 the French school was handed over to the clergy, a new election law passed, which tied the right to vote to a direct tax and to a residence of two years [in France], and which reduced the number of voters from 9 to 6 million. The National Assembly, by her conduct, made itself more and more unpopular among the lower classes, while the Prince-President on repeated tours of the country vied for their support, and blamed all problems of the country on the resistance of the assembly toward all reforms, and by generosity, acts of grace, and military performances awakened the dormant sympathies of the people for the Napoleonic Empire. In the army he gained numerous supporters, the Bonapartist clubs worked indefatigably for the establishment of the Empire. Under these circumstances the Prince decided to act, at the beginning of 1851 he proposed a revision of the constitution which granted universal [adult manhood] suffrage and which permitted for the reelection of the president after his term in office of four years had expired. In August the National Assembly rejected this revision, but failed to protect itself against a violent coup. The Prince now decided on a coup d'etat, which was most carefully prepared. In the night from December 1st to 2nd 1851, 60 deputees and outstanding political persons (Changarnier, Cavaignac, Thiers, Victor Hugo and others) were arrested, in the morning of December 2nd the palace of the National Assembly occupied by troops, and the latter by a proclamation of the President declared for dissolved. 218 deputees who assembled in a mairie were arrested, the supreme court and Council of State violently dissolved. Still the workers in most parts remained inactive, only at a few places barricades were established and armed resistance attempted. In order to prevent further insurrections, the Bonapartist generals on December 3rd and 4th in the streets of Paris caused a major bloodbath; 100,000 persons in the entire country were arrested, numerous persons deported to Cayenne and Lambessa, or exiled.
The Prince now called on the people to decide the conflict between him and the National Assembly, by giving to them a new constitution to decide on. The plebiscite was held on December 20th and 21st, and as the people yearned for calm, the clergy had been won over for Napoleon, as the army voted for him, the new constitution was accepted by 7 1/2 million aganst 650,000 votes, which foresaw a president of the republic for 10 years with all attributes of a ruler, but responsible to the people, with a Legislative Body, elected by universal suffrage, but without any legislative initiative, and with a Senate appointed by the president. This constitution announced on January 14th 1852 granted the head of state almost absolute power. As now also the elections for the Legislative Body produced a result utterly in favour of the new government, Napoleon now openly strove to restore the Empire. A Senate Consulte of November 7th 1852 provided the question for the people to decide, which on November 21st and 22nd with 7,801,321 against 251,781 opted for the Empire. As Napoleon III. the prince on December 2nd 1852 in St.-Cloud was proclaimed emperor. The European powers, partially only hesitatingly, recognized the Second Empire. Several princely families rejected proposals of marriage by the new Emperor, therefore on January 29th 1853 he married the Spanish Countess Eugenie de Montijo. A magnificent Imperial court was established, numerous grand dignitaries appointed, theluxury and magnificence of the Tuileries formed the eagerly imitated pattern in the noble world.
The new government devoted great care to economic matters; trade, industry and business flourished, prosperity increased, the people seemed well satisfied with the new system. The deliberations of Senate and of Legislative Body were peaceful. Namely Napoleon understood to increase his popularity by his foreign policy. By entering the Crimean War (1854-1856) in alliance with Liberal England [!] for Turkey [!] against Russia, he appeared as the defender of Europe's freedom against the brutal attempts of conquest of the despotic Czar. The French troops, in fights which were more serious than those in Algeria, again gained bloody laurels; France had the deciding word at the Paris Peace Congress, the governments, even the Russian, competed for Napoleon's favour; the Holy Alliance had been completely shattered by the Crimean War, France again was the first power on the continent, its Emperor the most respected ruler, to the words of whom one listened attentively. The birth of the Imperial prince (March 16th 1856) seemed to lastingly confirm the dynasty on the throne. Orsini's assassination attempt (January 14th 1858), although unsuccessful, shocked the Emperor and shattered his confidence. At first it was ascribed to Republican intrigues, the government on February 18th 1858 by the Legislative Body passed a "Law on public safety", based on which the minister of the interior, General Espinasse, had 2,000 political suspects deported. Soon the government explained as the sole cause of the assassination attempt the untenable conditions in Italy. Napoleon believed the time to have come, by supporting Sardinia to expel Austria from Italy and thus to make the peninsula servile to France. In July 1858 he concluded the secret treaty of Plombieres with Cavour, which by the marriage of his cousin, Prince Jerome Napoleon, with a daughter of Vittorio Emmanuele (January 30th 1859) was strengthened. Napoleon in person lead a French army across the Alps, declaring "Italy free until the Adriatic !" as his aim, and, more because of the incapability of the Austrian generals than by military superiority, together with the Piemontese, gained the victories of Magenta (June 4th) and Solferino (June 24th), but already on June 11th because of Prussia's threatening position toward Austria concluded the preliminary peace of Villafranca, which was closer determined on November 10th in Zürich, and which ceded Lombardy to Sardinia. The immediate consequence was the surprising escalation of Italian national sentiment, which brought obout the unification of almost the entire peninsula under the House of Savoy. France did not dare to interfere in a way preventing this, and only protected the remainder of the Papal State, and to be paid off for the recognition of the faites accompli in Italy by the cession of Savoy and Nizza [Nice].
This end to the Italian War not only hurt the Clericals, but also appeared to the other French as a political mistake. Even wise measures, such as the free trade treaty with England [!] (January 23rd 1860), which was followed by similar treaties with other states, were used for attacks on the Emperor. His policy therefore became insecure, he looked for successes in foreign policy, was influenced by adventurous plans of confidants at court such as Morny, Persigny, Walewski etc. In 1860 France participated in a war of England [!] against China, and intervened in Syria in favour of the Christians. Based on untenable private claims, Napoleon in 1861 began the Mexican undertaking, hoping, while the North American Union was tearing itself up in the civil war, to place Mexico and Central America under French influence. While Mexico was conquered by French troops, and Archduke Maximilian was placed on the Mexican throne, but the war cost immense sums, and in order not to let the full amount of the costs become public knowledge, secretly all available moneys and all war material stored in the arsenals were used up. Ultimately the French army was unable to secure Maximilian's Empire, and, responding to the threats of the Union, in 1867 had to evacuate Mexico in 1867, and to give up Maximilian to shameful downfall. While France was entangled in Mexico, it had to leave the Poles to their fate, after the September Convention (September 18th 1864) it evacuated Rome and in 1866 during the Prusso-German War could not decisively interfere. The unexpected quick and complete victory of Prussia at Königgrätz, which was felt by the French almost as a defeat and shame of their own, tossed all his calculations. Now, in a note of his foreign minister Lavalette, he had declared that the dissolution of the old German Confederation was an advantage for France. But public opinion was of the opposite view, that the formation of two large nation states on its eastern border seriously enfangered France's legitimate superiority in Europe.
The World Exhibition of 1867 and the visits of the sovereigns during the latter provided the Empire again with some nimbus. But the attempt to acquire Luxemburg by purchase failed. France had to be satisfied with its evacuation by Prussian troops, and its neutralization, and the intervention in Italy in favour of the pope, of his secular power, which by the skirmish of Mentana against the Garibaldians (November 4th 1867) was saved one more time, was held against the Emperor by the Liberals and by Italy, and the church did not thank him for this action either. Napoleon therefore directed his main attention toward the reorganization of the army,which minister of war Niel, due to the rejecting position of the chambers against new taxes, could only partially implement, but an excellent breech-loading rifle was introduced, and on a political reform, which was to secure the Empire the favour of the nation. The dandling system of "Vice-Emperor" Rouher between concessions and repressive measures had not stood the test, new elections for the Legislative Body on May 24th 1869, despite the official influence of the government, produced only 4,467,730 votes for it, against 3,258,777 for the opposition. In the Legislative Body in July 1869 already 116 deputees in an interpellation demanded the responsibility of ministers, as well as independence and free parliamentary movement with initiative for the Legislative Body. The Emperor on July 17th dismissed Rouher and on January 2nd 1870 appointed Emile Ollivier, hitherto member of the opposition, president of a cabinet formed of moderate-liberal supporters of the Empire, which was to implement the "crowning of the edifice" by a Liberal constitution. But the Paris democracy interpreted this concession as a sign of weakness, and it was encouraged to large demonstrations, even to attempts of insurrection. As the aging, sickly Emperor lacked decisive energy, the implementation of the reform was delayed, and his surrounding therefore regarded it useful to strengthen the reputation of the Empire by a new plebiscite. The plebiscite on May 8th produced 7,350,142 yes versus 1,538,825 no votes, but the large cities overwhelmingly had voted no, and in army and navy about 50,000 no votes had been cast. Now the surrounding of the Emperor regarded a popular foreign war for indispensable, in order to newly confirm the shaky Empire.
This war could only be directed against Prussia and aim at the acquisition of the Rhine border. The new minister of foreign affairs, Gramont, who counted on the support of Austria and Italy, used the Spanish candidacy of the Prince of Hohenzollern as a pretext for war; on July 19th 1870 the declaration of war was handed over in Berlin. The Fremch people permitted themselves to be infected by war enthusiasm; in the vote in the Legislative Body over the war credit on July 15th only 10 opponents were found, who because of opportunism warned of rash action. But the expectations, with which the Franco-German War (see there) had been brought about, soon were disappointed. The southern German states did not remain neutral, but placed their troops under Prussian supreme command. Austria wanted to await a French victory before it was to join it; in Italy the voice of the people prevented the king to join the oppressors of Rome; even Denmark ultimately remained neutral. During the mobilization it became evident that the army was not ready for war. So it happened, that the French, instead of flooding Germany with their corps, were attacked in their own country. After the defeats at Wörth and Spichern the chambers quickly were convened, the cabinet Ollivier on August 9th replaced by a strictly Bonapartist one under Palikao. But the defeat of the army of Mac Mahon at Sedan (September 1st and 2nd) and the imprisonment of the Emperor toppled the Empire in one blow. In Paris the embittered populace on September 4th forced the Empress to flee to England [!], dispersed the Legislative Body, and in city hall proclaimed the republic. The Paris deputees, under the presidence of Governor General Truchu formed a provisional government which called itself "Gouvernement de la Defense Nationale". Nowhere in the country someone spoke against the fall of the Empire, as one now hoped for peace to be restored. But the new government made such peace impossible, as it declared by the new minister of foreign affairs, Jules Favre, that it would not cede one inch of French territory, bot one stone of its fortresses, that it rather would continue the struggle until the utmost. When Paris was surrounded by German troops by mid September, the government remained in the capital, only a part of it, as "Delegation" established its seat in Tours, the soul of this government for the province was Gambetta, who left Paris on October 6th in a hot air balloon, and who soon made himself dictator of France.The French nation also in this situation proved patriotism, willingness to sacrifice, and obedience, so that Gambetta, in a seemingly exhausted country could raise ever new armies, and could continue to resist for another five months. The fights of the Northern Army at Amiens, Bapaume and Saint-Quentin, of the Loire Army at Orleans and Le Mans, of the Eastern Army at Belfort, finally of the Paris Army near Villiers and on Mont Valerien all ended with defeats; Paris had to surrender at the end of January 1871; France's losses in lives and money were very high. But it honorably suffered defeat.
The truce of January 28th 1871 determined, that immediately elections for a National Assembly were to be held, which were to decide over war and peace. The elections on February 8th produced a large majority of Conservatives, As these wanted peace. The National Assembly, 750 members strong, which convened on February 13th in Bordeaux, corresponded expectations of the country, as it refrained from factional strife, elected the moderate Republican Grevy as its president and Thiers as the chef of executive power, and empowered the latter to enter into peace negotiations. These lead to the preliminary peace of Versailles of February 26th, which placed a hard sacrifice on France with the cession of three departements (Alsace-Lorraine) and the payment of 5 billion Francs war indemnity, but which was accepted by the National Assembly on March 1st, among immense excitement, with 546 votes against 107. Simultaneusly, and almost unanimously, the Napoleonic Dynasty was deposed. Definitive peace was signed on May 10th 1871 in Frankfurt / Main.

The Third Republic
The number of Monarchists in the National Assembly was so large, that the restoration of the monarchy in France then would have been possible. But neiter the Count of Chambord nor the Orleans had the courage to take the steering wheel of the country with a firm hand, and to implement the peace the nation had longed for, but which also had deeply humiliated national pride. The Monarchists therefore concluded with the Republicand the Pact of Bordeaux, which for the time being left the question of the definitive form of government open. But they pushed through, that the seat of government was not moved to Paris, but to Versailles. Hereby among the excited population of Paris they caused the suspicion that the restoration of the reactionary monarchy was intended, and so the Communists, who already during the siege twice, on October 31st 1870 and on January 22nd 1871, had risen, on March 18th began a new rebellion, which succeeded. The troops had to evacuate Paris, where the Commune was proclaimed. Under the most difficult of conditions, the government from Versailles undertook the reconquest of Paris, which only in the last week of May 1871 under horrible atrocities and with the flames of state buildings set on fire by the Communists, could be taken by the army. So confidence in Thiers' skill and energy increased. By the end of June he already could sign a loan of 2 1/2 billion, by the payment of which to Germany a large part of the territory was liberated from foreign occupation. Therefore, on August 31st, he was appointed president of the republic for three years, but the National Assembly explicitly maintained the right to give the country a new (monarchist) constitution. Already in July 1872 Thiers, by a loan of 3 billion, which to the satisfaction of the French, was over-signed 14 times, acquired the means to bring about the end of occupation in September 1873. The reorganization of the army was implemented on largest scale, the eastern and northern border secured by many smaller and larger fortresses, Paris itself surrounded with an additional ring of forts. But state debt increased to 22 billion, annual additional expenses by 600 million, customs tariffs on almost all consumer goods, drinks and tobacco had to be raised, a number of new taxes introduced. Still, business and trade flourished, state revenue grew from year to year. The republic became more and more popular, as by-elections proved, and Thiers regarded it the only possible form of government, as monarchy, with three pretenders, was untenable, and he repeatedly proposed, so namely on November 13th 1872, the definitive proclamation of the republic. In May 1873 he proposed a law hereto to the National Asembly. The monarchist majority believed now to be able to do without Thiers, on May 23rd passed a vote of no confidence, and when Thiers handed in his resignation, it was approved by 368 against 339 votes; in the same night Mac Mahon was elected president, who appointed the Duke of Broglie head of a thoroughly reactionary cabinet, which declared as its goal the restorationof the legitimate monarchy of Henri V., the Count of Chambord. Already on October 22nd the Monarchists had agreed on a law draft in this respect, when Chambord suddenly, by his refusal to accept the tricolore and to give concessions and guarantees, caused the failure of all monarchist projects (October 27th). In this situation the right, in order to at least preserve Conservative-Clerical interests, established an understanding with the Moderate Republicans. The presidency of the republic was entrusted to Mac Mahon on November 19th 1873 for 7 years (Septennate), and the formulation of the conbstitution by the Commission of Thirty begun. On February 25th 1875 the constitution of the republic as proposed by Vallon was accepted by 425 against 252 votes. The latter confirmed the Septennate and established two chambers, a Chamber of Deputees directly elected by the people with 533 seats, and a Senate of 300 members, of whom 75 are lifetime members, the others elected for 9 years by certain classes of notables. The new constitution entered into force on January 1st 1876.
While the majority of the Senate still was conservative, only 170 Conservatives, compared to 360 Republicans, were elected into the Chamber of Deputees. In order to topple this result, the Clericals, who now in place of the Monarchists entered the stage, in 1877 under the leadership of Broglie attempted a reactionary coup. On June 25th the chamber was dissolved, the minister of the interior Fourtou used all means of the Empire in order to achieve Conservative success in the elections; also Mac Mahon invested his personal authority with this object in manifests and speeches. But Gambetta conducted the election campaign of the opposition with great moderation and such skill, that on October 14th 1877 320 Republicans were elected. Mac Mahon submitted, dismissed Broglie, and called Dufaure, a Moderate Republican, in December 1877 to lead the cabinet. When by-elections to the Senate in January 1879 also here had created a Republican majority, the victorious Republican Party demanded the elimination of all Monarchists and Clericals from the administration and from leading positions in jurisdiction and the army. This caused Mac Mahon to hand in his resignation, in consequence to which the two chambers, united to form Congress, elected Grevy, the leader of the Moderate Republicans, president. The leader of the Republicans in the chamber now was Gambetta. His supporters, the Republican Left and the Union Republicaine, because of their adjustment to conditions were called Opportunists, and were moderate, but they permitted themselves to be pushed further and further to the left by the Radicals, in order not to loose the favour of the people. In 1879 they approved to move the sessions of the chambers from Versailles to Paris, and to a partial, in 1880 to a complete amnesty of the Communards. Also energetic measures against the all-powerful clergy were taken, elementary schooling reformed, education made free of charge, and mandatory. The republic seemed permanently secure, namely since the most dangerous Monarchist party, the Bonapartist, by the death of the Imperial prince (June 1st 1879) was made powerless. Gambetta personally took over the lead of the cabinet on November 14th 1881. Great things were expected of him, namely in foreign policy. Gambetta counted on an alliance with England [!] in the Egyptian question, and on further successes in Africa, where France in the spring of 1881 had acquired Tunis. But Gambetta's rule already ended on January 26th 1882, as the chamber expressed its non-confidence in his dictatorial ambitions by rejecting the elections by list as proposed by him. By the following frequent cabinet changes, Frances actions abroad were perilized to such an extent, that England [!] could completely expel France from Egypt.
Finally, Ferry on February 21st 1883 succeeded in forminf a cabinet which was able to hold on for a while, despite concerning signs for the republic appearing. The pretenders again raised their heads, state revenues declined, the economy stuttered. Ferry dismissed all princes of the House of Orleans from their positions in the armed forces, by the jurisdiction reform law eliminated 614 Monarchist judges, converted the 5 % loan in a 4 1/2 % loan, satisfied the expectations of the Radicals by a law on divorce and a partial constitutional reform. But because of his colonial policy, Ferry entangled France in a number of difficulties. The French government wanted to extend her possessions in Further India by Annam and Tongking, and during the conquest of the latter entered into a war with China, which forced it to take in a more amiable position toward the central European powers, also to Germany, and in the Egyptian question to enter into an understanding with them vis-a-vis England [!]. Ferry thus alienated the Revanchist Party, and although he had prepared what was to become an honorable peace with China, which acquired Annam and Tongking for France, which was concluded in Tianjin on June 9th 1885, the mishap of French forces outside of Langson in Tongking (in March 1885) sufficed to topple Ferry. The new prime minister Brisson pushed election by lists through both chambers. On October 4th 1885 new elections for the Chamber of Deputees were held. These were unfavourable for the Republicans : the Opportunists no longer had the majority, but became dependant on the Radicals under Clemenceau, which toppled every cabinet, even if it contained ministers of their own party, once it did not fully comply with their wishes. So cabinets changed in short intervals, and a productive policy was not possible.
Prime minister Freycinet attempted to win over the Radicals by proposing a law which would expel the members of the House of Orleans from France, but the Radicals allied themselves with the Monarchists against him, and by passing a law abolishing the position of underprefects, which was fought by the cabinet, they brought about the fall of the cabinet Freycinet. The new government was characterized by two personalities, prime minister Goblet, a Revanchist Radical, and minister of war Boulanger, who, by the exploitation of the national sentiment for revenge wanted to gain a dominant position. He pursued a policy of armament with extraordinary effort, moved numerous troops to the eastern front, boasted with the new explosive (melinite) and prepared the mobilization of the army corps stationed in the east. An accidental event seemed to lead to the immediate outbreak of the war. A French police commissioner, Schnäbele, whose arrest in Germany for repeated espionage in the German border districts had been ordered by the German Imperial court, at the invitation of German police inspector Gautsch came to Noveant for an official consultation, was arrested and brought to Metz (April 20th 1887). This accidental combination of circumstances seemed to the French a devious plot and caused a storm of indignation. Goblet, Boulanger and three of their radical colleagues in the Council of Ministers demanded an ultimatum to be sent to Germany, even war itself; only the wise resistance of President Grevy decided in favour of peaceful negotiation, which within a short time resulted in Schnäbele being set free.
These events had shaken the position of the Radical ministers, and as their administration of finances also produced very unfavorable results, the budget consultation of May 17th 1887 caused the fall of cabinet Goblet. It was replaced by the Moderate cabiner Rouvier, which sent Boulanger into the province, as commanding general in Clermont. While also affecting an increase of the army, in the budget it applied thriftyness and strict supervision, and so caused significant savings. In the meantime the situation of the republic was endangered by the egotism and stupidity of the Radicals and the intrigues of the Boulangists, turning the destruction of parlamentarism and a war of revanche against Germany into their program. Grevy himself and his counsilors in France enjoyed little respect, corruption in the highest offices of the state was an open secret. General Caffarel, chief of staff in the ministry of war, accused of having sold medals of the legion of honour, was arrested. It soon turned out, that not only a large number of other generals had been involved, but especially the son-in-law of President Grevy, the deputee Wilson, who shamelessly had abused his position in the palace of the president to sell offices, medals and favours of all kinds. Grevy refused, as demanded from all sides, to dismiss Wilson. But when the cabinet Rouvier resigned and noone else wanted to form a cabinet under Grevy, and the Chamber of Deputees declared itself in permanent session, the old president had to resign (December 2nd 1887) and to withdraw to private life.
For the election to a new president, the Republicans agreed on the colorless Sadi Carnot, who by Congress, i.e. the united chambers, already on December 3rd was elected president of the republic. Carnot, an honorable and benevolent man, tried to fill out his representative position with industry and the required pomp, and by doing so, and by his immaculate character gradually gained popularity and respect for the republic.
At first he formed the Moderate cabinet Tirard (December 11th). But it did not hold out long. Boulanger attempted to rally all malcontents around him, calling for a revision of the constitution and the convocation of a constituant assembly. The cabinet did deprive him of his command, on March 26th 1888 by judgment of the war council he was expelled from the army because of a severe violation of discipline. But to the larger part of the population this punishment appeared rather as a political martyrium, and so Boulanger became the celebrated leader of the "Party of National Protest". Radicals and Monarchists on March 30th 1888 accepted the proposal made by Boulangist Laguerre (and opposed by the government) of the urgency of a revision of the constitution, and thus caused the fall of cabinet Tirard. It was replaced by the Radical cabinet Floquet. But this system of parlamentary flip-flop bored and disgustyed the country. The masses, especially in the Radical north and in Paris proper, celebrated the general as their and France's hero, saviour and avenger. On August 19th he was elected deputee in three separate by-elections simultaneously. He openly worked toward a plebiscite in his favour. At the end of 1888 Lesseps' large-scale project in Panama collapsed, and hundreds of thousands of simple persons suffered severe losses. Early in 1889 one of France's largest banks closed, the Comptoir d'Escompte, because of crazy speculations to monopolize copper. So discontent with the republic grew, and after a bitter election campaign, on January 27th 1889 Boulanger was elected deputee by Paris. It was a glorious victory of the general, who generally was regarded the future master of France. The Monarchists, at the advice of the Count of Paris himself, allied with Boulanger, who was provided immense funds by his supporters, mainly by wealthy ladies such as the Duchess of Uzes.
So the domestic situation of France was highly precarious, when only a few weeks before the opening of the world exhibition, which was to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the great revolution, cabinet Floquet fell over the question of the revision of the constitution (February 14th 1889). In its place stepped another cabinet Tirard. Its most important member was minister of the interior Constans, who regarded it his main task, to save the Republican constitution from Boulanger's intrigues. He hurt Boulanger personally by dissolving the "League of Patriots" which the latter had founded, and then accused the general, with the approval of the Chamber of Deputees, in front of the Senate because of conspiracy against the security of the state and because of the embezzlement of public funds. In vain most of Boulanger's friends advised him to try open insurrection, or to stand public court. In order to be able to continue his life in luxury, he prefered (April 3rd) to flee to Brussels, and when he was expelled from here, to London. By doing so the general had played out his political role. Public opinion branded his action as cowardly and ridiculous, and so his party quickly melted away. His sentencing in absence by the Senate (August 13th) and the unpleasant discoveries, which the trial laid open about him and his closest supporters, utterly destroyed his reputation.
So the world exhibition, which was opened by Carnot on May 5th 1889, proceeded undisturbed and became a celebration of industrial production, of the taste and prosperity of the French nation. The chambers continued the struggle against Boulangism, and accepted the new military service law of July 15th 1889, which replaced the duration of military service from five to three years, which almost completely abolished the institution of one year voluntary service, which increased the number of those to be recruited annually by 60,000, and which introduced the defense tax for those not capable of serving in the military. Then the chambers were dismissed. New elections for the Chamber of Deputees reproduced the majority for the Repubnlicans, but a shift in favour of the Moderates had taken place. In order to maintain the union of the Republican Party, when the Chambers met again, the Moderates participated in the election of Radical Floquet to president of the Chamber of Deputees. The Monarchists lacked unity, as many of them had disapproved of the alliance with the Boulangists and even had joined the Conservative Republicans, and even a number of French bishops, with the approval of the Roman curia, followed their example. The result of such events was an important stabilization of the parlamentary republic. On the other hand, trade policy, as the free trade philosophy of the cabinet Tirard was not shared by the majority in the chamber, already on March 13th 1890 brought about the resignation of the cabinet, which was replaced on the 17th by a new one, in which Freycinet Freycinet, hitherto minister of war, took the lead, Constans again became minister of the interior, and the former minister of education, Fallieres, became minister of justice. Radicalism was represented in it, but Moderation dominated. The defeat of Boulangism clearly became apparent in the elections to the Paris Municipal Council (April 28th, May 4th), in which only two Boulangists were elected. This belated justification of Constans' energy confirmed the position of the cabinet, which openly worked for protective tariffs and announced that it would cancel all old trade treaties (expiring on February 1st 1892), fix a higher general tariff for imports, and would concede a potential reduction of the latter with other states only in return for a special favorization of French exports. France's foreign policy now crystallized around the officially announced approachment to Russia, in which one believed to need to seek protection against the Triple Alliance lead by Germany. Anti-German events formed a drastic contrast to the enthusiastic celebration a French flotilla under Admiral Gervais received in Kronstadt (July 23rd to August 8th). All sides emphasized the peaceful character of this Franco-Russian Alliance, as the supporter of which the cabinet Freycinet appeared. But then omina appeared which threatened its existance, in the revitalization of the Clerical question. The Chambers just had reconvened on February 16th 1892, when they caused a cabinet crisis. Freycinet proposed a law draft on associations, which in a suttle way countered Clerical agitations. On February 19th the Radical deputee Hubbard demanded urgency for the deliberation of the matter, in the sense that the Chamber would demand full separation of state and church. Freycinet spoke out against such a separation and asked for a vote of confidence. But the agenda, which he had approved, was rejected. The cabinet immediately handed in its demission. After several unsuccessful attempts on February 27th it was reconstructed in the sense, that Loubet took over the nominal presidency and the interior, Constans, whose energetic interference for order had been hated by Boulangists and Radicals alike, under the pretext of ethical flaws, was eliminated. Increased confidence of the extreme elements became apparent in a number od Anarchist dynamite assassinations, which at the end of April 1892 caused terror in Paris and the provinces. On the other hand, the bishops, who saw religiosity in the populace dwindle more and more, took a stand more and more critical of the republic, and even disrespected the order of the pope, who, hateful of the Triple Alliance, favored France. Therefore the Monarchist tendency of the clergy was reprimanded by a formal papal encyclical, which recommended to French clergy the recognition of the Republican government as wanted by God. :Leo XIII. on one hand wished to restore the dwindling influence of the church on France, on the other hand to win this country as a counterweight to the Italian government and to the Triple Alliance, to which the latter belonged. Therefore he also forced the Party of the Catholic Monarchists to submit to the republic, only a few conscientious members of the latter, such as the Duke of Rochefoucauld and the Matquis of Breteuil, resisted the papal commands. Momentary, this was a glorious triumph of the republic.
As the cabinet Loubet showed great weakness toward the Radicals, it fell (November 28th), despite French pride having been appeased by the submission of the country Dahome by Major Dodds. In place of Loubet, the minister of foreign affairs, Ribot, took the lead in the cabinet. It soon turned out, that the clique which had exploited the general public by the Panama hoax had included a large number of leading politicians. On December 13th minister of finances Rouvier , because of accusations made against him, had to resign. He was replaced by Tirard. Floquet was not reelected president of the chamber, and replaced by Casimir-Perier. Excitement in the entire country about the corruption of the ruling circles was great : five former ministers, numerous outstanding politicians and financiers were accused. But soon it was recognized that the Panama Scandal mainly was used as a weapon against the republic by Boulangists and Monarchists. The government ordered the persecution of all parlamentarians, with the exception of ex-minister of finances Baihaut, stopped. Almost all other accused finally were acquitted by the court of cassation, and the entire affair, which had created so much attention, did not lead anywhere. But in the meantime the cabinet Ribot had fallen over it (March 30th 1893) and had given way to cabinet Dupuy, which also represented the union of all "true" Republicans, i.e. the Opportunists and the Radicals. At first received with general distrust, it soon gained unexpected successes. It was resolute vis-a-vis the Socialists, the focal point of whom it removed by closing the large labour bourse in Paris (July 6th 1893). It forced Siam, despite English [!] countermeasures, to cede the left bank of the Mekong river (August 1st 1893). In the elections to the Chamber of Deputees on August 20th and September 3rd it gained a glorious victory. The festivities in which the arrival of a Russian flotilla in Toulon and the presence of its officers in Paris were celebrated (October 1893), and which seemed to give a new guarantee for the Franco-Russian alliance, increased the reputation of the Republican government in France. In the meantime the Radicals were diuscontent with their dwindling influence and caused the fall of cabinet Dupuy. On December 1st it was replaced by the Conservative-Republican cabinet Casimir-Perier, which rejected any thorough change of the constitution and which promoted reconciliation with the church. But already in May 1894 it was toppled. Only with effort Dupuy succeeded in forming a new cabinet, in part of untested men, which again tended toward the Radicals, but which was determined to conduct the business of government until the coming presidential election (in December 1894), and to fight out the conflict with England [!] about the treaty the latter had signed with the Congo Free State. An expert in colonial conditions, Hanotaux, took over the ministry of foreign affairs. Then an unexpected event took place. When President Carnot visited the city of Lyon, where an exhibition took place, while driving to the theatre, in the evening he was mortally wounded by daggerstab by an Italian, Caserio; he died a few hours later. The assassin belonged to an anarchist conspiracy, which by targeting Carnot wanted to avenge the execution of the anarchist bomb-throwers Ravachol, Vaillant and Henry, and Caserio had been chosen by lot to execute the deed. The death of the strictly legal, honorable president was generally mourned and had the effect, that in France the conviction spread, that a strong government was necessary against such attempts to topple the system. Therefore, in the election of a president by the National Assembly, which took place on June 27th in Versailles, already in the first vote the conservative Casimir-Perier was elected president with 451 votes. He maintained the cabinet Dupuy. On July 1st the mortal remains of Carnot were ceremoniously buried in the Pantheon. Casimir-Perier did not hold on to power for long. The severity by which the extremes (the Socialists and Radicals on one side, the Clericals and Monarchists on the other) fought each other and the government, caused him and the cabinet Dupuy to resign on January 15th 1895. His short presidency stands out by the begin of the Madagascar Campaign (see there).
In place of Casimir-Perier on January 17th 1895 the Moderate Republican Felix Faure, against Socialists and Republicans, was elected president. He was powerless and had to look on how the chambers wasted time and energy in factional strife and defamation, how the Moderate cabinet Ribot in November was replaced by the Radical cabinet Bourgeois, which in April 1896 was toppled by Senate. The cabinet Meline formed on April 29th did not try any reforms, especially avoided that of the very necessary reorganization of the anti-democratic system of taxation, and extended the system of protected tariffs. It could do so, because it had excellent successes in foreign policy to show : the conquest of Madagascar was completed, the latter in 1896 declared a French colony. The visit of the Czar to France, in October 1896, and the countervisit of President Faure in the Peterhof in August 1897 were a public expression of the Franco-Russian alliance, which also was publicly recognized by Nicholas II.
The Clerical Party, toward which Meline and Faure tended more and more, regarded the time to have come for a decisive move. Under the pretext of the Dreyfus case (see there) it passionately attacked the equal treatment of Jews and Protestants, as well as Enlightenment and Freemasonry. It presented her case as that of national honour and greatness, and thus kindled a domestic struggle, which was fought with limitless intensity and bitterness. The cabinet Meline openly, President Faure clearly took the sides of the Nationalists, as the Clerical-Monarchists now liked to call themselves, New elections for the Chamber of Deputees (May 1898) again did not produce a clear majority. Only the switch of Meline and his cabinet colleagues to the right found the disapproval of a small majority in the chamber, so that his cabinet on June 28th 1898 was replaced by the Radical cabinet of Brisson. This immediately saw itself entangled in new struggles in the Dreyfus Affair ("l'affaire"). Major Picquart, chief of the intelligence office with the general staff, declared that not Dreyfus, but his accuser Esterhazy had written the Bordereau, on the basis of which Dreyfus had been sentenced. Picquart was placed in solitary confinement, despite the confession of Lieutenant Major Henry, employed in the intelligence office, that he had faked the documents used by the accusation against Dreyfus, and while in prison, cut his own throat (August 30th / 31st), and despite the chief of the general staff, General Boisdeffre, declared himself having been mislead, and having resigned.
The army believed that her honour was tied to the maintenance of Dreyfus' sentence by military tribunal, and the Chauvinist views of the majority of the French nation shared in this opinion. When the government presented the application of Family Dreyfus for a revision of his trial to the court of cassation, the Chamber of Deputees accepted an agenda hostile to cabinet Brisson; he handed in his resignation, and Dupuy formed a new cabinet (October 29th 1898). It also was not capable to pacify the passionate conflict between Nationalists and Dreyfusards. The court of cassation declared the revision of the Dreyfus trial permissible. The Nationalists appealed to the violent instincts of the masses and incited Anti-Semitism. That France, facing the threat of war by England [!], had to agree to evacuating Fashoda on the Upper Nile, which had been occupied by Major Marchand, only made the situation of the government more difficult.
In the meantime the president of the republic, Felix Faure, suddenly died on February 16th 1899. The majority of the chambers could not decide, by the election of a Nationalist to publicly reject the democratic principles of the French Republic, and on February 18th elected the moderate, but convinced Republican Emile Loubet as Faure's successor. Public insults of Loubet by the Nationalists did not stick to the simple and honest personality of the new president. The attempt of a military insurrection by Deroulede failed because of the timidity of his fellow conspirator, General Roget. A treaty with England [!] (March 1899), which allocated all land in central Africa west of 23 degrees eastern longitude to France, somehow evened out the debacle of Fashoda, and satisfied the French ego. The trial in front of the court of cassation undeniably proved the innocence of Dreyfus, the fakes in his disfavour, in which the military judge of 1894, du Paty de Clam, had participated, as well as the shared responsibility of the highest army leaders, especially of the former minister of war Mercier. Picquart was released from confinement, the court of cassation transferred the Dreyfus Affair to a new military tribunal, that at Rennes (1899). As the cabinet Dupuy did not interfere with the necessary resoluteness against the intimidating demonstrations of the Nationalists, it was toppled and on June 22nd replaced by the cabinet Waldeck-Rousseau, which was willing, with a firm hand, but with moderation, to calm down France, and which solved this task in glorious manner. Waldeck-Rousseau prevented the success of a conspiracy of the Orleanists uncovered in August 1899; his minister of war mercilessly cleansed the officers' corps of Clerical-Monarchist elements, and attempted to restore military spirit and discipline.
The sentence of the military court in Rennes against Dreyfus, after a long and exciting trial, was given on September 9th : guilty conceding mitigating circumstances, and ten years of imprisonment in a fortress. The judgment of the assumed traitor satisfied the Nationalists and Clericals, which had declared themselves to be defenders of an insulted army. The government hurriedly granted Dreyfus amnesty on September 20th, which neither satisfiued the sense of justice of the accused, nor that of his defenders, neither did it calm down the hatred of his opponents. But at least the Dreyfus Affair no longer was an object public discussion, as it had been for years. Public attention now was directed at other matters : the government presented a law draft on an amnesty to the chambers, which was to conclude the affair. The sentence of state court against Deroulede and his consorts was mild, the former was exiled for 10 years, his fellow culprits mostly only warned. The world exhibition of 1900 approached, which was to present France as united and calm.
The government, which leant on the support of the left, even on a part of the Socialists, to whom minister of trade Millerand belonged, fended off, be it with a small majority, all ferocious attacks by the Nationalists and their allies, the Melinists, in the chamber, and concluded the world exhibition in a glorious manner. Paris, however, was and remained nationalist, but had to live with the disappointment that the Czar, in his repeated visit of France avoided Paris. Abroad the government pursued a policy of reconciliation, interfered little in the confusion in China (see there) and placed the French occupation corps under German Field Marshal Waldersee. But French colonial territory in north and central Africa was continually extended. The firm and dignified appearance of cabinet Waldeck-Rousseau won it more and more supporters; the passions calmed down, the voice of the "intellectuals" (Authors and scholars), who from the beginning had fought the Nationalists, now gained an audience, with disinterest one saw one after the other Clerical officer resign and being replaced by a Republican offer. The military academy of Saint-Cyr by minister Andre was thoroughly reorganized, as it hitherto had been the cradle of the Clerical and Monarchist spirit in the army.
The year 1901 was mainly dominated by the discussion of the law on associations, by which the government planned to dissolve all ecclesiastic congregations not approved by the state. As these congregations were consultors and leaders in the struggle which was fought by the Clerical-Nationalists, this new law seemed the worst danger to this party. The debates in the chambers were heated. The Chamber of Deputees on March 29th 1901 accepted the law with 303 against 224 votes, the Senate on June 23rd with 173 against 99 votes. The reconciliation of France with Italy after an alienation lasting almost 20 years, and the glorious reception which minister of foreign affairs Delcasse was given in Petersburg, finally a visit of the Russian Imperial couple in France (September) strengthened the position of the cabinet; the high Russian guests again avoided to visit the oppositional Paris. But France also established communication with a power of the Triple Alliance : with Italy an agreement regarding the Turkish territories on the Mediterranean was signed, and in general, more amiable relations with this nation were established than had existed in the last 20 years. The chambers expressed a glorious vote of confidence in the cabinet, by (in February 1902) accepting the law on old age pension for workers and a public works porgram proposed by minister of trade Millerand, although the latter foresaw expenses of 663 million. This is all the more remarkable, as the financial situation of France considerably worsened, the year 1901 had been concluded with a deficit of 175 million. France was honored when President Loubet received an official invitation by the Czar, and in May 1902 he [visited Russia]. In the meantime on April 28th and May 11th elections to the Chamber of Deputees were held. It had been a fight for the decision between the Progressive-Democratic republic and the Clerical-Monarchist-Nationalist alliance. The former gained a glorious victory, in Paris the opponents triumphed. The elections brought 228 Radicals, 48 Cabinet Republicans, 45 Socialists, 140 Progressives, 50 Moderates, 45 Nationalists, 33 Conservatives. Waldeck-Rousseau regarded his work done, he desired recreation from the immense political work he had done, and, together with his cabinet, resigned on May 13th. After the chamber by the election of the Cabinet Republican Bourgeois as president (June 1st) expressed its will to continue the policy hitherto implemented, Loubert charged the Radical Combes with the formation of a new cabinet (June 7th 1902). Combes himself took charge of the portfolios of the interior and of cultus, Valle of Justice, Rouvier finances, Pelletan the navy, Chaumie public education, Maruejouls public works, Mongeot agriculture, Doumergue colonies, Delcasse held on to the ministry of foreign affairs, Andre to that of war. The declaration of the new cabinet to energetically continue the policy of Waldeck-Rousseau, the struggle against Clericalism and the reaction, was approved by the chamber on June 12th with 309 against 117 votes and 149 abstentions. The government ordered the closure of all schools lead by clergymen, which did not have raquested the authorization legally required by the government. This caused in some provinces, especially in Bretagne, physical struggle between the population and the officials charged with closing down these institutions. But the government, employing moderation, implemented its policy everywhere.
Inmidst of these political struggles France was surprised by the terrible catastrophe which hit the island of Martinique in May. Repeated eruptions of the volcano Mont-Pele, hitherto regarded as dormant, destroyed large stretches of land and the flourishing city of St.-Pierre; 40,000 persons died.
When the chambers reconvened, the passionate confrontational policy of the cabinet Combes, which went far beyond the moderation of Waldeck-Rousseau, was approved by a majority of 327 delegates against 226. The ministerial majority constantly grew, a new law penalizing non-authorized congregations was passed with 336 votes against 223 (October 1902). Also the Senate approved government action. The latter was so fortunate, by mediation to settle a general strike of the coal miners in northern and central France (November 1902). Of concern only was the financial situation of the state, with a deficit of over 221 million. Minister Rouvier suggested several tax raises, which were hotly contested, and finally accepted in the Chamber of Deputees in March 1903. So the position of the government again was confirmed. It continued with an intensity increased to passion in the struggle against ecclesiastical congregations, despite the sharp opposition of the Clericals, and even of some Republicans, who believed the freedom of education and even personal freedom being endangered, and found a small majority in the chambers. When Bourgeois in January 1904 rejected the presidency in the Chamber of Deputees, this position was given to Cabinet Radical Brisson. Even the expulsion of the Clerical Alsatian Delsor from France, which the Clerical-Nationals branded as treason, was approved by the Chamber of Deputees on January 22nd 1904 with 295 against 243 votes.

source in German, posted by Zeno

Nordisk Familjebok 1904-1926, Article : Rothschild (1916)

source in Swedish, posted by Project Runeberg





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First posted on June 20th 2009

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