France 1848-1870
Foreign Policy
France 1870-1890
Intellectual Life

France 1870-1890 : Foreign Policy

The FRANCO-GERMAN WAR was ended with the TREATY OF FRANKFURT of May 10th 1871. France had to cede ALSACE and northern LORRAINE to Germany and, in addition, pay REPARATIONS of 5 billion gold Francs. The conditions of the treaty were harsh, in contrast to those Bismarck had imposed on Austria in 1866. Bismarck hoped to use Franco-German enmity as a tool to consolidate German unity.
Bismarck was a master politician, isolating France diplomatically by a network of bilateral secret treaties (many of which contradicted each other). Italian president FRANCESCO CRISPI even suggested to Bismarck a preventive war against France - a war which did not materialize.

In the 1880es France resumed an expansionist colonial policy, in the FRANCO-CHINESE WAR of 1884-1885 it took TONKIN and ANNAM, and in 1893 established a protectorate over LAOS. In Africa, France established the post of BRAZZAVILLE on the Congo River in 1880. France was a major power at the BERLIN CONFERENCE of 1884/1885, also referred to as the Africa Conference. Here in Africa France appeared as rival of some of her European neighbours. When TUNISIA was declared a French protectorate in 1881, Italy felt offended, as Italians had eyed on the acquisition of that country. France was reluctant to recognize the CONGO FREE STATE which in effect was a Belgian creation.

Timeline French Foreign Policy, Third Republic 1870-1914, from France Diplomatie
DOCUMENTS Jules Ferry (1832-1893) : On French Colonial Expansion, from Modern History Sourcebook
Protocol for the Suspension of Hostilities between France and China, and Explanatory Note, Paris 4 April 1885, from Taiwan Documents Project
Augustine Heard, France and Indo-China, in : The Century, Vol.32, No.3, pp.416-421, 1886, from Cornell Digital Library
Declaration des Deputes d"alsace-Lorraine, Feb. 17 1871, posted by Philippe Nithard
REFERENCE Jean-Marie Mayeur and Madeleine Reberioux, The Third Republic from its Origins to the Great War 1871-1914, (Fr. Or. 1973, Eng. Trsl. 1984), Cambridge UP 1994, KMLA Lib. Call Sign 944.081 M468t
Charles Sumner, The Duel between France and Germany (c.1871), posted online by Gutenberg Online Library

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on October 16th 2007

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