Delcassé, Théophile

Delcassé, Théophile

(tāôfēl` dĕlkäsā`), 1852–1923, French foreign minister. He began his career as a political journalist and then turned to politics. First undersecretary and then minister for the colonies (1893–95), he became foreign minister in 1898 and remained in office until 1905. Commencing with the Fashoda IncidentFashoda Incident
, 1898, diplomatic dispute between France and Great Britain. Toward the end of the 19th cent., while Britain was seeking to establish a continuous strip of territory from Cape Town to Cairo, France desired to establish an overland route from the Red Sea to the
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, in which his conciliatory attitude marked the start of a Franco-British rapprochement, he greatly influenced the alignment of European powers prior to World War I. The Entente Cordiale with Great Britain (1904), for which he was largely responsible, settled colonial differences between the two nations, particularly in Morocco and Egypt; France agreed to recognize the British occupation of Egypt in return for British acknowledgment of French interests in MoroccoMorocco
, officially Kingdom of Morocco, kingdom (2005 est. pop. 32,726,000), 171,834 sq mi (445,050 sq km), NW Africa. Morocco is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea (N), the Atlantic Ocean (W), Western Sahara (S), and Algeria (S and E).
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. This convention opened the way for the Triple Entente (1907) between Great Britain, France, and Russia (see Triple Alliance and Triple EntenteTriple Alliance and Triple Entente
, two international combinations of states that dominated the diplomatic history of Western Europe from 1882 until they came into armed conflict in World War I.
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). During Delcassé's tenure as foreign minister, Franco-Russian relations were cemented (1899) by the extension of the Franco-Russian alliance of 1894, and a secret nonaggression treaty was signed (1902) between France and Italy that neutralized Italian membership in the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary. In 1905, Delcassé proposed the establishment of a French protectorate over Morocco. Emperor William II of Germany visited Tangier and proclaimed his country's support of Moroccan independence. Delcassé urged his government to stand firm, but the fear of war with Germany caused the French to oppose Delcassé, and he resigned. Delcassé was later naval minister (1911–13) and foreign minister (1914–15).

Bibliography

See biography by C. W. Porter (1936); C. Andrew, Théophile Delcassé and the Making of the Entente Cordiale (1968).

Delcassé, Théophile

 

Born Mar. 1, 1852, in Pamiers; died Feb. 22, 1923, in Nice. French statesman and diplomat.

In 1889, Delcassé was elected to the Chamber of Deputies, where he advanced because of his speeches on foreign policy. From May 30, 1894, through Jan. 13, 1895, Delcassé was minister of colonies, and he was active in broadening French colonial expansion in Africa. From 1898 through 1905 he was minister of foreign affairs. A master of secret diplomacy, Delcassé, in defending the interests of French imperialism, strove to expand the French colonial empire (in particular, the seizure of Morocco) without losing sight of an encounter with Germany, which he felt was unavoidable. With these goals in mind, Delcassé attempted to strengthen the Franco-Russian alliance and expand France’s political ties with Great Britain and, partially, with Italy. Delcassé actively facilitated the conclusion of the Anglo-French agreement of 1904, as well as agreements of 1900 and 1902 with Italy, which in fact detached Italy from the Triple Alliance. At the time of the first Moroccan crisis, Delcassé, an advocate of a hard line with regard to Germany, was compelled to resign (June 1905). From 1911 to the beginning of 1913, Delcassé was maritime minister, but he continued to exert an influence on the foreign policy of France, and in 1912 he signed a Russo-French maritime convention. In 1913, in order to strengthen the Franco-Russian alliance, Delcassé was sent as ambassador to St. Petersburg. At the beginning of World War I, Delcassé was appointed minister of foreign affairs,, but because of differences with members of the British government over general questions of how the war should be conducted he resigned in October 1915 and subsequently played no active political role.

A. Z. MANFRED