orangeone header_graphic

    Home             Contact Us

menu_top_corner content   content

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Cast - France
Cast - Italy
Cast - Others

spacer spacer spacer

Chapter II


Little is known of the early life of Camille Barrère.1 Biographical material which does exist, however, clearly illustrates the democratic, republican and patriotic values he learned in early childhood and subsequently exhibited in adult life.  Pierre-Eugène-Camille Barrère was born 10 October 1851, the fifth child of Pierre and Agathe Barrère.  The father was an outspoken republican living in Charité-sur-Loire, an old Protestant center in central France not famous for monarchical or Bonapartist sympathies.2

Seven weeks after Camille’s birth, French republicanism was dealt a harsh blow in the December coup d'etat in which Louis Napoléon, President of the fragile Second Republic, seized full control of the government and began France’s inexorable slide toward a Napoléonic Second Empire the following year.  According to one writer, the elder Barrère was arrested in the wake of the coup.3 Pierre Barrère must have been released shortly after his arrest because he and his entire family soon found themselves in exile in England.

Here young Camille received his education.  His mastery of the English language and his taste for British literature are explained by the fact that he lived his first nineteen years as an emigré in Great Britain.  He later admitted that after receiving years of schooling in British institutions, the "English language was to me a second mother tongue."5 From this experience, Barrère also developed appreciation and understanding of the British mentality.  Although he remained an Anglophile, his disposition toward England was nonetheless tempered by French patriotism.6

No doubt inspired by many of his father’s political ideals, Barrère returned to France immediately after the fall of Napoléon III in 1871.  His politics and his youthfulness quickly engaged him in the leftist cause of the Paris Commune.  The extent of Barrère’s activities in the struggle is not ascertainable.  Although some writers contend that Barrère did not participate,7 others feel certain that he did "play a part in the Commune."8 As an artillery commander in the National Guard, Barrère was involved in the fighting in the quartier Saint Thomas d'Aquin.

He appears, however, to have made his most important contributions to the Commune as a journalist.  Writing for several publications, nineteen-year-old Barrère espoused the radicalism of the cause.  In La Sociale a short-lived journal which, under its director, Madame Andre Leo, published forty-eight issues in 1871,9 Barrère produced several fiery articles.  Proof of his fervent support for the radical Communards is found in his appeal of 10 May 1871 to pull down the Vendôme column—an edifice originally erected by Napoléon I, in the fashion of ancient Roman Emperors, as a glorification of Bonaparte’s imperial military triumphs.

Bitter Mockery! The revolutionary tempests have constantly spared the which represents execrated militarism. This column is the souvenir independence violated, of the nation crushed by the feet of the enemy, foreign soil watered with the blood of our fathers. This column the tomb of butchered liberty, with its assassin for a monument. The Commune has ordered the demolition of this sinister trophy. That was justice. Such an order gives proof of great sagacity. How they tell us that the edifice in the Place recalls glorious memories. For us, it is the monument of insolence surmounting its crime.10

The crushing of the Commune sent Barrère, a death sentence hanging over him, back to England in May 1871—again as an exile.  His Commune experience as a journalist, however, must have been overlooked in Great Britain because he spent the next several years writing for stylish British publications such as the Manchester Guardian, The Fortnightly Review and Frazer's Magazine.  In 1877 he was made a London Times correspondent assigned to cover the Russo-Turkish War from the Turkish perspective.  Simultaneously, he filed reports on the conflict for Léon Gambetta’s influential Parisian newspaper, La République Française.

Stationed in Constantinople and writing for such prestigious newspapers and magazines, Barrère came to the attention of French republican leaders.11 Through the support of Gambetta and the political effort of the French foreign minister, W.  H.  Waddington, the exiled journalist was brought to the Congress of Berlin in 1878 as an aide to the French delegation.12 It was also through Waddington that Barrère was granted amnesty for his Commune activity and was allowed to return to France that year. 

In Paris for the second time in his life, Barrère found an outlet for his idealism in the stumbling new Third Republic.  Gambetta became his idol and mentor in this new direction.  Shortly after his introduction to the famed political leader, Barrère became Gambetta’s "diplomatic informant"13

Barrère joined the staff of La République Française,14 and was made foreign affairs editor.  It was in this milieu of reportage and political instability that Barrère came into working contact with future French leaders such as Eugène Spuller, Gabriel Hanotaux, Jules Ferry, Paul and Jules Cambon, Eugène Étienne, and Théophile Delcassé.   He remained, however, most impressed with Gambetta.  Throughout his career, Barrère kept in his office a large picture of Gambetta, framed with a letter from the democratic champion expressing personal sympathy at death of Barrère’s older brother.15

Even in his later political correspondence, Barrère tended to assess complexities as Gambetta might have done.16 As late as 1932, when writing about Gambetta’s enormous influence upon Delcassé, Barrère confessed that "I, myself, felt it to such a degree that all of my career deeply reflects it."17

Gambetta’s great contribution to life in the Third Republic was in the area of domestic politics.  In his renowned Bellevue oration in 1869, he described the idealized democratic society he wanted for France.  It inspired a generation of young French political activists.  Importantly, when confronted by the complexities of political life in the turbulent new Third Republic, Gambetta preached not revolution, but moderation and piecemeal success earned within the give and take of democratic politics. 

However, Gambetta did emphasize several ideas regarding foreign affairs, ideas that his new editor also embraced.18 For one, Gambetta opposed the policy of "retirement" which typified French foreign affairs after the end of the Franco-Prussian War.  He called instead for action capable of returning France to a determining role in Great Power politics.  Gambetta also pressed for colonial expansion, but only selectively and carefully.  To him cautious colonialization was a means to increase national economic strength and national prestige.19

Another Gambettist ideal, implicit in his famous motto "think of it always, speak of it never" was belief in the political irreconcilability of France and Germany as long as the Germans held Alsace and Lorraine, the so-called "lost provinces." He spoke out for revanche, for the restoration of pre-1870 French frontiers that would mean return of the French provinces that were captured and now incorporated in the German Empire.  This did not mean a distaste for Germans as such, but it did signify that France would oppose any overtures for entente with the new German state, and any alliances or alignments that Germany might develop with other nations.  It also meant that in opposing Berlin, France would have to secure British friendship to avoid the possibility of a fatal two-front war.

Gambetta thought in terms of the European balance of power.  He favored an arrangement of France , Russia and Great Britain.20 This future Triple Entente was the logical conclusion of unresolved Franco-German mistrust.  As early as 1875, he expressed this concept in a letter to his friend, the leftist French writer and politician, Arthur Ranc:

I desire that our enemies should be Russia's enemies. It is clear that Bismarck wants an alliance with the Austrians. Russia must therefore be made to see that we might be her ally….Since the revolution our country exerts great influence in Europe. Before long I see Russia and England at our side if we only have a proper internal policy21

Barrère's later career clearly demonstrated how, as foreign editor of La République Française during the period 1878-1879, he assimilated his mentor's political attitudes.  In private and professional correspondence after becoming a diplomat, Barrère strongly supported an assertive French foreign policy.  He demanded the return of Alsace-Lorraine and scorned those who seemed willing to accept second-rate status.  In his letters, furthermore, he proposed ambitious diplomatic schemes by which the international balance of power could be shifted in favor of France.  Above all, Barrère hoped to isolate the Central Powers through a France-centered alignment of non-German nations. 

Just as Gambetta’s democratic proposals were tempered when they encountered the realities of the Third Republic, so the radical spiritedness demonstrated by Barrère in his youth was moderated by the necessity to be practical.  He did not abandon the radical values of patriotism and republicanism evidenced in the Paris Commune.  Still, throughout his diplomatic career, his political actions shunned revolutionary exuberance and clearly understood international politics as "the art of the possible."

Barrère criticized the threatening politics of French public figures such as General Georges Boulanger and Paul Déroulède.  Instead, he advocated realistic internal policies that would concentrate on governmental stability and the resolution of divisive issues such as separation of Church and State.  He also abandoned any personal aspirations he might have for a career in parliamentary politics.  To this point, by 1886 Barrère had already revealed his distaste for the intrigues of domestic politics when he wrote to his friend Delcassé:

I will never enter a ministry of adventure whose days are numbered…. No, my hour—if it should ever come—has still not sounded. I prefer rather to keep myself in reserve for some bad days—for those bad days which will only come too soon if the politicians of the Palais Bourbon not cease dishonoring France.22

Instead, Barrère focused his energies on French foreign relations.  Here he found a calling, a field of endeavor in which ideals were important, but practicality was paramount.  It was as a diplomat, not as a street-fighter or as a parliamentary schemer, that he would work to realize his political aspirations and thereby strengthen France.

In 1879, Barrère first came into contact with Delcassé.23 The future Minister of Foreign Affairs, two years younger than the future ambassador to Italy, had come to Paris in 187724 Two years later, after boldly presenting his written opinions on French politics to Gambetta,25 he began a journalistic career as a reporter for La République Française. 

Delcassé was assigned to the foreign affairs bureau where Barrère was editor.  It was Barrère’s task to initiate the young reporter.  He gave Delcassé daily assignments, edited his work, and familiarized the new reporter with the journal’s editorial policy and eventually introduced him to Gambetta.  Barrère later claimed that "In a sense" Delcassé was his "pupil."26 Their relationship, however, extended beyond office hours.  The two men became good friends, so close that Barrère stood as a witness when Delcassé married in October 1887.27

The two men continued to exchange personal messages long after both had left the newspaper staff.  In their activities during Delcassé's tenure at the Quai d’Orsay, the pair maintained a private correspondence in addition to normal foreign office communications.  During the Moroccan Crisis in 1905, when Prime Minister Maurice Rouvier offered to make Barrère the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, he refused to undermine Delcassé.  In fact, he informed his friend of Rouvier's betrayal28

Barrère’s diplomatic career began in 1880.  Leaders of the new government wanted to develop a cadre of republican diplomats with no ties to the aristocratic and imperial past of Quai d’Orsay operations.  He was posted in Berlin as a French representative to the Danubian Commission, a supervisory agency created by the Congress of Berlin to regulate navigational issues on the Danube River.  Here he gained early experience negotiating settlements of complicated problems involving disputes over international shipping rights along the lower Danube. 

Although this appointment allowed him to continue writing in Paris for nine months of each year,29 his interest in journalism waned.  By late 1883, he had abandoned newspaper and magazine writing and was stationed in Cairo as consul-general and Minister Plenipotentiary.  Here in Egypt the emerging diplomat was involved again in complex deliberations concerning international judicial reforms and the resolution of Egyptian financial problems.  In November 1885 at the age of 34 he became French minister to Sweden.

The diplomatic communications written by Barrère from Cairo and Stockholm illustrate little of the Barrère's analytical prowess.  There certainly are some excellent dispatches recreating interviews or describing particular diplomatic events,30 but in none of this correspondence did Barrère attempt to evaluate the French international predicament and proffer his own grand solutions.  It was not until he reached Munich in 1888 as chargé d'affaires that he made a habit of placing his expansive insights in dispatches to Paris. 

Munich, according to one Russian diplomat, was the "training school for future ambassadors."  European chancelleries felt that the Bavarian capital was a post "from which excellent observations could be made," and that nations "chose men as their representatives there with great care."31 In Munich, then, Camille Barrère underwent "training" for his future appointment as an ambassador. 

To understand the meaning and implications of Barrère’s activities as ambassador to Italy, one should understand his political ideology.  How did he assess the European international situation?  What was his answer for the resurrection of France’s diplomatic strength following defeat at the hands of Germany?

By closely evaluating his private and professional correspondence, especially letters written during his six years in Munich, a clear picture of his convictions emerges.  In his correspondence Barrère treated all the major problems confronting the Third Republic.  But he focused most of his thinking on two dilemmas: the internal weakness of the French state and the international position of France vis-à-vis the Triple Alliance. 

Barrère believed that only through strength—military might and internal stability—could France gain respect for its goals in foreign affairs.  In December 1889, he elaborated on the question of military might.  In a lengthy letter to French Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugène Spuller, Barrère asserted "That which is noble and generous in the French genius always will be admired.  But it is worth more for France to be feared, especially by those who are only approachable by the seduction of force and the right of the strongest."

This letter shows Barrère impressed by the "new national strength" displayed in the 1889 Paris Exhibition.  But rather than remain a "final goal," he contended, the Exhibition should be an inspiring stage in the further strengthening of France.  He urged that in matters political, commercial and military, and "especially on the military level," France now should "redouble its vigilance and work with indomitable single-mindedness." His reasoning here was that only strength could give a Power the leverage needed to realize its international goals.  "Since unity became the primordial faith of nations," he remarked, "the struggle in open national competitions does not allow the least time for stopping.  It is necessary to advance, to advance always—or to perish."32

On domestic matters, Barrère was a center-left, moderate republican, sympathetic toward the pragmatic Opportunist faction in French government.  As such he advocated internal solidity.  Strength, he felt, could come only with internal political stability.  Commenting on the political struggle created in France by the Boulanger Affair which in 1886 took the Third Republic to the brink of imposed dictatorship, Barrère recommended a united front of all parties against the Extreme Left.  He called for the elaboration of a pragmatic electoral program stressing "governmental stability; fiscal, military and administrative reform; and adjournment of the political questions which divide us, such as separations of Church and State, income tax, etc., etc.”33

In his suggestion of a united effort against the Extreme Left, however, Barrère did not lose sight of the need for an effective republican leader.  In February 1887 after his friend Delcassé had written him that France was "disgusted" with questions of personality and wanted only a united party, Barrère reminded him that "Boulanger's astonishing fortune is proof to the contrary."

Barrère was not a Boulangist.  He believed that the only way to establish the "practical democratic government such as Gambetta dreamed of it" was for republicans to accept one leader.  As an Opportunist, he urged idealists to make sacrifices until this third attempt at creating a republic in France was solidly rooted.  "If we lived on an island," he wrote to Delcassé in 1887, "if we had no enemies and no borders, we could joyously indulge in searching for absolutes.  But as long as our national autonomy is menaced, we ought to govern ourselves conservatively [Barrère’s underscoring]." More succinctly, he summarized his position by noting that "If we had a government, we would have nothing to fear [Barrère’s underscoring].  In our present state, there is everything to fear.”34

The problems of internal discord and its debilitating effect upon French international maneuverability continued to concern Barrère.  As late as 1893, with the Boulanger crisis long passed and republicanism more popularly accepted in France, he still fretted, "Our country is still too absorbed by its internal affairs, by the necessity to constitute and consolidate the definitive form of government—the source of all powerful action externally—to exercise now on world affairs that influence it will have later when this great problem is resolved."35

Still, Barrère had grander ideas in mind than simply rebuilding national strength to enhance France influence in international affairs.  Because he was a revanchist, Barrère's ultimate domestic consideration was for that revenge against Germany that would be manifested in the repatriation of Alsace and Lorraine, the "lost provinces." From this focus, moreover, emerged his anti-German political feelings and his inveterate opposition to the Triple Alliance.  In this relationship lies the fundamental motivation of Barrère's diplomatic achievement as ambassador to Italy: the military and political neutralization of Italy within the anti-French Triple Alliance. 

Seized from France by terms of the Treaty of Frankfurt, the Alsace-Lorraine issue was an impossible obstacle to political harmony between Paris and Berlin.  Barrère felt the "lost provinces" were being controlled by a German "straitjacket of force."36 He questioned those Frenchmen who denied by the 1890s that there was a revanchist problem.  He reasoned that if by stating "in every way and at every occasion that the question of Alsace-Lorraine does not exist, does it not proclaim its existence."37His answer was resoundingly affirmative, for as he wrote in 1896, France "has not renounced any of its hopes, and…the question which dominates Europe today as yesterday, the question which determines the groupings of peoples, and the question which will decide their fate, is the question of Alsace-Lorraine."38

It is apparent from Barrère’s letters that he saw another war as possibly the only way to resolve the Franco-German impasse.  In 1890 he claimed that it was time for France "to assume another posture than that of the vanquished." He admitted that "one ought to avoid war by all honorable [means], but that it was even more dangerous to allow the Germans to believe France was morally deflated, fearful, and an easy victim to saber-rattling."39

The young chargé in Munich expressed himself on this matter most clearly when, contending that ideas about a peaceful settlement to the Alsace-Lorraine question "can have a regrettable effect upon our national spirit," he concluded that such an

illusion could be perilous. It could tend to weaken our forces, to abate consideration of military strength of France. The more I examine this problem—the great problem that explains the political and military situation in Europe—the more it appears certain to me that it can only be resolved by war."40

Ideally, Barrère believed French foreign policy should consist of revanchist goals supported with military prowess.  He felt that France "ought to let Germany believe that she is tolerating the territorial spoliation of 1870 only as long as she is not strong enough to avenge it."  He suggested that the issue of the “lost provinces” could be an effective diplomatic weapon if the issue were kept in the German mind.  For Barrère the persistence of the issue weakened Berlin’s international position and provided a political lever with which France might regain an equal footing.  Keeping the provinces in the mind of public opinion increased the possibility of eventually negotiating for their return.  According to him, "Our relations with the German Empire will never be as sure and profitable as when she fears us the most."41

Military might, Barrère contended, was necessary for France because "the German spirit respects only the strong: it regards only the strong, and it reckons accounts only with the strong."42 From a position of strength, therefore, Barrère claimed that France must make the Germans recognize "our love of peace" as being the "consequence of policy, and not unavoidable necessity."  The Germans, he said, "have to think that we are not making war, not because we cannot, but because we do not so want."43

If to Barrère the German annexation of Alsace-Lorraine represented geographic proof of French military and political weakness, the Triple Alliance was for him the diplomatic symbol of that impotence.  The core of the Alliance was the Dual Alliance of Germany and Austria-Hungary which Bismarck had created in 1879.  In direct reaction to the French seizure of Tunis in 1881, Italy’s adherence to this "Germanic consortium"44 resulted in the forbidding Triple Alliance. 

Although Barrère accepted the Dual Alliance as necessary for the European balance of power, he was antipathetic toward the participation of Italy in this anti-French alignment.  He considered the linkage of Berlin and Vienna to be the "legitimate union" and the "real force" of the Alliance.  Writing in 1892, he predicted only disadvantages for France if the bond between the Central Powers were broken.

In Barrère’s view Austria-Hungary feared war "more than any other European Power" because of its chronic and volatile nationalities problem.  If Germany were to seriously consider another war, he felt the Austrians would work to France’s advantage by acting to moderate their German ally.  On the other hand, Barrère contended that a rupture in the Austro-German alliance would compel the Vienna government, in order to continue the suppression of its restive ethnic minorities, to seek a diplomatic alignment with Russia.  And if the Russians accepted such an overture, he reasoned, the French people would be left alone and "face to face" with their irreconcilable enemy, Germany45

The true danger of the Triple Alliance to France, according to Barrère, was the participation of Italy in the league.  It was not, however, Italian military prowess that Barrère feared.  Rather, in a future war between France and Germany, he felt "the assistance of Italy can at the very moment turn the fate of battles against us."46

Since Italy could prove decisive by lending military strength to Germany in a future Franco-German conflagration, Barrère concluded that French diplomatic policy toward Italy should aim "to detach her from the Triple Alliance or to reduce her to powerlessness."47 In his diplomatic dispatches in the early 1890s he clearly set forth his ideas of how French diplomacy in Italy might achieve that goal. 

Barrère argued that the original goal of Italian adherence to the Triple Alliance had not been realized.  Italy had joined, he observed, "in the hope of enlarging her wealth, her power, her prestige, and if matters so developed, her territory."48 Instead, the move served only to alienate France and precipitate a tariff war between the two nations with disastrous consequences for the young kingdom.  Following a trip to Italy in 1891, he described the economic conditions in the peninsula as "very bad."  As a result, he figured that "nine-tenths of the Italian people are hostile to it [Triple Alliance], not because of a love for us, but because of an apprehension of the future."49

Economic relations between France and Italy had been excellent prior to the commencement of the tariff war in 1888.  During the period 1881-1887, France purchased forty-seven percent of all Italian exports.  During the first two years of the commercial struggle, however, that figure dropped to eighteen percent.50 Economic depression, new bond debts, financial problems, a phylloxera epidemic affecting wine production, and a general slowdown in agricultural and industrial development all served to aggravate the Italian economic situation.

Barrère recognized in much of this condition the effects of the commercial rupture with France.  "Italy is weak, exhausted, and three-quarters ruined," he wrote.  "Her alliance with Germany and Austria has brought her only expenditures, bad luck, and humiliations."  Although the Italians "believed they could find in their allies the markets they lost with us," he contended in 1892, "nothing like that has been realized."51

If the Italian economy had suffered from the estrangement with France, the popularity of the monarchy in Italy was similarly undermined.  The establishment of the House of Savoy as the royal house of Italy in 1861 had upset republicans and clericists alike.  Although these two groups did not represent a majority of the Italian citizenry, monarchists knew that favorable public opinion was important "in great measure" for the long-term viability of the royal House52

For many months Barrère had written how adherence to the Triple Alliance was more the protective policy of King Umberto I and his followers than it was the natural inclination of the Italian public.53 Being republican and predominately Roman Catholic, France was a potential ally for either of the two anti-monarchial factions within Italy.  In his German Hohenzollern and Austrian Habsburg allies, the Italian monarch found fraternal support for his royal position.  Although Barrère was not in favor of an overthrow of the Italian monarchy, he did feel that “we ought to show more regard than we have in the past for the democratic and republican elements to whom the future probably belongs, and who are sympathetic and favorable to us.”54

Despite the attitude of the House of Savoy, Barrère believed that if the Italian public opinion could be won to the French side, the king would be compelled to move politically in the same direction.  Furthermore, if the Italian public was presently upset with the Triple Alliance and the consequent tensions with France, it was because of the economic situation within the nation.  "If public opinion in the Peninsula is beginning to abandon the Triple Alliance," Barrère wrote in 1891, "It is because Italian finances are on their last legs; and they are on their last legs because Italy is at variance with us."55

Barrère’s envisioned a plan of action that would mesh French political desires with Italian economic requirements and create a foreign policy course that would satisfy both simultaneously.  In 1891 the Italian Prime Minister, Antonio Starabba, the Marquis di Rudini, lamented to his friend Barrère that the economic and political problems in Franco-Italian relations created a "vicious circle."  "In order to ameliorate the economic relations of France and Italy,” he wrote, “it is necessary to modify political relations; and in order to ameliorate the latter, it is necessary to ameliorate economic relations."

Pragmatically, Barrère's favored a third solution "which was to modify simultaneously the political and economic relations of the two countries."56 He recognized even from his post in Munich that the successful conduct of his plan of action would call for great energy and finesse were it to be successful.  In concluding his analytical dispatch of 10 September 1892, Barrère addressed himself specifically to this point.  Although passages of this letter have been quoted above, the note bears repeating in a fuller form. 

The danger of the Triple Alliance for ourselves is precisely the participation of the Power which is the most unstable: Italy. It is to this part that our greatest efforts should be carried. The day when Italy regains its liberty, the coalition will have lost its venom, and Europe will have changed full face.

The enterprise to detach her from the Central Powers, or to reduce her to impuissance, is pregnant with difficulties. It demands time, money, and consistency in the plans. It is really worthy of our diplomacy. It is not up to me to indicate the means to reach this end, these means exist. And if one adds the will to employ the will to employ them, the future holds nothing which should discourage us.

Italy is weak, exhausted, and three-quarters ruined. Her alliance with Germany and Austria has brought her only expenditures, bad luck, and humiliations It is only explainable through dynastic reasons, and the dynasty is beginning to carry the responsibility for it.

All the calculations of our transalpine neighbors have been deceived. They have been fooled about their own forces and about ours. They believed in an approaching war in which France and her territory would be the cost. They believed they could find in their allies the markets they lost with us. Nothing out of all that has been realized, and to crown its deception, sees within its walls—along side the Savoy dynasty which is reduced to finding in its own personal interests an alliance smirked at by the nation—a Pontiff who breaks openly with the thrones and makes common cause with democracy. If from all that there is nothing of great measure to extract, it is necessary despair of the science of diplomacy.57

In November 1894, Camille Barrère left Munich and came to Berne as the new French ambassador.  He would remain in Switzerland until 24 December 1897, when he was formally sent to Italy.  Well experienced in political analysis through his residence in Munich, Barrère obtained invaluable exposure to economic affairs at his new post.  French protectionist legislation in 1892 had adversely affected Franco-Swiss economic relations and made negotiating a commercial accord a difficult matter.  On 25 January 1895, however, a commercial agreement was signed by the two governments.

  For his efforts in creating this accord, Barrère was awarded the Legion of Honor several months later58 More important, however, was the international reputation he gained as an economic expert.  When he came to Rome, Barrère’s first task was to rectify Franco-Italian commercial relations. There is little doubt that the ambassador had in mind a plan of what he wanted to do when he arrived in Rome. 

According to his biographer, who quoted from a letter written by Barrère on 12 August 1919, he believed for thirty years "that Germany would be vanquished only by detaching Italy from her alliance."  Léon Noël concluded from this note that it was in Switzerland that Barrère developed his plan to detach Italy from the Triple Alliance.59 Francois Charles-Roux, who had worked with Barrère in Rome , also claimed that Barrère's work "was the realization of a project that he had formulated while he was ambassador to Switzerland , and to which Delcassé agreed when he came to power."60

If Barrère developed his plans in Switzerland, however, it could not have been much more specific than the concepts on Italy and the Triple Alliance that he promoted in his Munich correspondence.  Jules Cambon, the man who was French ambassador to Washington, Madrid, and Berlin in the years before the Great War, was a good friend of Barrère.  Cambon contended only that Barrère "followed, without departure, the line of conduct [my italics] he had traced out."61 Barrère, himself, disclosed in a newspaper interview in 1930 that, "When I went [to Italy], I went with well-fixed ideas about liberating us from the domination of the Triple Alliance."62

The nature of an effective ambassador’s duties necessitates maneuverability and practicality.  In Rome, "the most delicate post in the world," one where an ambassador was confronted by "a thousand crossroads,"63 it is doubtful that a well-developed, solidified scheme would have been workable.  On the other hand, a program of resolved ideas, a line of conduct with an inherent flexibility, seems more fitting to the nature of the position and to the character of Barrère. 

He arrived in Rome in February 1898.  Some have suggested that he might have been sent to London, his preferred destination, were it not for the opposition of Queen Victoria.  She did not want a former Communard operating as a foreign ambassador in her realm.64 But with well-reasoned goals in mind, 46-year-old Ambassador Camille Barrère came to Italy. 

As he had clearly pointed out in reports written years earlier, Italian participation in the Triple Alliance posed a potential threat to France in a future Franco-German conflict.  Barrère did not know the specific terms of the Alliance, yet he correctly surmised that the German General Staff expected military co-operation from Italy in a war with France.  Although he knew the Italian military could not alone defeat France, he feared its participation on the side of Germany could be enough to cause a German victory.  Barrère's arrival at the French embassy, the Farnese Palace, marked the beginning of his effort to remove the Italian threat. 

It is important that Barrère approached the problem pragmatically.  Unlike his dogmatic predecessor, he conceived of either inducing the Italians out of the Alliance totally, or reducing them to military impotence within the arrangement.  The noted Italian historian Enrico Serra has discerned this continuum in Barrère’s expectations65 Maximally, the new ambassador hoped to remove Italy from the Triplice, thereby reducing the Alliance to its original Austro-German nucleus.  Although Barrère had not spoken of a Franco-Italian alliance at this point, the implication of his thinking was that once detached from ties with the Central Powers, Italy would be available to contract new arrangements with other Powers.  Minimally, Barrère wished to neutralize Italy within the Alliance.  Although the Italians would remain within the grouping, he hoped to persuade statesmen in Rome to reach agreements with France outside the Alliance, arrangements that would assure Italian neutrality in case of war between France and Germany.

Barrère’s predecessor in Rome, Albert Billot, had not been popular there.  He had come to Rome in 1891 with the desire to ease tensions between the two states, and to separate Italy from the Triple Alliance.  His policies met with little success.66 Billot's diplomatic methodology alienated the Italian leadership.  In the midst of negotiations over Tripoli in 1891, for example, he insisted that France could not come to agreement unless the secret terms of the Triple Alliance, especially the military obligations of Italy as a member, were shared with Paris.67 Pressure was placed upon the King, and financial enticements were made through the Farnese Palace. The Marquis di Rudini, although reputed to be a Francophile, reacted against these awkward French moves by hastily informing Vienna and Berlin that Italy would renew the Alliance a year before it was due to lapse.  Billot's impaired effectiveness never recovered from this diplomatic fiasco in 1891. 

Temperamentally and physically, Billot was unsuited to conduct the delicate task of reconciling Italy and France.  In his overriding desire to destroy the Triple Alliance, the ambassador was unable to settle for simply neutralizing Italy within the arrangement.68 Toward the end of his career in Rome, Billot’s health failed, and he frequently was unable to perform his normal duties.69 According to a Roman journalist,

The coldness of his temperament which he shows almost at pleasure, the excessive care with which he avoids all contact with the Italian intellectual world, the meticulousness which often gives a purely administrative character to diplomatic questions, even his physique—rigid and composed—which comes across as a feeling of excessive haughtiness but which in him is only the effect of a naturally unsympathetic face, the frequency of his indispositions: all that contributes to diffuse about him an atmosphere, which if not hostile, is at least defiant or indifferent.70

By 1897 rumors that the ailing Billot would be removed from Rome did not impress Count Tornielli unfavorably.71 Notwithstanding the assertion of a later historian that Billot's efforts in Rome "facilitated" Barrère's accomplishments,72 a more accurate assessment of Billot's six-year tenure was that of a future Italian foreign minister, Tommaso Tittoni:

For harmonization and for results, the ambassadorship of Billot one of the most disgraceful. The French word describes boria sussiego. The attitude he maintained from his first moment among us…. It is certain that the negative influence exercised in the person of Billot, and in his reports to the Quai d’Orsay were not without influence on the state of tensions that characterized Franco-Italian relations during his ambassadorship.73

If the French representative in Rome lacked the confidence and respect of his hosts, the same was true of the Italian ambassador to France.  Count Giuseppe Tornielli Brusati di Vergano came to Paris in early 1895 and remained at the Italian embassy until his death in 1908.  Almost immediately he was considered a poor choice to work for a rapprochement between France and Italy.74 Tornielli had a reputation of being a reserved and uncommunicative diplomat.  His monarchist ideals also made him unsympathetic to progressive French republicans.75 Although Tornielli had cooperated in negotiating the navigation and Tunisian treaties of 1896, he sought nothing more from France than the attainment of better commercial and financial terms for Italian development.76

Personally and professionally, Tornielli disliked his assignment in France.  He hated Paris and spoke hopefully of being assigned to London77 His wife’s romantic episodes78 and his own adventures79 may partially account for his unhappiness in Paris.  Moreover, throughout his tenure, Tornielll was antagonistic to the Third Republic.  He assailed the weakness of the Republic and its governments,80 attacking in his dispatches the activities of French republicans,81 and the French labor movement.82

The ambassador was also scornful of the "mischief" and "irritation" which, he claimed, France was causing in the world.83 Although he eventually came to believe in the peaceful intentions of Delcassé84 , he predicted the emergence of a nationalistic government in France which "would make war on half of Europe."85 To protect the Italian monarchy from the pernicious influences of France and its republicanism, Tornielli felt strongly that Italy must remain loyal to Germany and Austria. 

The Italian ambassador’s ideas and activities gained him little trust.  Although he maintained normal diplomatic contact with the Consulta, after Barrère's arrival in Rome he was outside the mainstream of Franco-Italian negotiations.  Tornielli conducted a personal correspondence with the Foreign Minister, Marquis Emilio Visconti Venosta, but he was an unimportant factor in attaining the diplomatic successes which led to the Franco-Italian entente.  Giulio Prinetti, who lacked the aristocratic heritage of his predecessor at the Consulta, did not confide in his ambassador in Paris the details of the French diplomatic effort in Rome.  Moreover, Tornielli’s performance earned him the censure of Italian liberals who considered his ideas "reactionary."86

The French leadership also mistrusted the Italian ambassador.  Delcassé avoided serious communication with him unless it was part of Barrère's strategy.  Delcassé feared diplomatic intimacy with Tornielli because he considered him to be un triplicien convaincu, a die-hard Triple Alliance supporter.87

Barrère was also antipathetic toward his Italian counterpart.  He felt that Tornielli, through his closeness with the German embassy in Paris, would compromise French diplomatic efforts in Italy.  Barrère urged Delcassé' to approach Tornielli only when he wanted the prestige and authority of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be felt in Rome.  Significantly, the Prinetti-Barrère Accord of June 1902 was not revealed to Tornielli. 

Although Tornielli remained in Paris until his death, there was no necessity to remove him.  Technically, he was an excellent diplomatician.  He was also a loyal and hardworking representative of the Italian monarchy.  Furthermore, with Barrère as a forceful proponent of close Franco-Italian relations, Tornielli afforded the Italian government and moderating point of view.  His cautioning against diplomatic intimacy, if not specifically followed in Rome, at least made the Italian leadership more cognizant of the nature of the nation with which it was establishing a new political alignment. 

Nevertheless, Tornielli was a poor representative of Italy.  As Serra pointed out, despite his energy and technical brilliance, "his principles [carattere], beneath a grave and severe appearance, were his weakness."88

Because of the reputation Barrère earned in Switzerland, his Italian posting was well-received in Rome.89 But before he could work toward realizing his personal plans he needed the confidence and cooperation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Paris.  The new ambassador did not have such a trust in the man who appointed him to Italy, Gabriel Hanotaux.  Despite glowing praise from his most recent biographer,90 Hanotaux was a leader of mediocre talents.  His desire to conduct important international negotiations in Paris, not in foreign capitals, aroused anger and distrust among some of his more independent ambassadors.  A personal disagreement with the Cambon brothers in 1897 prompted Hanotaux to declare to the Cabinet of Ministers that it was necessary to choose between Cambon and myself."91

Barrère, too, had lost faith in Hanotaux.92 In order to gain a strategic role for himself in commercial talks that had lingered in Paris for years when Billot was ambassador, in his first weeks in Rome Barrère dispatched a sternly-worded personal note to the foreign minister.  He assured his superior that he was not egoistically seeking "to displace the natural center of the negotiations," but that he needed "a decisive and manifest mark of your confidence" since it did "great damage for my credit to remain outside the conversations."93 Although Hanotaux eventually afforded his ambassador the desired mark of confidence, Barrère's relationship with the Quai d'Orsay could never have been as harmonious as it became with Hanotaux’s successor. 

Barrère's approval of his long-time friend Delcassé to occupy the Quai d'Orsay was not necessarily shared by other observers of French policy.94  In his personal contacts with Parisian governmental leaders before 1898, the diminutive politician who was five feet, four inches tall95 had gained the reputation for being a braggart.96 Delcassé had confidently predicted that one day he would be foreign minister and that "things would go differently and better."97  The German ambassador in Paris believed that Delcassé "lacked a sense of business" but would disguise it "by hiding behind glowing phrases that are as shallow as they are unclear."98

The Italian ambassador, however, tempered his unenthusiastic description of Delcassé' as one of “the phalanx of young French statesmen," by noting that he felt the new minister’s attitude toward Italy "probably" would lead to the consolidation of Hanotaux's achievements.99 In the spring 1897, Delcassé had visited Rome and spoken in general terms about the reconciliation of French and Italian interests.100 It was this memory which caused Tornielli's moderate optimism in terms of successfully concluding the protracted trade negotiations. 

For Camille Barrère and the realization of his diplomatic goals, however, the choice of Delcassé was a positive one.  The two men had been close friends for twenty years.  Delcassé had shared many of the influences which had shaped Barrère’s thinking on French foreign policy.  Throughout their friendship, moreover, they had exchanged ideas in their correspondence.  And from their experiences as journalists with the La République Française and their experience with the democratic nationalist Léon Gambetta, the two men shared similar hopes for the future of France.101

Despite their commonalities the two friends were not without differences.  By 1898, Barrère's views had been conditioned by his years as a diplomat.  Delcassé's career as a journalist-politician gave him a different orientation.  The mutual contact with Gambettism and an intimate friendship made their working relationship a unique and productive arrangement.  The differences created by divergent careers help explain the friction that occasionally developed during the period under study. 

Delcassé shared Barrère's desire to see Alsace-Lorraine returned to France.  Although some comments about Delcassé 's revanchist sympathies are exaggerated,102 the foreign minister's republican background and his intense patriotism suffice to explain his predilections on the question.  Writing in the summer of 1898, Delcassé said of  Alsace-Lorraine:

France still remembers—it is her primary raison d'être, and she would be less respected if it were felt that she was ready to forget….For my part, even if I am foreign minister, I am a Frenchman first and cannot prevent myself from sharing the feelings of other Frenchmen.103

At one point in his diplomatic career, he foresaw the possibility of peacefully revising the Treaty of Frankfurt.104 This thought proved untenable, however, and he seems to have reconciled himself to Barrère's pessimistic contention that only another war would return the lost provinces to France.  A contemporary affirmed the point when he recalled that being

profoundly patriotic, Delcassé hoped indeed to see the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France. On more than one occasion I heard him say that that would happen following a general conflagration, the outbreak of which could not be ascertained, but which he knew was inevitable.105

Unlike Barrère, Delcassé’s revanchist sentiments did not make him an immediate Germanophobe.  Because he was not the minister of "a policy of principle, the man of one line" but was rather "a parliamentarian by career" and "a subtle maneuver in the corridors,"106 Delcassé actually was amenable to a rapprochement with Germany.  During the "War Scare" in 1887, Delcassé wrote moderately to a German friend:

You see with what phlegm I discuss German affairs [in La République Française]. Le Paris, whose tone is more sensational and where I discuss foreign affairs under the pseudonym ‘Pierre Dechene. I adopt the most moderate, even the most impartial, attitude. We shall be very careful to do nothing which might lead to a fearful collision between France and Germany.107

Delcassé’s admiration for Germany ranged from his love of Wagnerian opera to grudging respect for the diplomatic skill with which Otto von Bismarck had managed European foreign affairs in the 1870s and 1880s.  As late as 1900, Delcassé envisioned possible Franco-German co-operation against Great Britain in settling the Egyptian question108

Another notable difference between Delcassé' and Barrère was in the geographic orientation of their thoughts on future French policy.  Barrère was interested primarily in the European balance of power; Delcassé lent considerable weight to French imperial expansion.  Except for his several months in Cairo, Barrère’s diplomatic training had been in European chancelleries.  He felt that only in Europe could France gain the advantage needed to regain Alsace and Lorraine.  He, therefore, gave priority to European political considerations, feeling that the true center of international power rested in European diplomatic arrangements. 

Delcassé, on the other hand, gave more credence to Gambetta's desire for selective and cautious colonial expansion as a means of attaining glory and power.  He did not ignore European affairs, but his tenure at the Ministry of Colonies in the mid-1890s left an indelible mark upon his thoughts.  This was borne out during his tenure at the Quai d’Orsay, as the quest for Morocco became an overriding goal of his diplomacy—a goal with which Barrère, with his continental orientation, did not fully sympathize. 

Delcassé was also devoted thoroughly to the Franco-Russian Alliance; Barrère, though cognizant of its diplomatic value, was more flexible in his appreciation.  Throughout his journalistic career, Delcassé had been strongly favorable to the creation and maintenance of ties between Paris and St.  Petersburg.  One of his first interests as foreign minister was the revitalization of this Alliance.  And, as Andrew has noted, what began as an "unsentimental assessment of French national interests," gradually became for Delcassé a "growing susceptibility to the flattering attentions of the Tsar and his ministers."109

Barrère was much more realistic in his considerations of the Franco-Russian Alliance.  He realized that only the Alsace-Lorraine question kept the liberal and democratic Third Republic in a political marriage with despotic, archaic Russia.111 He never advocated abandoning the Alliance, yet during Delcassé’s seven years at the Quai d’Orsay Barrère's thinking would evolve to the point where he placed more weight in an understanding with England than in the Alliance with Russia.

If Barrère had come to Rome with a personal plan in mind, the same cannot be said of Delcassé when he assumed the portfolio of foreign affairs in June 1898.  His views were ambivalent and short-range.  In his journalistic writings during the 1880s Delcassé had championed at least once the idea of political entente with every Great Power.111 Unlike Barrère, who fixed Germany as the rival in his worldview, at various times Delcassé had called for: (1) an entente between France, Austria-Hungary, and Russia to counteract German influence in the Balkans; (2) an entente of France and Germany (or France, Germany and Russia) to withstand the British presence in the Eastern Mediterranean; (3) an entente involving France, Russia, and Great Britain to balance the German-Austrian alliance;  (4) an alliance between France and Russia; and (5) an understanding between France and Italy. 

Furthermore, during his first weeks in office, the new foreign minister thought only of settling a few minor international disputes.  He considered that his foreign ministry would be successful if he could use French "good offices" to settle the Spanish-American war, negotiate an economic accord with Italy, and resolve a persistent problem in the functioning of French religious rights within the Ottoman Empire.  Delcassé had no Grand Design in mind.  In his first month in power, he informed his wife that there were "three or four questions to which a happy solution would strengthen our influence and enlarge our prestige," and that following this, If "we fall from power…I shall have made good use of my term of office.  And that will be enough to satisfy me."112 Compared to Barrère's grandiose schemes concerning the direction of French policy, Delcassé held views which were extremely modest.

Despite the myopia of the foreign minister, Delcassian policy was conducted in accordance with a program of diplomatic priorities.  The plan was not created by Delcassé.  Instead, it was the product of a crucial meeting in Paris during Easter Week 1899113 between Delcassé and his two greatest diplomats, Barrère and Paul Cambon.114

The idea for such a meeting came from Barrère.  In a note to Delcassé in February 1899, he suggested a strategic conference to examine French foreign policy in terms of establishing strategic goals and coordinating diplomatic efforts.

I would like to profit from the Holy Week respite by coming to Paris for a few days and conversing thoroughly with you about particular and general policies. And if Paul Cambon is able to be there, I would be glad, for we would be able to establish linkages between our labors. I am not in contact with you enough. I know your thinking well, but am ignorant of the direction you are imparting to it.115

No documentary record of the Easter meeting is extant.  Neton, however, contended that four specific policy decisions were reached at the Paris gathering.  Subsequent events, such as Delcassé’s state visit to St.  Petersburg in August, Cambon’s overture to the British government regarding a general settlement of Anglo-French disagreements,116 and the opening of conversations with the Italians concerning North Africa, seem to validate Neton’s assertion.  According to him, at the Easter Week conference it was decided:

1)   To fortify the Franco-Russian Alliance, while making it flexible. To adapt the terms and conditions of this diplomatic instrument to the foreseeable exigencies of the hour. In order to assure the maximum in efficacy, to render contacts between Paris and St. Petersburg more frequent and more confident.

2)  To renounce the policy observed by the Quai d’Orsay since 1882…which had deformed…the Egyptian question by treating it arbitrarily on the European level, when it should never have left the limits of its origins in Franco-English relations.

3)  To take up resolutely the problems in Franco-Italian relations, and by loyal explications, arrive at eliminating all the causes of friction; at the same time, render to Franco-Spanish friendship its traditional mark of uprightness and esteem.

4)  To engage, then, with England in general conversations which would be like the key to the vault of this vast enterprise and which, on the basis of compensation—but a compensation strictly equivalent…would put an end to an eternal quarrel in which we were the protestors against an adversary which could brace herself, especially since, sheltered from all surprise by her insular situation, time worked for her.117

As a creative actor, a diplomat cannot operate successfully beyond the range of political possibility and historical context.  The most successful diplomat, therefore, is that individual who is cognizant of what is possible within his political situation and then manages to gain maximum advantage for his nation.  Such was the hallmark of Camille Barrère in Rome during the era of Delcassian diplomacy.  Barrère was not an ambassadorial rogue; his methodology was simply the productive and well-executed  implementation of classical diplomacy technique.  This quality of Barrère’s craft was well-understood by Charles-Roux:

The processes by which Barrère made his design a reality were the most classic, the most traditional existing: clairvoyant observation of what was under his eyes, of currents of opinion, of national aspirations, and of individual tendencies; research into the concrete interests which could serve as a base for an entente…vigilance in guarding what he had already acquired, allowing nothing to proscribe or destroy it; liquidation of incidents and ill feelings which troubled the atmosphere; negotiation in absolute good faith and sincerity; diplomatic action in the most normal sense of the word, that is, meeting with those who participate with diverse titles in public life….To represent Barrère as a Mephistophelean personage having recourse to Machiavellian or sinister procedures, is to make a completely false image. His activities never left the normal channels. The totality of his 'secret funds' would not permit a journal to last thirty days.118

In Rome, Barrère recognized that Italian foreign policy was royal foreign policy.  He labored incessantly to meet and shape the wishes of King Umberto.119 He also responded to the implorations of pro-French Italian leaders while avoiding personal confrontation with Francophobe elements in Rome.  Furthermore, through ostentatious displays of French good will toward Italy, he consciously cultivated in Italian public opinion a sentiment favorable to France.  He knew that if such a feeling could be deeply implanted, it would broaden the range of political possibilities for the Italian leadership. 

Barrère’s influence was also felt in Paris.  In addition to his personal friendship with Delcassé, the ambassador possessed and exercised a manipulative control upon an influential portion of the French press.  Throughout the Delcassian era, he assailed, retarded, or suppressed publication of articles he felt detrimental to his projects in Italy.  On many occasions he proactively suggested to Delcassé that articles promoting his goals be placed in favorite newspapers.  His preferred publication for strategically-placed stories was the Journal des Débats.120 Hanotaux had been reluctant or unable to manipulate the press.121 Such official hesitancy faded, however, when Delcassé came to the Quai d’Orsay.

Despite his diplomatic skill, Barrère was hard-pressed to realize his goals in Italy.  The political situation in which he acted was dominated by the legacy of three historical forces operative for many years.  These forces were: (1) the history of the estrangement in Franco-Italian relations since 1881; (2) the dependence of Italy upon the naval strength of Great Britain; and (3) the relationship of Italy to the Central Powers and the Triple Alliance.  Considered individually or taken as a whole, these forces established the range of possibility within which Barrère operated.

The heritage of these three forces also posed the central problems which challenged Barrère in his desire to achieve the military and political incapacitation of Italy within the Triple Alliance.  In 1930 he recalled the sequence of historically-induced problems which existed when he came to Rome:

We were on bad terms with Italy. Everything appeared contrary to my projects. It was necessary first of all to regulate our commercial situation and our Mediterranean situation, then to establish a general entente on the subject of Morocco and Tripolitania. It was then necessary to establish accords on our respective positions in Europe, and to foresee by these accords the situation of Italy with Germany in case of war. These prolegomena of my activity cost me four years of immense efforts, of sounding, of conversations. Then it was a matter of developing this business and rendering tighter and more solid, the relations between the two countries.122

The antagonism in Franco-Italian relations which existed for almost two decades had been brought about when France declared its protectorate in Tunis in 1881.  For the Italians, longing to play the Great Power role thrust upon them at the time of the Risorgimento, Tunis was to have been the natural first step in the creation of their own colonial empire.  The Italian population in Tunis was over 11,000 while the French total was only in the hundreds.  This made Italy the most heavily represented European nation in the capital city and helped to justify Italian designs there.123

Geographically, the proximity of Tunis to naval bases in southern Italy would have given the peninsular kingdom a strategic importance of tremendous magnitude in the central Mediterranean.  And regarding prestige, the reconquest of ancient Carthage would have been a significant achievement for the Piedmontese dynasty in its campaign to earn national and global acceptance.  The French occupation, however, quashed these dreams and turned Italian public opinion, governmental leadership, and foreign policy away from France and into the arms of Germany and Austria-Hungary. 

One year after the Tunis occupation, the Italian government entered into the Triple Alliance.  In so doing Italian statesmen were compelled to abandon their own revanchist or irredentist attitudes toward provinces lost to Austria-Hungary, and to repress any sentiments of gratitude for France's contribution to the creation of the unified Italian state in 1861. 

The new course brought Italy political benefits which made the Triple Alliance popular with most Italians.  The Third French Republic always had been a mistrusted friend for the Italian monarchy, but the alliance with the Habsburg and Hohenzollern emperors was welcomed enthusiastically by the House of Savoy.124 Moreover, Italians continued to fear that French ultramontanism would triumph in Paris and, in alliance with the Papacy, would use the Roman Question to destroy the new monarchy, return temporal power to the Pope, and restructure the Italian state. 

Politicians in Rome found security in the alliance with Germany and Austria125 Emboldened, too, Italian irredentists relaxed their campaigns against Austrians for the return Trieste and Trentino, stressing instead claims against France for the return of Nice and Corsica.  Bold Italian leaders such as Francesco Crispi found in the strong German state a better model than that of crisis-prone France. 

Finally, with Tunis gone to the French, the Italians saw the Central Powers as diplomatic and military bulwarks for their imperialistic dreams of acquiring the only remaining uncolonized North African territory, the sandy stretches of Tripolitania, modern Libya, still under nominal Ottoman control.

The one tie which continued to link France and Italy was the economic interdependence of the two Latin states.  Throughout most of the 1880s, France was the most successful marketplace for Italian goods.  By 1888, however, the success of Italy’s “foreign policy of prestige126 so strained relations with France that revelation of a secret Italo-German military convention caused a rupture in the economic relationship between Paris and Rome.127

On 1 March 1888, the French introduced their discriminatory tariff on Italian imports.  The Italians retaliated by raising their duties on goods coming from France by fifty percent.  Because this tariff war coincided with a general economic and financial depression in Italy, the Franco-Italian struggle would exact a disastrous price from the Italians. 

Within one year of the new duties, trade had been curtailed sharply between the two countries.  Furthermore, Italian trade with all countries suffered as a result of the struggle.  The effects of this commercial estrangement were felt for over a decade.  The value of imports from France fell forty-six percent in the first year; by 1899 the figure was still sixty-two percent below that of 1887.  The total value of Italian world imports declined twenty-seven percent.  Import figures did not regain their 1887 level until 1900; export figures reached that point in 1894.128

The most significant effect of what Barrère called a "moral war"129 was the closure to Italy of the French financial market.  Italy could find new commodity markets, but only France possessed the finance capital and low-interest rates that the nascent Italian economy needed for industrial development and debt management.

French investors, prodded by the desires of the press and government to see Italy abandon the Triple Alliance, had curtailed investments in Italian issues even before the tariff war began.  With the renewal of the Alliance in 1887 and the outbreak of commercial warfare, the French government banned the listing of new Italian stocks and bonds from the Bourse.130 Moreover, prices for those Italian issues already on the Paris market fluctuated as much as thirty percent in value throughout the 1890s.131

Several times during the tariff war, Italian statesmen attempted to regain access to the French commercial and financial markets.  They failed, however, because the prerequisite demanded by Paris was Italy's abandonment of its anti-French foreign policy.  The first attempt was during the period 1889-1890 when the Germanophile Crispi pledged the removal of anti-French tariffs in the near future while simultaneously approaching bankers in Paris about a possible loan.  Crispi, the strongman who had led the Italian government toward the Central Powers, was unsuccessful as the French government made no effort to relax its discriminatory tariffs132 and moved, instead, to veto any proposal to float an Italian loan.133

A second attempt at reconciliation came in 1891 with the return of the political Right to power under di Rudini and his able treasury minister, Luigi Luzzatti.  More moderate in foreign policy matters than Crispi, and seeking to rectify their national economic miseries, Rudini and Luzzatti hoped to negotiate a trade agreement and a settlement of outstanding African boundary disagreements.  In the midst of these conversations, however, Billot, the French ambassador, demanded disclosure of the terms of the Triple Alliance134 Rudini’s intemperate response was to break off talks with France and to notify Berlin and Vienna of his desire to renew the Triple Alliance a year before it was due to lapse.

A third and more cautious attempt at reconciliation was begun in 1896.  It came as part of the profound reassessment of Italian international goals which followed Crispi’s disastrous imperial policy in Abyssinia.  Moreover, the growing rift between Germany and Great Britain, highlighted brilliantly in the Kruger Telegram of the same year, played no small part in setting the Italians upon the path toward reconciliation with France.135 The new policy was engineered by Foreign Minister Visconti Venosta.  The venerable old Italian statesman was more practical and skilled in negotiating with France than had been his predecessors.  To assist his diplomatically bewildered nation, he was returning to the Consulta in 1896 following a twenty-year respite from governmental politics. 

Visconti Venosta favored the abandonment of the Crispian pro-German policy and a return to a more balanced, even pro-French, foreign policy.136 However slight were the practical gains of this new approach, Visconti Venosta’s moderate policy was a positive step toward the entente that would be created in Franco-Italian relations after 1898. 

Aware of the impracticality of not recognizing the French fait accompli in Tunis, Visconti Venosta negotiated a convention with Paris in October 1896 which, among other things, gave legal acknowledgment to the France’s protectorate there.  This agreement was complemented the same year by a treaty which reciprocally assured the most-favored-nation treatment in matters of navigation between the nations.137 Significantly, in negotiating both these diplomatic accords, the Italians did not demand compensation before signing the final terms. 

Despite Visconti Venosta’s minor successes with these treaties, he failed to realize his larger goals.  The questions of African boundary settlements and negotiations of a commercial accord were broached in the period 1896-1898.  But, no conclusive results were attained.  The two issues remained major impediments to improved relations.  Undoubtedly Visconti Venosta initiated an Italian movement toward rapprochement.  But, as one historian has pointed out, although this lessening of tensions may have been ''inaugurated in 1896," it still "was not mature" two years later.138

When Barrère and Delcassé came to power, Visconti Venosta’s policy had accomplished little that reduced Franco-Italian mistrust.  Italian political groupings, such as the pro-Germans centered about the monarch and the aged Crispi, and the pro-British politicians around Sidney Sonnino, still were potential threats to those slender threads of reconciliation that existed.  Italian and French public sentiments remained alienated from one another; and that estrangement had been reinforced by frequent outbursts of anti-French and anti-Italian feelings throughout the 1890s.139 Tensions still could be easily provoked through ill-conceived speeches by governmental officials.140 There remained many economic and political levels on which France and Italy remained hostile. 

The heritage of almost two decades of diplomatic and commercial estrangement was not overcome easily.  Certainly Barrère understood this truth.  Further complicating the situation was the diplomatic intimacy between Italy and Great Britain—a closeness that for the Italians bordered occasionally on dependency.  Although there never was a written alliance, the entente between Rome and London dated from the Risorgimento. 

For the British, the Italian relationship was a counter-balance to French political, military and imperial pressures in the Mediterranean.  The London government utilized its bond with Rome to preserve the status quo and to exert influence on events that might arise there.  The British also considered the Italian naval bases to be of potential value in case of a war against France.

If the understanding was a strategic matter for the British, it was a military necessity and an imperialistic advantage for the Italians.141 Fearing France as they did, the Italians needed British naval strength to secure their vulnerable and expansive coastline.  Italian military and naval leaders rightly concluded that in a war with France, the most destructive French efforts would come from naval bombardments and strategic landings along the Tyrrhenian and Ligurian coasts.142   Italy possessed a navy of little strength and of lesser repute.  Although there was no formal British commitment to assist Italy at sea in case of war with France, the general assurances inherent within the Anglo-Italian entente made the Italian position in the Mediterranean balance of power not unfavorable.143

The Anglo-Italian understanding was also an indispensable factor in the imperialistic activities of Italy.  With the loss of Tunis, British support for Italian claims on Tripolitania sustained the North African dreams of the young kingdom.  In East Africa, the diplomatic backing of Great Britain also played a significant role in Italian colonial efforts in Eritrea, Massowa, the Somali coast and Abyssinia.  In many respects British support for Italian colonial ambitions emanated from anxiety in London over possible French imperialistic expansion.144

Italian statesmen tried to link the English understanding—the most fundamental component of Italian foreign policy—with their continental position within the Triple Alliance.  Throughout the 1880s they were fairly successful in this effort.  Moreover, the Germans, recognizing that British alignment with the Triple Alliance effectively isolated France and bolstered Austria’s anti-Russian balance in the Balkans, co-operated with the Rome government to sustain this linkage.  In 1887 two Mediterranean Agreements145 between England, Italy and Austria-Hungary were concluded with Bismarck’s assistance.146 By their terms, the British government came as close to an alliance as Parliament would allow by agreeing to maintain the status quo in the Mediterranean, Aegean, Adriatic and Black Seas.  Furthermore, the English agreed to co-operate with Italy "in the Mediterranean in every difference which may arise."

In 1891 the Italians took a second step toward binding England to the Triple Alliance when a Protocol to the renewed Alliance announced the intention of the three allies to seek British accession to the clauses of the Alliance which guaranteed the western Mediterranean.147

The course of international relations in the last decade of the nineteenth century, however, dealt a harsh blow to the idea of British adhesion to the Triple Alliance, and to the basic community of interests within the Anglo-Italian entente.  As long as Bismarckian policy kept German diplomatic efforts directed toward the continental balance of power, the British could afford the luxury of conducting an anti-French foreign policy.  German Weltpolitik after 1890, with its political and economic threat to British imperialism and its ambivalent "zig-zag" diplomacy between England and Russia, led to reassessments in British policy. 

The existence of the Franco-Russian Alliance after 1893 also weighed upon the considerations of the London government.  The British could not oppose France and Germany simultaneously.  Though the Egyptian Question would keep Paris and London apart until 1904, British policy in the 1890s began to exhibit a new reasonableness toward France.  As a consequence cordiality in British attitudes toward the Triple Alliance in 1891 gave way to a fierce competiveness, especially with Germany.  Moreover, following a series of disruptive developments including German and Italian unhappiness with England's yielding attitude toward France in the Siamese crisis of 1893; German opposition in 1896 to the Treaty of Shimonoseki which ended the Sino-Japanese War and boosted British influence and advantage in China, Austrian dissatisfaction with Britain’s failure to increase its obligations in the Mediterranean, and the infamous Kruger Telegram of 1896 by which Germany imposed itself in South African politics, any "co-operation between England and the Triple Alliance was practically at an end."148

If the British drift away from intimacy with the Triple Alliance affected the worth of the Anglo-Italian understanding in the peninsula, British colonial policy in the 1890s also introduced an element of distrust into relations between Rome and London.  In Morocco the refusal by the British to commit themselves to an anti-French policy was not favorably received in Italy.  In East Africa Anglo-Italian boundary disputes were complicated by the British desire to accommodate the French there.  The Italians also feared that French, Russian, and now British co-operation exhibited in investigating the Armenian Massacres in 1894 might be extended to East Africa, thereby crushing Italian imperial hopes.  Finally, in the aftermath of the Adowa debacle in 1896, publication of government documents linking Britain to Italian affairs in Abyssinia did much to alienate Italian public opinion from England.149

The crisis in Anglo-Italian relations was still unresolved when Barrère came to Rome.  Traditionally, the French would have had to contend with British concerns if they approached Rome with major plans for the disposition of Morocco and Tripolitania.  But with the festering resentment between Italy and Great Britain, Barrère saw the possibility of dealing directly and exclusively on matters of French and Italian interests in the Mediterranean.  The successful conclusion of the Visconti Venosta-Barrère Accord on the Mediterranean in December 1900 is directly related to the expanded range of political possibilities created by momentary estrangement in Anglo-Italian relations. 

A third historical force influential in Italian politics in 1898 was the legacy of sixteen years of alliance with the Central Powers.  In entering the Triple Alliance Italy was compelled to play down its "natural" rivalry with Austria.  Italy had always maintained close diplomatic relations with Bismarckian Germany, but the Habsburg Monarchy was the chronic antagonist of Italian aspirations. 

The negative effects of Austrian politics in the peninsula can be traced to the rivalry between the Papacy and Emperor in medieval times.  For nineteenth-century Italy, however, diplomatic relations with the Dual Monarchy were tense for contemporary reasons: Austrian mistreatment of Italian minorities living within Habsburg territory antagonized the irredentist sympathies of Italian nationalists; the close association of Emperor Franz Josef with the Holy See kept alive the threat of restoring Papal temporal power in and around Rome; and Austrian political predominance in the western Balkans frustrated Italian imperialistic ambitions in Albania and along the Adriatic eastern shore. 

Bismarck was aware of the explosive potential of the Austro-Italian rivalry when he forged the Triple Alliance.  Although his prime goal in making the Alliance had been to remove the possibility of France, Russia, and Italy combining against Austria-Hungary and Germany,150 he admitted that the great advantage of the Alliance was to insure "that Austria is not bitten in the claws" by Italy.151 Bismarck purposely refused to act as an intermediary between Rome and Vienna during negotiations in 1882.  He insisted that the two governments resolve their differences before coming to Berlin.  "The key of the door which leads to us," he informed the Italians," is to be found in Vienna."152

The first treaty of the Triple Alliance was defensive in nature, and despite revisions in 1887 and 1891, the Alliance maintained this basic orientation.153 The original treaty prescribed the co-operative diplomatic postures to be assumed by the allies should a signatory become involved in a war with a non-signatory.  For Italy, specifically, the benefits of the Triplice were several.  To counter the French threat, Article II pledged Germany and Austria "to lend help and assistance with all their force" should France provoke a war with Italy.  With regard to Great Britain, Article VI and the Ministerial Declarations which accompanied the treaty assured Italy that the Alliance was not directed against England.  The treaty was also ipso facto insurance against a war between Italy and the Habsburg monarchy.  Finally, the promise in the Preamble of "unimpaired maintenance of the social and political order in the respective states" was interpreted by many in Italy as an affirmation of the monarchial regime and a safeguard against reestablishment of Papal political power. 

The scope of Italian political support from the Central Powers was expanded by a second treaty concluded in 1887.154   The original text was not altered, but to this foundation the allies attached separate German-Italian and Austro-Italian treaties dealing with Italy's imperialistic ambitions in the Mediterranean basin and in the Balkans.  The Berlin government pledged its support for the status quo in the "Orient." It furthermore agreed to use its influence "to forestall, on the Ottoman coasts and islands in the Adriatic and the Aegean Seas, any territorial modification" injurious to either ally.  The Germans also recognized the casus foederis to exist if the French should move to extend their occupation, protectorate, or sovereignty in Tripolitania or Morocco, thereby causing Italy to "feel she must herself undertake action" in North Africa or France to resist the aggression.  Furthermore, the Germans pledged to present no obstacle to Italian territorial demands against the French resulting from "any war undertaken in common against France."

Although the Austrians would not extend guarantees to the Italian position in North Africa, they did commit themselves to cooperativeness with Italy in the Balkans.

Austria promised to maintain "so far as possible" the territorial status quo in the "Orient" and to share with Italy "information of a nature to enlighten each other mutually concerning their own dispositions, as well as those of other Powers." More importantly, the two allies promised that should either make a move toward temporary or permanent occupation "in the regions of the Balkans or the Ottoman coasts and the islands of the Adriatic and the Aegean Seas," it should not be done without previous agreement between the two nations.  Moreover, such a move would be made on the basis of "reciprocal compensation for every advantage territorial or other."

The meshing of Italian political aspirations with those of the Central Powers was further strengthened by the third treaty signed in 1891.155  Aimed directly at Italian long-range designs upon Tripolitania, the Germans agreed to support Italy should the latter choose to alter the status quo "in the form of occupation or other taking of guaranty." By terms of an attached Protocol, the contracting Powers agreed to seek the "analogous accession" of Great Britain to the German pledge of support for Italy in North Africa from Morocco to Tripolitania. 

The benefits reaped by Italy from the Triple Alliance treaties were, for the most part, political in scope.156  But political intimacy also brought Italy closer to the Central Powers militarily and economically.  At the behest of Crispi, the Italian and German General Staffs concluded a military convention in 1887.  By its terms the agreement Italians promised that two army corps would be dispatched to assist the Germans in case of a war with France.  The 200,000 men of this contingent were to travel through Austria in order to link up with German contingents battling in Alsace.157

Economically, the Central Powers attempted to rescue Italy from the effects of the economic desertion by France.  At Bismarck’s request, a financial syndicate of German capitalists was formed around the banker Gerson von Bleichröder to purchase failing Italian issues on the Paris Bourse.158 German bankers also established themselves formidably in financing the Italian banking industry during the 1890s.159 Moreover, as commercial relations were regularized by separate German-Italian and Austro-Italian commercial treaties In 1891, domestic markets in Germany and Austria began to absorb an increased flow of Italian commodities160 Although these efforts by the Central Powers did not prevent the Italian depression, there is little doubt that they mitigated the disaster; they also created powerful German leverage within the Italian economy.161

It is important to note, however, that notwithstanding the political, military and economic co-operation of the allied monarchies, the rivalry between Rome and Vienna was not totally eclipsed.  Moreover, after 1896 when Italian imperialistic energies shifted from East Africa to North Africa and the Balkan peninsula dormant incompatibilities within the Austro-Italian relationship were awakened. 

During the early years of the Triple Alliance, the Italian government took measures to arrest hostile popular attitudes toward the Habsburg Monarchy.162 By the terms of Article IX of the Triple Alliance treaty of 1891 and the Visconti Venosta-Goluchowski declaration of November 1897,163 both governments attempted to reach an understanding respecting the status quo in their chief area of rivalry, the Balkans.

Behind the facade of friendship, however, Italian hatred of Austria-Hungary was still strong.  Italia Irredenta may have been played down by the Rome government, but to nationalistic elements in the kingdom it maintained its emotional appeal.164 The government in Vienna, moreover, never withdrew from its role as Papal protector,165 and despite a visit to Venice, the Austrian emperor refused to come to Rome and return the state visit made in 1881 by the Italian monarch—this because Franz Josef would not see the Italian king without first visiting the Pope, a procedure totally unacceptable to the young Italian nation.  Austro-Italian antagonism was also vexed by events such as the Greek-Turkish war of 1896 and the Crete Question which consistently set Italian interests against those of her ally.  Furthermore, despite stipulations within the Triple Alliance calling for Austro-Italian co-operation in the Balkans, an Austrian arrangement with Russia in 1897 to maintain that Balkans as an Austro-Russian sphere of influence,166 was a stinging rebuke and "a moral break in the Triple Alliance."167

Thus, the political situation which Camille Barrère encountered in 1898 was dominated by historical legacies of Franco-Italian, Anglo-Italian, and German-Austrian-Italian diplomatic relations during the previous two decades.  The forces created by these heritages established the range of possibilities within which Barrère worked to achieve his clearly-conceived ideas. 

His first task was to deal with the tension in Franco-Italian relations and to resolve the economic, colonial and diplomatic problems besetting direct contacts between the Latin nations.  Only after establishing a cooperative spirit could the new ambassador hope to approach the Mediterranean question involving Italy's ties with Great Britain.  Finally, after the settlement of these immediate problems, Barrère could then turn to the broader question which preoccupied him: the role of Italy within the anti-French Triple Alliance. 

The Prinetti-Barrère accord of June 1902 represents both the successful resolution of misunderstandings arising from Italian participation in the Triple Alliance, and the reconciliation through peaceful diplomacy of French and Italian interests and ambitions that Barrère anticipated a decade earlier.


1  The only biography is Noël, op. cit.  A useful chapter is in Serra, op. cit., pp. 21-46.  Some information, but much of it inaccurate, exists in Nemi, "Camille Barrère," Nuova antologia.  1 March 1902, pp. 158-160.

2  No information is available concerning Barrère’s religious affiliation, however, his embassy secretary implies that Barrère was a Roman Catholic.  See Laroche, op. cit., p. 26.

3  Noël, op. cit., p. 17.

4  Laroche, op. cit.  p. 13.

5  Bernhard von Bülow, Memoirs of Prince von Bülow (Boston, 1931), IV, p. 471n.

6  Laroche, op. cit., p. 13.

6  Nemi, op. cit., p. 158; Noël, op. cit., p. 18 denies that Barrère played a very active role.

8  These words from Bülow are found in Bülow, loc.  cit.

9  Article by Alexandre Zévaès in Agence Technique de la Presse, 31 August 1932; MC, Biographie Contemporaine, file 15844.

10  This declaration appeared in La Sociale, number 41, and is quoted in part in Alexandre Zévaès, Henri Rochefort le pamphlétaire (Paris, 1946), p. 125n.

11  In Constantinople he made the acquaintance of the daughter of a wealthy Armenian banker.  They were married in 1879.  The witnesses at the marriage were Charles Dilke, future undersecretary of state for foreign affairs in the government of William Gladstone; and Gabriel Charmes, an editor of the Journal des Debats.  See Serra, op. cit.  , p. 25.

12  Noël, op. cit., p. 21.

13  Pierre Sorlin, Waldeck-Rousseau (Paris, 1966), p. 190.

14  La République Française was small in circulation by Parisian standards.  Founded by Léon Gambetta in November 1871, it was "badly presented" and never exceeded 10,000 in circulation.  Following Gambetta's death this figure dropped below 6,000.  In 1886 Joseph Reinach tried to inject new life into the paper; his effort was in vain.  In 1893 the journal came under the influence of its new editor, Jules Méline.  Ibid.  pp. 541-545.

15  The letter is to be found in Gambetta to Barrère, 18 January 1880; Lettres de Gambetta 1868-1882.  Daniel Halevy and Émile Pillias, editors (Paris, 1938), #430.

16  An example of his Barrère’s pragmatism and his tendency to appreciate Gambetta's perspective when analyzing political situations can be found in a passage from Barrère to Delcassé," 6 February 1887; MAE, Delcassé MSS, I:

"Do not call me against the Left." That was the opinion of Gambetta, himself, who told me several times before his death that he would return to power only by a republican reaction. You tell me that Gambetta’s friends want to remain loyal to their traditions and to make their own policy, not one almost like it. I remain in agreement with them, but for that a leader is needed. And do you have that leader that allows you to separate from not only those recently in power, but also [Jules] Ferry? Ferry is the only man since Gambetta who, despite the very real mistakes he has committed, has shown proof of his statesmanship.

17  Barrère, Ibid, p. 603.

18  Serra, op. cit., pp. 28-29.

19  Porter, Ibid, p. 14.

20  Ibid.  pp. 14-15; Serra, op. cit., pp. 28-29.

21  Quoted in Porter, op. cit., p. 15.

22  Barrère to Delcassé, 15 December 1886; MAE, Delcassé MSS, I.

23  Biographical material on Delcassé's early life can be Andrew, op. cit., pp. 1-25;

Porter, op. cit., pp. 6-52;  Neton, op. cit., pp. 21-109.  A good treatment of this subject is in Edouard Blanc, La jeunesse de Delcassé (Paris, 1934).  Information is also available in the most recent work on Delcassé, Charles Zorgbibe, Delcassé, Le grande ministre des Affaires etrangeres de la IIIe Republique (Paris, Editions Olbia, 2001), pp. 9-42.

24  Porter, op, cit., p. 11 erroneously gives 1875 as the date of Delcassé's arrival in Paris.  The correct date of 1877 is from Blanc, op. cit., pp. 98-99

25  Ibid., pp. 98-99 explains how Delcassé set down his ideas in an essay entitled " allons-nous?" and mailed it to Gambetta.  Gambetta was impressed enough to arrange to have Delcassé interviewed.  This essay is not to be confused with Delcassé's published essay "Alerte! allons-nous?" (Paris, 1882).

26  "My own interview with Camille Barrère," November 27, 1933; Porter MSS.

27  The other witness was Gambetta’s biographer, Joseph Reinach.  Blanc, op. cit., p. 142.

28  "My own interview with Camille Barrère," Porter MSS; see also Cambon to his son, 8 May 1905, in Paul Cambon, op cit., II, p. 191; Noël, op. cit., p. 75.

29  Stephen Gwynn and Gertrude M.  Tuckwell, The Life of the Rt.  Hon.  Sir Charles W.  Dilke (London, 1917), I, p. 299.

30  See for example Barrère's compte rendu of an interview on 10 June 1887 with Count Herbert von Bismarck in Barrère to Spuller, 22 June 1887, MAE, Suède-Norvège, 347.

31  Schelking, op. cit., p. 41.

32  Barrère to Spuller, 12 December 1889; MAE, Bavière, 268.

33  Barrère to Delcassé, 15 December 1886; MAE, Delcassé MSS, I.

34  This paragraph is taken from Barrère to Delcassé, 6 February 1887; MAE, Delcassé MSS, I [underlines are by Barrère.]bid.

35  Barrère to Develle, 23 September 1893; DDF, I, x, #371.

36  Barrère to Spuller, 3 September 1889; DDF, I, vii, #453.

37  Barrère to Develle, 23 September 1893; DDF, I, x, #371.

38  Barrère to Hanotaux, 14 March 1890; MAE, Hanotaux MSS, 17.

39  Ibid. 

40  Barrère to Ribot, 23 March 1892; MAE.  Bavière, 273

41  Barrère to Spuller, 12 January 1890, MAE, Bavière, 269.

42  Barrère Spuller, 13 April 1889; MAE.  Bavière, 268.

43  Barrère to Ribot, 30 May 1890; MAE, Bavière, 270.

44  The term is Barrère's.  See Barrère to Ribot; 31 March 1891; MAE, Bavière, 271

45  Barrère to Ribot, 10 September 1892; MAE, Bavière, 273.

46  Barrère to Ribot, 1 June 1890; MAE, Bavière, 270.

47  Barrère to Ribot, 10 September 1892; MAE, Bavière, 273.

48  Barrère to Spuller, 28 January 1890; MAE, Bavière, 269.

49  Barrère to Ribot, 12 May 1891; MAE, Bavière, 271.

50    Christopher Seton-Watson, Italy from Liberalism to Fascism, 1870-1925 (London, 1967), pp. 141-142.  Shepard B.  Clough, The Economic History of Modern Italy (New York, 1964), pp. 117-118.

51  Barrère to Ribot, 10 September 1892; MAE, Bavière, 273.

52  Barrère to Spuller, 10 October 1889; MAE, Bavière, 268.

53  Barrère to Ribot, 30 August 1890; DDF, I, viii, #166.

54  to Ribot, 27 April 1890; MAE, Bavière, 269.

55  Barrère to Ribot, 3 March 1891; MAE, Bavière, 271.

56  Barrère to Casimir-Perier, 30 December 1893; DDF, I, x, #486.

57  Barrère to Ribot, 10 September 1892; MAE, Bavière, 273.

58    Nemi, op. cit., p. 160.

59  Noël, op. cit., p. 38.

60    Charles-Roux, op. cit., p. 111.  One writer claimed that Barrère was partially responsible for the entente cordiale; according to André Géraud, the scheme of

an Anglo-French alignment, "loomed large in the talk of Léon Gambetta, some eighteen years earlier, and the idea had been taken up by Paul Cambon and Camille Barrère, the

most farseeing ambassadors any French government ever had in its service." See André Géraud ("Pertinax"), "Diplomacy, Old and New," Foreign Affairs.  January 1945, pp. 258-259.

61  Jules Cambon, Le diplomate (Paris, 1926), p. 60; Gooch, op. cit., I, p. 126.

62  Interview with Barrère by Philippe Amiguet, L’Ordre, 15 December 1930; MC, Biographie Contemporaine, file 15844.  Interestingly, Barrère never submitted to a newspaper interview throughout his diplomatic career.  This interview was allowed six years after his retirement.

63  Jules Cambon, op. cit., p. 60.

64  Cunliffe-Owen, op. cit.

65    Serra, op. cit., p. 69.

66  For the ambassador's assessment of his own tenure, see Billot, La France et l’Italia, Histoire des années troublés, 1881-1899 (Paris, 1905), 2 vols.  More informative

is his article "Le rapprochement commercial entre la France et I'ltalie," Revue des deux mondes, 1 January 1899, pp. 131-145.

67  Albertini, op. cit., I, p. 70.

68  Mario Pastore, "Una questione di fondo nel riavviclnamento italo-francese: l'hinterland tripolino," Rivista di studi politica internazionale, April-June 1960, p. 263.

69  The Marquise di Rudini is reported to have said of Billot's health: "The French ambassador always has the colic; it’s a sign that the Republic considers its embassy in Rome as an ambulance.”

70  Deuxième Bureau report, 24 December 1897; AMA, Italie, carton 19, #8407.

71  Tornielli to Visconti Venosta, 23 March 1897; DDI, III, i, #401.

72  Georges Dethan, "Le rapprochement franco-italien après la chute de Crispi jusqu'aux accords Barrère-Visconti Venosta sur le Maroc et la Tripolitaine (1896-1904) d'après

les archives du Quai d'Orsay," Revue d'histoire diplomatique, October-December 1956, p. 331.

73  Tommaso Tittoni, ("XXX") "Visite ed ambasciatori," Nuova antologia, 1 November 1903, p. 147.

74  Enrico Serra, La questione tunisina da Crispi a Rudini ed il "colpo di timone" alia politica estera dell’Italia (Milan, 1967), pp. 136-139.

75  Enrico Serra, "Giuseppe Tornielli Brusati di Vergano," Storia e politica, July-September 1963, p. 345; Laroche, op. cit., pp. 49-50.

76  Writing to Alberto Pansa, the Italian ambassador in Constantinople, he reservedly accepted the Franco-Italian commercial accord of 1898 because, he claimed, "Some good

will be derived from it, however.  Our major advantage is finding in it the better credit conditions without which no modern state has a secure life." Tornielli to Pansa, 19

January 1899; cited in Serra, "Giuseppe Tornielli," p. 351.

77  Tornielli to Pansa, 1 January 1901; Ibid., pp. 354-355; Andrew, op. cit., p. 145.

77  The romantic affairs of Madame Tornielli in Paris earned her the reputation of "la jolie du corps diplomatique," Ibid., p. 145, note 7. 

79  Tornielli’s immodest use of his money caused his widow to live in poverty after 1908; see Serra, "Giuseppe Tornielli," p. 344.

80  to Visconti Venosta, 26 October 1899; AMAE, Francia, 01804, pac.  56, posiz.  9

81  Canevaro, 9 December 1898; DDI, III, ill, p. 147n

82  Tornielli to Visconti Venosta, 10 October 1899; AMAE, Francia, 01804, pac.  56, posiz.  9.

83  Monson to Salisbury, 24 October 1899; ED, I, #286.

84  Tornielll to Visconti Venosta, 22 December 1899; AMAE.  Francia, 01084, pac.  56, posiz.  9; Tornielli to Visconti Venosta, 25 January 1900; AMAE, Francia, 01085; pac.  57, posiz.  9.

85  Laroche, op. cit., p. 49.

86  See for instance the criticism of Carlo Romussi, publisher of Secolo and a close friend of Giovanni Giolitti: Romussi to Giolitti, 6 November 1903, in Giovanni Giolitti,

Quarant'anni di politica italiana, dalle carte Giovanni Giolitti (Institute Giangiacome Feltrinelli), (Milan, 1962), II, p. 339

87  Noël, op. cit., p. 54.  Barrère later noted of Tornielli: "While he publicly makes the professions of a Francophile and, so contrary to the truth, claims a part in the

rapprochement between the two countries, we catch him working secretly to create difficulties and to sow defiance between the two governments.  Besides, this explains why his government always leaves its agent outside negotiations having a delicate character; furthermore, it proves how it would be prudent on our part to imitate this reserve and to furnish to Count Tornielli as little occasion as possible to be involved in the dealings which concern the good understanding between France and Italy." Barrère to Delcassé, 10 June 1903; MAE, Italie, NS 18.

88  Serra, "Giuseppe Tornielli," p. 345

89  Tornielli to Visconti Venosta, 10 January 1898; DDI, III, iii, #341.

90  Thomas M.  Iiams, Jr., Dreyfus, Diplomatists and the Dual Alliance.  Gabriel Hanotaux at the Quai d’Orsay (1894-1898) (Geneva, 1962), p. 152, in which Hanotaux is "ranked as the Third Republic's ablest foreign minister." See also Iiams’ article, "La personnalité de Gabriel Hanotaux," Revue d'histoire diplomatique.  July-September 1965, pp. 251-263.

91  Andrew, op. cit., pp. 180-181.

92  Ibid., p. 76n

93  Barrère to Hanotaux, 12 April 1898; Hanotaux MSS, 17.

94  For the historical controversy surrounding Delcassé’s nomination to be Minister of Foreign Affairs, see Andrew, op. cit.,  p. 58n.

95  Delcassé’s short stature gave his enemies ammunition with which to diminish him  For instance, Alphonse Daudet’s referred to him as the "gnome of Fashoda,." while at time Jean Jaurès called Delcassé “dwarf,” “gnome,” and a "hallucinated Lilliputian.  Even his mentor Léon Gambetta creferred to him as “pitchoun,” a French derivative of the old Occitan word “pichon” meaning “tiny.” Delcassé knew the language because he was from Pamiers, a village in south-central France about 40 miles from Andorra and northern Spain.  See Charles Zorgbibe, op.cit., p. 17.

96  Joseph Caillaux, Mes memories (Paris, 1942), I, p. 153ff.  Delcassé's unpleasant mannerisms also struck Saint-Aulaire who reported that as foreign minister, Delcassé felt his ministerial colleagues to be "traitors, fools, cretians, scoundrels."  Saint-Aulaire, op. cit.,.  Homberg also described Delcassé: "His brain very lucid, he was not very rich in concepts.  During his entire ministry, he had only three or four great ideas, but he knew how to stick to them and exploit them marvellously." Octave Homberg, Les coulisses de l’histoire, Souvenirs 1898-1928 (Paris, 1938), p. 26.

97  Louis Le Gall, "Les souvenirs de Louis Le Gall 1898-1899," in Charles Brabant, Félix Faure à l’Élysée (Paris, 1963), pp. 137-138.

98  Letter of 24-25 October 1898, in Princess Radziwill, Lettres de la Princesse Radziwill au Général de Robilant,1889-1914 (Bologna, 1933), II, p. 154.

99  Tornielli to Canevaro, 6 July 1898; DDI, III, iii, #3.  Ironically Charles Maurras believed that Delcassé's appointment was due to the efforts of the Italian embassy; see Charles Maurras, Kiel et Tanger.  1895-1905, La république francaise devant l’Europe.  1905-1913-1921 (Paris, 1921), p. 10.

100  The date of this visit often is erroneously cited as spring 1898.  The fact that the visit was made in 1897 is clearly mentioned in Billot, op. cit., II, p. 427 and Tornielli to Canevaro, 25 January 1899; DDI, III, iii, #144.

101  Delcassé's loyalty to the ideals of Gambetta was not as strict as has usually been assumed.  Compare Porter, op. cit., pp. 12-13; and Andrew, op. cit., pp. 3-4.  For

Delcassé’s domestic political aspirations, however, the ties with Gambetta were an effective campaign tool as is evidenced by this last stanza from the poem, "Ode to Mr.  Delcassé," composed and read for a banquet during the foreign minister’s campaign for re-election to the Chamber of Deputies in March 1902:

Oh; From what an excellent school he came
The Master, a patriot of ardent word
Dead so young; he left us
His friend, fully imbued with the same doctrine.

Yes, Mr.  Delcassé, in your chest
Beats the heart of Gambetta.

See  "Elections en Ariège; " MAE, Delcassé, MSS, XVIII.

102  Russian foreign minister, Count Mikhail Nikolayevich Muraviev, is reported to have said: "Delcassé is a maniac who subordinates everything to the idea of revanche." Cited in Bülow, op. cit., I,  p. 354.  Bülow, himself, considered Delcassé "the most tenacious and skillful of all the protagonists of revanche—the idea which dominated his mind, his every thought, his very life."  Ibid., p. 318.  Strongly unfavorable accounts of Delcassé's feelings on this matter are found in Harvey Goldberg, The Life of Jean Jaures (Madison, 1962), p. 244; and Pinon, op. cit., pp. 116-117.

103  Cited in Andrew, op. cit., p. 121.

104  Early in his seven-year tenure Delcassé felt that the division of the Habsburg Monarchy following the death of the Emporer Franz Josef would induce Germany to return Alsace and Lorraine.  Maurice Paléologue, The Turning Point.  Three Critical Years, 1904-1906 (London, 1935), p. 158.  Andrew, op. cit., p. 135.

105  Homberg, op. cit., p. 26.

106  Pinon, op. cit., p. 117.

107  Delcassé to Louis Nordheim, 28 January 1887; cited in Andrew, op. cit., pp. 16-17.

108  Ibid., pp. 17-19.  For an excellent documentary summation of German overtures for a rapprochement with France during the first years of Delcassé's ministry, see "Notes Herbette"  MAE, Allemagne, NS 26.

109  Andrew, op. cit., p. 119; see also Parr, op. cit., p. 82.

110  Barrère expressed this idea to Count Paul Shuvaloff, the Russian ambassador to Germany, during a conversation in 1892.  To the Russian’s question "Do you believe the Alsace-Lorraine question really exists?" Barrère wryly responded that "If it did not exist, we would not be in the process of drinking champagne together." Barrère to Ribot, 30 July 1892; DDF, I, ix, #427.

111  Porter, op. cit., pp. 16-51; Andrew, op. cit.  .  pp. 21-25.

112  Ibid., p. 78.

113  Easter in 1899 occurred on 4 April.  Neton erroneously dated the meeting as being in "the first days of February 1899"; see Neton, op .  cit., p. 204.  Borrrowing heavily from Neton’s work, the latest scholarship on Delcassé erroneously dates this pivotal meeting as occurring 2 February; see Zorgbibe, op. cit., p. 89. 

114  Cambon to Delcassé, 9 March 1899, MAE, Delcassé MSS, III.  Although it is not ascertainable, Neton claims the meeting included Jules Cambon and the Director of the Direction Politique within the Quai d'Orsay; Neton, op. cit., p. 204.

115  Barrère to Delcassé, 25 February 1899; MAE, Delcassé MSS, I. 

116  On this action, see Paul Cambon to his son, 16 April 1904; in Paul Cambon, op .  cit.,  p. 134.

117  Neton, op. cit., pp. 204-206.

118  Charles-Roux, op. cit., p. 111.

119  Barrère purposely sought Umberto's favor, as he felt that this was partially the explanation for German and Austrian success in Rome.  He wrote to Hanotaux: "The German and Austrian ambassadors by habit do not lose one occasion to be in contact with the king.  The slightest pretext suffices for them to ask for an audience with him.  It seems to me that there is no reason not to follow their example without, however, departing myself from the reserve that circumstances command…" in Barrère to Hanotaux, 31 May 1898; MAE, Italie, NS 13.  Barrère recognized the monarch's importance when he noted that "in Italy men in government change and the king remains" in Barrère to Hanotaux, 11 April 1898; DDF.  I, xiv, #150.

120  It has usually been assumed that Delcassé used Le Matin as his "official" newspaper.  Barrère, however, usually cited the Journal des Debats as his choice for planting an important story.  For example, in late 1901 when the Viennese Neue Freie Presse printed an article suggesting that the Italians would be sorry when the French clerics led by Méline and Dupuy returned to power, Barrère urged that the journalist Ebray respond in the Journal des Debats with an article vigorously opposing the renewal of Papal temporal power.  See Barrère to Delcassé, 18 December 1901; MAE.  Italie, NS 16.  Compare Oron James Hale, Germany and the Diplomatic Revolution.  A Study in Diplomacy and the Press, 1904-1906 (Philadelphia, 1931), p. 13; and Porter, op. cit.,  p. 115.

121  When Barrère criticized the comments of the French press during the Italian ministerial crises in June 1898, Hanotaux reminded him: "As for the language taken in certain French journals on the occasion of the Italian ministeral crises, I do not believe it useless to remind you that we cannot bind the press and that there are no journals over which we have an influence." Hanotaux to Barrère, 6 June 1898; MAE.  Italie, NS 13.

122  "Interview with Barrère by Philippe Amiguet," loc cit.

13  Seton-Watson, op. cit.  , p. 107.

124  Thayer, op. cit., pp. 148-149.

125  Ibid..  pp. 159-168.

126  The term is Seton-Watson's in op. cit., p. 131.  By 1887 Crispi's foreign minister, Count Carlo di Robilant, had negotiated a web of international agreements including the Triple Alliance, two Mediterranean Agreements, and the beginnings of a colonial empire in East Africa.

127  A French economic negotiator in Rome at the time of the revelation of the convention is reported to have remarked: “As long as you remain in the Triple Alliance, no commercial agreement between Italy and France will be possible.”  Cited in William L.  Langer, European Alliances and Alignments.  1871-1890 (New York, 1931), p. 474.

128  Edmond Théry, Situation economique et financière de l'Italie (Paris, 1903), pp. 48-51.  Italian world trade figures in millions of lire were as follows:


1887           1,604,947      1,002,137

1888           1,174,602        891,935 

1889           1,391,638        950,646

1890           1,319,585        895,945

1891           1,126,585        878,800

1892           1,173,392        958,187

1894           1,094,649      1,026,506

1897           1,191,599      1,091,734

1898           1,413,335      1,203,569

1899           1,506,561      1,431,416

1900           1,700,236      1,338,246

129  This term was Barrère's; see Barrère, op. cit..  p. 607

130  Herbert Feis, Europe the World's Banker, 1870-1914.  An Account of European Foreign Investment and the Connection of World Finance with Diplomacy before the War (New Haven, 1930), pp. 235-237.

131  Théry, op. cit., pp. 114-116.  According to Théry, the Italian five percent bond fluctuated from a high in 1886 of 102.75 francs to a low in 1894 of 71.25.  The three percent bond moved in value between 71.40 and 47.  He also pointed out that during the crisis period of the Italian depression, 1893-1894, the value of fifteen principle Italian issues in Paris (bank stocks, railroads, and industries) dropped in value from 945 million to 722 million.

132  The discriminatory tariff was replaced by a general tariff in February 1892.

133  Seton-Watson, op. cit., p. 143.

134  Ibid., p. 148; Augusto Torre, La politica estera dell’Italia dal 1870 al 1896 (Bologna, 1959), pp. 339-344.

135    Langer, op. cit., p. 593.

136  On Visconti Venosta’s foreign policy see Serra, La questione tunisina.  pp. 406-454; and his Camllie Barrère, pp. 47-66.  See also Torre, op. cit., pp. 82-110; Luigi Salvatorelli, La triplice alleanza, Storia diplomatica, 1877-1912 (Milan, 1939), pp. 215-226.

137  Iiams, Dreyfus, p. 115.

138  James Linus Glanville, Italy's Relations with England.  1896-1905 (Baltimore, 1934), p. 62; see also Tommasini, op. cit., I, p. 69, who feels that "With the naming of Barrfere as ambassador to the Quirinal…and with the assumption of the Quai d'Orsay by Dlcassé…the real transformation of Italo-French relations began."

139  On this matter, one can cite the anti-French outbursts in Italy in 1891 following the inscription "Vive le Pape" by a French religious pilgrim upon the register in the

Pantheon; those in 1893 following the visit of the Prince of Naples to German military maneuvers in Lorraine; the Aigues Mortes quarrel in 1893 which resulted in the death of

several Italian workers; the mobbing of the Farnese Palace following the Aigues-Mortes affair; and the ouster in 1894 of many French journalists reporting from Rome.  See Andre Tardieu, France and the Alliances.  The Struggle for the Balance of Power (New York, 1908), pp. 85-86; Iiams, Dreyfus, pp. 105-108.

140  An example of this sensitivity to the spoken word is found in the exchange of inflammatory gestures made during the height of the Fashoda crisis in late 1898.  On 26 October the Italian Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, Nunzio Nasi, a long-time Crispi follower, spoke before the Italian colony in Tunis and remarked that Italy "should not acquire the friendship of other Powers at the price of abandoning her rights," and that "the policy of renunciation will not be followed by the present government" (cited in editor's note, DDF, I, xiv, p. 790n).  Although the Italian government officially denied that Nasi spoke with authority (Canevaro to Tornielli, 27 October 1898; DDI.  III, iii #100), a Deuxième Bureau report contended that, privately, Prime Minister Luigi Pelloux told Nasi that such "ideas are those that all good patriots share in Italy, but that it is committing a maladdresse to enunciate them at the moment talks are underway with France aimed at gaining commercial concessions" (Deuxième Bureau report, 31 October 1898; AMA, Italie, carton 19, #1637).  Earlier that month the French Minister of the Navy, Edouard Lockroy, had visited naval installations in the western Mediterranean and North Africa.  His speeches and activities raised anger among Italians who felt his two week excursion was the forerunner of greater French naval expenditure (Tornielli to Canevaro, 5 November 1898; AMAE, Francia, 01804, pac.  56, posiz.  9) and those who considered it part of the traditional French policy "of making room for [Italy] in matters of letters and arts, while refusing her a political position by showing her the formidable apparatus which is ready if Italy should want to have in the Mediterranean the situation

which her geography assigned to her" (Paris correspondent in Gazzetta del Popolo, 8 October 1898, cited in Deuxième Bureau report, 14 October 1898; AMA, Italie, carton 19, #1547).

141  On this concern, see the anonymous pamphlet published in 1894, "L'alleanza anglo-italiana." AMA, Italie, carton 81.

142  French military assessments of the vulnerability of the Italian coast to naval bombardment are to be found in "Moyens d’action de l’Italie contre la France dans la

Mediterranée," July 1890; AMA, Italie, carton 81. 

143  The British would not enter into an open alliance with Italy.  Fearing that such a commitment might embolden the Italians to provoke a war with France, and declaring the

inability of any British cabinet to conclude an alliance because of Parliamentary opposition to alliances, the English would do nothing more formal than agree in the first

Mediterranean Agreement "to support [Italy] in the Mediterranean in every difference which may arise between ff her and another Power: see Glanville, op. cit., pp. 21-22.  The

Conservative prime minister, Lord Salisbury, verbally assured the Italians that "in case of a French attack upon the Italian coasts…Italy can count on British support whether or not there is any previous agreement." cited in Seton-Watson, op. cit., p. 150.  These assurances were repeated in 1892 by the Liberal prime minister, Lord Rosebery, who noted that "the English cabinet could not regard with indifference the defeat of Italy by France": cited in William L.  Langer, The Franco- Russian Alliance, 1890-1894 (Cambridge, 1929), p. 371.

144  Glanville, op. cit., p. 23.

145  Texts of these Agreements can be found in Pribram, op. cit., I, pp. 94-103, 124-133.

146  Albertini, op. cit..  pp. 55-56; Langer, European Alliances and Alignments, 1871-1890 (Cambridge, 1929), pp. 397-407.

147  Pribram, op. cit., Secret Treaties, pp. 161-163.

148  Glanville, op. cit., pp. 21, 25-26.

149  Ibid., pp. 28, 45-50; Langer.  Diplomacy of Imperialism, pp. 278-284; Enrico Serra, L'intesa mediterranea del 1902.  Una fase risolutiva nei rapporti italo-inglesi (Milan, 1957), pp. 18-27.

150  Seton-Watson, op. cit., pp. 113-114.

151  Wedel to Bülow, 24 February 1901; GP, XVIII, ii, #5818.

152  Pribram, op. cit., II, p. 15.

153  The complete text of the first Triple Alliance treaty may be found in Pribram, op. cit., I, pp. 64-73

154  The complete text of the second Triple Alliance treaty may be found in Ibid., pp. 104-115.

155  The text of this third treaty of the Triple Alliance is in Ibid., pp. 151-163.

156  An exception was a Protocol stipulation in the 1891 treaty by which the three allies promised in economic matters "in addition to the most-favored-nation treatment, "

"all of the facilities and special advantages which would be compatible with the requirements of the three States with their respective engagements with third Powers": Ibid., p. 161.

157  For details on this commitment, see GP, VI, #1307, 1309, 1312, 1313, 1314, 1315.

158  Seton-Watson, op. cit., p. 143

159  Feis, op. cit., pp. 233-242; Gaspare M.  Fiamingo, "Les raisons financières de la l’amitie franco-italienne," Nouvelle Revue, 15 March 1902, pp. 181-189; Jon S.  Cohen,

"Financing Industrialization in Italy, 1894-1914: The Political Transformation of a Late- Comer," Journal of Economic History.  September 1967, pp. 363-382.

160  Statistics on Italian commerce in Germany and Austria during the period 1887-1901 show a great increase.  In 1887 German markets absorbed 115,235 millions (in French francs); in 1901 that figure had increased to 235,055.  In 1887 Austrian markets absorbed 95,332 millions; in 1901 that figure had increased to 130,852.  In comparison, the 1887 figure for Italian goods sold in France was 498,980; in 1901 that figure was down to 174,912.  See Théry, op. cit., p. 51.

161  For an excellent summation of the eventual degree of penetration by German investors in the Italian economy, see Pierre Milza, "Les rapports economiques franco- italiéns en 1914-1915 et leurs incidences politiques," Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine, January-March 1967, pp. 31-70.

162  Seton-Watson, op. cit., p. 137

163  The complete text of this declaration is found in Pribram, op. cit., I, pp. 196-201.

164  An interesting analysis of irredentismo as one of the cross-currents in Italian foreign policy is in Thayer, op. cit., pp. 142-155.

165  As late as 1881, the Pope had appealed to the Austrian emperor for protection.  The appeal resulted from the turbulence that followed the attempt by a group of Roman anti-clerics to disrupt the funeral procession of Plus IX and to throw the remains of the dead Pope into the Tiber.  See Seton-Watson, op. cit., pp. 110-111.

166  The complete text of this agreement is found in Pribram, op. cit., I, pp. 185-195.

167  Serra, La questione tunisina, p. 316.

Return to Chapter 1

Continue to Chapter 3

  content   content

Copyright © 2012 J. Fred MacDonald - All Rights Reserved.