A "FIRST STEP"—THE MEDITERRANEAN AGREEMENT OF 1900
In the years before Camille Barrère came to the Farnese Palace, the most important cause of the tension between France and Italy was their dangerous political rivalry in the Mediterranean. The divisiveness originated in 1881 when the French occupation of Tunis shattered Italian dreams of making that area of North Africa the first colony of the young kingdom. With Tunis gone the Italians shifted their imperial vistas slightly East and South to the Ottoman territories of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica and their southern hinterlands.1 The lesson of Tunis, however, was not forgotten in Italy. To guarantee against possible French designs on Tripolitania, the Italians wrapped their foreign policy around France’s great rivals, Germany and Great Britain.
Although Germany and Austria-Hungary were not formidable naval powers, membership in the Triple Alliance was important to Rome’s colonial aspirations. Its European orientation provided a reassuring counterweight to Italy’s internal uncertainties vis-à-vis France and uncertainties about Austrian designs on the Balkan peninsula.
The original Triple Alliance of 1882 had not dealt with the question of Tripolitania. Italian diplomacy, however, pressured for a commitment from the Central Powers. By terms of the renewed Alliance in 1887, however, the Italians realized their aspirations. The Germans and Austrians pledged that the vast sandy areas on the southern shore of the Mediterranean were reserved for future Italian penetration. They agreed, moreover, that if France moved into Tripolitania before Italy, a casus foederis would come into play.2
As forbidding as the Alliance became, Italy’s greatest security against further French expansion in the Mediterranean was the naval entente between Italy and Great Britain. Since the birth of the Italian nation state in 1861, relations between the two naval countries had been cordial. But, reacting to the threat of even more French expansion in North Africa, the British and Italians drew even closer in the 1880s. Through two binding agreements negotiated in 1887 Great Britain committed to maintain the status quo on both sides of the Mediterranean. This was the high point in co-operation between Rome and London.
Importantly, these commitments changed Italy from an imperial rival to a political enemy of the Third Republic. And by 1898 the conflicts of interest fundamental to Franco-Italian relations had solidified and were now intractable barriers to harmony. As Camille Barrère maneuvered to repair these chronic disagreements, he was always aware that Triple Alliance and the Anglo-Italian entente were daunting realities impeding reconciliation.
Although he hoped to undermine the vitality of Italy's anti-French arrangements, he did not did try to destroy those manifestations of Italian policy. In the North Africa, the Anglo-Italian relationship was especially imposing. The intent was a barrier against French imperial ambitions and a dangerous threat in case of hostilities between France and Italy or England. Traditionally, the British did not contract open alliances; yet the Mediterranean Agreements of 1887 placed England in a position that was alarmingly anti-French and pro-Italian. For Great Britain the entente was above all a foil to intimidate French imperialism, particularly in the Mediterranean.3 It was also a bulwark against possible French naval action against the young Italian state with its long, vulnerable coastline.
The importance of this attitude was magnified in 1889 by the British announcement of a new Two-Power Standard.4 Here, by terms of the Naval Defense Act, Great Britain committed to spend an additional £20 million over the next four years to enlarge the Royal Navy from one-third larger than the second-biggest navy (France), to the size of the second- and third-largest navies (France and Russia) combined.
To the Italians the entente with Great Britain was the "pivot of policy under all governments that existed in Rome."5 The British possessed the fleet Italy lacked. As the Italian ambassador in Vienna, Count Constantino Nigra, summarized the situation in 1898, Italy and France were "the real Mediterranean Powers," yet "alone, Italy remains impotent."6
During the 1880s, Great Britain had been responsible for much of the success in Italy's colonial program. Only in the last decade of the nineteenth century, as the British recalibrated their foreign policy to counter the threat of aggressive German Weltpolitik, did the reliability of that understanding become suspect in Rome. This development helped to push Italy to consider a more cooperative relationship with France.7 And especially after the Adowa defeat in 1896 which ingloriously drove the Italians out of Abyssinia, traditional British support for Italy’s imperial undertakings weakened further.8
Perceptive Italian leaders such as Visconti Venosta and Rudini had recognized the growing coolness in Anglo-Italian relations. Not wishing to confront France alone in the Mediterranean, they became increasingly receptive to the normalization of relations with Paris.
Several days after leaving the Consulta in the spring of 1898, Visconti Venosta spoke to Barrère in detail of his desire to reach an understanding with France on Mediterranean matters. The Italian statesman contended that "the sole cause of the disagreements which had divided them [France and Italy] and of the policy followed by the kingdom, had its origins in the Mediterranean.” He stressed to Barrère his desire "to prove to the Italian people, and also to the French nation, that their Mediterranean interests were not incompatible.” The former foreign minister felt that the time was propitious for a change in relations since "the course of events is being prepared for such evolutions. The state of Europe is being modified."9
Delcassé and Barrère both expressed hopes for reaching an agreement in the Mediterranean basin. During his visit in Rome in 1897, Delcassé had remarked to Visconti Venosta that "There is plenty of room for both our countries in the Mediterranean. That which has separated us is able to unite us"10 More significantly, as Delcassé began to implement his plans for the eventual annexation of Morocco by France, the necessity of an agreement with Italy—both to neutralize Italian reactions and to gain British acquiescence—became even more imposing.11
For his part, Barrère envisioned a Mediterranean rapprochement with the Italians as a necessary step to eliminating Italy's anti-French diplomatic and military posture. He was not particularly interested in colonial adventures, but he saw the Mediterranean as fundamental to Italian foreign policy. Barrère felt that a solution to disagreements in the Mediterranean would obviate the feelings of mistrust that made Italy a military threat to France.
Italy's potential anti-French role in a European war was poignantly illustrated during the Fashoda crisis in late 1898. Even though the French knew that no formal alliance existed between Italy and Great Britain and that recent Italian diplomacy had not been marked by closeness with England,12 the French standoff with the British at Fashoda in the Sudan precipitated an international crisis that tested the young Delcassé ministry.
During the tense weeks of November and December, when there existed the possibility of an Anglo-French war over East African colonial ambitions, the French watched Italian reactions closely. Although Delcassé was interested in removing the British from Egypt, he did not want a naval war with England. For him it was a necessity that France avoid such a conflagration "which we are absolutely incapable of carrying on, even with Russian help."13 The French were handicapped also by the deep domestic divisions within the Third Republic created by the ongoing Dreyfus Affair. And France's quantitative and qualitative naval inferiority vis-à-vis the British made her a definite underdog in any conflict at sea or on the Nile River.14
The Italians dreaded the possibility of hostilities between France and Great Britain. About to conclude a commercial accord that would alleviate two decades of diplomatic and economic dissention with France, the Italian foreign minister assured the French chargé d’affaires, Camille Blondel, that such a war would be an unwanted embarrassment and a veritable calamity for Italy.15 Concern in Rome was motivated by a desire to avoid involvement in a military matter which might have disastrous consequences for the struggling Italian economy as well as the weak sense of national unity within the peninsula.
Canevaro assured Barrère of Italy’s neutrality. But the ambassador was convinced that if war materialized, Italy’s neutrality would be benevolent toward the British.16 With alarmist reports continuing to reach Rome from the Italian embassy in London,17 Canevaro reiterated his nation’s hands-off position, but added that "if war breaks out we will have to take elementary measures to protect our neutrality."18
One matter of particular interest to the Italians during the Fashoda crisis was the situation in Tripolitania. The fact that Delcassé had been an aggressive colonialist—an undersecretary for colonial matters at the Ministry of the Marine, and in 1894 the first person to head the newly-created Ministry of Colonies—was not overlooked by Count Tornielli when Delcassé arrived at the Quai d'Orsay.19 Rumors from Constantinople in early November caused Canevaro to suspect France of planning an invasion of the Tripolitanian hinterland.20 Tornielli, however, reported that Delcassé denied the imminence of such an operation.21 Nevertheless, apprehension in Italy that French troops might cross the Tunisian border with Tripolitania persisted for months after the Fashoda crisis was concluded.
The Anglo-French Accord of 21 March 1899 which settled the immediate issues raised at Fashoda served only to intensify Italian apprehensions. Despite official declarations of neutrality, the French feared an Italian alignment with England. These suspicions emanated from Italian newspaper reports claiming the existence of an Anglo-Italian alliance, and reports from military spies announcing naval and military preparations underway in Italy. Canevaro denied emphatically that the newspaper accounts were correct.22 Nevertheless, as prestigious a journal as that of the prominent politician Giuseppe Zanardelli had reported the alliance.23 And while no documents in the Italian archives corroborate reports of a military or naval buildup in the peninsula, Deuxième Bureau reports coming to Paris announced that military leaders in Italy were considering co-operation with England and were taking first steps by mobilizing in Turin, supplying of the Alpine fortresses, and executing troop movements in the western Alps. According to one such report: "Italy is already resolved to side with England. In view of this eventuality, there exist formal engagements and, moreover, a campaign plan the details of which have been fixed in London…. On this point, there is not the least doubt."24
The more responsible French leaders did not believe the reports of an alliance. They did fear, however, that Italian reactions could develop. Following an extensive tour of navy yards in Italy, the French naval attaché reported that no feverish preparations for war were underway. He cautioned, however, that an assemblage of the various Italian fleets could be quickly accomplished.25 The French military attaché reported that Italy would maintain "strict neutrality.” Nevertheless, he warned, "it is not less probable that Italy will look to make a profit at our expense from the situation that a nonsuccess in the Mediterranean would create for us."26
Barrère reiterated his trust in the pacific intentions of the Italian government, but noted that "if there were a conflict with England…the pack of Francophobe politicians would certainly make a great effort to engage the Italian government against us. It would be necessary to make a diversion then in the Alps."27 And Delcassé, perhaps overexcited by his first crisis, misunderstood and distorted Barrère’s report when he notified several other French ambassadors that in Rome there was being made "a great effort to engage the Italian government against us."28
Anglo-French tensions persisted in spite of the recall on 3 November of the French military expedition in Fashoda commanded by Major Jean-Baptiste Marchand. Only with the arrival a month later of the new French ambassador to the Court of St. James, Paul Cambon, did the threat of hostilities subside. As with Barrère in Italy, Cambon came to London seeking resolution of disagreements, immediate and long-term, that separated France and England.29
With Cambon now in the French embassy, considerations of conflict gave way to diplomatic negotiations; and although it was politically premature to consider a settlement covering all the problems besetting Anglo-French relations, the Fashoda crisis was ended on 21 March 1899 by a convention delimiting French and British spheres of influence in Central Africa and the Sudan. Significantly, by the terms of this arrangement the hinterland of Tripolitania appeared to fall into French hands.30
If the Italians had feared a French occupation of Tripolitania and its hinterland during the Fashoda crisis, announcement of an Anglo-French resolution raised new apprehensions and misunderstandings. Moreover, it brought into question both French and British attitudes toward that area of North Africa. During the negotiations in London, the Rome was not informed of the terms under consideration. Despite promises by Cambon and Foreign Secretary Lord Salisbury that they would deal only with Anglo-French issues and not treat matters touching upon Italian rights or ambitions,31 the final accord was unfavorably received by Italian public opinion.
Statesmen in Rome reacted with uncertainty. They feared the absorption of the Tripolitanian hinterland by either the British into Egypt or the French into Tunis. Questioned in the Italian Senate, cabinet spokesmen could only reiterate verbal assurances from London and Paris that Tripolitania was not included in the accord.32
And Canevaro, whose credit as foreign minister was already shaken at San Mun Bay a week earlier, sought to extricate himself from the new perplexity by obtaining from France and England a bilateral public declaration that Tripolitania and its hinterland would not be occupied by either nation. Significantly, it was from this quest for a declaration of disinterest in March 1899 that there materialized the Mediterranean Accord of December 1900.
Barrère and Delcassé responded differently toward Canevaro’s predicament. Even before he returned to Rome from his Easter respite, Barrère reacted sympathetically to the observation of his chargé that France give "the Italian government a declaration of a nature to calm its susceptibilities and to allow it to respond to attacks which seem to be in the making."33 The ambassador immediately requested Delcassé’s permission to inform Canevaro that France had no design upon Tripolitania and its legitimate hinterland.34
Delcassé was more circumspect. He approved a verbal statement regarding the North African territory, but he was reluctant to yield on the question of the hinterland.35 Delcassé claimed that the Anglo-French agreement already omitted "all the regions one could easily consider dependent upon Tripolitania." He considered Italian upset over the London convention to be "inanity."36 He did, however, reiterate to the Italian government what he had earlier told the Turkish ambassador: that France "has in no manner the intention to infringe upon the rights or possessions of the Sultan in Tripolitania."37 It was hardly encouragement to Italian aspirations.
Delcassé’s reserve was striking in light of the fact that he had been privately "giving" Tripolitania to Italy for several years. In 1897 he told Visconti Venosta that there was room for France and Italy in the Mediterranean basin.38 In the summer 1898 he informed Canevaro’s brother that regarding the North African territory, "I cannot give what does not belong to me, but I would view without upset Italy taking the compensations she judges necessary."39 Even during the Fashoda crisis, Delcassé informed Tornielli that France had no intention of occupying Tripolitania. He reaffirmed this to Tornielli in January 1899.40
On 7 April, Canevaro proposed that France and England agree to a joint public declaration of their disinterest in Tripolitania. Barrère believed that the Paris government should agree,41 but Delcassé deferred a decision until he returned from vacation in the southern France.42 There were several reasons for Barrère’s urgings. By such an agreement he hoped to "reassure the suspicious spirit of this country and to foil the schemes of those who pretend that the friendship of France involves only disappointments."43
Moreover, faced with Canevaro’s impending fall from power, Barrère felt the declaration would avoid giving the impression that Canevaro had been tricked by the French.44 Importantly, too, Barrère feared that the British might accept the proposed declaration while the French rejected it. He reminded Delcassé of the implications of such an occurrence:
My opinion is that if the proposition is produced, we have every interest in accepting it in principle. It is possible that Great Britain will reject it; then it is she alone who will bear all the responsibility for the situation. And if she accepts, our refusal would produce here a disastrous impression and would play into the hands of our adversaries. According to me, there would be everything to lose in refusing, and everything to gain in accepting.45
Barrère remained attentive to the Tripolitanian question during the next several days. When on 11 April Canevaro presented a poorly-worded draft of what he thought the joint declaration should say Barrère did not bother to send it to Paris before telling the Italians that "no government would consent to sign such a document,"46 The following day Canevaro submitted a revised draft; and although Barrère found its wording imprecise and still in need of alteration, the ambassador stressed to Delcassé that "I persist no less in believing in the necessity of taking a step in the indicated direction."47
Barrère’s apprehension that Great Britain alone would accept Canevaro’s proposal seems unfounded. London displayed little sympathy for the Italian request. During the Fashoda crisis, the British had assured Canevaro that no agreement would be made with France that would affect Italian claims in North Africa.48 In the aftermath of the convention of 21 March 1899, the British coldly refused to elaborate upon this position. Salisbury informed the Italian ambassador, Baron Francesco de Renzis, that the Anglo-French agreement was only a negative statement: "We simply stated that beyond a certain line south of the Tropic of Cancer we would not increase our dominion or influence eastward.”49
The British foreign secretary felt that it would be unjustifiable to declare Britain’s non-intention to occupy portions of Tripolitania and its hinterland.50 He candidly informed de Renzis that such an engagement "might be disadvantageous to Great Britain without any countervailing advantage,” Salisbury’s definitive position was that "I could not consent to bind Her Majesty's Government with respect to the future."51
Although he did not know details of the British reaction to the Italian proposal, Barrère understood clearly that hesitancy in London offered an opportunity for a considerable French diplomatic victory in Italy. He must have sensed the uncooperative attitude of the British when Canevaro, suggesting to Barrère that the Paris and London governments reword any objectionable parts of his declaration, said of Great Britain: "If she refuses, so much the worse for England from the point of view of this country’s public opinion, and so much the better for you,"52 Seizing upon advantages in the new situation, Barrère wrote assertively to Delcassé demanding that the Quai d’Orsay accommodate the Italians somehow, "and allow me to be the sole judge of the opportune moment to avail myself of your instructions."53
And Barrère was even more explicit about wanting a free hand in Rome when he wrote to Delcassé’s chef du cabinet, Georges Beau. The ambassador asserted that France should proceed alone with Italy, and that he should "remain the sole judge of the usage of the declarations that I may be authorized to present: in a word…I desire to be master of my own action."54
Delcassé resisted letting Barrère operate with complete leeway. The main concern of the foreign minister was that a public unilateral declaration could "be interpreted in France as well as Constantinople as almost an invitation to Italy to occupy territory of the Ottoman Empire."55 Still, he did not avoid "taking a step" as Barrère had urged. Overriding the criticism of the Direction Politique,56 Delcassé officially communicated to Italy his response to the Turkish ambassador three weeks earlier.57 More important, however, Delcassé informed Tornielli that he would be willing to resume conversations on Tripolitania and its hinterland at a later date and in secret.58
For Luzzatti, who was in Paris at the time where he conferred with the foreign minister, Delcassé went one step further. He promised that he would sign a declaration of French disinterest in Tripolitania if, as a result of the impending ministerial crisis, Visconti Venosta were returned to the Consulta.59
Although Canevaro was able to announce Delcassé’s statement during an interpellation in the Senate,60 he was unable to withstand the general criticism of his foreign policy. He relinquished his portfolio on 14 May and was replaced by Visconti Venosta. It is not possible to prove a linkage between Delcassé’s vow to Luzzatti and the return of Visconti Venosta to the Consulta. But, the reappearance of the venerable old patriot opened a new phase in Franco-Italian Mediterranean conversations.
Canevaro’s goal in proposing an Anglo-French declaration of disinterest was intended to save his political reputation in the aftermath of his diplomatic failures. At no time during the weeks of conversations with Barrère did he propose a more expansive goal than a disinterest. But as early as June 1898 Visconti Venosta had broached with Barrère the idea of a comprehensive Mediterranean settlement. And during the first formal reception at the Consulta, the newly reinstated foreign minister repeated his desire to "exchange confidential explications which would prevent all misunderstanding of our [France’s] intentions that would contribute to eliminating from Mediterranean questions all subjects of discussion or suspicion between the two nations."61
No doubt, the return of Visconti Venosta opened the way for direct Franco-Italian discussions on Mediterranean problems. Another factor encouraging such talks was the widening breech in Italian relations with England. Although Canevaro had mentioned both French and British disinterest in Tripolitania during his Senate interpellation, the British had displayed none of the sincerity and co-cooperativeness which typified the action of Barrère and supported by Delcassé. In general, the Anglo-French accord of 21 March was another sign of the loosening of Britain’s traditional role as protector of Italian colonial interests. Canevaro's brother, who was close to the former minister, voiced to Barrère the Italy’s complaints with British policy:
Italy has nothing for which to hope from British co-operation in the Mediterranean.… If Italy was supported until now by her, it was out of fear of France. Act so that she [Italy] understands that she not only has nothing to fear from you, but that there is something to gain by living in your company, and you will acquire her support more easily than is believable.62
Although French diplomacy had managed to separate Italy and England for later discussions on Tripolitania, and had maneuvered Rome into direct talks on the future of the North Africa territory, Barrère continued his studied and prudent diplomatic approach. Notwithstanding his satisfaction with the course of the Mediterranean conversations, he listened carefully to those who cautioned him against haste. He reported in detail the words of Canevaro’s brother to him, still finding the charm to make Delcassé feel that success in Italy had been the foreign minister’s doing.
The change operative in the sentiments of the country toward France for a year now is such that I could not have believed possible. You have conducted a magnificent diplomatic campaign. France has again become an important factor in Italian policy. In Italy you have an exceptional situation. Do not use it prematurely. Do not rush matters; allow events the time to end in their natural consequences. If you outrun them, you risk provoking reactions which would cause you to lose part of the ground gained; while if you proceed with circumspection, there will not be a government which in four years could dream of renewing the old alliances. You have conquered a part of Italy, you do not have it all entirely; it can still escape you.63
With Visconti Venosta’s return to the Consulta the most significant development in the new phase of Mediterranean conversations was a French demand for reciprocity in Morocco as the price for granting a declaration of disinterest in Tripolitania. This request radically transformed the discussions. From an attempt to explain the meaning of the Agno-French agreement, the talks between Rome and Paris expanded into considerations of reconciling future colonial ambitions in North Africa.
The insertion of Morocco in the conversations was Delcassé's idea. As a longtime champion of the Colonial Party in the Chamber of Deputies and the colonial lobby within the French business and journalistic communities, Delcassé had maintained designs on Morocco for years. Movement westward from Algeria was a natural outgrowth of his imperial aspirations. It fulfilled his ambition to enlarge France’s colonial dominance in Saharan Africa.64
Barrère, whose principal concern remained the European balance of power, did not look with favor on Delcassé’s Moroccan initiative. Nevertheless, following a five-month hiatus in the Mediterranean conversations,65 he informed Tornielli in late October of Delcassé’s new desires. According to Barrère, France was now willing to grant a statement of disinterest in Tripolitania and its hinterland. But in return Paris demanded to know Italian "intentions in the event there occurred a French expansion toward Morocco."66
Although Tornielli felt that no existing Italian accords presented an obstacle to granting the French demand,67 Visconti Venosta was more hesitant. The Italian foreign minister had earlier informed the British that he felt the French only intended to exert its influence in Morocco.68 Nonetheless, with the British locked since mid-October in the Boer War in South Africa, the thought of French demands for compensation in Morocco was not beyond consideration by the Italians.69
Visconti Venosta procrastinated in replying to the French overtures.70 He made discreet soundings in London to ascertain British reaction to French interference with Moroccan integrity. The British government—still absorbing humiliation at the hands of rebellious Boers—would promise to use reactive force only if France attacked the Mediterranean coastal areas of Morocco, especially Tangier.71 When added to the parade of Anglo-Italian misunderstandings that included the Adowa defeat, the San Mun Bay incident, and the 21 March 1899 accord with France, this reply made it plain in Rome that Italy could expect little support from Great Britain were the French to occupy portions of the Morocco’s interior.72
During the last months of 1899, Barrère demonstrated his strong personal desire to continue the Mediterranean conversations. Contrary to Delcassé's wishes, he questioned Visconti Venosta in early November about his hesitancy in responding to French overtures for reopening the talks.73 Barrère also worked closely with Luzzatti to pressure the Italian foreign minister.74 Delcassé, however, had insisted that the Italians initiate the request to recommence the talks.75 France was not prepared at this date to withstand the repurcussions of a conquest of morocco. Officially, France still supported the status quo in Morocco and in the western basin of the Mediterranean. Thus, Delcassé did not want to give the impression that he was forcing Italy to make a commitment contradictory to that official position.76
Barrère, however, was anxious to rectify Franco-Italian misunderstandings in the Mediterranean. Colonial expansion was secondary in his master plan. He assured Delcassé of his compliance with his wishes.77 But, aware that the talks should not lose momentum, his overtures to Visconti Venosta violated the spirit of Delcassé’s demand.
The Mediterranean conversations did not resume until mid-January. Again, it was Barrère who took the initiative in prodding Visconti Venosta to action. He capitalized on the good mood of the Italian foreign minister following completion of the East African boundary agreement. Barrère slyly asked the Italian minister: "Can the two of us not continue the same endeavor in another area?" Visconti Venosta was still hesitant to admit the French demands on Morocco into his plans. Nevertheless, he expressed his desire "to chat" (causer) with the French.78
Visconti Venosta recognized that French and Italian desires were unequal. While Italy wanted only a negative statement of disinterest in Tripolitania, France expected a positive declaration of a priori approval of French actions in Morocco. The Italian foreign minister maintained, furthermore, that it was premature to involve Morocco in the Mediterranean conversations and that an Italian declaration on Morocco could "constitute a preface to territorial regulation which is not open, [and to] theoretical commencement of the division of a country whose fate interests you alone.” Visconti Venosta argued that the fact that Italy sought compensations other than in Morocco should be taken as "the guarantee that we would have no intention to create obstacles to the development of French interests in this region."79
The force of Visconti Venosta’s argument swayed Barrère. The ambassador urged Delcassé to give the Italians their desired declaration on Tripolitania without attaching the Moroccan quid pro quo. Thinking only of winning and exploiting Italian friendship on the continent, Barrère reminded Delcassé that a "doubtful or hostile ministry could undo the work of rapprochement if it assumed power and found the Tripolitanian matter unresolved."80
Delcassé and his advisors in the Direction Politique did not accept Barrère's arguments. In fact, they did not accept each other's positions. The foreign minister argued that his demands regarding Morocco were legitimate. "Thinking of the future, Italy would like to have the assurance that France would not be found in her way at the time she wants to go into Tripoli," he maintained. "What is more legitimate than the desire on our side to have the certitude that Italy will not be facing us the day when events lead us to Morocco?"81
In this argument, Delcassé obviously was ignoring the fact that he was asking Italy for a positive statement while he was willing only to provide the Italians with a negative declaration. The conservative Direction Politique, however, cautioned that even with the acceptance of Delcassé’s demands, the French could be the losers:
In affirming that we are not interested in Tripolitania, in reality we thereby leave the field open for the Italians. In making an analagous declaration as to Morocco, Italy leaves us in the presence of England, Spain, and Germany. The benefit would be immediate for Italy; for France it remains subordinated to a series of aleatory and difficult-to- realize accords….from a strategic point of view in opening Tripolitania to Italy we would expose the right flank of Algeria to attacks from the Triple Alliance while our presence in Morocco would never menace the security of Italy whatever might happen.82
Several weeks later, the same advisory body argued that granting formal permission to the Italians in North Africa would lock in the support of France and Russia. But with this support guaranteed, Italy would be compelled to follow a foreign policy favorable to the Triple Alliance and Great Britain in order to obtain their support for an eventual occupation of Tripolitania.83
Given the divide between Delcassé's determination and Barrère’s sense of political possibility, the ambassador requested an elucidation of French designs on Morocco. He warned, however, that it would be difficult for the Italians to accept French demands if they included Tangier or the Spanish presidios along the Mediterranean.84
On 4 February 1900 Delcassé formalized his thinking and submitted a Projected Declaration for Visconti Venosta’s examination. In it the French foreign minister accepted Barrère’s advice concerning Tangier and the presidios. More significantly, by its terms he granted to Italy not only the negative promise "never to put forward territorial claims in Tripolitania, as presently defined," but also a positive pledge not to "oppose in any manner the efforts which Italy might be led to make in order to establish her influence there."85
Now it was Barrère’s turn to be uncomfortable with Delcassé’s accommodation. He considered the Projected Declaration to be "inopportune and dangerous.” He, therefore, refused to present it to Visconti Venosta. Barrère disliked the Proposed Declaration for two reasons. First, he felt that it offered too much. Barrère wanted only to grant French disinterest in Tripolitania and its hinterlands, not disinterest plus a priori approval Italian rights there.86
Further, Barrère was distressed with the form in which the foreign minister had constructed his proposal. Delcassé demanded a formal treaty. Barrère felt that a treaty would be acceptable only if Visconti Venosta remained in power. But Italian politics seems always to be in flux. He feared that a hostile minister in the future might expose the treaty and thereby embroil France with Spain, England and Germany. Instead, Barrère argued for an exchange of private notes between himself and Visconti Venosta.87 In the protocol of classic diplomacy, a transaction between an ambassador and a foreign minister would formally bind two states to a particular course of action, but it would avoid the possibility of hostile international repercussions should it be revealed as a secret formalized treaty, a more formidable and significant form than an exchange of notes. For that reason, on 9 February Barrère defiantly informed Delcassé that: "I will not present…the matter in the form of a declaration having the form of a treaty [Barrère’s underscoring]."88
There is no doubt that Barrère and Delcassé were at loggerheads during this phase of the Mediterranean conversations. Sensitive to the Italian position, Barrère lamented to Paul Beau in a private communiqué dated 16 February, that the foreign minister was not fulfilling the promise he made to Luzzatti several months earlier.89 Barrère reminded the chef du cabinet that it was Delcassé who had pledged a written declaration of disinterest if Visconti Venosta were returned to power; and that it was Delcassé who, when pressed last October to materialize such a declaration, injected Morocco into the discussions. He continued:
I have always been of the opinion, and I hold it more than ever, that we ought to repeat in writing what we have verbalized to Italy. Meanwhile, Delcassé has grafted the Moroccan question onto this business. I would be perfectly willing to dispense with it for reasons that you, yourself, have given; and because Italy, no longer having to fear us in Tripoli and thereby finding the promise of her eventual compensation, would in no way wish to pick a quarrel with us regarding Morocco where she has no interest. Besides, this is what Visconti has honestly told me.
Barrère argued that a protocol on Tripolitania was mandatory. He admitted that he would press for an Italian commitment on Morocco only "if Delcassé persists in tying this affair to Morocco."90
In writing so frankly to the cabinet chief, Barrère was not committing a personal treason. Just as dramatically he wrote simultaneously to Déclassé that he would ask Italy "if you persist on this point, to write to us that she sees nothing incompatible with her interests in the defense by France of particular interests which result from her position of power as a neighbor of Morocco."91
On 10 February Barrère had presented Delcassé’s ideas (but not the document) of the Declaration in a conversation with Visconti Venosta. Pleased with the reservations on Tangier and the Spanish fortresses, the Italian foreign minister expressed his satisfaction, telling Barrère that "I consider that we are entirely in accord as to the essence" of a Morocco-Tripolitania agreement. He requested time, however, to study the problem of the form in which to place the agreement."92
Despite Barrère’s breakthrough, Delcassé expressed concern with the ambassador’s behavior. Ever the colonial expansionist, he criticized Barrère for being "preoccupied with tearing Italy away from German domination.” He could not understand how Barrère could obtain a positive statement on Morocco while granting only a negative statement on Tripolitania. "We can say to Italy that we do not covet Tripoli," Delcassé wrote, but "we cannot write it for them without recognizing at the same time that she has rights there….” To Barrère’s contention that a treaty might be exposed by a hostile minister in the future, Delcassé asked "what would that prove except that Italy, herself, had recognized in signing it that our pretentions are most legitimate?"
Nonetheless, in the same note Delcassé seemed to resign himself to Barrère’s initiative in Rome. In a resigned tone he conceded that as drafted, the Declaration "is not definitive—it is to be worked over with Visconti Venosta."93
Due to an Italian cabinet crisis, progress in the Mediterranean conversations was stalled during March. Barrère, however, proposed a new and significant consideration that month when he told Delcassé that it might now be possible "to graft yet another matter on this conversation and to extend it to a subject which touches us closely."94 What Barrère had in mind was his long-nurtured hope that Italy could be militarily neutralized vis-à-vis France. He now wanted to demand from Italy a pledge that she was "freed from all political and military obligations against [France]."95
Visconti Venosta’s acceptance of the essence of a North African agreement, and Delcassé’s willingness to yield to Barrère on the form of an agreement, certainly made the ambassador feel that an extension of the conversations was possible on his terms. An Italian request in late March for a financial favor from France also must have made Barrère believe that the extension could be obtained.
During the negotiations of the commercial accord seventeen months earlier, Barrère had indicated to the Italian government that any financial favors beyond the commercial accord would necessitate a French request for political compensation. As he wrote at the end of 1898,
I have very clearly explained myself…so as to leave no doubt. I did not want to place any political condition on the commercial accord because that would have made it impossible. But I have indicated that when the Royal Government should have recourse to us to extend the consequences of the commercial rapprochement on the financial terrain, I will pose the political question.96
Thefore, when the Italians asked to be allowed to replace their old bond issues on the Paris Bourse without having to pay the tax levied upon new stocks, Barrère indicated to Delcassé that there would be "only advantages" in accommodating Rome.97
During a three-week vacation in April 1900 Barrère conferred with Delcassé regarding his new consideration. The idea of neutralizing Italy was not alien to Delcassé.98 He had approved Barrère’s attempt to inject the idea into the Mediterranean conversations.99
Meeting with Visconti Venosta on 4 May, Barrère presented his new demands. But this time he made a strategic move when he divided the matter of French disinterest in Tripolitania from the question of Italy’s rights in the North African territory. Brilliantly, the French ambassador made them two separate issues. He explained that as a first step, France would admit disinterest in Tripolitania and its hinterland in exchange for Italian recognition of French rights in Morocco. He then added that France was prepared to take up a second issue, another second step toward reconciliation: the recognition of Italian rights in Tripolitania in exchange for the assurance of Italy's military neutrality in case of war "between France and a third Power."
The French ambassador knew that Visconti Venosta definitely wanted a free hand in Tripolitania. He emphasized, however, that "You know the situation well. The day when we know that all our mutual positions are amicable, we will give this assurance you desire.” Such a day, according to Barrère, would be marked by a mutual "attitude of peace and neutrality."100
Barrère’s demands for a second step were slightly premature. Visconti Venosta had retained his office following the cabinet crisis in March. In fact, Barrère’s strong encouragement of the foreign minister may actually have persuaded him to remain at the Consulta.101 But due to the unstable nature of Italian politics, the foreign minister rejected Barrère’s idea of expanding the present conversations. He did, however, leave open the possibility of resuming discussions on the second step, but at a later date.102
The final phase in the Mediterranean conversations actually commenced with Barrère’s interview with Visconti Venosta on 4 May. For several reasons—including another Italian ministerial crisis, political developments in the Far East, and summer vacations—progress toward a written accord was uneven. Throughout this period, however, Barrère pushed in Paris and Rome for a successful resolution.
Barrère and Visconti Venosta agreed upon an exchange of letters as the most acceptable form in which to formalize their ideas on North Africa. On 9 June, with the Pelloux government about to lose power Barrère sent Delcassé drafts of the letters to be exchanged.103 For the ambassador, the matter required the foreign minister’s urgent attention. Delcassé, however, procrastinated for ten crucial days before replying. And when the responset did arrive, the Delcassé was negative. Explaining his tardiness as a result of his preoccupation with Boxer Rebellion in China, he bluntly told his ambassador that "I cannot authorize the exchange of letters.”
With another Italian cabinet crisis, the French foreign minister was disturbed over the possibility that Visconti Venosta might have to leave the Consulta. According to Delcassé, "it is with him that we can take the first step, sure that the second will follow by which Italy would disengage from her offensive obligations regarding us.” Therefore, he concluded, "Do you not find that it would be better to await the solution of the crisis and to know in whose presence we will find ourselves?"104
In his sharp response, Barrère offered a lesson in diplomacy and displayed the self-confident, realistic diplomatic skill he employed in creating the Franco-Italian entente:
I swear to you frankly that I do not understand the motive for your scruple. I believed, and I still believe, that it is important to establish with Visconti, and under his signature, an exchange of ideas which prove that on the Mediterranean question—the point of departure of Italian alliances against us—there were friendly conversations, explanations, and the commencement of entente….According to your point of view, in order to arrive at a complete entente, Visconti would have to be a minister permanently. . .Now, there is no permanent minister here; and everything leads to the belief that with Visconti leaving we will see him no longer in foreign affairs. We have profited from his stay in power; but we ought to resign ourselves to pass beyond him, and to deal later with others . You tell me in your telegram; it is with him [Visconti] that we can take the first step, sure that the second would follow, by which Italy would disengage from her offensive obligations regarding us. We are not sure that the second would follow, and I have written so to you; otherwise, Visconti would have taken it immediately. If he does not take it, it is because there are obstacles. He wants to overcome them, but I cannot respond that that has happened. The day when he proposes to take up conversations again on the second step, I will know that he sees the possibility of surmounting.105
Despite Barrère’s urgings,106 it was not until 13 July that Delcassé approved the letters submitted by Barrère weeks earlier.107 Delcassé’s dilatoriness must be considered responsible for the failure of Barrère and Visconti Venosta to reach a definitive agreement before the summer. And when the Italian minister introduced a new condition for his agreement, Barrère was unable to accommodate him before his regular summer vacation began. Visconti Venosta’s new condition involved the right of Italy to anticipate French support for her eventual occupation of Tripolitania. Knowing that France would not grant Italy recognition of its rights in North Africa as long as Italy had anti-French alliance obligations, Visconti Venosta demanded for Italy "the right to have a say at the eventual opening of the Moroccan succession, as a means of gaining a guarantee of compensation in Tripolitania."108
Confident now that the new government formed by Giuseppe Saracco could last for several months, Barrère suggested that it was time to settle the matter. In late July he proposed meeting with Delcassé during the vacation period to establish the final French terms.109 But progress toward an agreement was again delayed.
Conversations were not resumed until early November after Barrère’s return to Rome. Although the ambassador again discussed the feasibility of including the second step in the talks, Visconti Venosta remained prepared only to consider the basic question. By the end of the year following further discussions of phraseology—a period in which Barrère was incapacitated by illness, the Italian Chamber of Deputies was on recess, and Victor Emmanuel III became the new King following the assassination of his father Umberto110—definitive letters of exchange were finally drafted.111 Conceding to Visconti Venosta's July condition, the French agreed that "if a modification of the political or territorial status of Morocco should result…Italy would reserve the right eventually to develop her influence with regard to Tripolitania-Cyrenaica."
With the completion of these letters in late December, Barrère’s comment betrayed the personal sense of relief and pride felt by the ambassador who had exerted so much energy to realize the agreement; “Ouf! That's a substantial and great business terminated—and happily terminated, I dare say. It lasted a year and one-half. I hope that you are content."112
On 4 January 1901, the Franco-Italian Mediterranean Agreement was concluded with an exchange of secret letters113 between Barrère and Visconti Venosta.114 For reasons of internal Italian politics, the letters were antedated to 14 and 16 December 1900.115 Textually there was little difference in the January letters and those drafted by Barrère in early July.116 The only important alteration was a French promise of a free hand for Italy in Tripolitania should France modify the political or territorial status of Morocco.117 Significantly, this concession gained Italian acceptance to an exchange of notes without yielding to Italy the unrestricted exercise of rights Barrère had reserved for the "second step."
The most important consequence of the Mediterranean Agreement was the new posture it imparted to France in relation to the Anglo-Italian entente. Following the conclusion of the Franco-Italian commercial accord in November 1898, the joke circulated that Italy was now navally with England, militarily with Germany, and financially with France; and that "on the day of the conflict, the navy will be for the English, the army for the Germans, and France will have to help by paying for both of them."118 The Mediterranean Agreement undermined the naval aspect of this joke.
By removing the cause of Franco-Italian distrust in the Mediterranean, the French drove a diplomatic wedge between Great Britain and the Italy. France was now assured of Italian neutrality in the case of an Anglo-French naval war in the Mediterranean. Decades later Barrère claimed that "in one blow the political situation in the great Latin sea was transformed."119 Writing in December 1900 he offered much the same interpretation. "We have profoundly modified the situation of this country [Italy] in relation to France," he explained. "We have established mutually pacific positions; we have regulated our respective positions in the Mediterranean, and, by that fact, demolished in one blow all possibility of an Anglo-Italian coalition or alliance."120
The Mediterranean Agreement also affected the French diplomatic position relating to Italy’s commitments to its German and Austrian allies. By the rectifying Franco-Italian interests in North Africa, the agreement invalidated the casus foederis foreseen by Article X of the Triple Alliance. The agreement also added to a spirit of intimacy in diplomatic relations between Paris and Rome, thereby diminishing the necessity for Italian participation in the Triple Alliance. Still, as Barrère punned in 1901, "France and Italy are not in a state of marriage [alliance], but they are in a state of affection."121 The Italians were still tied to the Triple Alliance; and by its terms, they remained pledged "to lend help and assistance with all their forces in case of war.” This was clearly understood by the French.
Credit must be given to Barrère for the tenacious and adroit manner in which he handled the French position throughout the Mediterranean conversations. Ultimately, the agreement was the work of Barrère. Visconti Venosta, with his desire to settle the divisive Franco-Italian Mediterranean rivalry, played no small part in attaining the accord. Nevertheless, it was the French ambassador who for twenty-two months, exercised the most consistent and persistent effort to conclude an agreement. Abel Combarieu, secretary to the French President and an intimate of the Quai d’Orsay, recognized Barrère’s achievement as the product of "as much skill as will."122
Barrère occupied an awkward position during the conversations. Personally convinced of what was possible and desirable in Franco-Italian relations, he was compelled by the obstinate, imperialistically-oriented Delcassé to add the Moroccan question to considerations about Tripolitania. Barrère had originally wanted a French declaration of disinterest in Tripolitania as another step in his general plan to reconcile the French and Italian diplomatic positions, and thereby, bring about a political and military neutralization of Italy within the Triple Alliance.
Delcassé's insistence on a quid pro quo over Morocco, however, forced the ambassador to adjust his tactics. Barrère demonstrated professional resiliency by accepting the position of the Quai d’Orsay and obtaining from Italy a free hand for France in Morocco while avoiding an analagous pledge for Italy in Tripolitania. Significantly, Barrère was later able to use the promise of an Italian free hand in Tripolitania as a lever to pry from Italy the concession he most wanted: Italian political and military neutrality within the Triple Alliance.
Barrère had been in poor health in Rome during 1900.123 Moreover, he had no plans of remaining permanently as French ambassador to Italy. In December, Delcassé offered Barrère the German ambassadorial assignment. Barrère admitted that for him the only “premier posts” were those in St. Petersburg and Berlin. Still, he preferred to stay in Rome to accomplish his plans for Italy. In explaining his reasons for this decision, he foresaw the exact amount of time he would need to realize his goal:
in a year and a half I should have accomplished here what great business remains for me to do. In eighteen months, in effect, the new positions will be taken. About that time, I should no longer have anything to attempt for a long time…. Then, in eighteen months I will be free to leave or stay; and at that time you can advantageously send me to another area…. I would see then… with satisfaction the Berlin vacancy (or that of St. Petersburg) not being filled before I was ready to respond to your call, that is, before I had extracted from my present post all the diplomatic big steps it can give.124
On 30 June 1902, exactly eighteen months after he had discussed the Berlin ambassadorship, Barrère’s diplomatic work of "big steps" was accomplished with the signing of the Prinetti-Barrère Accord.
1 Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were the two Ottoman provinces immediately to the southeast of French Tunis. These two areas, plus their Saharan hinterland, constitute modern Libya. Throughout this chapter, unless I am quoting a source directly, I use the term Tripolitania to refer to the two provinces.
2 Pribram, op. cit., I, p. 113.
3 Pinon, op. cit., pp. 32, 37-39.
4 W. N. Medlicott, "Introduction," in Serra, L’intesa mediterranea, pp. viii-ix.
5 Lanza to Canevaro, 10 January 1899; DDI, III, iii, #135.
6 The Italian ambassador in Vienna, Count Constantino Nigra, summed up the importance of the entente to Italy when he remarked that Italy and France were "the real Mediterranean Powers, "but that "alone, Italy remains impotent.” Nigra to Visconti Venosta, 21 February 1898; ACS, Visconti Venosta MSS, busta 7.
7 A brilliant discussion of this development in British foreign policy can be found in Tornielli to Visconti Venosta, 8 March 1900; DDI, III, iii, #376.
8 Glanville, op. cit., pp, 43-47.
9 Barrère to Hanotaux, 11 June 1898; PDF, I, xiv, #219. #219
10 Cited in Porter, op. cit., p. 103.
11 According to Neton, op. cit., p. 216, Delcassé wished to split Italy from England since together they were a hostile block to his Moroccan ambitions; by placating Italy, Delcassé made it necessary for Great Britain to face France directly in North Africa. See also Saint-Aulaire, op. cit., p. 54
12 Barrère to Delcassé, 30 July 1898; DDF, I, xiv, #269.
13 Delcassé to his wife, 22 October 1898, quoted in Andrew, op. cit., p. 102
14 The French navy was rated second to that of England. It was a distant second, however. At this time the first class battleship was becoming the ultimate naval weapon. England possessed 29 such ships; the French had 11. In France, arguments between capital ship advocates, and proponents of the smaller torpedo boats and cruisers were paralyzing French naval growth. The French navy was stationed throughout the world; its European contingents, however, were based primarily in the Mediterranean; a small squadron was located in the Atlantic. Nevertheless, the French navy in general, and the European fleet in particular, were in a poor state of repair. According to the noted diplomatic historian William L. Langer, "The Channel fleet was composed of battleships built prior to 1885. The ships were of diverse design, and there was no definite plan of campaign. The naval ports, at home and in the colonies, were suffering from a serious lack of men, while arsenals were inadequately equipped.” Langer, Diplomacy of Imperialism, pp. 560-561; T. A. Brassey, "Can We Hold Our Own at Sea?" The Fortnightly Review, July-December 1898, pp. 141-143.
15 Blondel to Delcassé, 7 November 1898; DDF, I, xiv, #497.
16 Barrère to Delcassé, 7 November 1898; DDF, I, xiv, #512,
17 According to Barrère, the Italian ambassador in London, de Renzis, and his chargé Count Costa, were the sources of war rumors in Rome; Barrère to Delcassé, 23 November 1898; DDF. I, xiv, #536; and Barrère to Delcassé, 13 January 1899; DDF. I, xv, #17.
18 Barrère to Delcassé, 21 November 1898; MAE. Italie, NS 13. Throughout the Fashoda crisis, the Italian foreign office received detailed reports on the French military build-up and of the British intransigence; see AMAE, Francia, 01804, pac. 56, posiz. 9, #44.
19 Tornielli to Canevaro, 16 August 1898; DDI, III, iii,
20 Canevaro to Tornielli, 9 November 1898; DDI, III, iii, p. 63, note 1.
21 Tornielli to Canevaro, 11 November 1898; DDI, III, iii, #108.
22 Barrère to Delcassé, 11 November 1898; DDF, I, xiv, #512.
23 Jousselin to Lockroy, 19 November 1898; AMM, serie BB7, carton 86, dossier 14
24 Deuxième Bureau report, 8 November 1898; AMA, Italie, carton 19, #1670. A later report of 16 January 1898 #1969, modified the essence of the November report. According to the later information, Italian leaders had agreed to lend their “concourse” to England if "France would not be found alone against England."
25 Jousselin to Lockroy, 19 November 1898; AMM, serie BB, carton 86, dossier 14.
26 Pinsonniere to Minister of War, 12 November 1898; AMA, Italie, carton 10, #1142.
27 Barrère to Delcassé, 21 November 1898; MAE, Italie, NS 13.
28 Delcassé to Montebello, Cambon, Patenotre, and Noailles, 22 November 1898; MAE, Italie, NS 13.
29 Cambon to Delcassé, 22 December 1898; DDF, I, xiv, #577; Andrew, op. cit., pp. 112-113. See also James J. Cooke, New French Imperialism 1880-1919, The Third Republic and Colonial Expansion. (Newton Abbot, UK, and Hamden, Connecticut, 1973), pp. 96-97.
30 By the agreement the French limited themselves to the territory south of the Tropic of Cancer, and west of 21 and 23 degrees East Latitude. Thus, the Tripolitanian hinterland lying between Tummo and Lake Chad—which was still claimed by Turkey, but was coveted by Italy—appeared to be in the French sphere of influence. See Glanville, op. cit. p. 66. The complete text of the Accord of 21 March 1899 is in Hertslet, op. cit., II, pp. 796-797.31
31 Cambon to Delcassé', 23 January 1899; in Paul Cambon, Correspondance 1870-1924 (Paris, 1940-1946), II, pp. 20-21.
32 London, The Times, 25 March 1899.
33 Blondel to Barrère, 1 April 1899; MAE. Italie, NS 14.
34 Barrère to Delcassé, 2 April 1899; DDF. I, xv, #129. It is interesting also that Paul Cambon wrote to Delcassé three days earlier that "we have no pretensions on Tripolitania, no more than on its hinterland….” Cambon to Delcassé, 30 March 1899; MAE, Italie, NS 14.
35 Delcassé to Barrère, 3 April 1899; DDF, I, xv, p. 201, note 4.
36 Delcassé to Barrère, 5 April 1899; DDF, I, xv, #131; Delcassé to Barrère, 1 April 1899; DDF,
37 Delcassé to Barrère, 1 April, and 19 April 1899; DDF, I, xv, #127 and 148.
38 Delcassé to Cambon, 21 January 1899; DDF, I, xv, #36.
39 Tornielli to Canevaro, 11 November 1898; DDI, III, iii, #107.
40 Tornielli to Canevaro, 25 January 1899; DDI, III, iii, #144.
41 Barrère to Delcassé, 11 April 1899; DDF, I, xv, #135.
42 Delcassé to Barrère, 11 April 1899; DDF, I, xv, p. 209n. #138.
43 Barrère to Delcassé, 12 April 1899; DDF, I, xv, #138.
44 Barrère to Delcassé, 8 April 1899; MAE. Italie, NS 14. Barrère later noted that losing Canevaro would not be tragic, but that "our policy goes beyond his person and what I seek to avoid is this policy being compromised by him.” Barrère to Delcassé, 12 April 1899; DDF, I, xv, #138.
45 Barrère to Delcassé, 8 April 1899; MAE. Italie, NS 14.
46 Barrère to Delcassé, 12 April 1899; DDF, I, xv, #138.
47 Barrère to Delcassé, 14 April 1899; MAE. Italie, NS 14.
48 Currie to Salisbury, 4 November 1898; BD, I, #236; Canevaro to Currie, 3 November 1898; DDI, III, iii, #205, annex I.
49 De Renzis to Canevaro, 11 April 1898; DDI, III, iii, #226; Salisbury to Currie, 25 April 1899; BD, I, #251,
50 For a report on possible British interests in the hinterlands of Tripolitania, see Memorandum of the Head of Military Intelligence, 15 April 1899, in Serra, op. cit., pp. 221-222.
51 Salisbury to Currie, 13 May 1899; BD, I, #252.
52 Barrère to Delcassé, 15 April 1899; MAE, Italie, NS 14.
53 Barrère to Delcassé, 14 April 1899; MAE, Italie, NS 14.
54 Barrère to Beau, 15 April 1899; DDF, I, xv, #146.
55 Tornielli to Canevaro, 20 April 1899; DDI, III, iii, #241.
56 This conservative advisory body cautioned that compliance with the Italian request would violate the traditional French policy of guaranteeing the integrity of the Ottoman Empire. Direction Politique also maintained that such a commitment would unreasonably link French policy with future Italian moves against Ottoman holdings in North Africa and the Balkans: Note for the Minister, 12 April 1899; DDF, I, xv, #137.
57 Luzzatti, who was in Paris at this time, informed Delcassé that the Italian government would be satisfied if the French officially communicated to Canevaro the response given earlier to the Turkish ambassador. Delcassé had suggested on 5 April that in essence this response should be communicated to Canevaro. Barrère on 7 April verbally presented this to the Italian minister. Delcassé to Barrère, 19 April 1899; DDF, I, xv, #148. Cf. Supra, note 37; Barrère to Beau, 15 April 1899; DDF. I, xv, #146.
58 Tornielli to Canevaro, 20 April 1899; DDI, III, #241, Barrère to Delcassé, 21 April 1899; DDF, I, xv, #152.
59 Barrère to Beau, 16 February 1900; DDF, I, xvi, #79. Barrère also hoped for the return of Visconti Venosta to the Consulta. He mentioned this in a sympathetic personal letter to Delcassé:
Jeziersky tells me that you tire yourself too much. You are making a great mistake…. He tells me that your impression is that our efforts here have only ended in a German revival. That's jumping to conclusions. We will still have these alarms; they are inevitable. You say that Italy still has alliances with which she has to reckon. Up until the moment when we can realize that which you know, the struggle will be hard. This country is prey to habits, servitudes, and grudges assumed for ten years; all that is not liquidated in one day. Patience then; the results already gained are extraordinary. I do not know if we shall succeed, but our chances are serious. If, as I hope, Visconti becomes the Minister, it seems to me that that will not be too badly maneuvered.
Barrère to Delcassé, 12 May 1899; MAE, Delcassé MSS, I.
60 Canevaro to Pelloux, 18 April 1899; DDI, III, iii, #235. During his speech Canevaro asserted that nothing would be done by the French or British to interrupt commercial communications between Tripolitania and Central Africa; Barrère felt this statement was overstepping what had been assured by the French. He suggested to Delcassé, however, that if it were not indispensible to make a protest to Canevaro, "perhaps it would be preferable to let it pass.” Barrère to Delcassé, 25 April 1899; MAE, Italie, NS 14.
61 Barrère to Delcassé, 20 May 1899; DDF, I, xv, #181.
62 Barrère to Delcassé, 18 May 1899; DDF, I, xv, #178.
63 Barrère to Delcassé, 13 May 1899; DDF, I, xv, #174.
64 Andrew, op, cit., pp. 152-157; Locke, op. cit, p. 52ff.
65 The cause for this lengthy delay was manifold. The new foreign minister needed time to read and assess the dispatches of Canevaro’s ministry (see Enrico Serra, Camille Barrère, p. 83. Barrère was on vacation away from Rome from mid-August until 30 October. Moreover, the nature of Anglo-Italian relations was called into question in Rome because of the pro-Boer attitude of Italian public opinion (Barrère to Delcassé, 21 December 1899; MAE, Delcassé MSS, I). And fears existed that an anti-British continental alliance might look unfavorably upon Anglo-Italian intimacy (Deuxième Bureau report, 22 November 1899; AMA, Italie, carton 19, #3133). Also, sensitive East African boundary negotiations were underway between Italy and Britain (Cogordan to Delcassé, 20 November 1899; MAE, Afrique, NS 28), With these matters under consideration in Rome, it seems unlikely that Andrew is correct when he ascribes the lengthy delay to Visconti Venosta’s dilatory manner and his reluctance "to take the initiative" (Andrew, op. cit. , p. 139).
66 Tornielli to Visconti Venosta, 23 October 1899; DDI. Ill, iii, #336.
68 Currie to Salisbury, 20 August 1899; BD, II, #309
69 Luzzatti expressed this thought to Pelloux in late September, He also suggested that the Russians might make similar demands in Persia: Luzzatti to Pelloux, 25 September 1899, in Luzzatti, op. cit., p. 547. When Visconti Venosta confronted Barrère with this idea, the French ambassador denied it emphatically. Barrère, however, confided to Delcassé that he thought the idea was a British one that had been deliberately planted in the Consulta by the British embassy in Rome and in the Italian embassy in London: Barrère to Delcassé, 11 November 1899; MAE, Italie NS 15.
70 Visconti Venosta informed Tornielli that he could not immediately rule on the French request because he was not sure of French designs on Morocco; Visconti Venosta to Tornielli, 28 October 1899; DDI, III, iii, #338.
71 Currie to Salisbury, 2 November 1899; BD, I, #288.
72 This was borne out in January 1900 when French military forces occupied the Tuat oases and the British were too preoccupied in South Africa to react forcefully.
73 Barrère to Delcassé, 3 November 1899; DDF, I, xv, #298, annex. According to Barrère, "Faced with Tornielli's silence on Tripoli, I sounded out Visconti Venosta, without, in other respects, making an overture to him.” The difference between a sounding out and an overture was only semantic
74 Barrère to Delcassé, 11 November 1898; DDF, I, xv, #298.
75 On 30 October, Delcassé wrote Barrère that "it is not for us to take the initiative on this subject.” A week later Delcassé still held the reins, cautioning his ambassador to hold back and telling him, "Please, without being discouraged, keep your reserve.” See Delcassé to Barrère, 30 October and 21 November 1899; MAE. Delcassé MSS, Italie, XII.
76 Andrew, op. cit., p. 141. Delcassé to Barrère, 13 November 1899; MAE, Delcassé MSS, Italie, XII.
77 Delcassé actually congratulated Barrère on his restraint when in a hand-written letter he stressed that "I absolutely approve of you not having taken the initiative in the conversation. I maintain my point of view which, besides, you have perfectly summed up.” Delcassé to Barrère, 13 November 1899; MAE, Delcassé MSS, Italie, XII.
78 Note from Barrère, 17 January 1900; DDF, I, xvi, #51.
81 Delcassé to Barrère, 20 January 1900; DDF, I, xvi, #55.
82 Note for the Minister, 24 January 1900; DDF, I, xvi, #58.
83 Note for the Minister, 24 January 1900; DDF, I, xvi, #58.
84 Barrère to Delcassé, 27 January 1900; DDF, I, xvi, p.82, note 1. This letter is printed here and in the Revue de Paris (Camille Barrère, "Lettres à Delcassé") without a date. It can be found in the Delcassé MSS with the date, 27 January 1900. The first mention of Visconti Venosta’s apprehension over Tangier and the Spanish fortresses is in Barrère to Delcassé, 17 January 1900; DDF. I, xvi, #51.
85 Projet de Declaration, 4 February 1900; MAE, Delcassé MSS, XII.
86 Barrère to Beau, 16 February 1900; DDF, I, xvi, #79. Note that Andrew, op. cit., p. 143 has misdated this letter as 17 February.
87 Barrère to Delcassé, 16 February 1900; DDF, I, xvi, p. 112, note 6.
88 Barrère to Delcassé, 9 February 1900; DDF, I, xvi, #72.
89 Supra, note 59.
90 Barrère to Beau, 16 February 1900; DDF, I, xvi, #79.
91 Barrère to Delcassé, 16 February 1900; MAE, Delcassé MSS, XII. The phrase "if you insist on this point" significantly has been censored from the published versions of this letter (Supra, note 84).
92 Barrère to Delcassé, 16 February 1900; DDF, I, xvi, p, 112, note 6.
93 Delcassé to Barrère, 28 February 1900; DDF, I, xvi, #203. This letter is printed in the DDF with the incorrect date of 28 June; it appears in the Delcassé MSS with the same incorrect date. Andrew, op. cit., p. 142, note 5, has alertly noticed the mistake. It is, moreover, Andrew who assigns the February date to the letter. He is correct in observing that this letter is a point-by-point retort by Delcassé to Barrère’s letter of 16 February. Although it is understandable why he changed the month of the dispatch from February to June, Andrew offered no reason for maintaining the 28th as the day. Furthermore, Andrew’s assertion that the mistake was probably due to an error in the 1930s by Barrère in passing the letter to the editors of the DDF is questionable since volume xvi was not published until 1954, plenty of time for a correction.
94 Barrère to Delcassé, 30 March 1900; DDF. I, xvi, #110.
95 Barrère to Delcassé, 9 May 1900; DDF, I, xvi, #136, annex.
96 Barrère to Delcassé, 1 December 1898; DDF. I, xiv, #552
97 Barrère to Delcassé, 17 March 1900; DDF, I, xvi, p. 178, note 4. Barrère also argued that the request should be granted simply to better Franco-Italian relations; "while our relations with Italy are bad, we cannot dispense with an act of friendliness which is favorable to us.” Barrère to Delcassé, 30 March 1900; DDF, I, xvi, #110. Delcassé accepted Barrère’s recommendations and approved; the transaction was accomplished on 16 January 1902: see Delcassé to Caillaux, 1 August 1900; ANF, F30, 310. The documents are silent on whether the new issues were exempted from the normal taxation.
98 As late as 4 February, Delcassé had noted that "it is understood with Barrère that we are asking for nothing, and that it is in response to the demands of Italy which desires that we renounce in writing all designs in Tripolitania, that he ought to propose this declaration which engages Italy vis-à-vis us on the subject of Morocco. It is equally agreed that we will deal only with an Italy detached from all obligation to take part against us.” Note from Delcassé, 4 February 1900; MAE, Delcassé MSS, XII.
99 "This was evidenced in a remark by Barrère when reporting on his initiative in presenting French demands to Visconti Venosta: "It is certainly not you who would disapprove of me for having placed such a distance between the cup and the lip.” Barrère to Delcassé, 9 May 1900; DDF, I, xvi, #136.
101 Barrère to Delcassé, 20 June 1900; DDF. I, xvi , #190.
102 Barrère to Delcassé, 9 May 1900; DDF. I, xvi, #136, annex.
103 Barrère to Delcassé, 9 June 1900; DDF. I, xvi, #171.
104 Delcassé to Barrère, 19 June 1900; DDF. I, xvi, #185.
105 Barrère to Delcassé, 20 June 1900; DDF. I, xvi , #190.
106 In late June, Barrère insisted that "it would not be convenient or prudent" to begin his vacation without giving Visconti Venosta the response for which he was waiting. Barrère to Delcassé, 29 June 1900; MAE, Italie, NS 15.
107 Delcassé to Barrère, 13 July 1900; DDF, I, xvi, #226.
108 Barrère to Delcassé, 15 July 1900; PDF. I, xvi, #230. See also: Explication Visconti, 27 July 1900; MAE, Barrère MSS, I.
109 Barrère to Delcassé, 27 July 1900; DDF, I, xvi, #251.
110 King Umberto I was assassinated in Monza by an anarchist on 29 July 1900. His son came to the throne as Victor Emmanuel III. Visconti Venosta admitted the necessity of informing the new monarch on the course of the negotiations. See Barrère to Delcassé, 7 December 1900; DDF, I, xvi, #401. Nevertheless, Victor Emmanuel did not know of the eventual exchange of letters until after the event. See Barrère to Delcassé, 15 February 1901; DDF, II, i, #81.
111 Barrère to Delcassé, 30 December 1900; DDF, I, xvi, #415.
112 Barrère to Delcassé, 30 December 1900; MAE, Delcassé MSS, XII.
113 By the terms of the letters, the exchange was to remain secret. Tornielli, who had been excluded from the preparatory conversations as they became increasingly a private matter between Barrère and Visconti Venosta, was not immediately made aware of the exchange: see Barrère to Delcassé, 9 January 1901; MAE, Delcassé MSS, I. By March, however, the Italian ambassador knew of their existence as he was able to criticize the "indiscretions" of Russian diplomacy which informed the Paris press of the notes: see Tornielli to Prinetti, 21 March 1901; AMAE, Francia, 01804, pac. 56, posiz. 9. The Russians were aware of the exchange as the Russian ambassador in Rome. Alexander Ivanovitch de Nelidoff, was a confidant of Barrère. Moreover, Barrère had suggested to Delcassé that the foreign minister inform the Russians of the accord "when you judge it opportune.” See Barrère to Delcassé 9 January 1901; MAE, Delcassé MSS, I; and see Delcassé to Montebello, 19 February 1901; DDF, II, i, #88.
114 The texts of the letters can be found in Barrère to Delcassé, 10 January 1901; DDF, II, i, #17.
115 Fearing the collapse of the Saracco government, Visconti Venosta suggested the early dates as a way of avoiding the impression that the exchange of letters was hastily conceived and executed by a foreign minister about to lose his portfolio.
116 Supra, note 103.
117 Supra, note 108
118 Luzzatti, op. cit., p. 538.
119 Camille Barrère, "Le prélude de l’offensive allemande de 1905," Revue des deux mondes, 1 February 1932, p. 635.
120 Barrère to Delcassé, 30 December 1900; DDF, I, xvi, #415.
121 Barrère to Delcassé, 2 March 1901; DDF. II, i, #118. He noted later that, "From the day France and Italy explained their respective interests in the Mediterranean, the support of England has lost a great part of its raison d’être for the Italians; and they have begun to understand that if any preponderance is to be feared, it is that of England. The line of separation is narrow, although marked. It will enlarge later.” See Barrère to Delcassé, 10 June 1901; DDF, II, #277.
122 Combarieu, op. cit., pp. 106-107.
123 During the last six months of the year, Barrère was inflicted with intestinal catarrh on three occasions. See Barrère to Delcassé, 11 December 1900; MAE, Delcassé MSS I.
124 Barrère to Delcassé, 30 December 1900; DDF, I, xvi, #415.
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