The French Empire and Morocco

  • Christopher Andrew


THERE was a negative as well as a positive side to Delcassé’s imperial vision. As foreign minister he was privately convinced that France’s Asian empire would never be more than a drain on her resources. He considered Indo-China as, at best, ‘matière à échange1 and had the same attitude towards Madagascar which he never regarded as part of France’s African empire. As prime minister from 1902 to 1905, Émile Combes, who otherwise took almost no interest in foreign affairs, tried on several occasions to interest the German ambassador in an exchange of Indo-China or Madagascar for Alsace-Lorraine.2 The same solution to the problem of the lost provinces was also the dream of Paul Bourde,3 and he doubtless suggested it to Delcassé — though never with the same conviction as an Egypt—Morocco exchange with England. Delcassé, for his part, would gladly have accepted an agreement of this kind with Germany. Bihourd, Noailles’ successor as ambassador in Berlin, wrote of a meeting with Delcassé in the summer of 1904: ‘During our long conversation we talked about Alsace and Lorraine. “If there is a willingness to sell them”, exclaimed the Minister, “I am quite prepared to give up Indo-China in exchange”.’4 After his fall from power Delcassé told Saint-Aulaire that he would have been equally willing to offer Germany Madagascar instead of Indo-China.5


Prime Minister Foreign Affair Foreign Minister French Minister Colonial Empire 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Paléologue, Un grand tournant, 202. Cf. Homberg, op. cit., 28; Mme. Noguès, op. cit., 8, 14; Comte de Chambrun, Traditions et souvenirs (Paris, 1952), 72.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    M. Bruguière, ‘Le chemin de fer du Yunnan. Paul Doumer et la politique d’intervention française en Chine 1889–1902’, Revue d’Histoire Diplomatique, LXXVII (1963), 148 ff., 256 ff.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Jonnart to Étienne, 5 Sept. 1903, Étienne MSS. A. Maurois, Marshal Lyautey (London, 2931), 83–8.Google Scholar
  4. 1.
    P. Guillen, ‘Les milieux d’affaires français et le Maroc à l’aube du XXe siècle. La fondation de la Compagnie Marocaine’, Revue Historique, CCXXIX (1963).Google Scholar
  5. 2.
    P. Guillen, ‘L’implantation de Schneider au Maroc: les debuts de la Compagnie Marocaine’, Revue d’Histoire Diplomatique, l xxix (1965).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Christopher Andrew 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Andrew
    • 1
  1. 1.CambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations