Georges Clemenceau: A Political Biography

By David Robin Watson | Go to book overview

1

CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH

I. ANCESTRY AND CHILDHOOD

Georges Clemenceau was born on 28 September 1841 in a modest house in the main street of the village of Mouilleron-en-Pareds, in one of the most remote parts of the Vendée. He was the second child and eldest son of Dr Benjamin Clemenceau and his wife Emma, née Gautreau. The Vendée, the area along the Atlantic coast south of the mouth of the River Loire, was one of the poorest parts of France, economically backward and conservative in politics. Large towns, modern industry, modern methods in agriculture had still not reached the Vendée even at the end of Clemenceau's long lifetime. At the time of his childhood and youth the peasants who made up the great majority of the population followed a way of life burdened by grinding poverty, which had changed little over the centuries. The railways hardly penetrated the area, and roads were notoriously bad. When Clemenceau, the rising young politician of the early Third Republic, returned to the family home, the Château de l'Aubraie near the village of Féaule, it still involved a long journey by horse and carriage from the nearest railway station. It was a strange background for one who was to lead the Left wing in politics, and to speak, at least for a time, for the industrial working class.

The Vendée is indeed one of the most distinctive regions of France. There is no grandeur in its scenery, but great charm, and much diversity within a small area. It is divided into three quite distinct parts, the bocage, the plaine, and the marais. The bocage consists of small, abrupt hills and deep valleys, covered with thick woods, traversed by narrow roads. The plaine, the open countryside, is closer to the normal type of farmland in northern France. Finally there is the marais, the marshy regions by the coast, in part a wilderness visited only by fishermen and

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Georges Clemenceau: A Political Biography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Georges Clemenceau - A Political Biography *
  • Contents 5
  • Illustrations *
  • Acknowledgements 11
  • Part One - Childhood, Youth and the Commune I84i-1871 *
  • 1 - Childhood and Youth 15
  • 2 - The Commune 34
  • Part Two - The Radical Attack I87i-1889 *
  • 3 - Challenger from the Left 59
  • 4 - Clemenceau versus Ferry 81
  • 5 - Boulangism 101
  • Part Three - Defeat and Resurgence I889-1906 *
  • 6 - Panama 117
  • 7 - The Dreyfus Affair 138
  • Part Four - The First Ministry I906-1909 *
  • 8 - Minister of the Interior 167
  • 9 - Clemenceau as Premier 183
  • 10 - Clemenceau as Strike-Breaker 200
  • 11 - Foreign Policy 215
  • Part Five - Opposition I909-1917 *
  • 12 - In Opposition before the War 237
  • 13 - Opposition in Wartime 249
  • Part Six - Pere-La-Victoire I9i7-1918 *
  • 14 - Second Ministry: Domestic Politics 275
  • 15 - Military Strategy 293
  • 16 - Russian Intervention and Victory 315
  • Part Seven - The Peace Settlement and after I9i8-1929 *
  • 17 - The Versailles Treaty 331
  • 18 - The Middle East and Russia 366
  • 19 - Domestic Politics and Last Years 380
  • Part Eight - Conclusion *
  • 20 - Conclusion 397
  • Appendices Sources and Bibliography Index *
  • Appendix I 411
  • Appendix II 414
  • Appendix III 416
  • Appendix IV 417
  • Appendix V 424
  • Appendix VI 428
  • Appendix VII 434
  • Sources and Bibliography 438
  • Index 455
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