Delcassé, Théophile

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Delcassé, Théophile

Théophile Delcassé (tāôfēl´ dĕlkäsā´), 1852–1923, French foreign minister. He began his career as a political journalist and then turned to politics. First undersecretary and then minister for the colonies (1893–95), he became foreign minister in 1898 and remained in office until 1905. Commencing with the Fashoda Incident, in which his conciliatory attitude marked the start of a Franco-British rapprochement, he greatly influenced the alignment of European powers prior to World War I. The Entente Cordiale with Great Britain (1904), for which he was largely responsible, settled colonial differences between the two nations, particularly in Morocco and Egypt; France agreed to recognize the British occupation of Egypt in return for British acknowledgment of French interests in Morocco. This convention opened the way for the Triple Entente (1907) between Great Britain, France, and Russia (see Triple Alliance and Triple Entente). During Delcassé's tenure as foreign minister, Franco-Russian relations were cemented (1899) by the extension of the Franco-Russian alliance of 1894, and a secret nonaggression treaty was signed (1902) between France and Italy that neutralized Italian membership in the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary. In 1905, Delcassé proposed the establishment of a French protectorate over Morocco. Emperor William II of Germany visited Tangier and proclaimed his country's support of Moroccan independence. Delcassé urged his government to stand firm, but the fear of war with Germany caused the French to oppose Delcassé, and he resigned. Delcassé was later naval minister (1911–13) and foreign minister (1914–15).

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

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