Last modified: 2018-06-27 by ivan sache
Keywords: félix faure |
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Félix Faure's standard - Image by Željko Heimer, 27 September 2004
On 17 January 1895, the Congress (Deputees and Senators)
gathered in Versailles to elect the new President. Félix Faure
was elected in the second round among several candidates, including
Brisson, Dupuy and Waldeck-Rousseau, and was rapidly nicknamed
Président-soleil ("President-sun") or Félix
le Bel ("Felix the Handsome") because he enjoyed splendor and
Faure warmly encouraged colonialism. On 30 September 1895,
Antananarivo was seized by the French troops and
Madagascar was annexed on 6 August 1896.
In September 1898, almamy
Samory, who had constituted a powerful empire in upper
Côte-d'Ivoire, was captured and France annexed all the lands
bordering the Niger river. In order to fight against British
expansion in Africa, the French government approved the proposal of
Commandant Marchand to link Dakar (Senegal) to Djibouti. The Marchand
mission reached Fachoda, in the upper valley of Nile, on 10 July 1898
and hoisted the French Tricolore on the ruined fort of the village.
In early September sirdar Kitchener reached Fachoda with
20,000 men and hoisted the Egyptian
flag on the fort. On 3 November, Marchand was ordered to evacuate
Fachoda. In March 1899, France signed a convention by which all its
claims on Sudan were withdrawn.
Faure established strong links with Russia. Tsar Nicolas II officially visited Paris in October 1896, being the first important foreign sovereign to visit France since the 1870 disaster. In August 1897, Faure officially visited St. Petersburg and called Russia and France deux nations amies et alliées ("two friend and allied nations").
The infamous Dreyfus case tainted Faure's presidency. Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer, was allegedly accusated of spying for Germany. After a forged trial, he was sentenced to demotion and deportation to Devil's Island, off the coast of French Guyana. The Dreyfus case motivated a major clash in France between the Dreyfusards and the Anti-Dreyfusards. Evidence of the forgery accumulated and more and more people asked for the revision of the trial and the rehabilitation of Dreyfus. Félix Faure, who was opposed to the trial revision, died on 16 February 1899.
Faure is today more famous for his death than for his political
career. He died in the palace of Elysée during a tryst with
his friend Madame Steinheil. A famous story tells that a chambermaid
screamed: Le Président n'a plus sa
connaissance and was answered by another one Elle est partie
par l'escalier de service. The pun is based on the double sense
of connaissance, meaning both "acquaintance" and
"consciousness". Therefore, the first maid meant to say "The
President has no longer his consciousness". The second maid
understood "The President's acquaintance is no longer here", and
answered "She left by the backstairs".
Faure's funerals were also tragi-comic. During the ceremony, the ultra-nationalist Déroulède attempted a coup and tried to march on the Palace of Elysée with his fellows of the Patriotic League. The coup aborted and Déroulède was arrested.
Ivan Sache, 9 July 2001
The flag used by Président Félix Faure is
kept in the private archive HCC (Habillement, Couchage, Casernement - Outfit, Bedding, Barracks) of the Direction du Commissariat de la Marine (Direction of the Admiralty Board) in Toulon.
The golden cypher in the middle of the white stripe is a nice combination of two mirrorred "F" letters placed in saltire. The resulting "X" pattern is not coincidental and probably refers to the "X" of Félix.
Félix Faure had more than one monogram. On 6 October 1896, he offered a dinner to the Emperor and the Empress of Russia during their official visit to France. On the cover of the menu of the dinner, Faure's monogram is much more complicated in its ornementations than the very geometrical, rectilinear monogram applied in the middle of the President's flag.
Ivan Sache & Armand du Payrat, 9 July 2001