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Ernest Lavisse on the current situation of France (1894)

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  1. Introduction
  2. About Ernest Lavisse
  3. Ernest Lavisse on the current situation of France
    1. French humiliation of the defeat
  4. Lavisse's analysis
  5. The German Pavilion at the Paris World Fair
  6. Helmuth von Moltke's assessment of international situation, July 29th, 1914 (to Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg)
  7. Analysis
  8. Conclusion

This document was written by Ernest Lavisse, a French historian. His work had a lot of influence in France, and he is considered being the founding father of the positivist conception of history. In this text, he provides us some interesting thoughts on two elements of the French history: the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian after the battle of Sedan (1st September 1870), and its aftermath in the French society that partly led to the World War One. That document has been written in 1894, twenty-four years after the big defeat. Since then, the context in France did not much evolved. Besides the political struggles for the determination of France's regime, the defeat led Germany, and especially Prussia to earn oneself French's hatred.

One good example of such hate is what was taught in the Republican schools: children were often asked to sing songs that were hostile pamphlet against Germany When the author wrote this text, the Republic was still trying to put herself up from the terrible threat that was General Boulanger's nationalist coup attempt. Such nationalism that had emerged with the defeat was about to shake the Republic foundations one more time with the outbreak of the Dreyfus Affair in the late 1894.

In the first part of its text, Lavisse talks about the French humiliation of the defeat. He insists on what has been a deep wound in the French pride: the annexation of the regions of Alsace and Lorraine, which had to become German as a part of the price to pay for the defeat.

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