chapter  23
10 Pages

To the Sacred Union , 1914

In her disastrous war with Germany in 1870, France had been given no help and not much sympathy by the other Great Powers, and in her weakened state had no prospect of finding future allies. She remained vulnerable to any future German aggression. For the republicans who came to power in the 1880s, though direct war of revenge was unthinkable in the foreseeable future, to abandon the hope of ‘revanche’, or at least of some redress against the Treaty of Frankfurt, was just as unthinkable. For the myth of republican resistance in 1870-71 was both the glory and the burden of the Third Republic. Much of its legitimacy came from its patriotism; patriotic celebration was at the core of its political culture. The assertion of French greatness - including, even above all, military power - was felt as an imperative.