The French State (French: l'État Français) was a Boulangist state that existed as the official government of France between the Coup of the Right in 1896 after the Dreyfus Scandal and the end of the Great War in 1920. The French state was officially a restoration of the Napoleonic Empire, but in reality it was ruled with full control by George Boulanger, a military official, for most of its timespan; there was no invitation for Prince Imperial Napóleon to take the throne, and while this was described as a temporary measure while order was established, no real attempts to restore the French Empire occurred until after Boulanger's death. Throughout its history, the State was deeply influenced by the ideas of Boulanger, which would become one of the driving points of French history. Its motto was the official three tenets of Boulangisme as stated by its founder: Revanche, Revision et Réstoration, that is, revenge against Germany, revision of the Constitution and Restoration of the monarchy.
The Dreyfus scandal in 1894 had spelled the end of the French Third Republic. Founded on the rampant anti-Semitism and anti-Germanism of the far right in the French Army. An Alsatian-German artillery officer, Alfred Dreyfus, was convicted of treason against France and condemned to exile after allegedly giving military secrets to the Germans. However, the lack of proof for this angered both the left, in the forms of the socialists and the republicans, and the centre-right, in the form of Orléanisme. This led to the legislature and court to undo the sentence two years later.
This brought complete and absolute rejection of the Republic by the military. Mutinies occurred in Lille, the capital of the boulangist movement, as well as the conservative Vendée. These mutinies and revolts quickly took over the nation, overthrowing the Third Republic and establishing Boulanger as head of his État Français.
While this revolt received heavy opposition by part of the German Empire and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Third Republic was also heavily opposed by these nations; therefore, no real opposition to Boulanger's coup was established. Boulangisme was able to establish itself in France due to international apathy, being able to force the socialists, liberals and Orléanistes, supporters of a democratic and/or republican state, into the underground or in exile, mostly to Belgium and Britain. This move allowed the Boulangist state to entrench itself in power throughout France.
The issue of the restoration of the monarchy, after the increased power of the French Republic, was thus established. The candidate that was supported by Boulanger, as well as every major power of government in France, was Prince Imperial Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, living in London at the time of the Coup of the Right and crippled from the war on Zululand. Boulanger was expected to formally invite Prince Imperial to France, to seize power in the State as Emperor; however, he constantly postponed the issue, formally because the preparations for Coronation and resumption of imperial rule were not really, but in reality because of his wish to remain absolute despot of the French State, as well as the belief that the Prince Imperial was too close to Britain (and therefore, Germany) to be a good figurehead for Boulangisme. This was unofficially accepted by most of the pet Boulangist National Assembly, as well as much of the movement.With issues of basic purpose having been covered by Boulanger in the first few years of the nation, the subject of focus for the French government turned to foreign policy. Boulanger aggressively pursued ideologies of the parti colonial of France, taking over much of its gained territories in French West Africa. Brazza's expansion in West Congo expanded up the River and into Chad, vassalising the ailing Bornu Empire and other tribes in the nation. This was an attempt by Boulanger's State to establish an east-west connection, a "Blue Ribbon" from Dakar to Suakin. This included the territories owned by the Anglo-Egyptian condominium of Sudan, establishing dominance over the region. The French had deemed this the best possible period fto seize this "Blue Ribbon", as the British were still involved with the Mahdist Revolt in Sudan to the north of Sudan. While the Mahdi was about to be defeated by the British, the French decided to take this opportunity to undercut the Mahdist rebellion and take over much of southern Sudan.
Major Jean-Baptiste Marchand marched with a small force of Frenchmen eastwards, to establish dominance over the tribes in Darfour and Sudan. They set off from Brazzaville in a French steamer up the Congo, up into the east. This process was heavily covered by the French media, using Marchand as patriotic and anti-British propaganda. This led to the French feeling very confrontational towards Britain and Germany, which were drawing closer, by the time of the incident in 1897. Marchand occupied the city of Fashoda in January 17, holding 120 tirailleurs and 12 officers in the city, after an epic 14-month march through the jungles of Central Africa. The small army hoped for reinforcements, but they never arrived, as they were first forced to stop by the Ethiopian government, feeling threatened, and afterwards suffered accidents in the Sudd. The army retreated into the Congo, back to French territory, leaving Marchand's outpost by itself.
Marchand held the town and parts of southern and western Sudan, from Darfour to the White Nile, for seven months. By April, news got to London and Paris, where outrage hit both British and French positions, which accused each other of imperialism. Parliament ordered Sir Herbert Kitchener to organise a truce with the Mahdists in order to end the more urgent international crisis occurring to the south. Kitchener authorised 1000 out of his 8200 people to move southwards to Fashoda.
The Fashoda Incident finished when Marchand's troops stood down and fled westwards, granting the Sudan to British forces to own. The defeat of the Mahdist rebellion in Omdurman a few years later finally placed central Sudan deeply in the British camp. The Incident, however, defined international relationships quite badly. Firstly, it placed the territories of Darfour and South Sudan. the Ugandan kingdoms of Bunyoro and Lango, as well as the provinces of West Nile, Acholiland and Karamoja, and British Somaliland, under French dispute. Furthermore, it severely damaged relations between the two nations, as well as with Germany, which had supported Britain throughout this conflict.
The conflict led to a major reorganisation of European geopolitical goals. The alliance between the British and Germans (as well, to a lesser degree, as the Russians), was entrenched in fact after this, as the Germans backed the British throughout the incidents. Because of this, the French stopped looking to encircle Germany through Russia. Instead, it sought an alliance with the Austrians, dejected after their expulsion from the League of the Three Emperors by Frederick IV in 1883.
Grief in France was combined with expectations of the end of this diplomatic stand down after the death of General Boulanger in 1900. However, these expectations were short lived. While the original probable leaders for succession of France were mostly moderates and tried to co-operate with the Republican and Orléaniste movements in exile, this "Regent's regency" was ended by a somewhat quiet coup d'etat in 1901 against the provisional Triumvirate of France led by Victor Henri Rochefort-Luçay, Albert de Mun and Arthur Dillon, which placed far right general Édouard Drumont as the Regént-General of the French State
The Drumontian Restoration
Drumont was closer to the French monarchist ideals than what Boulanger ever was. While Boulanger found himself more of a national leader than a restorer of Kings, Drumont sought to restore France to the glory of the reign of the Sun King. Very Catholic and deeply superstitious, Drumont was an excellent representative of the Monarchist far right.
Drumont began doing several changes to the French system of Boulanger. While maintaining the bases of a populist dictatorship, it was less militarised and far more aristocratic than Boulanger's incredible source of support amongst the lower classes of the French population. The power of the Catholic Church over the French State was once again re-established, although the cures sac au dos was retained by Drumont in fears of war. The radicaux-boulangistes and boulangistes blanches were defeated in a short struggle for leadership by Drumont. Traditional symbols of the monarchy, such as the clear white flag of the Bourbon Restoration and the Legitimist coat of arms, were reinstated. The words of France's traditional anthem, La Marsellaise, were once again changed, to become the March of the Vendée:
|“|| Allons armée catholique
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Contre nous de la république
L’étendard sanglant est levé (repeat)
Entendez-vous dans nos campagnes Les cris impurs des scélérats?
Qui viennent jusque dans nos bras Prendre nos filles, nos femmes!
Drumont sided with the monarchist ideas of the blancs d'Espagne, who believed that the abdication of Philip V at the end of the War of Spanish Succession was illegal and thus his descendants were the true heirs to the Kingdom of France. Following Salic succession, they also found that the current royal family of Alfonso XIII was also unable to rule France, and thus found the heir to the French Kingdom in the Spanish pretender Carlos, Duke of Madrid and Anjou, who claimed to be the true heir to the thrones of both France and Spain. Drumont called him to claim the throne of France, to which he acceded in 1904, being crowned King of France and Navarre in July.