The Birth of the Third Republic in France Through the Eyes of a Russian Diplomat, September 1870 – May 1871

Publication type Article
Status Published
Affiliation: Institute of World History, RAS
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameNovaia i noveishaia istoriia
EditionIssue 6

St. Petersburg was well aware of the development of the situation in France, which led to the fall of the Second Empire and the proclamation of the Third Republic on 4 September 1870. The main source of such information for Emperor Alexander II and Chancellor Gorchakov was Grigory Nikolaevich Okunev, Russia's chargé d'affaires in France. His extensive correspondence from Paris and then from Bordeaux, Tours and Versailles, whither the republican government was forced to move, formed the basis for this study. To date, this valuable source has not attracted the much-deserved attention of scholars of French history and Franco-Russian relations. Meanwhile, Okunev's dispatches and telegrams preserved in the Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire (Moscow) are of considerable interest. He was an immediate eyewitness who tried to comprehend the process of formation of the Third Republic. Okunev's information to a certain extent influenced the formulation of the Russian Empire's approach to the young French Republic. The chronological framework of the article covers the period from the revolution of 4 September 1870 to the elections to the National Assembly, the formation of the government of Adolphe Thiers (February 1871) and the subsequent conclusion of the Treaty of Frankfurt (10 May 1871), which ended the Franco-Prussian War. The author analyses the Russian diplomacy's view of the revolution of 4 September 1871 and the birth of the Third Republic in France. He explains the reasons behind St. Petersburg's recognition of the French Republic, even though it was not sure of its stability.

KeywordsRussia, France, Grigory Okunev, Second Empire, Franco-Prussian War, Revolution of 4 September 1870, Third Republic, National Assembly, Alexander II, Alexandra Gorchakov, Adolphe Thiers, Jules Favre
Publication date21.12.2023
Number of characters61073
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