Camille Chautemps

Camille Chautemps
98th Prime Minister of France
In office
21 February 1930  2 March 1930
Preceded by André Tardieu
Succeeded by André Tardieu
107th Prime Minister of France
In office
26 November 1933  30 January 1934
Preceded by Albert Sarraut
Succeeded by Édouard Daladier
115th Prime Minister of France
In office
22 June 1937  13 March 1938
Preceded by Léon Blum
Succeeded by Léon Blum
Personal details
Born 1 February 1885
Paris, France
Died 1 July 1963(1963-07-01) (aged 78)
Washington, D.C., United States
Political party Radical

Camille Chautemps (1 February 1885 – 1 July 1963) was a French Radical politician of the Third Republic, three times President of the Council (Prime Minister).


Early career

Described as "intellectually bereft",[1] Chautemps nevertheless entered politics and became Mayor of Tours in 1912, and a Radical deputy in 1919. Between 1924 and 1926, he served in the centre-left coalition governments of Édouard Herriot, Paul Painlevé and Aristide Briand.

Initiated as a Freemason in 1906 in "les Demophines" lodge of Grand Orient of France, he became master in 1908, Worshipful Master of his lodge in 1910 and reached the 30th degree in Scottish Rite during 1924.[2] He quitted Freemasonry in 1938 for political reasons.

The 1930s

Prime Minister twice

He became President of the Council briefly in 1930. Again in centrw-left governments in 1932 ti 1934, he served as Interior Minister and became Prime Minister again in November 1933. His government fell, and he resigned his posts on 27 January 1934 as a result of the corruption exposed by the Stavisky Affair, when the press accused him of having Stavisky murdered to shut him up.[3]

Deputy Prime Minister and Premier for the last time

In Léon Blum's Popular Front government of 1936, Chautemps was a Minister of State and then succeeded Blum at the head of the government from June 1937 to March 1938. The franc was devalued, but government finances remained in a mess.[4] Pursuing the program of the Popular Front, he proceeded in the nationalisation of the railroads to create the SNCF. However, in January 1938, he drove the Socialists out of his government.[5] In February, he granted married women financial and legal independence (until then, wives had been dependent on their husbands to take action involving family finances) and alloweed them to go to university and open bank accounts. His government also repealed Article 213 of the code: "the husband owes protection to his wife, the wife obedience to the husband" However, the husband remained "head of the household" with "the right to choose the household’s place of residence".[6] His government fell on 10 March.[7]

Run-up to World War II

Chautemps subsequently served from April 1938 to May 1940 as Deputy Premier in the governments of Édouard Daladier and Paul Reynaud, and, after the latter's resignation, as Deputy Premier again, now to Marshal Philippe Pétain.

World War II

France having declared war on Germany in September 1939, in May 1940, the German Army invaded and swept aside all opposition. With the fall of Dunkirk on 5 June and the defeat of the French army imminent, Chautemps, dining with Paul Baudouin on the 8th, declared that the war must be ended and that Pétain saw the position most clearly.[8] On the 11th, during a Cabinet meeting, Chautemps suggested that Churchill be invited back to France to discuss the hopeless situation.[9] The Cabinet met again on the 14th, almost evenly split on the question of an Armistice with Germany. Chautemps now suggested to break the deadlock, that they should get a neutral authority to enquire what the German terms would be. If honourable, they could agree to study them. If not, they could all agree to fight on. The Chautemps peoposa passed by 13 to 6.[10] Soon afterward, Charles de Gaulle, now in London, telephoned Reynaud to give him the British Government's offer of joint nationality for French and British in a Franco-British union.

A delighted Reynaud put it to a stormy cabinet meeting and was supported by five of his ministers. Most of the others were persuaded against him by the arguments of Pétain, Chautemps and Jean Ybarnégaray, the latter two seeing the offer as a device to make France subservient to Great Britain, as an extra dominion. Georges Mandel (who had a Jewish background[11]) was flinging accusations of cowardice around the room, and Chautemps and others replied in kind. It was now clear that Reynaud would not accept the Chautemps proposal, and Reynaud resigned.[12]


Chautemps broke with Pétain's government after arriving in the United States on an official mission and lived there for much of the rest of his life. After World War II, a French court convicted him in absentia for collaborating with the enemy[13]).

Chautemps's First Ministry, 21 February – 2 March 1930

Chautemps's Second Ministry, 26 November 1933 – 30 January 1934


Chautemps's Third Ministry, 22 June 1937 – 18 January 1938

Chautemps's Fourth Ministry, 18 January – 13 March 1938

Political offices
Preceded by
Anatole de Monzie
Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
René Renoult
Preceded by
André Tardieu
Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
André Tardieu
Preceded by
Albert Sarraut
Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
Édouard Daladier
Preceded by
Léon Blum
Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
Léon Blum


  1. Williams, Charles, Pétain, Little Brown (Time Warner Book Group UK), London, 2005, p.283, ISBN 0-316-86127-8
  2. Dictionnaire universel de la Franc-Maçonnerie by Monique Cara and Jean-Marc Cara and Marc de Jode (ed. Larousse, 2011)
  3. Williams, 2005, p.259.
  4. Griffiths, Richard, Pétain, Constable, London, 1970, p.p.197, ISBN 0-09-455740-3
  5. Griffiths, 1970, p.197.
  6. [France since 1870: Culture, Politics and Society by Charles Sowerine]
  7. Griffiths, 1970, p.197.
  8. Griffiths, 1970, p.231.
  9. Griffiths, 1970, p.235.
  10. Griffiths, 1970, p.237.
  11. Webster, Paul, Pétain's Crime, Pan Macmillan, London, 1990, p.40, ISBN 0-333-57301-3
  12. Griffiths, 1970, p.239.
  13. Encyclopaedia Britannica

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 2/2/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.