Louis Barthou

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Louis Barthou
Louis Barthou 01.jpg
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
9 February 1934 – 9 October 1934
Preceded byÉdouard Daladier
Succeeded byPierre Laval
In office
23 October 1917 – 16 November 1917
Preceded byAlexandre Ribot
Succeeded byStephen Pichon
Prime Minister of France
In office
22 March 1913 – 9 December 1913
Preceded byAristide Briand
Succeeded byGaston Doumergue
Personal details
Jean Louis Barthou

25 August 1862
Oloron-Sainte-Marie, France
Died9 October 1934(1934-10-09) (aged 72)
Marseille, France
Manner of deathAssassination by gunshot
Political partyDemocratic Republican Alliance

Jean Louis Barthou (French pronunciation: ​[ʒɑ̃ lwi baʁtu]; 25 August 1862 – 9 October 1934) was a French politician of the Third Republic who served as Prime Minister of France for eight months in 1913. In social policy, his time as prime minister saw the introduction (in July 1913) of allowances to families with children.[1]

In 1917 and in 1934, Barthou also served as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Early life[edit]

Louis Barthou was born on 25 August 1862 in Oloron-Sainte-Marie, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France.


Barthou served as a deputy from his home constituency and was an authority on trade-union history and law.

He served as prime minister from 22 March 1913 to 9 December 1913. In social policy, Barthou's time as prime minister saw the passage of a law in June 1913 aimed at safeguarding women workers before and after childbirth.[2]

Barthou (right) with Polish marshal Józef Piłsudski in 1934

He also held ministerial office on 13 other occasions. He served as Foreign Minister in 1917 and 1934. He was the primary figure behind the Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance of 1935, but it was signed by his successor, Pierre Laval. As a national World War I hero and a recognized author, Barthou was elected to the Académie française at the end of that war.[3]

In 1934 he tried to create an Eastern Pact, which would have included Germany (in some proposals) the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Baltic states on the basis of guarantees - of the European borders of the Soviet Union by France, and of the eastern borders of Nazi Germany by the Soviet Union. He succeeded in obtaining the entry of the Soviet Union into the League of Nations in September 1934.[4] In response to the withdrawal of Nazi Germany from the League in 1933, he began a program of rearmament, which focused initially on the Navy and the Air Force.[5]

Universal Newsreel's film about the assassination

Barthou was a lover of the arts, and in power he worked with leaders of the arts to publicize their fields. He felt that world-class leadership in the arts made Paris a mecca for tourists and collectors, and enhanced the nation's stature worldwide as the exemplar of truth and beauty. In turn, the arts community honoured Barthou by dubbing him the "minister of poets".[6]


As Foreign Minister, Barthou met King Alexander I of Yugoslavia during his state visit to Marseille in October 1934. On 9 October, King Alexander was assassinated by Velicko Kerin, a Bulgarian far-right nationalist terrorist wielding a handgun.[7] Another bullet struck Barthou in the arm, passing through and fatally severing an artery. He died of blood-loss less than an hour later. The assassination had been planned in Rome by Ante Pavelić, head of the Croatian Ustaše, in August 1934. Pavelić was assisted by Georg Percevic, a former Austro-Hungarian Armed Forces officer. France unsuccessfully requested the extradition of Percevic and Pavelić.[8] This assassination ended the careers of the Bouches-du-Rhone prefect, Pierre Jouhannaud [fr], and of the director of the Surete Nationale, Jean Berthoin.[9]

A ballistic report on the bullets found in the car was made in 1935, but its results were not made available to the public until 1974. The report revealed that Barthou had been hit by an 8 mm Modèle 1892 revolver round, commonly used in weapons carried by French police.[10] Thus Barthou was killed during the frantic police response, rather than by the assassin.


The deaths of Barthou and the King led to the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Terrorism concluded at Geneva by the League of Nations on 16 November 1937.[11] The Convention was signed by 25 nations, ratified only by India.[12] Barthou was granted a state funeral four days after his demise.


Barthou's ministry, 22 March 1913 – 9 December 1913[edit]


  1. ^ "Land Policy Review". 1938.
  2. ^ The Encyclopædia Britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information, Volume 31 by Hugh Chisholm.
  3. ^ Power and Pleasure: Louis Barthou and the Third French Republic by Robert J. Young, McGill-Queens 1991, p. X
  4. ^ The Gathering Storm by Winston Churchill, RosettaBooks, 2010, p. 95
  5. ^ Alexander, Martin S. (April 2015). "French grand strategy and defence preparations". The Cambridge History of the Second World War. The Cambridge History of the Second World War. pp. 78–106. doi:10.1017/cho9781139855969.006. ISBN 9781139855969. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
  6. ^ Robert J. Young, "Cultural Politics and the Politics of Culture in the Third French Republic: The Case of Louis Barthou." French Historical Studies (1991) 17#2: 343-358.online.
  7. ^ Graves, Matthew (January 2010). "Memory and Forgetting on the National Periphery: Marseille and the Regicide of 1934". Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies. 7 (1): 1.
  8. ^ El Zeidy, Mohamed M. (15 September 2008). The Principle of Complementarity in International Criminal Law: Origin, Development and Practice. Brill. p. 41.
  9. ^ The Boundaries of the Republic: Migrant Rights and the Limits of Universalism in France, 1918-1940 by Mary Lewis, Stanford University Press, 7 June 2007, p. 114.
  10. ^ de Launay, Jacques (1974). Les grandes controverses de l'histoire contemporaine 1914-1945. Edito-Service Histoire Secrete de Notre Temps. p. 568.
  11. ^ The United Nations and the Control of International Violence: A Legal and Political Analysis by John Francis Murphy, Manchester University Press ND, 1983, p.179
  12. ^ Law, Randall (29 June 2009). Terrorism: A History. Polity. p. 156.

Further reading[edit]

  • Atkin, Nicholas. "Power and Pleasure. Louis Barthou and the Third French Republic." Journal of European Studies 23.91 (1993): 357-359.
  • Buffotot, Patrice. "The French high command and the Franco‐Soviet alliance 1933–1939." Journal of Strategic Studies 5.4 (1982): 546-559.
  • French, G. "Louis Barthou and the German Question: 1934." Report of the Annual Meeting. Vol. 43. No. 1. 1964. online
  • Rife, John Merle. "The political career of Louis Barthou" (PhD. Diss. The Ohio State University, 1964) online.
  • Roberts, Allen. The turning point: the assassination of Louis Barthou and King Alexander I of Yugoslavia (1970).
  • Schuman, Frederick L. Europe On The Eve 1933-1939 (1939) pp 94–109.online
  • Young, Robert J. Power and Pleasure: Louis Barthou and the Third French Republic (1991)
  • Young, Robert J. "Cultural Politics and the Politics of Culture: The Case of Louis Barthou," French Historical Studies (Fall 1991) 17#2 pp. 343–358 online
  • Young, Robert J. "A Talent for All Seasons: The Life and Times of Louis Barthou." Queen's Quarterly 98.4 (1991): 846-64; online.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Public Works
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of the Interior
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Armand Gauthier de l'Aude (Public Works)
Georges Trouillot (Posts & Telegraphs)
Minister of Public Works, Posts and Telegraphs (France)
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Aristide Briand
Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Antony Ratier
Preceded by
Aristide Briand
President of the Council
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Public Instruction
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Minister of State
With: Léon Bourgeois, Paul Doumer, Jean Dupuy
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of War
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Preceded by
André Maginot
Minister of War
Succeeded by
André Maginot
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by