Mental Maginot Line: Anti-Republicanism, Gender, and Voting Rights in the Politics of the French Army, 1871-1940

Doctoral Dissertation


This dissertation uses voting rights, gender, military doctrine, and military identity to study the evolution of the French Army’s relationship to the Republican state from 1871 until 1940. Drawing on papers from the Archives Nationales and the Service Historique de l'ArmÌøåÀåe de Terre, the dissertation argues that French military leaders responded to pressure to weaken their control over their soldiers’ lives and transition to a militia-style army by redefining military identity in opposition to the Third Republic and civilian society. During the 1920s, military intellectuals reacted against the social and political changes caused by the Great War by trying to separate the army from the rest of French society. This manifested itself in the generals’ opposition to giving soldiers the right to vote, their unexpected integration of women into the Army as civilian employees, and military doctrines focused on controlling French soldiers and civilians. The process of separation began with bataille conduite (Methodical Battle) theorists’ focus on exercising political control over conscripts and escalated in the mid-1920s to include plans to use civil employees, including women, clandestinely to maintain a larger army than authorized by law. The situation deteriorated in the early-1930s, leading to a crisis of civil-military relations in December 1933, when France’s generals directly attacked the government, and escaped without being punished, shattering the Third Republic’s system of civil-military consultation and conciliation. The army attempted to use women, veterans, and African men as defenses against demands for political and social equality for and among soldiers. Studying the process whereby military leaders tried to integrate these groups revealed a rapidly growing separation between the army and political society that manifested itself in a fear of the electoral system and undermined civilian control over the armed forces. Attention to gender and doctrine revealed that over the 1920s, army leaders increasingly defined military identity in opposition to democracy and the Republican political regime. This evolution created the preconditions necessary for Marshal Philippe PÌøåÀåtain and General Maixime Weygand to challenge the Third Republic’s legitimacy during the German conquest of France in 1940.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-04052007-160614

Author Andrew Orr
Advisor Thomas Kselman
Contributor Thomas Kselman, Committee Chair
Contributor Doris Bergen, Committee Member
Contributor Gary Hamburg, Committee Member
Contributor Mikolaj Kunicki, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline History
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
Defense Date
  • 2007-03-23

Submission Date 2007-04-05
  • United States of America

  • geopolitics

  • World War II

  • World War I

  • communism

  • royalism

  • monarchism

  • Morocco

  • Rif War

  • Female civil employees

  • Renaudel

  • Petain

  • Weygand

  • Vichy

  • gender

  • civil-military relations

  • French politics

  • Third Republic

  • French Army

  • Great War

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Access Rights Open Access
Content License
  • All rights reserved


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