Affaire des Fiches

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The affaire des fiches de délation ("Affair of the cards of denunciation") was a political scandal in France in 1904−1905, in which it was discovered that Prime Minister Émile Combes' militantly anticlerical War Minister, General Louis André, was determining promotions based on religious behavior.

"La dégoulinade des Fiches", anti-masonic caricature by Fertom (1904).


Combes was Freemason,[1][2] and much of the information had been collected by the Masonic Grand Orient de France.[3]


Using members of the Freemasons to watch officers, André assembled a huge card index on public officials, detailing which were Catholic and which attended Mass, with a view of preventing their promotions.[4][a]

According to Piers Paul Read, "The information, as it came in, was entered on cards or fiches. These would be marked either Corinth or Carthage—the Corinthians being the sheep who should be promoted and the Carthaginians, the goats who should be held back. An officer reported to be 'perfect in all respects; excellent opinions,' would be marked as a Corinthian: another who, 'though a good officer, well reported on, takes no part in politics,' would nonetheless be designated a Carthaginian because he, 'went to Mass with his family,' and sent his six children to Catholic schools. A bachelor officer who went to Mass was by definition of a reactionary disposition. Officers loyal to the republican ideals were encouraged to report the opinions voiced by their colleagues in the mess."[5]

In 1904, Jean Bidegain, the Assistant Secretary of Grand Orient de France, secretly sold a selection of the Fiches to Gabriel Syveton of the Ligue de la Patrie Francaise for 40,000 francs. The resulting scandal led directly to the resignation of Prime Minister Combes.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ It is also called in French "L'Affaire des casseroles"; casserole being slang for spy (see fr:Affaire des fiches)
  1. ^ Burke 1979, p. 304.
  2. ^ McKeown 2011 quotes Williams 2005, p. 568
  3. ^ Smith 2003, p. 18.
  4. ^ Franklin 2006, p. 9 (footnote 26) cites Larkin, Maurice. Church and State after the Dreyfus Affair. pp. 138–41.: "Freemasonry in France". Austral Light. 6: 164–72, 241–50. 1905.
  5. ^ Piers Paul Read, The Dreyfus Affair: The Scandal that Tore France in Two, Bloomsbury Press, 2012. page 339.
  6. ^ Read (2012), pages 339-340.


Further readingEdit

  • Larkin, Maurice (2002), Religion, Politics and Preferment in France Since 1890: La Belle Epoque and its Legacy, Cambridge University Press, pp. 45–48, ISBN 0-521-41916-6
  • Larkin, Maurice (1974), Church and State after the Dreyfus Affair, pp. 138–41
  • Porch, Douglas (1981), "Ch. 6 "The affaire des fiches"", The March to the Marne: The French Army, 1871-1914, Cambridge University Press, pp. 92–104