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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).

Camille Chautemps
Chautemps 1925.jpg
68th Prime Minister of France
In office
21 February 1930 – 2 March 1930
Preceded byAndré Tardieu
Succeeded byAndré Tardieu
In office
26 November 1933 – 30 January 1934
Preceded byAlbert Sarraut
Succeeded byÉdouard Daladier
In office
22 June 1937 – 13 March 1938
Preceded byLéon Blum
Succeeded byLéon Blum
Personal details
Born1 February 1885
Paris, France
Died1 July 1963(1963-07-01) (aged 78)
Washington, D.C., United States
Political partyRadical



Early careerEdit

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.


Prime Minister twiceEdit

He became President of the Council briefly in 1930. Again in centre-left governments in 1932 to 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 silence him.[3]

Deputy Prime Minister and Premier for the last timeEdit

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 allowed 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 His government also repealed Article 213 of the code: "the husband owes protection to his wife, the wife obedience to the husband" However, the husband remained "head of the household"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 IIEdit

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 IIEdit

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; he attended a conference at Tours on 13 June.[9] The Cabinet met again on the 15th, almost evenly split on the question of an Armistice with Germany. Chautemps now suggested that 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 proposal passed by 13 to 6.[10]

On 16 June 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 1930Edit

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


  • 9 January 1934 – Lucien Lamoureux succeeds Dalimier as Minister of Colonies. Eugène Frot succeeds Lamoureux as Minister of Labour and Social Security Provisions. William Bertrand succeeds Frot as Minister of Merchant Marine.

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

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

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. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica

External linksEdit