1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/France

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[ 775 ] FRANCE, a country of western Europe, situated between 51° 5’ and 42° 20’ N., and 4° 42’ W. and 7° 39’ E. It is hexagonal in form, being bounded N.W. by the North Sea, the Strait of Dover (Pas de Calais) and the English Channel (La Manche), W. by the Atlantic Ocean, S.W. by Spain, S.E. by the Mediterranean Sea, E. by Italy, Switzerland and Germany, N.E. by Germany, Luxemburg and Belgium. From north to south its length is about 600 m., measured from Dunkirk to the Col de Falguères; its breadth from east to west is 528 m., from the Vosges to Cape Saint Mathieu at the extremity of Brittany. The total area is estimated[1] at 207,170 sq. m., including the island of Corsica, which comprises 3367 sq. m. The coast-line of France extends for 384 m. on the Mediterranean, 700 on the North Sea, the Strait of Dover and the Channel, and 865 on the Atlantic. The country has the advantage of being separated from its neighbours over the greater part of its frontier by natural barriers of great strength, the Pyrenees forming a powerful bulwark on the south-west, the Alps on the south-east, and the Jura and the greater portion of the Vosges Mountains on the east. The frontier generally follows the crest line of these ranges. Germany possesses both slopes of the Vosges north of Mont Donon, from which point the north-east boundary is conventional and unprotected by nature.


France is geographically remarkable for its possession of great natural and historical highways between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean. The one, following the depression between the central plateau and the eastern mountains by way of the valleys of the Rhône and Saône, traverses the Côte d'Or hills and so gains the valley of the Seine; the other, skirting the southern base of the Cévennes, reaches the ocean by way of the Garonne valley. Another natural highway, traversing the lowlands to the west of the central plateau, unites the Seine basin with that of the Garonne.



A line drawn from Bayonne through Agen, Poitiers, Troyes, Reims and Valenciennes divides the country roughly into two dissimilar physical regions-to the west and north-west a country of plains and low plateaus; in the centre, east and south-east a country of mountains and high plateaus with a minimum elevation of 650 ft. To the west of this line the only highlands of importance are the granitic plateaus of Brittany and the hills of Normandy and Perche, which, uniting with the plateau of Beauce, separate the basins of the Seine and Loire. The highest elevations of these ranges do not exceed 1400 ft. The configuration of the region east of the dividing line is widely different. Its most striking feature is the mountainous and eruptive area known as the Massif Central, which covers south-central France. The central point of this huge tract is formed by the mountains of Auvergne comprising the group of Cantal, where the Plomb du Cantal attains 6096 ft., and that of Mont Dore, containing the Puy de Sancy (6188 ft.), the culminating point of the Massif, and to the north the lesser elevations of the Monts Dôme. On the west the downward slope is gradual by way of lofty plateaus to the heights of Limousin and Marche and the table-land of Quercy, thence to the plains of Poitou, Angoumois and Guienne. On the east only river valleys divide the Auvergne mountains from those of Forex and Margeride, western spurs of the Cévennes. On the south the Aubrac mountains and the barren plateaus known as the Causses intervene between them and the Cévennes. The main range of the Cévennes (highest point Mont Lozère, 5584 ft.) sweeps in a wide curve from the granitic table-land of Morvan in the north along the right banks of the Saône and Rhône to the Montagne Noire in the south, where it is separated from the Pyrenean system by the river Aude. On the south-western border of France the Pyrenees include [ 776 ] several peaks over 10,000 ft. within French territory; the highest elevation therein, the Vingernale, in the centre of the range, reaches 10,829 ft. On the north their most noteworthy offshoots are, in the centre, the plateau of Lannemezan from which rivers radiate fanwise to join the Adour and Garonne; and in the east the Corbière. On the south-eastern frontier the French Alps, which include Mont Blanc (15,800 ft.), and, more to the south, other summits over 11,000 ft. in height, cover Savoy and most of Dauphiné and Provence, that is to say, nearly the whole of France to the south and east of the Rhône. North of that river the parallel chains of the Jura form an arc of a circle with its convexity towards the north-west. In the southern and most elevated portion of the range there are several summits exceeding 5500 ft. Separated from the Jura by the defile of Belfort (Trouée de Belfort) the Vosges extend northward parallel to the course of the Rhine. Their culminating points in French territory, the Ballon d'Alsace and the Höhneck in the southern portion of the chain, reach 4100 ft. and 4480 ft. The Vosges are buttressed on the west by the Faueilles, which curve southwards to meet the plateau of Langres, and by the plateaus of Haute- Marne, united to the Ardennes on the north-eastern fronier by the wooded highlands of Argonne.


The shore of the Mediterranean encircling the Gulf of the Lion (Golfe du Lion)[2] from Cape Cerbera to Martigues is low- lying and unbroken, and characterized chiefly by lagoons separated from the sea by sand-dunes. The coast, constantly encroaching on the sea by reason of the alluvium washed down by the rivers of the Pyrenees and Cévennes, is without important harbours saving that of Cette, itself continually invaded by the sand. East of Martigues the coast is rocky and of greater altitude, and is broken by projecting capes (Couronne, Croisette, Sicié, the peninsula of Giens and Cape Antibes), and by deep gulfs forming secure roadsteds such as those of Marseilles, which has the chief port in France, Toulon, with its great naval harbour, and Hyères, to which may be added the Gulf of St. Tropez.

Along the Atlantic coast from the mouth of the Adour to the [ 777 ] estuary of the Gironde there stretches a monotonous line of sand- dunes bordered by lagoons on the land side, but towards the sea harbourless and unbroken save for the Bay of Arachon. To the north as far as the rocky point of St Gildas, sheltering the mouth of the Loire, the shore, often occupied by salt marshes (marshes of Poitou and Brittany), is low-lying and hollowed by deep bays sheltered by large islands, those of Oléron and Ré lying opposite the ports of Rochefort and La Rochelle, while Noirmoutier closes the Bay of Bourgneuf.

Beyond the Loire estuary, on the north shore of which is the port of St Nazaire, the peninsula of Brittany projects into the ocean and here begins the most rugged, wild and broken portion of the French seaboard; the chief of innumerable indentations are, on the south the Gulf of Morbihan, which opens into a bay protected to the west by the narrow peninsula of Quiberon, the Bay of Lorient with the port of Lorient, and the Bay of Concarneau; on the west the dangerous Bay of Audierne and the Bay of Douarnenez separated from the spacious roadstead of Brest, with its important naval port, by the peninsula of Crozon, and forming with it a great indentation sheltered by Cape St Mathieu on the north and by Cape Raz on the south; on the north, opening into the English Channel, the Morlaix roads, the Bay of St Brieuc, the estuary of the Rance, with the port of St Malo and the Bay of St Michel. Numerous small archipelagoes and islands, of which the chief are Belle Île, Groix and Ushant, fringe the Breton coast. North of the Bay of St Michel the peninsula of Cotentin, terminating in the promontories of Hague and Barfleur, juts north into the English Channel and closes the bay of the Seine on the west. Cherbourg, its chid harbour, lies on the northern shore between the two promontories. The great port of Le Havre stands at the mouth of the Seine estuary, which opens into the bay of the Seine on the east. North of that point a line of high cliffs, in which occur the ports of Fécamp and Dieppe, stretches nearly to the sandy estuary of the Somme. North of that river the coast is low-lying and bordered by sand-dunes, to which succeed on the Strait of Dover the cliffs in the neighborhood of the port of Boulogne and the marshes and sand-dunes of Flanders, with the ports of Calais and Dunkirk, the latter the principal French port on the North Sea.

To the maritime ports mentioned above must be added the river ports of Bayonne (on the Adour), Bordeaux (on the Garonne), Nantes (on the Loire), Rouen (on the Seine). On the whole, however, France is inadequately provided with natural harbours; her long tract of coast washed by the Atlantic and the Bay of Biscay has scarcely three or four good seaports, and those on the southern shore of the Channel form a striking contrast to the spacious maritime inlets on the English side.


The greater part of the surface of France is divided between four principal and several secondary basins.

The basin of the Rhône, with an area (in France) of about 35,000 sq. m., covers eastern France from the Mediterranean to the Vosges, from the Cévennes and the Plateau de Langres to the crests of the Jura and the Alps. Alone among French rivers, the Rhône, itself Alpine in character in its upper course, is partly fed by Alpine rivers (the Arve, the Isère and the Durance) which have their floods in spring at the melting of the snow, and are maintained by glacier water in summer. The Rhône, the source of which is in Mont St Gothard, in Switzerland, enters France by the narrow defile of L'Écluse, and has a somewhat meandering course, first flowing south, then north-west, and then west as far as Lyons, whence it runs straight south till it reaches the Mediterranean, into which it discharges itself by two principal branches, which form the delta or island of the Camargue. The Ain, the Saône (which rises in the Faucilles and in the lower part of its course skirting the regions of Bresse and Dombes, receives the Doubs and joins the Rhone at Lyons), the Ardèche and the Gard are the affluents on the right; on the left it is joined by the Arve, the Isère, the Drôme and the Durance. The small independent river, the Var, drains that portion of the Alps which fringes the Mediterranean.

The basin of the Garonne occupies south-western France with the exception of the tracts covered by the secondary basins of the Adour, the Aude, the Hérault, the Orb and other smaller rivers, and the low lying plain of the Landes, which is watered by numerous coast rivers, notably by the Leyre. Its area is nearly 33,000 sq. m., and extends from the Pyrenees to the uplands of Saintonge, Périgord and Limousin. The Garonne rises in the valley of Aran (Spanish Pyrenees), enters France near Bagnères-de-Luchon, has first a north-west course, then bends to the north-east, and soon resumes its first direction. Joining the Atlantic between Royan and the Pointe de Grave, opposite the tower of Cordouan. In the lower part of its course, from the Bec-d'Ambez, where it receives the Dordogne, it becomes considerably wider, and takes the name of Gironde. The principal affluents are the Ariège, the Tarn with the Aveyron and the Agout, the Lot and the Dordogne, which descends from Mont Dore-les- Bains, and joins the Garonne at Bec-d'Ambez, to form the Gironde. All these affluents are on the right, and with the exception of the Ariège, which descends from the eastern Pyrenees, rise in the moun tains of Auvergne and the southern Cvennes, their sources often lying close to those of the rivers of the Loire and Rhone basins. The Neste, a Pyrenean torrent, and the Save, the Gers and the Baïse, rising on the plateau of Lannemezan, are the principal left-hand tributaries of the Garonne. North of the basin of,the Garonne an area of over 3800 sq. m. is watered by the secondary system of the Charente, which descends from Chéronnac (Haute-Vienne), traverses Angoulême and falls into the Atlantic near Rochefort. Farther to the north a number of small rivers, the chief of which is the Sèvre Niortaise, drain the coast region to the south of the plateau of Gâtine.

The basin of the Loire, with an area of about 47,000 sq. m., includes a great part of central and western France or nearly a quarter of the whole country. The Loire rises in Mont Gerbier de Jonc, in the range of the Vivarais mountains, flows due north to Nevers, then turns to the north-west as far as Orléans, in the neigh bourhood of which it separates the marshy region of the Sologne (q.v.) on the south from the wheat-growing region of Beauce and the Gâtinais on the north. Below Orléans it takes its course towards the south-west, and lastly from Saumur runs west, till it reaches the Atlantic between Paimbceuf and St Nazaire. On the right the Loire receives the waters of the Furens, the Arroux, the Nièvre, the Maine (formed by the Mayenne and the Sarthe with its affluent the Loir), and the Erdre, which joins the Loire at Nantes; on the left, the Allier (which receives the Dore and the Sioule), the Loiret, the Cher, the Indre, the Vienne with its affluent the Creuse, the Thouet, and the Sèvre-Nantaise. The peninsula of Brittany and the coasts of Normandy on both sides of the Seine estuary are watered by numerous independent streams. Amongst these the Vilaine, which passes Rennes and Redon, waters, with its tributaries, an area of 4200 sq. m. The Orne, which rises in the hills of Normandy and falls into the Channel below Caen, is of considerably less importance.

The basin of the Seine, though its area of a little over 30,000 sq. m. is smaller than that of any of the other main systems, comprises the finest network of navigable rivers in the country. It is by far the most important basin of northern France, those of the Somme and Scheldt in the north-west together covering less than 5000 sq. m., those of the Meuse and the Rhine in the north-east less than 7000 sq. m. The Seine descends from the Langres plateau, flows north west down to Méry, turns to the west, resumes its north-westerly direction at Montereau, passes through Paris and Rouen and dis charges itself into the Channel between Le Havre and Honfleur. Its affluents are, on the right, the Aube; the Marne, which joins the Seine at Charenton near Paris; the Oise, which has its source in Belgium and is enlarged by the Aisne; and the Epte; on the left the Yonne, the Loing, the Essonne, the Eure and the Rille.


France has very few lakes. The Lake of Geneva, which forms 32 m. of the frontier, belongs to Switzerland. The most important French lake is that of Grand-Lieu, between Nantes and Pairnbœuf (Loire-Inférieure), which presents a surface of 17,300 acres. There may also be mentioned the lakes of Bourget and Annecy (both in Savoy), St Point (Jura), Paladru (Isère) and Nantua (Ain). The marshy districts of Sologne, Brenne, Landes and Dombes still contain large undrained tracts. The coasts present a number of maritime inlets, forming inland bays, which communicate with the sea by channels of greater or less width. Some of these are on the south-west coast, in the Landes, as Carcans, Lacanau, Biscarosse, Cazau, Sanguinet; but more are to be found in the south and south-east, in Languedoc and Provence, as Leucate, Sigean, Thau, Vaccarès, Berre, &c. Their want of depth prevents them from serving as roadsteads for shipping, and they are useful chiefly for fishing or for the manufacture of bay-salt.


The north and north-west of France bear a great resemblance, both in temperature and produce, to the south of England, rain occurring frequently, and the country being consequently suited for pasture. In the interior the rains are less frequent, but when they occur are far more heavy, so that there is much less difference in the annual rainfall there as compared with the rest of the country than in the number of rainy days. The annual rainfall for the whole of France averages about 32 in. The precipitation is greatest on the Atlantic seaboard and in the elevated regions of the interior. It attains over 60 in. in the basin of the Adour (71 in. at the western extremity of the Pyrenees), and nearly as much in the Vosges, Morvan, Cévennes and parts of the central plateau. The zone of level country extending from Reims and Troyes to Angers and Poitiers, with the exception of the Loire valley and the Brie, receives less than 24 in. of rain annually (Paris about 23 in.), as also does the Mediterranean coast west of Marseilles. The prevailing winds, mild and humid, are west winds from the Atlantic; continental climatic influence makes itself felt in the east wind, which is frequent in winter and in the east of France, while the mistral, a violent wind from the north-west, is characteristic of the Mediterranean region. The local climates of France may be grouped under the following seven designations: (1) Sequan climate, characterizing the Seine basin and northern France, with a mean temperature of 50° F., the winters being cold, the summers mild; (2) Breton climate, with a mean temperature of 51.8° F., the winters being mild, the summers temperate, it is characterized by, west and south-west winds and frequent fine rains; (3) Girondin climate (characterizing Bordeaux, Agen, Pau, &c.), having a mean of 53.6° F., with mild winters and hot summers, the prevailing wind is from the north-west, the average rainfall about 28 in.; (4) Auvergne climate, comprising the Cvennes, central plateau, Clermont, Limoges anti Rodez, mean temperature 51.8° F., with cold [ 778 ] winters and hot summers; (5) Vosges climate (comprehending Epinal, Mézières and Nancy), having a mean of 48.2° F., with long and severe winters and hot and rainy summers; (6) Rhône climate (experienced by Lyons, Chalon, Mâcon, Grenoble) mean temperature 51.8° F., with cold and wet winters and hot summers, the prevailing winds are north and south; (7) Mediterranean climate, ruling at Valence, Nîmes, Nice and Marseilles, mean temperature, 57.5° F., with mild winters and hot and almost rainless summers.

Flora and Fauna[edit]

The flora of southern France and the Mediterranean is distinct from that of the rest of the country, which does not differ in vegetation from western Europe generally. Evergreens predominate in the south, where grow subtropical plants such as the myrtle, arbutus, laurel, holm-oak, olive and fig; varieties of the same kind are also found on the Atlantic coast (as far north as the Cotentin), where the humidity and mildness of the climate favor their growth. The orange, date-palm and eucalyptus have been acclimatized on the coast of Provence and the Riviera. Other trees of southern France are the cork-oak and the Aleppo and maritime pines. In north and central France the chief trees are the oak, the beech, rare south of the Loire, and the hornbeam; less important varieties are the birch, poplar, ash, elm and walnut. The chestnut covers considerable areas in Périgord, Limousin and Béearn; resinous trees (firs, pines, larches, &c.) form fine forests in the Vosges and Jura.

The indigenous fauna include the bear, now very rare but still found in the Alps and Pyrenees, the wolf, harbouring chiefly in the Cévennes and Vosges, but in continually decreasing areas; the fox, marten, badger, weasel, otter, the beaver in the extreme south of the Rhône valley, and in the Alps the marmot; the red deer and roe deer are preserved in many of the forests, and the wild boar is found in several districts; the chamois and wild goat survive in the Pyrenees and Alps. Flares, rabbits and squirrels are common. Among birds of prey may be mentioned the eagle and various species of hawk, and among game-birds the partridge and pheasant. The reptiles include the ringed-snake, slow-worm, viper and lizard.

(R. TR.)



Many years ago it was pointed out by Elie de Beaumont and Dufrnoy that the Jurassic rocks of France form upon the map an incomplete figure of 8. Within the northern circle of the 8 lie the Mesozoic and Tertiary beds of the Paris basin, dipping inwards; within the southern circle lie the ancient rocks of the Central Plateau, from which the later beds dip outwards. Outside the northern circle lie on the west the folded Palaeozoic rocks of Brittany. and on the north the Palaeozoic massif of the Ardennes. Outside the southern circle lie on the west the Mesozoic and Tertiary beds of the basin of the Garonne, with the Pyrenees beyond, and on the east the Mesozoic and Tertiary beds of the valley of the Rhône, with the Alps beyond.

In the geological history of France there have been two great periods of folding since Archean times. The first of these occurred towards the close of the Palaeozoic era, when a great mountain system was raised in the north running approximately from E. to W., and another chain arose in the south, running from S.W. to N.E. Of the former the remnants are now seen in Brittany and the Ardennes; of the latter the Cévennes and the Montagne Noire are the last traces visible on the surface. The second great folding took place in Tertiary times, and to it was due the final elevation of the Jura and the Western Alps and of the Pyrenees. No great mountain chain was ever raised by a single effort, and folding went on to some extent in other periods besides those mentioned. There were, moreover, other and broader oscillations which raised or lowered extensive areas withbut much crumpling of the strata, and to these are due some of the most important breaks in the geological series.

The oldest rocks, the gneisses and schists of the Archean period, form nearly the whole of the Central Plateau, and are also exposed in the axes of the folds in Brittany. The Central Plateau has probably been a land mass ever since this period, but the rest of the country was flooded by the Palaeozoic sea. The earlier deposits of that sea now rise to the surface in Brittany, the Ardennes, the Montagne Noire and the Cévennes, and in all these regions they arc intensely folded. Towards the close of the Palaeozoic era France had become a part of a great continent; in the north the Coal Measures of the Boulonnais and the Nord were laid down in direct connection with those of Belgium and England, while in the Central Plateau the Coal Measures were deposited in isolated and scattered basins. The Permian and Triassic deposits were also, for the most part, of continental origin; but with the formation of the Rhaetic beds the sea again began to spread, and throughout the greater part of the Jurassic period it covered nearly the whole of the country except the Central Plateau, Brittany and the Ardennes. Towards the end of the period, however, during the deposition of the Portlandian beds, the sea again retreated, and in the early part of the Cretaceous period was limited (in France) to the catchment basins of the Saône and Rhône-in the Paris basin the contemporaneous deposits were chiefly estuarine and were confined to the northern and eastern rim. Beginning with the Aptian and Albian the sea again gradually spread over the country and attained its maximum in the early part of the Senonian epoch, when once more the ancient massifs of the Central Plateau, Brittany and the Ardennes, alone rose above the waves. There was still, however, a well-marked difference between the deposits of the northern and the southern parts of France, the former consisting of chalk, as in England, and the latter of sandstones and limestones with Hippurites. During the later part of the Cretaceous period the sea gradually retreated and left the whole country dry.

During the Tertiary period arms of the sea spread into France in the Paris basin from the north, in the basins of the Loire and the Garonne from the west, and in the Rhône area from the south. The changes, however, were too numerous and complex to be dealt with here.

In France, as in Great Britain, volcanic eruptions occurred during several of the Palaeozoic periods, but during the Mesozoic era the country was free from outbursts, except in the regions of the Alps and Pyrenees. In Tertiary times the Central Plateau was the theatre of great volcanic activity from the Miocene ,to the Pleistocene periods, and many of the volcanoes remain as nearly perfect cones to the present day. The rocks are mainly basalts and andesites, together with trachytes and phonolites, and some of the basaltic flows are of enormous extent.

On the geology of France see the classic Éxplication de la carte géoloique de la France (Paris, vol. i. 1841, vol. ii. 1848), by Dufrénoy and Elie de Beaumont; a more modern account, with full references, is given by A. de Lapparent, Traité de géologie (Paris, 1906).

(J. A. H.)


Road map

The French nation is formed of many different elements. Iberian influence in the south-west, Ligurian on the shores of the Mediterranean, Germanic immigrations from east of the Rhine and Scandinavian immigrations in the north-west have tended to produce ethnographical diversities which ease of intercommunication and other modern conditions have failed to obliterate. The so-called Celtic type, exemplified by individuals of rather less than average height, brown-haired and brachycephalic, is the fundamental element in the nation and peoples the region between the Seine and the Garonne; in southern France a different type, dolichocephalic, short and with black hair and eyes, predominates. The tall, fair and blue-eyed individuals who are found to the north-east of the Seine and in Normandy appear to be nearer in race to the Scandinavian and Germanic invaders; a tall and darker type with long faces and aquiline noses occurs in some parts of Franche-Comté and Champagne, the Vosges and the Perche. From the Celts has been derived the gay, brilliant and adventurous temperament easily moved to extremes of enthusiasm and depression, which

[MAP OF FRANCE] [ 779 ] combined with logical and organizing faculties of a high order, the heritage from the Latin domination, and with the industry, frugality and love of the soil natural in an agricultural people go to make up the national character. The Bretons, who most nearly represent the Celts, and the Basques, who inhabit parts of the western versant of the Pyrenees, have preserved their distinctive languages and customs, and are ethnically the most interesting sections of the nation; the Flemings of French Flanders where Flemish is still spoken are also racially distinct. The immigration of Belgians into the northern departments and of Italians into those of the south-east exercise a constant modifying influence on the local populations.

During the 19th century the population of France increased to a less extent than that of any other country (except Ireland) for which definite data exist, and during the last twenty years of that period it was little more than stationary. The following table exhibits the rate of increase as indicated by the censuses from 1876 to 1906.

Year Population
1876 36,905,788
1881 37,672,048
1886 38,218,903
1891 38,342,948
1896 38,517,975
1901 38,961,945
1906 39,252,245

Thus the rate of increase during the decade 1891 - 1901 was .16%, whereas during the same period the population of England increased 1.08%. The birthrate markedly decreased during the 19th century; despite an increase of population between 1801 and 1901 amounting to 40%, the number of births in the former was 904,000, as against 857,000 in the latter year, the diminution being acconipanied by a decrease in the annual number of deaths.[3] In the following table the decrease in births and deaths for the decennial periods during the thirty years ending 1900 are compared.

Years Births per 1000 Deaths per 1000
1871-1880 935'000 25.4 870'900 23.7
1881-1890 909'000 23.9 841'700 22.1
1891-1900 870'000 22.2 841'700 21.5

About two-thirds of the French departments, comprising a large proportion of those situated in mountainous districts and in the basin of the Garonne, where the birth-rate is especially feeble, show a decrease in population. Those which show an increase usually possess large centres of industry and are already thickly populated, e.g. Seine and Pas-de-Calais. In most departments the principal cause of decrease of population is the attraction of great centres. The average density of population in France is about 190 to the square mile, the tendency being for the large towns to increase at the expense of the small towns as well as the rural communities. In 1901 37% of the population lived in centres containing more than 2000 inhabitants, whereas in 1861 the proportion was 28%. Besides the industrial districts the most thickly populated regions include the coast of the department of Seine-Inférieure and Brittany, the wine-growing region of the Bordelais and the Riviera.[4]

[ 780 ]


Great alterations were made with regard to religious matters in France by a law of December 1905, supplemented by a law of January 1907 (see below, Law and Institutions). Before that time three religions (cultes) were recognized and supported by the state-the Roman Catholic, the Protestant (subdivided into the Reformed and Lutheran) and the Hebrew. In Algeria the Mahommedan religion received similar recognition. By the law of 1905 all the churches ceased to be recognized or supported by the state and became entirely separated therefrom, while the adherents of all creeds were permitted to form associations for public worship (associations cultuelles), upon which the expenses of maintenance were from that time to devolve. The state, the departments, and the communes were thus relieved from the payment of salaries and grants to religious bodies, an item of expenditure which amounted in the last year of the old system to £1,101,000 paid by the state and £302,200 contributed by the departments and communes. Before these alterations the relations between the state and the Roman Catholic communion, by far the largest and most important in France, were chiefly regulated by the provisions of the Concordat of 1801, concluded between the first consul, Bonaparte, and Pope Pius VII. and by other measures passed in 1802.

France is divided into provinces and dioceses as follows:

Archbishoprics Bishoprics
PARIS Chartres, Meaux, Orléans, Blois, Versailles.
AIX Marseilles, Fréjus, Digne, Gap, Nice, Ajaccio.
ALBI Rodez, Cahors, Mende, Perpignan.
AUCH Aire, Tarbes, Bayonne.
AVIGNON Nîmes, Valence, Viviers, Montpellier.
BESANÇON Verdun, Bellay, St Dié, Nancy.
BORDEAUX Agen, Angoulême, Poitiers, Périgueux, La Rochelle, Luçon.
BOURGES Clermont, Limoges, Le Puy, Tulle, St Flour.
CHAMBÉRY Annecy, Tarentaise, St Jean-de-Maurienne.
LYONS Autun, Langres, Dijon, St Claude, Grenoble

[ 781 ]

REIMS Soissons, Châlons-sur-Marne, Beauvais, Amiens.
RENNES Quimper, Vannes, St Brieuc.
ROUEN Bayeux, Evreux, Sées, Coutances.
SENS Troyes, Nevers, Moulins.
TOULOUSE Montauban, Pamiers, Carcassonne.
TOURS Le Mans, Angers, Nantes, Laval.

The dioceses are divided into parishes each under a parish priest known as a curé or desservant (incumbent). The bishops and archbishops, formerly nominated by the government and canonically confirmed by the pope, are now chosen by the latter. The appointment of cures rested with the bishops and had to be confirmed by the government, but this confirmation is now dispensed with. The archbishops used to receive an annual salary of £600 each and the bishops £400.

The archbishops and bishops are assisted by vicars-general (at salaries previously ranging from £100 to £180), and to each cathedral is attached a chapter of canons. A curé, in addition to his regular salary, received fees for baptisms, marriages, funerals and special masses, and had the benefit of a free house called a presbytère. The total personnel of state-paid Roman Catholic clergy amounted in 1903 to 36,169. The Roman priests are drawn from the seminaries, established by the church for the education of young men intending to join its ranks, and divided into lower and higher seminaries (grands et petits séminaires), the latter giving the same class of instruction as the lycées.

The number of Protestants may be estimated at about 600,000 and the Jews at about 70,000. The greatest number of Jews is to be found at Paris, Lyons and Bordeaux, while the departments of the centre and of the south along the range of the Cvennes, where Calvinism flourishes, are the principal Protestant localities, Nîmes being the most important centre. Considerable sprinklings of Protestants are also to be found in the two Charentes, in Dauphiné, in Paris and in Franche-Comté. The two Protestant bodies used to cost the state about £60,000 a year and the Jewish Church about £6000.

Both Protestant churches have a parochial organization and a presbyterian form of church government. In the Reformed Church (far the more numerous of the two bodies) each parish has a council of presbyters, consisting of the pastor and lay-members elected by the congregation. Several parishes form a consistorial circumscription, which has a consistorial council consisting of the council of presbyters of the chief town of the circumscription, the pastor and one delegate of the council of presbyters from each parish and other elected members. There are 103 circumscriptions (including Algeria), which are grouped into 21 provincial synods composed of a pastor and lay delegate from each consistory. All the more important questions of church discipline and all decisions regulating the doctrine and practice of the church are dealt with by the synods. At the head of the whole organization is a General Synod, sitting at Paris. The organization of the Lutheran Church (Église de la confession d'Augsburg) is broadly similar. Its consistories are grouped into two special synods, one at Paris and one at Montbliard (for the department of Doubs and Haute-Sane and the territory of Belfort, where the churches of this denomination are principally situated). It also has a general synodcomposed of 2 inspectors,[5] 5 pastors elected by the synod of Paris, and 6 by that of Montbliard, 22 laymen and a delegate of the theological faculty at Pariswhich holds periodical meetings and is represented in its relations with the government by a permanent executive commission.

The Jewish parishes, called synagogues, are grouped into departmental consistories (Paris, Bordeaux, Nancy, Marseilles, Bayonne, Lille, Vesoul, Besançon and three in Algeria). Each synagogue is served by a rabbi assisted by an officiating minister, and in each consistory is a grand rabbi. At Paris is the central consistory, controlled by the government and presided over by the supreme grand rabbi.


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Government and Administration[edit]

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[ 811 ] .... A faint echo of it was heard during the Boer war, but French sympathy with the struggling Dutch republics of South Africa was based rather on anti-English sentiment than on any abstract theory. (J. E. C. B.)


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French law and institutions[edit]

Celtic Period.—The remotest times to which history ...

[ 929 ] ... Finally, on the occasion of the centenary of the Code Civil (see CODE NAPOLEON), a commission, composed of members of the chambers, magistrates, professors of law, lawyers, political writers, and even novelists and dramatic authors, was given the task of revising the whole structure of the code.

  1. By the Service géographique de l'armée.
  2. The etymology of this name (sometimes wrongly written Golfe de Lyon) is unknown.
  3. In 1907 deaths were superior to births by nearly 20,000.
  4. The following list comprises the three most densely populated and the three most sparsely populated departments in France:
    Department. Inhabitants to the Square Mile. Department. Inhabitants to the Square Mile.
    Seine 20,803 Basses-Alpes 42
    Nord 850 Hautes-Alpes 49
    Rhône 778 Lozère 64
  5. Inspectors are placed at the head of synodal circumscriptions; their functions are to consecrate candidates for the ministry, install the pastors, &c.