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Philippe Berthelot and the Rome Agreements of January 1935*

  • A. J. Crozier (a1)
Extract

In 1970 Esmonde Robertson rightly took Geoffrey Warner to task for having failed, in his biography of Pierre Laval, to outline the background to the Rome Agreements of January 1935 between France and Italy which preceded the Italian conquest of Ethiopia. Basing his argument upon published French and Italian sources, Robertson showed that the statement of French disinterest in Ethiopia made to Mussolini by Laval in 1935 had antecedents which stretched back as far as 1932. In a more recent work Robertson has added to the picture of Franco-Italian relations in the early 1930s from unpublished sources, perhaps most notably in demonstrating that as early as July 1931 Pierre Laval raised the matter of an Italian occupation of Ethiopia in a favourable sense with the then Italian foreign minister, Count Dino Grandi. Robertson's lead in establishing the importance of these developments has been followed by Lowe and Marzari in their study of Italian foreign policy in the period 1870–1940, although another scholar in a recent survey of Mussolini's aspirations makes no mention of them at all.

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References
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1 Warner, G., Pierre Laval and the eclipse of France (London, 1968).

2 Watt, D. C., ‘The secret Laval-Mussolini agreement of 1935 on Ethiopia’, Middle-East Journal, xv (1961).

3 Guariglia, R., Ricordi, 1922–1946 (Naples, 1950); Aloisi, P., Journal, 25 juillet 1932–14 juin 1935 (Paris, 1957); Documents diplomatiques français, Ministere des Affaires Étrangères (Paris, 1964-), series 1, vols. I and II.

4 E. Robertson, ‘Mussolini and Ethiopia: the prehistory of the Rome Agreements of January 1935’, in Hatton, R. and Anderson, M. S., Studies in diplomatic history (London, 1970).

5 Prime minister of France, January 1931 to February 1932.

6 Robertson, E., Mussolini as empire-builder: Europe and Africa 1932–1936 (London, 1977), 910.

7 Lowe, C. J. and Marzari, F., Italian foreign policy 1870–1940 (London, 1975), 255–6.

8 Smith, D. Mack, Mussolini's Roman empire (London, 1976).

9 He was suspended from 1922 to 1925 for his alleged involvement in a financial scandal.

10 R. D. Challener, ‘The French foreign office: the era of Philippe Berthelot’, in Craig, G. A. and Gilbert, F., The diplomats, I (New York, 1965), 65.

11 Andrew, C. M. and Kanya-Forstner, A. S., France overseas: the Great War and the climax of French imperial expansion (London, 1981), p. 152 and Documents on British foreign policy (H.M.S.O., London, 1946-), series I A, vol. v, nos. 10, 14.

12 Ibid., vol. I, no. 121, and Record of a conversation between Sir W. Tyrrell and the Marquis Torretta, 1 Dec. 1925, Foreign Office files, Public Record Office, F.O. 371/10755/C15510/2994/18.

13 Lowe and Marzari, Italian foreign policy, pp. 211–12.

14 Ibid. pp. 215–16, and Note by Briand, 18 Nov. 1927, Note by Berthelot of a conversation with Manzoni, 30 Nov. 1927, Note of a conversation with Mussolini, 31 Dec. 1927, Archives diplomatiques, Ministère des Affaires Étrangeres, A.D./Z/ITALIE/102.

15 Lowe and Marzari, Italian foreign policy, pp. 215–16.

16 Note of a conversation with Mussolini, 31 Dec. 1927, A.D./Z/ITALIE/102.

17 Sir E. Phipps to Sir A. Chamberlain, 3 Apr. 1928, F.O. 371/12946/C2643/8/22.

18 Ibid.

19 Notes by a former Italian deputy for the president of the council, 4 Feb. 1928, A.D./Z/ITALIE/102.

20 See, for example, M. Leygues to M. Goût, 6 Dec. 1920, A. Briand to R. Besnard, 13 Apr. 1926, R. Besnard to A. Briand, 18 Mar. 1927, and R. Besnard to A. Briand, 8 May 1927, A.D./SDN/549.

21 Sir E. Phipps to Sir A. Chamberlain, 3 Apr. 1928, F.O. 371/12946/C2643/8/22.

22 A. Briand to M. de Beaumarchais, 4 Apr. 1928, A.D./SDN/549.

23 Guariglia, R., La diplomatic difficile (Paris, 1955), 30.

24 Notes by M. de Beaumarchais of an audience with M. Poincaré, 21 Apr. 1928, A.D./Z/ITALIE/102.

25 Sir E. Phipps to Sir A. Chamberlain, 3 Apr. 1928, F.O. 371/12946/C2643/8/22.

26 M. de Beaumarchais to A. Briand, 19 May 1928, A.D./Z/ITALIE/102.

27 Sir R. Graham to Sir A. Chamberlain, 23 May 1928, F.O. 371/12946/C4087/8/22.

28 M. de Beaumarchais to P. Berthelot, 30 May 1928, and Note on Franco-Italian negotiations, 2 June 1928, A.D./Z/ITALIE/102.

29 Le Temps, 2 July 1928.

30 Sir A. Chamberlain to N. M. Henderson, 19 Apr. 1929, F.O. 371/13802/E2073/182/89.

31 Andrew and Kanya-Forstner, France overseas, pp. 27–8, 171, 226.

32 See above, p. 415.

33 Andrew and Kanya-Forstner, France overseas, p. 237.

34 See also Note by M. de Beaumarchais of a conversation with Manzoni, 23 Apr. 1928, and Conversation of M. Bassee with the counsellor of the Italian embassy, 27 Dec. 1927, A.D./Z/ITALIE/102.

35 Edwards, P. G., ‘Britain, fascist Italy and Ethiopia, 1925–1928’, European Studies Review, iv, (1974).

36 Record by Sir A. Chamberlain of a conversation with Monsieur Berthelot, 29 June 1928, F.O. 371/12947/C5199/8/22. Chamberlain's obvious reluctance to assist Italian imperial ambitions confirms the innocuous and anodyne nature of his relationship with Mussolini. See Edwards, P. G., ‘The Austen Chamberlain-Mussolini meetings’, Historical Journal, xiv (1971).

37 A. Briand to A. de Fleuriau, 21 Jan. 1929, and A. de Fleuriau to A. Briand, 22 Jan. 1929, A.D./Z/ITALIE/103.

38 See Aloisi, Journal, pp. 11–13.

39 H. Stuart Hughes, ‘The early diplomacy of Italian fascism’, in Craig and Gilbert, Diplomats, I, 231.

40 Lowe and Marzari, Italian foreign policy, pp. 218–20.

41 Mack Smith, Roman empire, p. 43.

42 M. Roger to A. Briand, 8 July 1929, A.D./SDN/549.

43 M. Roger to A. Briand, 18 Nov. 1929, A.D./SDN/549.

44 The controversy related to Tanganyika territory. See Chidzero, B. T. G., Tanganyika and international trusteeship (London, 1961), pp. 6188.

45 Sir R. Graham to A. Henderson, 1 Aug. 1931, F.O. 371/14110/W11020/49/98.

46 M. de Beaumarchais to A. Briand, 18 Mar. 1931, A.D./SDN/549.

47 Noël was also at this time secretary-general of the ministry of the interior and director of the Sûreté générale.

48 Lord Tyrrell to A. Henderson, 1 Aug. 1931, F.O. 371/15255/C6683/1230/22; Noël, L., Les illusions de Stresa (Paris, 1975), 18–9, 30–1, 34–8; M. Dampierre to A. Briand, 23 June 1931, A.D./K/ETHIOPIE/65.

49 Above, p. 413.

50 Lord Tyrrell to the marquis of Reading, 17 Oct. 1931, F.O. 371/15255/C7897/1230/22.

51 Robertson, Mussolini as empire-builder, pp. 14–15, and Documents diplomatiques, I, vol. II, no. 182 and annexe I.

52 Lowe and Marzari, Italian foreign policy, p. 256.

53 Robertson, Mussolini as empire-builder, pp. 14–15.

54 M. de Beaumarchais to A. Briand, 28 Nov. 1931, A.D./SDN/549.

55 M. de Beaumarchais to E. Herriot, 7 June 1932, A.D./Z/ITALIE/CARTON 1110.

56 Lowe and Marzari, Italian foreign policy, pp. 219–20.

57 M. Dampierre to E. Herriot, 24 Aug. 1932, A.D./Z/ITALIE/CARTON 1110.

58 Lowe and Marzari, Italian foreign policy, p. 256.

59 Robertson, Mussolini and Ethiopia, p. 345.

60 M. Dampierre to E. Herriot, 2 Aug. 1932, A.D./Z/ITALIE/CARTON 1110.

61 Note by Berthelot of a conversation with Sir A. Chamberlain, 1 Sept. 1932, A.D./Z/ITALIE/CARTON 1110.

62 Guariglia, Diplomatie, pp. 45, 49–50.

63 Duroselle, J. B., La décadence 1932–1939 (Paris, 1979), pp. 132–3.

64 Minute by Sir R. Vansittart, 4 Aug. 1931, F.O. 371/15255/C6683/1230/22.

65 Goldman, A. L., ‘Sir Robert Vansittart's search for Italian co-operation against Hitler, 1933–1936’, Journal of Contemporary History, ix (1974).

66 Medlicott, W. N., ‘Britain and Germany: the search for agreement 1930–1937’ (London, 1969), p. 20.

* I am most grateful to the British Academy for having supported the completion of this piece of research by an award from its Small Grants Research Fund in the Humanities and to Professors K. G. Robbins, R. F. Leslie and A. Adamthwaite for their encouragement and advice. I am also much obliged to the Ministère des Affaires Étrangères for permission to consult documents not normally available to the public.

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