Open Access Articles- Top Results for Francophobia


Anti-French sentiment or Francophobia refers to a dislike or hatred toward France, the People of France, the Government of France, or the Francophonie (set of political entities that use French as an official language or whose French-speaking population is numerically or proportionally large).[1] Its antonym is francophilia. This sentiment has existed in various forms and in different countries for centuries.

France as continental hegemon

Though French history in the broadest sense extends back more than a millennium, its political unity dates back from the reign of Louis XI, who set up the basis of nation-state (rather than a dynastic, transnational entity typical of the late Middle Ages). According to Eric Hobsbawm (1990),[citation needed] only aristocrats and scholars spoke French before the French Revolution, whilst about two-thirds of the population of the French kingdom spoke a variety of local indigenous languages often referred to as dialects. Henceforth, Hobsbawm argues that the French Nation-state was constituted during the 19th century, through conscription which accounted for interactions between French citizens coming from various regions, and the Third Republic's public instruction laws, enacted in the 1880s, probably in parallel with the birth of the European nationalisms.

Anti-French sentiment in the United Kingdom

Britain and France have a long history of conflict, dating from before the Battle of Hastings, when William the Conqueror claimed the English throne. Before becoming King of England, William found conflict with his liege several times and conquered some neighbouring fiefs. The relationship between the countries continued to be filled with conflict, even during the Third Crusade. This medieval era of conflict climaxed during the Hundred Years' War, when the House of Plantagenet fought unsuccessfully for control of French throne and all but lost the last of their French holdings, which resulted in future English Kings being more culturally English (previously they had largely spoken French and lived in French castles much of the time, Richard the Lionheart who was famous for his feud with the French King Philip, spent most of his life in France and as little as six months of his reign as King in England).

The modern history of conflict between the two nations stems from the rise of England, later Britain, effect into a position as a dominant mercantile and seafaring power from the late 17th century onward. Hostility toward and strategic conflict with France's similar ambitions became a defining characteristic of relations between the two powers. The time between the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and Napoleon's final capitulation in 1815 has been perceived in Britain as a prolonged Franco-British conflict to determine who would be the dominant colonial power (sometimes called the Second Hundred Years' War). British hostility to the Catholic Church, which dated back to earlier conflicts with Spain and the Catholic Habsburg dynasty contributed to attitudes towards the French, because France was also seen as a Catholic power, while the majority of the British people were Protestants. Britain assisted continental European states in resisting French ambitions to hegemony during the reign of Louis XIV and of course during the Napoleonic Wars. Britain also resented France's intervention in the American Revolutionary War. These repeated conflicts spawned deep mutual antagonism between the two nations, which were only, and partially, overcome by their alliance to contain Imperial Germany in the early 20th century.

The dimensions of this conflict in Britain were as much cultural as strategic. Indeed, British nationalism in its nascent phases was in large part a contra-France phenomenon and the attitudes involved extended well beyond who won what on various battlefields:

  • A growing group of British nationalists in the 17th and 18th centuries resented the veneration that was often accorded French culture and the French language.[citation needed]
  • France was the strongest Catholic power and "Anti-Catholic" sentiments had been widespread in Britain since the Act of Supremacy in 1534.
  • The permeation of anti-French sentiment throughout society - as epitomised by the apocryphal story of the Hartlepool monkey hangers, whose belief that the French were literally inhuman led them to have allegedly executed a pet monkey in the belief that it was an invading Frenchman (although the story is based upon the disputed premise that those involved had never seen a Frenchman before).[citation needed]

The French Revolution

The revolutionary ideas that emerged in France in 1789 during the French Revolution and subsequent years were not well received by monarchists and aristocrats on the rest of the continent and in Britain. France, the leading European power for two centuries, had suddenly and violently overthrown the feudal foundations of continental order and, it was feared, the revolution might spread. Objections were many:

  • That the legitimacy of hereditary monarchy had been vitiated.
  • That violent, uneducated peasants and urban poor had gained power over their traditional social masters.
  • That the revolution was anti-religious.
  • That the revolution aspired to continental hegemony, in effect that liberté, egalité, fraternité would be limited to the French, while the Spanish, Italians, etc. would be under French domination.[citation needed] Thus the nationalism created in France during the revolution spread to other nations under French occupation, leading to resistance movements and guerillas opposed to the French.
  • That the revolution would (and eventually did) result in a reign of terror terminating in despotism (under Napoleon), thus failing to live up to aspirations of liberty (Reflections on the Revolution in France).

These concerns were not unique to Europe. Despite the positive view some Americans had of The French Revolution, it awakened or created anti-French feelings among some Federalists.[2]

The Age of Napoleon

Goya painted several famous pictures depicting the violence of the Peninsula wars during the Napoleonic Era. In particular, the French actions against Spanish civilians during the Peninsular War drew a large amount of criticism. This is illustrated by The Third of May 1808 painting.

Anti-French sentiment in Germany

Beginning with the French invasions of Germany in the late 18th century, France became the century-long rival of Germany. The rising German nationalist movement also considered France their greatest enemy, not only because France had temporarily conquered much of Western Germany during the Napoleonic Wars, but also because France was most strongly opposed the idea of a unified German empire and wanted Germany to remain divided into many individual petty states for power-political reasons.

In this time, the myth of the so-called hereditary enmity (German: Erbfeindschaft) came into being, according to which the Romanic French and the Germanic Germans had been antithetic enemies ever since the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest—a notion which, needless to mention, was inherently unhistorical. In the 19th century, anti-French sentiment became a commonplace in German political discourse, even though the deep cultural interrelation between the two peoples could never be blanked out completely. (Goethe poked fun at this in his epic Faust I with the verse: Ein echter deutscher Mann mag keinen Franzen leiden, doch ihre Weine trinkt er gern. "A real German man likes no Frenchy, but he likes to drink their wines.") Several German nationalist anthems were written against the French, most prominently Die Wacht am Rhein. After the German victory in the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, the anniversary of the decisive Battle of Sedan was made a semi-official national holiday in the German Empire.

After the culminations of Franco-German enmity in two world wars, both peoples actively gave up their mutual animosities in the second half of the twentieth century. The most prominent symbol of this development is the picture of heads of government François Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl holding each other's hands at a ceremony at the military cemetery in Verdun in 1984. Today, Germany and France are close political partners and two closely connected nations. A joint Franco-German television network Arte was founded in 1992.

France as imperial power

France's colonial empire earned it many enemies, among rival colonial countries, especially the British empire, and especially amongst colonized people. On a whole, although French neo-colonialism is denounced under the term of Françafrique (including by sectors of the French population itself),[citation needed]{ this does not necessarily lead to "Francophobia.", even in Côte d'Ivoire where, beyond the provocations of Laurent Gbagbo, elected with less than 15% of the polls, the vast majority of people feel no resentment towards the French, nor the huge number of Franco-Ivorian citizens, and few towards the former colonizing power, their main target being rather the rests of paternalism of the French political attitude in Black Africa, leading to political tensions from time to time.

France in Africa and Asia

  • Asia - The French colonists were given the special epithet thực dân (originally meaning colonist, but evolving to refer to the oppressive regime of the French) in Vietnamese; it is still universally used in discussions about the colonial era. After the French were pushed out of Vietnam, those who collaborated with them (called tay sai – agents) were vilified. Those who left for France with the French were known as Việt gian (Viet traitors) and had all their property confiscated. Although anti-French feelings in Vietnam have abated, the use of words like thực dân (colonist) to describe the French is still normal.[citation needed] During the Battle of Tamsui, the Chinese took prisoner and beheaded 11 French marines who were injured in addition to La Gailissonniere's captain Fontaine and used bamboo poles to display the heads in public, to incite anti-French feelings in China pictures of the decapitation of the Frenchmen were published in the Tien-shih-tsai Pictorial Journal in Shanghai.[3]

France and World War II

The Second World War had an effect on the modern French image abroad. Before the war's outbreak, the French government had reluctantly acquiesced to the British prime minister Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement and acceptance of Hitler's various violations of the Versailles treaty and his demands at Munich in 1938. The then-Prime Minister of France Édouard Daladier was under no illusions about Hitler's ultimate goals and initially opposed Chamberlain's policy. He told the British in a late April 1938 meeting that Hitler's real aim was to eventually secure "a domination of the Continent in comparison with which the ambitions of Napoleon were feeble." He went on to say "Today it is the turn of Czechoslovakia. Tomorrow it will be the turn of Poland and Romania...".[4] However, in the end, Daladier could not stand without Chamberlain's support, and Daladier let Chamberlain have his way with the appeasement of Hitler at the Munich Agreement.

The prime ministers of France between the World Wars were generally paranoid about German intentions, as France sustained more casualties in World War I than any other nation (except Russia which underwent several revolutions in the middle of the war in 1917) - approximately 1.4 million military and 1.6 million total casualties.[5] Accordingly, their policies towards Germany in general and, more specifically, the Nazis, were more aggressive than that of other Western nations. Franco-German relations were very poor at the time and French leaders were also acutely aware that the German population and manpower exceed France's by a considerable margin (64 million vs. 40 million), a major strategic vulnerability. This vulnerability and France's proximity to Germany caused French leaders to take a harder stance on Germany than the British, for example. The French occupation of the Rhineland and France's desire to collect the reparations owed by Germany under the Treaty of Versailles to France, caused British leaders to see French leaders as too stern on Germany.

The French Prime Minister previous to Daladier, Léon Blum, was acutely aware of the dangers of the German and Nazi rise, and even desired to send military aid to the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War (the Germans were supporting the opposite Nationalist side in this conflict),[6][7] but decided against doing so in order to maintain France's alliance to Britain because then-Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and his staff including Anthony Eden strongly opposed any aid because of fear of Communism and of war.[8]

However, once war broke out, the quick military defeat of the French Army caused much disillusion across Europe. As a consequence the image and reputation of France as Europe's military superpower was seriously compromised until after the war ended. However, France still participated actively in the final victory, and rebuilt her military after World War II to recover some of her position as a major military power.

France as a major power

Results of 2014 BBC World Service poll.
Views of France's influence by country[9]
Sorted by Pos-Neg
Country polled Positive Negative Neutral Pos-Neg
23x15px Pakistan 30 38 32 -8
Template:Country data Israel 24 18 58 6
23x15px Turkey 35 29 36 6
23x15px Mexico 34 25 41 9
Template:Country data India 35 25 40 10
23x15px Argentina 35 17 48 18
23x15px China 47 27 26 20
Template:Country data Indonesia 46 24 30 22
23x15px Spain 46 24 30 22
23x15px Germany 47 24 29 23
Template:Country data Kenya 48 22 30 26
23x15px United States 55 26 19 29
23x15px United Kingdom 61 32 7 29
23x15px Nigeria 55 25 20 30
Template:Country data Japan 38 4 58 32
23x15px Peru 48 16 36 32
23x15px Australia 57 24 19 33
23x15px Russia 51 13 36 38
23x15px Brazil 62 20 18 42
23x15px Canada 64 20 16 44
23x15px France 70 22 8 48
Template:Country data South Korea 70 11 19 59
23x15px Ghana 72 9 19 63

Post-World War II France is a major world power with nuclear armed forces retaining a weapons stockpile of around 300 operational nuclear warheads, making it the third-largest in the world.[10] greater than those of United Kingdom, modern Germany or postwar Japan - all nations which have rarely been claimed to be merely "middle powers". France also has a permanent seat on the United Nations, and one of the largest economies in the World.[11] It is very active in international affairs in locations overseas (such as its continuing participation in Afghanistan, its Pacific nuclear testing in the 1980s, and in interventions in its former African colonies).

However, France's very status and active foreign policy have caused it the attract some negative attention. Some view[citation needed] some of postwar France's leaders to be vocal and independent-minded in their dealings with other major nations. The two French presidents most often perceived to be vocal and independent are Charles de Gaulle and Jacques Chirac.

De Gaulle's presidencies and Gaullism in the 1960s

The policies of Charles de Gaulle during his second presidency (1959–1969) included several actions that some critics have held against him.

  • De Gaulle advocated a stance that France should act partially as a third pole between the United States and Soviet Union, while remaining within the political structure of NATO, actively supporting European organizations such as the European Economic Community, and maintaining close ties with other western European nations (especially postwar West Germany). This viewpoint was not unique to De Gaulle or to the French, because many other nations sought varying degrees of non-aligned status with reference to the two major blocs (United States/NATO and the Soviet bloc). India, China, Indonesia, and many other nations formed the Non-Aligned Movement, and Yugoslavia pursued a largely independent course from Moscow from 1961 until its dissolution in 2003.
  • De Gaulle decided to end the presence of NATO bases on French soil, and withdrew France from the military structure of NATO. However, France remained within NATO's political structure.
  • De Gaulle opposed the UK's application to join the EEC in 1962 and 1965. However, the next French President Georges Pompidou reversed De Gaulle's position and supported the UK's admission in 1973. French Presidents since De Gaulle have generally pursued fairly close relations with British leaders, including Jacques Chirac working with Tony Blair even during the Iraq War.[12]
  • While visiting Montreal, Canada for the World Fair in 1967, De Gaulle brought support to the Quebec sovereignty movement, with a speech "Vive le Québec libre!". This speech was highly regarded by the Quebec independence movement. However, it was widely criticized even in the French press,[13] and it was opposed by many French and French-Canadians including the future-Canadian prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, a French-Canadian from Montreal.

In total, De Gaulle advocated a strong presence among the great nations and independence towards the United States and the Soviet Union.[citation needed]

Anti-French sentiment in Australia and New Zealand

France controls several islands in the Pacific Ocean New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna Islands and French Polynesia. There have been sporadic independence demonstrations in French Polynesia, and briefly in the 1980s a pro-independence insurgency in New Caledonia, led by the Front de Libération Nationale Kanak Socialiste. However, this situation is by no means unique to France, as the other overseas European Great Power, the United Kingdom, also owns many British overseas territories and the controversies they generate.

There is also the issue of nuclear testing in the Pacific. Since 1960, around 200 nuclear tests have occurred around the Pacific, to the opprobrium of other Pacific states, Australia and New Zealand. The end of the Cold War led to a French moratorium on nuclear testing, but it was lifted in 1995 by Jacques Chirac. French security forces have sought to interfere with the activity of nuclear testing protesters.[citation needed] In 1972, the Greenpeace vessel Vega was rammed at Moruroa. The following year Greenpeace protesters were detained by the French, and the skipper claimed he was beaten. Also, in 1985 the French secret service bombed and sank the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland, New Zealand. Greenpeace had been a very vocal opponent of French nuclear testing in the Pacific. Australia ceased military cooperation with France and embargoed the export of uranium to France.

Protesters demonstrated at the French embassy in Canberra, while the French honorary Consulate in Perth was fire-bombed. The company Delifrance was forced to downplay its entry into the Australian market. The Herald Sun ran an article entitled "Why the French are Bastards." A group of Australians ran a full page advertisement in Le Monde, arguing that the opposition in Australia to French nuclear testing was strong, and that large numbers of ANZAC soldiers who fell in France's defence in the First World War. Some authors in the French press replied by discussing Australia's own human rights record, and its supposed ambitions to dominate the Pacific (one cartoon by Plantu portrayed an Australian wearing a very British bowler hat).[citation needed]

Anti-French sentiment in the United States

Despite a large French contribution to the 1991 Iraq Gulf War (called Operation Daguet) and the French presence in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom), the opposition of French President Jacques Chirac to the 2003 Iraq War led to a significant rise in anti-French sentiment in the United States,[14] epitomized by a movement to rename french fries to freedom fries.[15] In March 2003, the cafeteria of the United States House of Representatives had its French fries and French toast renamed to freedom fries and toast, at the direction of Representatives Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and Walter Jones (R-North Carolina). Representative Ney chaired the Committee on House Administration and had authority over the menu in the House cafeteria.[16]

The freedom fries renaming was not without controversy or opposition. Timothy Noah of Slate noted that the move was "meant to demonize France for its exasperating refusal to support a war against Iraq". He compared the 2003 renamings to the renaming of all things German in World War II, but argued that the freedom fries episode was worse because "Germany, after all, was America's enemy, whereas France is America's NATO ally."[17] The episode occurred despite the fact that neither french fries nor french toast are typically French (see origins of french fries and french toast), with American people and politicians being driven intentionally or unintentionally by the name confusion.

The swell of anti-French sentiment in the United States resulting from 2003 episode was marked.[18] Various media personalities and politicians openly expressed anti-French sentiments;[19] News Corporation's media outlets, particularly the Fox Entertainment Group's Fox News Network, were specifically implicated in a campaign fanning francophobia at the time of the war.[20][21]

Anti-French sentiment in Ireland

Historically, relations between French and Irish have been generally positive, as both peoples shared a common religion, Roman Catholicism, and a common Protestant enemy, England (later the United Kingdom). French kings during the 16th to 19th centuries often supported Irish and Scottish interests against English advances in Ireland and Scotland.

Recently, there have been a few instances of friction between France and the Republic of Ireland over political and economic issues that led to expressions of Irish francophobia. One of these was when Ireland rejected the Lisbon treaty in a referendum in 2008 and Nicolas Sarkozy commented that Ireland "must vote again"[22] - as it indeed did the following year. Another source has been the French criticism of Ireland's low corporate taxation rate and the perceived French resistance to conceding an interest rate reduction on the IMF/ EU loan arrangement until Ireland "moves" on this rate, which was perceived as interference.[23]

Francophobia in Ireland rose in the aftermath a controversial FIFA World Cup playoff game between the two countries, leading to protests outside the French Embassy in Dublin.[24] Irish businesses exploited the occasion in a mostly light-hearted way, with promotions offering discounts for every goal scored against France and special reductions to celebrate the elimination of France from the tournament.[25][26][27]

See also


  1. ^ Robertson, John G. (1991). Robertson's Words for a Modern Age: A Cross Reference of Latin and Greek Combining Elements. Senior Scribe Publications. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-9630919-0-1. 
  2. ^ The American Pageant. Boston MA: Houghton Mifflin Company. 2002. pp. 205–206. ISBN 0-618-24732-7. 
  3. ^ Tsai, Shih-shan Henry (2009). Maritime Taiwan: Historical Encounters with the East and the West (illustrated ed.). M.E. Sharpe. pp. 98–99. ISBN 0765623285. Archived from the original on Digitized Jul 13, 2010. Retrieved 24 April 2014.  Check date values in: |archivedate= (help)
  4. ^ Shirer, William The Collapse of the Third Republic: An Inquiry into the Fall of France in 1940, 1969, De Capo Press, page 529.
  5. ^ Huber, Michel (1931). La Population de la France pendant la guerre. Paris.
  6. ^ Harry Browne's, Spain's Civil War, 2d ed. (New York: Longman, 1996),p50.
  7. ^ Léon Blum: Humanist in Politics, by Joel Colton, p236.
  8. ^ Léon Blum: Humanist in Politics, by Joel Colton, p240.
  9. ^ "BBC World Service poll" (PDF). BBC. 3 June 2014. 
  10. ^ Table of French Nuclear Forces (Natural Resources Defense Council, 2002)
  11. ^ List of countries by GDP (nominal)
  12. ^ Kettle, Martin (2004-04-05). "The odd couple". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  13. ^ Alain Peyrefitte, C'était de Gaulle III, p.391 to 496. (2000) éditions de Fallois/Fayard
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Fried politics: Restaurant serves 'freedom fries'". CNN. 2003-02-19. Archived from the original on June 15, 2006. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  16. ^ "House cafeterias change names for 'french' fries and 'french' toast". CNN. 2003-03-11. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 
  17. ^ "Banning french fries.". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  18. ^ Serfaty, Simon (2007). Architects of Delusion: Europe, America, and the Iraq War. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 21–22. ISBN 978-0-8122-4060-3. 
  19. ^ Kehnemui, Sharon (2003-02-21). "French Jokes Gain Wide Audiences". Fox News. 
  20. ^ Vaisse, Justin. "American francophobia takes a new turn" (PDF). French Politics, Culture & Society 21 (2): 33–49. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  21. ^ "Rupert Murdoch et Lord Black: deux serviteurs zélés de la propagande francophobe". Le Figaro. 17 February 2003. 
  22. ^ Samuel, Henry (2008-07-15). "Nicolas Sarkozy: Ireland must vote again on EU Lisbon treaty". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  23. ^ Drennan, John (2011-05-22). "Fury at French leads to consideration of cut in corporation tax". Irish Independent. 
  24. ^ "Soccer fans march to French embassy". The Irish Times. 2009-11-11. 
  25. ^,249328
  26. ^ World Cup Furniture Ad. YouTube. 7 June 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  27. ^ Currys World Cup Ad. YouTube. 3 June 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 

External links