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Summary Article: MAURRAS, CHARLES (1868-1952) from World Fascism: A Historical Encyclopedia

Leading figure in the French Action Française movement in early twentieth-century France, often considered a forerunner or inspiration for Italian Fascism. After graduating he moved to Paris, where he collaborated on numerous newspapers and reviews, during which time he met Barrès, who became his friend. Maurras supported Boulangism and was impressed by Drumont, contributing to his La Libre Parole. In the wake of the Dreyfus Affair, Maurras co-founded the Action Française movement, which became the vehicle for the articulation of his integral nationalism.

The system of ideas propagated by Maurras was an original synthesis of elements drawn from the counter-revolutionary tradition of Bonald, Maistre, and Le Play, from Comtean positivism, and from the scientism of Taine, articulating a fusion of nationalism and traditionalism in which the nation was united around the figure of the king. In the period up to and including World War I, Maurras’s integral nationalist ideas were expounded in a plethora of books, most notably the Enquête sur la Monarchie (1900), which had a major influence on nationalist milieux, as well as a number published during World War I. Maurras also produced a number of studies of Catholicism during this period: La Politique religieuse (1912) and L’Action française et la religion catholique, which increased Maurras’s difficulties with Rome. Conflict with the Catholic hierarchy reached a peak in 1926, when Rome forbade all Catholics to have anything to do with the organization, a sanction that was lifted only in 1939 by Pope Pius XII.

The violent actions of the AF led to several of the leadership being taken to court. Maurras was no exception, being condemned to eight-months in prison in 1912, given a one-year suspended sentence in 1929 for death threats aimed at the home office minister, Abraham Schrameck, and being given a further eight month prison term in 1936 for threatening reprisals against the 140 MPs that had voted for sanctions against Italy for invading Abyssinia. He entered the Académie Française in 1938. The following year, opposed to a war that he judged France to be in no position to win, Maurras rallied to Pétain after the Armistice, publishing a number of books in which the same ideas continued to be expounded. Arrested after the liberation, Maurras was condemned on 27 January 1945 by the Court of Justice in Lyons to “solitary confinement for life” and national degradation for having “intelligence with the enemy.” He was expelled from the Académie Française.

See Also: action française; barres, auguste maurice; boulangism; catholic church, the; dreyfus case, the; drumont, edouard adolphe; ethiopia; fascist party, the; france; integral nationalism; italy; monarchism; monarchy; nationalism; petain, marshal henri philippe; pius xii, pope; positivism; protofascism; traditionalism; world war i

References
  • Carroll, D. 1995. French Literary Fascism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Nolte, E. 1969. Three Faces of Fascism: Action Française, Italian Fascism, National Socialism. New York: Signet.
  • Weber, E. 1962. Action Française: Royalism and Reaction in Twentieth Century France. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.
  • Steve Bastow
    Copyright © 2006 by ABC-CLIO, Inc.

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