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Action Française

Action Française was a French Monarchist movement and periodical founded by Charles Maurras. The movement and the magazine were interchangeable. Founded during the Dreyfus affair, partly in reaction to the left wing revitalisation that was happening around the defense of the army captain. Originally a Republican organisation, under the influence of Maurras it became gradually more monarchist. Until its dissolution at the end of the Second World War, Action Française was a prominent proponent of integral nationalism, which regarded the nation as an organic entity of blood and soil.

Action Française was liberal with its enemies - at various times Communists, Anarchists, Jews, Protestants and Freemasons. Monarchy had to be restored and liberal democracy and the legacy of the French Revolution discarded.

It met with some success, gaining a large membership, widespread readership and even a couple of Assembly members.

Table of contents
1 Relations with the Catholic church
2 Foreign Policy
3 Slow Decline

Relations with the Catholic church

Although Maurras was agnostic the movement strongly defended the place of the Catholic Church in French national life, and as a consequence picked up many Catholic followers, bruised by the Dreyfus affair and the break of the Concordat of 1801. Pope Pius XI condemned the movement on 20 December 1926, leading to a period of conflict between the two erstwhile pillars of conservative France. It was this condemnation that led to a slow decline as Catholics stayed away, and were not allowed to read the periodical. One of these loyal Catholics was François Mitterrand, who instead started his political career in the Croix de Feu, a slightly more moderate organisation, before joining the Vichy government.

Foreign Policy

Always anti-German, even when defeat placed the friendly Pétain in charge of Vichy France (an event that Maurras greeted as a "divine surprise"), Action Française spent a large amount of time both before and after the First World War warning of the German threat, particularly through the prominent historian, and Action Francaise supporter Jacques Bainville. They did approve of Franco and Mussolini.

Slow Decline

By the outbreak of the Second World War Action Française was a shadow of its former self. It suffered what was to prove a mortal blow when its foremost politician Leon Daudet died. After the German invasion it moved from Paris to Vichy and stopped publication in 1944 when the Germans took over the Vichy government. It never republished and the organisation atrophied.