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‘LESSER BREEDS WITHOUT THE LAW’: THE BRITISH ESTABLISHMENT AND THE DREYFUS AFFAIR, 1894–1899

  • ROBERT TOMBS (a1)

Abstract

Queen Victoria, her court, the embassy in Paris, the prime minister, and the press, led by The Times, were early and impassioned sympathizers with Alfred Dreyfus and bitter critics of his persecutors. This article traces the development of their views and the information available to them, analyses the principal themes as they saw them, and attempts to explain how and why they formed their opinions. It considers why the Dreyfusard position was so congenial to them. It argues that their own principles and prejudices – conservative, patriotic, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant – were confirmed by a critique of French political culture, seen as corrupted by a combined heritage of absolutism, revolution, Catholicism, and demagoguery. This appears to be confirmed by contrast with the few dissenting voices in Britain, on one hand Catholic and Irish, on the other, anti-Semitic socialist, who showed little sympathy with the Dreyfusards, and even less with the views of their British supporters.

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Documents from the Royal Archives, Windsor, are quoted by gracious permission of Her Majesty the Queen. References to published editions are given where appropriate. I am grateful to Lady de Bellaigue for her valuable assistance, and to several colleagues who kindly offered advice, especially George Watson, and also David Feldman, Douglas Johnson, and John Keiger. The present article is based on a paper given at a conference on the Dreyfus affair, 1894–1994, held at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in November 1994.

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‘LESSER BREEDS WITHOUT THE LAW’: THE BRITISH ESTABLISHMENT AND THE DREYFUS AFFAIR, 1894–1899

  • ROBERT TOMBS (a1)

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