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A History Of The French Consular Services

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Chapter Summary

Reinvented in the Middle Ages by merchant guilds in the Mediterranean region, and then claimed by the central power, consuls became the engine and guarantors of French commercial expansion. They were the ones to protect merchant navigation and colonies abroad. However, at the end of the First World War, French consuls lost the essential part of their commercial attributions and ended up as nothing more than foreign-based civil servants. This chapter briefly focuses on this evolution from the institutions birth through its climax to its relative decline by going through the central administrations construction and functioning and describing the development of consul attributions, as well as recruitment and pay. Over the 500 years that separated the beginning of the consular institution from its zenith during the early twentieth century, France managed to endow itself progressively with an effective consular administration and a network of increasingly widespread agencies.

Keywords: central administration; consular institution; French commercial expansion; French consuls; middle ages



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