With a French victory in the World Cup and the celebration of Bastille Day coming in the same weekend, now seems like a good time to reflect on the France-Texas relationship. It’s a long one.
Jean-Pierre Cauvin is a professor emeritus of French and Italian at the University of Texas. Cauvin says the French flag is one of six to have flown over Texas. It happened during a period of early colonization, from 1685 to 1690. But France did not abandon its claim to Texas until November of 1762, when the Treaty of Fontainebleau, which ceded to Spain much of France’s territory west of the Mississippi River.
The role of France in Texas history does not stop there. In 1839, France became the only European nation to recognize the young Republic of Texas. Around this time, then King Louis-Philippe sent a chargé d’affaires, a diplomat of sorts, to Texas. His name was Alphonse Dubois, but he later went by Alphonse Dubois du Saligny.
“[Dubois] built a house, which we now know as the French Legation here in Austin,” Cauvin says. “Dubiois passed himself off as a Count.”
At that time, a man who raised pigs lived next door to the Legation building. One day, in one of the more colorful events that have shaped Franco-Texan history, some of these pigs got loose and ran amok on the Legation grounds, even making it into Saligny’s bedroom.
“There ensued an altercation and a court encounter,” Cauvin says. “And finally, Saligny was run out of town or, more likely, left in a huff–a cardinal sin on the part of a diplomat.”