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Learn About the Dreyfus Affair
1871 Alsace is annexed by Germany following the Franco-Prussian War. Citizens of Alsace must opt for either French or German nationality.
1881 Republican legislation begins to limit the civil power of the Church. The press is freed from censorship by the Law of July 29.
1882 Crash of banking consortium, the Union Générale, founded in 1876 with funds from Catholic investors. The Catholic press exploits the failure as a pretext to attack republican government and Jewish financiers.
1886 Edouard Drumont, self-appointed “pope” of antisemitism, publishes La France Juive. 100,000 copies are sold within two months, and the text would eventually run to more than 200 editions.
1889 Alfred Dreyfus is promoted to captain of the 21st Artillery Regiment.
Collapse of the Panama Company, a state-sponsored company raising funds to build a canal across Panama. Thousands of investors lose their assets.
1892 Drumont founds La Libre Parole, an extremist newspaper which publishes articles attacking Jewish officers in the French military and blaming Jews for the Panama scandal.
Dreyfus completes his training at the Ecole supérieure de guerre, ranking 9th out of 81 officers.
1894 Mid-late September: A list of military secrets (later known as the bordereau) iis intercepted at the German embassy.
October 6: Dreyfus falls under suspicion as the author of the bordereau.
October 15: Dreyfus is accused of high treason and arrested
December 19-22: Dreyfus’s first court-martial held in closed session. Dreyfus is sentenced to perpetual deportation.
1895 January 5. Military degradation of Dreyfus in the courtyard of the Ecole Militaire.
April 14. Dreyfus is placed in solitary confinement on Devil’s Island.
July 1. Lieutenant Colonel Georges Picquart is appointed Chef du service des renseignements (Head of the Intelligence Service).
1896 March. Picquart receives a document revealing Major Marie Charles Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy as a German spy.
September. Generals Billot and Gonse refuse Picquart’s plan to question Esterhazy.
November. Hubert Henry, who had condemned Dreyfus at the trial, forges documents in order to incriminate Dreyfus and discredit Picquart.
November 6. Publication of Bernard Lazare’s Une erreur judiciare: la vérité sur l’affaire Dreyfus.
November 10. Publication in Le Matin of a facsimile of the bordereau.
1897 June 20-29. Picquart returns to Paris, communicates details about Dreyfus’s innocence to his lawyer.
October. Vice-President of the French Senate, Auguste Scheurer-Kestner, begins a campaign to reopen the Dreyfus investigation after becoming convinced of Dreyfus’s innocence.
October 23. Senior French officers warn Esterhazy that accusations will soon be made public against him.
November 16. In an open letter to General Jean-Baptiste Billot published in Le Figaro, Mathieu Dreyfus denounces Esterhazy as the author of the bordereau.
December 31. An Army investigation clears Esterhazy, who asks for a court martial.
1898 January 10-11. Esterhazy is tried and acquitted by court-martial.
January 13. Emile Zola’s “J’Accuse” is printed in Georges Clemenceau’s L’Aurore.
Picquart is arrested and sent to prison.
January 17. Beginning of anti-semitic riots in France and Algeria.
February 7-23. Trial of Zola for libel; he is convicted and sentenced to one year in prison and fine.
February 26. Picquart is dismissed from the army.
April 1. Formation of the Ligue des droits de l’homme et du citoyen by Dreyfus defenders.
April 2. The Zola verdict is annulled.
May 22. Prominent Dreyfusards are defeated in national elections, while antisemitic candidates gain seats in the Chamber of Deputies. 
July 13. Picquart is arrested for divulging secret military documents.
July 18-19. Zola is convicted again of libel; he flees to England.
August 13. Henry’s forgery of a key document discovered.
August 24-27. Esterhazy appears before a military board of inquiry and reveals details of his activities.
August 30-31. Henry confesses to the forgery and commits suicide.
September 1. Esterhazy flees to England.
October 27-29. The Chambre Criminel accepts Lucie Dreyfus’s petition for a review of the case against Alfred.
December 14. La Libre Parole solicits donations to finance Madame Henry’s suit against Joseph Reinach, who had accused Henry of being Esterhazy’s accomplice. Over 25,000 contributions are received in one month.
December 31. Formation of La Ligue de la patrie française by anti-Dreyfusards.
1899 May 29-June 3. The Combined Chambers of the Supreme Court of Appeal hear Dreyfus’s appeal for a new trial. The court annuls the 1894 verdict and orders a new court martial to be held in Rennes.
June 3. Esterhazy confesses to authorship of the bordereau, stating that he was under orders from a member of the General Staff to do so in order to prove that Dreyfus was a traitor.
June 5. Zola returns to France.
June 9. Dreyfus sails for France; Picquart is freed from prison.
August 7 – September 9. Court-martial in Rennes. Dreyfus is found guilty with extenuating circumstances and sentenced to 10 years detention.
September 19. President Emile Loubet signs an order of pardon for Dreyfus.
September 20. Dreyfus is released from prison. 
1901 May. Publication of Dreyfus’s Cinq années de ma vie (Five Years of My Life). Publication of volume one of Joseph Reinach’s Histoire de l’Affaire Dreyfus.
1902 September 29. Zola dies.
1903 April 6-7. Jean Jaurès, a representative in the French Parliament, appeals in the Chamber of Deputies against the condemnation at Rennes.
October 19. After an investigation, the Minister of War, General Louis-Joseph André, discovers further evidence of Dreyfus’s innocence.
November 26. Dreyfus petitions for retrial.
1906 July 12. The Court of Appeals annuls the Dreyfus verdict.
July 13. Parliament votes to reinstate Dreyfus as a captain.
July 21. Exoneration of Dreyfus. He is named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in a ceremony at the Ecole Militaire.
1908 June 4. Zola’s ashes are transferred to the Panthéon. During the ceremony, Dreyfus is shot and wounded by Louis-Anthelme Grégori, an admirer of Drumont.
1998 January 13. A commemorative plaque honoring Dreyfus and Zola is unveiled at the Ecole Militaire.

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