Jean Antoine Ernest Constans is a French politician born May 3, 1833 in Béziers (Hérault) and died April 7, 1913 in Paris. He rests in the cemetery of Sainte-Croix (Aveyron).
Son of Armand Constans, receiver of the registration and of Marie Victoire Galtié, Ernest obtained his law degree in Toulouse in 1854, then the doctorate in 1857. On February 19, 1857, he married Magdeleine Masbou in Sainte-Croix in Aveyron, daughter of a lawyer.
In 1861, he worked as a lawyer in Toulouse. His father having died and having a small inheritance, he tries his luck in Barcelona. First associated with Cousinet, he was an English coal merchant and his first bankruptcy. He created in 1862 under the name of Don Ernesto Constans y Galtié, a company of locomobile pumps Ernesto Constans y compania associated in partnership with Puig y Puig a Catalan banker. The company goes bankrupt and Ernest Constans returns to France and resumes his law studies.
Having passed his aggregation in 1867, Ernest Constans became professor of law at the faculty of Douai and returned to Toulouse in 1870. In 1874 after 16 years of absence, he returned to freemasonry and in 1875 became venerable of the Toulouse lodge " reunited hearts ”before being elected deputy for Haute-Garonne (Toulouse constituency) in 1876, sitting in the center-left. During the crisis of May 16, 1877, he was one of the signatories of the manifesto of 363. Reelected in October 1877, he was called as Minister of the Interior in the government of Charles de Freycinet (from May 17, 1880 to November 14 1881).
In 1887, he was appointed head of the French legation in Beijing. As such, he is one of the signatories of the convention of June 26, 1887 established between France and China to delimit the border between China and Tonkin. From November 16, 1887 to April 1888, Constans was the first Governor General of French Indochina, placed under French protectorate.
According to historian Charles-Robert Ageron, Ernest Constans' conceptions of colonial questions were one of "aggressive cynicism", with colonization having as its main goal the enrichment of the colonists.
On February 22, 1889, he again became Minister of the Interior in the government of Pierre Tirard who was looking for a republican who was a strong man to thwart the undertakings of General Boulanger. Constans was, and he was also a Freemason, which in the context of the day was also a recommendation. He distinguished himself by his repression of Boulangism, ordering the dissolution of the League of Patriots (April 3, 1889). He also spread the rumor of the imminent arrest of General Boulanger and of his judgment in the High Court for "attack on the security of the State", which will cause the person concerned to flee to Belgium, not without discrediting himself. with the public. Constans resigned on March 1, 1890, resulting in the fall of the government.
He regained his portfolio in the government of Charles de Freycinet on March 17, 1890. Although violently attacked by the Boulangist deputies and by part of the press, he remained in office until the fall of the government on February 26, 1892. In the meantime, he had been elected senator for Haute-Garonne on December 29, 1889.
On December 27, 1898, he was appointed Ambassador to Constantinople, a position he held until June 1909. There he conducted a personal diplomacy largely independent of French foreign policy, which we have reason to believe was primarily guided by the lure of profit, which would explain in particular its very active role in the development of the railway project linking Constantinople to Baghdad.
At the foot of the fountain in Place Plumancy in Périgueux, plaques mention the names of personalities from the time when the monument was erected: c