Franco-Russian Alliance

The Franco-Russian Alliance, or Russo-French Rapprochement, was an alliance formed by the agreements of 1891–93; it lasted until 1917. The strengthening of the German Empire, the creation of the Triple Alliance of 1882, and the exacerbation of Franco-German and Russo-German contradictions at the end of the 1880s led to a common foreign policy and mutual strategic military interests between France and Russia. The development of financial ties between the two countries created the economic prerequisites for the Russo-French Alliance.

Avenue Nicholas II, looking towards the Dome of the Invalides, Exposition Universal, 1900, Paris, France
The Pont Alexandre III in Paris and the Trinity Bridge in St Petersburg remain two symbols of the Franco-Russian Alliance.

History

The history of the alliance dates to the beginning of the 1870s, to the contradictions engendered by the Franco-Prussian War and the Treaty of Frankfurt of 1871. The Russian government had supported France during the war scare of 1875 when Russian and British protests forced Germany to stop threatening an attack on France.[1] In 1876, the German chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, attempted unsuccessfully to obtain from Russia a guarantee to preserve the territory of Alsace-Lorraine as part of Germany in exchange for unconditional support by Germany for Russian policy in the East. In 1877, during the new Franco-German war scare, Russia maintained friendly relations with France. However, after the Berlin Congress of 1878, French diplomacy, in aiming at a rapprochement with Great Britain and Germany, assumed a hostile position vis-à-vis Russia. France’s alienation from Russia and her policy of colonial seizures lasted until 1885 when the Franco-German contradictions became heightened after the French defeat in Annam. Early in 1887, new complications arose in Franco-German relations. France appealed to the Russian government for aid. In concluding the so-called Reinsurance Treaty with Germany in 1887, Russia insisted on maintaining for France the same conditions that Germany had stipulated for its ally, Austria.[2]

At the end of the 1880s, Russo-German economic discrepancies grew stronger. The Russo-French political rapprochement contributed to the influx of French capital into Russia. At the end of the 1880s and the beginning of the 1890s, Russia received a number of large loans from France. The deterioration of Russo-German relations, the resurrection of the Triple Alliance in 1891, and the rumors that Great Britain would join the alliance laid the grounds for the conclusion of a political agreement between Russia and France. During a visit by a French squadron to Kronstadt in July 1891, the agreement of 1891 was concluded in the form of an exchange of letters between the ministers of foreign affairs. France was interested significantly more than Russia in a military alliance and endeavored to supplement the 1891 agreement with military obligations. As a result of the negotiations, the representatives of the Russian and French general staffs signed a military convention on August 5 (August 17 in Russian calendar), 1892, which provided for mutual military aid in the event of a German attack. By an exchange of letters between December 19 (December 27), 1893, and December 23, 1893 (January 4, 1894), both governments announced their ratification of the military convention. This formalized the Russo-French military-political alliance. It was a response to the formation of a military bloc (the Triple Alliance) headed by Germany. In Europe, two opposing hostile imperialist blocs had formed.[3]

Relying on Russian support, France intensified its colonial policy. After the Fashoda Incident of 1898 with Great Britain, it endeavored even more to strengthen the alliance with Russia. The alliance with France also facilitated the tsarist government’s expansion into Manchuria in the 1890s. During the preparatory period and the first years of the existence of the Russo-French Alliance, the determining role was played by Russia, but in time the situation altered. By constantly receiving new loans from France, Russian tsarism gradually fell into financial dependence on French imperialism. Prior to World War I, the cooperation of the general staffs of both countries assumed closer forms. In 1912 a Russo-French naval convention was signed. Russia and France entered the war united by the treaty of alliance. This had a significant effect on the course and outcome of the war since it forced Germany from the first days of the war to fight on two fronts. This led to the defeat of Germany the battle of the Marne, to the collapse of the Schlieffen Plan, and finally to the defeat of Germany. The Russo-French Alliance was nullified by the Soviet government in 1917.[4]

Gallery

Cronstadt Paris Louvre DSC01386

Commemorative flag

Марианна (Франция) и медведь (Россия)

1893 political cartoon depicting the Franco-Russian Alliance. Marianne and the Russian bear embrace.

Grandes manoeuvres de l'est 1901 Nicoals II général André

Nicholas II and French minister of War.

Amitiée franco-russe

Commemorative plate.

See also

References

  1. ^ T. G. Otte, "From 'War-in-Sight' to Nearly War: Anglo–French Relations in the Age of High Imperialism, 1875–1898," Diplomacy and Statecraft (2006) 17#4 pp 693–714.
  2. ^ Norman Rich, Great power diplomacy, 1814-1914. (1992) 216-62.
  3. ^ Rich, Great power diplomacy, 1814-1914. (1992) pp. 391-407.
  4. ^ A.J.P. Taylor, The struggle for mastery in Europe, 1848-1918. (1954), pp 325-345.

Further reading

  • Albrecht-Carrié, René. A Diplomatic History of Europe Since the Congress of Vienna (1958)
  • Hamel, Catherine. La commémoration de l’alliance franco-russe : La création d’une culture matérielle populaire, 1890-1914 (French) (MA thesis, Concordia University, 2016) ; online
  • Kennan, George Frost. The fateful alliance: France, Russia, and the coming of the First World War (1984) online free to borrow; covers 1890 to 1894.
  • Keiger, John F. V. (1983). France and the origins of the First World War. Macmillan.
  • Keiger, J.F.V. France and the World since 1870 (2001)
  • Mansergh, Nicholas (1949). The Coming of the First World War. London: Longmans Green and Co.
  • Rich, Norman. Great power diplomacy, 1814-1914 (1992) pp 216-62, 391-407.
  • Taylor, A.J.P. The struggle for mastery in Europe, 1848-1918 (1954), pp 325-345

External links

1892 in Russia

Events from the year 1892 in Russia

1894 in France

Events from the year 1894 in France.

Alexander I of Russia

Alexander I (Russian: Александр Павлович, Aleksandr Pavlovich; 23 December [O.S. 12 December] 1777 – 1 December [O.S. 19 November] 1825) was the Emperor of Russia between 1801 and 1825. He was the eldest son of Paul I and Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg. Alexander was the first king of Congress Poland, reigning from 1815 to 1825, as well as the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland, reigning from 1809 to 1825.

Born in Saint Petersburg to Grand Duke Paul Petrovich, later Emperor Paul I, he succeeded to the throne after his father was murdered. He ruled Russia during the chaotic period of the Napoleonic Wars. As prince and during the early years of his reign, Alexander often used liberal rhetoric, but continued Russia's absolutist policies in practice. In the first years of his reign, he initiated some minor social reforms and (in 1803–04) major, liberal educational reforms, such as building more universities. Alexander appointed Mikhail Speransky, the son of a village priest, as one of his closest advisors. The Collegia was abolished and replaced by the State Council, which was created to improve legislation. Plans were also made to set up a parliament and sign a constitution.

In foreign policy, he changed Russia's position relative to France four times between 1804 and 1812 among neutrality, opposition, and alliance. In 1805 he joined Britain in the War of the Third Coalition against Napoleon, but after suffering massive defeats at the battles of Austerlitz and Friedland he switched sides and formed an alliance with Napoleon by the Treaty of Tilsit (1807) and joined Napoleon's Continental System. He fought a small-scale naval war against Britain between 1807 and 1812 as well as a short war against Sweden (1808–09) after Sweden's refusal to join the Continental System. Alexander and Napoleon hardly agreed, especially regarding Poland, and the alliance collapsed by 1810. Alexander's greatest triumph came in 1812 when Napoleon's invasion of Russia proved to be a catastrophic disaster for the French. As part of the winning coalition against Napoleon, he gained some spoils in Finland and Poland. He formed the Holy Alliance to suppress revolutionary movements in Europe that he saw as immoral threats to legitimate Christian monarchs. He helped Austria's Klemens von Metternich in suppressing all national and liberal movements.

During the second half of his reign, Alexander became increasingly arbitrary, reactionary, and fearful of plots against him; as a result he ended many of the reforms he made earlier. He purged schools of foreign teachers, as education became more religiously oriented as well as politically conservative. Speransky was replaced as advisor with the strict artillery inspector Aleksey Arakcheyev, who oversaw the creation of military settlements. Alexander died of typhus in December 1825 while on a trip to southern Russia. He left no children, as his two daughters died in childhood. Neither of his brothers wanted to become emperor. After a period of great confusion (that presaged the failed Decembrist revolt of liberal army officers in the weeks after his death), he was succeeded by his younger brother, Nicholas I.

Anglo-Russian Convention

The Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 or the Convention between the United Kingdom and Russia relating to Persia, Afghanistan, and Tibet. Signed on August 31, 1907, in St. Petersburg, Russia, the convention brought shaky British–Russian relations to the forefront by solidifying boundaries that identified respective control in Persia, Afghanistan, and Tibet. It delineated spheres of influence in Persia, stipulated that neither country would interfere in Tibet's internal affairs, and recognized Britain's influence over Afghanistan. The agreement led to the formation of the Triple Entente.

Causes of World War I

The causes of World War I remain controversial. World War I began in the Balkans in late July 1914 and ended in November 1918, leaving 17 million dead and 20 million wounded.

Scholars looking at the long-term seek to explain why two rival sets of powers – Germany and Austria-Hungary on the one hand, and Russia, France, and Great Britain on the other – had come into conflict by 1914. They look at such factors as political, territorial and economic conflicts, militarism, a complex web of alliances and alignments, imperialism, the growth of nationalism, and the power vacuum created by the decline of the Ottoman Empire. Other important long-term or structural factors that are often studied include unresolved territorial disputes, the perceived breakdown of the balance of power in Europe, convoluted and fragmented governance, the arms races of the previous decades, and military planning.Scholars doing short-term analysis focused on the summer of 1914 ask if the conflict could have been stopped, or whether it was out of control. The immediate causes lay in decisions made by statesmen and generals during the July Crisis of 1914. This crisis was triggered by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by the Bosnian-Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip who had been supported by a nationalist organization in Serbia. The crisis escalated as the conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia came to involve Russia, Germany, France, and ultimately Belgium and Great Britain. Other factors that came into play during the diplomatic crisis that preceded the war included misperceptions of intent (e.g., the German belief that Britain would remain neutral), fatalism that war was inevitable, and the speed of the crisis, which was exacerbated by delays and misunderstandings in diplomatic communications.

The crisis followed a series of diplomatic clashes among the Great Powers (Italy, France, Germany, Britain, Austria-Hungary and Russia) over European and colonial issues in the decades before 1914 that had left tensions high. In turn, these public clashes can be traced to changes in the balance of power in Europe since 1867.Consensus on the origins of the war remains elusive since historians disagree on key factors, and place differing emphasis on a variety of factors. This is compounded by changing historical arguments over time, particularly the delayed availability of classified historical archives. The deepest distinction among historians is between those who focus on the actions of Germany and Austria-Hungary as key and those who focus on a wider group of actors. Secondary fault lines exist between those who believe that Germany deliberately planned a European war, those who believe that the war was ultimately unplanned but still caused principally by Germany and Austria-Hungary taking risks, and those who believe that either all or some of the other powers, namely Russia, France, Serbia and Great Britain, played a more significant role in causing the war than has been traditionally suggested.

Dual Alliance

Dual Alliance may refer to:

The Dual Alliance (1879) between Germany and Austria-Hungary

The Franco-Russian Alliance or Dual Alliance of 1894, between France and Tsarist Russia

Dual Alliance (1879)

The Dual Alliance was a defensive alliance between Germany and Austria-Hungary, which was created by treaty on 7 October 1879 as part of Bismarck's system of alliances to prevent or limit war. The two powers promised each other support in case of attack by Russia. Also, each state promised benevolent neutrality to the other if one of them was attacked by another European power (generally taken to be France, even more so after the Franco-Russian Alliance of 1894). Germany's Otto von Bismarck saw the alliance as a way to prevent the isolation of the German Empire, which had just been founded a few years before, and to preserve peace, as Russia would not wage war against both empires.

Foreign alliances of France

The foreign alliances of France have a long and complex history spanning more than a millennium. One traditional characteristic of the French diplomacy of alliances has been the "Alliance de revers" (i.e. "Rear alliance"), aiming at allying with countries situated on the opposite side or "in the back" of an adversary, in order to open a second front encircling the adversary and thus re-establish a balance of power. Another has been the alliance with local populations, against other European colonial powers.

France–Russia relations

France–Russia relations (French: Relations entre la France et la Russie, Russian: Российско-французские отношения, Rossiysko-frantsuzskiye otnosheniya) date back to the early modern period.

According to a 2017 Pew Global Attitudes Project survey, 36% of French people have a favorable view of Russia, with 62% expressing an unfavorable view. A 2018 opinion poll published by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center shows that 81% of Russians have a favorable view of France, with 19% expressing a negative opinion.

La Pie qui Chante

La Pie qui Chante (English: The Singing Magpie), is a French brand of confectionery, since 2017 owned by Eurazeo.

League of the Three Emperors

The League of the Three Emperors or Union of the Three Emperors (German: Dreikaiserbund) was an alliance between the German, Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires, from 1873 to 1880. Chancellor Otto von Bismarck took full charge of German foreign policy from 1870 to his dismissal in 1890. His goal was a peaceful Europe, based on the balance of power. Bismarck feared that a hostile combination of Austria, France, and Russia would crush Germany. If two of them were allied, then the third would ally with Germany only if Germany conceded excessive demands. The solution was to ally with two of the three. In 1873 he formed the League of the Three Emperors, an alliance of the Kaiser of Germany, the Tsar of Russia, and the Kaiser of Austria-Hungary. Together they would control Eastern Europe, making sure that restive ethnic groups such as the Poles were kept in control. It aimed at neutralizing the rivalry between Germany’s two neighbors by an agreement over their respective spheres of influence in the Balkans and at isolating Germany’s enemy, France. The Balkans posed a more serious issue, and Bismarck's solution was to give Austria predominance in the western areas, and Russia in the eastern areas.The first League of the Three Emperors was in effect from 1873 to 1878. A second one was established June 18, 1881, and lasted for three years. It was renewed in 1884 but lapsed in 1887. Both alliances ended because of continued strong conflicts of interest between Austria-Hungary and Russia in the Balkans. The second treaty provided that no territorial changes should take place in the Balkans without prior agreement and that Austria could annex Bosnia and Herzegovina when it wished; in the event of war between one party and a great power not party to the treaty, the other two parties were to maintain friendly neutrality.

Bismarck was able temporarily to preserve the tie with Russia in the Reinsurance Treaty of 1887; but, after his dismissal, this treaty was not renewed, and a Franco-Russian alliance developed.

Lucien Millevoye

Lucien Millevoye (1 August 1850 – 25 March 1918) was a French journalist and right-wing politician, now best known for his relationship with the Irish revolutionary and muse of W.B. Yeats, Maud Gonne.

Millevoye was born in Grenoble in 1850, the grandson of the poet Charles Hubert Millevoye. He was the editor of La Patrie and a supporter of General Boulanger. He served as Boulangist member for the Amiens in the French Chamber of Deputies from 1889 to 1893. He was elected a Nationalist deputy from Paris in 1898 and 1902. In the late 1880s he went to Russia to further the cause of a Franco-Russian alliance. He claimed to be Boulanger's emissary to the Russian Emperor in St Petersburg, a claim Boulanger himself apparently denied.During the late 1880s and throughout the 1890s, following his separation from his wife Adrienne, he had a relationship with the Irish activist Maud Gonne which produced two children, Georges Silvère (1890–1891) who died of meningitis, and Iseult Lucille Germaine (1894–1954). Gonne was deeply involved in the Irish independence movement, editing the French language nationalist newspaper L'Irlande Libre in the run-up to the centennial of the 1798 Rebellion. Gonne left Millevoye in the summer of 1900 and returned to Ireland with Iseult.

From 1898 until his death in 1918 Millevoye served as the deputy for Paris, where he died on 25 March 1918.

Nikolay Girs

Nikolay de Girs or Giers (Russian: Никола́й Ка́рлович Гирс Nikolay Karlovich Girs)

(21 May [O.S. 9 May] 1820 – 26 January [O.S. 14 January] 1895) was the Russian Foreign Minister, 1882-1895, during the reign of Alexander III. He was one of the architects of the Franco-Russian Alliance, which was later transformed into the Triple Entente, He promoted an image of Russia as a peaceful partner in dealing with complex and dangerous diplomatic situations, but most of the public credit went to Tsar Alexander.

People's Radical Party

The People's Radical Party (Serbian: Народна радикална странка / Narodna radikalna stranka, НРС / NRS) was a political party in the Kingdom of Serbia and Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Yugoslavia) formed on 8 January 1881. The party was abolished after the establishment of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) in 1945.

The founding of the party was related to the circle of Serbian youth followers of Svetozar Marković and Nikola Pašić in Zurich. The leaders of this group proposed a political programme in which they called for:

change of constitution

freedom of the press and open politics

judicial independence

reform of the education system

enhanced local self-governmentThe first main assembly of the People's Radical Party was in July 1882 in Kragujevac. The Radical's programme, inspired by French Radicalism, was adopted, and Nikola Pašić was elected as the president of the central committee. The Radical Party had its own daily (Samouprava, "Self-Government"), which was critical of the ruling monarchy, demanding democracy, public liberties and liberal reforms of the bureaucratic system. The Radical leaders, mostly Swiss and French-educated (Nikola Pašić, Pera Todorović, Pera Velimirović, Jovan Đaja, Andra Nikolić, etc.) with other urban and provincial elites (Stojan Protić, Lazar Paču, Dimitrije Katić, Sava Grujić), were the first that successfully mobilized Serbian peasantry and the provincial middle classes (including teachers, peasant leaders and priests). Among others, Radicals attracted important intellectuals, diplomats and university professor, such as Milovan Milovanović, Milenko Vesnić, Mihailo Vujić, Đorđe S. Simić and Jovan M. Žujović.

In September 1883, the Timok Rebellion broke out in eastern Serbia when King Milan Obrenović declared that peasants' arms should be confiscated by the army. He charged the Radicals that with their article Disarmament of the peoples' army in Samouprava, they had encouraged the peasants to refuse to give up their weapons. The rebellion was set down in ten days. Most of the party head committee was captured in the aftermath, apart from Pašić himself and a few others, who escaped to the Principality of Bulgaria. The régime sentenced many of these Radicals to death, including those who in absentia. However, after some time, amnesty was given to certain Radicals who agreed to enter Obrenović's government in 1887.

The Radicals were instrumental in the adoption of the 1888 Serbian Constitution, which established parliamentary democracy, almost all of the political programme. Parliamentary rule was introduced, rights were guaranteed as well as the freedom of citizens and local self-government. Radicals disposed, after 1889, with almost 80 percent of popular vote. The Radicals were ardent supporters of unification of all Serb-inhabited lands in the Balkans and adopted the slogan "Balkans to the Balkan nations". In foreign policy, strongly anti-Austrian, it was mostly Russophile and Francophile, supporting the Franco-Russian Alliance and the Triple Entente.

After the compromise with the Crown in 1901, the younger group within the People's Radical Party formed a dissident faction in 1901 that in 1905, afer failed reconciliation efforts with Pašić emerged as a new political party, the Independent Radical Party, led by Ljubomir Stojanović and Ljubomir Davidović that was in power only in 1905 and 1906. After the Great War, Independent Radicals were transformed into the Republican and Democratic Party.

After the return of the Karađorđević dynasty to the throne of Serbia in 1903 (following the May Overthrow), under the newly elected king Peter I Karađorđević, a single-chamber National Assembly was introduced, and the new 1903 Constitution was slightly revised version of the 1888 Constitution, annulled by Aleksandar I Obrenović in 1894. Serbia became a parliamentary and constitutional monarchy. After the revolutionary government in 1903, the Radicals of Pašić formed several governments that began the important reforms of the nation.

The Radical governments led the Kingdom of Serbia through its Golden Age (1903-1914), as well as through the First World War. An organisation known as the Yugoslav Committee signed the Corfu Declaration in 1917 with Nikola Pašić, which called for the formation of a South Slavic state. After the war, the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs was formed from lands previously part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire by the Croatian Parliament and others. However, Prince Alexander, citing the Corfu Declaration, declared the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The Croatian Parliament voted to incorporate itself into the National Assembly of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, and it was represented by it. The representatives of the National Assembly agreed to merge with the Kingdom of Serbia.

While nominally a multiethnic state, the Kingdom's prime ministers from 1918 to 1928 were all Serbian with the People's Radical Party holding the prime ministry for eight of the years. In the National Assembly, outdated electoral rules and Yugoslav police actions against opponents of the régime favoured the Radical Party. For example, in the 1923 elections, the party received a quarter of the kingdom's vote, but census results from 1910 assigned Serbia a greater representation, and the Radical Party took just over a third of the Assembly's seats.

After Pašić's death in 1926, Aca Stanojević became the party's president. In 1929, King Alexander declared a personal rule banning the People's Radical Party and others. Certain members of the party entered into Alexander's governments, and Stanojević called for the end of the royal dictatorship and the return to parliamentary democracy and local self-government.

Pont Alexandre III

The Pont Alexandre III is a deck arch bridge that spans the Seine in Paris. It connects the Champs-Élysées quarter with those of the Invalides and Eiffel Tower. The bridge is widely regarded as the most ornate, extravagant bridge in the city. It is classified as a French Monument historique since 1975.

Pyotr Rachkovsky

Pyotr Ivanovich Rachkovsky (Russian: Пётр Иванович Рачковский; 1853–1910) was chief of Okhrana, the secret service in Imperial Russia. He was based in Paris from 1885 to 1902.

Reinsurance Treaty

The Reinsurance Treaty, in effect 1887 to 1890, was a top secret agreement between Germany and Russia. Only a handful of top officials in Berlin and St. Petersburg knew of its existence. The treaty was a critical component of Bismarck's extremely complex and ingenious network of alliances and agreements, designed to keep the peace in Europe, and to maintain Germany's economic, diplomatic, and political dominance. The treaty provided that each party would remain neutral if the other became involved in a war with a third great power, though this would not apply if Germany attacked France or if Russia attacked Austria. Germany paid for Russian friendship by agreeing to the Russian sphere of influence in Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia (now part of southern Bulgaria) and by agreeing to support Russian action to keep the Black Sea as its own preserve. When the treaty was not renewed in 1890, a Franco-Russian alliance rapidly began to take shape.

It was set up after the German-Austrian-Russian Dreikaiserbund or League of the Three Emperors, collapsed in 1887. The League collapsed because of competition between Austria-Hungary and Russia (Alexander III) for spheres of influence in the Balkans. In early 1887, a Russian diplomat went to Berlin to propose a treaty whereby Russia would be a friendly neutral in case of a war between Germany and France, and in return Germany would recognize Russian dominance in Bulgaria, and promise friendly neutrality if Russia seized the Straits from the Ottoman Empire. Bismarck was a strong supporter, but Czar Alexander rejected the plan until he was convinced by his Foreign Minister Nikolay Girs that in the absence of French friendship, was the best Russia could do. Bismarck refused Russia's request that Germany would stay neutral if Russia went to war with Austria. explaining how Berlin had an ironclad Triple Alliance with Vienna.Bismarck's long-term goal was peace in Europe, and that was threatened by the growing competition between Russia and Austria–Hungary for dominance over the Balkans, Bismarck felt that this agreement was essential to prevent a Russian alliance with France--it was always Bismarck's policy to keep France isolated diplomatically in order to avoid a two-front war with Germany fighting both France and Russia. Bismarck risked the expansion of the Russian sphere of influence toward the Mediterranean and diplomatic tensions with Vienna.

The treaty signed by Bismarck and the Russian Foreign Minister Nikolay Girs was in two parts

Germany and Russia agreed to observe benevolent neutrality, should the other be involved in a war with a third country. If Germany attacked France or Russia attacked Austria-Hungary, this provision would not apply. In those cases, the distinguished bilateral alliances could come into effect. The Reinsurance Treaty only applied when France or Austria-Hungary were the aggressors.

In the most secret completion protocol, Germany would declare neutrality in the event of a Russian intervention against the Ottoman control of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles.As part of Bismarck's system of "periphery diversion", the treaty was highly dependent on his prestige. When Bismarck was ousted from office in 1890, Russia asked for a renewal of the treaty. Germany refused. Bismarck's successor, Leo von Caprivi felt no need to mollify Russia. Germany's foreign policy establishment was unanimous in rejecting a renewal, because it contradicted so many other German positions with Austria, Britain, Romania, and Italy. For example, the Reinsurance Treaty contradicted the secret treaty of 1883 in which Germany and Austria promised to protect Romania. Russia knew nothing of that treaty. Kaiser Wilhelm II was still highly influential in foreign policy and believed his personal friendship with Tsar Alexander III would be sufficient to ensure further genial diplomatic ties. His higher priority was building better relationships with Great Britain. Anglo-Russian relations had long been strained by Russia's quest to take control of the Straits linking the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. London feared that Russian expansion to its south would threaten British colonial interests in the Middle East. France, desperate for an ally, report financial help to rebuild the Russian economy and successfully developed the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1894, ending French isolation. The dismissal of Bismarck, the erratic temper of Wilhelm II and the uncertain policy of the men who succeeded Bismarck were joint causes of a growing international instability.In 1896 Bismarck, in retirement, caused a huge sensation when he revealed the existence of the treaty to a German newspaper. He blamed his successor Count Caprivi as responsible for the non-renewal in 1890. Bismarck said the failure of the treaty made it possible for France and Russia to draw together. Historians agree that the Reinsurance Treaty itself was not of great importance, but that its failure to be renewed marked the decisive turning point of Russia's movement away from Germany and toward France, and thus was one of the multiple causes of the First World War.

Triple Entente

The Triple Entente (from French entente [ɑ̃tɑ̃t] "friendship, understanding, agreement") refers to the understanding linking the Russian Empire, the French Third Republic, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland after the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente on 31 August 1907. The understanding between the three powers, supplemented by agreements with Japan and Portugal, was a powerful counterweight to the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy.

However, Italy did not side with Germany and Austria during World War I and joined the Entente instead in the Treaty of London (1915).

Historians continue to debate the importance of the alliance system as one of the causes of World War I. At the start of World War I in 1914, all three Triple Entente members entered it as Allied Powers against the Central Powers: Germany and Austria-Hungary.However, the Triple Entente, unlike the Triple Alliance or the Franco-Russian Alliance, was not an alliance of mutual defense. Thus, Britain felt free to make its own foreign policy decisions in the 1914 July Crisis.

Wilhelminism

The Wilhelmine Period comprises the period of German history between 1890 and 1918, embracing the reign of Emperor Wilhelm II in the German Empire from the resignation of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck until the end of World War I and Wilhelm's abdication during the November Revolution. It roughly coincided with the Belle Époque era of Western Europe.

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