The Triple Entente was an alliance that linked France, Russia, and Britain just after signing of Anglo-Russian Entente on August 31st, 1907. This alliance of three powers was supplemented by some agreements with Japan and Portugal and constituted a very powerful counterweight to the Triple Alliance of Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Italy. At the beginning of the First World War in 1914, all three members joined the treaty as Allies against Austria-Hungary and Germany.
Origins of the Triple Entente
Previously, Russia had been member of the League of the Three Emperors with Germany and Austria-Hungary. This alliance was established in 1873 between Kaiser Wilhelm I, Tsar Alexander II, and Franz Joseph I as a part of Otto Von Bismarck’s plot to diplomatically isolate France.
The German chancellor feared France might attempt to regain its 1871 losses. After a while, the league faced several challenges with the rising tensions between Austria-Hungarian and Russian Empire. The tensions were mostly over the Balkans. With the rising nationalism and the decline of the Ottoman Empire, most Ottoman provinces really struggled for independence.
The Treaty of Berlin
The Treaty of Berlin, signed in 1878, along with the situation in the Balkans left Russia feeling quite cheated of her own gains made during the Russo-Turkish War. This led to League of the Three Emperors never being renewed in 1887. In efforts to stop the Russian government from being allies with France, Bismarck decided to enter into a treaty with Russia.
The treaty assured both parties that they would all remain neutral towards each other in case a war broke out. However, the alliance between France and Russia and Bismarck’s exclusion from the German financial market led to the treaty not being renewed. This ended the alliance of Germany and Russia.
Agreements are Signed
In 1904, France and the United Kingdom signed several agreements referred to as the Entente Cordiale. The agreements directly concerned colonies and also terminated British neutrality towards Europe. In 1907, Russia and the United Kingdom signed an agreement that stopped their great rivalry in Central part of Asia.
Triple Entente: Great Britain
During the early 19th century, Britain adopted a policy called “splendid isolation” with its main focus being a massive overseas empire. By early 1900s, the European theatre started to dramatically change. For the better part of the 19th century, the United Kingdom regarded Russia and France as its two most dangerous rivals. However, Britain started to change after threats of German imperialism.
Triple Entente: France
Between 1870 and 1871, during the Franco-Prussian War, Prussia defeated the 2nd French Empire. This resulted in the forming of the 3rd French Republic. In the Treaty of Frankfurt, France was forced by Prussia to cede Alsace Lorraine to new German Empire. From that time forward, the relations have always been dismal.
The rising military development in Germany worried France. Therefore, France started building up its war industries and also developed a bond with the Russian government by joining the Franco-Russian Alliance.
Triple Entente: Russia
Of all the six European powers, Russia possessed the biggest manpower reserves. However, it was also most backward economically. After Germans began to reorganize the Turkish army, Russia felt they would control the Dardanelles, a very important part of Russia’s exports.
Russia had also lost the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. To counter her enemies both politically and militarily, Russia decided to revive the Franco-Russian Alliance. Therefore, Russia signed the Anglo-Russian Convention with Britain in order to counteract the threat of a Triple Alliance.