The Triple Entente (from French entente "friendship, understanding, agreement") was the alliance 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 alliance of the three powers, supplemented by agreements with Portugal and Japan, constituted a powerful counterweight to the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Kingdom of Italy.
Historians continue to debate the importance of the alliance system in igniting the Great War. At the start of World War I in 1914, all three of the Triple Entente entered it as Allies against the Central Powers Germany and Austria-Hungary.
Origins[edit | edit source]
French Isolation[edit | edit source]
Russia had previously been a member of the League of the Three Emperors with Austria-Hungary and Germany, an alliance established in 1873 between Tsar Alexander II, Emperor Franz Joseph I and Kaiser Wilhelm I. The alliance was part of the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck′s plan to isolate France diplomatically; he feared France had revanchist aspirations and might try to regain her 1871 losses, and to fight against progressive sentiments the conservative rulers found unsettling, such as the First International.
However, the League faced great difficulty with the growing tensions between the Russian Empire and Austria-Hungary. These tensions revolved mainly over the Balkans where, with the rise of nationalism and the continued decline of the Ottoman Empire, many former Ottoman provinces struggled for independence.
The situation in the Balkans (especially in the wake of the Serbo-Bulgarian War) and the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, which left Russia feeling cheated of her gains made in the Russo-Turkish War led to the League not being renewed in 1887.
In an attempt to stop Russia from allying with France, Bismarck signed the secret Reinsurance Treaty with Russia in 1887, assuring both parties would remain neutral toward each other should war break out.
Due to the alliance between Russia and France, and Bismarck′s exclusion of Russia from the German financial market in 1887, the treaty was not renewed, ending the alliance between Germany and Russia.
Franco-Russian Alliance[edit | edit source]
Despite the Reinsurance Treaty, the Russian leadership was alarmed at the country′s diplomatic isolation and entered the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1894.
Entente cordiale[edit | edit source]
In 1904, Britain and France signed a series of agreements called the Entente cordiale. These agreements directly concerned colonies.
The Entente heralded the end of British neutrality in Europe. It was partly a response to growing German antagonism, as expressed in the expansion of the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy) into a battle fleet that could threaten the supremacy of the Royal Navy.