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
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
World War I in 1914,
Triple Entente members entered it as Allies 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
1.1 Franco-Russian Alliance
1.2 Entente cordiale
1.3 Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907
5 See also
Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck planned to isolate France diplomatically; he feared
that France's revanchist aspirations might make it attempt to regain
its losses suffered in 1871 after the Franco-Prussian War. The
alliance also served to fight against progressive sentiments, which
the conservative rulers found unsettling, such as the First
However, the League faced great difficulty with the growing tensions
between Russia and Austria-Hungary, mainly over the Balkans, where the
rise of nationalism and the continued decline of the Ottoman Empire
made many former Ottoman provinces struggle for independence.
The situation in the Balkans, especially in the wake of the
Serbo-Bulgarian War and the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, which made Russia
feel cheated of its gains made in the Russo-Turkish War, prevented the
League from being renewed in 1887.
In an attempt to stop Russia from allying with France, Bismarck signed
Reinsurance Treaty with Russia in 1887. The treaty assured
that both parties would remain neutral if war broke out.
The alliance between Russia and France and Bismarck′s exclusion of
Russia from the German financial market in 1887 prevented the treaty
from being renewed in 1890. That ended the alliance between Germany
Reinsurance Treaty was not renewed in 1890, Russian
leaders grew alarmed at the country's diplomatic isolation and joined
Franco-Russian Alliance in 1894.
In 1904, Britain and France signed a series of agreements, the Entente
cordiale, mostly in solving colonial disputes.
That heralded the end of British splendid isolation and was partly a
response to growing German antagonism, as expressed in the expansion
Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy) to become a battle fleet
that could threaten the supremacy of the British Royal Navy.
The Entente, unlike the Triple Alliance and the Franco-Russian
Alliance, was not an alliance of mutual defence and so Britain was
free to make its own foreign policy decisions in 1914. As British
Foreign Office Official
Eyre Crowe minuted, "The fundamental fact of
course is that the Entente is not an alliance. For purposes of
ultimate emergencies it may be found to have no substance at all. For
the Entente is nothing more than a frame of mind, a view of general
policy which is shared by the governments of two countries, but which
may be, or become, so vague as to lose all content".
Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907
In 1907, Britain and Russia signed the Anglo-Russian Convention of
1907 to end their rivalry in Central Asia, nicknamed The Great Game.
In the last decade of the nineteenth century, Britain continued its
policy of "splendid isolation", with its primary focus on defending
its massive overseas empire. However, by the early 1900s, the German
threat had increased dramatically, and in Britain thought it was in
need of allies. For most of the 19th century, Britain had regarded
France and Russia as its two most dangerous rivals, but with the
growing threat of Germany, policy began to change for several reasons:
France and Britain had signed five separate agreements regarding
spheres of influence in
North Africa in 1904, the Entente cordiale.
Tangier Crisis later encouraged co-operation between the two
countries from their mutual fear of apparent German expansionism.
Russia was defeated in the Russo-Japanese War, which resulted in less
concern over Russian imperialism and encouraged Russia to secure its
position elsewhere. France was already allied to Russia in the Dual
Britain was frightened about the rising threat of German imperialism.
Kaiser Wilhelm II had announced to the world his intentions to create
a global German empire and to develop a strong navy. Britain,
traditionally having control of the seas, saw that a serious threat to
its own empire and navy.
In 1907, the
Anglo-Russian Entente was agreed, which attempted to
resolve a series of long-running disputes over Persia,
Tibet and helped to address British fears about the Baghdad Railway,
which would help German expansion in the Near East.
Main article: French Third Republic
Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871, Prussia defeated the
Second French Empire, resulting in the establishment of the Third
Republic. In the Treaty of Frankfurt, Prussia forced France to cede
Alsace-Lorraine to the new German Empire. Ever since, relations had
France, worried about the escalating military development of Germany,
began building up its own war industries and army to deter to German
aggression. Also, France developed a strong bond with Russia by
ratifying the Franco-Russian Alliance, which was designed to create a
strong counter to the Triple Alliance. France′s main concerns were
to protect against an attack from Germany and to regain
A 1914 Russian poster in which the upper inscription reads
"agreement". The uncertain
Britannia (right) and
Marianne (left) look
to the determined
Mother Russia (centre) to lead them in the coming
Main article: Russian Empire
Russia had by far the largest manpower reserves of all the six
European powers, but it was also the most backward economically.
Russia shared France′s worries about Germany. After the Germans
started to reorganise the Ottoman army, Russia feared that they would
come to control the Dardanelles, a vital trade artery that carried two
fifths of Russia's exports.
There was also Russia's long history of rivalry with Austria-Hungary.
Austria-Hungary had recently annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina, greatly
angering Russia, which had considered itself the leader of the Slavic
world (Pan-Slavism). Russia viewed the invasion as another step
Serbia and Montenegro.
Russia had also recently lost the humiliating Russo-Japanese War, a
cause of the
Russian Revolution of 1905
Russian Revolution of 1905 and the apparent
transformation into a constitutional monarchy. To counter its enemies
militarily and politically, Russia sought to revive the Franco-Russian
Although it was perceived as useless during the war with Japan, the
alliance was valuable in the European theatre. Russia also signed the
Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907
Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 with Britain to counteract the threat
of the Triple Alliance.
The alignment of the autocratic
Russian Empire with Europe's two
largest democracies was controversial on both sides. Many Russian
conservatives mistrusted the secular France and recalled British past
diplomatic maneuvers to block Russian influence in the Near East. In
turn, prominent French and British journalists, academics and
parliamentarians found the reactionary tsarist regime distasteful.
Mistrust persisted even during wartime, with British and French
politicians expressing relief when Tsar
Nicholas II abdicated and was
replaced by the
Russian Provisional Government
Russian Provisional Government after the February
Revolution in 1917. An offer of political asylum for the Romanovs was
even withdrawn by the British king for fear popular reaction.
Also, France never brought up the subject of asylum with the deposed
World War I
World War I portal
Allies of World War I
Central Powers (allies of Germany in World War I)
^ Robert Gildea, Barricades and Borders: Europe 1800-1914 (3rd ed.
2003) ch 15
^ Feuchtwanger 2002, p. 216.
^ Gildea 2003, p. 237.
^ Henig 2002, p.3.
^ Holborn 1982, p. 247.
^ Holborn 1982, p. 249.
^ a b Holborn 1982, pp. 304-305.
^ Reinsurance Treaty
^ Hamilton, K.A. (1977). "Great Britain and France, 1911–1914". In
Hinsley, F.H. British Foreign Policy Under Sir Edward Grey. Cambridge
University Press. p. 324. ISBN 978-0-521-21347-9.
^ Fiona K. Tomaszewski, A Great Russia: Russia and the Triple Entente,
1905 to 1914 (2002)
^ Gareth Russell (2014). The Emperors: How Europe's Rulers Were
Destroyed by the First World War. Amberley. pp. 164–65.
Albrecht-Carrié, René. A Diplomatic History of Europe Since the
Congress of Vienna (1958)
Andrew, Christopher. Théophile Délcassé and the Making of the
Entente Cordiale, 1898–1905 (1968).
Clark, Christopher. The Sleepwalkers: How Europe went to war in 1914
(2012), pp. 124–35, 190-96, 293-313, 438-42, 498-505.
Fay, Sidney Bradshaw. The Origins of the World War (2nd ed. 1934) vol
1 pp 105–24, 312-42, vol 2 pp 277–86, 443-46
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
Henig, Ruth Beatrice (2002). The origins of the First World War
(Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26185-6)
Hughes, Michael. Diplomacy before the Russian Revolution: Britain,
Russia, and the Old Diplomacy, 1894–1917 (, 2000).
Kennan, George F. The decline of Bismarck's European order:
Franco-Russian relations, 1875-1890 (1979).
Kennan, George F. The fateful alliance: France, Russia, and the coming
of the First World War (Manchester UP, 1984).
Langer, William F. The Franco-Russian Alliance, 1890-1894 (1930)
Langer, William F. Ther Diplomacy of Imperialism: 1890-1902 (1950) pp
Neilson, Keith. Britain and the Last Tsar: British Policy and Russia,
1894–1917 (Oxford, 1995).
Schmitt, Bernadotte. Triple Alliance and
Triple Entente (1971)
Sontag, Raymond. European Diplomatic History: 1871-1932 (1933), basic
Taylor, A.J.P. The Struggle for Mastery in Europe 1848–1918 (1954)
Tomaszewski, Fiona. "Pomp, Circumstance, and Realpolitik: The
Evolution of the
Triple Entente of Russia, Great Britain, and France."
Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas vol. 3 (1999): 362-380. in
JSTOR, in English
Tomaszewski, Fiona K. A Great Russia: Russia and the Triple Entente,
1905-1914 (Greenwood, 2002); also excerpt and text search
Diplomacy of the Great Powers 1871–1913
Scramble for Africa
The Great Game
The Great Rapprochement
Treaty of Frankfurt
League of the Three Emperors
Treaty of Berlin
Treaty of Paris
Treaty of Björkö
Japan–Korea Treaty of 1905
Japan–Korea Annexation Treaty
Congress of Berlin
German Naval Laws
Anglo-German naval arms race
Annexation of Hawaii
First Moroccan Crisis