** World War I: alliance system Anglo-French Entente Cordiale

World War I Alliance Systems: Anglo-French Entente Cordial (1843-1904)

Figure 1.-- This wonderful Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805–73)paintiung depicts Queen Victoria and Prince Albert with King Louis Philippe of France. We believe that at least one of the younger men are Louis-Philippe's older sons. We are not sure who the grey-haired gentlemen is. The portrait was set at the Chaeaude de Eu in Normandy. Victoria and Albert never went to Paris. The King's family is at the left. The older French woman is Queen Maria Amalia Teresa of Naples and Sicily. Victoria and her family is at the right. Tunics were the main style for boys above the toddler age. The boy in the red tunic would be Bertie, future Edward VII (b. 1841), but we do not see Princes Royal Victoria (b. 1840). Victoria and Bertie were close in age. The yonger woman is a nurse maid. The older Engkish woman is presumably Victitria's mother, the Duchess of Kent. We fo not know who the teenage girl is. These meetings of Victiria and Louis-Philippe laid the foundation for the Entente Cordial.

Britain and France had been at each other's throats for centuries--actually nearly a millenium. The English nation had begun to form shorly before the Norman invasion (1066). The fact that William the Conueror had lands in France (Normandy) and eventually Aquataine was acquired created coindlicts with the French maoibary a conflict that would last almost all of the second millenium through variius monarchial, imperial, and republican regimes. Franrace and Engkand/Britain fought inumeral wars, including the Hundred Years War (1337–1453), the wars of Louis XIV, the Seven Years War (1756–1763), the French Revolutiion Wars, and the Napolionic Wars (1800-15). Often the German states in these warswere allies. In between these wars were smaller wars and a range of conflicts not resulting in declared wars, such as the American Revolution (1776-83). Both countries meddled in each other's internal affairs and supported insurrections. The Stuarts even signed secret treaties with France to help quell Parlimenatry opposition. For a short period Spain became the major threat--the Spanish Armada (1588). But for most of the second milllenium, France was England's primary threat. Fortunately for England, France thanks primarily to geography had more enemies -- not just England. This only began to change in the mid-19th century under the reign of Queen Victoria. One of the great achievements of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert was to avoid major wars. During her long reign (1837–1901), the only major war was the Crimean War (1853-56). And another major achievenent with profond consequences for the 20th century was a gradual raporchment with both France and the United States. The raprochment with France became known as the Entente Cordial. There was at first no actual treaty, only verbal understandings. The British and French Government led by Primeminister Robert Peel and French Foreign Minister François Guizot promoted the idea. There were a series of symbolic meetings between Queen Victorua and King Louis-Philippe (1843-45). Serious incidents marred the developing alliance, primarily colonial issues. The Fashoda ukoda incident was especially dangerous (1898) Curiously the British also git into a serioys incident with the United States over Vennezuela in the same year. The power of the Royal Nsby has a sobering influence in France on these colonial cinfrintations. The overarching sweep of the relationhop was improving relations. Britain and France even joined to fight the Russians in the Crimean War--a rare war in which the two were allies. Even at the turn of the 20th century, their were major colonial issues. Fear of rising and increaingly beligerant Germany, however, drove the two togther. The French learned in the Franco-Prudssdianb ar not vyo fight the Germans alone (1870-71) The Brritish were more stand offish. The two countrues finally finalized the the Entente Cordiale (1904). The treaty was, however, loosly worded. It placed a 'moral obligation' upon Britain to defend France, but did not require that Britain declare war if France was attacked or to commit land forces. Kaiser Wilhelm II's incredibly illconceived bombastic behavior and decission to build a major high seas fleet were major factors in pushing Britain and France together.


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Created: 7:37 PM 7/6/2021
Last updated: 7:37 PM 7/6/2021