THE ALLIANCE SYSTEMS The Road to War in Europe, 1870 - 1907 The Franco-Prussian War • 1870. After two wars against Denmark and Austria, all of N. Germany is united, with Prussia as the dominant nation. But Prussia wants Entire German Unification. Bismarck, chancellor of Prussia, knows that Napoleon III of France will oppose the unification of all German states. So Bismarck has to humiliate or defeat France before completing unification… • He provokes France (telegraph) into declaring war on Prussia and then defeats her at the Battle of Sedan. The Prussian troops are better organised, equipped and more numerous. Napoleon III is captured. Total defeat for France. • Forced abdication of Napoleon III, 5,000,000,000 franc fine for France, German army of occupation, proclamation of new German Empire at Versailles, and loss of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany. France is humiliated. All of France wants revenge (“Revanche!”) Alliance Systems France Humiliated and weakened, but desperate for revenge on Germany. Germany Suddenly the most powerful state in Europe. Industrial and military power. Other countries are worried, especially GB. Bismarck’s policy In order to isolate France, because he was worried about ‘revanche’, Bismarck created the DreiKaiserBund, an alliance between the emperors of Austria, Russia and Germany. By doing this, he hoped he would be isolating his main enemy, France, but also reassuring the other countries in Europe of his peaceful intentions and avoiding his worse fear: a war on two fronts (against Russia and France). Alliance Systems France Isolated, no allies. Germany Still most powerful state, Bismarck was satisfied by status quo Austria Strongly allied to Germany by culture and language Russia Her army was considered the most powerful in Europe, but she was more concerned with domestic reforms than foreign policy. The Balkans to Berlin • • • • 1878, Russia declares war on the Ottoman Empire (the sick old man of Europe) to defend fellow Slav people in the Balkans. Russia wins, and creates ‘Big Bulgaria’ at the Treaty of San Stephano, a large independent Balkan state over which she would have much influence. However, Austria too has an interest in the Balkans, notably in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and so conflict looms between the two allies… In order to preserve the peace between his two vital friends, Bismarck steps in (‘honest broker’), and holds the Congress of Berlin, at which he divides Bulgaria into three: a third is given back to Turkey, the middle third becomes independent Rumania and the last section goes to Russia. Austria gets to keep control over Bosnia-Herzegovina, although doesn’t directly own it. The Russians feel cheated by this treaty, and relations between the Tsar and the other two Emperors cool. Germany and Austria sign the Dual Alliance to strengthen their cooperation and prepare for an eventual war with Russia. Reinsurance treaty To make up for the decision at Berlin, Bismarck signed the second DreiKaiserBund (1879) and then the Reinsurance treaty with Russia (1887). This agreement guaranteed that Russia would not become allied with France in any way, leaving Bismarck satisfied that he would not be faced with a war on two fronts. Bismarck also signed the Mediterranean treaties with GB, Austria and Italy which again were aimed at the isolation of France. Despite the mistake of Berlin, it seemed Bismarck was back in control of European affairs. The Dual Alliance was extended to the Triple Alliance with the inclusion of Italy in 1882. Alliance Systems France Still alone on the continent, still bent on revenge. Germany Worried about Russia’s reaction after Berlin. Strong allies with Austria. Austria Strong allies with Germany. Italy Newest member of Alliance, a young country with a small army and little political weight. Russia Very frustrated by the treaty of Berlin, but kept in alliance by reinsurance treaty. Dropping the Pilot - In 1888, William II became Kaiser of Germany. He was an ambitious and military man, who wanted an empire for Germany and was very happy to fight for it. - In 1890 Bismarck was fired, and this meant that the reinsurance treaty was not updated (it had to be resigned every three years). Russia was also cautious of William II’s aggressive foreign policy, and therefore drifted away from the two members of the Dual Alliance. - A state visit to Russia by the French President in 1892 quickly secured a military agreement between the two countries, which then evolved into a full alliance, the Dual Entente, in 1894. Alliance Systems France No longer in isolation, France now has a powerful ally in Russia, and can threaten Germany with a war on two fronts. Germany She has lost her eastern ally at a great cost: she must now fight on two fronts in the event of a war. The effects of William II’s policy are starting to be felt. Austria Russia Her erstwhile allies are now her enemies, and indeed there is much reason for conflict, notably in the Balkans. France is her new ally, and the bond will stay strong. The Dual Entente Still united with Germany, Austria is possibly the weakest of the Great Powers of Europe. She has to deal with many internal difficulties (uprisings…) because she is composed of so many nationalities. Italy The Triple Alliance Britain joins in • Since 1815, Britain had been in ‘glorious isolation’, pre-occupied by her Empire and not by the state of affairs in Europe, her fleet in complete control of the high seas. However, following Germany’s support for the Boers in South Africa (1889-1902) and William’s expansionist attitude of ‘Weltpolitik’ in Africa (the ‘Scramble for Africa’ had opposed several European states), Britain felt she needed an ally in Europe. In 1904 she signed the Entente Cordiale with France, and following this the Triple Entente was agreed between the members of the two ‘Ententes’: GB, Russia and France. This alliance would become gradually stronger as Germany’s aggressive policies continued in Africa and Europe, notably the Moroccan crises and the naval arms race. The Alliance Systems The Triple Entente France The Triple Alliance Germany Russia Austria Great Britain Italy France was driven by a desperate desire for revenge, Britain was increasingly enraged by ‘Weltpolitik’ and especially by the German naval laws and Russia was still frustrated by Berlin and wanted to help the Slavs of the Balkans to increase here authority there. Germany and Austria were tied by a common heritage and culture. Germany was driven by an emperor who couldn’t get enough land for his country, Austria relied on Germany’s power and support, and Italy wanted more land and influence for herself, although she would change sides in 1915. These alliances would now last until the outbreak of war in August 1914.