The Triple Alliance as opposed to the Triple Entente in 1914
|Historical era||Belle Époque|
• Dual Alliance
|7 October 1879|
• Triple Alliance
(Germany /Austria-Hungary /Italy)
|20 May 1882|
• Italy leaves
|3 May 1915|
|Events leading to World War I|
The Triple Alliance was an agreement between Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. It was formed on 20 May 1882and renewed periodically until it expired in 1915 during World War I. Germany and Austria-Hungary had been closely allied since 1879. Italy was looking for support against France shortly after it lost North African ambitions to the French. Each member promised mutual support in the event of an attack by any other great power. The treaty provided that Germany and Austria-Hungary were to assist Italy if it was attacked by France without provocation. In turn, Italy would assist Germany if attacked by France. In the event of a war between Austria-Hungary and Russia, Italy promised to remain neutral. The existence and membership of the treaty were well known, but its exact provisions were kept secret until 1919.
When the treaty was renewed in February 1887, Italy gained an empty promise of German support of Italian colonial ambitions in North Africa in return for Italy's continued friendship. Austria-Hungary had to be pressured by German chancellor Otto von Bismarck into accepting the principles of consultation and mutual agreement with Italy on any territorial changes initiated in the Balkans or on the coasts and islands of the Adriatic and Aegean seas. Italy and Austria-Hungary did not overcome their basic conflict of interest in that region despite the treaty. In 1891 attempts were made to join Britain to the Triplice, which, though unsuccessful, were widely believed to have succeeded in Russian diplomatic circles.
Shortly after renewing the Alliance in June 1902, Italy secretly extended a similar guarantee to France.By a particular agreement, neither Austria-Hungary nor Italy would change the status quo in the Balkans without previous consultation. On 18 October 1883 Carol I of Romania, through his Prime Minister Ion C. Brătianu, had also secretly pledged to support the Triple Alliance, but he remained neutral since Austria-Hungary started the war. On 1 November 1902, five months after the Triple Alliance was renewed, Italy reached an understanding with France that each would remain neutral in the event of an attack on the other.
When Austria-Hungary found itself at war in August 1914 with the rival Triple Entente, Italy proclaimed its neutrality, considering Austria-Hungary the aggressor and defaulting on the obligation to consult and agree compensations before changing the status quo in the Balkans, as agreed in 1912 renewal of the Triple Alliance.Following parallel negotiation with both Triple Alliance, aimed to keep Italy neutral, and the Triple Entente, aimed to make Italy enter the conflict, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary.
The man chiefly responsible for the Triple Alliance was Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of Germany.
By the late 1870s, Austrian territorial ambitions in both the Italian peninsula and Central Europe had been thwarted by the rise of Italy and Germany as new national powers. With the decline and failed reforms of the Ottoman Empire, Slavic discontent in the occupied Balkans grew, and both Russia and Austria-Hungary saw an opportunity to expand in this region. In 1876, Russia offered to partition the Balkans, but Hungarian statesman Gyula Andrássy declined because Austria-Hungary was already a "saturated" state and it could not cope with additional territories. [ citation needed ]The whole Empire was thus drawn into a new style of diplomatic brinkmanship, first conceived of by Andrássy, centring on the province of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a predominantly Slav area still under the control of the Ottoman Empire.
On the heels of the Great Balkan Crisis, Austro-Hungarian forces occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina in August 1878 and the empire eventually annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina in October 1908 as a common holding under the control of the finance ministry, rather than attaching it to either Austria or Hungary. The occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina was a step taken in response to Russian advances into Bessarabia. Unable to mediate between Turkey and Russia over the control of Serbia, Austria–Hungary declared neutrality when the conflict between the two powers escalated into the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878).To counter Russian and French interests in Europe, an alliance was concluded with Germany in October 1879 and with Italy in May 1882.
The Kingdom of Italy, like some of the other European powers, wanted to set up colonies and build up an overseas empire. With this aim in mind, Italy joined the German–Austrian Alliance to form the Triple Alliance, partly in anger at the French seizure of Tunisia in 1881 (the so-called Schiaffo di Tunisi by Italian press), which many Italians had seen as a potential colony, and partly to guarantee herself support in case of foreign aggression: the main alliance compelled any signatory country to support the other parties if two other countries attacked. At the time, most European countries tried to ensure similar guarantees, and because of the Tunisian crisis, Italy found no other big potential ally than its historical enemy, Austria-Hungary, against which Italy had fought three wars in the 34 years before the first treaty signing.
However, Italian public opinion remained unenthusiastic about their country's alignment with Austria-Hungary, a past enemy of Italian unification, and whose Italian populated districts in the Trentino and Istria were seen as occupied territories by Italian irredentists. In the years before World War I, many distinguished military analysts predicted that Italy would attack its supposed ally in the event of a large scale conflict. Italy's adherence to the Triple Alliance was doubted and from 1903 plans for a possible war against Rome were again maintained by the Austrian general staff.Mutual suspicions led to reinforcement of the frontier and speculation in the press about a war between the two countries into the first decade of the twentieth century. As late as 1911 Count Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, chief of the Austro-Hungarian General Staff, was advocating a military preemptive strike against Austria's supposed Italian ally. This prediction was strengthened by Italy's invasion and annexation of Libya, bringing it into conflict with the German-backed Ottoman Empire.
King Carol I of Romania was of German ancestry. That, coupled with his wish to turn Romania into a centre of stability in South-Eastern Europe (as well as his fear of Russian expansion and their competing claims on Bessarabia), led to Romania secretly joining the Triple Alliance on 18 October 1883. Only the King and a handful of senior Romanian politicians knew about it. Romania and Austria-Hungary pledged to help each other in the event of a Russian, Serbian, or Bulgarian attack. There were, however, several disputes between the two countries, the most notable being the policy of Magyarization of Transylvania's Romanian population. Romania did eventually manage to achieve the status of Regional Power in the aftermath of the Balkan Wars and the 1913 Treaty of Bucharest, but less than a year later, World War I started and Romania, after a period of neutrality, in which both the Central Powers and the Allies tried persuading Romania to join their respective sides, eventually joined the Allies in 1916, after being promised Romanian-inhabited Austro-Hungarian lands. Romania's official reason for not siding with the Triple Alliance when the war started was the same as Italy's: the Triple Alliance was a defensive alliance, but Germany and Austria-Hungary had taken the offensive.
The Balkan Wars consisted of two conflicts that took place in the Balkan Peninsula in 1912 and 1913. Four Balkan states defeated the Ottoman Empire in the first war. In the Second Balkan War, Bulgaria fought against all four original combatants of the first war along with facing a surprise attack from Romania from the north. The conflicts ended catastrophically for the Ottoman Empire, which lost the bulk of its territory in Europe. Austria-Hungary, although not a combatant, became relatively weaker as a much enlarged Serbia pushed for union of the South Slavic peoples. The war set the stage for the Balkan crisis of 1914 and thus served as a "prelude to the First World War".
The Central Powers, also Central Empires, consisting of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria - hence also known as the Quadruple Alliance —was one of the two main coalitions that fought World War I (1914–18).
The Dual Alliance was a defensive alliance between Germany and Austria-Hungary, which was created by treaty on October 7th, 1879 as part of Germany's Otto von Bismarck's system of alliances to prevent or limit war. The two powers promised each other support in case of attack by Russia. Also, each state promised benevolent neutrality to the other if one of them was attacked by another European power. Bismarck saw the alliance as a way to prevent the isolation of the German Empire, which had just been founded a few years before, and to preserve peace, as Russia would not wage war against both empires.
The League of Balkans was a quadruple alliance formed by a series of bilateral treaties concluded in 1912 between the Eastern Orthodox kingdoms of Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro, and directed against the Ottoman Empire, which at the time still controlled much of Southeastern Europe.
The Triple Entente describes the informal understanding between the Russian Empire, the French Third Republic, and Great Britain. It built upon the Franco-Russian Alliance of 1894, the Entente Cordiale of 1904 between Paris and London, and the Anglo-Russian Entente of 1907. It formed a powerful counterweight to the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. The Triple Entente, unlike the Triple Alliance or the Franco-Russian Alliance itself, was not an alliance of mutual defense.
The Congress of Berlin was a meeting of the representatives of the era's six great powers in Europe, the Ottoman Empire and four Balkan states. It aimed at determining the territories of the states in the Balkan Peninsula after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78 and came to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Berlin, which replaced the preliminary Treaty of San Stefano, which had been signed three months earlier between Russia and the Ottoman Empire.
The League of the Three Emperors or Union of the Three Emperors was an alliance between the German, Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires, from 1873 to 1880. Chancellor Otto von Bismarck took full charge of German foreign policy from 1870 to his dismissal in 1890. His goal was a peaceful Europe, based on the balance of power. Bismarck feared that a hostile combination of Austria, France, and Russia would crush Germany. If two of them were allied, then the third would ally with Germany only if Germany conceded excessive demands. The solution was to ally with two of the three. In 1873 he formed the League of the Three Emperors, an alliance of the Kaiser of Germany, the Tsar of Russia, and the Kaiser of Austria-Hungary. Together they would control Eastern Europe, making sure that restive ethnic groups such as the Poles were kept in control. It aimed at neutralizing the rivalry between Germany’s two neighbors by an agreement over their respective spheres of influence in the Balkans and at isolating Germany’s enemy, France. The Balkans posed a more serious issue, and Bismarck's solution was to give Austria predominance in the western areas, and Russia in the eastern areas.
The Treaty of London, or, less correctly, the Pact of London, was a secret treaty between the Triple Entente and the Kingdom of Italy that was signed in London on 26 April 1915 by the United Kingdom, the French Republic, the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Italy. Its intent was to have Italy break away from its 33-year-old Triple Alliance with the German Empire and Austria-Hungary, both the main Central Powers in the war, and to switch its allegiance to the Triple Entente, the main Allies in the war. The main lure for Italy was a promise of large amounts of Austria-Hungary to the north of Italy and to the east across the Adriatic and the promise of funding by Britain. Italy, which had remained neutral for the first nine months of the war, promised to enter the war within a month.
In diplomatic history, the "Eastern Question" refers to the strategic competition and political considerations of the European Great Powers in light of the political and economic instability in the Ottoman Empire from the late 18th to early 20th centuries. Characterized as the "sick man of Europe", the relative weakening of the empire's military strength in the second half of the eighteenth century threatened to undermine the fragile balance of power system largely shaped by the Concert of Europe. The Eastern Question encompassed myriad interrelated elements: Ottoman military defeats, Ottoman institutional insolvency, the ongoing Ottoman political and economic modernization programme, the rise of ethno-religious nationalism in its provinces, and Great Power rivalries.
The Reinsurance Treaty, in effect from 1887 to 1890, was a top-secret diplomatic agreement between Germany and Russia. Only a handful of top officials in Berlin and St. Petersburg knew of its existence. The treaty played a critical role in Bismarck's extremely complex and ingenious network of alliances and agreements which aimed to keep the peace in Europe and to maintain Germany's economic, diplomatic, and political dominance. The treaty provided that each party would remain neutral if the other became involved in a war with a third great power, though this would not apply if Germany attacked France or if Russia attacked Austria. Germany paid for Russian friendship by agreeing to the Russian sphere of influence in Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia and by agreeing to support Russian action to keep the Black Sea as its own preserve. When Germany declined to renew the treaty in 1890, the Franco-Russian Alliance of 1891/1892 to 1917 rapidly began to take shape.
The causes of World War I remain controversial. World War I began in the Balkans in late July 1914 and ended in November 1918, leaving 17 million dead and 20 million wounded.
The Bosnian Crisis of 1908–09, also known as the Annexation crisis or the First Balkan Crisis, erupted in early October 1908 when Austria-Hungary announced the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, territories formerly within the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire. This unilateral action—timed to coincide with Bulgaria's declaration of independence from the Ottoman Empire—sparked protestations from all the Great Powers and Austria-Hungary's Balkan neighbours, Serbia and Montenegro. In April 1909 the Treaty of Berlin was amended to reflect the fait accompli and bring the crisis to an end. The crisis permanently damaged relations between Austria-Hungary and the neighboring states of Italy, Serbia, and Russia, and in the long term helped lay the grounds for World War I. Although the crisis ended with what appeared to be a total Austro-Hungarian diplomatic victory, Russia became determined not to back down again and hastened its military build-up. The Crisis also cooled down Austrian–Serbian relations, which continued to be strained until 1914.
The Allies of World War I or Entente Powers were the coalition that opposed the Central Powers of Germany, Austria–Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria during the First World War (1914–1918).
The Kingdom of Bulgaria participated in World War I on the side of the Central Powers from 14 October 1915, when the country declared war on Serbia, until 30 September 1918, when the Armistice of Thessalonica came into effect.
The Bulgarian Crisis refers to a series of events in the Balkans between 1885 and 1888 which impacted on the balance of power between the Great Powers and conflict between the Austro-Hungarians and the Russians. It was an episode in the continuing Balkan Crisis as vassal states struggled for independence from the Ottoman Empire but achieved a mosaic of nascent nation states (Balkanisation) and featured unstable alliances that frequently led to war, and eventually to the First World War.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to World War I:
As the French ambassador to Germany from 1907 to 1914, Jules Cambon worked hard to secure a friendly détente. He was frustrated by French leaders such as Raymond Poincaré, who decided Berlin was trying to weaken the Triple Entente of France, Russia and Britain, and was not sincere in seeking peace. The French consensus was that war was inevitable.
When World War I broke out in August 1914, Italy declared neutrality. Although nominally allied with the German Empire and the Empire of Austria-Hungary in the Triple Alliance, the Kingdom of Italy did not join the Central Powers; in fact, Germany and Austria–Hungary had taken the offensive while the Triple Alliance was supposed to be a defensive alliance. Moreover, the Triple Alliance recognized that both Italy and Austria-Hungary were interested in the Balkans and required both to consult each other before changing the status quo and to provide compensation for whatever advantage in that area: Austria-Hungary did consult Germany but not Italy before issuing the ultimatum to Serbia, and refused any compensation before the end of the war. The Allies made a counter-offer in which Italy would receive a slice of Austria and a slice of the Ottoman Empire after the defeat of Austria-Hungary. This was formalised by the Treaty of London. In 1915, Italy entered the war joining the Triple Entente.
The foreign policy of Romania in the years preceding the outbreak of World War I was characterized by the nation's need to contend with the rise and shifting rivalries of the Great Powers of the pre-war era. Its primary objectives were to maintain its territorial integrity and maintain friendly relations with neighboring nations. This culminated in Romania secretly joining the Triple Alliance in 1883. However, the nation would later reverse course, declaring neutrality for the first two years of the war before entering on the side of the Triple Entente in 1916.