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two combined powers. Thus, when Germany began to build up a strong navy, there was placed upon the British Government a heavy burden, if she were to continue to "rule the waves." Besides, there was present the constant expectation and fear that Germany was preparing to contest Britain's control of the
Such a situation could be remedied only by an understanding between the two powers providing for joint limitation of naval armaments. Britain proposed such an agreement but the suggestion was flatly declined in 1911 by the German chancellor. Next year, however, negotiations were started looking to an agreement on this important point of dispute. An understanding could not be reached, owing to the unreasonable demands made by the German Government, and so the efforts to form a treaty of friendship between the two powers failed."
Great Britain's relations with the rivals of the Triple Alliance had also been characterized by friction. She had for a long time opposed Russia's ambitions in the Balkans. Russian and British interests had also clashed in Persia, Afghanistan, and China. Russia had joined France in the Dual Alliance largely on account of England's opposition to her, and Great
5 N. Y. Times, June 2, 1918; Pub. of Amer. Asso. for Conciliation, No. 127, 168–172.
Britain had Allied herself with Japan because of the fear of Russian aggression in the far East.
Great Britain and France were also still rivals at the end of the nineteenth century. Conflicting ambitions as to certain parts of Africa were the main cause of friction. In 1879 they had intervened jointly in Egypt in the interest of English and French creditors. When a rebellion broke out in 1882, France declined to aid Great Britain in its suppression. The latter was thus left in sole control of the country, though France objected to Britain's position in the province. Later (1898), the Egyptian Sudan was brought under the authority of the English Government. Britain's progress southward conflicted with the ambition of France to expand eastward from the Congo. France desired to control the whole Sudan from the western coast to the Abyssinian region in the east. In furtherance of this plan, Captain Marchand in 1898 led an expedition from the French Congo eastward and took possession of a little island, Fashoda, in the upper Nile region. As Fashoda was in territory that Great Britain had staked off for herself, its occupation by the French aroused great excitement among the English people. General Kitchener was sent south from Khartum and war seemed inevitable. Happily, France yielded and the in
cident was closed by an agreement between the two countries in 1899.
In the midst of her trouble with Great Britain, the French Government called to its foreign office in 1898 Théophile Delcassé, one of the ablest diplomats of the modern period. He at once entered upon a new and vigorous foreign policy which was calculated to relieve his country of the comparative isolation in which she had hitherto been placed. His plan was to court the friendship of Italy and Great Britain.
About this time, too, relations between England and Germany were tense because of the former's policy in Asiatic Turkey and the latter's opposition to it. For at the end of the nineteenth century the Anglo-German quarrel over the Bagdad Railway scheme was at its height. England would, therefore, naturally be favorably disposed toward a friendship with Germany's rival. Accordingly, the advances of Delcassé were kindly received by the British Government and King Edward VII used his influence in favor of an understanding between his country and France. The result of these efforts was a treaty of mutual understanding between the two countries, signed in 1904. By this treaty England was for the future to be unhampered in Egypt, France was given a free hand in Morocco, and other points at issue be
tween them were settled. All causes of friction now being removed, there gradually developed during the decade of 1904–1914 “particularly friendly relations betwen the peoples and governments of France and Great Britain."6 The mutual understanding growing out of this friendship is known as the Entente Cordiale.
In the meantime Russia had been badly defeated by Japan in the war of 1904–05. Russia's weakness was revealed to such an extent that the English people became less afraid of her. Then, too, since England had gotten control of Egypt she had ceased to be so nervous about the possibility of her road to India being blocked by Russian ambition in the Balkans. The real menace to India and Anglo-Indian communication was now thought to be the rapid growth of Teutonic power and influence in the Balkans and Mesopotamia. Besides, Great Britain had come to regard Germany as the “most powerful nation on the Continent, and her most active rival for the world's com
Her fears had also been aroused by the rapid growth of Germany's navy and merchant marine. The time was thus ripe for an understanding between Britain and Russia, and so in 1907 these two powers came to agreements settling all disputes as to their relations with Persia and Afghanistan. These agreements 6 Hayes, II, 702.
7 Stowell, 17.
“practically transformed the Entente Cordiale between France and Great Britain into the Triple Entente between Russia, France, and Great Britain." 8 It was never a formal alliance, but was a kind of “gentlemen's agreement." Japan was already in alliance with Great Britain. In 1910 she and Russia came to an understanding regarding Manchuria. So Japan had virtually ranged herself on the side of the Entente.
8 Hayes, II, 702.