France 1870-1890
Foreign Policy
France 1914-1918
Foreign Policy
France 1890-1914
Intellectual Life

France 1890-1914 : Foreign Policy

In 1892/1894 France and Russia signed the FRANCO-RUSSIAN ENTENTE, an alliance that would last into World War I. France thus had overcome its diplomatic isolation on the European continent.
In the 1890es, France was energetically expanding her colonial holdings. In response to Cecil Rhodes's claim intending to place the area between the Cape and Cairo under British flag, the French came up with the line DAKAR TO DJIBOUTI. Both policies obviously were conflicting; in 1898 French and British troops met at Fashoda on the Nile (FASHODA CRISIS). Both troops camped within sight of each other, requesting instructions from the foreign office. The matter was solved diplomatically; the French forces under Capt. MARCHAND withdrew.
In 1894/1895, Japan had emerged victorious in the SINO-JAPANESE WAR and had gained Taiwan as well as control over Korea and Southern Manchuria. These gains greatly reduced the chances of other European powers to establish a foothold in China. France, Germany and Russia formed the EAST ASIATIC TRIPLE ENTENTE, approached the Japanese and demanded her to renounce some of her gains or else. In 1898, Russia occupied Port Arthur, the French the port of KWANGCHOUAN in southern China.

The years 1895 to 1898 saw French policy in conflict with British interests. High Imperialism now went through a stage where further expansion was only possible at the expense of another colonial power, yet it seemed that most sides were intent on further expansion. French diplomacy was aware that for France, success lay in being part of a superior alliance. Germany certainly would be the enemy in a coming conflict, so France rapproched Britain. In 1904 the ANGLO-FRENCH ENTENTE (ENTENTE CORDIALE) was signed, in which Britain accepted French claims for Morocco. Yet in the RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR of 1904/1905, France and Britain still supported opposing sides - France the Russians, the British the Japanese. The ANGLO-RUSSIAN ENTENTE of 1907 was another success of French diplomacy, as now the major alliances that would face each other in World War I, were established.
French attempts to take hold of that country were opposed by Germany in the two MOROCCO CRISES of 1906 and 1911. In the ALGECIRAS CONFERENCE (1906) the diplomatic isolation of Germany - a major success of French diplomacy - was obvious. In a 1911 treaty, Germany gave up her policy to oppose French claims over Morocco in return for the cessions of large territories by France in the Congo region.
Along the German-French border, in preparation of a major war, France had established a chain of FORTRESSES (Belfort, Verdun etc.) which, by German military strategists, was regarded so formidable that the SCHLIEFFEN PLAN was drawn up in 1905 - the concept of overpowering France by moving around these fortresses; the plan required the violation of the neutrality of either Switzerland or Belgium.
ALSACE-LORRAINE, German since 1871, continued to be a bone of contention. While the clear majority of the region was German-speaking, many felt dissatisfied with the lack of regional self-government and with Prussian militarism. Alsassian ALBERT SCHWEITZER went as a missionary to GABON, a French colony in Africa. France's claim on the Alsace was supported by a number of Alsassians.

The Fashoda Crisis (1898), from Open Door Web Site
The Fashoda Incident (1898), from Scramble for Africa
The Morocco Crisis of 1911, from Mt. Holyoke, from a 1918 publication
Timeline French Foreign Policy, Third Republic 1870-1914, from France Diplomatie
DOCUMENTS General Act of the Conference of Algeciras (1906), from Historical Text Archive, in French
Further documents on the French acquisition of Morocco 1906-1912, from Historical Text Archive
8 April, 1904 : The Entente Cordiale Between England and France, from BYU, also from the Avalon Project
German Diplomatic Documents : The Sino-Japanese War and the East Asiatic Triple Alliance, from Mt. Holyoke
18 August, 1892 : The Franco-Russian Alliance Military Convention, from BYU and from the Avalon Project
31 March, 1905 The First Moroccan Crisis, from BYU
TEXTES sur les rapports franco-russe (fin XIXe siecle), from cliotexte
REFERENCE Jean-Marie Mayeur and Madeleine Reberioux, The Third Republic from its Origins to the Great War 1871-1914, (Fr. Or. 1973, Eng. Trsl. 1984), Cambridge UP 1994, KMLA Lib. Call Sign 944.081 M468t
Paul Kennedy, The Position of the Powers, 1885-1918 : France, pp.219-224 in : Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, NY : Vintage (1987) 1989
Article : France, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1913 pp.991-1005 (on events of 1912) [G]
Article : France, in : Statesman's Year Book 1895 pp.467-505, 1898 pp.465-504, 1901 pp.533-580, 1905 pp.589-637, 1910 pp.742-781 [G]
Article : France, in : Appleton's Annual Cyclopedia and Register of Important Events 1902 pp.253-268 [G]
Article : France, in : International Year Book 1899 pp.331-345, 1900 pp.356-366 [G]
Article : France, in : New International Year Book 1907 pp.280-284, 1908 pp.256-264, 1909 pp.254-264, 1913 pp.259-267 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on March 30th 2007

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