Entente

Entente was the diplomatic "understanding" by which the United Kingdom settled its outstanding antagonisms with France and Russia in the middle of the first decade of the 20th century.

Though not an alliance, the alignment of the three powers (supplemented by various agreements with Japan, the United States and Spain) constituted a powerful counterweight to the "Triple Alliance" of Imperial Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy (the latter having concluded an additional secret agreement with France effectively nullifying her alliance commitments).

Britain and France concluded the "Entente Cordiale" on April 8, 1904, resolving their differences over Egypt, Morocco, the Far East and fishing rights off Newfoundland. The year after, Britain's sympathetic attitude toward France's position in Morocco helped to ward off a challenge from Germany to the status quo in the North African kingdom. Britain and Russia concluded a similar agreement on August 31, 1907, delimiting their respective spheres of interest in Persia and Afghanistan. The two agreements, together with the Franco-Russian Alliance of January 1894, constituted the "Triple Entente".

After the outbreak of World War I in Europe in August 1914, the three Entente powers undertook (September 4) not to conclude a separate peace with Germany or Austria-Hungary. Russia's separate armistice (December 1917) and peace Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March 3, 1918) ended her alignment with the other Entente powers. Britain and France continued to collaborate in ultimately unsuccessful attempts to uphold the postwar order during the 1920s and 1930s, until France's crushing defeat (June 1940) in renewed conflict with Germany forced her into a separate armistice, leaving Britain alone in Europe.

Occasioned in part by growing German antagonism expressed in the development of a battle fleet capable of threatening British naval impunity, the Entente heralded the end of British neutrality in Europe. Ironically, the Franco-Russian alliance which had seemed so weak during Russia's ill-fated war with Japan subsequently appeared the more powerful alignment with Russia's unexpectedly rapid recovery from defeat and revolution and the addition of Britain as a diplomatic partner, contributing to the foreign-policy adventurism and contemplation of a pre-emptive war which culminated in German readiness for conflict in 1914.

See also


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