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Why did European relations deteriorate between 1890-1911. Key questions: How important was the Alliance system? Which countries were most responsible for increasing turmoil in Europe?. HMS Dreadnought 1906. Kaiser Wilhelm II. Became Emperor in 1888 Dismissed Bismarck in 1890

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Why did European relations deteriorate between 1890-1911

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why did european relations deteriorate between 1890 1911

Why did European relations deteriorate between 1890-1911

Key questions:

How important was the Alliance system?

Which countries were most responsible for increasing turmoil in Europe?

HMS Dreadnought 1906

kaiser wilhelm ii
Kaiser Wilhelm II
  • Became Emperor in 1888
  • Dismissed Bismarck in 1890
  • First important diplomatic decision was to allow the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia to lapse. Influenced by new Chancellor Caprivi and foreign Minister Holstein.
the franco russian alliance 1892 4

The Franco-Russian Alliance, 1892/4

Drawn up in 1892 and finalised in 1894. It came at a time of growing financial links between Russia and France (France had provided cheap loans to Russia to build up her military).

Also a reflection of Russia’s concerns with the lapse of the Reinsurance Treaty with Germany in 1890.

Pont Alexandre III in Paris, named after the Russian Tsar who had concluded the Franco-Russian Alliance. His son, Nicholas II laid the foundation stone in 1896.

germany s new international strategy the pursuit of weltpolitik

Germany’s new international strategy: the pursuit of Weltpolitik

‘We can’t do anything other than carry out Weltpolitik.’

Bulow and Kaiser Wilhelm, along with many other Germans, believed that Germany’s growing economic strength should be reflected in an increased empire – ‘a place in the sun’.

Perhaps, alternatively, they aimed to use the build up of an Empire as a diversion from the growth of middle class powers and continuing problems within Germany, which threatened to undermine the traditional ruling class.

Prince Bernhard von Bulow: appointed as Foreign Minister in 1897. Appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1900

and a navy
and a Navy

Von Tirpitz was appointed Secretary of State of the Imperial Naval Office in 1897. His plan was to develop a navy sufficiently large enough to deter Britain from attacking Germany.

This was achieved through a series of Naval Acts in 1898, 1900, 1908 and 1912.

Admiral von Tirpitz

anglo german tensions the kruger telegram 1896

Anglo-German tensions: The Kruger Telegram, 1896

A telegram sent by Kaiser Wilhelm to congratulate Johannes Kruger, leader of the Transvaal region (next to the British Cape Colony). Kruger had managed to resist the Jameson Raid – an attempt by some Capetown troops to start an uprising in the Transvaal.

“I express to you my sincere congratulations that you and your people, without appealing to the help of friendly powers, have succeeded, by your own energetic action against the armed bands which invaded your country as disturbers of the peace, in restoring peace and in maintaining the independence of the country against attack from without.”

the boer war 1899 1902

The Boer War, 1899-1902

The Boer War, a long and costly war for the British, also sparked increased Anglo-phobia in Germany and Germano-phobia amongst the Brits.

Growing Germano-phobia obliged the British Government to withdraw from its joint venture with Germany over the Berlin-Baghdad railway.


William le Queux’s best-selling novel of 1894: the enemy??

The Invasion of 1910. The enemy?



the end of splendid isolation
The end of ‘Splendid Isolation’

Britain had avoided formal alliances in the past during a period of ‘splendid isolation’.

However, by the beginning of the century, many leading politicians, including Joseph Chamberlain (left) were beginning to see this policy as unsustainable.

Chamberlain first sought alliances with Germany but these did not emerge.

Britain then become allied with Japan in 1902, hoping that Japan would provide a useful check against Russian plans for expansion in Asia.

Colonial secretary Joseph Chamberlain (father of Neville Chamberlain)

tensions mount between russia and japan

Tensions mount between Russia and Japan

The growing problems between Russia and Japan meant that Britain faced the prospect of a war with France.. (why?)


The Entente Cordiale, 1904

To avoid potential conflict, Britain and France drew up the Entente Cordiale.

The conditions of the Entente? Britain has Egypt and France has Morocco.

How might Germany respond?

trouble in morocco
Trouble in Morocco

In 1905, the Kaiser landed at the Moroccan port of Tangiers. What do you think were his motives?


France consented to a conference about the fate of Morocco. This was held at Algeciras, Spain. After resistance from France and Britain (whose new Liberal government was even more opposed to German demands), Germany was able to extract very little.


“English policy is to float lazily downstream, occasionally putting out a diplomatic boathook to avoid collisions.”

Germany’s behaviour towards Morocco is an escapade, an extraordinarily clumsy act of diplomacy.

Lord Lansdowne, Foreign Secretary, 1900-1905

An alliance with Russia and France? If it is necessary to check Germany then it could be done.

Lord Salisbury, PM and Foreign Secretary, 1895-1900

Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Secretary 1905-1916


Anglo-Russian Entente

Between 1906-07 Russia and Britain drew up an Entente. They managed to secure agreements over the disputed regions of Tibet, Persia and Afghanistan.

new alliance systems are put to the test the bosnian crisis 1908

New Alliance Systems are put to the test: The Bosnian Crisis 1908

Bosnia and Herzegovina had been controlled by Austria since 1878. In the face of threats to restore the Ottoman Empire, Austria formally annexed Bosnia.

This angered neighbouring Serbia who had hoped to create a united ‘Greater Serbia’ with the Bosnian Serbs.

Serbia looked to Russia for support. Russia proved unable to. In addition, Germany offered her full support to Austria.

Austria was therefore able to annex Bosnia unopposed.

the agadir crisis 1911

The Agadir Crisis, 1911

In July 1911, a German gunboat, the Panther, arrived at the Moroccan port of Agadir. Germany’s aims were to intimidate France into granting concessions in Africa.

However, the German demands (the whole of French Congo in return for their accepting French control of Morocco) were too high.

Britain intervened, putting the Entente Cordiale into practice. Germany finally accepted meagre strips of land in the French Congo. This proved to be another failure of Weltpolitik