Ward's Book of Days.

Pages of interesting anniversaries.

What happened on this day in history.

APRIL 8th  

On this day in history in 1904, the Entente Cordiale was signed.

The Entente Cordiale (Friendly Understanding in French) was a treaty designed to settle a number of antagonisms between Britain and France and to create an atmosphere of diplomatic co-operation against growing German pressure.  

The French government was growing increasingly concerned over mounting German pressure. Ever since 1870, when the Germans had crossed the Rhine and defeated France, there had been growing tension. The French had Russia as an ally but needed another major power. The British, too, mistrusted the Germans but had no intention of becoming involved in European affairs.  Britain wanted security for its Empire, without interference from other colonial powers.  

The agreement was the policy of French Foreign Minister Delcasse and the British Foreign Secretary Lord Lansdowne, encouraged by King Edward VII who feared and mistrusted the ambition of his nephew, Kaisar Willhem of Germany. By the terms of the agreement, Britain had control of Eygpt, France had exclusive trade rights in Morocco, Britain relinquished certain claims in Africa while France gave up fishing rights in Newfoundland. Various other colonial borders were tidied up by the new pact.

Without realising it, Britain had given up its previous policy of isolation from the Continent. In 1905, when German influence threatened Morocco, Britain was obliged to intervene and support the French. In 1911, The Morocco Crisis almost brought about a major European war. And in 1914, when the French were on the verge of war with Germany, the British Cabinet were undecided as to whether to intervene in Europe. The French diplomats lobbied major British statesmen with talk of ‘National Honour’ and the Cabinet narrowly passed a motion to declare war.

The Entente Cordiale ended centuries of warfare between Britain and France but created the mood for greater conflicts with other European powers.

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