- Franco-Italian Convention
The completion of an entente began in 1900. Since the period of “Risorgimento” in the 1830s, Giuseppe Mazzini, the Italian nationalist politician, had claimed North Africa for the nation of Italy. At the Congress of Berlin in 1878, the fate of Tripoli was discussed. Britain encouraged Italy to consider acquiring Tripoli as a colony and France ideally to occupy Tunis. This arrangement was considered favorable to ensure that the status quo in the Mediterranean be maintained. But Italian imperial ambitions grew after Britain and France expanded their respective empires in North Africa. France began to rule Tunis as a protectorate in 1881, and Britain occupied Egypt in 1882. Italy became increasingly worried about French expansion in North Africa and saw the acquisition of Tripoli as a necessity to provide safety and defense. Suspicions of French colonial ambitions persisted. An entente was agreed on with France in 1900, although the terms were ratified only in 1902. France was allowed to gain predominance in Morocco without Italy’s intervention, and Italy was granted a similar guarantee by France in Tripoli and Cyrenaica. Italy began a series of “peaceful penetrations” soon after. In 1902, France and Italy then agreed that each would maintain neutrality, not only in the event of direct of indirect aggression by a third party but also if one or the other of them “as a result of direct provocation, should find itself compelled, in defense of its honor or security, to take the initiative of a declaration of war.”
In Africa, Italy faced strong opposition from Turkey with regard to Tripoli, yet invaded it in 1911, and finally possessed it by virtue of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1912. In Europe the 1902 agreement, which remained officially secret until 1918, made Italy’s membership in the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary altogether worthless.
See also <>; <>.
Hayes, Carlton J. H. A Political and Social History of Modern Europe. New York: Macmillan, 1926;
Langer, William H. The Diplomacy of Imperialism, 1890-1902. New York: Afred A. Knopf, 1968;
Taylor, A.J.P. The Struggle for Master in Europe, 1848-1918. Oxford: Clarendon, 1954.
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914.
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