Tuesday September 23, 2014
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09-053 Entente Cordiale II

Tuesday Sep 23, 2014

Lead: In the l850s, with their dominance of world affairs under challenge, long-term antagonists France and Britain gingerly began to explore the possibilities of alliance. This process was confirmed in 1904 in the Entente Cordiale.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Henry John Temple Palmerston was British Foreign Secretary for most of the period 1830-1851 and also served as Prime Minister in the 1850s. He was the first prominent politician to describe post-1830 Anglo-French relations as entente cordiale, or a warm understanding. In that year France had abandoned forever the old Bourbon monarchy and embarked on a stumbling course towards liberal democracy. Once that happened, Britain, with varying degrees of enthusiasm and not a little skepticism at times, moved toward a closer relationship with France. This would not yield an official coalition until early in the next century, but with the help of prominent leaders such as Palmerston and, ironically, French President and then Emperor Louis-Napoleon III, France and Britain moved slowly but surely in the direction of alliance.

"The British interpreted this entente cordiale more often than not as its ability to maneuver internationally without French interference. Any loss such deference to Britain might bring about was out-weighed for France as it

perceived the growing power of Germany, with Prussian Chancellor Otto

von Bismark orchestrating German unity in the l860s. By l904, the two powers

were ready to make it official. Long after Palmerston and Louis-Napoleon had passed from the scene, Britain and France roused themselves from their isolation (France as a result of its defeat by Germany in 1870, and Britain through complacency), and they signed the series of compacts called Entente Cordiale, giving each power freedom of action in different sections of the colonial world and committing themselves to mutual support in future European conflict. Germany was reduced to virtual isolation in Europe; this isolation may have contributed to its aggressive behavior in the years leading up to World War I."

In Richmond, Virginia, this is Dan Roberts.


Golicz, Roman. “Napoleon III, Lord Palmerston and the Entente Cordiale,” History Today (December 2000): 10-17.

Jennings, Lawrence. France and Europe in 1848: A Study of French Foreign Affairs in time of Crisis. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973.

Zeldin, Theodore. Emile Ollivier and the Liberal Empire of Napoleon III.Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963.

Copyright 2014 by Dan Roberts Enterprises, Inc.


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