Europe 1904: Entente Cordiale
The Anglo-French rivalry had been a constant of European affairs for centuries. In 1904, however, Britain's newfound ally, Japan, attacked France's ally, Russia. In an attempt to avoid entanglement in this war between their allies, the two nations signed the Entente Cordiale - a series of agreements that defined their respective spheres of influence, in particular recognizing British control of Egypt and French primacy in Morocco.
23 Jan 1899 Anglo-Kuwaiti Agreement▲
In 1896 Mubarak Al-Sabah overthrew his half-brother Muhammad Al-Sabah to become ruler of the Sheikhdom of Kuwait, at the time part of the Ottoman Empire. When the Ottomans refused to formally recognize his usurpation, Mubarak approached the British consul at Basra with an appeal for British protection. The British eventually agreed, signing the secret Anglo-Kuwaiti Agreement with Mubarak in January 1899. By the terms of the treaty the Sheikh and his successors accepted British authority over Kuwait’s foreign policy in return for an annual payment and a pledge of British protection.
12–15 Jan 1902 Saudi capture of Riyadh▲
Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, accompanied by 40 followers and with the support of other tribesmen hostile to the Rashidis, infiltrated the Rashidi-held former Saudi capital of Riyadh. There they assaulted Al Masmak Castle, assassinating Ibn Ajlan (the Rashidi governor) and massacring the entire garrison. This capture of Riyadh greatly enhanced Ibn Saud’s reputation, and he was declared emir four months later.
30 Jan 1902 Anglo-Japanese Alliance▲
The United Kingdom and the Empire of Japan signed the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in London, promising that they will support each other if either country became involved in a war with more than one Great Power. The Alliance was announced on 12 February 1902 and marked the end of Britain’s Splendid Isolation.
5 Mar 1903 Baghdad Railway▲
After four years of negotiations, the Ottoman Empire and the German-run Anatolian Railway Company agreed to a 99-year concession to allow the construction of a railway connecting Konya to Baghdad. Work on the railway began on 27 July 1903, although the outbreak of World War I would delay completion of the route until 1940. The construction of the railway worried Britain, France, and Russia as it strengthened German-Ottoman ties and threatened to create a direct rail link between Berlin and the Persian Gulf.
8–9 Feb 1904 Battle of Port Arthur▲
The Empire of Japan launched a squadron of destroyers on a surprise night attack against the Russian fleet anchored at Port Arthur, Manchuria. Engagements continued over the following morning, ending at midday when the Japanese withdrew. Although neither side had lost any major ships in the battle, the Russians were ill-equipped to repair their damages. The next day, on 10 February, the Japanese declared war, formally beginning the Russo-Japanese War.
8 Apr 1904 Entente Cordiale▲
The United Kingdom and the French Republic signed the Entente Cordiale in London, improving Anglo-French relations by settling colonial differences: Britain was given dominance in Egypt and France in Morocco; disputes in West Africa were settled in France’s favor; France renounced rights to fisheries in Newfoundland; and Siam was to be divided into zones of influence.