...the door was opened for the formation of the Triple Entente between France, Russia and England. The Entente was not a formal military alliance, but an agreement between the powers to work together should one of their members be threatened. The formation of the Entente divided Europe into two armed camps with Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy (Triple Alliance) on one side, and on the other France, Russia and England (Triple Entente) on the other.
...the League of the Three Emperors (1872-1878, 1881-1889) [...] bound Germany, Russia, and Austria together. The three powers agreed to act in common when dealing with Turkey and to maintain friendly neutrality should any one of them be at war with a power other than Turkey.
Triple Alliance, secret agreement between Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy formed in May 1882 and renewed periodically until World War I. The treaty provided that Germany and Austria-Hungary were to assist Italy if it were attacked by France without Italian provocation; Italy would assist Germany if Germany was attacked by France. In the event of a war between Austria-Hungary and Russia, Italy promised to remain neutral.
[Ten year before the war,] the Entente between France, Russia, and England was formed and consolidated, over against the existing Triple Alliance between Germany, Austria, and Italy. Neither of these combinations was in its origin an purpose aggressive.
The Europe of 1871 was represented and controlled, as it had been for centuries, by certain great powers, jealous indeed of one another and often in disagreement, but whose collective decision once reached was in practice binding upon the rest of the continent. The composition of the group had varied from time to time, and the relative strength and influence of the different members had been subject to continual readjustment.
The alliance was not concluded in order to bolster any one state's capabilities per se but rather to ensure that in the event of hostilities, adversarial relations among the members states would not culminate in war. In May 1915, however, the inability of the alliance to fulfill that mission was quite vivid. Thirty-three years after the signing of the alliance, Italy broke with the Triple Alliance and joined the Entente Powers in a war against its former allies.
…for "275,000 square miles of primeval forest [in the French Congo]" [Germany] had set the nerves of Europe on edge again when they were just recovering from the Bosnian alarm; had weakened her prestige when one of her objectives had been to enhance it; and had put such life into the Triple Entente as it had never previously possessed.
…the weaker Dual Alliance had confronted the stronger Triple Alliance, with Britain on the outskirts of Europe, aloof from Continental affairs, and usually more friendly toward Germany than either Russia or France. In 1904 England and France settled their differences and made an arrangement, the Entente Cordiale, which was not an alliance but in the end proved to be just as effective as one, and three years later, when England and Russia settled their differences also, in the Anglo-Russian Accord, Dual Alliance and Entente Cordiale coalesced in a vaster combination, the Entente.
This final alliance, [Triple Entente], drew the lines for the war that would follow. Germany's worst fears of encirclement were realized and a two front war had been made a certainty.
With war brewing in Europe towards the close of July 1914 both the Entente Powers (Britain, France and Russia) and the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary) were keen to secure an alliance with Italy.
Russia was associated with the Triple Alliance until 1890. The Alliance of the Three Emperors (June 1881) pledged neutrality on the event of any signatories becoming involved in a war with a fourth party. It was replaced in June 1887 with the Russo-German Reinsurance Treaty, again pledging neutrality in the event of was with a third party, but with two exceptions: German initiation of war against France and Russian initiation of war against Austria. The treaty was allowed to lapse in 1890…