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Moroccan Crises

Moroccan Crises

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand is often seen as the flash point of the First World War, but what caused the poor relations between European nations in the early 20th century in the first place? The Moroccan Crises of 1905 and 1911, fuelled by imperial expansion and political dilemmas, stirred up a great dispute that later reflected and caused conflict amount European nations during WWI.

Moroccan Crisis Summary

In 1905, a struggle for power and superiority broke out between European nations over control of Morocco. It continued until the Treaty of Fez in 1912. European diplomacy was changed forever just two years before WWI.

Diplomacy

The management of international relations.

Moroccon Crises Map of Morocco StudySmarterFig. 1 Map of Morocco.

Through the Anglo-French Entente of April 1904, Britain and France settled several controversial matters. It ended the arguments between the two countries and set up the means of their diplomatic partnership. In doing so, Germany was pushed into isolation from European political decision-making, and its worldwide power was limited. These drastic changes occurred over six years which witnessed two Moroccan crises, their oppositions, solutions, and suspicions.

DateEvent
1880Moroccan Independence Agreement.
April 1904Anglo-French Entente.
March 1905Kaiser visited Tangier and gave his speech. This instigated the First Moroccan Crisis.
1906Algeciras Conference 1906.
1911French Troops entered Morocco, and Germany sent their warship, Panther. This was the Second Moroccan Crisis.
1912Treaty of Fez.
1914Beginning of WWI.

Moroccan Crisis Causes

Besides the Kaiser's inflammatory speech in Tangier, which marked the beginning of the First Moroccan Crisis, it is essential to recognise the other secondary, leading causes of the Crises.

Anglo-French Entente - April 1904

Neither the German government nor Kaiser Wilhelm had a great interest in Morocco. The Kaiser's speech was a political act in defiance of the Anglo-French Entente.

Previously named the Entente Cordiale, its purpose was to produce a settlement of the long-standing imperialist rivalries between Britain and France in North Africa. However, the Kaiser saw this as an alliance against Germany and upsetting the balance of power in Europe.

The terms of the Anglo-French Entente 1904 were:

  • Britain could pursue its political interests in Egypt.
  • France was free to expand westward from Algeria into Morocco.

Imperialism

A policy of extending a country's power and influence through diplomacy or military force.

Moroccan Crises Imperialism Cartoon StudySmarterFig. 2 Imperialism Cartoon

German Exclusion

With the lack of involvement that the German government had in the Anglo-French Entente, Germany became angered about its exclusion from the decisions surrounding North Africa. But this wasn't the only situation that got a reaction from Germany.

Impacting occurrence on GermanyGermany's Response/Reaction
The 1880 International Convention was threatened by Europe's two most powerful nations being such strong allies.Germany was aggravated and intimidated by this. They believed their influence throughout Europe and the world was in trouble because of France and Britain's connections.
The terms of the Anglo-French EntenteGermany felt threatened and believed that this was an advancement towards creating a new diplomatic balance in Europe. This would prove to be a turning point for European diplomacy, particularly for Germany.
Politically, Germany was excluded from important matters.Kaiser Wilhelm's appearance was in retaliation to Britain and France's actions and Germany's exclusion.

1880 International Convention

This convention agreed to the independence of Morocco.

First Moroccan Crisis 1905

On 31 March 1905, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany arrived in Tangier to declare his and Germany's support for the Sultan of Morocco. This provoked France and Britain throughout the First Moroccan Crisis and foreshadowed the power struggle seen in WWI. The Kaiser's inflammatory speech at Tangier was the event that kick-started the crisis between nations. His actions brought the first Moroccan Crisis. Key points from this event are the themes of Foreign Control, Kaiser Wilhelm's actions, and their consequences.

Sultan

A Muslim sovereign ruler.

Kaiser Wilhelm

Kaiser Wilhelm and his actions were a harmful turning point for German foreign policy, undermining the work of former Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.

Moroccan Crises Kaiser Wilhelm StudySmarterFig. 3 Kaiser Wilhelm II.

  • Wilhelm arrived in Tangiers on 31 March 1905.
  • He declared that he saw the Sultan of Morocco as the ruler of an Independent empire free from the pressures of any foreign control.
  • Wilhelm declared that he would always negotiate with the Sultan.
  • From this, Wilhelm expected Germany to have advantages in trade and commerce with Morocco so that he could be in equal positions with other countries such as France and Britain.

Otto Von Bismarck

Uniting the German Empire in 1817, German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck is most commonly known for his peacemaking movements toward France and other European countries as a part of German foreign policy.

The Algeciras Conference

Kaiser Wilhelm's appearance in Tangier and France and Britain's reactions to Germany's decisions resulted in the Algeciras International Conference to resolve the first Moroccan crisis. The meeting was held at a ferry port in southern Spain called Algeciras in January 1906. Intending to agree on political and general control over Morocco and end the first Moroccan Crisis, the Conference resulted in three main changes aiming to resolve the ongoing conflicts.

Moroccan Crises Algeciras Conference StudySmarterFig. 4 The Algeciras Conference.

  • France was awarded controlling interest in Moroccan affairs.
  • There was guaranteed equality of trade and economic freedom for every nation.
  • Limitations were imposed on any country's colonial actions without consultation with other signatories.

Signatories

The countries that sign a treaty or agreement.

Exam Tip

Causes and consequences of an important event such as the Moroccan Crises are common ground for Exam-style questions. Try and create some exam-style questions about the Moroccan Crises, e.g. How did the Moroccan Crises of 1905 and 1911 create political tension throughout European nations?

Bonus points if you can produce a plan for each question with all your key points!

Second Moroccan Crisis 1911

Six years later, in April 1911, French troops flooded into Morocco. The French initially claimed they were present to defend the Sultan against the riots in Fez, a northern city in Morocco. The French violated the terms they had signed at the Algeciras conference by sending their troops into Morocco. Consequently, Germany sent their warship "Panther" to the port of Agadir in retaliation.

Moroccan Crises Fez StudySmarterFig. 5 Fez, 17 April 1912.

The Germans were forced to back down during the Second Moroccan Crisis for several reasons:

  1. Britain backed France again, giving them extra influence, power, and support.
  2. Russia also supported France, creating a more significant force.
  3. Austria-Hungary failed to provide sufficient support to Germany. They even failed to present a diplomatic alliance.

The Treaty of Fez came from the negotiations during the second Moroccan crisis. The Treaty was signed on 30 March 1912 and stated that Sultan Abdelhafid agreed to allow France to make Morocco a French protectorate.

From this, Germany was forced to recognise France's official position as a protector of Morocco. Still, Germany was given parts of the French Congo as territorial concessions, an unsatisfactory consolation prize for Germany. This power shift in the European nations caused the French to take control of the Mediterranean Sea and the British to take control of the North Sea and the English Channel. Germany became isolated and suffered in influence and power, setting up the power imbalance and rising tensions before WWI.

Territorial Concessions

Land given up from one country to another, usually to reach peace.

Interesting Fact

The Chief of the German general staff wrote a memorandum to the German Chancellor dated 2 December 1912. It stated that all sides of the European nations' power split were preparing for a European war. This shows the influence and significance of the Moroccan Crisis on WWI.

Second Moroccan Crisis

The French justified the appearance of their troops in Fez for the following reasons:

  1. Claimed that the Rebel tribes were staging an uprising in Morocco against the Sultan.
  2. They stated that the Moroccan Capital, Fez was in real danger.

After hearing these words of threat, the Sultan appealed to France for their help in restoring order among their nation, giving France a reason to send their troops to Fez. Germany felt threatened by its lack of military involvement. They also believed that the French had spread false information across Morocco to enable their troops to be present in the capital.

Germany wasted no time. German foreign secretary Alfred von Kiderlen-Wachter did not consult any key personnel before sending their warship, 'The Panther', to Morocco as a power play against France. This action broke the rules of the Algeciras conference, marking the beginning of underhand manoeuvres during the Second Moroccan Crisis.

1 July saw more attempts from Germany to oppose French troops. Germany tried to rally resistance from the native population by spreading the idea that the French were showing military and controlling aggression. They failed to do this and were forced to back down and recognise France as the victor.

Consequences of the Moroccan Crisis

Germany's intentions in Morocco were to break the strong alliance between France and Britain. They hoped that their actions in Morocco would quell the growing European powers and decrease the threat to Germany's security and influence in Europe. Unfortunately for the Germans, the plan failed to create distance between the two powerful nations. Instead, it distanced Germany from other European countries.

Both France and Britain shared suspicions about Germany's intentions and, in response, rallied together during this proposition, becoming stronger allies. The mutual defence agreement with Russia involving France and Britain was also a consequence of Germany's actions during the First Moroccan Crisis.

Mutual Defence Agreement

In 1907, three previous alliances were informally merged into the Triple Entente shortly after the First Moroccan Crisis. The Triple Entente set the stage for the "Allies" in the Second Moroccan Crisis and eventually WWI. The alliances that all loosely became one were:

  1. The Franco-Russian Alliance in 1894
  2. The Anglo-French Entente in 1904
  3. The Anglo-Russian agreement in 1907

The links between France and Britain were now expanding from a friendship into a military alliance, making them a stronger, more threatening, and influential force!

Moroccan Crises and their connection to the WWI

In summary, the Moroccan Crises created a power shift. Arguably, its main consequence was the creation of rising tension and a conflicting atmosphere between the European nations only two years before WWI began. It also caused Europe to split into two opposing sides of ideas and power. Britain, France, and Russia against Germany and its loose alliance with Austria-Hungary and Italy.

Historian Jens-Uwe-Guettel discusses how historians interpret the clashes of French and German interests over Morocco in the 20th century as creating a path that led to the armed conflict in 1914.

Militarism, Nationalism, Imperialism, and Alliances were all causes of WWI, seen throughout the Moroccan Crises. The primary catalyst of WWI was the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand on 28 June 1914, with the war beginning just one month later on 18 July 1914. The conflict between the Allies and the Central powers lasted from 1914 - 1918, becoming one of the most extensive and fatal conflicts in world history.

Moroccan Crises - Key takeaways

  • Both Moroccan Crises set up the power struggle that influenced WWI.
  • France and Britain's rise in power and influence spelled the downfall of German power and influence throughout the European nations and the world.
  • The Algeciras Conference was the political discussion that ended the First Moroccan Crisis.
  • The appearance of French troops and the influence of France and Germany's competing militaries was the cause of the Second Moroccan Crisis.
  • France's powerful allies and strong friendships with other nations, such as Britain and Russia, solidified their victory over Germany in the struggle for power and influence over Morocco during the Second Moroccan Crisis.

References

  1. Jean-Uwe Guettel, Between Us and the French There Are No Profound Differences, Colonialism and the Possibilities of a Franco-German Rapprochement before 1914, 2014.

Frequently Asked Questions about Moroccan Crises

Kaiser Wilhelm arrived in Morocco and declared his respect to the Sultan of Morocco in attempts to disturb the alliance between France and Britain and disrupt the Anglo-French Entente. This was unsuccessful and created tensions and a power struggle among European nations.

The Moroccan crisis of 1911 was a continued power struggle from the Moroccan crises of 1905. With the disregard of the Algeciras conference and its terms, a disagreement over military power between Germany and France in Morocco was rife.


The second Moroccan crises split Europe into two defined areas of power:

1. Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy

2. Britain, France and Russia.

Providing the atmosphere and power struggle leading up to WWI.


The Moroccan crises of 1905 marked the end of the German foreign policy, and created a new diplomatic balance in Europe, with France and Britain at the top of the hierarchy.

The conference that solved the first Moroccan Crisis was the Algeciras Conference.

Final Moroccan Crises Quiz

Question

How many Moroccan Crises were there?

Show answer

Answer

Two

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Question

When was the First Moroccan crisis?

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Answer

1905

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Question

When was the second Crisis

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Answer

1919

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Question

What did Kaiser Wilhelm declare on his arrival to Tangiers?

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Answer

Support for the Sultan of Morocco

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Question

Which answer was NOT the intention of Wilhelm's appearance in Tangiers?

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Answer

To agree on a Peace treaty with France

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Question

True or False?

The Anglo-French Entente prevented France from expanding westward from Algeria into Morocco.

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Answer

True

Show question

Question

When was the Anglo-Entente formed?

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Answer

April 1904

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Question

What threatened Germany's power in politics?

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Answer

Britain and France's alliance

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Question

True or False?

The Moroccan Crises later influenced a mutual defence agreement between France and Britain, with Russia.

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Answer

True

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Question

When was the Algeciras International conference?

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Answer

January 1906

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Question

Which was not a result of the Algeciras international conference?

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Answer

Limitation on colonial action by any nation without consultation with other signatories.

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Question

What was the main causes of the second Moroccan Crisis?

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Answer

French troops sent over to Fez.

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Question

Which is NOT a reason that the Germans had to back down at the second Moroccan Crisis?

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Answer

Britain supporting France

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Question

On July 1st, what did the Germans try to do to oppose the French?

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Answer

Attempting to rally the native population into a resistance against the French military.

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Question

True or False?

The Sultan appealed to France from help to restore order when there were circulating claims of rebel tribes staging an uprising in Morocco.

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Answer

True

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