The First Moroccan Crisis

  • Christopher Andrew


FRANCE entered 1905 in a weaker military position than at any time since the signing of the Dual Alliance. Against almost all informed expectation of a year before, Russia was on the verge of a crushing defeat in the Far East and had ceased to be an effective ally in Europe. In France herself General André’s disastrous term as minister for war (from May 1900 to October 1904) had been devoted to a campaign against monarchist and clerical influence in the higher command which had left the army demoralised and ill prepared for war. The position of the navy was no better. In 1900 the Chamber had authorised a naval building programme which Monson had described as ‘terribly formidable’,1 but the new fleet had not been built. Barrère wrote gloomily to Delcassé in November 1904:

I do not give the policy that you and I have practised together two years before it is utterly demolished. And how will you conduct diplomacy when the world knows or believes – which is the same thing – that we no longer have either an army or a navy? This conviction is now making alarming progress.2


Foreign Minister German Government Good Office Surprise Attack Military Cooperation 
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  1. 5.
    R. de Caix, ‘L’incident allemand-marocain’, BCAF, April 1905.Google Scholar
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    GP, xx ii, nos. 6623, 6624. The idea of a new international conference on Morocco had been put forward by Kühlmann at the beginning of March. Bülow himself, however, began to favour the proposal only after the Kaiser’s visit to Tangier (E. N. Anderson, The First Moroccan Crisis (Chicago, 1930), 202, n. 24).Google Scholar
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  7. Grey wrote in Twenty-Five Years (i, 74–6): ‘It was not till some time after I entered office that I discovered that, under the threat of German pressure upon France in 1905 steps had been taken to concert military plans, in the event of war being forced upon France. … Plans for naval and military cooperation had, I found, begun to be made under Lord Lansdowne in 1905 when the German pressure was menacing. The naval conversations had already been direct; the military conversations had hitherto been through an intermediary.…’ Robertson wrote in Soldiers and Statesmen (London, 1926), I, 48: ‘Unofficially, plans for military cooperation with France had, with the knowledge of Lord Lansdowne, Foreign Secretary at the time, been discussed between the Director of Military Operations and the French military attaché in London as far back as 1905’. Haldane confirmed that there had been ‘some general conversations’ with French generals in 1905 (Richard Burdon Haldane: an Autobiography (London, 1929), 189). According to Sydenham: ‘The “Conversations” were quite informal in Lord Lansdowne’s time. In fact, so far as I know, Colonel Repington acted as go-between’ (BD. III. no. 221 (a)).Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Christopher Andrew 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Andrew
    • 1
  1. 1.CambridgeUSA

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