Alternative History

The Franco-Austrian Alliance in 1914, France in blue and Austria-Hungary in yellow

The Franco-Austrian Alliance or Franco-Austrian Rapprochement was an alliance formed by aggrements of 1876-1882-1895; it lasted until 1918. First conceived in 1876 as a diplomatic rapprochement to support the Pope Pius IX in the Kulturkampf. The raprochement is transformed in 1894 into a military alliance aimed at containing the reinforcement of the German Empire, influenced by the evolution of the Franco-German and Austro-German relations of the end of the 19th century. The development of financial ties between the two countries reinforce the alliance.  

Formation and initial purpose

When the Kulturkampf begins, Pope Pius IX finds himself powerless at the international level. Austria-Hungary was then the only significant ally for the papacy, since the Kingdom of Italy was officially excommunicated since the end of the Risorgimento and Spain is rendered utterly helpless by the events of Sexenio Democrático and by the Restoration. With the retrun of the French monarchy in 1873, Pius IX then saw an opportunity to gain support. The Austrian ties of King Henry V (during his period of exile, Henry of Chambord lived in Austria), the sharing of the Catholic faith and the anti-German feeling of the French and Austrians, were much links that could create a block for contain Germany. In 1874, Pius IX called for the rapprochement of two "Catholic brothers" that were the France of Henry V, and the twin monarchy of Austria-Hungary of the Franz Joseph, in 1876 under support of Cardinal Félix Dupanloup the Franco-Austrian Entente also called Catholic Entente, is signed. This agreement is seen as the first dissolution of the League of Three Emperors.

Uncertain alliance against Germany

The German internal conflict after the signing of this agreement takes an international turn, and the pressure around Pius IX and Bismarck increasing, the German Catholic forces gathered in the Zentrum make a strong progress in the German federal elections of 1874 pushing Bismarck to certain concessions (after huge victories) being more preoccupied by the progress of the Social Democrats in these same elections. The death of Pius IX in 1878, accelerates the relaxation between the papacy and the German Empire, and the character more "reformer" of Leo XIII, informally end to the conflict. The Catholic Entente weakened then Bismarck push France into colonial conquests and approach Austria on the Balkan question. The progressive disengagement of French government for the Entente make react the royalist right and bonapartists who pushes the french prime minister Albert de Broglie to revive the Entente and form of a Pacte d'Amitié in 1882. But the rapprochement stops at this exchange of good process. France did not want to quarrel with Russia, being focused on its colonial policy and the signing of the Treaty of the Three Emperors in 1881 did not allow a deepening of ties.

Affirmation and confirmation of the Alliance

The end of the 1880s is a period of change for European geopolitics. The departure of Bismarck from the Chancellery in 1890, and the beginning of the Pangermanic ambition of Kaiser Wilhelm II caused the collapse of the Bismarckian alliances. Austria-Hungary was largely economically exceed by Germany, for fear of the establishment of an dependance that would paralyze the Austrian Empire already in difficulty because of issues of nationalities, arrival of French funds in Austria-Hungary pushes France to reinvest the relationship, in addition the Reinsurance Treaty of 1887 signed between Germany and Russia and reconfirmed by Wilhelm II in 1890 ratifies the Franco-Austrian raprochement. On October 15, 1891, a squadron of the French Navy led by Admiral Henri Rieunier accompanied by Philippe, Crown Prince of France, went to Pola and made a trip through Austria and Hungary and was a popular success and international media.

The Union Bridge is a bridge crossing the Seine between the 7th and 8th arrondissement of Paris. Designed for the 1900 World Fair and the Franco-Austrian friendship.

In October, 1893 for the 2 years of the visit, Admiral Rudolf Montecuccoli makes the visit, arrives in Toulon and reiterates the success. The death of Philip VII in 1894 accelerated raprochement, the new King of France, Philip VIII unmarried needed a woman. Princess Clémentine of Belgium was think as first choice, but the opportunity to forge a definitive alliance with a marriage is seized. In September 1895, Archduchess Maria Dorothea of Austria married in Paris and became Queen of France, she is accompanied by a diplomatic assistance represented by the Archduke Franz Ferdinand who lays the first stone of the Pont de l'Union. A military convention is ratified by the Emperor-King a few months later. The bridge will be inaugurated five years later by King Philippe VIII, for the 1900 World Fair in Paris. Admiral Henri Rieunier is guest of honor during the ceremonies and is be present at these event.

The following year, in 1896, King Philip VIII paid an official visit to Vienna with the new Queen Maria Dorothea. In August 1899, the French Minister Charles Chesnelong negotiated a strengthening of the Franco-Austrian Alliance: from now on France could support Austria-Hungary in its Balkan policy if Austria-Hungary supported France in the question of Alsace-Lorraine. The official bilateral visits are continuing: in May 1902, Philip VIII is in Austria-Hungary.