Triple Alliance was the military alliance among
Germany, Austria–Hungary, and Italy that lasted from
1882 until the start of World War I in
The Triple Alliance in 1913, shown in
Each member promised mutual support in the event of an
attack by any two other great powers
for Germany and Italy, an attack by France
alone. In a supplementary
declaration, Italy specified that its undertakings could not be
regarded as being directed against the United Kingdom.
Shortly after renewing the Alliance in June
1902, Italy secretly extended a similar guarantee to France.
Germany and Austria–Hungary found themselves at
war in August 1914 with the rival Triple
Entente of Britain, France, and
the latter's ally, Russia, Italy pledged its
support to the Central Powers, but
subsequently entered the conflict on the side of the Entente
against Austria–Hungary in May 1915 and Germany in August
By the late 1860s, Austrian ambitions in both Italy and Germany had
been choked off by the rise of new national powers. With the
decline and failed reforms of the Ottoman
, slav opposition in the occupied Balkans grew and both
Russia and Austria–Hungary saw an opportunity to expand in this
region. In 1876, Russia offered to partition the Balkans, but
Andrássy declined for Austria–Hungary was already a "saturated"
state and it could not cope with additional territories..
Empire was thus drawn into a new style of diplomatic brinkmanship,
first conceived of by Andrássy, centering on the province of
Herzegovina, a predominantly Slav area still under the control
of the Ottoman Empire.
On the heels of the Great Balkan Crisis, Austro-Hungarian forces
occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina in August 1878 and the empire
eventually annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina
in October 1908
as a common holding under the control of the
finance ministry, rather than attaching it to either territorial
government. The occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina was a step taken
in return to Russian advances into Bessarabia. Unable to mediate
between Turkey and Russia over the control of Serbia,
Austria–Hungary declared neutrality when the conflict between the
two powers escalated into the Russo-Turkish War
order to counter Russian and French interests in Europe, an
alliance was concluded with
in October 1879 and with Italy in May 1882.
Germany, Italy had been formed
from a collection of former states.
At first, its main
concerns were to get its government established, but by 1914
Italy was settled and was looking to 'flex its
muscles'. Like some of the other European powers, it wanted to set
up colonies and build up an overseas empire. With this aim in mind,
Italy joined the German-Austrian
Alliance to form the Triple Alliance, partly in anger at the
French seizure of Tunisia in 1881,
which many Italians had seen as a potential colony.
Italian public opinion remained unenthusiastic about their
country's alignment with Austria–Hungary, a past enemy of Italian unification, and whose Italian-majority districts in the Trentino and Istria were seen as
In the years before World War I
, many distinguished military
analysts predicted that Italy would change sides. This prediction was
strengthened by Italy's invasion and
annexation of Tripoli, bringing it
into conflict with the German-backed Ottoman Empire.
There is some evidence
that Germany and Austria–Hungary did not entirely trust their ally.
In any case, Italy was not a strong individual or military
Italy's ideas for maintaining the balance of power in Europe
clearly gravitated towards major alliances,
even if they were a passive member. Italy's reasoning for not
siding with the Central Powers was that the Triple Alliance was a
defensive alliance, but Germany and Austria–Hungary had taken the
offensive. It is also thought that Britain and Italy had
an agreement about the Mediterranean.
Britain needed access to the Mediterranean,
so that she could access her African
colonies easily. Because Italy is
surrounded by the Mediterranean, it could not afford to fall out
with Britain. This is thought to be another reason that Italy