Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Triple Alliance
from World History Encyclopedia

The Triple Alliance was a secret treaty of mutual assistance between Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy in effect from 1882 to 1915 and a diplomatic manifestation of the dissatisfaction felt by Italian imperialists. In May 1882, Italy, angered by the establishment of the French protectorate in Tunisia (1881), joined the Austro-German Dual Alliance. According to the treaty, the three powers were to support each other if the French should attack. Additionally, Germany and Austria-Hungary promised to help Italy acquire Tunisia (from the French) and Tripoli (from the disintegrating Ottoman empire).

The coordination of the Austria-Hungarian and Italian policies in the Balkans within the framework of the Triple Alliance was instrumental in establishing and maintaining the de facto Austrian protectorates in Serbia (1881–1895) and Romania (1883–1916). After 1895, the three powers successfully concerted their opposition to the Japanese expansion and coordinated their policies in China. Nevertheless, the immediate Italian territorial ambitions in the Mediterranean and the Balkans remained unfulfilled. Additionally, Germany from 1899 to 1902 clearly shifted the focus of its alliance policy while trying to create a bloc with Russia and France and set the limits to British overseas expansion.

Dissatisfied, Italy turned to Paris and recognized, in 1900, the French protectorate in Tunisia and claims in Morocco in exchange for being given a free hand in Tripoli and Cyrenaica. At the beginning of World War I, Italy refused to support Germany and Austria-Hungary, stressing that France was not the aggressor. In 1915, Italy's entry into the war on the side of the Triple Entente (an alliance between Great Britain, France, and Russia that commenced in 1907) formally liquidated the Triple Alliance.

  • Hurst, Michael. Key Treaties for the Great Powers, 1814–1914. Vol. 2. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1972.
  • Langer, William L. European Alliances and Alignments, 1871–1890. New York: Vintage Books, 1964.
  • Rainow, Peter. "Triple Alliance." In Colonialism: An International Social, Cultural, and Political Encyclopedia, edited by Page, Melvin C.. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2003.
Peter Rainow
Copyright 2011 by ABC-CLIO,LLC

Related Articles

Full text Article Triple Alliance (May 1882)
The Companion to British History, Routledge

Austro-Hungary, Germany and Italy agreed to assist any one of them if attacked by two great powers and to remain neutral if attacked by...

Full text Article Triple Alliance
Chambers Dictionary of World History

Following France's annexation of Tunisia, Italy joined the German–Austro-Hungarian Dual Alliance in order to protect her Mediterranean interests...

Full text Article Triple Alliance (Austria, Germany and Italy) (1882)
Andromeda Encyclopedic Dictionary of World History

Secret treaty that lasted until 1915, masterminded by Otto von Bismarck . It provided that Germany and Austria would aid Italy, and...

See more from Credo