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The French and the English in the Mediterranean from 1798 to 1904

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The history of the French and the English in the Mediterranean in the 19th century is primarily in search for the power centered on strategic points (Egypt and the straits). During the Egyptian expedition of 1798, which marked the beginning of an intense Franco-British conflict, the creation of the Agreement in 1904, brought them closer; and is that how the Franco-British relation was structured by the agreement in the history of the Mediterranean? What was the relation of the French and the British in the Mediterranean from 1798 to 1956?

Though in the sixteenth century the Ottoman Empire and Spain dominated the Mediterranean, the balance of power changed in the course of the eighteenth century and gave way to a British hegemony offset by the attempts of other powers (in this case mainly France and Russia) to gain importance in the area. England was an alien power which had occured in the Mediterranean through the acquired positions (since 1704 Gibraltar, Minorca from 1708 to 1756 where it maintained influence, Malta in 1800) assuring the safety of the route to India, while France had an opening on the Mediterranean by the configuration of its territory. In the early twentieth century, the main enemy of England has been France. The Mediterranean by the English and French is that of the mare nostrum, a Latin sea heritage and justification of Western domination, a strategic sea gateway to the Eastern world and the route to India.

In 1797, revolutionary France had many difficulties to contain the coalitions that was beset from all sides. It made attempts to decentralize the conflict by making an offer of alliance with the Sublime Porte. The British who, having emerged as dominant in this space in the eighteenth century, had analyzed the decline and weakness of the Ottoman Empire who were so concerned by this maneuver. Indeed, an alliance with the Porte would constitute a direct threat to England in the Mediterranean, threatening the power in the Mediterranean as well as the safety of the route to India. La Porte refuses. France is therefore fails to establish a second front.

Tags: The Mediterranean Sea; conflict between England and France; Agreement of 1904;

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