Agadir Crisis Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

The Agadir crisis resulted from the German challenge to the French assignment of troops to Morocco in 1911. The crisis resulted in the escalation of tension between Germany and France and in Germany’s increased diplomatic isolation.

Summary of Event

Morocco emerged as a diplomatic focal point on March 31, 1905, when the German emperor William II visited Tangier and declared Morocco to be independent. His statement was directed at French and Spanish plans to partition Morocco and expand their colonial empires. The result was the first Moroccan crisis, which was settled at the Algeciras Conference Algeciras Conference in 1906. There, the European powers recognized Morocco’s independence as well as the special interests of the French and Spanish; German economic interests were also supported. In 1908, Germany and France signed an agreement in which Morocco’s independence was reasserted, the special interests of the French were clarified, and German economic interest in the region was reaffirmed. Agadir crisis Second Moroccan crisis World War I (1914-1918)[World War 01];causes [kw]Agadir Crisis (July 1, 1911) Agadir crisis Second Moroccan crisis World War I (1914-1918)[World War 01];causes [g]Africa;July 1, 1911: Agadir Crisis[02820] [g]England;July 1, 1911: Agadir Crisis[02820] [g]France;July 1, 1911: Agadir Crisis[02820] [g]Germany;July 1, 1911: Agadir Crisis[02820] [g]Morocco;July 1, 1911: Agadir Crisis[02820] [c]Diplomacy and international relations;July 1, 1911: Agadir Crisis[02820] Bethmann Hollweg, Theobald von Grey, Sir Edward William II Poincaré, Raymond Lloyd George, David

In 1911, an insurrection broke out among native Moroccans, and all Europeans feared that their economic interests were at risk. Within the context of its recognized interests in Morocco, France dispatched troops to the city of Fez to suppress the rebellion. After asserting that it desired to protect Moroccan independence and its citizens residing in Morocco, the German government sent the warship Panther to the port of Agadir. The Germans’ real interest, however, was in creating a situation in Morocco that would result in gains in other regions of Africa; in particular, they sought to acquire the French Congo. From the very outset of the crisis in July, 1911, the Germans were at a disadvantage, because their diplomats lacked the experience of the seasoned British and French experts.

With the arrival of the Panther on July 1, 1911, a diplomatic crisis rapidly developed between Germany and the allied French, British, and Spanish governments. The Agadir crisis, also called the second Moroccan crisis, was an imperial issue that eroded the relationships among European powers and contributed to the polarization of Europe into two armed camps. Germany’s real goals were not known, and Britain feared that the Germans intended to build a naval base in Morocco, which would pose a threat to Gibraltar. While British reaction was coordinated by Sir Edward Grey, the foreign secretary, David Lloyd George, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, denounced the German action as a provocation. In a speech delivered on July 21, 1911, at the London lord mayor’s residence, Mansion House, Lloyd George, who had been frustrated by the amount of money that was expended on naval weapons—he had hoped to allocate more funds to address a series of domestic needs—asserted that the British would meet any German challenge. Even though no direct British interest was actually being threatened, the British government had adopted an anti-German position, and in this crisis it did not hesitate to support the French, who were led by Raymond Poincaré.

German emperor WilIiam II and his chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, demonstrated that they had little understanding of European diplomacy. They did not know the details of the two secret agreements France had entered into in 1904, which were designed to secure France’s interests in northwest Africa, particularly in Morocco. The first treaty was an agreement with Spain in which the latter country agreed to a partitioning of Morocco in which France would receive the largest interest and Spain would receive a smaller section. The second secret—and more important—arrangement was the Anglo-French Entente, Entente Cordiale (1904) in which Britain recognized French dominance in northwest Africa in exchange for French acceptance of British hegemony in northeast Africa, especially Egypt. Even though the Germans were outmaneuvered in the first Moroccan crisis and received nothing of consequence at the Algeciras Conference, they were blind to their own failures. In addition, they did not recognize the contradiction between their action in sending the Panther to Agadir on July 1, 1911, and their agreement of February 8, 1908, in which they recognized Morocco as a French sphere of influence (although one open to all nations for trade).

The crisis continued through August and September, but with diminished intensity. All sides wished to defuse the urgency of the crisis, but the British foreign secretary, Sir Edward Grey, was primarily responsible for the lessening of tensions. Negotiations opened, and by November of 1911, an agreement had been reached. On November 4, 1911, the representatives of Germany, France, and Britain signed an agreement in which all parties recognized that France had a “protectorate” over Morocco, meaning that Morocco would be considered part of the French empire. In return for agreeing to this formal recognition of French control of Morocco, France ceded sections of the French Congo to Germany, which withdrew the Panther and other ships from Agadir in November. The sections of the Congo given to Germany were deemed to be of little value in 1911, but their transfer did result in some domestic opposition in France and opposition by Spain. Grey intervened to resolve the difficulty between France and Spain, and a treaty was signed on November 27, 1912, that transferred sections of French Morocco to Spain and established Tangier as an international city. In 1912, the Italian government, inspired by the Agadir crisis, moved to annex Tripoli (the capital of Libya) and created another colonial dispute that perpetuated distrust among the European powers.

Significance

The Agadir crisis of 1911, one in a series of events that eroded and polarized the relationships among the European powers, contributed to the mounting sense that a general war was inevitable. It followed the Anglo-French Entente of 1904, the first Moroccan crisis and the subsequent Algeciras Conference of 1906, and the Bosnian crisis of 1909. During this period of enhanced crisis, France, Britain, and Russia were drawn closer to one another in their fear of German aggression (both in Europe and overseas); Germany, while allied with Austria-Hungary and its erstwhile friend Italy, found itself increasingly isolated and diplomatically outwitted by the French and the British. The Agadir crisis resulted in a victory for France and a face-saving defeat for Germany; German action was intended to remove the French from Morocco, but the end result was a continued French presence in Morocco and North Africa, a state of affairs endorsed by the British. Agadir was a defining moment, for after 1911 the likelihood of war skyrocketed and individual nations prepared for hostilities. The Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913 Balkan Wars (1912-1913) sustained a momentum that culminated in the August, 1914, outbreak of World War I. Agadir crisis Second Moroccan crisis World War I (1914-1918)[World War 01];causes

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Barlow, Ima Christina. The Agadir Crisis. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1940. Standard scholarly history of the Agadir crisis published shortly after the outbreak of World War II. Somewhat dated, but still informative.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Barraclough, Geoffrey. From Agadir to Armageddon: Anatomy of a Crisis. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1962. Examination of the Agadir crisis as a defining moment in the origins of World War I. Scholarly and critical study concludes that the crisis was fabricated by the Germans and resulted in Germany’s increased isolation.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Hayne, M. B. The French Foreign Office and the Origins of the First World War, 1898-1914. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Important and worthwhile study of the French role and goals in the crisis and in the diplomacy leading to the outbreak of war in 1914.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Hewitson, Mark. Germany and the Causes of the First World War. New York: Berg, 2005. Excellent study of the salient factors and events that shaped the policies and response of Germany under the leadership of William II and Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Joll, James. Origins of the First World War. 2d ed. New York: Longman, 2004. Perhaps the best single-volume work on the background and outbreak of World War I, including the mounting diplomatic crisis.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Steiner, Zara S., and Keith Nelson. Britain and the Origins of the First World War. 2d ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Informative work includes material on Britain’s diplomatic posture and strategy during the prewar years under the leadership of Sir Edward Grey.

Tangier Crisis

Balkan Wars

Outbreak of World War I

World War I

Germany Begins Extensive Submarine Warfare

Spain Declares Neutrality in World War I

Germany Attempts to Restructure the Versailles Treaty

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