In assessing the events which brought Great Britain and France from the edge of war at Fashoda in 1898 to the alliance of 1914, scholars have paid little attention to the settlement of Anglo-French differences in the independent African empire of Ethiopia. The resolution of Ethiopian problems in 1906 was nonetheless important in forging close Anglo-French relations, especially when viewed within the context of the better-known Entente Cordiale of 1904. By excluding Anglo-French conflicting Ethiopian interests from the already difficult entente negotiations, British and French statesmen removed a potential stumbling block to that important and seminal agreement. In a more positive vein, the subsequent signing of a separate Tripartite Treaty on Ethiopia—the Italians were the third signatory—actively reinforced the Entente Cordiale itself. To the French the Ethiopian agreement was a confirmation of British good faith in implementing the spirit of the entente beyond areas specified in the more important accord of 1904. To the British it was an object lesson that certain imperial interests in Ethiopia should not jeopardize generally improving relations with France. To both countries the Tripartite Treaty of 1906 tidied unfinished business of the entente and eliminated to each nation's general satisfaction a nagging local conflict.
French Foreign Minister Theophile Delcassé had wanted to include Ethiopia in the entente agreement. During the course of the negotiations he suggested to his English counterpart Lord Lansdowne a “comprehensive settlement” of colonial-imperial differences. While individuals in the British Foreign Office considered adding Ethiopia to the larger rapprochement over Egypt and Morocco, the British cabinet decided to postpone Ethiopian matters until after conclusion of the Entente Cordiale. In good part this decision reflected respect for the complexity of strategic, financial, and personal rivalries of the two great imperial powers in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.