A series of agreements between England and France, known as the Cordial Agreement, was signed on 14 April 1904. Following lengthy discussions between the two former rivals, the agreements officially marked the end of hostilities that erupted temporarily across the Channel, elucidating more immediate issues of imperial expansion and (re) distributed power in contested places, including Egypt, Morocco, Senegal and Nigeria. Historians have tended to focus on the imperial conflicts that led to the signing of the agreements, including in Egypt and Africa, as well as the legacy of the Agreement in the 20th century. The manner in which the 1904 agreements were used to formalize the more informal cordial agreement (French for «hot agreement»), which existed between England and France in the 19th century and which paved the way for the British and French to ally themselves against German aggression during the First World War. but as William Gladstone, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, wrote in an undated memorandum: «It was and still is my opinion that the choice was between the Treaty of Cobden and not certainty, but the high probability of war with France» (qtd. in Dunham 102). The atmosphere was shared, at least in some circles, on the other side of the canal. When the agreement was put on the table in early 1860, it was rejected by English and French protectionists, but the English and French governments quickly ratified it. Resistance to the plan quickly faded, and the war between England and France, which Gladstone and others feared, never broke out. The Anglo-French agreement guaranteed the flow of materials and goods across the Channel and successfully stimulated trade between the two nations. And as the Times finally put it in an editorial of 25 February 1860, «there is no conservative body that, not so long ago, dreamed of a trade agreement with France as the best thing that could happen to any of these countries.» But, as the same editorial acknowledged, the Anglo-French agreement could have prevented the outbreak of military hostilities, but it had only somewhat stifled the gallopo-ground atmosphere in Britain: «As a matter of mood, for example, we can all regret that a treaty has been signed and that the two governments do not spontaneously compete to do something more beneficial for their own people than for their own people.» With the Cordial Agreement, the two powers reduced the virtual isolation in which they had retreated – France involuntarily, Britain complacent – while they observed each other on African issues. Britain had no major ally of power except Japan (1902) and it would be pointless for war to break out in European waters; France had nothing but Russia, which was soon discredited in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904/05.

The agreement was upsetting for Germany, whose policy has long insisted on relying on Franco-British antagonism. A German attempt to control the French in Morocco in 1905 (the Tangier incident or the First Moroccan Crisis) and thus to thwart the Agreement served only to strengthen them. Military talks were quickly initiated between the French and British staffs. Franco-British solidarity was confirmed at the Algeciras conference (1906) and reaffirmed during the Second Moroccan Crisis (1911). [3] Embry, Kristi N.