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From 1884 to 1904 the Egyptian question arose in the diplomacy of every major European power, affecting their relations toward one another and being affected in turn by their diplomatic stances toward imperial rivalries and within the European power constellation. Egypt itself primarily embroiled Britain and France; but each of the great powers sought leverage through the international nature of Egyptian finances, the problem of the upper Nile, the Suez Canal, and the vestiges of Ottoman suzerainty. The larger Egyptian question, as manifested by these issues, vitally influenced the formation and continuation of European alignments and alliances. The Triple Alliance proved by no means to be the least of these.

This study deals with the role the Egyptian problem played in the continental and imperial politics of Germany, Italy, and Austria-Hungary. The aim is to evaluate the importance of the question as it related to the maintenance, formation, and international policies of the major diplomatic groupings--most specifically the Triple Alliance. The basic approach to the matter under consideration is from a German standpoint since the major new revelations relating to the Egyptian question and the Triple Alliance came out of the wealth of microfilm material from the German Foreign Ministry Archives.

The endeavor begins with 1884 when the Germans and Italians used the Egyptian problem to further their colonial ambitions. Following this beginning, the work examines the position of the Egyptian question within the realm of the "internal'' politics of the Triple Alliance and its relationship to the stance of each member toward the English posture in Egypt down to 1904. Taken into specific account is the fact that each Triple Alliance partner after 1887 was guaranteed a "free hand'' in formulating its Egyptian policy. This often led to divergent Italian, German, and Austro-Hungarian attitudes and directly and indirectly fostered cooperation and dissension within the alliance.

The research for this topic showed that in its own way each member of the Triple Alliance sought diplomatic leverage either through cooperation with or opposition to Britain's position on the Nile. Austria-Hungary was the least active partner in using the exposed British position in Egypt for its own gain. Italy wanted colonies and England's support in the Mediterranean. Consequently, the government in Rome almost never wavered from a stance of direct, open support for Britain's aims in Egypt. It proved to be Germany more than any other partner of the alliance that sought to employ both extortion and cooperation in furthering its imperial and continental desires. Thus, Germany became the pivotal power in any development of the Egyptian question. The research revealed that the personalities of various European statesmen played as large a role in the Egyptian embroglio as did the more concrete national policies and aspirations.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Gunther Rothenberg

Second Committee Member

Janet Roebuck

Third Committee Member

Donald Sullivan



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