In light of the horrific scenes emerging from France over the past few days, The Handy Histories Team thought that it would be appropriate to run a post on the wonderful relationship Britain has with France, a relationship that is not only socially, diplomatically and morally close but one that has huge historical significance and has lasted through the ages.
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Many will associate France with Agincourt, Trafalgar and Waterloo.
But Britain and France have some of the closest ties countries could hope for.
This is not just a post for the children; but for the parents.
It is right to say that England and Britain as a whole have had their problems in the past, but it is their friendship that is the more important issue today. Dating back from the French Revolution, Britain has been a safe haven and support to the nation of France. Whether it be the safe acceptance of the ousted Nobility following the horrendous scenes of the Revolution, or the military support that Britain offered France during both World Wars, to the trade wars of the 1600’s and the Empire conflicts that lasted centuries, Britain and France have been so closely linked, it’s hard to imagine we were once enemies.
The friendship started properly in the 1870’s when Germany declared an aggressive war on France in order to create the German Empire. Whilst Britain didn’t participate in this war, the political taking of sides was so extreme, that British and German relations were seriously strained during these difficult years.
The strong German links to the British Monarchy, and the fact that France was a strange mix of Republic and Empire, meant that Britain taking the side of the French was a strange occurrence – but it was the beginning of something marvellous.
The British struggle in South Africa and the German aggression towards the British actions, led Britain to break her policy of “Splendid Isolation” and become involved in European affairs, proper.
However, it was a war between Russia and Japan that, strangely, sealed Anglo/French relations. France was allied with Russia, Britain with Japan. The two countries decided to throw off their ancient hatred and join together to help secure the safety of Europe. The two sides came together and finally signed the Entente Cordiale, on the 8th of April, 1904. The treaty was made all the easier for signing due to the then King Edward VII, on a State Visit to Paris, complementing a young actress in front of an hostile crowd – winning the Parisians over in one gesture, to the British side. Cheers of “Vive La Roi!” and “Good Old Teddy!” saw Edward off on his trip home.
Britain and France have stood together ever since – through the First World War, the Second World War and countless other conflicts.
Since Friday 13th November, 2015, the Entente Cordiale has become more than and treaty – it has become reality. Today, Britain and France stand truly together, arm in arm - as we have done for centuries.
The Handy Histories Team, and everyone at Up All Hours send out our sincere sympathy and affection to our Sister Across the Sea, Belle France. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of all affected.