The Triple Alliance was an agreement signed in 1882 by Austria-Hungary, Italy and Germany, to protect themselves in the event of an attack.
ARTICLE 1: The high contracting parties mutually promise peace
, and will enter into no alliance or engagement directed against any one of their States.
ARTICLE 2: In case France should attack Italy, without direct provocation on her part, for any reason whatsoever, the two other Contracting Parties shall be bound to lend help and assistance with all their forces to the Party attacked.
This same obligation without direct provocation by France against Germany.
ARTICLE 3: If one, or two, of the High Contracting Parties, without direct provocation on their part, should chance to be attacked and engaged in a war with two or more Great Powers non-signatory to the present Treaty, the casus foederis will arise simultaneously for all the HIgh COntracting Parties
ARTICLE 4: In case a Great Power non-signatory to the present Treaty should threaten the security of the states of one of the High Contracting Parties, and the threatened Party should find itself forced on that account to make war against it, the two others bind themselves to observe towards their Ally a benevolent neutrality. Each of them reserves to itself, in this case, the right to take part in the war, if it should see fit, to make common cause with its Ally
ARTICLE 5: If the peace of any of High Contracting Parties should chance to be threatened under the circumstances foreseen by the preceding Articles, the High Contracting Parties shall take counsel together in ample time as to the military measures to be taken with a view to eventual co-operation
ARTICLE 6: The High Contracting Parties mutually promise secrecy as to the contents and existence of the present Treaty
ARTICLE 7: The present Treaty shall remain in force during the space of 5 years, dating from the day of the exchange of ratifications
ARTICLE 8: The ratifications of the present Treaty shall be exchanged at Vienna within three weeks, or sooner if may be
Done at Vienna, the twentieth day of the month of May of the year one thousand eight hundred and eighty-two.
Why did Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy sign the Triple Alliance?
Germany and Austria saw the inclusion of Italy as another element in their security as another Power had agreed assistance or neutrality in the event of them being attacked. (NB: Germany and Austria retained their separate agreement to support each other against Russia as outlined in the Dual Alliance)
Italy signed the Alliance because of its relative weakness and the recognition of its vulnerability in the event of an attack by a more powerful nation. At this point Italy saw France as its greatest threat since historically France had controlled much of Northwestern Italy and in 1881 France had 'beaten' Italy in the scramble for control of Tunisia in North Africa. Tunisia was only 90 miles from Sicily and seen by Italians as a natural point for their expansion
However, it must be noted that Italy did not take this alliance seriously. Italy later signed secret agreements with France and Russia in which Italy's obligations actually cancelled each other out. Italy would also claim that the terms of the Triple Alliance did not apply to the assassination crisis of June 1914 and thus Italy stayed neutral until 1915.
Some bright spark will realise that this looks like an essay, well, thats because it is part of one!!!