Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Deep Roots of the Great War:
Part 3, Forces for Order Respond

The Post-1848 Response
Although the revolutions of 1830 and 1848 were for the most part "managed,” the European dynasties realized they needed to reinforce their own legitimacy. Instead of fighting nationalism, they moved to co-opt it, identifying king and country as one, and in the spirit of ancient Rome's “bread and circuses,” sought prestige for the nation and its citizens through state projects, building impressive militaries, and colonial expansion. This in the long run meant more aggressive foreign policies. This New Europe of the Old Order, however, was to prove itself progressively less governable.

Fighting in Crimea

The Crimean War (1853–1856) pitting Russia against a coalition of Great Britain, France, Piedmont, and the Ottoman Empire was the first major breakdown of the Concert of Europe. Begun under the pretext of a dispute over the Holy Lands of Palestine, the conflict was rooted in the Eastern Question, the disposition of lands controlled by the decaying Ottoman Empire. It would initiate a series of small wars over the next generation

1856 Congress of Paris Settles the Crimean War
The war's settlement halted Russian expansion temporarily, left the Black Sea neutral, and guaranteed Turkey its territorial integrity in return for a promise to improve the status of Christian subjects.

1856: Sardinian Prime Minister Camillo Benso di Cavour capitalizes on European rivalries to piece together the first modern Italian state.

A Resplendent and Victorious Napoleon III

1859: The Battle of Solferino results in the victory of the allied French Army under Napoleon III and Sardinian Army under Victor Emmanuel II (together known as the Franco-Sardinian Alliance) against the Austrian Army under Emperor Franz Joseph I. It was the last major battle in world history where all the armies were under the personal command of their monarchs.

1861: Tsar Alexander II frees 20 million serfs; his son Alexander III later tightens control after his father's assassination but helps to modernize Russia.

A Russia Official Announces the Emancipation of the Serfs

1861–65: U.S. Civil War, Europeans observe impact of telegraph, railroads, observation balloons, rifled artillery, and armored ships on warfare. 

A Conservative View on Managing Change
In a progressive country change is constant, and the great question is not whether you should resist change which is inevitable, but whether that change should be carried out in the manners, the customs, the laws, and the traditions of a people, or whether it should be carried out in deference to abstract principles, and arbitrary and general doctrines.
Benjamin Disraeli, 1867

1869: Suez Canal Opens

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