Let it inspire you as it did me. It draws you in, making you believe it was real and it may have been real. Completely enjoyed! Ed Weaver I recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical novels. Not many are written for this time period, which made it doubly enjoyable. Joanne M. Robbins I have recommended this to many friends and all have thanked me. Edmund Hasenjager If I could give this book a star rating, I would. This is one of those books that clearly gets inside your mind and your soul…I found myself reading this book as slowly as I could just so it would last a bit longer.
My advice: when you decide to read this masterful piece of historical fiction, clear your schedule because you will not want to put this book down.
Curtis Dunne Absolutely incredible. A novel you enjoy every page. One where you never forget the characters and their stories. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email.
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Notify me of new posts via email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Skip to content. Thus, the Habsburgs faced the challenge of accommodating the nationalism of their ethnic minorities without provoking the dissolution of their empire. In British, French, and, increasingly, Russian opinion, Austria-Hungary was simply out of step with the times, moribund , and, after Turkey , the most despised of states.
But the progress of nationalism gradually undermined the legitimacy of the old empires. Ironically, Austria existed from to in a symbiotic relationship with her ancient enemy, the Ottoman Empire. For as the Balkan peoples gradually pulled free from Constantinople, they and their cousins across the Habsburg frontier inevitably agitated for liberation from Vienna as well.
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Russia was also a multinational empire, but with the exception of the Poles her subject peoples were too few compared to Great Russians to pose a threat. Ever since the humiliating defeat in the Crimean War , tsars and their ministers had undertaken reforms to modernize agriculture, technology, and education. But the Russian autocracy , making no concession to popular sovereignty and nationality, was more threatened by social change even than the Germans. Hence the dilemma of the last tsars: they had to industrialize in order to maintain Russia as a great power, yet industrialization , by calling into being a large technical and managerial class and an urban proletariat , also undermined the social basis of the dynasty.
In sum, the decades after did not sustain the liberal progress of the s. Resistance to political reform in the empires, a retreat from free trade after , the growth of labour unions, revolutionary socialism , and social tensions attending demographic and industrial growth all affected the foreign policies of the great powers. European demographic and industrial growth in the 19th century was frantic and uneven, and both qualities contributed to growing misperceptions and paranoia in international affairs.
European population grew at the rate of 1 percent per year in the century after , an increase that would have been disastrous had it not been for the outlet of emigration and the new prospects of employment in the rapidly expanding cities. When the French Revolution unleashed this national power through rationalized central administration, meritocracy , and a national draft based on patriotism, it achieved unprecedented organization of force in the form of armies of millions of men. The French tide receded, at the cost of more than a million deaths from to , never to crest again.
Should Russia ever succeed in modernizing, she would become a colossus out of all proportion to the European continent. Population pressure was a double-edged sword dangling out of reach above the heads of European governments in the 19th century. On the one hand, fertility meant a growing labour force and potentially a larger army. On the other hand, it threatened social discord if economic growth or external safety valves could not relieve the pressure.
The United Kingdom adjusted through urban industrialization on the one hand and emigration to the United States and the British dominions on the other. France had no such pressure but was forced to draft a higher percentage of its manpower to fill the army ranks. Russia exported perhaps 10 million excess people to its eastern and southern frontiers and several million more mostly Poles and Jews overseas. Germany, too, sent large numbers abroad, and no nation provided more new industrial employment from to Industrial trends magnified the demographic, for here again Germany was far and away the fastest growing economic power on the Continent.
This was so not only in the basic industries of coal and iron and steel but also in the advanced fields of electricity, chemicals, and internal combustion. By the end of the century Germany had become a highly urbanized, industrial society, complete with large, differentiated middle and factory proletariat classes, but it was still governed largely by precapitalist aristocrats increasingly threatened by demands for political reform.
Industrialization also made possible the outfitting and supply of mass armies drawn from the growing populations. After the monarchies of Europe had shied away from arming the masses in the French revolutionary fashion, and the events of further justified their fear of an armed citizenry. But in the reserve system Prussia found a means of making possible a rapid mobilization of the citizenry without the risk to the regime or the elite officer corps posed by a large standing, and idle, army.
In Austria-Hungary the crown avoided disloyalty in the army by stationing soldiers of one ethnic group on the soil of another. The final contribution to the revolution in warfare was planned research and development of weapons systems. The demographic, technical, and managerial revolutions of the 19th century, in sum, made possible the mobilization of entire populations and economies for the waging of war.
The home of the Industrial Revolution was Great Britain , whose priority in the techniques of the factory system and of steam power was the foundation for a period of calm confidence known with some exaggeration as the Pax Britannica. The pound sterling became the preferred reserve currency of the world and the Bank of England the hub of international finance. British textiles , machinery, and shipping dominated the markets of Asia , South America , and much of Europe. But that hegemony very naturally impelled other nations somehow to catch up, in the short term by imposing protective tariffs to shield domestic industries and in the longer term by granting government subsidies for railroads and other national development work and the gradual replication of British techniques.
France , Prussia , and other countries then reversed earlier policies and followed the British into free trade. In the depression of —96 actually years of slower, uneven growth industrial and labour leaders formed cartels, unions, and lobbies to agitate for tariffs and other forms of state intervention to stabilize the economy.
Bismarck resisted until European agriculture also suffered from falling prices and lost markets after owing to the arrival in European ports of North American cereals. In the so-called alliance of rye and steel voted a German tariff on foreign manufactured goods and foodstuffs. Free trade gave way to an era of neo- mercantilism. France, Austria, Italy, and Russia followed the new or revived trend toward tariff protection. After the volume of world trade rose sharply again, but the sense of heightened economic competition persisted in Europe.
Social rifts also hardened during the period. Conservative circles, farmers as well as the wealthier classes, came gradually to distrust the loyalty of the urban working class, but industrialists shared few other interests with farmers. Other countries faced similar divisions between town and country, but urbanization was not advanced enough in Russia or France for socialism to acquire a mass following, while in Britain agriculture had long since lost out to the commercial and industrial classes, and working-class participation in democratic politics was on the rise male suffrage was still dependent upon property qualiifications, but the Second Reform Act  had extended the vote to many workingmen in the towns and cities.
The social divisions attending industrialization were especially acute in Germany because of the rapidity of her development and the survival of powerful precapitalist elites. Moreover, the German working class, while increasingly unionized, had few legal means of affecting state policy.
The foreign counterpart to this phenomenon was the New Imperialism. The great powers of Europe suddenly shook off almost a century of apathy toward overseas colonies and, in the space of 20 years, partitioned almost the entire uncolonized portion of the globe. Only Britain and France were capital-exporting countries in , and in years to come their investors preferred to export capital to other European countries especially Russia or the Western Hemisphere rather than to their own colonies.
The British remained free-trade throughout the era of the New Imperialism, a booming home economy absorbed most German capital, and Italy and Russia were large net importers of capital. Once the scramble for colonies was complete, pressure groups did form in the various countries to argue the economic promise of imperialism, but just as often governments had to foster colonial development.
In most cases, trade did not lead but followed the flag. Why, then, was the flag planted in the first place? Sometimes it was to protect economic interests, as when the British occupied Egypt in , but more often it was for strategic reasons or in pursuit of national prestige.
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One necessary condition for the New Imperialism, often overlooked, is technological. Prior to the s Europeans could overawe native peoples along the coasts of Africa and Asia but lacked the firepower, mobility, and communications that would have been needed to pacify the interior. India was the exception, where the British East India Company exploited an anarchic situation and allied itself with selected native rulers against others.
The tsetse fly and the Anopheles mosquito —bearers of sleeping sickness and malaria —were the ultimate defenders of African and Asian jungles. The correlation of forces between Europe and the colonizable world shifted, however, with the invention of shallow-draft riverboats, the steamship and telegraph , the repeater rifle and Maxim gun , and the discovery in India that quinine is an effective prophylactic against malaria. By small groups of European regulars, armed with modern weapons and exercising fire discipline , could overwhelm many times their number of native troops.
The scramble for Africa should be dated not from , when the British occupied Egypt, but from the opening of the Suez Canal in The strategic importance of that waterway cannot be overstated. It was the gateway to India and East Asia and hence a vital interest nonpareil for the British Empire. Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone , otherwise an adamant anticolonialist, then established a British protectorate in Egypt. When the French reacted bitterly, Bismarck further encouraged French colonial expansion in hopes of distracting them from Europe, and he then took his own country into the fray by claiming four large segments of Africa for Germany in In that year the king of the Belgians cast his eye on the entire Congo basin.
The Berlin West Africa Conference of —85 was called to settle a variety of disputes involved in European colonial occupation, and over the next 10 years all the great powers of Europe save Austria and Russia staked out colonies and protectorates on the African continent. But whatever the ambitions and rivalries of military adventurers, explorers, and private empire builders on the scene, the cabinets of Europe came to agreements on colonial boundaries with surprising neighbourliness. Colonial wars did ensue after , but never between two European colonial powers.
It has been suggested that imperial rivalries were a long-range cause of World War I. It has also been said that they were a safety valve, drawing off European energies that might otherwise have erupted in war much sooner. But the links between imperialism and the war are more subtle. The heyday of the New Imperialism, especially after , created a tacit understanding in the European elites and the broad literate classes that the days of the old European balance of power were over, that a new world order was dawning, and that any nation left behind in the pursuit of world power would sink into obscurity.
This intuition must surely have fed a growing sense of desperation among Germans, and one of paranoia among Britons, about trends in global politics. A second point, subtler still, is that the New Imperialism, while it did not directly provoke World War I, did occasion a transformation of alliances that proved dangerous beyond reckoning once the great powers turned their attention back to Europe. Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species in , and within a decade popularizers had applied—or misapplied—his theories of natural selection and survival of the fittest to contemporary politics and economics.
This pseudoscientific social Darwinism appealed to educated Europeans already demoralized by a century of higher criticism of religious scripture and conscious of the competitiveness of their own daily lives in that age of freewheeling industrial capitalism. Pan-Slavic literature extolled the youthful vigour of that race, of whom Russia was seen as the natural leader. By , therefore, the political and moral restraints on war that had arisen after — were significantly weakened. The old conservative notion that established governments had a heavy stake in peace lest revolution engulf them, and the old liberal notion that national unity, democracy , and free trade would spread harmony, were all but dead.
The historian cannot judge how much social Darwinism influenced specific policy decisions, but a mood of fatalism and bellicosity surely eroded the collective will to peace. In the young kaiser William II dismissed the aged Bismarck and proclaimed a new course for Germany. Where Bismarck sought alliances to avoid the risk of war on two fronts, the kaiser and his chief foreign policy official, Baron von Holstein believed Germany should capitalize on the colonial quarrels among France, Britain, and Russia.
Where Bismarck had outlawed the socialists and feared for the old order in Germany, the kaiser permitted the antisocialist laws to lapse and believed he could win over the working class through prosperity, social policy, and national glory. The consequences of the new course were immediate and damaging. Petersburg to overcome its antipathy to republican France and conclude a military alliance in The tie was sealed with a golden braid: between and the Russians floated billions of francs in loans on the Paris market to finance factory building, arms programs, and military railroads to the German border.
Russia hoped mainly for French support in its colonial disputes with the British Empire and even went so far as to agree with Austria-Hungary in to hold the question of the Balkans in abeyance for 10 years, thereby freeing resources for the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railroad and the penetration of northern China.
The German foreign office thus did not take alarm at the alliance Bismarck had struggled so long to prevent. The Sino-Japanese War of —95 signaled the arrival of Japan on the world stage.
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Having seen their nation forcibly opened to foreign influence by Commodore Matthew C. Once the Meiji Restoration established strong central government beginning in , Japan became the first non-Western state to launch a crash program of industrialization.
By the s its modern army and navy permitted Japan to take its place beside the Europeans as an imperial power. European intervention scaled back these gains, but a scramble for concessions in China eventuated. The loser in the scramble, besides China, was Britain, which had previously enjoyed a near monopoly in the China trade. British fortunes suffered elsewhere during this high tide of imperialism from to Germany abandoned her long apathy toward the Middle East and won a concession for Turkish railroads.
The kaiser, influenced by his envy of Britain, his own fondness for seafaring, and the worldwide impact of The Influence of Sea Power upon History by the American naval scholar Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan , determined that Weltpolitik was impossible without a great High Seas Fleet. The prospect of a large German navy—next to the growing fleets of France, Russia, Japan, and the United States—meant that Britain would no longer rule the waves alone. The dawn of the 20th century was thus a time of anxiety for the British Empire as well.
Challenged for the first time by the commercial, naval, and colonial might of many other industrializing nations, the British reconsidered the wisdom of splendid isolation. To be sure, in the Fashoda Incident of Britain succeeded in forcing France to retreat from the upper reaches of the Nile. But how much longer could Britain defend her empire alone?
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Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain began at once to sound out Berlin on the prospect of global collaboration. A British demarche was precisely what the Germans had been expecting, but three attempts to reach an Anglo-German understanding, between and , led to naught.
In retrospect, it is hard to see how it could have been otherwise. What Britain sought was German help in reducing Franco-Russian pressure on the British Empire and defending the balance of power. What Germany sought was British neutrality or cooperation while Germany expanded its own power in the world.
The failure of the Anglo-German talks condemned both powers to dangerous competition. The German navy could never hope to equal the British and would only ensure British hostility. But equality was not necessary, said Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz. In this way Germany could extract concessions from London without alliance or war. What the Germans failed to consider was that Britain might someday come to terms with its other antagonists. This was precisely what Britain did. The new German navy menaced Britain in her home waters. Soon the Panama Canal would enable the United States to deploy a two-ocean navy.
He then shocked the world by concluding a military alliance with Japan, thereby securing British interests in East Asia and allowing the empire to concentrate its regional forces on India. To prevent being dragged into the conflict, the French and British shucked off their ancient rivalry and concluded an Entente Cordiale whereby France gave up opposition to British rule in Egypt , and Britain recognized French rights in Morocco. Though strictly a colonial arrangement, it marked another step away from isolation for both Britain and France and another step toward it for the restless and frustrated Germans.
The Russo-Japanese War of —05 was an ominous turning point. Contrary to all expectations, Japan triumphed on land and sea, and Russia stumbled into the Revolution of Solon, though an aristocrat himself, created a series of laws which equalized the political power of the citizenry and, in so doing, laid the groundwork for democracy in Athens in BCE. After Solon resigned from public office various factional leaders sought to seize power and the ultimate victor, Peisistratos, recognized the value of Solon's revisions and kept them, in a modified form, throughout his reign as a benevolent tyrant.
His son, Hippias, continued his policies until his younger brother, Hipparkhos, was assassinated over a love affair in BCE. After this Hippias instituted a reign of terror which finally culminated in the overthrow of the Peisistratid tyranny in the Athenian Revolt of BCE backed by Sparta and lead by the Spartan Kleomenes.
In the aftermath of the coup, and after settling affairs with Spartan factions such as Isagoras's bid for power, Cleisthenes was appointed to reform the government and the laws and, in BCE, he instituted a new form of government which today is recognized as Democracy. According to the historian Waterfield, "The pride that followed from widespread involvement in public life gave Athenians the energy to develop their city both internally and in relation to their neighbors".
This new form of government would provide the stability necessary to make Athens the cultural and intellectual center of the ancient world; a reputation which lasts even into the modern age. Athens, Olympia, Delphi, Corinth and Sounion restored to their former glory. Explore Now. They formed the Delian League , ostensibly to create a cohesive Greek network among city-states to ward off further Persian attacks, and, under the leadership of Pericles, grew so powerful that the Athenian Empire could effectively dictate the laws, customs, and trade of all her neighbors in Attica and the islands of the Aegean.
The historian Waterfield writes:.
There is no little irony in the fact that one of the things we most admire in the ancient Greeks is their love of freedom - and yet one of the chief manifestations of that love was their constant striving to control in some way the futures of their neighbors. Even so, under Pericles, Athens entered her golden age and great thinkers, writers, and artists flourished in the city. Democritus envisioned an atomic universe.
This legacy would continue as, later, Plato would found his Academy outside the walls of Athens in BCE and, later, Aristotle 's Lyceum would be founded in the city centre. The might of the Athenian Empire encouraged an arrogance in the policy makers of the day which grew intolerable to her neighbors.
When Athens sent troops to help Sparta put down a Helot rebellion, the Spartans refused the gesture and sent the Athenian force back home in dishonor, thus provoking the war which had long been brewing. Later, when Athens sent their fleet to help defend its ally Cocyra Corfu against a Corinthian invasion during the Battle of Sybota in BCE, their action was interpreted by Sparta as aggression instead of assistance, as Corinth was an ally of Sparta. Her empire and her wealth gone, her walls destroyed, only her reputation as a great seat of learning and culture prevented the sack of the city and the enslavement of the populace.
Athens struggled to throw off her condition as a subject state, and with some success, until they were defeated in BCE by the Macedonian forces under Philip II at Chaeronea. It is a tribute to an enduring legacy that the Roman general Sulla , who sacked Athens in BCE, slaughtered the citizenry, and burned the port of Piraeus , refused to allow his soldiers to burn the city itself. In the modern age the name of Athens still conjures to the mind words and images of the classical world and the heights of intellectual and poetic creativity, while the Parthenon on the Acropolis continues to symbolize the golden age of ancient Greece.
Editorial Review This Article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication. We're a small non-profit organisation run by a handful of volunteers. Become a Member. Mark, J. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Mark, Joshua J. Last modified April 28,