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The Concept of Europe and the 19th Century Balance of Power:

The Great Powers in 1815:

France: defeated but still regarded as a front rank military power.
Britain: the dominant industrial, economic and naval power.
Austria: a central diplomatic actor but a militarily weak albeit territoriality large multinational empire.
Russia: economically backward, but a great power by virtue of the sheer size of her armies.
Prussia: regarded as the weakest of the 5 powers but with great industrial and military potential.
Peacemakers - Congress of Vienna:

1814-15 conference to determine the nature of post-Napoleonic Europe.

Key territorial and political issues:

- Containment of French Power
- Russia desired an independent Poland. Congress decided for a partition.
- What kind of political structure should be used to organise the independent German states?
- What system for managing the relations and conflicts of Europe's great powers would be put in place?
“The architects at the Congress of Vienna recognised that, if Central Europe were to have peace and stability they would have to under Richelieu’s work of the 1600s. Richelieu had fostered a weak, fragmented Central Europe, providing France with a standing temptation to...
encroach and to turn it into a virtual playground for the French army. Thus, the statement at Vienna set about consolidating, but not unifying, Germany. Austria and Prussia were the leading German states. The 300-odd pre-Napoleonic state were combined into some thirty and...
bound together into a new entity called the German Confederation. Providing for common defence against outside aggression, the German Confederation proved to be an ingenious creation. It was too strong to be attacked by France, but too weak and decentralized to...
threaten its neighbours. The Confederation balanced Prussia’s military strength against Austria’s superior prestige and legitimacy.” – Henry Kissinger on the New Power Balance in Europe.
“The existing concert (of the Powers) is their only perfect security against the revolutionary embers more or less existing in every state of Europe; and true wisdom is to keep down the petty contentions of ordinary times...
and to stand together in support of the establish principles of social order” Lord Castlereagh on the Conservative International Order.
The Concept of Europe:

1818: Aix-la-Chapelle conference restored France's great power status. 5 great powers now sought to maintain international peace and stability through conference diplomacy.
Major conferences: Carlsbad 1819, Troppau 1820, Laibach 1821, Verona 1822, London 1830/32.

Principles of the Concert System:

- Powers should work together to maintain post-1815 status quo
- Respect for treaties
- Willingness to enforce decisions of the majority by group action.
Concert System in Operation:

1820/22: France and Austria suppressed revolts in Spain, Naples and Piedmont.
1821/29: Greek Revolution or War of Independence.
Russian-Turkish war initially averted by British-Austrian-led conference diplomacy and Russian restraint.
1826/29: Eastern Crisis: Russo-Turkish war resulted in an Ottoman defeat, a negotiated peace and an independent Kingdom of Greece.

Revolutions across Europe, powers agree to the establishment of an independent Belgium with implications for Britain and Prussia (Germany) in 1914.
The Matternich System:

Metternich was committed to a conservative order where intervention in the domestic affairs of other states was justified to defend monarchy and oppose liberalism and nationalism.
Metternich's approach legitimised French intervention in Spain and Austrian intervention in Italy in the 1820s.

Created a pressure cooker of tensions across Europe.
1848: A Year of Revolutions.

A wave of lieral, nationalist revolutions swept across Europe.
Divisions between middle and working class reformers allowed a revival of conservative elites.
Russian, Austria and Prussian monarchies combine to crush the revolutions between 1848-51
Austria and Prussia eliminated feudalism by 1850; France retained universal male suffrage. The Habsburg Empire granted more self-determination to Hungary in the Ausgelich of 1867.
Decline of the Concert of Europe:

The concerts effectiveness diminished in the second half of the 1800s. The fall of Metternich as the European revolutions of 1848 marked a failure to contain nationalism and liberalism.
New challenges to the maintenance of a stable balance of power:

- The Eastern Question, the 'Sick man of Europe'
- The Crimean War.
- The Unification of Italy.
- The Unification of Germany.
The Eastern Question:

What would happen to the balance of power if the Ottoman Empire collapsed?

Potential for Great Power conflict caused by the decline of Ottoman power in the face of European (especially Russian encroachment).
1821-29: Greek war of Independence
1853-56: Crimean war, Britain and France joined forces in a war to prevent the growth of Russian influence in the Balkans.
1878: Congress of Berlin to determine the future of the Balkans.
The Crimean War:

Only multilateral Great Power conflict between 1815 and 1914.
Brought about by the breakdown of the Concert System.
500,000 to 750,000 dead.
French army the only one to perform relatively well. Russian army beset by equipment failures.
For Britain, the war "highlighted the shortcomings of a colonial army sent to fight a European war" (French).

Ends in financial exhaustion without decisive victory.
Russian expansionist ambitions were checked for the next 20 years.
Italian Unification:

Italian nationalist movement - the Risorgimento.

1859: France and Piedmont evicted Austria from Lombardy.
Garibaldi's 1860 victories in the south established a new Kingdom of Italy.
1866: Italy seized Venetia.
1870: Rome incorporated.
German Unification:

"Since the treaties of Vienna, our frontiers have been ill-designed for a healthy body politic. Not through speeches and majority decisions will the great questions of the day be decided - but by iron and blood" (Bismarck, 1862).
1864: Danish-Prussian war / 1866: Austro-Prussian war.

1866: North Germany Confederation.

1870-71: Franco-Prussian war led to Prussia's Wilhelm I becoming the first German Emperor (Kaiser).
For the first time in the modern era, the centre of Europe was dominated by a single, vast powerful nation state.
Reactions:

“That noble, patient, deep, pious and solid Germany should be at length wielded into a nation and become Queen of the Continent instead of vapouring, vainglorious, gesticulating, quarrelsome and over-sensitive France, seems to me the hope fullest public fact...
that has occurred in my lifetime” – Thomas Carlyle on the New Germany.

“This war represents the German Revolution, a greater political event than the French Revolution of the last century. Not a single principle in the management of our foreign affairs any longer exists...
There is not a diplomatic tradition which has not been swept away. You have a new world. The balance of power has been entirely destroyed.” – Benjamin Disraeli on the New Germany.
Bismarck's Diplomacy:
- Prioritised a European balance that ensured German security.
- Little interest in colonial expansion.
- Fear of Franco-Russian alliance against Germany and a two front war.
- German-Russian-Austro-Hungaria Dreikaiserbund (League of 3 Emperors).
- Bismarck was ousted by Wilhelm II in 1890 as the new Kaiser looked to pursue a more ambitious, global foreign policy (Weltpolitik)
Quick toilet break!
The Foundations of German Power:

Demographic: German population rose from 49.2m in 1890 to 66.9m in 1902 (French population went from 38.3m to 39m in the same period).
Economic: Rapid industrialisation. Germany's share of world manufacturing output rose from 8.5% in 1880 to 14.8% in 1913.
Military: the German army was 2,398,000 strong by 1914 and it's general staff was viewed as a model for other nations.
Weltpolitik:

Sense of injustice: Britain and France owned huge colonial empires while Germany left with relatively insignificant territories in Africa, the Pacific and China.
Prestige: Colonial possessions as a badge of great power status.

Economic Imperative: access to colonial resources and markets.
Militarism and Imperialism were used by ruling elites as a nationalist device to paper over domestic social divisons. Radical nationalist societies: Pan-German league and Navy League.
“We don’t want to step on the toes of any foreign power, but at the same time we don’t intend to be shoved aside by any foreign power.” - Bernhard von Bulow & Weltpolitik.
Weltpolitik acted as a destabilizing factor in world affairs and fouled the mood of international relations.

1898: Germany's seizure of Kiaochow sparked the 'scramble for China.'
1898: Kaiser makes a high profile visit to the Middle East.
1905: Morocco Crisis worsened German relations with Britain and France.
1911: Second Morocco Crisis (Agadir) further intensified Anglo-French suspicions about German ambitions.
Anglo-German Antagonism:

1896: Kruger Telegram, German bid to support anti-British elements in South Africa.
1898: Kaiser's visit to Damascus & the Berlin to Baghdad Railway project.
1898: Germany's Admiral Von Tirpitz initiated a major programme of naval expansion leading to an arms race based upon the constraction of 'dreadnought' battleships.
1908: Daily Telegraph Affair - ill-advised anti-British interview by Kaiser Wilhelm II.
“If Britain is treated badly where her interests are vitally affected, as if she is of no account in the cabinet of nations, they I say emphatically that peace at the price would be a humiliation intolerable for a great country like ours to endure” – David Lloyd George.
Anglo-German Rivalry:

In 1898, German began a major programme of naval expansion. Britain now began to see Germany as a strategic threat and a potential enemy. Britain and Germany embarked upon a naval-arms race.
1889, the Naval Defence Act was enacted - the Two Power Standard.

1894, the Spencer Programme aimed to match foreign naval growth at a cost of over £31 million.

Both failed as deterrents to naval expansion.
The Kaiserliche Marine in 1880 weighed 88,000 tonnes compared to the Royal Navy's 650,000.

By 1890 this had changed to 190,000 & 679,000 respectively.

On the outbreak of hostilities in 1914 the two navies weighed in at 1,305,000 & 2,714,000 tonnes respectively.
The European Alliance System:

1882: Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy formed the Triple Alliance.
1890: with Bismarck no longer in office, Germany allowed it's treaty with Russia to lapse.
1894: Franco-Russian alliance.
1904: Anglo-French Entente.
1907: Anglo-Russian Entente.
1912, January: failure of diplomatic mission to Germany by British Minister of War, Lord Haldane.

The old Concert of Europe had been replaced by a destabalising system of competing alliance Blocs.
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