Bismarck and the States system 1871-1879
Jan 28, 2013
Key words Notes
Von Bismarck was the rarity in international politics and in life
someone who seemed to learn not from his mistakes but from his
Bismarck, after the defeat of France and after his unification of
Germany under Prussian leadership, and of course to Prussia’s
advantage, proceeded to confront the issue of restoring order and
stability to a system he had severely shaken. To the on looking British
politicians, the Tories Prime Minister Benjamin (..?) it looked as if
Bismarck had bough an utter destruction to the balance of power. At
the very least the Prime minister saw that the age Bismarck had
uttered in, a new international relations order, this was an age of new
problems, new uncertainties, and new insecurities. There remained to
be seemed that Bismarck could address the issue of restoring the
balance of power to Europe.
Some people have argued that Bismarck foreclosed his options to
some extent by permanently alienating France to the expropriation of
Bismarck alienated France Alsace and large part of Lorraine. And its integration into the German
because he knew they would Empire.
be alienated from other. This - However, for start Bismarck thought that France would always be
came about because of two estranged by Germany by the fact of its defeat at German hands. It
might not have reconciliation with its opponent.
- France would not attempt - Secondly Bismarck was well away that he had debts to pay with the
to reconciliate with German nationalist movement-popular German nationalist
Germany, especially after movement, which he had hijacked in the Prussian interest. At the
Germany had defeated very least the Germans demanded that after the wars with France,
them. the recorporatation of Alsace and Lorraine would be into German
- Germany demanded to the
incorporation of Alsace and That was the price Bismarck had to pay with the support of German
Lorraine into German nationalism.
National territory. Then to the view the future of German national security Bismarck was
persuaded by the German/Prussian high command that Alsace
In matters of German
national security Bismarck Lorraine’s incorporation into the western boarders of the new German
Empire would render that western frontier all the more defendable
thought that it was best that and easily secured against any future aggression from French or
Alsace and Lorraine be territorial expansion from them.
incorporated into the western For all those reasons Bismarck was willing to risk alienating the
frontiers, so that any future French at least because he thought they were alienated beyond repair
French aggression can be
blocked. and recovery.
That left him with a reduced set of options within the European
In efforts to restore order His first step to that problem was to restore the order and maintain
and maintain security the security in that order within the German empire. In a sense this
Bismarck tried to revive the
Holy Alliance. His reasons to meant to revive the holy alliance. This union of the northern course, as think that it would work were he called was a natural international decision for Bismarck himself to
as follows adopt. He saw that Germany, (Prussia enlarged) Austria and Russia,
- They all shared a belief in after all their traditional and recent quarrels, including an Austro-
conservative monarchial Prussian war of course, had fundamental interest in common.
principals - They shared a belief in conservative monarchial principals.
- He was afraid that if they - And on whole an aversion of a major war which might give
went to war too often opponents, such as social and political revolutionaries of those
people might rise from the principals a chance to exploit the international stability and to
bottom and take over. E.g generate domestic disorder.
revolutionaries. Bismarck for all the fact that he had fought two major wars to achieve
political ends, Bismarck was adamantly convinced that no
international system could prolong violence. Wars had to be short and
sharp and then contained, and if possible abolished for the future.
With those guiding principals in mind, Bismarck encouraged an
rapprochement between Austria and Russia after the great breach of
1864 with the ultimatum from the Austrians over the Danubian
principalities. He mended that Austro-Russian breach and encouraged
Holy Alliance Pact is signed them to sign a Holy Alliance Pact in June 1873.
in June 1873 - Russia and Austria uphold monarchial principals
- Russia and Austria to - Consult each other in the event of international crisis. In orther
words to try and harmonize their interests in any international
principals crisis. That was part of the pact focused on the Balkan peninsula in
- Consult each other if an southeastern Europe where the Turkish power threatened the
international crisis arose. Austrian power-now the Austrian-Hungarian power reformed as a
dual monarchy after the defeat of 1866. And in 1867 it was formed
as a Austro-Hungarian power in the aftermath of the defeat.
- For the Austro-Hungarian, who succeeded in Southeastern was
vast of strategic importance. The other power shouldn’t gain didn’t
gain too much of an advantage in that political cockpit of Europe in
the southeastern Europe. For that reason it was in Bismarck’s
interest to contain the Balkan power head.
- To contain the Balkan power head
From the Austrian and Russia point of view they had little choice but
to follow Bismarck’s broad suggestion that they mend their fences and
conclude this pact because each lived in fear that the other would
make a bilateral and exclusive deal with Germany. If any of the powers
did a deal detrimental to the other the isolated power would be in a
vulnerable position. They weren’t doing it because they loved each
other, rather just to listen to Bismarck. Germany itself on the 22
October 1873 Bismarck adhered the name of Germany to this Austro-
Russian pact which thereby became The Three Emperors League.
Bismarck named this - This was a pretty lose arrangement and it indicated Bismarcks
Austro-Russian and German initial preferred style for managing the new order which he had in
pact the Three Emperors
fact created by unifying Germany. By establishing a solid block of
league. power in the heart of Europe. His preferred style was indirect
- Set up in October 22, 1873 management. Getting other powers in a way of doing what he
- It had two basic functions: wanted and thereby stabilizing the tripod block, which should be
Protect Germany. able to call the other powers to heel. Even malverick (..?) and
Contain the crisis of the France. Balkan Question. - The problem was that the inadequacy of this instrument to fulfill
- However 2 years later the two basic functions.
league proved to be Protection of Germany, Germany primacy within the European
The containment of the permanent crisis within the European
body of politics-The Balkans questions
- The Three Emperor league soon showed within three years to be
inadequate for Bismarck’s states purposes and priorities.
The inadequacy to protect Germany had been revealed only 2 years
The ‘War-in-sight’ broke out after its signature- in the spring of 1875.
in Franco-German relations Spring of 1875 The ‘War-in-sight’ crisis broke out in Franco-German
- Spring of 1975 relations.
- Caused by fear of Germany - This crisis was caused by Germanys growing fear on the part of the
of the growing French ruling class at the rapid recovery of France from its defeat in 1871.
- The French had paid off the huge debts they had owned to their
- The new government, conquers in little time. The elected a military strong man as
directed by a military man, president of Third Republic, which was founded in the ruins of the
issued a conscription of empire of Napoleon III. This worried Bismarck because of the very
144,000 men to the French success of stabilizing the public regime. The Third Republic of
army in March 1875. making more alliances throughout Europe. It did nto look like a
- This rattled the German
radical and fragile entity, but ruled by a military strong man, this
people and consulted republic now looked like something that might seduce France or
Bismarck if they should go one of the other powers along with it to confront Germany.
to war. - In March 1875 the French national assembly increased in a sudden
- Bismarck unleashed a move the size of the French male population subject to military
press campaign, which conscription. They added a 144,000 men to the military
attempted to pressure the
establishment in terms of people who would be conscripted and
French to back off. For trained to joined the arm forces in time of war.
example, ‘Is War Insight” in - In fact already by spring of 1875 the Third central republic in times
Berlin’s The Post of international crisis could immediately mobilize 600,000 men for
- To Bismarck’s surprise war.
other great powers came to - This mass conscription scheme and its sudden expansion was what
the aid of France. really rattled the Germany military. They had begun planning for
preventative or preemptive strike against France as early as 1872.
Now they began to suggest to Bismarck that such might be
necessary after all.
- Bismarck preferred to unleash a war of nerves against the French.
He unleashed a press campaign inspired by himself and his
assistance to apply pressure to the French to back off and possibly
scale down their military establishment. He certainly seemed to be
behind the threatening editorial published in The Post newspaper
in Berlin in 1875 which asked “Is War Insight?”.
- And for the next few weeks similar editorials were published
clearly inspired by officials quarters in Bismarck’s Germany.
- Bismarck expected the isolated French to perhaps back down and
make reconciliatory gestures and even council the direction of
their military conscription scheme. However, to his surprise other
powers in Europe rallied to the French.
Other European states such Other European powers rallied to the French. Not only Britain, but also as Britain and Russia rallied the prime minster Disraeli made it very clear that Britain would not
for the French stand by if Germany kicked a fight with France and invaded it once
more. More stunning from the German point of view was the
intersection of Russia again with a clear statement that they would not
stand aloof if Germany adopted a unilateral military solution with the
problem of its relations with the French republic.
From east and west, the great periphel powers, Britain and Russia,
now moved to bring home to Bismarck the falling of his provocative
The height of the crisis, the British ambassador visited Bismarck and
told him in no certain terms that if he acted aggressively against
France Europe would react. Bismarck responded with “bah, what is
Much to the delight of Bismarck’s competitors, Russian foreign minster
chancellor Gorchakov, treated Bismarck to Russian emperor and
talking to him ensuring him that Germany would have no future
aggression against France. The emperor assured him that he was quite
ready to issue assuring statements and Bismarck suffered a personal
diplomatic humiliation before the very eyes of his competitor.
Bismarck became As regard to Germany itself, and Bismarck’s perception on how to
concerned about the
protect it, the Three Emperors hadn’t even guaranteed the
protection of Germany. Not membership of that alliance to support Germany, let alone protect it
only were the Three Emperors against other powers such as Britain poking their noses into Franco
not ready to protect Germany, German relations.
they hadn’t even guaranteed If that wasn’t enough, the following year the onset of another crisis
showed up and revealed the wholeness of the League as it diplomatic
instrument for securing and confining the eastern question in a non
July 1975 there is a threatening manner for the rest of Europe.
rebellion in the province of What happened was the outbreak in July 1975 of rebellion in the
Bosnia-Herzegovina against province of Bosnia-Herzegovina against Turkish rule.
In June of 1876 the following year, Serbia, which was now semi-
independent from the ottoman Turks intervened on the side of the
Following year the Serbia Bosnians. Turkish forces conducted a rather brutal campaigned,
intervened and the Turks including massacring villagers and such. The fighting spread into
reacted with a horrible Bulgaria and the huge publicity, Britain in particular, the leader of the
campaign. opposition Disraeli embarked on a campaign of public speeches
denouncing what he called the Bulgarian horrors. Calling on Bulgaria
to abandon the Turks and establish an alliance with the subject people
of the Balkan peninsula
The Russians intervened 1877 after failed effort at diplomatic dialogue with the Turks the great
and they defeated the ottoman protector of the Slavic and Christian people of the east and south east,
Empire at Plevna.
- December 18, 1877 the Russian empire entered into a war against the Turks. They
- Treaty of San Stefano on eventually inflicted a decisive defeat on the Ottoman Empire in
rd December 18, 1877 at Plevna.
March 3 1878 at Plevna. The Austro-Hungarians had sanctioned the Russian intervention in the
Russian essentially spreading instability in Balkans in return with the Russian agreement
dictated new boundary that they enter and occupy the Bosnia-Herzegovi