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Grenville chapter notes

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Neville Panthaki

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1. Hereditary foes and uncertain allies
at heart of Europe’s conflict was mutual fear of “hereditary foes”, France and Germany, around which, other countries lined up on one
side or the other, every local regional conflict that might have been settled as before by limited war, threatening to engulf the whole of
Europe, until it finally did so
imperial Germany symbolised success—created in 3 victorious wars, it had replaced France as first military power in Europe; Prussian
spirit was seen to be matched by astonishing progress in other directions; in all branches of education and scientific discovery, German
Empire stood second to non; secret of its success seemed to lie in Prussian genius for organisation and in orderliness and self-discipline of
its hard-working people
by turn of century Germany had become predominantly industrial nation with large cities
once far behind Britain in coal production, by 1914 Germany had almost closed the gap and, after the US and Britain, was 3rd industrial
power in world
coal, iron, and steel produced in ever larger quantities, provided for Germany’s leap forward, challenging Britain’s role as Europe’s
between 1871 and 1914 the value of Germany’s agricultural output doubled, the value of its industrial production quadrupled and its
overseas trade more than tripled, which aroused anxieties among its neighbours, but there was also cooperation and a recognition that the
progress of one European nation would, in fact, enrich the others
Germany was catching up with Britain, pioneer of industrial revolution, but Britain and Germany were also important trading partners
unlike Britain, German Empire was transformed in relatively short time from well-ordered, mainly rural country to modern industrial
in contrast with its industrial progress, pace of Germany’s political development was slow, deliberately retarded by its ruling men
Otto von Bismarck—aware of dangers facing recently unified country at home and abroad and juggled opposing forces and
contradictions with manipulative brilliance but ultimately without success; internal unification was successful; Prussia was by far most
powerful of all 25 states (chancellor of Germany was usually also PM of Prussia); ‘English system’ of representative government was
abhorrence to Bismarck; appointed by emperor, not dependent on Reichstag; first a free trader, than a protectionist; persecuted Catholic
Church and its political Centre party, then made his peace with them; tried to destroy Social Democratic party, but failed; with accession
of Wilhelm II to emperor strains of Bismarck’s system began to show and by 1912 Social Democratic Party won majority in Reichstag
Social Democratic Party—denounced as revolutionary, its members as enemies of the state; extraordinary and unwarranted attack on
party operating fully within law; defeat of social democracy was main purpose of Conservatives and men surrounding the Kaiser, who
could not conceive of including Social Democrats within fabric of political state; more understandable while Social Democratic Party was
indeed Marxist and revolutionary, but as 20th century advanced, great majority of party members in 1913, led by pragmatic Friedrich
Ebert, had become democratic socialists working for gradual reform
one consequence of narrow outlook of Conservatives was that they would never consent to constitutional change that would have made
chancellor and his ministers responsible to Reichstag as government in Britain was to Parliament, meaning that Conservatives had to
leave power, in theory at least, ultimately in the hands of the Kaiser
Kaiser Wilhelm II—did not have strength to lead Germany in right direction; intelligent man of warm and generous impulse at times;
highly emotional and unpredictable; felt unsure of his fitness for his ‘divine calling’ and posed and play-acted; did not act
unconstitutionally, leaving control of policy to his ministers and military men; occasionally played decisive role; manipulated by others
usually, his vanity making him easy victim of such tactics; wanted to be known as people’s Kaiser and Kaiser of peace, also as emperor
during whose reign German Empire became equal of world’s greatest powers; contradictory aims mirrored a personality whose principal
traits were not in harmony with each other
Social Democrats, Progressives and Centre, who had won majority in 1912 elections, demanded constitutional monarchy responsible to
in 1888, at time of accession of Wilhelm II, Germany appeared not only secure but on threshold of new expansion of power, world power
contrast of mood and expectations between then and 1914 could not have been greater
Bismarck spoke of his recurringnightmare of coalitions’, meaning that Germany’s neighbours would combine, surround, and threaten
dangers stemmed from fatal error he had made in his primitive treatment of defeated France, which was forced to pay a war indemnity
and a large slice of territory, the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine
reason is that Bismarck believed that a genuine reconciliation with France, hereditary enemy, was impossible and at heart of his
diplomacy lay need to keep France weak and to isolate it, which succeeded but with increasing difficulty and contradictions
Bismarck’s genius was to bind nations in rivalry together in a web of alliances at the pivot of which lay Germany, while isolating France,
but this construction was beginning to come apart at the seams just before and after Bismarck’s dismissal from office
in 1890, Germany did not renew the Reinsurance Alliance that had bound Germany and Russia, making Russia isolated creating the
conditions for France and Russia to come together in a military pact 4 years later
Germany added to its problems by being blinded by a vision of Weltpolitik, worldwide power
Germany foreign policy swung from apprehension at growing menace of French-Russian alliance with vision of Russian army of millions
marching into East Prussia while French massed in West, to bold strokes making its weight felt when it came to sharing out remaining
dishes of imperialist dinner
in 1913, needs of army became 1st priority; bill passed by Reichstag increased the fairly static standing army by calling up additional 136
000 conscripts
this measure was designed to bring the peacetime strength of the army to nearly 800 000 men by the autumn of 1914
prefects—state’s representatives and administrators in each of the 90 geographical departments into which France was divided;
appointed, and could be transferred or dismissed, by Ministry of Interior; dealt directly with each ministry and on whole kept aloof from
politics; hand-picked administrators who carried out decrees of state; had his own administration which could be appealed against only by
putting the case to the Council of State in Paris; deliberately did not grow local roots but represented, in theory at least, an impersonal
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justice; powerful men who controlled enormous patronage in their department; could make appointments to many paid posts from
archivists to some grades of schoolteachers, tax collectors and post-office staff; stood at head of social hierarchy, and were guarantee of
stability and conservatism
France was at one and the same time both highly centralised but also decentralised; for ordinary French citizens ‘government’ in practice
meant what the prefect and his administration did, not what was happening in far-off Paris
Church—supported by monarchists, most of old aristocracy and wealthier sections of society; ‘class’ division was by no means so
complete and simple as this suggests: Church supporters were not just rich and powerful
Dreyfus affair polarised the conflict with the Church, the monarchists and the army on one side and the republicans on the other
Dreyfus’s cause united all republicans and they triumphed—in May 1902, the republicans won some 370 seats and opposition was
reduced to 220, which was then followed by 3 years of sweeping legislations against the Church
French governments before 1904 remained dependent not on one party but on support of number of political groupings in the Chamber;
these groups represented majority of socially conservative voters: peasants who owned their land, shopkeepers, craftsmen, civil servants,
pensioners with small savings
national humiliation and defeat at German hands in war of 1870 – 1871 did not turn France in on itself, growing disparity between French
and German power after 1870, whether looked at in terms of population or industrial production, did not, as might be expected, inhibit
France’s efforts abroad
path to alliance with Russia was smoothed by large loans raised on Paris money market which Russia needed for its industrial and
military development—close to 3000 million francs in 1890, they rose to 12400 million francs in 1914, representing between 1/3 and ¼
of total of France’s foreign investments
defensive military pacts concluded in 1892 and 1894 survived all strains of French-Russian relationship down to 1914
greater part of Italy, especially south, was in late 19th century among poorest and most backward regions of Europe, but its rulers in north
imposed parliamentary constitutional government on whole of Italy, over more developed as well as underdeveloped regions
highly centralised administration was devised dividing whole country into 69 provinces, each governed by perfect responsible to minister
of interior
in early 20th century Giovanni Giolitti became leading politician
compared to France and Britain, Italy was poor country; greater part of Italy, especially south, was caught in poverty trap of backward
agrarian economy; larger proportion of population remained dependent on agriculture right down to WWI than in any other Western
European country, including France
some agricultural progress was achieved as landowners and peasants turned to exporting olive oil, fruit and wine, but protection against
influx of low-cost wheat from Americas benefited principally great landowners of south, while high food costs bore most heavily on
poorest landless labourers
Italian industrialisation was handicapped by lack of those indigenous resources on which industrialisation of Britain, France and Germany
was based: amount of coal in Italy was negligible and there was little iron ore; but helped by protection (since 1887), Italian industry
developed in the north
first decade of 20th century was (apart from brief depression of 1907 to 1908) a period of exceptionally fast growth, overcoming
depression of 1890s
but weakness of Italy’s industrialisation was its concentration in three north-western regions, Piedmont (Turin), Lombardy (Milan), and
Liguria (Genoa), thus widening further gap between administrative political unification and industrial economic unification
Giolitti—politician of consummate skills in parliamentary bargaining; followed broad and consistent aims
Italy’s misfortune to be diverted in 20th century from path of highly necessary internal development to policy of nationalism and
aggressive imperialism
Italy was favoured by its geographical position in that it did not lie in path of hostile European states confronting each other
2. The British Empire: prenominition of decline
British society had shown itself remarkably successful in adapting to new conditions brought about by the industrial revolution, but it was
obvious that in the years to come Britain would face great changes
people feared another depression and rightly sensed that British industry was lagging behind that of the US and Germany, which can be
seen in the comparative growth in value of manufactured exports of the world’s 3 leading industrial nations
Britain’s economic performance during years from 1900 to 1914 showed several weaknesses as ‘first’ industrial revolution was spreading
to less developed world: (1) textile industry was being built up in Japan and India, but Britain continued to rely on few traditional
industries such as cotton textiles, which for time continued to grow strongly because of worldwide demand; (2) coal industry, employing
more than million men in 1914, still dominated world’s coal export trade due to fact that British coal mines were close to sea, making
possible cheap transportation to other parts of world
together with iron and steel, coal and textiles accounted for the greater part of Britain’s exports and after 1900, British exporters found
increasing difficulty in competing with Germany and the US in developing industrial countries, while, at home, foreign manufacturers
invaded British market
of course, it would be a mistake to believe that Britain and its industry were set on an inevitable course of rapid decline as there were
successful ‘new’ industries of the ‘second’ industrial revolution, such as the chemical and electrical industry; but there was already in
1900 a doubt as to whether Britain would move sufficiently fast in changing conditions to maintain its leading industrial place in world
in 1900 trade union movement became convinced that involvement in parliamentary politics was now necessary if worker was to improve
standard of life
Labour Representation Committee, embracing a broad alliance of socialist parties and trade unions, was formed in 1900 and two Labour
candidates succeeded in winning seats in the House of Commons in the elections later that year
in Britain, the Labour Party was prepared to work within the parliamentary system, and turned its back on revolution and violence, in
turn, becoming accepted and enjoying the same freedom as other political parties
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