The World War and What was Behind It
Louis P. Benezet
Part 2 out of 4
[Illustration: Courtier of time of Louis XIV]
In the meantime, a great change had come about in France. There, for
hundreds of years, the power of the king had been growing greater,
until by the eighteenth century, there was no one in the country who
could oppose him. He had great fortresses and prisons where he sent
those who had offended him, shutting them up without a trial and not
even letting their families know where they had been taken. The
peasants and working classes had been ground down under taxes which
grew heavier and heavier. The king spent millions of dollars on his
palaces, on his armies, on his courts. Money was stolen by court
officials. Paris was the gayest capital in the world, the home of
fashion, art, and frivolity and the poor peasants paid the bills.
[Illustration: The Taking of The Bastille]
For years, there had been mutterings. The people were ripe for a
revolt, but they had no weapons, and there was no one to lead them. At
last, came a time when there was no money in the royal treasury. After
all the waste and corruption, nothing was left to pay the army and
keep up the expenses of the government. One minister of finance after
another tried to devise some scheme whereby the country might meet its
debts, but without success. The costly wars and wasteful extravagances
of the past hundred years were at last to bring a reckoning. In
desperation, the king summoned a meeting of representative men from
all over the kingdom. There were three classes represented, the
nobles, the clergy, and what was called "the third estate," which
meant merchants, shopkeepers, and the poor gentlemen. A great
statesman appeared, a man named Mirabeau. Under his leadership, the
third estate defied the king, and the temper of the people was such
that the king dared not force them to do his will. In the midst of
these exciting times, a mob attacked the great Paris prison, the
Bastille. They took it by storm, and tore it to the ground. This
happened on the fourteenth of July, 1789, a day which the French still
celebrate as the birthday of their nation's liberty. All over France
the common people rose in revolt. The soldiers in the army would no
longer obey their officers. The king was closely watched, and when he
attempted to flee to Germany was brought back and thrown into prison.
Many of the nobles, in terror, fled from the country. Thus began what
is known as the French Revolution.
[Illustration: The Palace of Versailles]
As soon as the king was thrown into prison and the people of France
took charge of their government, a panic arose throughout the courts
of Europe. Other kings, alarmed over the fate of the king of France,
began to fear for themselves. They, too, had taxed and oppressed their
subjects. They felt that this revolt of the French people must be put
down, and the king of France set back upon his throne, otherwise the
same kind of revolt might take place in their countries as well.
Accordingly, the king of Prussia, the king of England, and the emperor
of Austria all made war on the new French Republic. They proposed to
overwhelm the French by force of arms and compel them to put back
their king upon his throne.
Of course, if the soldiers in the armies of these kings had known what
the object of this war was, they would have had very little sympathy
with it, but for years they had been trained to obey their officers,
who in turn obeyed their generals, who in turn obeyed the orders of
the kings. The common soldiers were like sheep, in that they did not
think for themselves, but followed their leaders. They were not
allowed to know the truth concerning this attack on France. They did
not know the French language, and had no way of finding out the real
situation, for there were no public schools in these countries, and
very few people knew how to read the newspapers. The newspapers,
moreover, were controlled by the governments, and were allowed to
print only what favored the cause of the kings.
The French, however, knew the meaning of the war. A young French poet
from Strasbourg on the Rhine wrote a wonderful war song which was
first sung in Paris by the men of Marseilles, and thus has come to be
called "La Marseillaise." It is the cry of a crushed and oppressed
people against foreign tyrants who would again enslave them. It fired
the French army with a wonderful enthusiasm, and untrained as they
were, they beat back the invaders at the hard-fought field of Valmy
and saved the French Republic.
[Illustration: The Reign of Terror]
The period known as "the reign of terror" now began in earnest. A
faction of the extreme republican party got control of the government,
and kept it by terrorizing the more peaceable citizens. The brutal
wrongs which nobles had put upon the lower classes for so many hundred
years were brutally avenged. The king was executed, as were most of
the nobles who had not fled from the country. For three or four years,
the gutters of the principal French cities ran blood. Then the better
sense of the nation came to the front and the people settled down. A
fairly good government was organized, and the executions ceased. Still
the kings of Europe would not recognize the new republic. There was
war against France for the next twenty years on the part of England,
and generally two or three other countries as well.
[Illustration: The First Singing of 'The Marseillaise']
Questions for Review
1. Why was Poland an easy prey for her neighbors?
2. Why did not Spain, France, or England interfere to prevent the
partition of Poland?
3. How did Lithuania come to be joined to Poland?
4. What things could the king of France do which would not be
tolerated in the United States today?
5. Why did the people of France submit to the rule of the king?
6. Why did the king call together the three "estates"?
7. Why do the French celebrate the 14th of July?
8. Why did the other kings take up the cause of the king of France?
9. What was the cause of the reign of terror?
The Little Man from the Common People
The young Corsican.--The war in Italy.--Italy a battlefield for
centuries.--The victories of Bonaparte.--The first consul.--The
empire.--The French sweep over Europe.--Kings and emperors beaten and
deposed.--The fatal Russian campaign.--The first abdication.--The
return from Elba.--The battle of Waterloo.--The feudal lords once more
And now there came to the front one of the most remarkable characters
in all history. This was Napoleon Bonaparte, a little man from the
island of Corsica, of Italian parentage, but a French citizen, for the
island had been forcibly The annexed to France shortly before his
birth. As a young lieutenant in the army, he had seen the storming of
the Bastille. Later on, being in charge of the cannon which defended
the House of Parliament, he had saved one of the numerous governments
set up during this period. A Paris mob was trying to storm this
building, as they had the castle of the king. As a reward, he had been
put in charge of the French army in Italy, which was engaged in
fighting the Austrians.
In order to understand the situation it is necessity at this point to
devote some attention to the past history of the Italian peninsula.
Italy had not been a united country since the days of the Roman
Empire. The southern part of the peninsula had formed, with Sicily, a
small nation called the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The northern part
had belonged to the Ostrogoths, the Lombards, the Franks, and the Holy
Roman Empire in turn. The Italian people wanted to become one nation,
but they were divided up among many little princes, each with his
separate dominions. The cities of Genoa and Venice had each formed a
republic, which was strong on the sea only, for both cities had large
navies and had acquired practically all their wealth by their trade
with Constantinople, Egypt, and the far East. In 1796 the Hapsburg
family held the control of northern Italy except the lands around the
city of Venice and the county of Piedmont. The latter formed a
separate kingdom with the island of Sardinia, much as Sicily was
joined with the southern end of the peninsula.
Italy had been the battlefield where Goths, Franks, Huns, Lombards,
Germans, Austrians, French, and Spaniards had fought their battles for
the control of the civilized world. (See the following maps.) At one
time, the Austrian House of Hapsburg controlled the greater part of
the peninsula. This was especially true when Charles V was elected
emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. As a Hapsburg, he was ruler of
Austria. As a descendant of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, he was
Lord of the Low Countries (what is now Holland and Belgium). He was
also king of Spain, being the oldest living grandson of Ferdinand and
Isabella. When he became ruler of the two Sicilies, and defeated the
French king for the control of northern Italy, there were only four
powers in Europe which were not under his sway: Russia, Turkey,
Poland, and England. (See map.)
[Map: Italy in 525 A.D.]
[Map: Italy in 650 A.D.]
[Map: Italy in 1175 A.D.]
[Illustration: Charles the Fifth]
Three hundred years after this, the Austrians were again invading
Italy, and at the time when Bonaparte entered it (1796), they had
overrun and controlled the entire valley of the Po. The cause of the
war was still the deposing of the French monarch. The Austrian armies
were fighting to force the people of France to take back the rule of
the hated kings. The armies of France, on the other hand, represented
the rights of the people to choose their own form of government.
Of course the French, intoxicated by the success of the Revolution,
were eager to spread the republican form of government all over
Europe. There was a real possibility that they might do so, and the
kings were fighting in defense of their thrones. (The map shows
the conquests of the new republic up to this time.)
[Map: Europe in 1796]
Such was the situation when young Bonaparte, twenty-six years of age,
went down into Italy to take command of the French army. The generals,
many of them as old as his father, began offering him advice, but he
impatiently waved them aside and announced that he was going to wage
war on a plan hitherto unheard of. He made good his boast, and after a
short campaign in which he inspired his ragged, hungry army to perform
wonders in fighting, he had driven the Austrians out of northern
Italy, broken up the Republic of Venice, and forced the emperor to
make peace with France. After a brilliant but unsuccessful campaign in
Egypt and Syria, Bonaparte returned to France, where, as the popular
military hero, he had little difficulty in overthrowing the five
Directors of the French government and having himself elected "First
Consul" or president of France.
A new combination of nations now united against the republic, but
Bonaparte cut to pieces a great Austrian army, and a second time
compelled his enemies to make peace. He now proposed that the French
people elect him "emperor of the French" for life, and by an
overwhelming vote they did so. The empire was very different from the
other empires and kingships of Europe, since it was created by the
vote of the people. The other monarchs held their thrones by reason of
their descent from the chiefs of the plundering tribes which invaded
Europe during the Dark Ages. By this time, the kings had forgotten
that they owed their power to the swords of their fighting men, and
there had grown up a doctrine called "The Divine Right of Kings." In
other words, the kings claimed that God in his wisdom had seen fit to
make them rulers over these lands, and that they were responsible to
God alone. In this way they tried to make it appear that any one who
attempted to drive a king from his throne was opposed to the will of
The victorious French, exulting in their newly-won freedom from the
tyranny of kings and nobles, were full of warlike pride in the
wonderful victories gained by their armies under the brilliant
leadership of Napoleon. (He dropped his last name, Bonaparte, when he
was elected emperor.) They swept over the greater part of Europe and
helped to spread the idea that the people had rights that all kings
were bound to respect, and that it was not necessary to be ruled by
descendants of the old robber chiefs.
For sixteen years Napoleon did not meet defeat. He beat the Austrians
and Russians singly; he beat them combined. In two fierce battles, he
crushed the wonderful Prussian army, which had been trained in the
military school of Frederick the Great. He drove out the king of
Spain, the king of the Two Sicilies, the kings of several of the small
German kingdoms. He made one of his brothers king of Spain, another
king of Holland, a third king of Westphalia (part of western Germany).
He set his brother-in-law on the throne of Naples. He had his small
son crowned king of Rome. He took away from Prussia all of her
territory except Brandenburg, Silesia, Pomerania. and East and West
Prussia. He reorganized the old Polish kingdom and kings called it the
Grand Duchy of Warsaw. He forced Austria to give up all claim to
northern Italy. He annexed to France the land which is now Belgium and
Holland, and parts of western Germany and Italy. (See map
entitled "Europe in 1810.")
[Map: Europe in 1810]
All over Europe, those of the people who had education enough to
understand what was going on, were astonished to see the old feudal
kings and princes driven from their thrones and their places taken by
men sprung from the common people. The father of the Bonapartes had
been a poor lawyer. Murat, Napoleon's brother-in-law, king of South
Italy, was the son of an innkeeper. Bernadotte, one of Napoleon's
generals, whom the Swedes chose as their king, was likewise descended
from the lower classes. In nations where the working classes had never
dreamed of opposing the rulers there sprang up a new hope.
[Illustration: The Emperor Napoleon in 1814]
Bonaparte at last made a fatal mistake. With an army of half a million
men, he invaded Russia, and established his headquarters in Moscow.
The Russian people, however, set fire themselves to their beautiful
city, and the French had to retreat a thousand miles through snow and
ice, while bands of Russian Cossacks swooped down on them from the
rear and took a hundred thousand prisoners. Encouraged by this
terrible blow dealt the French, the allied kings of Europe again
united in one last effort to drive the little Corsican from the throne
For two years Napoleon held them at bay, making up for his lack of
soldiers by his marvelous military skill, and by the enthusiasm which
he never failed to arouse in his troops. In 1814, however, surrounded
by the troops of Austria, Prussia, Russia, and England, he had to
confess himself beaten. Even Bernadotte, his former general, led the
Swedish troops against him. The allied kings brought back in triumph
to Paris the brother of the king who had been executed there
twenty-two years before, and set him on the throne of France. Napoleon
was banished to the little island of Elba to the west of Italy, and
the monarchs flattered themselves that their troubles were ended.
[Illustration: The Retreat from Moscow]
In the spring of the following year, however, Napoleon escaped from
his island prison and landed on the southern coast of France. The king
ordered his soldiers to capture their former emperor. But the magic of
his presence was too much for them, and the men who had been sent to
put him into chains shed tears of joy at the sight of him, and threw
themselves at his feet. One week later, the king of France had fled a
second time from his country, and the man chosen by the people was
once more at the head of the government.
All the kingdoms of Europe declared war against France, and four large
armies were headed toward her borders. Napoleon did not wait for them
to come. Gathering a big force, he marched rapidly north into the low
countries, where he met and defeated an army of Prussians. Another
army of English was advancing from Brussels. On the field of Waterloo,
the French were defeated in one of the great battles of the world's
history. The defeated Prussians had made a wide circuit and returned
to the field to the aid of their English allies, while the general
whom Napoleon had sent to follow the Germans arrived too late to
prevent the emperor from being crushed. A second time, Napoleon had to
give up his crown, and a second time King Louis XVIII was brought back
into Paris and put upon the French throne by the bayonets of foreign
troops. The people had been crushed, apparently, and the old feudal
lords were once more in control.
[Illustration: Napoleon at Waterloo]
Questions for Review
1. Had Italy ever been a nation?
2. What German tribe ruled Italy in 525? (See map.)
3. What tribe ruled Italy in 650? (See map.)
4. What part of Italy once belonged to the Holy Roman Empire? (See
5. What induced the French to elect Bonaparte as First Consul and
6. What led Napoleon to make war on the other rulers?
7. What was Napoleon's great mistake?
8. Why did the people welcome him upon his return from Elba?
9. What was the effect of the battle of Waterloo?
A King-Made Map and its Trail of Wrongs
A meeting of kings and diplomats.--Austrians and English vs. Prussians
and Russians.--Talleyrand the subtle.--Carving a new map.--The people
are ignored.--Sowing the seeds of trouble.--Unhappy Poland.--Divided
Italy.--Revolts of the people.--The outbreaks of 1848.
And now the kings and princes, with their ministers of state and
diplomats, met at Vienna to decide what should be the map of Europe.
In past years, there had been a great deal of suspicion and jealousy
among these monarchs. Hardly five years had gone by without finding
two of them flying at each other's throats in some unjust war or
other. Only their great fear of uprisings similar to the French
Revolution had driven them to act together in crushing the French
Republic, and the empire voted by the people, which had followed it.
This famous "Congress of Vienna," which took place 1815, is a fair
example of the way in which European lands have been cut up and
parceled out to various monarchs without any regard for the wishes of
[Illustration: The Congress of Vienna]
Russia and Prussia, proud of the part that their mighty armies had had
in crushing Napoleon, were arrogantly intending to divide the map of
Europe as suited them, and it was only by a great deal of diplomacy
that they were beaten. (The game of diplomacy is frequently a polite
name for some very cunning deception, involving lying and cheating, in
which kings and their ministers take part.) The Austrians were afraid
of the Russian-Prussian combination, and they induced England to side
with them. England did not love Austria, but feared the other two
powers. The English minister, Lord Castlereagh, finally persuaded the
Austrians, Prussians, and Russians, to allow the French diplomat,
Talleyrand, to take part in their final meetings. Now Talleyrand was
probably the most slippery and tricky diplomat of all Europe. He had
grown to power during the troublous days of the latter part of the
French Revolution, and had guessed which party would remain in power
so skillfully that he always appeared as the strong friend of the
winning side. Although he had served Napoleon during the first years
of the empire, he was shrewd enough to remain true to King Louis XVIII
during the latter's second exile. The Prussian-Russian combination was
finally obliged to give in, somewhat, to the demands of Austria,
England, and France. Compare this map with the one given in the
preceding chapter, and you will see most of the important changes.
Prussia, which had been cut down to about half its former size by
Napoleon, got back some of its Polish territory, and was given a great
deal of land in western Germany along the River Rhine. Part of the
kingdom of Saxony was forcibly annexed to Prussia also. It is needless
to say that its inhabitants were bitterly unhappy over this
arrangement. Austria kept part of her Polish territory, and gave the
rest of it to Russia.
The southern part of the Netherlands, which is today called Belgium,
had belonged to the Hapsburg family, the emperors of Austria. As was
previously said, it was conquered by the French and remained part of
France until the fall of Napoleon. It was now joined with Holland to
make the kingdom of the Netherlands. Its people were Walloons and
Flemish, almost entirely Catholic in their religion, and they very
much disliked to be joined with the Protestant Dutch of Holland.
[Map: Europe in 1815]
The state of Finland, which had not been strong enough to defend
itself against its two powerful neighbors, Sweden and Russia, had been
fought over by these two powers for more than a century. It was
finally transferred to Russia, and in order to appease Sweden, Norway,
which had been ruled by the Danes, was torn away from Denmark and made
part of the kingdom of Sweden. The Norwegians desired to remain an
independent country, and they loved the Swedes even less than they
loved the Danes. Therefore, this union was another source of trouble.
The greater part of the kingdom of Poland and all of Lithuania were
joined to Russia.
Russia got back all of the territory she had taken in 1795, and in
addition large parts of the former shares of Prussia and Austria. In
order to pay back Austria for the loss of part of Poland, she was
given all of northern Italy except the counties of Piedmont and Savoy
The German states (and these included both Austria and Prussia) were
formed into a loose alliance called the German Confederation.
England's share of the plunder consisted largely of distant colonies,
such as South Africa, Ceylon, Trinidad, etc. France shrank back to the
boundaries which she had had at the beginning of the revolution. The
kings of France, of the Two Sicilies, and of Spain (all of them
members of the Bourbon family) who had been driven out by Napoleon,
were set back upon their thrones.
This arrangement left Italy all split up into nine or ten different
parts, although its people desired to be one nation. It left Austria a
government over twelve different nationalities, each one of which was
dissatisfied. It joined Belgium to Holland in a combination
displeasing to both. It gave Norway and Finland as subject states to
Sweden and Russia respectively. It left the Albanians, Serbians,
Roumanians, Bulgarians, and Greeks all subject to the hated Turks. It
set upon three thrones, once vacant, kings who were hated by their
subjects. It divided the Poles up among four different
governments--for, strange as it may seem, the powers could not decide
who should own the city of Cracow and the territory around it, and
they ended by making this district a little republic, under the joint
protection of Austria, Prussia, and Russia. In fact, the Swiss, serene
in their lofty mountains, were almost the only small people of Europe
who were left untroubled. The Congress of 1815 had laid the foundation
for future revolutions and wars without number.
At first, the Poles were fairly well treated by the Russians, but
after two or three unsuccessful attempts at a revolution, Poland,
which, as one of the states of the Russian Empire, was still called a
kingdom, was deprived of all its rights, and its people were forced to
give up the use of their language in their schools, their courts, and
even their churches. In the same fashion, the Poles in Prussia were
"not even allowed to think in Polish," as one Polish patriot bitterly
put it. All through the first half of the 19th century, there were
uprisings and struggles among these people. As a result of one of
them, in 1846, the little Republic of Cracow was abolished, and its
territory forcibly annexed to Austria.
The Italian people formed secret societies which had for their object
the uniting of Italy, and the freeing of its people from foreign
rulers. All through Germany there were mutterings of discontent. The
people wanted more freedom from their lords. Greece broke out into
insurrection against the Turks, and fifteen years after the Congress
of 1815 won its right to independence. Not long afterwards, the
southern half of the Netherlands broke itself loose from the northern
half, and declared to the world that it should henceforth be a new
kingdom, under the name of Belgium. About the same time, the people of
France rose up against the Bourbon kings, and threw them out "for
good." A distant cousin of the king was elected, not "king of France"
but "citizen king of the French," and the people were allowed to elect
men to represent them in a parliament or Congress at Paris. In Spain,
one revolution followed another. For a short time, Spain was a
republic, but the people were not well enough educated to govern
themselves, and the kingdom was restored.
[Illustration: Prince Metternich]
The statesman who had more to do with the division of territory in
1815 than any other was Prince Metternich of Austria. He stood for the
"divine right of kings," and did not believe in allowing the common
people any liberty whatsoever. In 1848, an uprising occurred in
Austria, and crowds in Vienna, crying, "down with Metternich," forced
the aged diplomat to flee. During the same year, there were outbreaks
in Germany. The people everywhere were revolting against the feudal
rights of their kings and princes, and gaining greater liberty for
themselves. In 1848, France, also, grew tired of her "citizen king,"
and that country a second time became a republic. The French made the
mistake, however, of electing as their president, Louis Napoleon
Bonaparte, nephew of the great Napoleon, and in time he did exactly
what his uncle had done,--persuaded the French people to elect him
Questions for Review
1. What were the motives of each of the nations represented at the
Congress of Vienna?
2. Why were the Russians and Prussians the leaders of the meeting at
3. Why did the English and Austrians assist each other?
4. What had Napoleon done for Poland? (See last chapter.)
5. What kings deposed by Napoleon were set back on their thrones?
6. What were the greatest wrongs done by the Congress?
7. How did the Poles protest against the settlement made by the
8. What did the Belgians do about it?
9. What did the French finally do to the Bourbon kings?
Italy a Nation at Last
The Crimean War curbs Russia.--Cavour plans a United Italy.--War
against Austria.--Garibaldi, the patriot.--The Kingdom of Sardinia
becomes part of the new Kingdom of Italy.--Venice and Rome are
added.--Some Italians still outside the kingdom.
Meanwhile, Italy, under the leadership of two patriots named Mazzini
and Garibaldi, was in a turmoil. The Austrians and the Italian princes
who were subject to them were constantly crushing some attempted
One thing which helped the cause of the people was that the great
powers were all jealous of each other. For example, Russia attacked
Turkey in 1853, but France and England were afraid that if Russia
conquered the Turks and took Constantinople, she would become too
powerful for them. Therefore, both countries rushed troops to aid
Turkey, and in the end, Russia was defeated, although thousands of
soldiers were killed on both sides before the struggle was over.
You will remember that the counties of Piedmont and Savoy in western
Italy, together with the island of Sardinia, made up a little kingdom
known as the "Kingdom of Sardinia." This country had for its prime
minister, a statesman named Count Cavour, who, like all Italians,
strongly hoped for the day when all the people living on the Italian
peninsula should be one nation. At the time of the Crimean War (as the
war between Russia on the one side and Turkey, France, and England on
the other was called) he caused his country also to declare war on
Russia, and sent a tiny army to fight alongside of the English and
French. A few years later, he secretly made a bargain with Napoleon
III. (This was what President Bonaparte of France called himself after
he had been elected emperor.) The French agreed to make war with his
country against the Austrians. If they won, the Sardinians were to
receive all north Italy, and in return for France's help were to give
France the county of Savoy and the seaport of Nice.
When Cavour and the French were all ready to strike, it was not hard
to find an excuse for a war. Austria declared war on Sardinia, and, as
had been arranged, France rushed to the aid of the Italians. Austria
was speedily beaten, but no sooner was the war finished than the
French emperor repented of his bargain. He was afraid that it would
make trouble for him with his Catholic subjects if the Italians were
allowed to take all the northern half of the peninsula, including the
pope's lands, into their kingdom. Accordingly, the Sardinians received
only Lombardy in return for Savoy and Nice, which they gave to France,
and the Austrians kept the county of Venetia. A fire once kindled,
however, is hard to put out. No sooner did the people of the other
states of northern Italy see the success of Sardinia, than, one after
another, they revolted against their Austrian princes and voted to
join the new kingdom of Italy. In this way, Parma, Modena, Tuscany,
and part of the "States of the Church" were added. All of this
happened in the year 1859.
These "States of the Church" came to be formed in the following way:
The father of the great king of the Franks, Charlemagne, who had been
crowned western emperor by the pope in the year 800, had rescued
northern Italy from the rule of the Lombards. He had made the pope
lord of a stretch of territory extending across Italy from the
Adriatic Sea to the Mediterranean. The inhabitants of this country had
no ruler but the pope. They paid their taxes to him, and acknowledged
him as their feudal lord. It was part of this territory which revolted
and joined the new kingdom of Italy.
You will remember the name of Garibaldi, the Italian patriot, who with
Mazzini had been stirring up trouble for the Austrians. They finally
pursued him so closely that he had to leave Italy. He came to America
and set up a fruit store in New York City, where there were quite a
number of his countrymen. By 1854, he had made a great deal of money
in the fruit business, but had not forgotten his beloved country, and
was anxious to be rich only in order that he might free Italy from the
Austrians. He sold out his business in New York, and taking all his
money, sailed for Italy. When the war of 1859 broke out, he
volunteered, and fought throughout the campaign.
But the compromising terms of peace galled him, and he was not
satisfied with a country only half free. In the region around Genoa,
he enrolled a thousand men to go on what looked like a desperate
enterprise. Garibaldi had talked with Cavour, and between them, they
had schemed to overthrow the kingdom of the Two Sicilies and join this
land to the northern country. Of course, Cavour pretended not to know
anything about Garibaldi, for the king of Naples and Sicily was
supposed to be a friend of the king of Sardinia. Nevertheless, he
secretly gave Garibaldi all the help that he dared, and urged men to
enroll with him.
[Illustration: The First Meeting of Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel]
With his thousand "red-shirts," as they were called, Garibaldi landed
on the island of Sicily, at Marsala. The inhabitants rose to welcome
him, and everywhere they drove out the officers who had been appointed
by their king to rule them. In a short time, all Sicily had risen in
rebellion against the king. (You will remember that this family of
kings had been driven out by Napoleon and restored by the Congress of
Vienna in 1815. They were Bourbons, the same family that furnished the
kings of Spain and the last kings of France. They stood for "the
divine right of kings," and had no sympathy with the common people.)
Crossing over to the mainland, Garibaldi, with his little army now
swollen to ten times its former size, swept everything before him as
he marched toward Naples. Everywhere, the people rose against their
former masters, and welcomed the liberator. The king fled in haste
from Naples, never to return. A vote was taken all over the southern
half of Italy and Sicily, to decide whether the people wanted to join
their brothers of the north to make a new kingdom of Italy. It was so
voted almost unanimously. Victor Emmanuel, king of Sardinia, thus
became the first king of United Italy. He made Florence his capital at
first, as the country around Rome still belonged to the pope. The pope
had few soldiers, but was protected by a guard of French troops.
However, ten years later, in 1870, when war broke out between France
and Prussia, the French troops left Rome, and the troops of Italy
marched quietly in and took possession of the city. Rome, for so many
years the capital, not only of Italy but of the whole Mediterranean
world, became once more the chief city of the peninsula. The pope was
granted a liberal pension by the Italian government in order to make
up to him for the loss of the money from his former lands. The dream
of Italians for the last 600 years had finally come to pass. Italy was
again one country, ruled by the popular Victor Emmanuel, with a
constitution which gave the people the right to elect representatives
to a parliament or congress. One of the worst blunders of the Congress
of Vienna had been set right by the patriotism of the people of Italy.
It should be noted, however, that there are still Italians who are not
part of this kingdom. The county of Venetia, at the extreme northeast
of Italy, was added to the kingdom in 1866 as the result of a war
which will be told about more fully in the next chapter, but the
territory around the city of Trent, called by the Italians Trentino,
and the county of Istria at the head of the Adriatic Sea, containing
the important seaports of Trieste, Fiume, and Pola, are inhabited
almost entirely by people of Italian blood. Certain islands along the
coast of Dalmatia also are full of Italians. To rescue these people
from the rule of Austria has been the earnest wish of all Italian
patriots, and was the chief reason why Italy did not join Germany and
Austria in the great war of 1914.
[Map: Italy Made One Nation, 1914]
Questions for Review
1. Why did England and France side with Turkey against Russia?
2. What bargain did Cavour make with Napoleon III?
3. How did the rest of Italy come to join Sardinia?
4. Explain the origin of the "States of the Church."
5. Why did Sicily and Naples revolt against their king?
6. What Italians are not yet citizens of the kingdom of Italy?
The Man of Blood and Iron
The people demand their rights--Bismarck, the chief prop of the
Prussian monarchy--The question of the leadership of the German
states--The wonderful Prussian army--The war on Denmark--Preparing to
crush Austria--The battle of Sadowa--Easy terms to the defeated
nation--Preparing to defeat France--A good example of a war caused by
diplomats--Prussia's easy victory--The new German empire--Harsh terms
of peace--The triumph of feudal government.
All of this time, the kings of Europe had been engaged in contests
with their own people. The overthrow of the French king at the time of
the revolution taught the people of the other countries of Europe that
they too could obtain their liberties. You have already been told how
the people of Austria drove out Prince Metternich, who was the leader
of the party which refused any rights to the working classes.
That same year, 1848, had seen the last king driven out of France, had
witnessed revolts in all parts of Italy, and had found many German
princes in trouble with their subjects, who were demanding a share in
the government, the right of free speech, free newspapers, and trial
by jury. The empires of Austria and Russia had joined with the kingdom
of Prussia in a combination which was known as the "Holy Alliance."
This was meant to stop the further spread of republican ideas and to
curb the growing power of the common people.
Not long after this, there came to the front in Prussia a remarkable
man, who for the next forty years was perhaps the most prominent
statesman in Europe. His full name was Otto Eduard Leopold von
Bismarck-Schoenausen, but we generally know him under the name of
Bismarck. He was a Prussian nobleman, a believer in the divine right
of kings, the man who more than anybody else is responsible for the
establishing of the present empire of Germany. He once made a speech
in the Prussian Diet or council in which he said that "blood and
iron," not speeches and treaties, would unite Germany into a nation.
His one object was a united Germany, which should be the strongest
nation in Europe. He wanted Germany to be ruled by Prussia, Prussia to
be ruled by its king, and the king of Prussia to be controlled by
Bismarck. It is marvellous to see how near he came to carrying through
his whole plan.
After the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Prussia remained among the
powers of Europe, but was not as great as Austria, Russia, England, or
France. The German states, some 35 in number, had united in a loose
alliance called the German Confederation. (This union was somewhat
similar to the United States of America between 1776 and 1789.)
Austria was the largest of these states, and was naturally looked upon
as the leader of the whole group. Prussia was the second largest,
while next after Prussia, and much smaller, came the kingdoms of
Bavaria, Saxony, Hanover, and Wurtemburg. Bismarck, as prime minister
of Prussia, built up a wonderfully strong army. He did this by means
of a military system which at first made him very unpopular with the
people. Every man in the nation, rich or poor, was obliged to serve a
certain number of years in the army and be ready at a moment's notice
to join a certain regiment if there came a call to war.
Having organized this army, and equipped it with every modern weapon,
Bismarck was anxious to use it to accomplish his purpose. There were
two counties named Schleswig (shles'vig) and Holstein (hol'stin)
which belonged to the king of Denmark and yet contained a
great many German people. The inhabitants of Schleswig were perhaps
half Danes, while those of Holstein were more than two-thirds Germans.
These Germans had protested against certain actions of the Danish
government, and were threatening to revolt. Taking advantage of this
trouble, Prussia and Austria, as the leading states of the German
Federation, declared war on little Denmark. The Danes fought
valiantly, but were overwhelmed by the armies of their enemies.
Schleswig and Holstein were torn away from Denmark and put under the
joint protection of Austria and Prussia.
This sort of arrangement could not last. Sooner or later, there was
bound to be a quarrel over the division of the plunder. Now Bismarck
had a chance to show his crafty diplomacy. He made up his mind to
crush Austria and put Prussia in her place as the leader of the German
states. He first negotiated with Napoleon III, Emperor of the French,
and made sure that this monarch would not interfere. Next he
remembered that the provinces of Venetia, Trentino, and Istria still
belonged to Austria, as the Italians had failed to gain them in the
war of 1859. Accordingly, Bismarck induced Italy to declare war on
Austria by promising her Venetia and the other provinces in return for
her aid. Saxony, Bavaria, and Hanover were friendly to Austria, but
Bismarck did not fear them. He knew that his army, under the
leadership of its celebrated general, von Moltke, was more than a
match for the Austrians, Bavarians, etc., combined.
When Bismarck was ready, Prussia and Italy struck. The Austrians were
successful at first against the Italians, but at Sadowa in Bohemia,
their armies were beaten in a tremendous battle by the Prussians.
Austria was put down from her place as the leader of the German
Confederation, and Prussia took the leadership. Hanover, whose king
had sided with the Austrians, was annexed to Prussia. The king of
Prussia and several of his generals were anxious to rob Austria of
some of her territory, as had been the custom in the past whenever one
nation defeated another in war. Bismarck, however, restrained them. In
his program of making Prussia the leading military state in Europe, he
saw that his next opponent would be France, and he did not propose, on
attacking France, to find his army assailed in the rear by the
revengeful Austrians. Accordingly, Bismarck compelled the king to let
Austria off without any loss of territory except Venetia, which was
given to the Italians. Austria was even allowed to retain Trentino and
Istria, and was not required to pay a large indemnity to Prussia. (A
custom which had come down from the middle ages, when cities which
were captured had been obliged to pay great sums of money, in order to
get rid of the conquering armies, was the payment of a war indemnity
by the defeated nation. This was a sum of money as large as the
conquerors thought they could safely force their victims to pay.) The
Austrians, although they were angry over the manner in which Bismarck
had provoked the war, nevertheless appreciated the fact that he was
generous in not forcing harsh terms upon them, as he could have done
had he wanted to.
The eyes of all Europe now turned toward the coming struggle between
Prussia and France. It was plain that it was impossible for two men
like Bismarck and Emperor Napoleon to continue in power very long
without coming to blows. It was Bismarck's ambition, as was previously
said, to make Prussia the leading military nation of Europe, and he
knew that this meant a struggle with Napoleon. You will remember also
that he planned a united Germany, led by Prussia, and he felt that the
French war would bring this about. On the other hand, the French
emperor was extremely jealous of the easy victory that Prussia and
Italy had won over Austria. He had been proud of the French army, and
wanted it to remain the greatest fighting force in Europe. He was just
as anxious for an excuse to attack Prussia as Bismarck was for a
pretext to attack him.
It should be kept in mind that all this time there was no ill-feeling
between the French people and the Germans. In fact, the Germans of the
Rhine country were very friendly to France, and during Napoleon's time
had been given more liberties and had been governed better than under
the rule of their former feudal lords. All the hostility and jealousy
was between the military chiefs. Even Bismarck did not dislike the
French. He had no feeling toward them at all. It was part of his
program that their military power should be crushed and his program
must be carried through. Europe, to his mind, was too small to contain
more than one master military power.
The four years between 1866 and 1870 were used by Bismarck to gain
friends for Prussia among other countries of Europe, and to make
enemies for France. The kingdoms of south Germany (Bavaria, Baden, and
Wurtemburg), which had sided with Austria during the late war, were
friendly to France and hostile to Prussia. Napoleon III, however, made
a proposal in writing to Bismarck that France should be given a slice
of this south German territory in return for some other land which
France was to allow Prussia to seize. Bismarck pretended to consider
this proposal, but was careful to keep the original copy, in the
French ambassador's own handwriting. (Each nation sends a man to
represent her at the capital of each other nation. These men are
called ambassadors. They are given power to sign agreements for their
governments.) By showing this to the rulers of the little south German
kingdoms, he was able to turn them against Napoleon and to make secret
treaties with these states by which they bound themselves to fight on
the side of Prussia in case a war broke out with France. In similar
fashion, Bismarck made the Belgians angry against the French by
letting it be known that Napoleon was trying to annex their country
Meanwhile, aided by General von Moltke and Count von Roon (ron),
Bismarck had built up a wonderful military power. Every man in Prussia
had been trained a certain number of years in the army and was ready
at a moment's notice to join his regiment. The whole campaign against
France had been planned months in advance. In France on the other
hand, the illness and irritability of Napoleon III had resulted in
poor organization. Men who did not wish to serve their time in the
army were allowed to pay money to the government instead. Yet their
names were carried on the rolls. In this way, the French army had not
half the strength in actual numbers that it had on paper. What is
more, certain government officials had taken advantage of the
emperor's weakness and lack of system and had put into their own
pockets money that should have been spent in buying guns and
When at last Bismarck was all ready for the war, it was not hard to
find an excuse. Old Queen Isabella of Spain had been driven from her
throne, and the Spanish army under General Prim offered the crown to
Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern, a cousin of the king of Prussia. This
alarmed Napoleon, who imagined that if Prussia attacked him on the
east, this Prussian prince, as king of Spain, would lead the Spanish
army over the Pyrenees against him on the south. France made so
vigorous a protest that the prince asked the Spaniards not to think of
him any longer. This was not enough for Napoleon, who now proceeded to
make a fatal mistake. The incident was closed, but he persisted in
reopening it. He sent his ambassador to see King William of Prussia to
ask the latter to assure France that never again should Prince Leopold
be considered for the position of king of Spain. The king answered
that he could not guarantee this, for he was merely the head of the
Hohenzollern family. Prince Leopold, whose lands lay outside of
Prussia, was not even one of his subjects. The interview between the
king and the French ambassador had been a friendly one. The ambassador
had been very courteous to the king, and the king had been very polite
to the ambassador. They had parted on good terms.
[Illustration: An Attack on a Convoy in the Franco-Prussian War.]
In the meanwhile, Bismarck had been hoping that an excuse for war
would come from this incident. He was at dinner with General von
Moltke and Count von Roon when a long telegram came from the king,
telling of his interview with the French ambassador. In the story of
his life written by himself, Bismarck tells how, as he read the
telegram both Roon and Moltke groaned in disappointment. He says that
Moltke seemed to have grown older in a minute. Both had earnestly
hoped that war would come. Bismarck took the dispatch, sat down at a
table, and began striking out the message polite words and the phrases
that showed that the meeting had been a friendly one. He cut down the
original telegram of two hundred words to one of twenty. When he had
finished, the message sounded as if the French ambassador had bullied
and threatened the king of Prussia, while the latter had snubbed and
insulted the Frenchman. Bismarck read the altered telegram to Roon and
Moltke. Instantly, they brightened up and felt better. "How is that?"
he asked. "That will do it," they answered. "War is assured."
The telegram was given to the newspapers, and within twenty-four
hours, the people of Paris and Berlin were shouting for war. Napoleon
III hesitated, but he finally gave in to his generals and his wife who
urged him to "avenge the insult to the French nation."
[Illustration: The Proclamation at Versailles of William I as Emperor
We give this story of the starting of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870
just to show the tricks of European diplomats. What Bismarck did was
no worse than what the Frenchman, Talleyrand, would have done, or the
Austrian, Metternich, or several of the Turkish or Russian diplomats.
It simply proves how helpless the people of European countries are,
when the military class which rules them has decided, for its own
power and glory, on war with some other nation.
The war was short. The forces of France were miserably unprepared. The
first great defeat of the French army resulted in the capture of the
emperor by the Prussians and the overthrowing of the government in
Paris, where a third republic was started. One of the French generals
turned traitor, thinking that if he surrendered his army and cut short
the war the Prussians would force the French to take Napoleon III back
as emperor. Paris was besieged for a long time. The people lived on
mule meat and even on rats and mice rather than surrender to the
Germans, but at last they were starved out, and peace was made.
[Map: Formation of the German Empire]
In the meantime, another of Bismarck's plans had been successful. In
January, 1871, while the siege of Paris was yet going on, he induced
the kingdoms of Bavaria and Wurtemburg, together with Baden,
Hesse-Darmstadt, and all the other little German states to join
Prussia in forming a new empire of Germany. The king of Prussia was to
be "German Emperor," and the people of Germany were to elect
representatives to the Reichstag or Imperial Congress. Although at the
outset, the war was between the kingdom of Prussia and the empire of
France, the treaty of peace was signed by the republic of France and
the empire of Germany.
Bismarck was very harsh in his terms of peace. France was condemned to
pay an indemnity of 5,000,000,000 francs (nearly one billion dollars)
and certain parts of France were to be occupied by the German troops
until this money was fully paid. Two counties of France, Alsace and
Lorraine, were to be annexed to Germany. Alsace was inhabited largely
by people of German descent, but there were many French mingled with
them, and the whole province had belonged to France so long that its
people felt themselves to be wholly French. Lorraine contained very
few Germans, and was taken, contrary to Bismarck's best judgment,
because it contained the important city of Metz, which was strongly
fortified. Here the military chiefs overruled Bismarck. The desire
among the French for revenge on Germany for taking this
French-speaking province has proved that Bismarck was right. It was a
blunder of the worst kind.
The policy of "blood and iron" had been successful. From a second rate
power, Prussia had risen, under Bismarck's leadership, to become the
strongest military force in Europe. Schleswig had been torn from
Danish, Holstein from Austrian control. Hanover had been forcibly
annexed, and Alsace and Lorraine wrested from France. The greater part
of the inhabitants of these countries were bitterly unhappy at being
placed under the Prussian military rule. Moreover, it must be
remembered that a great deal of this growth in power had been at the
expense of the liberty of the common people. The revolution of 1848
had demanded free speech, free newspapers, the right to vote, and the
right to elect men to a congress or parliament, and while some of
these rights had been granted, still the whole country was under the
control of the war department. The emperor, as commander-in-chief of
the army, could suppress any newspaper and dismiss the congress
whenever he might think this proper. The Reichstag was, as it has been
called, a big debating society, whose members had the right to talk,
but were not allowed to pass any laws that were contrary to the wishes
of the military leaders.
Questions for Review
1. What was the reason for the revolts of 1848 all over Europe?
2. What was the object of the "Holy Alliance"?
3. What was Bismarck's purpose in building up a strong army?
4. How did Bismarck defeat Austria?
5. What is a war indemnity?
6. Explain how Bismarck made enemies for Napoleon III.
7. Why were the French alarmed when Spain offered its crown to Prince
Leopold of Hohenzollern?
8. What means did Bismarck use to bring on war with France?
9. Was Prussia's victory a good thing for her people?
The Balance of Power
The recovery of France.--The jealousy of the powers.--The policy of
uniting against the strongest.--The dream of Russia.--A war of
liberation.--The powers interfere in favor of the Turk.--The Congress
of Berlin.--Bismarck's Triple Alliance.--France and Russia are driven
together.--The race for war preparation.--The growth of big navies.
Under the third republic, France recovered very rapidly from the
terrible blow dealt her by Germany. Her people worked hard and saved
their money. In less than two years, they had paid off the last cent
of the one billion dollar indemnity, and the German troops were
obliged to go home. France had adopted the same military system that
Germany had, and required all of her young men to serve two years in
the army and be ready at a moment's notice to rush to arms. She began
also to build up a strong navy, and to spread her colonies in Africa
and other parts of the world. This rapid recovery of France surprised
and disturbed Bismarck, who thought that never again, after the war of
1870, would she become a strong power. He had tried to renew the old
"Holy Alliance" between Germany, Russia, and Austria with the idea of
preventing the spread of republics. These were the three nations which
gave their people very few rights, and which stood for the "divine
right of kings" and for the crushing of all republics. Bismarck called
this new combination the "Drei-kaiser-bund" or three-emperor-bond. He
himself says that the proposed alliance fell to pieces because of the
lies and treachery of Prince Gortchakoff, the Russian Minister of
 The first republic began in 1792, when King Louis XVI was beheaded,
the second in 1848 when Louis Philippe, the "citizen king," was driven
An incident which happened in 1875 helped to estrange Germany from
Russia. As was previously said, Bismarck was astonished and alarmed
when he saw how quickly France was getting over the effects of the
war. In 1875, some trouble came up again between France and Germany,
and Bismarck a second time planned to make war on the republic
and--complete the task that he had left unfinished in 1871. He wanted
to reduce France to the rank of a second class power, on a par with
Spain and Denmark. This time, however, England and Russia growled
ominously. They notified Bismarck that they would not stand by and see
France crushed--not from any love of France, but because they were
jealous of Prussia and afraid that the Germans might become too
powerful in Europe. Accordingly, Bismarck had to give up his idea of
war. Prussia was strong, but she could not fight England, Russia, and
France combined. However, he remembered that England and Russia had
spoiled his plans and waited for a chance to get revenge.
[Illustration: Peter the Great]
The great object of all European diplomats was to maintain what they
called "the balance of power." By this they meant that no one country
was to be allowed to grow so strong that she could defy the rest of
Europe. Whenever one nation grew too powerful, the others combined to
pull her down.
In the meantime, trouble was again brewing among the Balkan nations,
which were still subject to the Turks. Revolts had broken out among
the Serbians, and the people of Bosnia and Bulgaria. As has already
been told, these nations are Slavic, cousins of the Russians, and they
have always looked upon Russia as their big brother and protector. Any
keen-eared, intelligent Russian can understand the language of the
Serbs, it is so much like his own tongue. (Bel-grad, Petro-grad; the
word "grad" means "city" in both languages.)
Not only was Russia hostile toward the Turks because they were
oppressing the little Slav states, but she had reasons of her own for
wanting to see Turkey overthrown. Ever since the reign of Peter the
Great, Russia had had her eye upon Constantinople. Peter had conquered
the district east of the Gulf of Finland, and had founded St.
Petersburg there, just to give Russia a port which was free of
ice. In the same way, other czars who followed him had fought their
way southward to the Black Sea, seeking for a chance to trade with the
Mediterranean world. But the Black Sea was like a bottle, and the
Turks at Constantinople were able to stop the Russian trade at any
time they might wish to do so. Russia is an agricultural country, and
must ship her grain to countries that are more densely inhabited, to
exchange it for their manufactures.
 Now called Petrograd.
[Illustration: Entrance to the Mosque of St Sophia]
Therefore, it has been the dream of every Russian czar that one day
Russia might own Constantinople. Again, this city, in ancient days,
was the home of the Greek church, as Rome was the capital of the
western Catholic church. The Russians are all Greek Catholics, and
every Russian looks forward to the day when the great church of St.
Sophia, which is now a Mohammedan mosque, shall once more be the home
of Christian worship. With this plan in mind, Russian diplomats were
only too happy to stir up trouble for the Turks among the Slavic
peoples of the Balkan states, as Serbia, Bulgaria, Roumania, and
Montenegro are called. Glance at the two following maps of
southeastern Europe, and see how Turkey had been reduced in size
during the two hundred years which followed the Turkish defeat at the
gates of Vienna by John Sobieski and the Austrians. The state of
Bessarabia had changed hands two or three times, remaining finally in
the hands of Russia.
The revolts of the Balkan peoples in 1875 and 1876 were hailed with
joy among the Russians, and the government at St. Petersburg lost no
time in rushing to the aid of the Balkan states and declaring war on
Turkey. After a short but stubbornly contested conflict, Russia and
the little countries were victors. A treaty of peace was signed at San
Stephano, by which Roumania, Serbia, and Bulgaria were to be
recognized by Turkey as independent states. The boundaries of Bulgaria
were to reach to the Aegean Sea, including most of Macedonia, thus
cutting off Turkey from her county of Albania, except by water. Bear
this in mind, for it will help you to understand Russia's later
feeling when Bulgaria in 1915 joined the ranks of her enemies.
[Map: Southeastern and Central Europe, 1706]
[Map: Losses of Turkey during the Nineteenth Century]
[Illustration: The Congress of Berlin. Prince Gortchakoff (seated).
Disraeli (with cane). Count Andrassy. Bismarck.]
The matter was all settled, and Turkey had accepted these terms, when
once more the diplomats of Europe began to meddle. It will be
remembered that Russia three years before had prevented a second war
against France planned by Bismarck. It was very easy for him to
persuade Austria and England that if Russia were allowed to cripple
Turkey and set up three new kingdoms which would be under her control,
she would speedily become the strongest nation in Europe. The "balance
of power" would be disturbed. England and Austria sided with Germany,
and a meeting of statesmen and diplomats was called at Berlin in 1878
to decide once more what should be the map of Europe. Representatives
were present from all the leading European countries. Even Turkey had
two men at the meeting, but the three men who really controlled were
Bismarck, Count Andrassy of Austria, and Lord Beaconsfield (Benjamin
Disraeli) of England. Russia was robbed of a great part of the fruits
of her victory. Bulgaria was left partially under the control of
Turkey, in that she had to pay Turkey a large sum of money each year
for the privilege of being left alone. Her territory was made much
smaller than had been agreed to by the treaty of San Stephano. In fact
less than one-third of the Bulgarians were living within the
boundaries finally agreed upon by the congress. A great part of the
Serbians were still left under Turkish rule, as were the Greeks of
Thessaly and Epirus. The two counties of Bosnia and Herzegovina were
still to belong to Turkey, but as the Turks did not seem to be strong
enough to keep order there, Austria was to take control of them and
run their government, although their taxes were still to be paid to
Turkey. Austria solemnly agreed never to take them from Turkey.
Russia, naturally, was very unhappy over this arrangement, and so were
the inhabitants of the Balkan kingdoms, for they had hoped that now
they were at last to be freed from the oppression of their ancient
enemies, the Turks. Thus the Congress of Berlin, like that of Vienna
in 1815 laid the foundation for future wars and revolutions.
Bismarck now set out to strengthen Germany by making alliances with
other European states. He first made up with his old enemy, Austria.
Thanks to the liberal treatment that he had given this country after
her disastrous war of 1866, he was able to get the Austrians to join
Germany in an alliance which states that if two countries of Europe
should ever attack one of the two allies, the other would rush to her
The Italians were friendly to Germany, for they remembered that they
had gotten Venetia from Austria through the help of the Prussians, but
they had always looked upon the Austrians as their worst enemies. It
was a wonderful thing, then, when Bismarck finally induced Italy to
join with Austria and Germany in a "Dreibund" or "Triple Alliance."
The Italian people had been very friendly to the French, and this
going over to their enemies would never have been possible but for an
act of France which greatly angered Italy. For many years, France had
been in control of Algeria on the north coast of Africa. This country
had once been a nest of pirates, and the French had gone there
originally to clean them out. Next to Algeria on the east is the
county of Tunis, which, as you will see by the map, is very close to
Sicily and Italy. The Italians had been looking longingly at this
district for some time, intending to organize an expedition and
forcibly annex it to their kingdom. They waited too long, however, and
one fine day in 1881 they found the prize gone,--France had seized
this county for herself. It was Italy's anger over this act of France
more than anything else that enabled Bismarck to get her into an
alliance with Germany and her ancient enemy, Austria.
France now saw herself hemmed in on the east by a chain of enemies. It
looked as though Bismarck might declare war upon the republic at any
time, and be perfectly safe from interference, with Austria and Italy
to protect him. Russia, smarting under the treatment which she had
been given by the Congress of Berlin, was full of resentment against
Germany. Both the French and the Russians felt themselves threatened
by Bismarck's Dreibund, and so, in self-defense each country made
advance toward the other. The result was the "Dual Alliance" between
France and Russia, which bound either country to come to the aid of
the other in case of an attack by two powers at once.
In this way, the balance of power, disturbed by Bismarck's "Dreibund,"
was again restored. Many people thought the forming of the two
alliances a fine thing, "for," said they, "each party is now too
strong to be attacked by the other. Therefore, we shall never again
have war among the great powers."
England was not tied up with either alliance. On account of her
position on an island, and because of her strong navy, she did not
feel obliged to keep a large standing army such as the great powers on
the continent maintained.
These nations were kept in constant fear of war. As soon as France
equipped her army with machine guns, Germany and Austria had to do the
same. As soon as the Germans invented a new magazine rifle, the
Russians and French had to invent similar arms for their soldiers. If
Germany passed a law compelling all men up to the age of forty-five to
report for two weeks' military training once every year, France and
Russia had to do the same. If Italy built some powerful warships,
France and Russia had to build still more powerful ones. This led to
still larger ships built by Germany and Italy. If France built a fleet
of one hundred torpedo boats, the Triple Alliance had to "go her one
better" by building one hundred and fifty. If Germany equipped her
army with war balloons, Russia and France had to do the same. If
France invented a new kind of heavy artillery, Germany and Austria
built a still bigger gun.
This mad race for war equipment was bad enough when it had to do only
with the five nations in the two alliances about which you have been
told. However, the death of the old emperor of Germany in 1888 brought
to the throne his grandson, the present Kaiser, and he formed a
plan for making Germany the leading nation on the sea as Bismarck had
made her on the land. He saw France and England seizing distant
colonies and dividing up Africa between them. He at once announced
that Germany, too, must have colonies to which to export her
manufactures and from which to bring back tropical products. This
meant a strong navy to protect these colonies, and the race with
England was on. As soon as Germany built some new battleships, England
built still others, larger and with heavier guns. The next year,
Germany would build still larger ships, and the next England would
come back with still heavier guns. As fast as England built ships,
Germany built them. Now, each battleship costs from five to fifteen
million dollars, and it does not take long before a race of this kind
sends the taxes too high for people to stand. There was unrest
throughout Europe and murmurs of discontent were heard among the
The present Kaiser's father reigned only ninety-nine days, as he was
a very sick man at the time of the old emperor's death.
Questions for Review
1. How did France pay off her war indemnity so promptly?
2. Why did Bismarck's three-emperor-alliance fail?
3. What is meant by "the balance of power"?
4. What was the condition of the Serbs, Bulgarians, etc. before 1878?
5. Why did Russia covet Constantinople?
6. Why did the powers prevent the treaty of San Stephano from being
7. What wrongs were done by the Congress of Berlin?
8. Why did Bismarck form the Triple Alliance?
9. How was he able to induce Italy to join her old enemy, Austria?
10. What was the effect of the formation of the Triple Alliance on
France and Russia?
11. What result had the formation of the two alliances on the
12. How was England brought into the race for war equipment?
The "Entente Cordiale"
Ancient enemies.--England and France in Africa.--A collision at
Fashoda.--Germany offers to help France.--Delcasse the peacemaker.--A
French-English agreement.--Friendship takes the place of
hostility.--England's relations with Italy, Russia, and
Germany.--Germans cultivate the friendship and trade of Turkey.--The
Morocco-Algeciras incident.--The question of Bosnia and
Herzegovina.--England joins France and Russia to form the "Triple
Entente."--The Agadir incident.
England and France had never been friendly. There had been wars
between them, off and on, for five hundred years. The only time that
they had fought on the same side was in the campaign against Russia in
1855, but even then there was no real sympathy between them.
In the year 1882, events happened in Egypt which gave England an
excuse for interfering with the government of that country. Egypt was
a part of the Turkish empire, but so long as it paid a certain amount
of money to Constantinople, the Turks did not care very much how it
was governed. But now a wild chief of the desert had announced himself
as the prophet Mohammed come to earth again, and a great many of the
desert tribesmen had joined him. They cut to pieces one or two English
armies in Egypt, and killed General Gordon, a famous English soldier.
It was 1898 before the English were able to defeat this horde. Lord
Kitchener finally beat them and extended the English power to the city
of Khartoom on the Nile.
[Illustration: An Arab Sheik and His Staff]
In the meantime, the English millionaire, Cecil Rhodes, had formed a
plan for a railroad which should run the entire length of Africa from
the Cape of Good Hope to Cairo. It was England's ambition to control
all the territory through which this road should run. But the French,
too, were spreading out over Africa. Their expeditions through the
Sahara Desert had joined their colonies of Algeria and Tunis to those
on the west coast of Africa and others along the Gulf of Guinea. In
this same year, 1898, while Lord Kitchener was still fighting the
Arabs, a French expedition under Major Marchand struggled across the
Sahara and reached the Nile at Fashoda, several miles above Khartoom.
Marchand planted the French flag and announced that he took possession
of this territory for the republic of France.
The English were very indignant when they heard of what Marchand had
done. If France held Fashoda, their "Cape to Cairo" railroad was cut
right in the middle, and they could advance their territory no farther
up the valley of the Nile. They notified France that this was English
land. Marchand retorted that no Englishman had ever set foot there,
and that the French flag would never be hauled down after it had once
been planted on the Nile. Excitement ran high. The French people had
no love for England, and they encouraged Marchand to remain where he
was. The English newspapers demanded that he be withdrawn. Germany,
which had already begun its campaign to wrest from England the leading
place on the ocean, was delighted at the prospect of a war between
France and the British. The German diplomats patted France on the
back, and practically assured her of German help in case it came to a
war with England.
Germany now felt that she had nothing more to fear from France. The
French population was not increasing, while Germany was steadily
growing in numbers. It was England whom Germany saw across her path
toward control of the sea.
There was a man in France, however, who had no thought of making up
with Germany. The memory of the war of 1870 and of the lost provinces
of Alsace and Lorraine was very strong with him. This was Theophile
Delcasse, a little man with a large head and a great brain. He refused
to be tempted by the offers of German help, thinking that England,
with its free government, was a much better friend for the republic
than the military empire of Germany could be.
Just when the trouble was at its height, the English ambassador came
to see Mr. Delcasse, who at that time was in charge of the French
foreign office. He had in his pocket an ultimatum, that is to say, a
final notice to France that she must give in or England would declare
war on her. As he walked into Delcasse's presence, he began fumbling
with the top button of his coat. "Don't touch that button," said
Delcasse quickly. "Drop your hand. You have something in your pocket
which must not be taken out. It is a threat, and if I see it, France
will fight. Sit down. Let us talk this matter over coolly. Matters
will adjust themselves all right in the end." And they did. Delcasse
was finally able to quiet the French people, to recall Marchand from
Fashoda and to persuade France to refuse the offer of German
friendship. England was given a free hand in Egypt, without any
interference from the French. Naturally the English were very grateful
to Delcasse for having refused to profit by German help and declare
war. In return for the French agreement to stay out of Egypt, the
English promised to help France get control of Morocco.
Very soon after this, Queen Victoria of England died, and her son,
Edward VII, became king. He had spent a great deal of time in France,
and was very fond of the French and was popular with them. He saw the
growing power of Germany, and knew that England could not afford to be
without a friend in Europe. He did his best to bring about a feeling
of friendship between the English and the French, and was very
successful in doing so. He made frequent visits to France, where he
was received with great cordiality. In return the English entertained
the president of France in London in a princely fashion. French
warships paid friendly visits to English waters, and the sailors
mingled with each other and did their best to understand each other's
language. All France, and England as well, welcomed the beginning of
the "Entente Cordiale," or friendly understanding between the two
England also went out of her way to cultivate a friendly understanding
with Italy. With the other nations of Europe England had no great
friendship. Between England and Russia, there had been a hostile
feeling for a long time, for the British felt that the Russians would
like nothing better than to stretch their empire from Siberia, down to
include British India, or at least Afghanistan and Baluchistan, where
the British were in control.
The emperor of Germany, on the other hand, was planning for the future
growth of the trade of his country. Since his coming to the throne,
Germany had made wonderful progress in the direction of manufactures.
She had become one of the leading nations of the world. One of her
chief questions was, where to market these goods. In 1896 the emperor
paid a visit to Syria and Turkey. He was received with great
enthusiasm by the Turks, who were glad to have one strong friend among
the powers of Europe. Soon afterwards the Germans began to get more
and more of the trade of the Ottoman Empire. A German company was
given permission by the Turks to build a railroad across Turkey to the
Persian Gulf through Bagdad. German railways ran through
Austria-Hungary, which was Germany's ally, to Constantinople and
Salonika, the two greatest ports of Turkey in Europe. This short
overland route to Persia was looked upon with suspicion and distrust
by the English, whose ships up to this time had carried on almost all
of Europe's commerce with India and the neighboring countries.
[Illustration: A Scene In Constantinople]
Germany was reaching out for colonies. She secured land on the west
coast of Africa and, on the east as well. A tract of land in the
corner of the Gulf of Guinea also fell to her share. Islands in the
Pacific Ocean were seized. Her foreign trade was growing by leaps and
bounds, and she threatened to take away from England a great deal of
the latter's commerce.
The German emperor announced that he must always be consulted whenever
any changes of territory took place, no matter in what part of the
earth. Therefore in 1905 when France, with the help of Great Britain
and Spain, told the sultan of Morocco that he had to behave himself,
the German emperor in person made a visit to Morocco and assured the
sultan that he didn't have to pay any attention to France.
There was a great deal of excitement over this incident, and a meeting
was held at Algeciras, Spain, where representatives of all the great
powers came together. In the end, France and England were upheld, for
even Italy, Germany's ally, voted against the Germans. On the other
hand, Delcasse, the Frenchman who settled the Fashoda trouble, was
compelled to resign his position as minister of foreign affairs
because the Germans objected to him, and the French felt that Germany
had humiliated them.
In 1908, the "young Turk" party in Constantinople (the party which
stood for progress and for more popular government) drove the old
sultan off his throne, and announced that there should be a Turkish
parliament, or congress, to which all parts of the empire should send
You will remember that two counties of the Turkish empire, Bosnia and
Herzegovina, had been turned over to Austria to rule by the Congress
of Berlin in 1878. Austria at the time solemnly promised that she
would never try to annex these provinces. In 1908, however, she forgot
all about her promise. When Bosnia and Herzegovina wanted to elect men
to represent them in the new Turkish parliament, Austria calmly told
them that after this they should consider themselves part of the
Austrian Empire, that they belonged to Turkey no longer.
The two provinces were inhabited largely by Serbs, and all Serbia had
looked forward to the day when they should once more be joined to
herself. These states, like Montenegro, had been part of the ancient
kingdom of Serbia. As long as they were in dispute between Austria and
Turkey, Serbia had hopes of regaining them, but when Austria thus
forcibly annexed them, it seemed to the Serbs that they were lost
Serbia appealed to Russia, for as was said, all the Slavic states look
upon Russia as their big brother. The Russians were highly indignant
at this breaking of her promises by Austria, and the czar talked of
war. His generals and war ministers, however, dissuaded him. "Oh, no,
your majesty," said they, "we are in no shape to fight Austria and
Germany. Our army was badly disorganized in the Japanese war three
years ago, and we shall not be ready for another fight for some time
to come." Russia protested, but the German emperor notified her that
he stood by Austria, and asked Russia if she was ready to fight.
Russia and France were not ready, and so they were obliged to back
down, but did so with a bitter feeling toward the "central empires,"
as Germany and Austria are called.
It has already been shown that England for a long time had been
suspicious of Russia, fearing that the northern power was aiming at
control of India. Of late this hostile feeling had been dying out,
especially as the friendship between France and Great Britain grew
stronger. It was impossible for Russia, France's partner in the Dual
Alliance, to remain unfriendly to England, France's ally in the
"Entente Cordiale." Both England and Russia felt that the growth of
Germany and the ambition of her war chiefs threatened them more than
they had ever threatened each other.
In 1907 Russia and England reached an understanding by which they
marked off two great parts of Persia for trading purposes, each
agreeing to stay in her own portion, and not disturb the traders of
the other country in theirs. After this Russia, England, and France
were usually found acting together in European diplomacy, under the
name of the "Triple Entente." The "balance of power" had been leaning
toward Germany and her allies, but the English navy, added to the
scales on the other side, more than balanced the advantage in land
forces of the Triple Alliance.
Three years later, Morocco again gave trouble, and France, with
England's backing and Spain's friendship, sent her troops among the
Moors to enforce law and order. Any one could see that with Tunis and
Algeria already in French hands, it was only a question of a little
while before Morocco would be theirs also.
This time Germany rushed her warship Panther to the Moorish port of
Agadir. This was a threat against France, and the French appealed to
England to know whether they could look to her for support. Russia was
now in much better shape for war than she had been three years before,
and notified France that she was ready to give her support. Therefore,
when Mr. Lloyd-George, the little Welshman who was really the leader
of the British government, stood up before a big crowd of English
bankers and told the world that "to the last ship, the last man, the
last penny," England would support France, it was plain that somebody
would have to back down or else start a tremendous European war.
It was now Germany's turn to give way. Strong as she was, she did not
propose to fight France, Russia, and England combined. So, although
the French gave Germany a few square miles of land in central Africa
in return for the Kaiser's agreement to let France have her way in
Morocco, the result was a backdown for Germany, and it left scars
which would not heal.
During all this period from 1898 to 1914 there were incidents
happening, any one of which might have started the world war. Fashoda,
Algeciras, Bosnia, Agadir--each time it seemed as if only a miracle
could avert the conflict. Europe was like a powder magazine. No man
knew when the spark might fall that would bring on the explosion.
Questions for Review
1. What were the plans of the English regarding Africa?
2. How did Major Marchand threaten the peace of Europe?
3. Why was Germany ready to help France?
4. Why did Delcasse desire to keep peace with England?
5. Why was England suspicious of Russia?
6. Why did Germany cultivate the friendship of the Turks?
7. Why did not the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria
start a general European war?
8. Why did England and Russia become friendly?
9. Why did not the Agadir incident bring about a war?
The Sowing of the Dragon's Teeth
The growth of German trade.--Balkan hatreds.--The wonderful alliance
against Turkey.--The sympathies of the big nations.--Their
interference and its results.--A new kingdom.--The second war.--The
work of diplomacy.--The wrongs and grievances of Bulgaria.
Germany's position in Europe was not favorable to her trade. Her
ships, in order to carry on commerce with the peoples of the
Mediterranean, had to go a great deal farther than those of France or
England. As a result, the Germans had been looking toward
Constantinople and southwestern Asia as the part of the world with
which their commerce ought to grow. It was Germany's plan to control
the Balkan countries and thus have a solid strip of territory,
including Germany, Austria, the Balkan states, and Turkey through
which her trade might pass to Asia Minor, Persia, and India.
The feelings of the Balkan peoples for each other has already been
explained. The Bulgarians hated the Serbians, with whom they had
fought a bloody war in 1885. The Serbians despised the Bulgarians. The
Albanians had no love for either nation, while the Greeks looked down
on all the others. Montenegro and Serbia were friends, naturally,
since they were inhabited by the same kind of people and had once been
parts of the original kingdom of Serbia.
[Map: Turkey As the Four Balkan Allies intended to divide it.
Bulgaria in 1909 announced to the world that she would pay no more
tribute to Turkey, and after this was to be counted one of the
independent nations of Europe. The Bulgarians had grown so strong and
the Turks so weak, that Turkey did not dare go to war, so permitted
the matter to go unnoticed. The only thing on which all the Balkan
nations and Greece could agree was their bitter hatred of the Turks,
who had oppressed and wronged them cruelly for the last three hundred
and fifty years.
Russia, always plotting to overthrow Turkey, at last accomplished a
wonderful bit of diplomacy. She encouraged Bulgaria, Serbia,
Montenegro, and Greece to forget their old time dislike of each other,
for the time being, and declare war jointly on Turkey. In order that
there should not be any quarreling over the spoils when the war was
over, the four little nations agreed, in a secret treaty, that when
they got through with Turkey, they would divide up the carcass as
shown in the opposite map. The head, including Constantinople, was to
be left for Russia, of course. Bulgaria was to take the back and the
great part of the body, Greece was to annex the drumsticks and the
second joint. The rest of the body was to go to Serbia with the
exception of the very tail, including the city of Scutari, which was
to be given to Montenegro. Serbia was at last to have a seacoast and a
chance to trade with other nations than Austria. The Serbs had a
grudge against the Austrians, for the latter, taking advantage of the
fact that all Serbian trade with Europe had to go through their
country, had charged them exorbitant prices for manufactured goods and
paid them very little for their own products in return. Bulgaria was
to have Kavala (ka va'la) as a seaport on the Aegean and all the
coast of that sea as far as the Gallipoli (gal i'po li)
peninsula. Greece was to have the important city of Salonika
(saloni'ka), southern Macedonia, and southern Albania.
With this secret agreement between them, the four little states went
to war with Turkey. In accordance with the new friendship sprung up
between Germany and the Ottomans, German officers and generals were
sent to Constantinople to drill the Turkish troops. Cannon and machine
guns were sent them from German factories, and their rifles were fed
with German bullets. The four little countries, accordingly, turned to
France and Russia for assistance. Their troops were armed with French
cannon and machine guns, and their military advisers were French and
Russians. While the big nations managed to keep out of the war
themselves, all were strongly interested in one side or the other.
The result was a complete surprise to Austria and Germany. To their
consternation and disgust, the four little nations made short work of
the Turkish troops. In eight months, Turkey was thoroughly beaten, and
the allies were ready to put through their program of dividing up the
And now, once more, the great powers meddled, and by their
interference laid the foundation for future wars and misery. Austria
and Germany saw their path to Constantinople and the east cut right in
two. Their railroads, instead of passing through a series of countries
under German control, now were to be cut asunder by an arm of Slavic
states under Russian protection, which would certainly stop German
progress toward Asia.
With the map as it had been before the war of 1912, there was one
little strip of territory, called the Sanjak of Novibazar, between
Serbia and Montenegro, which connected Turkey with Austria. To be
sure, this country was inhabited almost entirely by Serbians, but so
long as it was under the military control of Austria and Turkey,
German railway trains bound for the east could traverse it. Now Serbia
and Montenegro proposed to divide this country up between themselves.
Serbia, by gaining her seaport on the Adriatic, could send her trade
upon the water to find new markets in Italy, Spain, and France.
The Italians had always wanted to control the Adriatic Sea. They
longed for the time when the cities of Trieste and Pola should be
turned over to them by Austria. The cities of Durazzo (du rat'zo)
and Avlona on the Albanian coast were inhabited by many Italians, and
Italy had always cherished the hope that they might belong to her.
Therefore, the Italians did not take kindly to the Serbian program of
seizing this coast. At any rate, as soon as the four little countries
announced their intention of dividing up Turkey in Europe among
themselves, Austria, Germany, and Italy raised a great clamor.
Another meeting of representatives of the great powers was held, and
once more the Germans were able to carry their point. Instead of
allowing the four little countries to divide up the conquered land
between them, the powers made a fifth small country, the kingdom of
Albania, and brought down from Germany a little prince to rule over
these wild mountaineers. Notice that the Albanians were not consulted.
The great powers simply took a map, drew a certain line on it and
said, "This shall be the kingdom of Albania, and its king shall be
Prince William of Wied." Again we have a king-made map with the usual
trail of grievances.
This arrangement robbed Montenegro of Scutari, robbed Serbia of its
seaport on the Adriatic, and robbed Greece of the country west of
Janina (ya ni'na). France and Russia did not like this program, but
they did not feel like fighting the Triple Alliance to prevent its
being put into effect.
[Map: Changes as a Result of the Two Balkan Wars 1912-13]
The three little countries, separated from a great part of their new
territory, now turned to Bulgaria, and, practically, said to her,
"Since we have been robbed of Albania, we will have to divide up all
over again. You must give us part of your plunder in order to 'make it
square.'" Now was the time for the ancient ill-feeling between the
Bulgarians and their neighbors to show itself. In reply to this
invitation, Bulgaria said, in so many words, "Not a bit of it. Our
armies bore the brunt of the fight. It was really we who conquered
Turkey. Your little armies had a very insignificant part in the war.
If you want any more land, we dare you to come and take it." And the
Bulgarians made a treacherous night attack on their recent allies,
which brought a declaration of war from the three little nations.
This quarrel, of course, was exactly what Germany and Austria wanted.
It accomplished their purpose of breaking up this Balkan alliance
under the protection of Russia. So with Austria and Germany egging on
Bulgaria, and Russia and France doing their best to induce Bulgaria to
be reasonable and surrender some land to Greece and Serbia, the second
Balkan war began in 1913 almost before the last cannon discharged in
the first war had cooled.
Again, Europe was astonished, for the victorious Bulgarians, who had
been mainly responsible for the defeat of the Turks, went down to
defeat before the Serbians and Greeks on the bloody field of
Bregalnitza (breg'al nit za). To add to Bulgaria's troubles,
the Turks, taking advantage of the discord among their late
opponents, suddenly attacked the Bulgarians in the rear and stole back
the city of Adrianople, which had cost the Bulgarians so much trouble
to capture. In the meantime, Roumania, which up to this point had had
no part in any of the fighting, saw all of her neighbors growing
larger at the expense of Turkey. The Roumanian statesmen, asking what
was to be their share of the spoils, and moved simply by a greedy
desire to enlarge their kingdom, declared war on Bulgaria also.
Poor Bulgaria, fighting five nations at once, had to buy peace at the
best price she could make. She bought off Roumania by giving to her a
strip of land in the country called the Dobrudja (do brood'ja)
between the Danube River and the Black Sea. She had to agree to a new
boundary line with Turkey by which the Turks kept Adrianople. She had
to give Kavala and the surrounding country to Greece and the territory
around Monastir (mo na stir') to Serbia, although these districts
were inhabited largely by her own people.
Bulgaria had in vain appealed to her ancient friend and protector,
Russia. The Russians were disgusted to think that the Bulgarians had
refused to listen to them when they urged them to grant some small
pieces of land to Greece and Serbia at the close of the first war.
They felt that the Bulgarians had been headstrong and richly deserved
what they got. Therefore, Russia refused to interfere now and save
Bulgaria from humiliation. In the end, Austrian diplomacy had
accomplished a great deal of mischief. The Balkan alliance under the
protection of Russia was badly broken up. The old hostility between
Serbia and Bulgaria, which had been buried for the time being during
the first Balkan war, now broke out with greater force than ever.
Bulgaria sulked, feeling revengeful against all of her neighbors, but
especially angry at Russia, who had always been her friend before.
Questions for Review
1. Why did the Germans desire a road to the east?
2. What was the one thing on which the Balkan nations were united?
3. What was Russia's purpose in helping to form the Balkan Alliance?
4. Why did the great powers interfere to prevent the four little
countries from carrying out their secret agreement?
5. What was the cause of the second Balkan war?
6. Which powers were glad and which were sorry to see it begin?
7. Why was Bulgaria angry with all her neighbors?
[Illustration: A Modern Dreadnaught]
The race for power on the sea.--The "naval holiday" declined.--The
declining birth-rate.--The growth of the Socialists.--The militarists
of Germany.--How wars cure labor troubles.--The forces behind the war
game.--Profits and press agents.
Let us turn back to the great powers of Europe. We spoke of their mad
race, each nation trying to build more ships and bigger ships than its
neighbors and to outstrip them in cannon and other munitions of war.
The German navy had been growing by leaps and bounds. From being the
sixth largest navy in the world, within ten years it had grown to
second place. But, fast as the Germans built ships, the English built
them more rapidly still. England built a monstrous battleship called
the Dreadnaught, which was twice as heavy as any other battleship
afloat. Germany promptly replied by planning four ships of the
dreadnaught class, and England came back with some still larger
vessels which are known as super-dreadnaughts.
At last, the English first lord of the navy, Mr. Winston Churchill,
proposed to Germany that each country take a "naval holiday." In other
words, he practically said to Germany, "If you people will stop
building warships for a year, we will also. Then at the end of the
year, we shall be no worse off or better off than we were at the
Germany laughed at this proposal. To her, it showed that England could
not stand the strain very much longer. "Besides," said the Germans,
"it is all very well for England to be satisfied with her present
navy, which is half again as large as ours. If our navy were the
strongest in the world, we too would be glad to have all nations stop
building warships," and they laid down the keels of four new
But other things disturbed the peace of mind of the German
militarists. For a long time, the population of France had not been
increasing, while Germany almost doubled her numbers from 1860 to
1900. Now, to their dismay, the German birth-rate began to grow less
and they saw the population of Russia growing larger by 20% every ten
years. Again, they learned that Russia was about to build a series of
railroads near the German frontier which would enable them to rush an
army to attack Germany at very short notice. The Germans already had
such railroads in their own country, but they did not propose to let
their neighbors have this advantage also.
Again, France had recently passed a law forcing every young man to put
three years in military service instead of two. This would increase
France's standing army by 50 per cent. The German people, who up to
this time had been very docile and very obedient to the military rule,
were showing signs of discontent. The Socialists, a party who
represented the working people largely, and who were strongly opposed
to war, had been growing very fast. In the last election, they had
gained many representatives in the German congress, and had cast over
4,000,000 votes. The only thing that kept them from having a majority
in the Reichstag (the German congress) was the fact that in some
districts, the voters of the other parties combined against them. In
this way, the military class still held control of the German
government, but it was afraid that it would not be for long.
With nearly half the able-bodied men in the country spending their
time drilling and doing guard duty, the other half of the population
had to earn money enough to support their own families and also the
families of the men in the army. As one writer has put it, "Every
workingman in Europe carried a soldier on his back who reached down
and took the bread out of his platter."
The program of Bismarck was still in the minds of the military leaders
of Germany. The military class must rule Prussia, Prussia must rule
Germany, and Germany must be the greatest power in Europe. To their
minds, war between Germany and her allies and the rest of Europe must
come. Being warriors by trade and having nothing else to do, they saw
that, if the great war were postponed much longer, the chances of
Germany's winning it would grow less and less. France and Russia were
growing stronger and Germany was unable to catch up to England's navy.
It should be remembered that this class made up a small part only of
the German nation. Their influence was all out of proportion to their
numbers. They controlled the government, and the government controlled
the schools and the newspapers. The people believed what they were
told. They were simply parts of the war machine. Bismarck's policy had
been to crush his enemies one by one. He never entered a war until he
was sure that Prussia was bound to win it. In like fashion, the German
military chiefs of 1914 hoped to conquer France and Russia before
England was ready. It was the old story as told by Shakespeare. "Our
legions are brim full, our cause is ripe. The enemy increaseth every
day. We, at the height, are ready to decline."
Russia, too, was having her troubles. After the czar had promised the
nation a constitution and had agreed to allow a duma or parliament to
be called together, the military class, who were trying to keep the
common people under control and in ignorance as much as possible had
been able to prevent the duma from obtaining any power. It had much
less freedom than the German Reichstag. It was permitted to meet and
to talk, but not to pass laws. If any member spoke his mind freely, he
was sent to Siberia for life. There were murmurs and threats. There
were labor troubles and strikes. The people of Russia, especially
those living in cities, were learning how little freedom they had,
compared with citizens of other countries, and the time seemed ripe
for a revolution.
It has always been the policy of kings to take the minds of their
people off their own wrongs by giving them some foreign war to think
about. Although the Russian government did all that it could to
prevent the war without completely betraying Serbia, still the war
probably put off the Russian Revolution for two years.
It must be kept in mind that in Germany and especially in Prussia
there was a class of people who had no trade but war. These were the
so-called Junkers (Yoonkers), direct descendants of the old
feudal barons. They were owners of rich tracts of land which had been
handed down to them by their fore-fathers. The rent paid to them by
the people who lived on their farms supported them richly in idleness.
Just as their ancestors in the old days had lived only by fighting and
plundering, so these people still had the idea that anything that they
could take by force was theirs.
Bismarck was a Junker of Junkers. He had nothing but contempt for the
common people and their law-making bodies. In the early days when he
was Prime Minister of the Prussian kingdom, the Congress had refused
to vote to raise certain moneys through taxes that Bismarck advised,
because he wanted to spend all of it in preparations for war. In spite
of the vote of the representatives of the people, Bismarck went right
on collecting the money and spending it as he wished. Later on, after
the Prussian army had won its rapid victories, first over the Danes,
then over the Austrians, and lastly over the French, the Prussian
people, swollen with pride at what their armies had accomplished,
forgave Bismarck for riding rough-shod over their liberties. But
Bismarck was able to do what he did because he had the backing of the
king and the great land-owning Junker class.
In 1870 this was the only class in Prussia that had any power. By
1914, however, a change had come about. The wonderful development of
Germany's trade and manufacturing had brought wealth and power to the
merchant class and these had to be considered when plans for war were
Naturally, the outbreak of war disturbs trade very much, especially
trade with foreign countries. A great deal of the German commerce,
carried on with Great Britain, the United States, South America, and
far distant colonies, had to travel over the ocean. German merchants
would never support a war cheerfully if they thought that their trade
would be interrupted for any length of time. So the Junkers, when they
made up their minds to wage war for the conquest of France and Russia,
persuaded the merchants that after these countries had been conquered
they would be forced to give a big sum of money to Germany which would
more than pay her back for the full cost of the war. Then the Russians
would be compelled, as a result of the war, to promise to trade only
with German merchants and manufacturers, and thus everybody in Germany
would be much richer.
 When England came in, the merchants of Germany were very
down-hearted, for they saw all their over-seas trade cut off at a
blow. But the Junkers called together the leading merchants and bribed
them with promises. In the year 1918 one of the prominent
manufacturers of Germany made a statement which got out and was
published in the countries of the Entente. After telling how the blame
for the war was to be laid at the door of the land-owning, military
class, he confessed that he personally had been bribed to support the
war by the promise of thirty thousand acres of Australian land, which
was to be given to him after Germany had conquered the world. This, of
course, was pure piracy; the motto of Prussia for some time had been
that piracy pays.
There was one class of manufacturers who did not lose trade, but
gained it through a war. This was composed of the makers of guns and
munitions. They were clamorously back of the Junkers in their demands
for war. These people profited by preparation for war. They kept
inventing newer and stronger guns so that the weapons which they had
sold the governments one year would be out-of-date the next, ready to
be thrown on the scrap heap. In this way, the factories were kept
working over-time and their profits were enormous. This money, of
course, came out of the taxes of the common people.
Their surplus profits the munition makers invested sometimes in
newspapers. It was proved in the German Reichstag in 1913 that the
great gun-makers of Prussia had a force of hired newspaper writers to
keep up threats of war. They paid certain papers in Paris to print
articles to make the French people think that the Germans were about
to attack them. These same gun-makers in Berlin tried to persuade the
German people that the French were on the point of attacking them.
All of this played into the hands of the Junkers by making people all
over Europe feel that war could not be avoided. Thus when the Junkers
were ready to strike and the great war broke out, people would say,
"At last it has come, the war that we knew was inevitable."
Questions for Review
1. Why did Germany decline to take a "naval holiday"?
2. What is meant by "strategic railroads"?
3. Why were the military leaders alarmed at the growth of the
4. What was the fate of popular government in Russia?
5. How did the Junkers owe their power to the feudal system?
6. How were the German merchants won over to war?
7. What part had the gun-makers in bringing on war?
The Spark that Exploded the Magazine
The year 1914.--England's troubles.--Plots for a "Greater
Serbia."--The hated archduke.--The shot whose echoes shook the whole
world.--Austria's extreme demands.--Russia threatens.--Frantic
attempts to prevent war.--Mobilizing on both sides.--Germany's
tiger-like spring.--The forts of the Vosges Mountains.--The other path
to Paris.--The neutrality of Belgium.--Belgium defends herself.
The year 1914 found England involved in serious difficulties. Her
parliament had voted to give home rule to Ireland. There was to be an
Irish parliament, which would govern Ireland as the Irish wanted it
governed. Ulster, a province in the northeast of Ireland, however, was
very unhappy over this arrangement. Its people were largely of English
and Scotch descent, and they were Protestants, while the other
inhabitants of Ireland were Celts and Catholics. The people of this
province were so bitter against home rule that they actually imported
rifles and drilled regiments, saying that they would start a civil war
if England compelled them to be governed by an Irish parliament.
There were labor troubles and strikes, also, in England, and
threatened revolutions in India, where the English government was none
too popular. Altogether, the German war lords felt sure that England
had so many troubles of her own that she would never dare to enter a
general European war.
Meanwhile, the Serbians, unhappy over the loss of Bosnia and
Herzegovina to Austria, were busily stirring up the people of these
provinces to revolt. The military leaders who really ruled Austria,
were in favor of crushing these attempted uprisings with an iron hand.
One of the leaders of this party, a man who was greatly hated by the
Bosnians, was the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, nephew of the emperor and
heir to the throne. He finally announced that he was going in person
to Sarajevo (sae rae ye'vo) in Bosnia to look into the situation
himself. The people of the city warned him not to come, saying
that his life would be in danger, as he was so hated. Being a
headstrong man of violent temper, he refused to listen to this advice,
but insisted on going. His devoted wife, after doing her best to
dissuade him, finally refused to let him go without her.
When it was known that he was really coming, the Bosnian
revolutionists laid their plans. They found out just where his
carriage was to pass, and at almost every street corner, they had some
assassin with bomb or pistol. One bomb was thrown at him, but it
exploded too soon, and he escaped. Bursting with indignation, he was
threatening the mayor for his lax policing, when a second assassin, a
nineteen year old boy, stepped up with a pistol and shot to death the
archduke and his wife.
Many people have referred to this incident as the cause of the great
European war. As you have been shown, however, this was simply the
spark that exploded the magazine. With the whole situation as highly
charged as it was, any other little spark would have been enough to
set the war a-going.
The Austrian government sent word to Serbia that the crime had been
traced to Serbian plotters, some of them in the employ of the
government. It demanded that Serbia apologize; also that she hunt out
and punish the plotters at once. And because Austria did not trust the
Serbians to hold an honest investigation, she demanded that her
officers should sit in the Serbian courts as judges.
Imagine a Japanese killed in San Francisco, and think what the United
States would say if the Tokio government insisted that a Japanese
judge be sent to California to try the case because Japan could not
trust America to give her justice! The Serbians, of course, were in no
position to fight a great power like Austria-Hungary, and yet,
weakened as they were, they could not submit to such a demand as this.
They agreed to all the Austrian demands except the one concerning the
Austrian judges in Serbian courts. They appealed to the other powers
to see that justice was done them.
Russia growled ominously at Austria, whereupon Germany sent a sharp
warning to Russia that this was none of her affair, and that Austria
and Serbia must be left to fight it out. In the meantime, Serbia
offered to lay the matter before the court of arbitration at the
Hague. (In 1899, at the invitation of the czar of Russia,
representatives of all the great powers of Europe met at the Hague to
found a lasting court which should decide disputes between nations
fairly, and try to do away with wars, to as great an extent as
possible. The court has several times been successful in averting
Great Britain proposed that the dispute between Austria and Serbia
should be judged by a court composed of representatives of France,
England, Italy, and Germany. Austria's reply to the proposals of
England and Serbia was a notice to the latter country that she had
just forty-eight hours in which to give in completely to the Austrian
demands. In the mean-time, Mr. Sazanoff, the Russian minister of
foreign affairs, was vainly pleading with England to declare what she
would do in case the Triple Alliance started a war with France and
Kings and ministers telegraphed frantically, trying to prevent the
threatened conflict. The story was sent out by Germany that Russia was
gathering her troops, mobilizing them, as it is called. As Russia has
so much more territory to draw from than any other country, and as her
railroads are not many and are poorly served, it was figured that it
would be six weeks before the Russian army would be ready to fight
anybody. Germany, on the other hand, with her wonderful system of
government-owned railroads, and the machine-like organization of her
army, could launch her forces across the frontier at two days' notice.
As soon as the Germans began to hear that the Russians were mobilizing
their troops against Austria, Germany set in motion the rapid
machinery for gathering her own army. She sent a sharp message to
Russia, warning the latter that she must instantly stop mobilizing or
Germany would declare war. Next the Germans asked France what she
intended to do in case Germany and Austria declared war on Russia.
France replied that she would act in accordance with what seemed to be
her best interests. This answer did not seem very reassuring, and
without any declaration of war, the German army rushed for the French
Now ever since the war of 1870, France had been building a line of
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