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Europe (1848-1871)

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New Ideas and Changing Assumptions in European Culture and Politics

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After the revolutions of 1848 failed throughout Europe, conservative forces were able to reassert their dominance throughout the Continent. Why was it so easy for them to do so?

The reassertion of conservative and "law and order" stability throughout Europe was probably due to the support the members of the middle class gave to those conservative elements in government. The revolutions of 1848 had changed, since the beginning of the uprisings in Paris, to those of a more radical bent, led by workers and students with radical ideas and leftist leanings. The middle class--lawyers, civil servants, doctors, other professionals, merchants--was frightened of the instability and uncertainty that developed from radical leadership of the waves of change. Therefore, in response to that uncertainty, the middle class put their trust in conservative elements that promised to return order and stability to a previously dangerous European situation.

Did the Crimean War mark the end of Russian military dominance on the Continent? Discuss arguments for both sides of the question before coming to your own conclusion.

Some historians argue that due to the utter defeat Russia experienced in the Crimean War, the charade that Russia was strongest power on the Continent, a notion maintained since the defeat of Napoleon, finally ended. Soldiers were poorly led, the navy was antiquated, and the armed forces could not succeed against a smaller British and French force. However, an argument can be made that the Crimean War brought about an improvement in the Russian military. Military reforms and the emancipation of the serfs freed up millions for military service, and the army and navy were reorganized for the future. One can say that the defeat was a wake-up call that pushed Russia out of its complacency and forced it to make sure it really did have the strongest army in the world. However, that argument is based only on a theoretical approach. History tells us that the Russia army was quite weak, defeated by the Japanese in 1905 and destroyed by the Germans in 1914.

What were the effects, in terms of European international relations, of the creation of a unified German Empire in the center of Europe? Assess the effects from the perspectives of various other nations in Europe.

The unification of Germany was a revolution in international relations, overturning centuries of foreign policy perspectives since the days of Henry IV of Navarre in France. Traditionally, France had dedicated itself to the maintenance of Germanic division in central Europe for fear of the awesome power one nation could wield in the strategically important and resource-rich center of Europe. With that tradition gone, the European balance of power was upset. From France's perspective, it marked a real danger to security. From Austria's view, it marked the end of Austrian power in the Germanic provinces and the lasting dominance of Prussia-Germany in foreign policy. From Russia's view, the organization of Germany into one powerful nation should have been received with some fear, since the nation stretched from Russian lands to France. No one can really tell how England may have viewed it, since the country was still enforcing its "splendid isolation" from European affairs.

What were some of the main differences between the processes of unification undertaken in Italy and Germany? What were some of the similarities? Is there one unifying theory or concept that was necessary to both processes?

"The Crimean War began a period of great reform in Russia, never seen before and never repeated since." Assess the validity of this statement using specific examples of reforms in Russia from 1855-1871.

Why did Camillo di Cavour succeed with his plan to unite the Italian nation while Giuseppe Garibaldi failed in his?

How could Napoleon III be described as the first modern politician? Use specific examples from the Second Empire in answering this question.

Explain, in brief, the philosophical debate ongoing between the Liberal and Conservative parties in Great Britain during the Victorian Age. Use specific examples of laws passed and changes made during the Gladstone and Disraeli governments to elaborate.

Why did Great Britain avoid some of the major uprisings that plagued Europe in 1848? What about the British situation seemed to make it immune to radical revolt?

Compare the forcible unification of the United States via Union victory in the American Civil War with the unification of the German Empire. Compare Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation with Alexander II's Emancipation Edict.

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