Balance of Power The European geopolitical system based on the assumption
that nations are inherently expansionist, which maintained peace
by pitting various camps or alliances of equal power against each other,
thereby minimizing one nation's ability to conquer and disrupt
the peace. The system originated after the
defeat of Napoleon, continued throughout the nineteenth
century in Europe and succeeded at promoting peace. The balance
of power collapsed in 1914 under the pressure of the arms race,
a shift in the criteria of power, and the mistaken expectation
of a short war rather than the World War that
Scramble for Africa 1875-1912; the term used to describe Europe's rush
to colonize and divide up the African continent in the latter part
of the nineteenth century; this coincided with imperialism throughout Asia.
Three Emperors' League 1873; an alliance coordinated by German Chancellor
Otto von Bismarck between the three most conservative powers in Europe--Germany,
Austria-Hungary, and Russia. Each nation pledged to consult the
others on matters of mutual interest and guaranteed that in case
one went to war with a nation in western Europe, the other two
would remain neutral. The league showed Bismarck's plan to eliminate
the threat of a two-front war for Germany; also suggests the prevalence
of the balance of power.
Labour Party A British political party that first gained prominence
in 1892 with the election if its first representative to the House
of Commons; represented the interests of British workers and called
for the beginnings of socialist platform, and generally advocated
the welfare state, government intervention in the economy, protection
to workers, a short work day, et cetera.
Congress of Berlin 1878; the peace conference concluding the First Balkan
Crisis, in which Russia supported the nationalist revolt of Bosnia-Herzegovina
against the Ottoman Empire. Bosnia and Herzegovina were turned
over to Austria-Hungary and Russia pledged to abandon its support
of Serbia nationalism--all in the name of the balance of power.
Kulturkampf Literally, "struggle for civilization"; the name given
to Germany's campaign against Catholics and the influence of Catholics
in government in the name of loyalty to the German state; included
barring priests from government office, restricting religious education,
and instituting civil marriage. Eventually the policy caused such
concern from the general population that the Catholic Center party
gained a substantial showing in the Reichstag, forcing the government
to back down from its repression.
Triple Alliance 1882; the alliance as it stood after Italy was asked
to join; this maintained the balance of power in Europe in the
face of the Triple Entente.
Triple Entente 1907; informal alliance between France, Russia, and
Great Britain; France and Russia had maintained an alliance since 1895.
Great Britain joined in reaction to ominous developments on the
Continent, especially the formation of the Triple Alliance.
Social Democratic Party By 1914, the largest single party in the German Reichstag; represented
the left of the political spectrum, held a Marxist political and
economic philosophy, and adapted to cooperation within the democratic
system. Socialist democrats advocated a state socialist system--welfare
state, union power, unemployment insurance, worker protection,
et cetera--within the government. Unlike the violent revolutionaries,
this party supported a gradual development from capitalism to socialism by
making changes beneficial to the worker within the capitalist government.
Afrikaners The mostly Dutch descendant of whites who had settled
in South Africa over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries before British
imperialists came. Virulently racist, with strong notions of racial
superiority, they came into conflict with the British when gold
deposits were discovered in the Afrikaner province of Transvaal.
Treaty of Nanking 1842; the first of the "unequal treaties" between China
and the European powers that gave the west important inroads and economic
dominance in China's port cities and trade. An utter humiliation
to the Chinese, the treaty forced the Chinese to pay huge indemnities
to the British and grant large spheres of influence to its conquerors.
Spheres of influence Territories, ports, shipping lines, rivers, et cetera
in which one nation held exclusive rights to profits and investment;
granted to most European states by China after numerous military
defeats throughout the second half of the nineteenth century.
Extraterritoriality The policy that foreigners were exempt from Chinese
law enforcement and that, though on Chinese land, they could only be
judged and tried by officials of their own nation who generally
looked the other way when profit was the goal; contributed to considerable
indignation on the part of the Chinese.
1889; the attempt by General Georges Boulanger to orchestrate his
election to the presidency of France and establish a military dictatorship.
He skillfully manipulated the press and photo opportunities to
endear himself to the agrarian poor of France, while maintaining
his base of support among conservatives. Still, the coup attempt
failed when he did not receive enough votes.
First Balkan Crisis
1874-1878; Bosnia and Herzegovina rebelled against Ottoman rule,
leading to Serbia declaring war on the Ottoman Empire on 30 June
1876. Russia, based on its foreign policy of pan-Slavism, declared
war on the Ottomans in due course. Britain, interested in maintaining
the balance of power and protecting its Mediterranean holdings
that depended upon the status quo, nominally supported the Turkish
sultan. Sultan Hamid II of Turkey sought peace in January 1878.
Second Balkan Crisis
1885; conflict between Bulgaria and Serbia over territory;
Russia warned it was ready to occupy Bulgaria if it did not yield
to Serbian claims, at which point Austria-Hungary stepped in to support
Bulgaria; Germany supported Austria- Hungary and the Russians backed
down; led to the breakdown of the Three Emperors' League because
Russia felt betrayed by Germany.
Third Balkan Crisis
1912-1913; Italy in conflict with the Ottoman Empire
over holdings around the Adriatic Sea; Serbia takes advantage of weakened
Ottoman Empire to attack Bulgarian lands for her own sea port;
Russia supports Serbia and Austria-Hungary supports Bulgaria, while
Britain and Germany urged peace; this crisis enraged Serbs against
Austria-Hungary for its support of Bulgaria and its continued occupation
1894; Alfred Dreyfus, an Alsatian Jew, was tried and
convicted of treason for selling French military secrets to the
Germans. The media went on extensive investigations to discover
the truth and when conclusive evidence emerged to prove his innocence, the
entire French nation became caught up in the issue. Conservatives
generally supported his conviction in the name of national unity
and anti-Semitism, while liberals and supporters of the government
demanded his exoneration in the name of liberty and truth; he was
1884; conference held to legitimize the Belgian King
Leopold II's claim to control the Congo Basin. The conference
granted him recognition and set out formal requirements for future international
recognition: "effective occupation" designed for economic development
would be required, meaning that no longer did plunging a flag into
the ground mean it was occupied.
1899-1902; a conflict between the British and the Afrikaner population
of South Africa caused by British interests in mining gold out
of Afrikaner land. The war progressed rather poorly for the better-equipped,
better-trained, and larger British army. Under inept leadership
and harassed by effective Afrikaner guerrilla tactics, the British
were forced fight the Boer War for three years. In 1902, the British
accepted the conditional surrender of the Afrikaners in which the
entire colony was united under British rule; however, the British
promised the Afrikaners that no decision to include the black majority
in government would be made before rule was returned to the Afrikaners.
1839-1842; conflict between China and Britain over Britain's illegal
trading of opium in the Chinese market. The British blockaded
Chinese ports, besieged Canton, and occupied Shanghai before the
Chinese sought peace in the Treaty of Nanking.
1900; with secret encouragement from the Chinese empress,
the Boxers, dedicated to ending foreign exploitation in north China, killed
scores of European and seized the large foreign legation in Beijing.
Reacting immediately, an international expeditionary force of
Japanese, Russian, British, American, German, French, Austrian
and Italian troops sacked Beijing to protect the interests of their
respective countries. Afterward, the European powers propped up
a weak central government for their own economic benefit.