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A Moment of Silence (1866-1870)

As Austria rebuilds from the wreckage that was its loss to Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War, Chancellor Friedrich Ferdinand von Beust of Austria wished to see Austria resurgent, and Prussia crushed. He sought to make an alliance with the Second French Empire, Austria would only create said alliance if the young Kingdom of Italy was part of the alliance. However, Victor Emmanuel, who wanted to create the alliance, knew his recently established rule would disintegrate if he joined, as the Italian popular opinion was heavily against France. France occupied the city of Rome, for the purpose of defending the Pope Pius IX against the nationalistic Italians, and unless France left the city Italy had declared its capital, the alliance could not be created. Pope Pius IX didn't wish to see himself lose the last vestige of power the Papal States had, and refused any deal which Napoleon III proposed.

Von Beust and Napoleon worked together with Victor Emmanuel II of Italy to try to turn the Pope's decision, and went to the Pope's cardinals for help. They worked to put pressure on the Pope, enough so that he'd agree to let the French soldiers leave. Pope Pius IX remained defiant as deal after deal was proposed, but none were acceptable, and left the French, Italians, and Austrians between a rock and a hard place. However, when the Pope's cardinals began to turn their opinions towards knuckling under the political pressure, Pius began to reconsider. He finally gave into negotiating with the political powers that be, who agreed to give him certain financial abilities in Rome, as long as he agreed to recede his authoritative area to the Vatican itself. Pope Pius IX agreed, and the Rome Agreement of 1867 was signed on November 13, and the next day the Italian Army, and therefore the government, was introduced to Rome, now the de facto as well as the de jure capital of Italy.

With the Roman Question answered, the Italian public opinion turned in favor of France when news got out of Napoleon III's role in the compromise. On November 28, 1867, the Triple Alliance of Italy, France, and Austria was created, which was made as an organization against the Kingdom of Prussia, and its allies.

On Christmas Day, 1867, the ironically named Three Kings, Napoleon III of France, Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, and Franz Joseph I of Austria met in Vienna to discuss the possible outcomes and effects of a war with Prussia. The same day, the King of Prussia, Wilhelm I, met with the Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in Berlin along with the Prussian General Staff. Von Bismarck, also Foreign Minister of Prussia, needed to set a common reaction for Prussia and its allies to follow. They resolved that to counterattack the threat of a surrounded Prussia, they needed a method of breaking the alliance, or of creating their own. As Prussia's North German Confederation was the reigning powerhouse of Germany, the southern states of Germany, Baden, Wurttemberg, and Bavaria remained mostly neutral to the simmering tensions.

However, on January 27, 1868, Prussia and the southern states established the Council of Germany, an interlocking foreign policy group, created out of the German states. The Council met in the city of Frankfurt, and deemed that the threat of the Triple Alliance likely applied to all of the German states. They agreed to begin a series of military integration projects in the case of warfare, and the general staffs of all the member nations met constantly in Frankfurt.

But Bismarck had grown to be distrustful of the Bavarians, and feared they were in league with the Austrians, as they had been in the Austro-Prussian War. He feared that if their military secrets were being leaked to the enemy, then the structural integrity of the Prussian Army was being compromised. He had discussed the possibility of this occurring often with the King, who agreed that something had to be done to keep the Bavarians in their subordinate place. They agreed that in this case, they needed a larger ally to secure the safety of the Kingdom of Prussia, and sought Italy as their target.

Betrayal in the Midst

As the political battlefield of Europe began to grow, Bismarck sought to turn Italy into a Prussian ally, rather than a Franco-Austrian one. He knew that even though the apparent stance of the Italians was pro-Austrian, they were likely still suspicious of the Austrians, after years of fighting them for independence. He correctly assumed if Prussia could offer them a better deal, the Italian government would turn towards Prussian favor. However, if any deals were to be made, it was possible the Council of Germany would stand in his way, as all foreign policy decisions had to be universal, and that the Bavarians would stand in his way. In this case, Bismarck instead decided that he would send the telegraph secretly to the Italian government, without the knowledge of Wilhelm I. He offered the Italian king, Victor Emmanuel II that if they would secretly join into an alliance with the Kingdom of Prussia, they would be given the Austrian Illyrian provinces upon a victory over the Austrians, and also argued that because the Italians had no land connection to Germany, that they stood nothing to gain from defeating them.

Secret backroom talks opened up between Bismarck and Victor Emmanuel II, and he knew if the talks were found out, that Wilhelm may have Bismarck evicted from office, or worse. In the end, on August 2, 1868, Bismarck met with King Wilhelm I and told him that he had secured the prospect of a secret alliance with the Kingdom of Italy. Wilhelm agreed with von Bismarck that if Italy were kept as a double agent in the opposing Triple Alliance, it served to benefit the two countries even more so. The Council of Germany, having failed in its purposes to the Prussians, was disbanded in late 1868, and a secret deal signed by Wilhelm and Victor Emmanuel on November 20.

A secret system of contacts were established between the two governments, but they needed to define a common strategy against the French and Austrians. They decided to quickly defeated the Austrians with their combined forces in the east, while fighting off possible French attacks in the west. From there they would move their complete efforts against France, and from there they would secure a treaty ending the theoretical war.

The Last Chance For Peace

As 1869 dawned, the two sides of the conflict worked around the clock on the surface to see to it that no war would happen, while underneath, a secret world of treaties and agreements developed between the four powers. Prussian popular opinion was heavily against the French, who many believed to be the last major roadblock on the way to a single Germany. The popular idea was that if the French could be defeated, then no power on the continent of Europe would remain that was equal to, or greater than, a unified Germany. The public opinion was also well shared with the General Staff, much of whom believed war with France was inevitable. But still, the foreign ministry under Otto von Bismarck kept trying to reach a detente with the French and Austrians. But working against them was many historical rivalries and conflicts that pushed the two towards war.

France was under the threat of seeing the power of Prussia overwhelm their own, and Napoleon III needed to secure his empire, still relatively young, as the ruling power of France. Napoleon was elected to the presidency of France in 1848 to a government ruled by Bourbon monarchists and staunch republicanists. After his ascension to the monarchy in 1852, he faced deep opposition, and by 1870 though he was inevitably in the midst of a popular revolution that would uproot his government. He needed a big event that would prove his ability as a leader, and that would save his position in French politics. Austria still sought revenge against Prussia for their loss in the 1866 war, and for this purpose, sought its alliance with France and Italy. But soon began immediate events that turned the mass of opinions against each other, and began the steady road to a great war.

In 1868, a Revolution in Spain overthrew the Queen Isabella II of Spain, and the new government sought to establish Leopold, a cousin of King Wilhelm, as the new King of Spain. But Napoleon III fought against the decision, knowing a Hohenzollern in the east and in the west would encircle him, leaving France on the losing end of a possible war. Leopold, facing political pressure, declined the offer, but tensions rose nonetheless between France and Prussia.

After the Hohenzollern Crisis began to settle down, the Ems Dispatch Crisis began. After the mistranslation of a dispatch that the Chancellor Bismarck had sent to King Wilhelm I of the French ambassador's demands after the Prussians backed down in the previous crisis. The French wanted certain things to ensure the Prussians would remain out of the affairs of Spain and its monarchy. Following the editing of the document by Chancellor von Bismarck, who ached for war with France, the message he gave to Wilhelm was that the French ambassador had made a direct insult to the Prussian king. After the Dispatch was published, the public opinion turned heavily towards anti-French sentiment, and on July 19, 1870 France declared war on Prussia, with support from Austria, and originally from Italy.

The War of Nations (1870-1872)

As the situation that became the War of Nations unfolded, the four participants chose sides, beginning with Austria declaring war on Prussia on July 25, now they just waited for Italy to declare war. Italy did declare war on July 27, but not on Prussia, instead, to their allies' surprise, on the French and the Austrians. They mobilized to begin their war with Austria first, as per the plans they coordinated with Prussia, and the element of surprise was their best weapon. As the hold of the Italians betrayal set in, the war began to unfold into a war that would make and break entire nations. On August 4, the Italo-Prussian invasion of the Austrian Empire began, much the same as it did in the previous war, turning apparent favor against the war for Austria.

See: War of Nations

After the War of Nations, France and Austria-Hungary were forced to recover from a disastrous war that left northern France in ruin, Austria in tatters, and both countries in political chaos and upheaval. Franz Joseph I of Austria looked outward for financial help, and a sympathetic, and ethnically similar German Empire. In there times of economic depression following the War, Otto von Bismarck still appreciated the fact that Germans existed within, and were a major part of, Austria-Hungary. He, along with Wilhelm I, sought a policy of being a "friendly neighbor" with Austria-Hungary, but secretly, the two of them knew that Austria-Hungary was a dying state. It was too big, had too many different people in it, and its government was too ineffective at handling all of these nationalities. However, as economic stability came with the German financial help, the Austro-Hungarian Empire remained in a somewhat-stable state.

Rebuilding (1872-1880)

France, now under the Third French Republic, was the most devastated by the war, and even though they had paid their war reparations to the Germans rather quickly, the economy and political system remained in shambles. Adolphe Thiers had become the de facto French head of state, ruling as a relative President for the time being, and it was his shear iron will that kept the French Republic alive. But against his best efforts, violent opposition remained in the new country, but his free trade and protectionist ideas got France's economy back on its feet. Many foreign investors were very willing to participate in a free, democratic France, but in 1873, under the pressures from parliament, Thiers resigned, and later that year Patrice de MacMahon, the General of Sedan, was elected the First President of France.

However, on May 16, 1877, by which point MacMahon had been a rather successful President, he dismissed the Republican Prime Minister, Jules Simon, and dismissed the heavily republican National Assembly. He wished to see a monarchist re-take over of France, but a pro-Republican coup overthrew him, and his cabinet was dismissed, and the National Assembly reinstated. MacMahon was sent to lived back south in Corsica for the rest of his life, until he died in 1893, and he was disgraced now, even more so than after Sedan. But even after his overthrow, France continued to prosper, and the Republicans gained solid control over every aspect of government, and secured the lasting French Third Republic, culminating in MacMahon's replacement with Jules Grévy, a republican.

As the Germans consolidated power in the 1870's Europe, their ally, Italy, underwent a period of liberalization, and the liberal-conservative right wing controlled politics in this era. Prime Minister Marco Minghetti oversaw a period of economic prosperity develop in the nation, but when the liberal-conservative right split, and people began to turn towards more leftist ideologies, Minghetti was in a tight spot. To appease a new opposition made of leftists, he allowed for the nationalization of the railways, but the split between liberals and conservatives didn't help him any when he was ousted in 1876 in favor of Agostino Depretis. The Depretis period started the long Liberal Era of Italian history, even if Depretis' first government only lasted for two years.

However, when Depretis tried turning Italy into a near authoritarian state under the Transformismo policy, he became rather heavily controversial. He has opposition leader sentenced to internal exiles or outright arrested and sent to penal colonies across Italy's islands. His apparent corruption lead to him giving modest rewards for areas that voted in his supporters, and only four right wing representatives were elected in the controversial

Agostino Depretis, Prime Minister of Italy 1876-1878, 1878-1879, and 1881-1887

election year of 1876. However, in 1878, he was temporarily thrown out of office by Benedetto Cairoli in March, but Depretis retook the office in December of that year. But even under Depretis' government, the Italian Parliament enacted new laws that abolished the imprisonment system for debt, and public education on the elementary level for the general populace, while ending compulsory religious education.

Under German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, Germany developed through the 1870's as a continental power on Europe in the following way:

  • Foreign Policy: A conservative foreign policy, keeping Fran ce weak, and leave the resentful state out of Germany's radar. Even though France sought an alliance with Russia, who Germany's relations with were iffy at best, but Germany overall tried, ultimately unsuccessfully out of each others politics and unaligned with each other.
  • Religion: By the 1860's, Prussia's population was growing rapidly, and by that point was one-third Catholic. Shortly after become Chancellor of the German Empire, Bismarck launched an anti-Catholic program called the Kulturkampf (cultural struggle). The Catholic Church was seen as a too powerful to Bismarck, and the 1870's saw Bismarck lead the German Empire through a long period of anti-Catholic religious persecution. In the end, most of the policies were repealed in the late-1870's at the request of the heavily-Catholic Kingdom of Italy.
  • Economy: Despite the best efforts of the German Empire, the Vienna Stock Exchange crashed in 1878, launching the world (mostly America and Europe) into the Long Depression, stinting German progress. The German economic growth had been started in the 1850's, and was now stifled by what the Germans called the Gründerkrise. In his efforts of free trade expansion, Bismarck had left out protectionism, but was now required to set in place tariffs of German-made products. The National Liberal Party, which had originally Bismarck
    Otto von bismarck

    Otto von Bismarck, 1st Chancellor of the German Empire

    backed Bismarck in the Reichstag, now disappeared, but Bismarck had made sure to separate himself from it after the party ended up being the sole supporter of the Anti-Catholic policies, which had died off by 1880.
  • Germanization:Bismarck's government also became known for its Germanization policy, in which, to avoid a mess like what was happening within Austria-Hungary, he wished to see the Poles integrated into German society, generally to avoid them nationalizing.
  • Socialism: The Social Democratic Party of Germany began its rise during the 1870's, which seriously worried Bismarck. He passed the Anti-Socialist Laws in 1878, which forbade socialist meetings and organizations, along with the circulation of literature seen as socialist. Many leaders of the German socialist movement were arrested, and tried. But against Bismarck's best efforts, the support for the Social Democratic Party, and socialism in general, grew under his administration. The SDP gained momentum in the Reichstag, but only by running independent candidates. But despite his anti-socialist efforts, Bismarck helped to turn Germany into one of the world's first welfare states, establishing pensions, medical care, and unemployment insurance. This helped more to his cause than the Anti-Socialist Laws, by undermining the SDP's voting base, industrial workers.

Although the Long Depression would last until the 1890's Germany began recovering rather quickly, but still remained in an economic depression, keeping with a static economy. Austria-Hungary remained hard-hit by the depression, and Italy, in high spirits, kept a small growth rate compared to its allies. The 1870's saw the Long Depression take shape, and saw France try, mostly unsuccessfully, to keep her spirits up against their real problems. Britain managed to stay out of the broken continental Europe, her economic troubles in the past had prepared her for the Long Depression, although Ireland was hit heavily by Potato Famine at the time. Russia, like the United States, however, managed to stay out of the political turmoil, and also like the United States, saw three periods of recession and recovery throughout the Long Depression.

The Second Industrial Revolution (1880's)

Although in the 1860's, the process of Bessemer steel marked the beginning of the Second Industrial Revolution, but it was in the 1880's that the core of the Second Industrial Revolution and of the Gilded Age, would form. Between 1880-1882, Thomas Edison developed the electrical light as a viable source of light, and established the Edison Illumination Company on December 17, 1880, and out of New York City. The Company pioneered the Edison

Thomas Edison, American inventor and businessman

electrical power industry, and under this Company, Edison developed the electrical generator, and copper-electrical wires. His direct current generator first turned on generating electricity on September 4, 1882, the 5000 sq ft generator, and powered 400 lamps for 85 customers. Within just two years, that number would increase to 508 customers, and 10,164 lamps, showing the Company's amazing ability to expand and innovate.

Charles F. Brush, another American, installed carbon arc lights along Broadway, New York City between 1880-1886, and had a small generator built in Manhattan. The lights went into service on December 20, 1880 and the Brooklyn Bridge, finished on May 24, 1883, had seventy arc lamps installed on it, and by 1886, around 1,500 of these arc lights had been installed across Manhattan.

In Russia and Ireland, innovators looked to the seas, or rather underneath them. Stefan Drzewiecki of Russia finished his project submarine, which he had begun in 1879, and units were quickly ordered by the Ministry of War in Russia, eventually numbering up to 50 submarines. However, after they were determined ineffective, and scraped, Stefan turned to France in 1887, where he began designing submarines for the stabilized French government. While John Phillip Holland, between 1881-1883 built the Fenian Ram submarine for the Fenian Brotherhood, and Irish republican organization. Although Holland tested the submarine numerous times, funding disputes with the Irish Republican Brotherhood, they stole Holland's designs and prototypes in November 1883.

Advances also came in automobiles during this period; William Edward Ayrton and John Perry built an electric tricycle, with a range of 10-25 miles, and with a lead acid battery, it was significant for its use of headlamps. James Atkinson invented his namesake Atkinson cycle engine, which increased the efficiency of preceding engines. Karl Benz of Germany invented what many consider the world's first automobile in 1885, with his Benz Patent Motorwagen. It had wire wheels, a four-stoke engine, and the advanced cotton oil engine, and he patented it on January 29, 1886 as DRP-37435. Although it would take Henry Ford's assembly line to make automobiles widely available, it was in the 1880's we find the automobile taking its roots.

But it was under these technologically advancing times, Wilhelm I, and Otto von Bismarck, looked outward, and across the seas for power. Germany launched a campaign for colonial possessions, concurrent with the expansion of the idea of New Imperialism. Germany launched a colonial campaign, which saw them gaining ground in Africa and Southeast Asia, which surprised many of the German citizens. Bismarck had originally
350px-Colonial Africa 1913 map.svg

Africa, Divided after the Berlin Conference

famously said "I am no man for colonies," but in this period, he believed expanding German economic strength was imperative to building the empire. He saw overseas possessions as a way to protect foreign trade, and to build on and expand raw material resources and markets. In 1884, Berlin became the home of pan-European negotiations, which saw the last parts of Africa become claimed and colonized by European imperial powers. The Berlin Conference established Germany's colonial empire with German Southwest Africa, German East Africa, and German West Africa.

However, Germany, with greater colonial ambitions, also established the colony of German New Guinea in 1884. France, having gained political ground since the War of Nations, now had a colonial empire, spanning from French Guiana in the West, to the new colony of Indochina in the East. But one event turned Germany even more towards the seas than simple colonial possessions.

On May 8, 1888, a German cruiser was traveling from German New Guinea to German East Africa, and then on its course to Kiel in the Fatherland. However, while traveling through the Dutch East Indies, the ship docked in the capital of the Dutch East Indies, Batavia (modern-day Jakarta). Dutch colonial authorities raided the ship hours after docking, believing it was smuggling illicit drugs out of the East Indies to Europe. After fighting back against the Dutch forces, two German soldiers were killed, and a dozen more were wounded. The Dutch only suffered five wounded, and none fatally, but after finding no drugs on board the ship, although now with fewer men, the ship sailed out of the port. When news of this event came to Europe, the German Emperor, now Friedrich III, was enraged, and ordered the Dutch to pay the German families of the dead soldiers, or face Germany's wrath. Rather than pay, the Dutch looked to Britain, asking their traditional ally for help in getting the Germans off their backs. Britain remained neutral on the subject, but the British government advised the Dutch that the cost of paying reparation may be the least of their worries otherwise. But rather than admit their fault, the Dutch held fast to their innocence, and refused to pay the reparation, it looked as though the two were on the brink of war.

See: Dutch-German War

With the war over, and the Netherlands and Britain soundly victorious, Germany was humiliated, Friedrich III, having still suffered from cancer, died in December 1888, but still wanted to make sure Bismarck was fired. He left it in a list of goals that he left to his son Wilhelm, who made sure that Bismarck was fired in 1889, forcing him from the political spotlight after 28 years. Bismarck retired to civilian life, and he was succeeded by Leo von Caprivi, a liberal, supported by both the Progressive and National Liberal Parties. Caprivi and Friedrich worked toward detente and peace with the British Empire, as both Friedrich and Caprivi were reformers, working to take Germany away from its militaristic past, or at least to make it seem like less of a military monstrosity. For military funding, they instead looked to strengthen the power of Germany's friends and its power on the seas. The German High Seas Fleet was ordered in the Naval Act of 1890, and work began on a world-class ocean-going navy. The main strength of the new idea of German naval power was based on the idea of convoys, battleships working with destroyers, frigates and cruisers.

As for keeping their allies stronger, they worked together with Italy to unify Austria-Hungary central government, and wished to see nationalistic sentiment stemmed. They however, had one basic problem to get past, how would training be complete if the soldiers spoken a multitude of different languages, instead, they decided that they should look towards teaching the soldiers German, the language of Austria, would be the key to success. In

Wien Parlament um 1900

The Wien Parliament building in Vienna, c. 1900

1889, the Standard Vocabulary of Military Personnel became a common policy in the military, in which that new soldiers coming into the army would be taught German as a connecter language. However, several years later, under German advisory, the Austro-Hungarian Imperial Council passed a law which ensured that school-children were to learn German in an effort to create a national language. After much protest from multiple nationalistic groups, the Imperial Council called for a referendum on the proposal which passed the Council on August 2, 1898. The referendum was fought brutally between those for and those against the so called "Germanization" of Austria-Hungary, but inevitably after a referendum marred by violence and likely corruption, the Imperial Council recognized the referendum as passing with 53.9 % to 46% on March 14, 1890, establishing the teaching of German as the base language in schools. But provisions were passed in the summer of 1890 which allowed for secondary languages to be taught throughout Austria-Hungary, mainly Hungarian, Czech, Polish, and Romanian.

In terms of Asia, the Germans looked for an ally to counterbalance the British progress developing in North Africa and in India. They found a natural anti-British, and anti-Russian, friend in the form of the Ottoman Empire, which Germany treated like a second Austria-Hungary, a state, although worthy of their alliance, that needed to be militarily unified. They saw an improvement in their training, and the employment of a similar system of the German General Staff, but overall, thought that it was the Ottoman's religion, Islam, that would keep the Empire together. The Turks were taught German military strategies, and the system of General Staff and training created a new style of professionalism among the Turkish officer's corps.

The Treaty of Budapest (1889)

In 1889, the last year of the progressive 1880's, the German Empire had expanded its alliance system to the Ottoman Empire, and had taught the Ottomans and the Austro-Hungarians how to use the military, and temporary conscription as a nationalizing machine. The newspapers of Berlin and Vienna printed political cartoons with a factory, "Sending in Raw Men, and Creating New Nationalist Products." But against the political satire, and the odds, the nations had come together externally, all that was needed was a single entity to exist for the same purpose. This "entity" would come in 1889 in the form of a treaty signed in the largest city of Hungary, Budapest.

The heads of state of the four nations, along with their heads of government, all convened in Budapest for the signing of a treaty to form an official military pact in August of 1889. After several days of writing the treaty, it was signed by Kaiser Friedrich III of Germany, by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, by King Umberto I of Italy, and by Sultan Abdul Hamid II. While they were the signatories, several other nations were observers at the conference, among these included representatives of Bulgaria, Romania, also run by a Hohenzollern King, and by Spain, while only one of these nations would one day be a German ally, the others were fascinated by the idea. France and Russia watched with horror, and knew that this would only result in disaster for them, as would happen any time Germany gained an ally. Britain, the United States, and a burgeoning Japanese Empire watched with curiosity and suspicion, but did not condemn the alliance.

Over the next few years, this alliance would be tested in a way that none of the people in the room that day in August 1889 could have conceived, but would stand its test, and its aftermath. For better or worse, the Quadruple Alliance, as it was to become known, was established, and looked progressively to the future, hoping for nationalism, liberalization, and peace. But what lay ahead for them was division along ethnic lines, hatred from outside powers, and wars which they couldn't even imagine. It was in reaction to this that Britain and France began to cling to each other for mutual protection, and which would become official in 1907.

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