The Transformation of European Politics, 1763-1848

By Paul W. Schroeder | Go to book overview

14
Greece and the Russo-Turkish War, 1823-1829

THE years 1823-9 were the most tranquil of the post-war era. Only one major crisis in international politics developed, over Greece and the Eastern question; and though it was always troublesome and sometimes dangerous, things finally turned out better for the international system than most had anticipated. Other international problem areas either remained quiescent or were managed in fairly routine fashion. The relative tranquillity, however, would end abruptly in 1830, in revolutions much wider and more threatening to the international system than those of the early 1820s. Conservatives like Metternich saw a direct link here: governments in opening the floodgates to liberalism and revolt in the Near East had undermined the dikes against revolution in the rest of Europe. Liberals argued just the opposite: the 1830 revolutions were the result of the repressive policies of most governments in the 1820s. In fact, the connection between the stability of the 1820s and the upheavals of the early 1830s was real, but more indirect and subtle than either side recognized.


I. THE GREEK QUESTION, 1823-1825

Greece remained a danger spot for Europe after 1823 not mainly because of the continued fighting and the strains in Russo-Turkish relations but because of Alexander's growing frustration with his allies. Other powers had used Russia's permission or help, he felt, to win victories and gain prestige in their spheres, Austria in Italy, France in Spain, Britain in Latin America. In Russia's sphere, however, they used the European alliance to stop Russia from intervening to end a brutal conflict, thereby undermining Russia's prestige and rewarding Turkish barbarism and intransigence.

This view was basically right. Metternich, who had devised and led this game of restraining Russia while pretending to be its friend and ally, found his act growing more difficult and transparent with time. Emperor Francis, wanting to gain trade and revenues out of the Greek conflict at Russia's expense, ordered

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