UNDOUBTEDLY that feature of modern Germany which has commanded popular attention is her rise to the second position among the industrial and commercial nations of the world, and the promise that she would one day overcome the economic ascendency of Great Britain. Yet there is nothing remarkable about this. Taking the country as a whole, the Germans were probably the most successful business people of the Middle Ages. Their practical genius found an outlet in the Hanseatic League of north Germany, which controlled the commerce of the Baltic and North Seas and exercised enormous political power in northern Europe. Along the Rhine and in south Germany cities like Cologne, Augsburg, and Nuremberg, located as they were on the trade routes between Italy and the north, throve splendidly. Not even the collapse of the mediæval empire and the subsequent growth of disorder could destroy the foundations of German prosperity, and at the opening of the sixteenth century, in the height of the Renaissance, the cities of Germany were famous for their comfort, wealth, and culture. Unfortunately, the failure of German rulers to create a strong national state, coupled with that schism in religion which ultimately led to the devastating Thirty Years' War, left the land a prey to foreign ambitions and local jealousies; so that in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was the shuttlecock of diplomacy and the battle-ground of foreign armies, while frontier provinces which it could not defend were left open to foreign aggression. No wonder
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Publication information: Book title: England and Germany, 1740-1914. Contributors: Bernadotte Everly Schmitt - Author. Publisher: Princeton University Press. Place of publication: Princeton, NJ. Publication year: 1918. Page number: 70.
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