England and Germany, 1740-1914

By Bernadotte Everly Schmitt | Go to book overview
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THE last decade of the nineteenth century is a very confused period for the student of international politics. It opened with an Anglo-German convention which seemed to dispose of all serious disputes between the two governments; at its close the world had become aware of an Anglo-German rivalry that boded ill for the peace of Europe. In 1890 the Triple Alliance was well-nigh omnipotent in Europe; in 1900 it was confronted by a hostile alliance of France and Russia, with which Powers, however, the German Empire had managed to preserve tolerably cordial relations. The position of Great Britain had changed most of all. Lord Salisbury and Prince Bismarck were in substantial agreement in 1890; in 1900 Anglo-German relations were so delicate, thanks to the inflamed state of public opinion on both sides of the North Sea, that the most careful handling of the difficulties arising out of the Boer War was required of the German Government to prevent an open rupture. Four years later, on April 8, 1904, France and England signed a series of agreements, which not only adjusted numerous disputes of long standing, but rescued England from the "splendid isolation" to which the policy of Lord Salisbury condemned her, and effected a diplomatic revolution comparable only to the reversal of alliances on the eve of the Seven Years' War. The essential point lay in the fact that Great Britain passed over to the side of Germany's hereditary enemy, France, and by her action restored a semblance of equilibrium to a Europe long dominated by Germany.


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