Germany and England: Background of Conflict, 1848-1894

Germany and England: Background of Conflict, 1848-1894

Germany and England: Background of Conflict, 1848-1894

Germany and England: Background of Conflict, 1848-1894

Excerpt

In January, 1871, the German Empire was proclaimed at Versailles. It was the moment of which patriots had dreamed. "As on the raised benches of an amphitheatre the nations will group themselves around Germany to behold the great tournament," Heine had prophesied a generation before; and now the nations were indeed watching this scene in the palace of Louis XIV. By proclaiming their empire in the Hall of Mirrors, the Germans were paying back old scores, not merely to the Bourbons but to the medieval Capetian and Valois rulers of France. "Once in a beer-cellar at Göttingen," Heine had warned, "I heard a young Teuton say that revenge must be had on the French for Conradin of Hohenstaufen whom they beheaded at Naples [in 1268]. You have long forgotten that. But we forget nothing." Those old wounds inflicted by France could, in victory, be forgiven. Forgiven were the Danes, too, since Schleswig- Holstein had been won for the new Germany. Habsburg Austria, so triumphantly vanquished in 1866, could be Germany's friend. Russia had won the gratitude of Germans by preventing the intervention of other powers when Bismarck was creating united Germany. Even in the flush of victory, Germans forgot no wrongs, real or fancied, inflicted on their divided country in centuries past, by France, by Austria, by Russia; but in victory they could forgivemuch.

England had been neither Germany's friend nor Germany's conquered foe during these years past; so the sins of England were neither forgotten nor forgiven. Patiently and meticulously, German students recounted the old tale. The ruthlessness of the medieval Hanseatic League was forgotten; but the blows struck at the Hanse merchants by the Tudors were remembered. The Machiavellianism of Frederick the Great was ignored when the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.