From Vienna to Versailles

From Vienna to Versailles

From Vienna to Versailles

From Vienna to Versailles

Excerpt

The aim of this book is not to re-tell but to re-examine the story of European affairs from 1815 to 1920, chiefly, though not exclusively, from the point of view of international relations. Designed chiefly as a work of elucidation and interpretation, it is addressed mainly to those who already have some acquaintance with the main events and personalities of the period. The justification for producing such a book is that it is badly needed. No period of European history is more widely studied than that covered by this book; yet few periods seem to be more widely misunderstood, or more obscured by the perpetuation of generalizations that belong more properly to the status of legend.

Among the legends that mislead the student of nineteenth century history are, for example, the idea that there was such a thing as a 'congress system'; that middle class discontent caused the 1848 revolutions; that Napoleon III 'overthrew' the Second Republic; that the Crimean War was caused by the decline of the Turkish Empire; that Bismarck unified Germany and that Cavour wanted to unify Italy; that Bismarck secured Russian neutrality by his Polish policy in 1863, that he deceived Napoleon III at Biarritz, and that he regained Russian friendship by the Reinsurance Treaty; that the Anglo- Japanese Alliance of 1902 ended Britain's splendid isolation; that a condition of international anarchy existed in the decade before 1914; and that the 1919 settlement weakened central and eastern Europe by 'balkanizing' it.

Most of these statements are inaccurate; and though the writer naturally makes no claim to be the first to realize this, he does suggest that this is the first attempt within the covers . . .

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