Russia and Europe, 1825-1878

Russia and Europe, 1825-1878

Russia and Europe, 1825-1878

Russia and Europe, 1825-1878

Excerpt

After the emergence of national states in Europe following the Renaissance, there were three great over-all settlements of European affairs at intervals of over a century. These were the Congress of Westphalia (1648), the Peace of Utrecht (1713) and the Congress of Vienna (1815). Each of these drew up a blueprint of the new map of Europe, each in turn lasting until the next settlement, and in the case of the Treaty of Vienna until the World War of 1914-1918 and the Congress of Versailles. They also give us an interesting yardstick for the measuring of the growth of the role of Russia in European affairs. In the Peace of Westphalia, following the Thirty Years War, Russia or Muscovy, had no part, being regarded as completely outside the pale of Europe even though she maintained active diplomatic and trading relations with most of the European countries. Neither did Russia participate in the settlement at Utrecht of the cycle of the wars of Louis XIV, but for a very different reason. Together with her allies Saxony, Poland, Denmark and Brandenburg-Prussia she was engaged in the Great Northern War against Sweden, which country had emerged, after the Treaty of Westphalia as one of the two leading military powers of Europe. By her victory over Sweden in this war Russia replaced her enemy as the main power in North Eastern Europe. A century later, at the Congress of Vienna, Russia had reached her climax as a great European power and practically dominated the European scene, not only during this Congress, which ended the cycle of French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, but during the following decade as well.

A brief survey of Russia's rise to pre-eminence within the course of a century has to be given here. At the turn of the 18th century, owing to the weakness of the Muscovite state, Russia's position was still exceedingly unfavorable; she was hemmed in by a chain of powerful and inimical neighbouring states which had acquired control of much of her frontier territory. Sweden had cut her off from the coast of the Baltic and consequently from direct access to Western Europe; Poland was in control of the Western Ukraine and White Russia, lost by Russia to Poland-Lithuania in the XIV century, right up to the . . .

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