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"Overshadowed in Germany by the Hohenzollerns, the Habsburgs began to exert an adverse influence over European affairs." Is this a fair description of Austria's role in Europe after 1866 up to the outbreak of World War One ?

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Introduction

"Overshadowed in Germany by the Hohenzollerns, the Habsburgs began to exert an adverse influence over European affairs." Is this a fair description of Austria's role in Europe after 1866 up to the outbreak of World War One ? Austria had in 1866, as a consequence of its unsuccessful war against Prussia, lost its hegemony over the German world. She had to recognize the new North German Confederation and the separate existence of the south German states. Worse than that, Austria had to give up all her rights to control the minorities within her Empire. Following the Ausgleich in 1867, further concessions were made to her other subject nationalities as well. Deprived of Africa and Asia too, Austria then became increasingly entangled in her Empire and the Balkans in order 'to prove that she was still alive.' In 1879, the Dual alliance was signed with Germany. By Article I each power agreed to assist the other if attacked by Russia. Article II bound them to observe benevolent neutrality if her ally was attacked by a power other than Russia. This secret alliance, though from which Germany had little to gain, bore much significance to Austria-in the way that it re-lifted the apparently collapsing Habsburg Monarchy to a world power status again. ...read more.

Middle

This was the Budapest Convention. By this, Austria promised to remain neutral in a Russo-Turkish war. If turkey was defeated, Russia promised Austria Bosnia and Herzegovina. She herself would take back Bessarabia, while Bulgaria and Rumelia would become independent states. However, in April the same year, the Czar, getting impatient with the Sultan's refusal to carry out reforms, violated the convention and declared war on Turkey. The Treaty of San Stefano, which marked the end of the war, allowed Russia to exert substantial influence in the Balkans. But being pressed by the powers who regarded this treaty as a threat to the balance of power, Russia consented to the Congress of Berlin chaired by Bismarck. With secret diplomatic negotiations preceded with threats and counter-threats prior to this meeting and German support during the Congress, Austria-Hungary was allowed to administer Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the province of Novibazar. Besides, Turkey surrendered Cyprus to Britain. The Big Bulgaria was trisected. Serbia Montenegro and Romania were made independent. Russia was allowed to retain Bessarabia, Kars and Batum. Romania was to keep Dobruja and Turkey once again promised reforms. Russia, though victorious in war, was humiliated in peace. ...read more.

Conclusion

Like in the 1840's when Metternich had to direct the trend of Europe because he believed that international and internal affairs were inseparable, in the 1860's Austria again had to take an active part in Europe because she was deprived of leadership in Germany. To strengthen herself and raise her international status again. Austria started the military alliance system in Europe with Germany. It is convincing to say that if not for the Dual alliance in 1879, Austria might have been less aggressive, less stubborn and more sensible and more ready to make compromises. But with German support, Austria began to pose threat to European peace. Her continuous involvement in the Balkans had brought many congresses and agreements to Europe every time they settled the issue, but no diplomats were alert and clear-minded enough to see the hidden explosive in the Balkans. Perhaps Austria was too obsessed with the intention 'to prove that she was still alive' so that she willingly, without thinking twice, plunged herself into, or even brought on, the crisis of 1914 and then stubbornly refused to compromise. She wanted to show that the Habsburg Empire was still 'in control', still the master of the situation, but unfortunately, her miscalculated belief that Russia would let Serbia be destroyed tempted her to declare war on Serbia and so on to war we went. 1 1 ...read more.

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