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Why was Europe at the Brink of Change at the Turn of the Twentieth Century.

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John Ryding Why was Europe at the Brink of Change at the Turn of the Twentieth Century The defeat of Napoleon in the early part of the 19th century inspired among European nations the desire that another dictator and his country should never be allowed to upset the delicate balance of empires that was prevalent at that time. At the 1815 Congress of Vienna, saw countries come together to agree how Europe should be restored after the ravages of the Napoleonic Wars, it was agreed that the empires and Kings who dominated Europe should work together in what was called The Concert of Europe. This period brought economic and military stability in the years up to the 1870's. However there a certain factors that brought an end to this, in this essay, I will discuss; how the rise of nationalism threatened Empires, how in Russia, the autocratic system of government became threatened by the peoples will for democracy, and the formation of the German state and how this created tension in central Europe. During the 18th century, nationalism - the belief that loyalty to a person's nation and its political and economic goals comes before any other public loyalty - took hold among people who shared a common language, history, or culture. ...read more.


However, not only were the serfs disappointed with the reforms, the reforms also disappointed many of the landowning class. At this time up to 60% of the serfs were mortgaged, so many of the redemption payments went towards repaying these debts, consequently, many of the landowners did not do very well out of these lavish repayments. Also, the bonds issued by the government devalued and therefore, the landowners lost more money. This led to Alexander, not only becoming unpopular with the peasants, and achieving few of the aims he set out to achieve, but also isolating his traditional conservative support. After his assassination and the death by natural causes of Alexander III, Nicholas II was next in line for the throne. Many Russians believed that the decades of mismanagement of the countries affairs would be over but Nicholas confounded this belief by announcing, a year before his coronation in 1895, to delegates from the Zemstva that he intended to rule once again through an autocratic system. In 1897, he further alienated himself from the people by allowing Sergei Witte's Factory Act to be passed. This called for the working week to be set at 6 days, with 11.5 hours worked per day. A direct result of this act was the formation of the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party, a group who would have a large part to play in Russia history at start of the 20th Century. ...read more.


They all agreed to go to war if attacked by Russia. Bismarck also brought Austria-Hungary and Germany into alliance with Russia. They all agreed to remain neutral if any of them went to war with another country. In 1890 when Bismarck left office it gave a chance for Russia and France to form an alliance. In 1894, France and Russia agreed to call up troops if any nation in the Triple Alliance mobilized. Russia and France also agreed to help each other if either were attacked be Germany. The two main factors of European change at the turn of the century were nationalism particularly in Prussia and German peoples in central Europe, and in Russia the failure of the Tsars' autocratic style of rule with regards to providing for Russian men and women. Just as the rise of nationalism at this time was undermining the rule of empire so too, the foundation of the Tsars Empire began to be chipped away as more and more people organized themselves into groups so to have a better ability to voice their discontent. The rapid expansion of Germany, under the Prussian model of military and economic strength sent shockwaves around Europe and resulted in countries forming an alliance system that was ultimately unworkable, and placed an incredible amount of tension upon European countries. Sources Marc Ferro, The Great War, 2002, Routledge Peter Calvocoressi, Resilient Europe 1870 - 2000, 1992, Longman http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~semp/bismarck.htm ...read more.

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