Its merits outweighed its defects

Download 181.73 Kb.
Date conversion11.10.2016
Size181.73 Kb.
1   2   3   4   5   6

Therefore, Britain's policy should be responsible for the breakdown of the Congress System. Owing to her policy, Britain was very uncompromising and she always opposed the policies of the other three powers, causing their relationship become worse and worse. Her final withdrawal from the Congress System prevented the Alliance from acting as a whole, making the eventual dissolution of the Congress System inevitable. Nevertheless, I think that Britain was not the only one who was responsible for the breakdown of the System. Other factors also combined to destroy the whole system.
The Conflicts between Britain and the Holy Alliance were the results of the sharp differences between them. Britain was a parliamentary government while Russia, Austria and Prussia were absolute monarchies. Economically, British economic interest mainly relied on colonial peace since she was a colonial power. But the three autocratic powers' mainly rested on the territories they controlled and so they were against revolutions. As a result, Britain preferred the principle of non-intervention in order to maintain peace in colonies while Austria, Prussia and Russia favored the Principle of Intervention to safeguard their power of monarchy. These two principles

frequently clashed and led to much conflicts which gradually deteriorated the relationship between Britain and the other three Powers. It was the two completely different systems made it difficult for the powers to cooperate. Had there not been such differences, great conflicts which undermined the whole Congress System would not have occurred.

Moreover, once there was a common aim among the powers to safeguard themselves from France. Though the differences between Britain and the Holy Alliance existed for a long time, this common aim bind the Powers together and prevented them from conflicts. However, in the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle of 1818, the occupation of France was ended. The Restored Monarchy of France was no longer a menace to the peace of Europe. France was thus readmitted to the rank of a great power and was admitted into the Quadruple Alliance which became the Quintuple Alliance. As H. Nicolson concluded, "Coalitions begin to disintegrate from the moment that the common danger is removed". Once the common enemy was removed, the conflict among the Powers became more prominent and finally led to the breakdown of the Congress System.

On the other hand, there were no real cooperation in the Congress due to mutual suspicions among the powers. Their suspicions were first shown in the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle. Owing to the fear of the expansion of British naval power, there was objection to the idea that the British would have the right to search ships for slaves in their efforts to enforce the abolition of slave trade. Apart from this, there were also mutual disagreements between Austria, Prussia and Russia though they were said to be in the same camp. In the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, there was joint expedition against pirate. However, due to the fear of Russian expansion, Russia was checked by not allowing her vessels entering the Mediterranean Sea. When the Greek Revolt started in 1821, Alexander I wanted to help the Greeks in order to weaken the Turkish Empire. However, Metternich was determined to prevent the Tsar from supporting the Greeks and to maintain Turkish integrity against Russian aggression. He gained the support of Britain and so the Russian ambition was checked. Later, in 1824, when Alexander I invited the powers to a conference in St. Petersburg to discuss about the Greek Revolt, Russia and Austria clashed again. Russia proposed dividing Greece into three principalities and the Sultan granting autonomy to the Greeks. The other powers were alarmed and there were fear of Russian predominance. Austria would never tolerate strong power as Russia to encroach at the Lower Danube. Moreover, there were fear of France exploiting the issue for a general revision to the 1815 Settlement. Metternich baulked and the collapse of the Congress System was then an obvious fact. From these, we can see that Britain was not the only one who should be blamed. There were not only conflicts between Britain and the other powers

but there were also conflicts among the three powers themselves. Moreover, although Britain withdrew from the Congress System at Congress of Verona, the Congress System was not yet extinguished. It was actually the conflicts between Russia and Austria on the Greek Revolt tore the Congress System into pieces.
Furthermore, series circumstances also helped to load to the breakdown of the Congress System. The negligence of liberalism and national identity in small states by the great powers in the Vienna Settlement gave rise to liberalism and nationalism in these small states. The spirit of unrest seethed and in the 1820s, many disturbances and revolts occurred. These revolts such as the Spanish Revolt, Revolts in Naples and Piedmont and the Greek Revolt did have great significances. On one hand, they alarmed the monarchs and consolidated their idea of intervention which clashed with the British idea of non-intervention. For instance, Alexander I was a liberator but later even he was alarmed by the revolts and changed to a reactionary. On the other hand, these revolts led to the summon of the last three Congresses and helped to bring the conflicts among the powers to surface. The Spanish Revolt brought out the conflicts between Britain and the Holy Alliance while the Greek Revolt brought out the conflicts between Russia and Austria and directly led to the breakdown of the Congress System. Events after events worsened the relationship between the powers and accelerated the breakdown of the Congress System.
In conclusion, the policy of England, to a certain extent, had led to the breakdown of the Congress System. However, other factors also worked together to undermine the Congress System.
18. In what ways did the British foreign policies between 1815-1856 affect the European politics?
Between the years 1815-1856, owing to her foreign policies, Britain was frequently involved in the European circumstances, including the Vienna Settlement of 1815, the Congress System, the Greek War of Independence of 1821-32, the Belgian Revolt of 1830-39 and the Crimean War of 1854-56. And her involvement in such circumstances had in different ways affected the European politics during this period as well as in later days.
First of all, Britain had taken part in the Congress of Vienna of 1815. After 25 years' disturbances and wars, the European Powers wanted to settle the aftermath of the French Revolution and of the Napoleonic Wars, as well as to restore order and peace in Europe, so they met together at Vienna and the Vienna Settlement was produced. Being one of the great powers dominating the Congress, Britain, with Castlereagh as the representative, played a quiet important role in the Settlement. Such participation of Britain in the Settlement affected the European politics in two ways. On one hand, during the Congress, there was the negligence of liberalism and national identity of the small states by the great powers and this gave rise to liberalism and nationalism in these small states. The spirit of unrest seethed and in the 1820s, many disturbances and revolts occurred. Britain was partly responsible for this because as Sir C. Webster criticizes, Castlereagh also have 'failed, as almost all of his contemporaries failed, to see the strength of the national and democratic force which the French Revolution had liberated'. However, despite such defect, the Settlement, as it turned out, did secure peace for Europe and there was no major war for forty years. This was to a certain extent the work of Castlereagh as he always insisted on the balance of power in Europe. He always opposed excessive territorial ambitions of Prussia and Russia and supported Austria's actions to achieve such an objective.
On the other hand, the Vienna Settlement had produced a Congress System in which Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia agreed to hold periodic meetings to consider measures to maintain peace and to discuss common interest. However, the Congress System proved to be a failure and it broke down in 1826 and the breakdown of the System was to a great extent due to the British foreign policy. Britain's policy after 1815 was to cooperate in the Concert of Europe without becoming involved in further entangling commitments, to preserve the Continental balance of power, to maintain the maritime supremacy of Britain as well as to promote and retain markets for English goods and manufacturers in Europe and the New World. Britain carried out this policy throughout the Congress System. In the Congress System, she favored the principle of non-intervention to the internal affairs of other states. However, when other big powers took action which would endanger the balance of power, she had to intervene. This created much conflicts between her and the Holy Alliance.
There were conflicts between them from the very beginning. In the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (1818), Alexander I prepared an "Alliance Solidaire", suggesting that all European states should mutually guarantee that not only each other's territories and possessions but also the existing form of government. However, it was rejected by Castlereagh who stated that each state must be allowed to rely for its security upon the "justice and wisdom" of its own system. The powers then began to have conflict and the Congress System was doomed from that moment. Later, there were revolts in Spain, Portugal, Naples and Piedmont. Alexander I proposed in the Congress of Troppau taking intervention against Spanish Revolt. However, Castlereagh once again rejected it by declaring a "State Paper". No longer, there was the Metternich Protocol and Britain vigorously opposed it because it could make the Allies "the armed guardians of all thrones". The Congress was adjourned and the rupture between Britain and the three powers was widened. The adjourned Congress of Troppau was resumed later at Laibach. Austria and Russia took military intervention to suppress the revolt in Naples and Piedmont. Britain then withdrew from the Congress for it violated her principle of non-intervention. So their rupture was further widened.
Later, in the Congress of Verona, Russia and Austria supported the despatch of a French expeditionary force to quell revolution in Spain. Britain again protested and withdrew from the Congress System altogether because Canning, who succeeded Castlereagh, believed that if Britain was to lead the world along the middle path between despotism and revolution, she must dissociate herself from the Holy Alliance and place herself in the vanguard of the new movement of nationalism and democracy. Afterwards, there came the question of the Spanish American colonies. Hoping to promote the growing trade between Britain and the former Spanish colonies in South America, Britain openly supported the revolt of the Spanish American colonies, cooperating with the Americans in making the Monroe Doctrine effective, stating that any influence by a European power in the American continent would mean unfriendly act against the USA. The serious disagreement between Britain and the other powers made the breakdown of the Congress System inevitable.
So we can see that owing to her policy, Britain was very uncompromising and always opposed the policies of the other three powers, causing their relationship become worse and worse. Her final withdrawal from the Congress System prevented the Alliance from acting as a whole, making the eventual dissolution of the Congress System inevitable. Though other factors such as the mutual suspicions among the

powers, the rise of revolts etc. also combined to undermine the System, the foreign policy of Britain should held great responsibility.

Besides, Britain also participated in the Greek War of Independence of 1821-32. During the war, Canning intervened on behalf of the Greeks against the Turkish. The Anglo-Russian Protocol was formed on 4 April, 1826. It gave no hint of the use of force by Britain, but contained by implication a threat of it by Russia. Canning's objection was to save Greece by playing upon the fear of Turkey without a war. In the eyes of the contemporary conservatives, Canning was "the spirit of evil". He induced the Bourbon government to take initiative by producing first draft of a tripartite treaty in January 1827. The Treaty of London was signed by the three powers, that is Britain, Russia and France, on 6 July, 1827. It was a separate Triple Alliance. It included one secret additional article pledging the three powers, if the proposed armistice was not accepted within a month, to accredit consuls to Greece and to prevent any further collision between the combatants, but without themselves taking any part in hostilities. The British Admiral Codrington interpreted it to mean that a settlement was to be imposed on the Turks if necessary. It was followed by the Battle of Navarino on 20 October in which most of the Turkish fleets were destroyed by the British and French.
Nevertheless, the Turks would not submit to "ignoring its connection with the Greeks", that is recognizing Greece as a separate state. The risks involved in Canning's policy was clearly revealed. Meanwhile, with the Turkish strength paralyzed, Russia executed alone and occupied Moldavia and Wallachia. Metternich thus agreed with Wellington that a small independent Greece was preferable to a larger Greece which would perhaps be dependent on Russia. Finally, the Anglo-French Entente compelled Russia to accept the settlement which not only contained for the Greeks independence from Turkey but also from Russia. So Britain did contribute to the independence of Greece.
In addition, Britain also played an active role in the Belgian revolt of 1830-39 and this posed important significance on the European politics in later days. According to the Vienna Settlement, Belgium and Holland were united into one empire. However, after 1815, the Belgians were increasingly dissatisfied with the policies of the joint government. This finally culminated in a large-scale revolt in 1830. In August 1830 the Belgians rebelled and in October proclaimed their independence from the Dutch. The Belgians declared the House of Orange deposed, but wanted a continuation of a constitutional hereditary monarchy. In December, Palmerston, the British foreign minister backed by Louis Philippe, induced Austria, Prussia and Russia to abandon the principle of legitimacy and to recognize Belgian independence.

However, the Dutch rejected the terms of separation of the two countries and war took place between Anglo-French forces and the Dutch until 1833. An armistice was then agreed. Eventually in 1839, King William of Holland agreed to the terms of settlement, which adopted the frontiers of 1790 except for Luxembourg and Limburg. Belgium was recognized as an "independent and perpetually neutral state" under the collective guarantee of the powers. The creation of Belgium as a new independent state under the support of Britain had profound influence on Europe in later days. As we can see, Britain entered WWI mainly due to the German violation of Belgium's neutrality. So Britain's support for Belgium was of great significance.

Furthermore, there was the Crimean War in 1854-56, and it was to a certain extent provoked by Britain. By the mid-19th century, Russia had been trying to expand her influence in the Mediterranean area and in Turkey. As Britain was a Mediterranean power, her interests would be threatened by Russian advance. So as stated by Wilson, to prevent Russian encroachment in the near East was a cardinal principle of British diplomacy at that time. In order to preserve British investment in Turkey and to prevent Russian expansion into the Mediterranean and Asia Minor, Britain was determined to preserve and to back up Turkey against Russia. Later disputes happened between Russia and France over the Holy Places. Britain then allied France to fight against Russia. In 1854, they declared war on Russia though by the time Russia had already withdrawn her troops from Turkey. This directly led to the outbreak of war, one of the most futile and unnecessary wars in modern history. Europe was dragged into instability. The war finally ended with drastic change in the power relations and the differences between the powers were later exploited by Cavour and Bismarck to unite their countries. The creation of the two nation states, especially Germany, was proved to be disastrous in later days because as we can see, it was Germany's ambition that finally led to WWI. so Britain's initiating the Crimean War was of great significance on European politics.
In conclusion, British foreign policies between 1815-56 did greatly affected the European politics during this period.
1   2   3   4   5   6

The database is protected by copyright © 2016
send message

    Main page