A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 13


PRUSSIA AND AUSTRIA


remained in the Vatican deprived of all temporal power; also Russia, supported by Bismarck, was able to procure the virtual abrogation of the Black Sea treaty of 1856 by the treaty of London of 1871. There sults of the Crimean War were washed out. A burning hostility to Germany had been implanted in the soul of every Frenchman, and England was more convinced than ever that her own Indian empire was Russia's objective.

In the Turkish empire diverse Christian populations were still under the Ottoman sovereignty. Germany had for the first time in her history become united, and united with her own assent, under an organized central government, which controlled an army incomparably the most powerful in Europe. France, shorn of her Rhine provinces and exhausted by a crushing war, had for the third time set up, though she had not yet established, a republic; she had still a crowd of difficulties to surmount before her old powder could be restored — and it was the interest of her victorious neighbour to foster those difficulties.

Bismarck had no desire for German expansion. What he did want was to secure the friendship of Austria, now that she could no longer be Prussia's rival in Germany, and to prevent the hostility of Russia, and so avoid setting an enemy on either flank of the new empire. When in 1872 he had established the unwritten "league of the three emperors," there was nothing immediately to be feared. But the danger point for the permanence of the new league lay in the Balkans, to which the eyes of Austria, now shut out from Germany, were more persistently turned. Austro-Russian rivalry for ascendancy in the Balkans might produce a breach, and Germany might be reduced to the painful necessity of taking a side. If she were, she would take Austria's – but such a contingency must not arise if it could be prevented. Russia must be encouraged to find in Asia the field for the development of her ambitions. If that brought her into collision with the British, Germany would lose nothing. From this point of view Russia's progress in Turkistan during the last decade was quite promising. But the Balkans were uncontrollable.

Serbia, Rumania and Montenegro had all attained a degree of autonomy, though remaining nominally in the Turkish empire. But in 1875 the peasants of Herzegovina revolted against their Moslem masters. All their Slavonic neighbours actively sympathised with them. Both Russia and Austria had some title to

← 12   ·   13   ·   14 →
(page index)