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nations. All the eastern coast of the Adriatic and all the
west side of Norway were a succession of deep jSords and
landlocked bays between lofty and precipitous mountains.
In 1870 the inhabitants of Albania were in the midst of
the savage, tribal conditions in which Lord Byron had
known them sixty years earlier, like the Scottish High-
landers two centuries before. Spain, with plateau lands
traversed by parallel ranges, was definitely marked off
from France by the Pyrenees Mountains. In central
Europe the Carpathians lay like a bulwark reared against

The principal arteries of communication and commerce Rivers and
continued to be the rivers and the seas. The more im- seas
portant rivers of north Russia and those of eastern Ger-
many drained to the Baltic, whence the commerce of
these regions went outward in between the Scandinavian
countries to the North Sea and the oceans of the world.
The rivers of west Germany, the Low Countries, and north
France, flowed to the North Sea and the English Channel,
whence their commerce was carried to the Atlantic. Be-
yond the Continent lay England, just where she com-
manded all of this commerce. Her favorable position had
brought her great wealth and power. To London, on
the estuary of the Thames, came the shipping of the world,
while Liverpool, on the western side of England, throve on
the growing American trade. Eastern Russia drained
down to the land-locked Caspian through the mighty
length of the Volga. All central and southern Russia
looked toward the Black Sea, while Austria, Hungary, and



The land




the Balkan countries were nourished by the Danube
which sought this sea also. The commerce of the Black
Sea went in a steady stream past Constantinople and
Gallipoli to the Mediterranean, where it was mostly borne
westward past southern Europe out by Gibraltar to the
Atlantic Ocean. On the Mediterranean, brought thither
by road or river, went the commerce of Greece, of Italy,
of southern France, and of most of Spain.

The great land routes sought the valleys and the plains,
or, if necessary, climbed uplands and the mountain
passes. Through the Pyrenees went the overland routes
between France and Spain. Through the several Alpine
passes armies and merchants had gone from the time of
Hannibal to the time of Napoleon, and under the Alps long
tunnels for railways were soon to be built. Between the
French and the German peoples, between Paris and
Berlin, the old roads, the modern trunk line, the principal
highway, traversed the plain across Belgium and Holland,
and across these small countries, especially Belgium, from
one to the other of the mightier neighbors, merchants and
their wares had gone for ages, and armies had often met
there in mortal combat.

This Europe was a land very rich in its past, enshrined
in old deeds and traditions. Some ancient crosses and
round towers still existed in Ireland. Up and down Eng-
land, from Canterbury to Durham, were the cathedrals,
with their majesty, beauty, and repose. In Portugal
were the vast, deserted palaces built in former times.
In Spain the Escurial watched over its gray, wide
plain, while the sublime quietude of the cathedral at
Toledo witnessed the devotion of days elsewhere gone.
All through the southern parts of France were relics of
Greeks, of Romans, of medieval culture, from the aque-
duct near Nimes and the amphitheatre at Aries to the
fortress towers and the keep of Carcassonne. Northward
v.ere the cathedrals, at Bourges, at Chartres, at Amiens,


at Rheims, and Noire-Dcime de Paris; and farther on tlic Cities of
abbeys and churches of the Normans. In Belgium tlie ^^^^^^^
Cloth Hall at Ypres, the towers and old bridges of Bruges.
, At Cologne the cathedral spires threw their shadows down
by the Rhine. All across western Germany, along the
Baltic, down through Austria and its provinces, were
memorials of an older German culture, at Augsburg, at
Niirnberg, at Innsbruck, at Salzburg, at Rotlienburg, and
Aachen. In Italy were the palaces and churclies of Milan
and Florence, the canals and the marbles of Venice, the
tombs of Ravenna, the tower of Pisa, the Coliseum at
Rome and St. Peter's, and near Naples the older ruins of
Pompeii were even then being uncovered. By the Danube
at Vienna stood the houses of the proudest aristocracy in
Europe. At Constantinople bulked, as if for ever, the
dome of Sania ISophia; before it rose in slender height the
newer minarets of the Turk. Across the stretches of the
Russian plain were Moscow and Novgorod, in their as-
pect half oriental; and farther still, at Samara on the
Volga, the market place, with riot of colors and babel
of voices, its throngs come from Europe and Asia.

The mountains of southern Spain had looked down when The past
the Moors gjiined their victories and afterward made ^^^ ^^®


their last stand. The Pillars of Hercules had watched
the Phoenician galleys go by. The fogs and the rain blew
in Ireland as in the time of Saint Patrick. The Channel
and the Rhine had long before been observed and described
by Caesar. Older by far than the Catacombs of Rome
or the ruined temple at Paestum, Vesuvius poured forth
its smoke, while Stromboli glared in the night as when
Carthaginians came sailing north. The Alpine passes
had seen the ages go by, with the barbarians, the con-
querors, the merchants, the pilgrims, who had toiled to
their heights, then gone downward. INIore ancient than
Homer or Sappho was the beauty of the isles of tlie Greeks.
A few years before the Carpathians had been pierced


Europe an by Russian armies, as long since they had been traversed

ancient ^ Hungarians and Huns. The endless reaches of Russia

home of i i • mi -r»i •

peoples stretched on m remoteness and sadness. The Rhme

flowed dowTi, past medieval castles and new industrial
cities, by ancient vineyards, by the memories of Roman
bridges. The stars of the night, which had glittered for
Galileo and Dante, watched now the nineteenth century
slowly draw toward its close. Beside these things the state-
craft of rulers, wars, treaties, arrangements, the toil and the
lives of people, man's doings and man's aspirations, here
as elsewhere seemed fleeting, small, unimportant.


For a general, brief summary of European life and conditions:
E. R. Turner, Europe, 1789-1920 (1920).

The accounts of travellers often contain vivid description
and a great deal of interesting information: Edmondo De
Amicis, UOlanda (1874, trans. 1880), Ricordi di Londra (1874);
W. C. Bryant, Letters of a Traveller (1850); Charles Dickens,
Pictures from Italy (1844); R. W. Emerson, English Traits
(1856); Theophile Gautier, Voyage en Espagne (1843, trans.
1853), Italia (1852), Voyage en Russie (1866); A. J. C. Hare,
Walks in Rome (1871); Nathaniel Hawthorne, Our Old Home
(1863), English Note Books (1870), French and Italian Note
Books (1871); John Hay, Castilian Days (1871); Victor Hugo,
Le Rhin (1842); H. W. Longfellow, Outre-Mer (1835); H. B.
Stowe, Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands, 2 vols. (1854) ; Hippo-
lyte Taine, Voyage aux Pyrenees (1855), Voyage en Italic (1866,
trans. 1869), Notes sur V Angleterre (1872); Bayard Taylor,
Views Afoot (1846), Travels in Greece andRussia (1859), Northern
Travel (1860); W. M. Thackeray, The Paris Sketch Book (1868),
The Irish Sketch Book (1869); C. D. Warner, In the Levant
(1875); Edward Whymper, Scrambles among the Alps (1871);
N. P. Willis, Pencillings by the Way (1835).



The i)ower of kings and magistrates is nothing else, but what is only
derivative, transferred and (committed to them in trust from the
people to the common good of them all, in whom the power yet re-
mains fundamentally.
John Milton, The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (1649).

Les representants du people fran^ais eonstitues en assemblee nation-
ale . . . declarent
Les hommes naissent et demeurent libres et egaux en droits. . . .
Le but de toute association politique est la conservation des droits
naturels ... la liberte, la propriete, la sflretc et la resistance a

Declaration of the Rights of Man, September 14, 1791, Archives
Parlementaires, 1st series, xxxii. 525.

Universal suffrage fera le tour du monde. It is now the last court of
appeal on all questions, international, among the rest.

Conversation of Montalembert with Nassau Senior (1863).

Down to 1870, perhaps it still seemed that the most
important cause of changes in the hundred years preceding
had been the French Revolution, and that Europe in the
nineteenth century had been adjusting herself to what
had begun in the latter part of the eighteenth century in
France. In the days of the Old Regime the great mass of
men and women almost everywhere had been debased,
ignorant, laborious peasants, toiUng on the land to produce
with a rude agriculture the subsistence for themselves
and their masters. For the most part, as in Russia, the
German countries, Hungary, and Poland, they were serfs,
partly unfree, bound to the soil, under obligation to work
for their lord several days in the week, and make to him


Europe be-
fore the



of the

Ideas about

payments in produce or kind. In some places, like Ire-
land, where serfdom did not prevail, the peasants were
bowed down in as lowly position through heavy rents
which they paid to landlords. Nowhere, save in some of
tlie Swiss Cantons, did the mass of the people control
their governments or have any voice in the conduct of
affairs. Almost everywhere they were excluded from all
participation in government, substantially debarred from
the holding of office, not allowed to vote for the members
of legislative or conciliar assemblies, where such assemblies
existed. Most of them were entirely subject to the rule
of absolute sovereigns or powerful nobles. The mighty
Roman Catholic Church had for ages insisted that within
its ranks there should be opportunity for the humblest to
rise, though actually the great places had almost always
been monopolized by members of the upper classes. In
the seventeenth century Calvinists, asserting that all men
were equal in the sight of God, transferred this idea to the
realm of politics, and declared that church members, at
any rate, should have part in the government under which
they Hved, and some right to control their rulers. Gen-
erally, however, there was no idea that most men and
women should have any part in the governance of states,
through representatives consenting to taxes or making the
laws of the land. It was almost universally held that
they should merely obey without question. Kings and
nobles then tried to govern their realms to best advantage,
and sometimes endeavored to better the condition of the
people. None the less, for the most part government was
managed in the interests of the sovereigns and the upper
classes, taxes were imposed without respect to the wish of
the payers, and statecraft and foreign policy were carried
on at the discretion of rulers.

In Great Britain then conditions, though very different
from what they are now, were nevertheless better than
anywhere else in Europe. The power of the king had long



been limited by a parliament composed partly of represent-
atives of the upper and middle classes, and it was not
possible to take from British subjects a shilling of taxes
which their parliament had not freely granted. Serfdom
had completely passed away. The great majority of the
people had, indeed, no voice in the government, but they
had the protection of the English common law and certain
great statutes, like Habeas Corpus; and the great men of
the upper classes, while ruling in their own interests, yet
had much consideration for the people beneath them.
The government of Britain in the latter part of the eigh-
teenth century was regarded as a model by the great
French political theorists and writers, who hoped that
their own might be reconstructed some day so as to be
more like it.

In France conditions then were less good, but more
favorable than in any other large state excepting Great
Britain. The government was entirely in the hands of a
king with unlimited power, assisted by officials whom he
appointed. ^\Tiereas parliamentary institutions had de-
veloped in England, so that in course of time the power
of the king was limited and checked, in France they had
declined, and the French representative assembly, the
Etats Generaux, had not been summoned since 1G14.
Serfdom had mostly disappeared, but some old manorial
obligations, payments to the seigneur and working upon
his land, remained to vex a great number of peasants.
Taxes were high, and were paid very largely by the im-
poverished lower classes. Notwithstanding all this, most
Frenchmen probably realized that for tlie past hundred
years their government had been more successful than
that of any other great state on the Continent, that the
soil of France had almost never in that time been trodden
by invaders, that France was great and respected, and
that French culture, in its favorable surroundings, had
developed more finely than any other then in existence.

in Great

In France






First stage
of the

It was partly because conditions were relatively good, and
because civilization and prosperity were high, that so
much enlightened discontent was developed. Writers
like Montesquieu and Voltaire proclaimed the superior
excellence of English institutions; Voltaire and Diderot
criticized traditional beliefs with remarkable clearness and
merciless wit; Rousseau and his disciples spread abroad
a strange new philosophy that men were equal, that they
should control their government, that existing things
should be overthrown so that men might return to a
blessed "state of nature." These teachings were allowed
by a society long established and now grown careless,
so strongly established, as it seemed, that it need not fear
for the future. But year by year, in the second half of
the eighteenth century, the bourgeoisie were rising in
importance and less content with their status, national
finances grew more hopelessly involved, and the condition
of the lowest class seemed harder to bear. At last bank-
ruptcy was at hand, and as a final recourse the king, Louis
XVI, summoned the Etats Generaux, the old assembly of

Few, perhaps, expected the mighty results which
followed. Almost immediately, the Third Estate, rep-
resentatives of the middle and lower classes, got control
of the body. They proclaimed themselves a National
Assembly, and proceeded to draw up a constitution for
France. The ideas long spread about were now seen to
have taken deep root, and there was abundant evidence
that reform would at once be attempted. Presently, in
1791, a constitution was proclaimed which made France a
limited monarchy, like Great Britain, with principal power
in a legislative assembly; but going beyond what had yet
been accomplished in England, the franchise was given to
three fourths of the men of the state. Nowhere up to
that time had so great an extension of the electorate been
made. The National Assembly had abolished serfdom and




manorial burdens, and tiien confisc'aic(l the vast posses-
sions of the Churcli, a fifth of the hind in tlie kingdom.
Hunger and misery had already caused outbreaks of the
poor and the desperate, who rose up against their lords,
seized their property, and drove them away.

In the course of the two years, 1789-91, the French
reformers seemed to have accomplished all that had been
brought to pass in Britain during ages, and more. But
the momentum of so rapid a change is seldom to be
stayed until it has gone much farther in more rapid and
violent course. Radicals now demanded more funda-
mental and thorough-going reforms, declaring that what
had been done so far benefited the lower classes very
little. Ideas of complete democracy were put forward,
and other ideas like the socialism preached fifty years
later. Amid discontent from existing abuses and the
confusion attending reforms it was not difficult for
resolute radicals to seize control of affairs, especially
when reactionaries and foreign powers tried to restore
what had just been abolished. Accordingly, in 1792, the
Revolution entered upon a new and more radical phase,
when the new constitutional government was overthrown,
a repubUc proclaimed, and a National Convention, chosen
by manhood suffrage, assembled to draw up another
constitution. Next year the king was put to death, and
the nobles banished for ever. Sweeping changes were made
or begun in the interests of the mass of the people. The
property of the nobles was confiscated by the state and
sold; and presently bought by small proprietors, so that
afterward France came to be more largely divided among
small owners than any other great state in the world.
Simplification and codifying of the law were begun, and a
better educational system was planned, work completed
afterward under Napoleon Bonaparte. But this excellent
work was wrought in the midst of a period of excessively
radical change. Some of tlie reformers tried to sweep away

The second
stage, 1792-5

The Con-



The Reign
of Terror
and the en-
suing reac-

The middle

all old things. They called 1792 the Year I. Some wished
to divide all property among all of the people. Christianity
was suppressed and the worship of Reason proclaimed.

There was, consequently, inevitable reaction. Many
Frenchmen loved the old order. They had not sought
its overthrow, and longed to restore it. A great many
earnestly wanted the reforms made by the National As-
sembly, but not the extremer changes offered now by the
Convention. Moreover, the measures against church
property, and especially against the Church, profoundly
alienated great bodies of men and women whose strongest
attachment was to their Church. And finally, while
the great mass of the people had formerly been peasants,
poor and discontented, now that manorial obligations had
been abolished, their condition was bettered. As they
began to purchase the confiscated lands and become
property-owners themselves, they became conservative
and no longer willing to follow radical leaders. Ac-
cordingly, while in 1792-3 a great outburst of patriotism
and rising of the people enabled the Convention to repel
foreign enemies who tried to enter France, soon the leaders
in the Convention, like Marat, Danton, and Robespierre,
could maintain their power only through a reign of Terror,
as did the Bolsheviki in Russia more than a century later.
By massacre, by judicial murder, by ruthless force, they
suppressed all uprisings and got space to continue their
work. But the tide now flowed steadily back away from
them, and presently the Convention came again under
the power of the bourgeoisie. In 1795 the so-called Con-
stitution of the Year III established the Directory, and
made the government a middle-class republic, in which the
franchise was limited by property qualifications. When
this government had lost esteem from inefficiency and from
corruption it was overthrown by Napoleon Bonaparte, a
soldier of fortune but also a statesman and genius of un-
rivalled abilities and daring.



Bonap«irte, in effect, saved from furtli(T reaelion and,
perhaps, from overthrow, such of the work of the Revohi-
tion as had soHd basis in the wishes of most of the people.
As first consul, under the Constitution of the Year VIII
(1800), and afterward as emperor (1802-1814), he
seized upon all real power in the state, and was actually
more powerful than Louis XVI ever had been. But
the work of the National Assembly, 1789-91, was pre-
served, and some of the work of the Convention brouglit
to completion. Thus under Napoleon, as under the
Constitution of 1791, serfdom and manorial obligations
remained abolished; and the land taken from the mon-
asteries and the Church, and now getting more and more
into the possession of peasant proprietors, laid the founda-
tions of a new, stronger France. Under his direction the
old confused laws were reduced to the simple Code Na-
poleon, which embodied, moreover, some of the best ideas
of the Revolution. A great reform of education was
carried forward. On the other hand, the excesses of the
Jacobins and the Terror were rejected; and peace was
made with the Church in the compromise embodied in the
Concordat of 1801. Accordingly, the all-important, but
comparatively moderate, reforms of the first part of the
Rev^olution were preserved.

From France the reforms of the Revolution were spread
out over western, southern, and central Europe during
a long series of wars, which began during the Revolution,
continued under Napoleon, and were finally ended with
the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. In 1792 the Revolution-
ists had seen themselves threatened not only by con-
servatives and reactionaries in France, but by opposition
from all the old divine right monarchies of Europe.
Taking the offensive themselves they soon proclaimed that
they would carry the blessings of their revolution to all
the oppressed peoples of Europe. Then bj^ propaganda
and force of arms they sought to set up their system in

The less
radical part
of the Revo-
lution saved
by Napoleon

The Revolu-
tionary ideas
spread to
other coun-



and con-
in Europe


all of the lands near by. They had much success, and soon
occupied the districts adjoining their frontiers. Presently,
indeed, Europe was divided between the innovators, sup-
ported and urged forward by a militant French Republic,
and all those who clung to the old order, whose instincts
were conservative, who were appalled at the execution of
the French king and his queen, and at the excesses of the
Reign of Terror. Napoleon was, indeed, ambitious and
filled with consciousness of his ability as a soldier, but
he was also confronted with an opposition in Europe,
which was to a large extent opposition to the French
Revolution. In the long wars of his time, which lasted
witli little intermission from 1797 to 1815, he crushed his
enemies, and erected the mightiest despotism and military
empire which Europe had seen for ages, but he also de-
fended and preserved the better parts of the Revolution.
When at last his enemies finally prevailed and his power
was broken, through mere passage of time the best reforms
of the Revolution had got firm root in France, and in the
neighboring countries where Frenchmen had brought

With the restoration of the Bourbons in 1814 a period
of reaction began in France, but the best reforms were not
disturbed, and presently the work of 1789 was extended
by the Revolution of 1830. After the downfall of Na-
poleon very naturally reaction at once commenced in all
the principal countries of Europe. After the long period
of wars and confusion one of the principal objects of the
great men who assembled at the Congress of Vienna (1814-
15) was to restore what had been overthrown and make
further revolution impossible. During the period of the
domination of Metternich, the Austrian statesman
(1814-48), and of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia (1825-55),
reaction held full sway over parts of the Continent. But
even so, none of the great things which had been achieved
in 1789 was destroyed. The Revolution of 1830 began


a new, more liberal era in Franee and in Belgium; wliile
the revolutions in various countries in 1S48 not only
carried forward the work in France but broke the power
and the system of Metternich in central Europe. As yet
the spirit of the French Revolution had scarcely crossed
the borders of the realm of the tsars, but after the dis-
asters of the Crimean War (1854-6), a new era began also
in Russia. During all this time and afterward the ideas
proclaimed in France in 1789 were being spread farther
and farther, and more and more made good and accepted.

In 1789 serfdom had been the condition of most of the
people of Europe. In that year the remnants of it were

Online LibraryEdward Raymond TurnerEurope since 1870 → online text (page 2 of 49)