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15 May 2017


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Steve Beste

William Manchester, in his book The Arms of Krupp, says that one result of the Congress of Vienna was that Prussia got the Ruhr valley. Prussia didn't particularly want it It was poor, Catholic, and far away. But its coal mines turned out to be the heart of the industrial revolution in Germany. We forget how un-industrialized central Europe was in 1815. Talk about unforseen consequences!


Worth the wait.


Prussia had few territories anybody would have considered worth much at the time it acquired them (Brandenburg, the historic heartland was known as the "Reichsstreusandb├╝chse" for a reason). But it made a lot from them. And the Ruhr area had a lot of ethnic Poles immigrate there during industrialization (some of them being Prussian citizens thanks to - of course- the Polish partitions, because Poland is the key to everything).

At any rate, people seem to dismiss what happened in Europe between 1815 and 1914 (even the 1848 revolution doesn't get its due) I am really glad you'll tackle that. And in 1870 for once it was Spain (or rather the Spanish throne) that was the key to everything.


Metternich was an 18th century man forced by fate to work in 19th century Europe. And the end result wasn't very good for him or for Europe.



"At any rate, people seem to dismiss what happened in Europe between 1815 and 1914 (even the 1848 revolution doesn't get its due) I am really glad you'll tackle that."

A dismissal made sadder by the facts that in that period of 100 years the cause of WW I can be found. The formation of a unified Germany was an unbalancing factor that you could argue directly lead to WW I.


@Matthew: Very true.

The way the Prussian military juggernaut unified the German states by force and from the top down and the subsequent rapid industrialization left a country that a) was dominated by military and aristocratic elites b) felt militarily invincible and c) felt "left out" by the other great (colonial) powers. Those three factors are of course best exemplified in Wilhelm II but even without him, that German nation was a threat to the concert of Europe. And to add insult to injury, the very founding of this German Reich would always be a humiliating blow to France. By the time Bismarck's convoluted alliance system broke down it was a question of when, not if Europe would array itself into pro- and anti-German blocks that would have to violently clash at some point.


In the "blame France for everything" front, you can argue that it was the constant French incursions into the German principalities throughout the previous centuries that motivated them to unite around "the Sparta of the North". As opposed to the Bavarians, the beer meisters.

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