Here is an essay that I wrote during my second year in my undergraduate degree. I though it would be interesting to give you a little history blog post on a topic that I found super interesting! So I hope you enjoy reading and if you have any questions then please comment below 🙂 If you would like to use any of this information then please reference me or the books that I have linked below! Thank-you.
Disclaimer: The purpose for this post is not to use my essay for your own gain but merely to educate yourself on this topic.
In what ways was Europe of 1913 different to the Europe of 1815, and in what ways were they similar?
At first glance, there are many differences and yet many similarities between the Europe of 1815 and the Europe of 1913. To begin this essay, it is necessary to look at what was happening in Europe during these time periods. The main areas that will be focused on are politics, geography, emigration, country agendas and the technology at the time. By focusing on these, together with any additional information and evidence, one will be able to compare and contrast the two.
After the Napoleonic wars, Europe was in turmoil. England had lived in fear of a French invasion led by Napoleon, whilst some saw Napoleon as a hero and throughout Europe taxes were increased to fund the war. “The experience of revolution and war had gone so deep and had been shared by so many, if unequally, that it could not be forgotten easily. Not everyone wanted to forget, however. Indeed, even before his death in 1821, Napoleon became a legend that still had power to move men.” “The Congress of Vienna” was a significant date that took place in 1814 till 1815. Diplomats of the great countries met to reorganise the European boundaries, to settle disputes, and thus by doing so would hopefully prevent any one country from taking over Europe and maintain the structure of Europe. “The Kingdom of the Netherlands had been created; Prussia had been strengthened in the Rhineland; an international guarantee of Swiss neutrality had been given’ the Kingdom of Savoy-Sardinia had been enlarged by the annexation of Genoa. Most fundamental of all, French expansionism had been checked, at least for the time being, by the restoration of the Bourbons to the throne.” Although, some Historians such as J.S. Olson criticise this act for “drastically altering European frontiers.” Which in some ways are true as not every country was happy with the outcome of the congress.
“The Congress System formally ended in 1823, when the Great Powers stopped meeting regularly.” One could argue that because of the Congress System formally ending, it may have contributed to Europe’s borders slowly disintegrating for some countries. “By the 1830s the Concert of Europe was no longer a concert, for each country acted as it wanted to and France had another revolution.” For example, in 1830 Greece became independent after 400 years under Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire was one of the largest empires in history and was made up of many countries, for example, today is modern day Turkey and Egypt. Greece led the way for Europe’s boundaries to become more fluid and for countries to take back control for independence. The unification of Italy happened in the 1850s and the unification of Germany soon followed in 60s. Due to the borders all breaking up, almost a century on in 1913, Europe was again in chaos. Tension arose in the Balkan states throughout the mid-19th century due to the points above, which resulted in the first Balkan war in Europe between 1912 and 1913. The Balkan wars were between the Balkan League and the Ottoman Empire. “The armistice for the cessation of the First Balkan War was signed on December 3 1912.” The “Treaty of London,” which was the truce for the cessation was short lived as the second Balkan War broke out in 1913. Similar to 1815, there was another significant treaty in 1913. The “Treaty of Bucharest” which was signed after the Second Balkan War. Europe was on the cusp of World War I and it was only a year later that war was declared. Tension between France, Germany, Austro-Hungary and Russia had been on the horizon for many years before World War I broke out. “The basic hostilities in the late 19th century Europe were between France and Germany and between Austro-Hungary and Russia.”
The very obvious differences between the two time periods, is that in 1815 Europe had just ended a war, but 1913 was pre-war in Europe. The Europe of 1913 were more prepared for war than the century before it. “There was a 300 per cent increase in the level of armaments, military and naval, in Europe between 1870 and 1914, made possible not only by decision taken by political leaders but by the increasingly wealth and advancing technology associated with industrialization.”
There was a clear difference between the societies of 1815 and 1913 in Europe. For example, in the early 19th century women were certainly different from the early 20th century. With the formation of the suffragettes, who were a women’s organization protesting for the right to vote. In Britain, the leader was Emmeline Pankhurst “the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1903 marked the start of a radical new phase in the fight to win the right to vote for British women.” Although the suffrages were not just in the UK, there were many woman’s rights movements all across Europe. In 1913, the suffragette movement was given a new level of publicity. “Emily Davison, committed suicide by throwing herself in front of King George V’s horse during a race.”
In 1913, one of the main focuses on European society was women’s rights, whereas in 1815, nationalism was the main focus of change and this continued to 1913 though it was not as prominent. “The most important political factor of the nineteenth century in Europe was the growth of nationalism. During this period the belief that the nation was the natural and inevitable form of large-scale political organization, and the only one which was morally valid, became increasingly widespread and fanatical.” Nationalism, was not always seen as a good thing by people such as The Austrian royal family, the Habsburgs. “Of all the empires of Europe, theirs as the most vulnerable to nationalism. For 33 years, from 1815 to 1848, any sign of nationalism was eradicated without mercy.”
Linked to Nationalism is Imperialism. The definition of Imperialism is “a policy of extending a country’s power and influence through colonization.” The term and idea came about in 1815, the same time as Nationalism started gaining popularity. “Imperial expansion was continuous after 1815 as nations sought the prestige of oversea conquest. In Africa this became a ‘scramble’ as new colonial powers (like Germany and Italy) increased the momentum to secure territories before their rivals.” Though Imperialism and nationalism may be overlooked by some, it was one of the many causes and contributions to World War I. The effect of imperialism were similarity in both time periods of 1815 and 1913 as Napoleon expansionism had been nationalistic, the Germany Kaiser’s will to expand previous to World War I was nationalist also.
Another area, which needs to be assessed is emigration. Emigration is an important factor both after 1815 and before 1913, showing yet again another similarity between the two. “The movement of the large numbers of people from Europe to the Americas and other parts of the world was one of the most important features of the international economy in the years after the Napoleonic wars. More than 50 million people were directly involved. Emigration could not fail to have profound effects on both the sending and the receiving countries.” It was not only just people moving to America but to many other countries such as Sibera, India, China and Japan. “Migration from Russia into Siberia is thought to have involved 10 million people between 1815 and 1914.” In Britain, many ships such as the Titanic “were literally selling tickets to a new life.” Post-potato famine, it was mainly the Irish who were looking to emigrate. “Mostly small Irish tenants and agricultural labourers fled for the hunger, many of whom were in a state of extreme distress. Driven by recurrent food crises.”
Technology was a vastly different by 1913, when compared to 1815. In the 1800s mass production was becoming increasingly widespread with many new factories forming. “The most crucial development in the latter half of the eighteenth century was mass production. Textiles, and ceramics saw huge expansion of their industries, bring a shift of labour force, from working the fields to working in town factories.” Throughout the 19th century, technology and discovery had expanded. The first photographic image was taken in 1826 by Joseph Niepce and it was the inventor of the Morse code, Samuel Morse that built the first electric telegraph in 1835. Not only was technology growing but so was scientific knowledge. The theory of evolution was developed and anaesthetic and antiseptic were also created. Therefore the society of 1913 were more knowledgeable than their ancestors a century before. There were more beliefs forming, causing people to think for themselves and new medicine were being used. Other major technological advances in the 1800s were the motor-vehicle and the first manned power flight. “Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903 and five years later invented the famous Model T Ford.” In the same year, the first propelled petrol engine were also invented. “Orville Wright took to the air in the ‘Flyer,’ built by him and his brother Wilbur, and propelled by a petrol engine.” As the time period I am focusing on is 10 years after these inventions, they would all be well developed and may have been seen regularly in the community more so the Model T Ford.
Compared to 1815, 1913 had a bigger population which lead to better social reforms. People were living longer and the population had increased. There are multiple reason why the population was increasing. Women marrying young and having children may be an example for the late 1800s although this may have been the same in the previous centuries, “The typical working-class mother of the 1890’s, married in her teens or early twenties and experiencing teen pregnancies, spent about fifteen years in a state of pregnancy and in nursing a child for the first years of its life” Which could contribute to mortality rating decreasing or that health and medicine was improving. “Of these methods, only vaccination against smallpox was in use in the first part of the 19th century, and, even then, not very widely-most of the developments just listed date from the last part of the 19th century or later. These preventive methods were responsible for much of the sharp upturn in life expectancy.” Therefore the vaccine against the smallpox could have contributed to longer life expectancy amongst many other medicines. This gives an insight to the standards of living in the 1800s and early 1900s.
“Side by side with this growth in the number of Europeans went an even more rapid growth in the economy which sustained them. The result was that by 1914 the vast majority of them, though their standards of physical consumption, health and education were still low by comparison with those of the present day, were decidedly better off than their ancestors a century earlier.” In 1800 Europe’s population was 150 million whereas in 1900 the population had almost doubled to 291 million in Europe. “Nineteenth century life had frequently been short and uncertain, and “retirement” rare. In 1881, three quarters of men in Britain over 65 were still working. It was only in 1898 that the British Civil service began to enforce a retirement age.” Due to people living longer and the population increasing this also contributed to the number of men fighting in WWI and women helping back home in the factories.
Lastly, linked with the growing population bringing change, education also improved too. It developed thus the generation of the 1900s were more educated than the generation before and instead of going straight into work, children stayed in school longer. “Before the First World War, the school leaving age was between 12 and 14 in most of European countries; at the end of the century, it was 18 in Belgium and Germany, 17 in the Netherlands, and 16 in Denmark, France and the UK.” This again is a difference to 1815.
As one would expect, The Europe of 1913 had many differences to the Europe of 1815 although there were a few similarities. To compare and contrast the two, firstly the differences will be looked at. The society of 1815 had just came out of a war, many people had died causing a low population and the rest of society was trying to recover. They were not concerned with women’s rights or technology at that time. Their main focus was to stop living in fear of another revolution and thus the “Congress of Vienna” provided peace and reassurance over Europe. Compared to the citizens of 1913 which the population was ever growing, more educated and preparing themselves for war as they knew that it was a big possibility. Some wanted a war as they thought it would be short, over by Christmas and easily won. The people of 1913 were focused on women’s rights as the 1900s brought the suffragette movement, technology with the invention of the motor vehicle and scientific knowledge due to the development of the anaesthetic and antiseptic. Both societies differed in that way. One which had been damaged by war thus was slowly trying to recover and another which had been rebuilt and was preparing for war. Although there were clear differences, the most significant and important being Europe’s ever changing borders and the fact that the “Congress of Vienna” were ignored by many, as countries such as Greece fought to gain independence. The similarities in both time periods are the effect of imperialism, nationalism and emigration. Emigration was similar in both as people were searching for a fresh start, in Britain it was mainly the Irish searching for more money and to escape famine while others may have been trying to escape the past war in 1815 or the upcoming war in 1914. Imperialism and nationalism came about in the early 1800s and was still important in 1913 although it was less of an impact than it had been in the earlier century, consequently the Europe of 1913 had many differences to the Europe of 1815 although there were a few similarities, and the differences outweighed them.
Mather R, “The impact of the Napoleonic Wars in Britain,” http://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/the-impact-of-the-napoleonic-wars-in-britain [Date Accessed: 23/11/14] Published: Unknown.
Anderson M.S, The Ascendancy Of Europe 1815 – 1914, Pearson Education Ltd, 2003.
Olson J.S, Historical Dictionary of European Imperialism, Greenwood Press, 1991.
Ghervas S, http://www.historytoday.com/stella-ghervas/congress-vienna-peace-strong, Published in History Today Volume: 64 Issue: 9, 2014, [Date Accessed: 24/11/14.]
Munby L, Concise Encyclopaedia of World History, Purnell Books, 1977.
Anderson F.M, Handbook for the Diplomatic History of Europe, Asia and Africa 1870 – 1914, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1918.
Briggs A and Clavin P, Modern Europe 1789- 1989, Addison Wesley Longman Inc, 1997
“Suffragettes. Women recall their struggle to win the vote,” http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/suffragettes [Date Accessed: 23/11/14] Published Date: Unknown.
Professor Black J, World History, Parragon, 1999.
“Imperialism” http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/imperialism [Date Accessed: 24/11/14] Published Date: Unknown.
Baines D, Emigration from Europe 1815-1930, First Cambridge University Press, 1995, Great Britain.
“Titanic Village: The sinking of dreams” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-17557619 [Date Accessed: 23/11/14] Published Date: 31 March 2012.
“The Migration To North America” Dr Schrover M, http://www.let.leidenuniv.nl/history/migration/chapter52.html [Date Accessed: 24/11/14]
Easterlin R. A, The Worldwide Standard of Living since 1800, American Economic Association, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2000.
James H, Europe Reborn A History 1914-2000, Pearson Education Limited, 2003.
 R. Mather, “The impact of the Napoleonic Wars in Britain” <http://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/the-impact-of-the-napoleonic-wars-in-britain> [Date Accessed: 23/11/14] Published: Unknown
 M.S. Anderson, The Ascendancy Of Europe 1815 – 1914, Pearson Education Ltd, 2003, P.48
 Ibid, P.1
 J.S. Olson, Historical Dictionary of European Imperialism, Greenwood Press, 1991, p.149
 S. Ghervas, <http://www.historytoday.com/stella-ghervas/congress-vienna-peace-strong> Published in History Today Volume: 64 Issue: 9, 2014, [Date Accessed: 24/11/14]
 L. Munby, Concise Encyclopaedia of World History, Purnell Books, 1977, p.161
 F.M. Anderson, Handbook for the Diplomatic History of Europe, Asia and Africa 1870 – 1914, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1918, p .429
 L. Munby, Concise Encyclopaedia of World History, Purnell Books, 1977, p.170
 A. Briggs and P. Clavin, Modern Europe 1789- 1989, Addison Wesley Longman Inc, 1997, P.141
 “Suffragettes. Women recall their struggle to win the vote” <http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/suffragettes> [Date Accessed : 23/11/14] Published Date: Unknown
 Professor J. Black, World History, Parragon, 1999, p.270
 M.S. Anderson, The Ascendancy Of Europe 1815 – 1914, Pearson Education Ltd, 2003, p.204,
 Professor J. Black, World History, Parragon, 1999, p.199
 “Imperialism” <http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/imperialism> [Date Accessed: 24/11/14] Published Date: Unknown
 Ibid, p.215
 D. Baines, Emigration from Europe 1815-1930, First Cambridge University Press, 1995, Great Britain, p.1
 Ibid, p.5
 “Titanic Village: The sinking of dreams” <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-17557619> [Date Accessed: 23/11/14] Published Date: 31 March 2012.
 “The Migration To North America” Dr. M. Schrover, <http://www.let.leidenuniv.nl/history/migration/chapter52.html> [Date Accessed: 24/11/14]
 Professor J. Black, World History, Parragon, 1999, p.226
 Ibid, p.227
 Ibid, p.299
 R. A. Easterlin, The Worldwide Standard of Living since 1800, American Economic Association, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2000, pp. 7-26
 Ibid, pp.7-26
 Ibid, p.125
 R. Cameron, Concise Economic History of the World, OUP USA, 2002) p. 193.
 H. James, Europe Reborn A History 1914-2000, Pearson Education Limited, 2003, p.31
 Ibid, p.32