History of the West 1871-1894
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The history of the West 1871-1894 was dominated by the rise of Germany, which had surpassed Britain to become the world’s leading industrial power, and its powerful army wielded commensurate political power. Prussia’s victory in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 led to the annexation of two French border territories, Alsace and Lorraine. With that, Wilhelm took the title kaiser (from the Roman title caesar) and proclaimed the German Empire. All of Germany’s lands (except Austria) were now united under the leadership of Germany’s “Iron Chancellor” Otto von Bismarck.
As a further result of the Franco-Prussian War, the emperor Napoleon III was dethroned and France declared itself a republic. However, it remained divided between the Catholic and monarchist establishment on one hand and the upstart anticlerical and republican forces on the other. While this division was mitigated in 1900 by the official separation of church and state in France, most French remained Catholic. France’s industry had been weakened by the loss of its iron and coal mines with the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine to Prussia, and by its small, stagnant population. Only its strong sense of nationalism kept France from disintegrating into internecine chaos.
Throughout the late 19th century, Britain vacillated between Liberal and Conservative governments, but it maintained its vast empire upon which “the sun never set”. But its proud sentiment of empire was eroded by Ireland’s resistance to British rule and by Britain’s increasing inability to compete with Germany and the United States in industrial production.
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1871-1894 Index | Society: Cities • Class: Lower Class • Middle Class • Upper Class • Family • Leisure: Team Sports | Migration | Women | Culture: Learning | Power | Economy: Labor • Markets | Austria-Hungary: Society • Power | England: Power • Dominions • Governance • Issues | France: Power | Germany: Power | Italy: Power | Russia
Class: Lower Class
Class: Middle Class
Society: Upper Class
Leisure: Team Sports