The event that defeated Napoleon’s great designs was the French debacle in Russia. French actions after 1807 soon convinced Czar Alexander that Napoleon was not keeping the Tilsit bargain and was intruding on Russia’s sphere in eastern Europe.
On October 31, 1918, eleven days before the armistice, Count Michael Karolyi (1895-1955) became prime minister of Hungary, after that country had severed its ties with Austria. One of the richest of the great landed nobles, Karolyi was also a democrat.
Much of the study at that time consisted of mere memorizing by rote, since in the days before printing ready reference works were scarce. Though the formal rules of scholarly debate were fixed, there was, nonetheless, lively discussion. Discussion and teaching were particularly preoccupied with defining systems by which people could live faithfully within the expectations of Christendom.
One skill of the highest value to leadership is the ability to inspire others with one’s own example, and with one’s oratory. Winston Churchill was a superb writer and public speaker. On May 13, 1940, he gave the House of Commons his fearsome prescription for victory.
I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this Government: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.
In the years immediately after Waterloo, Britain went through an intense postwar economic crisis. Unsold goods accumulated, and the working classes experienced widespread unemployment and misery.
Popular suffering increased as a result of the Corn Law of 1815, which forbade the importation of cheap foreign grain until the price of the home-grown commodity rose to a specified level. This assured the profits of the English grain farmer and probably raised the cost of bread for the average English family.
Further advances in royal power came with Louis IX. Deeply pious, Louis carried his high standards over into his role as king. He wore simple clothes, gave alms to beggars, washed the feet of lepers, built hospitals, and created in Paris the Sainte-Chapelle (Holy Chapel) to hold a reliquary containing Christ’s Crown of Thorns. The church made Louis a saint in 1297 for personally leading two Crusades against the Muslims.
Spanish supremacy, though short-lived, was real enough. The Spanish “style” was set in this Golden Age, which has left the West magnificent paintings, architecture, and decoration, and one of the few really universal books, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616).
This Spanish style is not at all like those of France and Italy, even though they are often tied with Spain as “Latin.” Many historians see the Spanish spirit as among the most serious, most darkly passionate, in the West—a striving spirit, carrying to an extreme the chivalric concept of honor.
The revolutionary leaders of the post-Napoleonic generation remained firm for liberty, equality, and fraternity. The first two words of the great revolutionary motto continued to signify the abolition of noble and clerical privileges in society and, with few exceptions, laissez-faire economics. They also involved broadening civil rights, instituting representative assemblies, and granting constitutions, which would bring limited monarchy or possibly even a republic.
The European powers had a long history of attempts to secure an imperial stake in the Middle East. Before 1914 the region was still poverty stricken. But by 1914 the first discoveries of petroleum had been made; today the Middle East contains the richest nations in the world.
The peace settlements of Hubertusburg and Paris ended the greatest international crisis that was to occur between the death of Louis XIV and the outbreak of the French Revolution.
New crises were to arise, but they did not fundamentally alter the international balance; they accentuated the shifts that had long been underway. And although American independence cost Britain thirteen of its colonies, the maritime and imperial supremacy it had gained in 1763 was not otherwise seriously affected.