The Struggle for Mastery in Europe, 1763-1914

History 162A

Fall 2005
182 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
MWF 11-12

This upper division course surveys the rise and fall of the European Powers in the period of war and revolution preceding the downfall of Napoleon to the outbreak of World War I. Its major topics: Congress of Vienna (1814-1815); the Vienna system (1815-48); the revolutions of 1848; the Crimean War (1853-56); the war of Italian unification waged by Cavour and Garibaldi (1859-61); the wars of German unification waged by Bismarck (1862-71); the Bismarckian system in operation, 1871-90; Imperialism (1890-1907); and the crises that led to the First World War. The course will argue that, with exception that a series of wars and upheavals at mid-century, much of the struggle that took place between the Powers during this period was contained, benign, even- paradoxical as it may sound- peaceful. It will therefore seek to explain peace as much as it explains war. Peace is artificial and demands more explanation. Wars sometimes just happen; peace is always caused. Moreover, understanding why the period following the destruction of Napoleon in 1815 was more peaceful than any predecessor in European history helps explain why it ended in a war greater than any before. The explanation of this remarkable record and its disastrous end is the course's overriding theme. Mid-term, final, short paper.


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