Prize Fight: The Race and the Rivalry to be the First in Science (MacSci)
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After twice repelling Ottoman attacks on Vienna but failing to reclaim much territory in Hungary or score any significant naval victories in the Mediterranean, Ferdinand was forced into a humiliating truce at Adrianople in The terms required him to relinquish most Hapsburg claims to Hungary and pay an exorbitant tribute for those small parts that remained nominally Hapsburg.
The empire would continue to test the limits of its expansion in Central Europe and the Mediterranean for the next century and a half, even as it suffered a naval setback in the Battle of Lepanto. Only at the conclusion of the Great Turkish War in did the Hapsburg prince Eugene of Savoy manage to gain back most of Hungary and decisively reverse Ottoman expansion in Europe. His empire, which carried the authority of the papacy, stretched from the Mediterranean to northern Germany.
His ascent to power, however, coincided with one of the greatest threats the empire had ever faced: the rise of the Lutheran north. During the first half of the seventeenth century, in response to nascent rebellions in the German northern provinces, several Protestant powers outside the Holy Roman Empire — including England and the Dutch Republic — volunteered to finance a militarily powerful Protestant state to confront imperial general Albrecht von Wallenstein in northern Germany.
The first king to be given the chance was Christian IV of Denmark. Overmatched, Christian was driven all the way back to the Danish isles, leaving Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II even stronger and a ruling force throughout Germany and the rest of northern Europe. What the Hapsburgs considered a defensive measure proved far more provocative than planned. Gustavus lobbied for armed intervention in Germany on the grounds that the Hapsburgs were seeking to contain Swedish growth and constituted an imminent threat to Swedish security. They have violently subjugated a great part of Denmark, whence we must apprehend that they may press on into our borders, if they be not powerfully resisted in good time.
This approach won him funding from around Europe. Paris, seeking to check Hapsburg power and wishing to maintain influence in a potential postwar order dominated by Sweden, also offered significant support.
The Swedes enjoyed early successes, taking Pomerania and moving inland. Although Gustavus himself was killed in action, Sweden won decisive victories, most notably at the Battle of Wittstock in During the war, Swedish troops occupied half of Germany, and its triumphs were reflected in a favorable settlement at the Peace of Westphalia.
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Sweden became the most powerful country in northern Europe and the third-largest country on the Continent behind Russia and Spain. Its dominance of the seas and nascent colonial empire soon brought the republic into conflict with the English, who expanded their holdings in North America and their trading presence in the East Indies.
Thus, lucrative trading routes gave the publicly owned Dutch East India Company a leading role in the global spice trade. It would not be long, however, before England, seeking to expand its own share of trade and control of the seas, established rival colonies on the American eastern seaboard. The English also began clawing for access to the spice trade with their own East India Company, while expanding their naval fleet from 39 major ships in to 80 by to protect English shipping.
What we want is more of the trade the Dutch now have.
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Thus an ostensibly economic conflict became a geopolitical one. The escalatory potential of the economic conflict in fact owed much to the close connection between economic and strategic issues. In , the Dutch rejected English attempts at a treaty to unite against the continental Catholic powers, an agreement that may have been intended to gain access to Dutch trade.
In response, an increasingly confident English Parliament passed the first Navigation Act, prohibiting any European imports to England carried by third-party ships, and barring foreign ships from carrying imports to England or its colonies from Asia, Africa, or America. The target of this legislation was no secret in either London or The Hague: a large portion of Dutch shipping focused on exactly this sort of activity.
Prize Fight: The Race and the Rivalry to be the First in Science (Mac…
It is difficult to see how a military test of strength could have been avoided. The provocation to the Dutch was too great, even if the English thought they were being defensive. In the end, Dutch sea and trade supremacy held firm, and the Anglo- Dutch rivalry dissolved with the invasion of Britain by Dutch prince William of Orange and the ensuing Glorious Revolution in But as Britain continued to grow as a trading and naval power that threatened French continental and colonial preeminence, their conflict would stretch across the globe and end in the undisputed imperial hegemony of Great Britain.
Although technically at peace with his neighbors, Louis systematically strengthened his position in the s by seizing buffer zones beyond his borders in Strasbourg, Luxembourg, and Casale. These gains were accompanied by a military buildup, indicating an ambition for further conquests.
His ambitions alarmed his neighbors. In September , the French crossed the Rhine into Phillipsburg.
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William feared French influence over his father-in-law, the Catholic James II of England, many of whose subjects were disquieted by the prospect of a popish dynasty. Less than six weeks after Louis crossed the Rhine, William invaded England, with the support of numerous English sympathizers.
James fled, and in the Protestant William became king of England, alongside his wife, Queen Mary. In the words of historians Derek McKay and H. Partly as a result of its Utrecht acquisitions, Britain reaped substantial economic benefit from its colonies during the s. Thus the War of the Austrian Succession a Central European conflict in which France fought to undermine its longtime enemy the House of Hapsburg, while Britain fought to defend it spilled over onto the American continent. But beginning with the French Revolution, a reinvigorated French military machine would rise again. Under Napoleon, France would take over much of continental Europe and threaten British supremacy, leading Britain and France into violent confrontation.
Though the French economy remained backward in the years following the revolution, its extraordinary political developments and surging militarism threatened the European status quo.
Intended as a warning, the declaration arguably accelerated conflict, as French radicals, feeling threatened, declared war the following April and successfully invaded the Austrian Netherlands. This marriage of rising military power and radical politics instilled particular panic in Britain. British fears of French expansionism rose to the level of existential threat when Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in the Coup of 18 Brumaire and embarked on a campaign of European domination.
That done, Europe is at our feet. Fortunately for Britain, Napoleon never developed a navy that could supplant British dominance at sea. Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, Russia instilled fear in Europe as it steadily gained territory and military power. France and the United Kingdom, as established players in global trade with territory and networks in the Middle East and southern Asia, were particularly alarmed by St.
Russia achieved highly generous settlements in the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish wars —12 and —29 , adding to its protectorates in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, and expanding its access to the Black Sea. These wars, along with Russian campaigns in Persia and Eastern Europe, contributed to a huge expansion of territory: Russia acquired all or part of modern-day Finland, Poland, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia in the late eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth centuries alone, coming dangerously close to the centers of European power.
This so-called Eastern Question posed a strong threat to British naval dominance. Some in Britain even believed Russia might challenge British colonial power in India.
British diplomats tried to mediate the dispute, but ultimately failed to achieve a settlement agreeable to the Ottoman sultan. When diplomacy failed, the sultan declared war on Russia. The tsar quickly took the offensive, sending troops to occupy the Danube Principalities modern-day Moldova and Romania and building up his Black Sea fleet at Sevastopol, the capital of Crimea. After the Russians successfully destroyed an Ottoman fleet at Sinope, Britain and France had seen enough.
Fear of Russian expansion united Britain and France in a joint undertaking that included sending a fleet into the Black Sea and issuing an ultimatum demanding that Russia withdraw from the Principalities. When Russia refused, France and Britain declared war and sent an expeditionary force to Crimea. Technical and organizational backwardness betrayed Russia in battle.
The eventual defeat of Russian forces at Sevastopol shattered the illusion of Russian military superiority, boosted French and British prestige and confidence, and saved the ailing Ottoman Empire for another sixty-five years. That preeminence, however, would prove short-lived. All Prussia had to do was provoke the war. In so doing, France made a strategic error common to ruling powers: taking action it believes will prevent a rising power from surpassing its position but in fact hastening the very reversal of fortune it most fears.
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France remained confident in incorrectly, as it turned out that it could defeat that Prussian threat, but felt that it needed to fight a preventive war before Prussia rose further. Late 19th and early 20th centuries — China and Russia vs. Japan — WAR. Entering the final decade of the nineteenth century, two powers dominated the Asian continent: Qing Dynasty China, for centuries the predominant regional power, and the Russian Empire, a European great power with long-standing ambitions in the Asia-Pacific.
But since the Meiji Restoration of , both states had a new threat to fear in the rapidly modernizing island nation of Japan. By , China and Russia had been chastened by two damaging wars against the ambitious Japan, and both had to contend with a new Pacific power whose growth showed no signs of slowing.