Clandestine (Hors-séries) (French Edition)
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This was an alliance of three conservative monarchies designed to stop the spread of revolution in Europe and preserve the status quo in Europe. However the alliance had little substance. There were no military features to it as Austria refused to agree to any. France had recovered quickly after the Franco-Prussian war. The export of horses to France was forbidden usually a sign of preparation for war. There was talk from leading German officials about the possibility of a preventative war.
The episode resulted in a German diplomatic defeat as Russia backed a British protest to Berlin.
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The Dreikaiserbund had been weakened. The affair brought home the dangers of a two front war to Bismarck. After this episode he proceeded with the utmost caution. The Dreikaiserbund was destroyed as a result of events in the Balkans. The Balkans was of no interest to Bismarck.
In after attempts to impose reforms on the Turkish Empire failed, the Russo-Turkish war broke out. Before the war, Russia had promised Austria that she would not create a big Bulgaria if she won. The treaty proposed the creation of a big Bulgaria. This would be dominated by Russia. This development was totally unacceptable to Britain who always opposed Russian ambitions in the Mediterranean as it threatened the Suez Canal.
The British sent warships to the region. The Austrians were also enraged as the Russians had broken their promise not to create a big Bulgaria. War seemed imminent. The turn of events greatly alarmed Bismarck. He was also eager to prevent a war between Austria and Russia which could involve Germany. In June Bismarck agreed to host a conference in Berlin to discuss the differences. Tension grew between the two as Russia strengthened her frontier garrisons and Germany introduced tariffs against Russian grain imports. It was against this background that the Dual Alliance was signed with Austria in Kaiser William strongly opposed this alliance as he saw it as anti-Russian.
Bismarck threatened to resign before he reluctantly signed. This alliance was enlarged into the Triple Alliance when Italy joined in Russia was worried by her diplomatic isolation and sought to reach an understanding with Germany and Austria. In a new Dreikaiserbund was formed between Russia, Germany and Austria.
Bismarck hoped that this agreement would help to reduce tensions between Austria and Russia in the Balkans. It was agreed that the Western Balkans would be dominated by the Austrians and the Eastern half by the Russians. Between and the Bulgarian crisis saw relations between Austria and Russia deteriorate. Alarmingly there was growing pro-French feeling in Russia. In the Dreikaiserbund ended as Russia made it clear she would sign no further agreement with Austria. This secret treaty reduced the possibility of a Franco-Russian alliance. In in order to prevent was between Austria and Russia he published the terms of the Dual Alliance.
Austria would fight on her own if she attacked Russia while Russia would have to face Germany if she attacked Austria.
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Events were beginning to move against Bismarck as it was very difficult to keep on good terms with Russia. Only four months later a French naval flotilla called at the Russian naval base at Kronstadt. The nightmare of a two front war was now a distinct possibility. He did not want to disturb the balance of power in Europe. Colonial expansion could involve Germany in disputes with Britain a power with which he wished to remain on good terms although he disliked Gladstone intensely.
In the German Colonial League was formed and pressure from the press and the public mounted. This pressure was driven by hopes of vast wealth, prestige and a channel for German emigration. The colonies in total were about five times the size of Germany. However most of them were of little value as the rich pickings were already gone. The Berlin Conference of hosted by Bismarck settled many colonial disputes especially over the Congo that was awarded to Belgium.
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It also prohibited the slave trade. During the same period Bismarck encouraged French colonial expansion. There were many bad roads, bad carriages, and bad horses that would have delayed him, even though the king of France was still ruling on the throne in all of his glory.
Now that the times had changed, there were even more obstacles. Citizen-patriots with their muskets ready to fire had taken over every town gate and village taxing-house. They would stop everyone as they came and went, question them, examine their papers, and look for their names on their lists. They would make them turn back or send them on their way, and sometimes they would stop them and seize them.
Not a mean village closed upon him, not a common barrier dropped across the road behind him, but he knew it to be another iron door in the series that was barred between him and England. The universal watchfulness so encompassed him, that if he had been taken in a net, or were being forwarded to his destination in a cage, he could not have felt his freedom more completely gone.
Charles Darnay had only traveled a few leagues into France when he began to notice that there was no hope of his going back until he had been declared a good citizen in Paris. Whatever might happen to him now, he had to continue on to his destination. He knew that every village and barrier he passed through was another obstacle between him and England.
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This universal watchfulness not only stopped him on the highway twenty times in a stage, but retarded his progress twenty times in a day, by riding after him and taking him back, riding before him and stopping him by anticipation, riding with him and keeping him in charge.
He had been days upon his journey in France alone, when he went to bed tired out, in a little town on the high road, still a long way from Paris. Being watched so carefully not only meant that he was stopped on the highway twenty times during each leg of his journey, but he was also slowed down twenty times a day. People would follow him and then make him go back, or they would ride ahead of him and stop him, or ride with him and keep watch over him.
He had been traveling in France for several days when he went to bed exhausted in a little town on a road still far away from Paris. His difficulty at the guard-house in this small place had been such, that he felt his journey to have come to a crisis.