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which the spice ships passed. But more valuable as a future home for English-speaking Europeans, and, therefore, as partial compensation for the loss of the United States, was the vast island-continent of Australia, which had been almost unknown until the famous voyage of Captain Cook to Botany Bay in 1770. For many years Great Britain regarded Australia as a kind of open-air prison for her criminals, and the first British settlers at Port Jackson (1788) were exiled convicts. The introduction of sheep-raising and the discovery of gold made the island a more attractive home for colonists, and thenceforth its development was rapid. To-day, with an area of almost 3,000,000 square miles, and a population of some 4,800,000 English-speaking people, Australia is a commonwealth more populous than and three times as large as were the thirteen colonies with which Great Britain so unwillingly parted in 1783.

ADDITIONAL READING

BRITISH COLONIAL POLICY. A very brief survey: J. S. Bassett, _A Short History of the United States_ (1914), ch. viii, ix. The most readable and reliable detailed account of mercantilism as applied by the British to their colonies is to be found in the volumes of G. L. Beer, _The Origin of the British Colonial System_, 1578-1660 (1908); _The Old Colonial System_, 1660-1754, Part I, _The Establishment of the System_, 2 vols. (1912); _British Colonial Policy_, 1754-1765 (1907); and _The Commercial Policy of England toward the American Colonies_ (1893), a survey. From the English standpoint, the best summary is that of H. E. Egerton, _A Short History of British Colonial Policy_ (1897). Other valuable works: C. M. Andrews, _Colonial Self-Government_ (1904), Vol. V of the “American Nation” Series; O. M. Dickerson, _American Colonial Government, 1696-1765_ (1912), a study of the British Board of Trade in its relation to the American colonies, political, industrial, and administrative; G. E. Howard, _Preliminaries of the Revolution, 1763- 1775_ (1905), Vol. VIII of the “American Nation” Series; Reginald Lucas, _Lord North, Second Earl of Guilford_, 2 vols. (1913); and the standard treatises of H. L. Osgood and of J. A. Doyle cited in the bibliography to Chapter IX, above.

THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. Sir G. 0. Trevelyan, _The American Revolution_, 4 vols. (1899-1912), and, by the same author, _George the Third and Charles Fox: the Concluding Part of the American Revolution_, 2 vols. (1914), scholarly and literary accounts, sympathetic toward the colonists and the English Whigs; Edward Channing, _A History of the United States_, Vol. III (1912), the best general work; C. H. Van Tyne, _The American Revolution_ (1905), Vol. IX of the “American Nation” Series, accurate and informing; John Fiske, _American Revolution_, 2 vols. (1891), a very readable popular treatment; S. G. Fisher, _The Struggle for American Independence_, 2 vols. (1908), unusually favorable to the British loyalists in America; _Cambridge Modern History_, Vol. VII (1903), ch. v-vii, written in great part by J. A. Doyle, the English specialist on the American colonies; J. B. Perkins, _France in the American Revolution_ (1911), entertaining and instructive; Arthur Hassall, _The Balance of Power_, 1715-1789 (1896), ch. xii, a very brief but suggestive indication of the international setting of the War of American Independence; J. W. Fortescue, _History of the British Army_, Vol. III (1902), an account of the military operations from the English standpoint.

THE REFORMATION OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE. A good general history: M. R. P. Dorman, _History of the British Empire in the Nineteenth Century_, Vol. I, 1793-1805 (1902), Vol. II, 1806-1900 (1904). On Ireland: W. O’C. Morris, _Ireland_, 1494-1905, 2d ed. (1909). On Canada: Sir C. P. Lucas, _A History of Canada_, 1763-1812 (1909). On India: Sir Alfred Lyall, _Warren Hastings_, originally published in 1889, reprinted (1908), an excellent biography; G. W. Hastings, _Vindication of Warren Hastings_ (1909), the best apology for the remarkable governor of India, and should be contrasted with Lord Macaulay’s celebrated indictment of Hastings; Sir John Strachey, _Hastings and the Rohilla War_ (1892), favorable to Hastings’ work in India. On Australia: Greville Tregarthen, _Australian Commonwealth_, 3d ed. (1901), a good outline, in the “Story of the Nations” Series; Edward Jenks, _A History of the Australasian Colonies_ (1896), an excellent summary; Edward Heawood, _A History of Geographical Discovery in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries_ (1912); Arthur Kitson, _Captain James Cook_ (1907).

CHAPTER XI

THE GERMANIES IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE IN DECLINE

[Sidenote: Backwardness of the Germanies]

In another connection we have already described the political condition of the Germanies in the sixteenth century. [Footnote: See above, pp. 10 ff.] Outwardly, little change was observable in the eighteenth. The Holy Roman Empire still existed as a nominal bond of union for a loose assemblage of varied states. There was still a Habsburg emperor. There were still electors–the number had been increased from seven to nine [Footnote: Bavaria became an electorate in 1623 and Hanover in 1708; in 1778 Bavaria and the Palatinate were joined, again making eight.]–with some influence and considerable honor. There was still a Diet, composed of representatives of the princes and of the free cities, meeting regularly at Ratisbon. [Footnote: Ratisbon or Regensburg–in the Bavarian Palatinate. The Diet met there regularly after 1663.] But the empire was clearly in decline. The wave of national enthusiasm which Martin Luther evoked had spent itself in religious wrangling and dissension, and in the inglorious conflicts of the Thirty Years’ War. The Germans had become so many pawns that might be moved back and forth upon the international chessboard by Habsburg and Bourbon gamesters. Switzerland had been lost to the empire; both France and Sweden had deliberately dismembered other valuable districts. [Footnote: For the provisions of the treaties of Westphalia, see above, pp. 228 f.]

[Sidenote: Deplorable Results of the Thirty Years’ War]

It seemed as though slight foundation remained on which a substantial political structure could be reared, for the social conditions in the Germanies were deplorable. It is not an exaggeration to say that during the Thirty Years’ War Germany lost at least half of its population and more than two-thirds of its movable property. In the middle of the seventeenth century, at about the time Louis XIV succeeded to a fairly prosperous France, German towns and villages were in ashes, and vast districts turned into deserts. Churches and schools were closed by hundreds, and religious and intellectual torpor prevailed. Industry and trade were so completely paralyzed that by 1635 the Hanseatic League was virtually abandoned, because the free commercial cities, formerly so wealthy, could not meet the necessary expenses. Economic expansion and colonial enterprise, together with the consequent upbuilding of a well-to-do middle class, were resigned to Spain, Portugal, Holland, France, or England, without a protest from what had once been a proud burgher class in Germany. This elimination of an influential bourgeoisie was accompanied by a sorry impoverishment and oppression of the peasantry. These native sons of the German soil had fondly hoped for better things from the religious revolution and agrarian insurrections of the sixteenth century; but they were doomed to failure and disappointment. The peasantry were in a worse plight in the eighteenth century in Germany than in any other country of western or central Europe.

[Sidenote: The German Princes]

The princes alone knew how to profit by the national prostration. Enriched by the confiscation of ecclesiastical property in the sixteenth century and relieved of meddlesome interference on the part of the emperor or the Diet, they utilized the decline of the middle class and the dismal serfdom of the peasantry to exalt their personal political power. They got rid of the local assemblies or greatly curtailed their privileges, and gradually established petty tyrannies. After the Thirty Years’ War, it became fashionable for the heirs of German principalities to travel and especially to spend some time at the court of France. Here they imbibed the political ideas of the Grand Monarch, and in a short time nearly every petty court in the Germanics was a small-sized reproduction of the court of Versailles. In a silly and ridiculous way the princes aped their great French neighbor: they too maintained armies, palaces, and swarms of household officials, which, though a crushing burden upon the people, were yet so insignificant in comparison with the real pomp of France, that they were in many instances the laughingstock of Europe. Beneath an external gloss of refinement, these princes were, as a class, coarse and selfish, and devoid of any compensating virtues. Neither the common people, whom they had impoverished, nor the Church, which they had robbed, was now strong enough to resist the growing absolutism and selfishness of the princes.

THE HABSBURG DOMINIONS

[Sidenote: Charles VI and his Hereditary Dominions]

At the opening of the eighteenth century, the largest and most important states of the Holy Roman Empire were those which owned the direct sovereignty of the Austrian Habsburgs. Charles VI (1711-1740), who as the Archduke Charles had vainly struggled against Louis XIV to secure the whole Spanish inheritance in the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1713), reigned over extensive and scattered dominions. Around Vienna, his capital city, were gathered his hereditary possessions: (1) Lower Austria, or Austria proper, on the Danube; (2) Inner Austria, which comprised Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola; (3) Further Austria, consisting of the mountainous regions about Innsbruck, commonly designated the Tyrol; and (4) Upper Austria, embracing Breisgau on the upper Rhine near the Black Forest. To this nucleus of lands, in the greater part of which the German language was spoken universally, had been added in course of time the Czech or Slavic kingdom of Bohemia with its German dependency of Silesia and its Slavic dependency of Moravia, and a portion of the Magyar kingdom of Hungary, with its Slavic dependencies of Croatia and Slavonia and its Rumanian dependency of Transylvania. Charles VI, like so many of his Habsburg ancestors, was also emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and was thereby accounted the foremost of German princes. But neither Bohemia nor Hungary was predominantly German in language or feeling, and Hungary was not even a part of the Holy Roman Empire.

[Sidenote: Conquests of Charles VI]

What additions were made to the Habsburg dominions by Charles VI were all of non-German peoples. The treaty of Utrecht had given him the Flemish- and French-speaking Belgian Netherlands and the Italian- speaking duchy of Milan and kingdom of the Two Sicilies. [Footnote: See above, p. 253, footnote.] A series of wars with the Ottoman Turks had enabled his family to press the Hungarian boundaries south as far as Bosnia and Serbia and to incorporate as a dependency of Hungary the Rumanian-speaking principality of Transylvania. [Footnote: Definitely ceded by Turkey by the treaty of Karlowitz (1699).] Of course all these newer states of the Habsburgs remained outside of the Holy Roman Empire.

[Sidenote: Diversity of Habsburg Dominions]

Between the various peoples who were thus brought under the Habsburg sway, the bond was of loosest description. They spoke a dozen different languages and presented an even greater diversity of interests. They did not constitute a compact, strongly centralized, national state like France. Charles VI ruled his territories by manifold titles: he was archduke of Austria, king of Bohemia, king of Hungary, duke of Milan, and prince of the Netherlands; and the administration of each of these five major groups was independent of the others. The single bond of union was the common allegiance to the Habsburg monarch.

[Sidenote: Check upon Habsburg Ambitions in the Germanies]

To adopt and pursue a policy which would suit all these lands and peoples would hardly be possible for any mortal: it certainly surpassed the wit of the Habsburgs. They had made an attempt in the seventeenth century to develop a vigorous German policy, to unify the empire and to strengthen their hold upon it, but they had failed dismally. The disasters of the Thirty Years’ War, the jealousies and ambitions of the other German princes, the interested intervention of foreign powers, notably Sweden and France, made it brutally clear that Habsburg influence in the Germanies had already reached its highest pitch and that henceforth it would tend gradually to wane.

Blocked in the Germanies, the Austrian Habsburgs looked elsewhere to satisfy their aspirations. But almost equal difficulties confronted them. Extension to the southeast in the direction of the Balkan peninsula involved almost incessant warfare with the Turks. Increase of territory in Italy incited Spain, France, and Sardinia to armed resistance. Development of the trade of the Belgian Netherlands aroused the hostility of the influential commercial classes in England, Holland, and France. The time and toil spent upon these non-German projects obviously could not be devoted to the internal affairs of the Holy Roman Empire. Thus, not only were the Germanies a source of weakness to the Habsburgs, but the Habsburgs were a source of weakness to the Germanies.

[Sidenote: Continued Prestige of the Habsburgs]

Despite these drawbacks, the Habsburg family was still powerful. The natural resources and native wealth of many of the regions, the large, if rather cosmopolitan, armies which might be raised, the intricate marriage relationships with most of the sovereign families of Europe, the championship of the Catholic Church, the absolutist principles and practices of the reigning prince, all contributed to cloak the weaknesses, under a proud name and pretentious fame, of the imperial Austrian line.

[Sidenote: Question of the Habsburg Inheritance] [Sidenote: The “Pragmatic Sanction” of Charles VI]

In the eighteenth century a particularly unkind fate seemed to attend the Habsburgs. We have already noticed how the extinction of the male line in the Spanish branch precipitated a great international war of succession, with the result that the Spanish inheritance was divided and the greater part passed to the rival Bourbon family. Now Charles VI was obliged to face a similar danger in the Austrian inheritance. He himself had neither sons nor brothers, but only a daughter, Maria Theresa. Spurred on by the fate of his Spanish kinsman, Charles VI directed his energies toward securing a settlement of his possessions prior to his death. Early in his reign he promulgated a so-called Pragmatic Sanction which declared that the Habsburg dominions were indivisible and that, contrary to long custom, they might be inherited by female heirs in default of male. Then he subordinated his whole foreign policy to securing general European recognition of the right of Maria Theresa to succeed to all his territories. One after another of his manifold principalities swore to observe the Pragmatic Sanction. One after another of the foreign powers–Prussia, Russia, Great Britain, Holland, the Empire, Poland, France, Spain, and Sardinia,–to whom liberal concessions were made–pledged their word and their honor most sacredly to preserve the Pragmatic Sanction. When Charles VI died in 1740, he left his daughter a disorganized state, a bankrupt treasury, and a small ill-disciplined army, but he bequeathed her an ample number of parchment guarantees. The cynical Prussian king remarked that 200,000 fighting men would have been a more useful legacy, and, as events proved, he was right.

THE RISE OF PRUSSIA. THE HOHENZOLLERNS

[Sidenote: The Hohenzollern Family]

Next to the Habsburgs, the most influential German family in the eighteenth century was the Hohenzollern. As far back as the tenth century, a line of counts was ruling over a castle on the hill of Zollern just north of what is now Switzerland. These counts slowly extended their lands and their power through the fortunes of feudal warfare and by means of a kindly interest on the part of the Holy Roman Emperors, until at length, in the twelfth century, a representative of the Hohenzollerns became by marriage burgrave of the important city of Nuremberg.

[Sidenote: Brandenburg]

So far the Hohenzollerns had been fortunate, but as yet they were no more conspicuous than hundreds of petty potentates throughout the empire. It was not until they were invested by the Habsburg emperor with the electorate of Brandenburg in 1415 that they became prominent. Brandenburg was a district of northern Germany, centering in the town of Berlin and lying along the Oder River. As a mark, or frontier province, it was the northern and eastern outpost of the German language and German culture, and the exigencies of almost perpetual warfare with the neighboring Slavic peoples had given Brandenburg a good deal of military experience and prestige. As an electorate, moreover, it possessed considerable influence in the internal affairs of the Holy Roman Empire.

In the sixteenth century, the acceptance of Lutheranism by the Hohenzollern electors of Brandenburg enabled them, like many other princes of northern Germany, to seize valuable properties of the Catholic Church and to rid themselves of a foreign power which had curtailed their political and social sway. Brandenburg subsequently became the chief Protestant state of Germany, just as to Austria was conceded the leadership of the Catholic states.

[Sidenote: The Hohenzollerns and the Thirty Years’ War]

The period of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) was as auspicious to the Hohenzollerns as it was unlucky for the Habsburgs. On the eve of the contest, propitious marriage alliances bestowed two important legacies upon the family–the duchy of Cleves [Footnote: Though the alliance between Brandenburg and Cleves dated from 1614, the Hohenzollerns did not reign over Cleves until 1666. With Cleves went its dependencies of Mark and Ravensberg.] on the lower Rhine, and the duchy of East Prussia, [Footnote: Prussia was then an almost purely Slavic state. It had been formed and governed from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century by the Teutonic Knights, a military, crusading order of German Catholics, who aided in converting the Slavs to Christianity. In the sixteenth century the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights professed the Lutheran faith and transformed Prussia into an hereditary duchy in his own family. In a series of wars West Prussia was incorporated into Poland, while East Prussia became a fief of that kingdom. It was to East Prussia only that the Hohenzollern elector of Brandenburg succeeded in 1618.] on the Baltic north of Poland. Henceforth the head of the Hohenzollern family could sign himself margrave and elector of Brandenburg, duke of Cleves, and duke of Prussia. In the last-named role, he was a vassal of the king of Poland; in the others, of the Holy Roman Emperor. In the course of the Thirty Years’ War, the Hohenzollerns helped materially to lessen imperial control, and at the close of the struggle secured the wealthy bishoprics of Halberstadt, Minden, and Magdeburg, [Footnote: The right of accession to Magdeburg was accorded the Hohenzollerns in 1648; they did not formally possess it until 1680.] and the eastern half of the duchy of Pomerania.

[Sidenote: The Great Elector]

The international reputation of the Hohenzollerns was established by Frederick William, commonly styled the Great Elector (1640-1688). When he ascended the throne, the Thirty Years’ War had reduced his scattered dominions to utmost misery: he was resolved to restore prosperity, to unify his various possessions, and to make his realm a factor in general European politics. By diplomacy more than by military prowess, he obtained the new territories by the peace of Westphalia. Then, taking advantage of a war between Sweden and Poland, he made himself so invaluable to both sides, now helping one, now deserting to the other, that by cunning and sometimes by unscrupulous intrigue, he induced the king of Poland to renounce suzerainty over East Prussia and to give him that duchy in full sovereignty. In the Dutch War of Louis XIV (1672- 1678) he completely defeated the Swedes, who were in alliance with France, and, although he was not allowed by the provisions of the peace to keep what he had conquered, nevertheless the fame of his army was established and Brandenburg-Prussia took rank as the chief competitor of Sweden’s hegemony in the Baltic.

In matters of government, the Great Elector was, like his contemporary Louis XIV, a firm believer in absolutism. At the commencement of his reign, each one of the three parts of his lands–Brandenburg, Cleves, and East Prussia–was organized as a separate, petty state, with its own Diet or form of representative government, its own army, and its own independent administration. After a hard constitutional struggle, Frederick William deprived the several Diets of their significant functions, centered financial control in his own person, declared the local armies national, and merged the three separate administrations into one, strictly subservient to his royal council at Berlin. Thus, the three states were amalgamated into one; and, to all intents and purposes, they constituted a united monarchy.

The Great Elector was a tireless worker. He encouraged industry and agriculture, drained marshes, and built the Frederick William Canal, joining the Oder with the Elbe. When the revocation of the Edict of Nantes caused so many Huguenots to leave France, the Great Elector’s warm invitation attracted to Brandenburg some 20,000, who were settled around Berlin and who gave French genius as well as French names to their adopted country. The capital city, which at the Great Elector’s accession numbered barely 8000, counted at his death a population of over 20,000.

[Sidenote: Brandenburg-Prussia a “Kingdom,” 1701]

Brandenburg-Prussia was already an important monarchy, but its ruler was not recognized as “king” until 1701, when the Emperor Leopold conferred upon him that title in order to enlist his support in the War of the Spanish Succession. In 1713, by the treaty of Utrecht, the other European powers acknowledged the title. It was Prussia, rather than Brandenburg, which gave its name to the new kingdom, because the former was an entirely independent state, while the latter was a member of the Holy Roman Empire. Thereafter the “kingdom of Prussia” [Footnote: At first the Hohenzollern monarch assumed the title of king _in_ Prussia, because West Prussia was still a province of the kingdom of Poland. Gradually, however, under Frederick William I (1713-1740), the popular appellation of “king of Prussia” prevailed over the formal “king in Prussia.” West Prussia was definitely acquired in 1772 (see below, p. 387).] designated the combined territories of the Hohenzollern family.

Prussia rose rapidly in the eighteenth century. She shared with Austria the leadership of the Germanies and secured a position in Europe as a first-rate power. This rise was the result largely of the efforts of Frederick William I (1713-1740).

[Sidenote: King Frederick William I, 1713-1740]

King Frederick William was a curious reversion to the type of his grandfather: he was the Great Elector over again with all his practical good sense if without his taste for diplomacy. His own ideal of kingship was a paternal despotism, and his ambition, to use most advantageously the limited resources of his country in order to render Prussia feared and respected abroad. He felt that absolutism was the only kind of government consonant with the character of his varied and scattered dominions, and he understood in a canny way the need of an effective army and of the closest economy which would permit a relatively small kingdom to support a relatively large army. Under Frederick William I, money, military might, and divine-right monarchy became the indispensable props of the Hohenzollern rule in Prussia.

By a close thrift that often bordered on miserliness King Frederick William I managed to increase his standing army from 38,000 to 80,000 men, bringing it up in numbers so as to rank with the regular armies of such first-rate states as France or Austria. In efficiency, it probably surpassed the others. An iron discipline molded the Prussian troops into the most precise military engine then to be found in Europe, and a staff of officers, who were not allowed to buy their commissions, as in many European states, but who were appointed on a merit basis, commanded the army with truly professional skill and devoted loyalty.

In civil administration, the king persevered in the work of centralizing the various departments. A “general directory” was intrusted with the businesslike conduct of the finances and gradually evolved an elaborate civil service–the famous Prussian bureaucracy, which, in spite of inevitable “red tape,” is notable to this day for its efficiency and devotion to duty. The king endeavored to encourage industry and trade by enforcing up-to-date mercantilist regulations, and, although he repeatedly expressed contempt for current culture because of what he thought were its weakening tendencies, he nevertheless prescribed compulsory elementary education for his people.

King Frederick William, who did so much for Prussia, had many personal eccentricities that highly amused Europe. Imbued with patriarchal instincts, he had his eye on everybody and everything. He treated his kingdom as a schoolroom, and, like a zealous schoolmaster, flogged his naughty subjects unmercifully. If he suspected a man of possessing adequate means, he might command him to erect a fine residence so as to improve the appearance of the capital. If he met an idler in the streets, he would belabor him with his cane and probably put him in the army. And a funny craze for tall soldiers led to the creation of the famous Potsdam Guard of Giants, a special company whose members must measure at least six feet in height, and for whose service he attracted many foreigners by liberal financial offers: it was the only luxury which the parsimonious king allowed himself.

[Sidenote: Accession of Frederick the Great, 1740]

During a portion of his reign the crabbed old king feared that all his labors and savings would go for naught, for he was supremely disappointed in his son, the crown-prince Frederick. The stern father had no sympathy for the literary, musical, artistic tastes of his son, whom he thought effeminate, and whom he abused roundly with a quick and violent temper. When Prince Frederick tried to run away, the king arrested him and for punishment put him through such an arduous, slave- like training in the civil and military administration, from the lowest grades upward, as perhaps no other royal personage ever received. It was this despised and misunderstood prince who as Frederick II succeeded his father on the throne of Prussia in 1740 and is known in history as Frederick the Great.

The year 1740 marked the accession of Frederick the Great in the Hohenzollern possessions and of Maria Theresa in the Habsburg territories. [Footnote: Below are discussed the foreign achievements (pp. 354 ff.) of these two rival sovereigns, and in Chapter XIV (pp. 440 ff.) their internal policies.] It also marked the outbreak of a protracted struggle within the Holy Roman Empire between the two foremost German states–Austria and Prussia.

THE MINOR GERMAN STATES

[Sidenote: German States Other than Austria and Prussia]

Of the three hundred other states which composed the empire, few were sufficiently large or important to exert any considerable influence on the issue of the contest. A few, however, which took sides, deserve mention not only because in the eighteenth century they preserved a kind of balance of power between the rivals but also because they have been more or less conspicuous factors in the progress of recent times. Such are Bavaria, Saxony, and Hanover.

[Sidenote: Bavaria]

Bavaria lay on the upper Danube to the west of Austria and in the extreme southeastern corner of what is now the German Empire. For centuries it was ruled by the Wittelsbach family, whose remarkable prince, Maximilian I (1597-1651), had headed the Catholic League and loyally supported the Habsburgs in the Thirty Years’ War, and by the peace of Westphalia had gained a part of the Palatinate [Footnote: The other part of the Palatinate, under another branch of the Wittelsbachs, was reunited with Bavaria in 1779.] together with the title of “elector.” His successor had labored with much credit in the second half of the seventeenth century to repair the wounds caused by the war, encouraging agriculture and industries, building or restoring numerous churches and monasteries. But the Bavarian electors in the first half of the eighteenth century sacrificed a sound, vigorous policy of internal reform to a far-reaching ambition in international politics. Despite the bond of a common religion which united them to Austria, they felt that their proximity to their powerful neighbor made the Habsburgs their natural enemies. In the War of the Spanish Succession, therefore, Bavaria took the side of France against Austria, and when Maria Theresa ascended the throne in 1740, the elector of Bavaria, who had married a Habsburg princess disbarred by the Pragmatic Sanction of Charles VI, immediately allied himself with Frederick of Prussia and with France in order to dismember the Austrian dominions.

[Sidenote: Saxony]

The Saxony of the eighteenth century was but a very small fraction of the vast Saxon duchy which once comprised all northwestern Germany and whose people in early times had emigrated to England or had been subjugated by Charlemagne. Saxony had been restricted since the thirteenth century to a district on the upper Elbe, wedged in between Habsburg Bohemia and Hohenzollern Brandenburg. Here, however, several elements combined to give it an importance far beyond its extent or population. It was the geographical center of the Germanies. It occupied a strategic position between Prussia and Austria. Its ruling family–the Wettins–were electors of the empire. It had been, moreover, after the championship of Martin Luther by one of its most notable electors, [footnote: Frederick the Wise( 1486-1525)] a leader of the Lutheran cause, and the reformer’s celebrated translation of the Bible had fixed the Saxon dialect as the literary language of Germany. At one time it seemed as if Saxony, rather than Brandenburg-Prussia, might become the dominant state among the Germanies. But the trend of events determined otherwise. A number of amiable but weak electors in the seventeenth century repeatedly allied themselves with Austria against the Hohenzollerns and thereby practically conceded to Brandenburg the leadership of the Protestant states of northern Germany.[Footnote: Another source of weakness in Saxony was the custom in the Wettin family of dividing the inheritance among members of the family. Such was the origin of the present infinitesimal states of Saxe-Weimar, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Saxe-Meiningen, and Saxe-Altenburg.]

[Sidenote: Personal Union of Saxony and Poland]

Then, too, toward the close of the century, the elector separated himself from his people by becoming a Roman Catholic, and, in order that he might establish himself as king of Poland, he burdened the state with continued Austrian alliance, with war, and with heavy taxes. The unnatural union of Saxony and Poland was maintained throughout the greater part of the eighteenth century: it was singularly disastrous for both parties.

[Sidenote: Hanover, and its Personal Union with Great Britain]

A part of the original ancient territory of the Saxons in north western Germany was included in the eighteenth century in the state of Hanover, extending between the Elbe and the Weser and reaching from Brandenburg down to the North Sea. Hanover was recognized as an electorate during the War of the Spanish Succession, [Footnote: The emperor had given the title of elector to Ernest Augustus in 1692; the Powers recognized George I as elector in 1708.] but its real importance rested on the fact that its first elector, through his mother’s family, became in 1714 George I of Great Britain, the founder of the Hanoverian dynasty in that country. This personal union between the British kingdom and the electorate of Hanover continued for over a century, and was not without vital significance in international negotiations. Both George I and George II preferred Hanover to England as a place of residence and directed their primary efforts towards the protection of their German lands from Habsburg or Hohenzollern encroachments.

Enough has now been said to give some idea of the distracted condition of the Germanies in the eighteenth century and to explain why the Holy Roman Empire was an unimportant bond of union. Austria, traditionally the chief of the Germanies, was increasingly absorbed in her non-German possessions in Hungary, Italy, and the Netherlands. Prussia, the rising kingdom of the North, comprised a population in which Slavs constituted a large minority. Saxony was linked with Poland; Hanover, with Great Britain. Bavaria was a chronic ally of France. Add to this situation, the political domination of France or Sweden over a number of the petty states of the empire, the selfishness and jealousies of all the German rulers, the looming bitter rivalry between Prussia and Austria, and the sum-total is political chaos, bloodshed, and oppression.

THE STRUGGLE BETWEEN HOHENZOLLERNS AND HABSBURGS

[Sidenote: Frederick the Great and Maria Theresa]

In the struggle between Prussia and Austria–between Hohenzollerns and Habsburgs–centered the European diplomacy and wars of the mid- eighteenth century. On one side was the young king Frederick II (1740- 1786); on the other, the young queen Maria Theresa (1740-1780). Both had ability and sincere devotion to their respective states and peoples,–a high sense of royal responsibilities. Maria Theresa was beautiful, emotional, and proud; the Great Frederick was domineering, cynical, and always rational. The Austrian princess was a firm believer in Catholic Christianity; the Prussian king was a friend of Voltaire and a devotee of skepticism.

[Sidenote: Coalition against Maria Theresa]

Frederick inherited from his father a fairly compact monarchy and a splendidly trained and equipped army of 80,000 men. He smiled at the disorganized troops, the disordered finances, the conflicting interests in the hodge-podge of territories which his rival had inherited from her father. He also smiled at the solemn promise which Prussia had made to respect the Austrian dominions. No sooner was the Emperor Charles VI dead and Maria Theresa proclaimed at Vienna than Frederick II entered into engagements with Bavaria and France to dismember her realm. The elector of Bavaria was to be made Holy Roman Emperor as Charles VII and Prussia was to appropriate Silesia. France was suspected of designs upon the Austrian Netherlands.

[Sidenote: Frederick’s Designs on Silesia]

Silesia thus became the bone of contention between Frederick II and Maria Theresa. Silesia covered the fertile valley of the upper Oder, separating the Slavic Czechs of Frederick’s Bohemia on the west from the Slavic Poles on the east. Its population, which was largely German, was as numerous as that of the whole kingdom of Prussia, and if annexed to the Hohenzollern possessions would make them overwhelmingly German. On the other hand, the loss of Silesia would give Austria less direct influence in strictly German affairs and would deprive her of a convenient point of attack against Berlin and the heart of Prussia.

[Sidenote: Outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession, 1740]

Trumping up an ancient family claim to the duchy, Frederick immediately marched his army into Silesia and occupied Breslau, its capital. To the west, a combined Bavarian and French army prepared to invade Austria and Bohemia. Maria Theresa, pressed on all sides, fled to Hungary and begged the Magyars to help her. The effect was electrical. Hungarians, Austrians, and Bohemians rallied to the support of the Habsburg throne; recruits were drilled and hurried to the front; the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) was soon in full swing.

[Sidenote: Entrance of Great Britain and Spain]

A trade war had broken out between Great Britain and Spain in 1739, [Footnote: Commonly called the War of Jenkins’s Ear. See above, p. 311] which speedily became merged with the continental struggle. Great Britain was bent on maintaining liberal trading privileges in the Belgian Netherlands and always opposed the incorporation of those provinces into the rival and powerful monarchy of France, preferring that they should remain in the hands of some distant and less-feared, less commercial power, such as Austria. Great Britain, moreover, had fully recognized the Pragmatic Sanction and now determined that it was in accordance with her own best interests to supply Maria Theresa with money and to dispatch armies to the Continent to defend the Netherlands against France and to protect Hanover against Prussia. On the other side, the royal family of Spain sympathized with their Bourbon kinsmen in France and hoped to recover from Austria all the Italian possessions of which Spain had been deprived by the treaty of Utrecht (1713).

The main parties to the War of the Austrian Succession were, therefore, on the one hand, Prussia, France, Spain, and Bavaria, and, on the other, Austria and Great Britain. With the former at first joined the elector of Saxony, who wished to play off Prussia against Austria for the benefit of his Saxon and Polish lands, and the king of Sardinia, who was ever balancing in Italy between Habsburg and Bourbon pretensions. With Austria and Great Britain was united Holland, because of her desire to protect herself from possible French aggression.

[Sidenote: Course of the War]

The war was not so terrible or bloody as its duration and the number of contestants would seem to indicate. Saxony, which inclined more naturally to Austrian than to Prussian friendship, was easily persuaded by bribes to desert her allies and to make peace with Maria Theresa. Spain would fight only in Italy; and Sardinia, alarmed by the prospect of substantial Bourbon gains in that peninsula, went over to the side of Austria. The Dutch were content to defend their own territories.

[Sidenote: Success of Frederick]

Despite the greatest exertions, Maria Theresa was unable to expel Frederick from Silesia. Her generals suffered repeated reverses at his hands, and three times she was forced to recognize his occupation in order that she might employ all her forces against her western enemies. By the third treaty between the two German sovereigns, concluded at Dresden in 1745, Silesia [Footnote: Except a very small district, which thereafter was known as “Austrian Silesia.”] was definitely ceded by Austria to Prussia. Frederick had gained his ends: he coolly deserted his allies and withdrew from the war.

Meanwhile the Austrian arms had elsewhere been more successful. The French and Bavarians, after winning a few trifling victories in Bohemia, had been forced back to the upper Danube. Munich was occupied by the troops of Maria Theresa at the very time when the elector was being crowned at Frankfort as Holy Roman Emperor. The whole of Bavaria was soon in Austrian possession, and the French were in retreat across the Rhine. Gradually, also, the combined forces of Austria and Sardinia made headway in Italy against the Bourbon armies of France and Spain.

In the last years of the war, the French managed to protect Alsace and Lorraine from Austrian invasion, and, under the command of the gifted Marshal Saxe, they actually succeeded in subjugating the greater part of the Austrian Netherlands and in carrying the struggle into Holland. On the high seas and in the colonies, the conflict raged between France and Great Britain as “King George’s War,” which has already been separately noted. [Footnote: See above, pp. 311 f.]

[Sidenote: Treaties of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748): Indecisive Character of Struggle between Prussia and Austria]

The treaties which ended the War of the Austrian Succession were signed at Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. They guaranteed the acquisition of Silesia by Frederick II of Prussia and restored everything else to the situation at the opening of the conflict. The Wittelsbach family was reinstated in Bavaria and in the Palatinate, and the husband of Maria Theresa, Francis of Lorraine, succeeded Charles VII as Holy Roman Emperor. France, for all her expenditures and sacrifices, gained nothing. The War of the Austrian Succession was but a preliminary encounter in the great duel for German leadership between Prussia and Austria. It was similarly only an indecisive round in the prolonged battle between France and Great Britain for the mastery of the colonial and commercial world.

[Sidenote: Coalition against Frederick the Great]

In the war just closed, Austria had been the chief loser, and the resolute Maria Theresa set herself at once to the difficult task of recovering her prestige and her ceded territory. Her first efforts were directed toward internal reform–consolidating the administrations of her various dominions by the creation of a strong central council at Vienna, encouraging agriculture, equalizing and augmenting the taxes, and increasing the army. Her next step was to form a great league of rulers that would find a common interest with her in dismembering the kingdom of Frederick. She knew she could count on Saxony. She easily secured an ally in the Tsarina Elizabeth of Russia, who had been deeply offended by the caustic wit of the Prussian king. She was already united by friendly agreements with Great Britain and Holland. She had only France to win to her side, and in this policy she had the services of an invaluable agent, Count Kaunitz, the greatest diplomat of the age. Kaunitz held out to France, as the price for the abandonment of the Prussian alliance and the acceptance of that of Austria, the tempting bait of Frederick’s Rhenish provinces. But Louis XV at first refused an Austrian alliance: it would be a departure from the traditional French policy of opposing the Habsburgs. Kaunitz then appealed to the king’s mistress, the ambitious Madame de Pompadour, who, like the Tsarina Elizabeth, had had plenty of occasions for taking offense at the witty verses of the Prussian monarch: the favor of the Pompadour was won, and France entered the league against Prussia.

[Sidenote: The “Diplomatic Revolution”]

Meanwhile, however, Great Britain had entered into a special agreement with Frederick with the object of guaranteeing the integrity of Hanover and the general peace of the Germanies. When, therefore, the colonial war between Great Britain and France was renewed in 1754, it was quite natural that the former should contract a definite alliance with Prussia. Thus it befell that, whereas in the indecisive War of the Austrian Succession Prussia and France were pitted against Austria and Great Britain, in the determinant Seven Years’ War, which ensued, Austria and France were in arms against Prussia and Great Britain. This overturn of traditional alliances has been commonly designated the “Diplomatic Revolution.”

[Sidenote: The Seven Years’ War, 1756-1763]

The Seven Years’ War lasted in Europe from 1756 to 1763, and, as regards both the number of combatants and the brilliant generalship displayed, deserves to rank with the War of the Spanish Succession as the greatest war which the modern world had so far witnessed. The story has already been told of its maritime and colonial counterpart, which embraced the French and Indian War in America (1754-1763) and the triumphant campaigns of Clive in India, and which decisively established the supremacy of Great Britain on the seas, in the Far East, and in the New World. [Footnote: See above, pp. 312 ff.] There remains to sketch its course on the European continent.

[Sidenote: Frederick’s Victory at Rossbach, 1757]

Without waiting for a formal declaration of hostilities, Frederick seized Saxony, from which he exacted large indemnities and drafted numerous recruits, and, with his well-trained veteran troops, crossed the mountains into Bohemia. He was obliged by superior Austrian forces to raise the siege of Prague and to fall back on his own kingdom. Thence converged from all sides the allied armies of his enemies. Russians moved into East Prussia, Swedes from Pomerania into northern Brandenburg, Austrians into Silesia, while the French were advancing from the west. Here it was that Frederick displayed those qualities which entitle him to rank as one of the greatest military commanders of all time and to justify his title of “the Great.” Inferior in numbers to any one of his opponents, he dashed with lightning rapidity into central Germany and at Rossbach (1757) inflicted an overwhelming defeat upon the French, whose general wrote to Louis XV, “The rout of our army is complete: I cannot tell you how many of our officers have been killed, captured, or lost.” No sooner was he relieved of danger in the west than he was back in Silesia. He flung himself upon the Austrians at Leuthen, took captive a third of their army, and put the rest to flight.

The victories of Frederick, however, decimated his army. He still had money, thanks to the subsidies which Pitt poured in from Great Britain, but he found it very difficult to procure men: he gathered recruits from hostile countries; he granted amnesty to deserters; he even enrolled prisoners of war. He was no longer sufficiently sure of his soldiers to take the offensive, and for five years he was reduced to defensive campaigns in Silesia. The Russians occupied East Prussia and penetrated into Brandenburg; in 1759 they captured Berlin.

[Sidenote: French Reverses. The “Family Compact”]

The French, after suffering defeat at Rossbach, directed their energies against Hanover but encountered unexpected resistance at the hands of an army collected by Pitt’s gold and commanded by a Prussian general, the prince of Brunswick. Brunswick defeated them and gradually drove them out of Germany. This series of reverses, coupled with disasters that attended French armies in America and in India, caused the French king to call upon his cousin, the king of Spain, for assistance. The result was the formation of the defensive alliance (1761) between the Bourbon states of France, Spain, and the Two Sicilies, and the entrance of Spain into the war (1762).

[Sidenote: Withdrawal of Russia]

What really saved Frederick the Great was the death of the Tsarina Elizabeth (1762) and the accession to the Russian throne of Peter III, a dangerous madman but a warm admirer of the military prowess of the Prussian king. Peter in brusque style transferred the Russian forces from the standard of Maria Theresa to that of Frederick and restored to Prussia the conquests of his predecessor. [Footnote: Peter III was dethroned in the same year; his wife, Catherine II, who succeeded him, refused to give active military support to either side.] Spain entered the war too late to affect its fortunes materially. She was unable to regain what France had lost, and in fact the Bourbon states were utterly exhausted. The Austrians, after frantic but vain attempts to wrest Silesia from Frederick, finally despaired of their cause.

[Sidenote: Treaty of Hubertusburg (1763): Humiliation of the Habsburgs and Triumph of the Hohenzollerns]

The treaty of Hubertusburg (1763) put an end to the Seven Years’ War in Europe. Maria Theresa finally, though reluctantly, surrendered all claims to Silesia. Prussia had clearly humiliated Austria and become a first-rate power. The Hohenzollerns were henceforth the acknowledged peers of the Habsburgs. The almost synchronous treaty of Paris closed the war between Great Britain, on the one hand, and France and Spain on the other, by ceding the bulk of the French colonial empire to the British. Thereafter, Great Britain was practically undisputed mistress of the seas and chief colonial power of the world.

[Sidenote: Frederick the Great and the Partition of Poland]

Frederick the Great devoted the last years of his life to the consolidation of his monarchy [Footnote: For the internal reforms of Frederick, see below, pp. 440 ff.] and to enlarging its sphere of influence rather by diplomacy than by war. Frederick felt that the best safeguard against further attempts of Austria to recover Silesia was a firm alliance between Prussia and Russia. And it was an outcome of that alliance that in 1772 he joined with the Tsarina Catherine in making the first partition of Poland. Catherine appropriated the country east of the Düna and the Dnieper rivers. Frederick annexed West Prussia, except the towns of Danzig and Thorn, thereby linking up Prussia and Brandenburg by a continuous line of territory. Maria Theresa, moved by the loss of Silesia and by fear of the undue preponderance which the partition of Poland would give to her northern rivals, thought to adjust the balance of power by sharing in the shameful transaction: she occupied Galicia, including the important city of Cracow. Maria Theresa repeatedly expressed her abhorrence of the whole business, but, as the scoffing Frederick said, “She wept, but she kept on taking.”

The partition of Poland was more favorable to Prussia than to Austria. In the former case, the land annexed lay along the Baltic and served to render East Prussia, Brandenburg, and Silesia a geographical and political unit. On the other hand, Austria to some extent was positively weakened by the acquisition of territory outside her natural frontiers, and the addition of a turbulent Polish people further increased the diversity of races and the clash of interests within the Habsburg dominions.

When, a few years later, the succession to the electorate of Bavaria was in some doubt and Austria laid claims to the greater part of that state (1777-1779), Frederick again stepped in, and now by intrigue and now by threats of armed force again prevented any considerable extension of Habsburg control. His last important act was the formation of a league of princes to champion the lesser German states against Austrian aggression.

By hard work, by military might, by force of will, unhampered by any moral code, Frederick the Great perfected the policies of the Great Elector and of Frederick William I and raised Prussia to the rank of partner with Austria in German leadership and to an eminent position in the international affairs of Europe. Had Frederick lived, however, but a score of years longer, he would have witnessed the total extinction of the Holy Roman Empire, the apparent ruin of the Germanies, and the degradation of his own country as well as that of Austria. [Footnote: See below, Chapter XVI.] He might even have perceived that a personal despotism, built by bloodshed and unblushing deceit, was hardly proof against a nation stirred by idealism and by a consciousness of its own rights and power.

[Illustration: THE HOHENZOLLERN FAMILY (1415-1915): ELECTORS OF BRANDENBURG, KINGS OF PRUSSIA, AND GERMAN EMPERORS]

ADDITIONAL READING

GENERAL. Brief narratives: J. H. Robinson and C. A. Beard, _The Development of Modern Europe_, Vol. I (1907), ch. iv, v; E. F. Henderson, _A Short History of Germany_, Vol. II (1902), ch. i-iv; A. H. Johnson, _The Age of the Enlightened Despot, 1660-1789_ (1910), ch. vii, viii; Ferdinand Schevill, _The Making of Modern Germany (1916)_, ch. i, ii; Arthur Hassall, _The Balance of Power, 1715-1789_ (1896), ch. vi-ix; C. T. Atkinson, _A History of Germany, 1715-1813_ (1908), almost exclusively a military history; H. T. Dyer, _A History of Modern Europe from the Fall of Constantinople_, 3d ed. rev. by Arthur Hassall, 6 vols. (1901), ch. xlv-xlviii. Longer accounts: _Cambridge Modern History_, Vol. V (1908), ch. xii, xx, xxi, and Vol. VI (1909), ch. vii- ix, xx; _Histoire générale_, Vol. V, ch. xix, Vol. VI, ch. xvi, and Vol. VII, ch. iv, v; Émile Bourgeois, _Manuel historique de politique étrangère_, 4th ed., Vol. I (1906), ch. vi, xii, valuable for international relations of the Germanies; Bernhard Erdmannsdörffer, _Deutsche Geschichte, 1648-1740_, 2 vols. (1892-1893).

THE HABSBURG DOMINIONS IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. In English: Sidney Whitman, _Austria (1899)_, and, by the same author, _The Realm of the Habsburgs_ (1893), brief outlines; Louis Leger, _A History of Austro- Hungary from the Earliest Time to the Year 1889_, trans. by Mrs. B. Hill from a popular French work (1889); William Coxe, _House of Austria_, 4 vols. (1893-1895) in the Bohn Library, originally published nearly a century ago but still useful, especially Vol. Ill; C. M. Knatchbull-Hugessen, _The Political Evolution of the Hungarian Nation_, Vol. I (1908), ch. iv-vii; Ármin Vámbéry, _The Story of Hungary_ (1894), in the “Story of the Nations” Series. In German: Franz Krones, _Handbuch der Geschichte Oesterreichs_, 5 vols. (1876-1879), Vol. IV, Book XVIII. There is a good brief English biography of _Maria Theresa_ by J. F. Bright (1897) in the “Foreign Statesmen” Series, and a great standard German biography by Alfred von Arneth, _Geschichte Maria Theresias_, 10 vols. (1863-1879). See also A. Wolf and Hans von Zwiedineck-Südenhorst, _Österreich unter Maria Theresia_ (1884).

THE RISE OF PRUSSIA. _History of All Nations_, Vol. XV, _The Age of Frederick the Great_, Eng. trans. of a well-known German history by Martin Philippson; Herbert Tuttle, _History of Prussia to the Accession of Frederick the Great_ (1884), and, by the same author, _History of Prussia under Frederick the Great_, 3 vols., coming down to 1757 (1888-1896), primarily constitutional and political; Reinhold Koser, _Geschichte der brandenburgisch-preussischen Politik_, Vol. I (1914), from earliest times through the Thirty Years’ War, by the late general director of the Prussian State Archives, an eminent authority on the history of his country; J. G. Droysen, _Geschichte der preussischen Politik_, 14 vols. (1868- 1876), the most elaborate history of Prussia down to 1756 by a famous national historian; Ernst Berner, _Geschichte des preussischen Staates_ (1891), a briefer, popular account, richly illustrated; Hans von Zwiedineck-Südenhorst, _Deutsche Geschichte im Zeitraum der Gründung des preussischen Königtums_, 2 vols. (1890-1894), an enthusiastic German appreciation; Albert Waddington, _Histoire de Prusse_, Vol. I (1911), from the origins of the state to the death of the Great Elector, an able French presentation. There is an admirable old German biography of Frederick the Great’s father, with copious extracts from the sources, by F. C. Forster, _Friedrich Wilhelm I König von Preussen_, 3 vols. (1834-1835). On Frederick the Great: F. W. Longman, _Frederick the Great and the Seven Years’ War_, 2d ed. (1886), a good summary in English; W. F. Reddaway, _Frederick the Great and the Rise of Prussia_ (1904) in the “Heroes of the Nations” Series; Thomas Carlyle, _Frederick the Great_, an English classic in many editions, sympathetic and in spots inaccurate; Reinhold Koser, _Geschichte Friedrichs des Grossen_, 5th ed., 4 vols. (1912-1914), a most thorough and authoritative biography; _Politische Korrespondenz Friedrichs des Grossen_, ed. by Reinhold Koser and others, in many volumes, constitutes the most valuable original source for the reign of Frederick the Great.

THE WARS OF FREDERICK THE GREAT. G. M. Priest, _Germany since 1740_ (1915), ch. i-iii, a useful outline; D. J. Hill, _History of Diplomacy in the International Development of Europe_, Vol. III (1914), ch. vi- viii, valuable for diplomatic relations; Richard Waddington, _La guerre de sept ans: histoire diplomatique et militaire_, 5 vols. (1899-1914), the best history of the Seven Years’ War; A. D. Schaefer, _Geschichte des siebenjährigen Kriegs_, 2 vols. in 3 (1867-1874), a careful German account; Wilhelm Oncken, _Das Zeitalter Friedrichs des Grossen_, 2 vols. (1881-1882), an important work on Frederick’s reign, in the imposing Oncken Series. See also A. W. Ward, _Great Britain and Hanover, Some Aspects of their Personal Union_ (1899).

CHAPTER XII

THE RISE OF RUSSIA AND THE DECLINE OF TURKEY, SWEDEN, AND POLAND

RUSSIA IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

How the backward, Oriental tsardom of Muscovy has been transformed into the huge empire of Russia, now comprising one-sixth of the land surface and one-twelfth of the population of the earth, is one of the most fascinating phases of the history of modern times. It was not until the eighteenth century that Russia came into close contact with the commerce and culture of western Christendom; not until then did she become a great power in the European family of nations.

[Sidenote: Russian Expansion]

Several occurrences during the two centuries which separated the reign of the Tsar Ivan the Great from that of Peter the Great paved the way for the subsequent, almost startling rise of the powerful empire of northern and eastern Europe. The first in importance was the expansion of the Russian race and dominion. Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the farming folk of the region about Moscow were emigrating south and east and establishing themselves in the fertile plains of the Don, the Volga, and the Irtysh. [Footnote: Armies of the tsar backed up the colonists: they occupied Kazan in 1552 and Astrakhan, near the Caspian Sea, in 1554.] A glance at the map of Russia will show how the network of rivers combined with the level character of the country to facilitate this process of racial expansion. The gentle southerly flowing Dnieper, Don, and Volga, radiating from the same central region, and connected by way of the Kama with the headwaters of the Dwina, which empties into the White Sea in the extreme north, became chief channels of trade and migration, and contributed much more to the elaboration of national unity than any political institutions. Boats could be conveyed over flat and easy portages from one river-basin to another, and these portages with a relatively small amount of labor were gradually changed into navigable channels, so that even now the canals are more important than many of the railways as arteries of commerce.

[Sidenote: The Cossacks]

As the emigrants threaded their way along the river courses and over the broad plains they had to be constantly on the alert against attacks of troublesome natives, and they accordingly organized themselves in semi-military fashion. Those in the vanguard of territorial expansion constituted a peculiar class known as Cossacks, who, like frontiersmen of other times and places, for example, like those that gained for the United States its vast western domain, lived a wild life in which agricultural and pastoral pursuits were intermingled with hunting and fighting. In the basins of the southern rivers, the Cossacks formed semi-independent military communities: those of the Volga and the Don professed allegiance to the tsar of Muscovy, while those of the Dnieper usually recognized the sovereignty of the king of Poland.

[Sidenote: Eastword Expansion into Asia]

Nor was the migration of the Russian race restricted to Europe. The division between Europe and Asia is largely imaginary, as another glance at the map will prove,–the low-lying Urals are a barrier only toward the north, while southward the plains of Russia stretch on interminably above the Caspian until they are merged in the steppes of Siberia. Across these plains moved a steady stream of Cossacks and peasants and adventurers, carrying with them the habits and traditions of their Russian homes. Ever eastward wended the emigrants. They founded Tobolsk in 1587 and Tomsk in 1604; they established Yakutsk on the Lena River in 1632, and Irkutsk on Lake Baikal in 1652; in 1638 they reached the Sea of Okhotsk, and, by the close of the seventeenth century, they occupied the peninsula of Kamchatka and looked upon the broad Pacific. Thus at the time when the Spaniards were extending their speech and laws throughout South America and the English were laying the foundations for the predominance of their institutions in North America, the Russians were appropriating northern Asia and demonstrating that, with them at least, the course of empire takes its way eastward.

Ivan the Great had already been described in church service as “the ruler and autocrat of all Russia, the new Tsar Constantine [Footnote: The last Cæsar of the Græco-Roman Empire, Constantine XI, had perished in 1453 in vain defense of Constantinople against the Turks. It was a significant fact that the Russian rulers, who owed their Christianity and their nation’s culture to the Greeks, should now revive the title of Caesar (Russian form, tsar or czar).] in the new city of Constantine, Moscow.” His successors invariably had themselves crowned as tsars and autocrats of all Russia. By military might they maintained their control over the ever-widening territories of the Russian people; with racial pride and religious fervor, the distant emigrants regarded their royal family at Moscow. The power of the tsars kept pace with the expansion of the state.

[Sidenote: Oriental Characteristics of Russia]

Yet this greater Russia remained essentially Oriental. Its form of Christianity was derived from the East rather than from the West. Its social customs savored more of Asia than of Europe. Its nobles and even its tsars were rated by western Christendom as little better than barbarians. In fact, the Russian state was looked upon in the seventeenth century in much the same way as China was regarded in the nineteenth century.

The reasons for this relative backwardness are not hard to ascertain. In the first place, the religion of the state was a direct heritage of the expiring Eastern Empire and was different from either the Catholicism or the Protestantism of western Europe. Secondly, long and close contact with the conquering Mongols or Tatars of Asia had saturated the Russian people with Oriental customs and habits.[Footnote: See above, pp. 21 f.] Thirdly, the nature of the country tended to exalt agriculture and to discourage industry and foreign commerce, and at the same time to turn emigration and expansion eastward rather than westward. Finally, so long as the neighboring western states of Sweden, Poland, and Turkey remained powerful and retained the entire coast of the Baltic and Black seas, Russia was deprived of seaports that would enable her to engage in traffic with western Europe and thus to partake of the common culture of Christendom.

Not until Russia was modernized and westernized, and had made considerable headway against one or all of her western neighbors, could she hope to become a European Power. Not until the accession of the Romanov dynasty did she enter seriously upon this twofold policy.

[Sidenote: The “Troublous Times”]

The direct line of Ivan the Great had died out at the close of the sixteenth century, and there ensued what in Russian history are known as “the troublous times.” Disputes over the succession led to a series of civil wars, and the consequent anarchy invited foreign intervention. For a time the Poles harassed the country and even occupied the Kremlin, or citadel, of Moscow. The Swedes, also, took advantage of the troublous times in Russia to enlarge their conquests on the eastern shore of the Baltic and to seize the important trading center of Novgorod. In the south, the Turks warred with the Cossacks and brought many of the Crimean principalities under their control.

[Sidenote: The Accession of the Romanovs, 1613]

Under these discouraging circumstances a great national assembly met at Moscow in 1613 to elect a tsar, and their choice fell upon one of their own number, a certain Michael Romanov, whose family had been connected by marriage ties with the ancient royal line. It is an interesting fact that the present autocrat of Russia is a lineal descendant of the Romanov who was thus popularly elected to supreme authority in 1613.

Michael Romanov proved an excellent choice. Accepted by all classes, he reestablished order and security throughout the country and successfully resisted foreign encroachments. He founded several fortified towns in the south against the Tatars and the Turks. He recovered Novgorod from the Swedes. During the reign of his son, Polish depredations were stopped and the Dnieper River was fixed upon [Footnote: Treaty of Andrussovo (1667), in accordance with which Poland ceded to Russia Kiev, Smolensk, and eastern Ukraine.] as the general dividing line between Poland and Russia.

PETER THE GREAT

[Sidenote: His Accession and Early Travels]

The grandson of Michael Romanov was the celebrated Peter the Great, who may rightfully be designated as the father of modern Russia. His older brothers, with whom during his youth he was nominally associated in the government, died in turn without leaving direct heirs, and Peter became sole ruler in 1696. From the outset he showed an insatiable curiosity about the arts and sciences of western Europe, the authority of its kings and the organization of its armies and fleets. To an intense curiosity, Peter added an indomitable will. He was resolved to satisfy his every curiosity and to utilize whatever he learned or found.

From childhood, Peter had displayed an aptitude for mechanical tools and inventions and especially for boat-making. Shipbuilding and ship- sailing became his favorite pastimes. When he was barely twenty-one, he launched at Archangel, on the ice-bound White Sea, a ship which he had built with his own hands. Now in 1696, being sole tsar at the age of twenty-four, he fitted out a fleet which defeated the Turks on the Black Sea and allowed him to capture the valuable port of Azov. No other successes were gained, however, in this Turkish War; and the young tsar began to perceive that if he were to succeed in his cherished project he would have to obtain Western aid. In 1697, therefore, a special commission left Moscow for the purpose of soliciting the cooperation of the principal Powers against Turkey, and to this commission the young tsar attached himself as a volunteer sailor, “Peter Mikhailov,” in order that he might incidentally learn much about ship-building and other technical sciences.

In its primary purpose, the Russian commission failed signally. Western Europe was on the eve of the War of the Spanish Succession, and all the European sovereigns seemed to be engrossed in the distractions of dynastic politics. No help against the Turks was forthcoming. But personally Peter learned many useful things. In Holland he studied ship-building as well as anatomy and engraving. In England he investigated industry and commerce. He closely scrutinized the military establishment of Prussia. In all places which he visited he collected artisans, sailors, engineers, or other workmen, whom he sent back to Russia to instruct his people.

[Sidenote: Suppression of the Streltsi]

While he was on his way from Vienna to Venice, news reached him that the royal bodyguard, called the _streltsi_, had taken advantage of his absence of a year and a half and had mutinied at Moscow. In hot haste he hurried home and wreaked dire vengeance upon the mutineers. Two thousand were hung or broken on the wheel, five thousand were beheaded, and Peter for many days amused himself and edified his court by the wonderful dexterity he displayed in slicing off the heads of _streltsi_ with his own royal arm.

The severe punishment of the rebellious _streltsi_ and the immediate abolition of their military organization was clear evidence that Peter was fully determined both to break with the past traditions of his country and to compel all the Russian people to do likewise.

[Sidenote: Military Reform]

His first care was the reconstruction of the army on the Prussian model. Officered and disciplined by foreigners dependent entirely upon the tsar, the new army replaced the _streltsi_ and proved a potent factor in furthering the domestic and foreign policies of Peter the Great.

[Sidenote: Introduction of Occidental Customs]

The young reformer next turned his attention to the customs of his people–their clothing and manners–which he would transform from Oriental to Occidental. Edict followed edict with amazing rapidity. The chief potentates of the empire were solemnly assembled so that Peter with his own hand might deliberately clip off their long beards and flowing mustaches. A heavy tax was imposed on such as persisted in wearing beards. French or German clothes were to be substituted, under penalty of large fines, for the traditional Russian costume. The use of tobacco was made compulsory. The Oriental semi-seclusion of women was prohibited. Both sexes were to mingle freely in the festivities of the court. These innovations were largely superficial: they partially permeated the nobility and clergy, but made little impression on the mass of the population. Peter had begun a work, however, which was certain of great results in the future.

[Sidenote: Development of Autocracy]

The reign of Peter the Great is notable for the removal of serious checks upon the power of the tsar and the definitive establishment of that form of absolutism which in Russia is called “autocracy.” By sheer ability and will-power, the tsar was qualified to play the role of divine-right monarch, and his observation of the centralized government of Louis XIV, as well as the appreciation of his country’s needs, convinced him that that kind of government was the most suitable for Russia.

[Sidenote: Subordination of the Orthodox Church to the Russian State] [Sidenote: The Holy Synod]

We have already observed how Peter replaced the independent, turbulent _streltsi_ with a thoroughly devoted and orderly standing army. That was one important step in the direction of autocracy. The next was the subordination of the Church to the state. The tsar understood the very great influence which the Holy Orthodox Church exerted over the Russian people and the danger to his policies that ecclesiastical opposition might create. He was naturally anxious that the Church should become the ally, not the enemy, of autocracy. He, therefore, took such steps as would exalt the Church in the opinion of his countrymen and at the same time would render it a serviceable agent of the government. Professing the warmest faith in its religious tenets, he deprived the patriarch [Footnote: Until late in the sixteenth century, the metropolitan of Moscow was in theory under the authority of the patriarch of Constantinople; thereafter, through Boris Godunov, he became independent with full consent and approval of the whole Greek Orthodox Church and was styled the patriarch of Moscow.] of Moscow of his privilege of controlling the ecclesiastical organization and vested all powers of church government in a body, called the Holy Synod, whose members were bishops and whose chief was a layman, all chosen by the tsar himself. No appointment to ecclesiastical office could henceforth be made without the approval of the Holy Synod; no sermon could be preached and no book could be published unless it had received the sanction of that august body. The authority which the tsar thereby obtained over the Russian Church was as complete and far-reaching as that which Henry VIII had acquired, two centuries earlier, over the Anglican Church. The results have been in keeping with Peter’s fondest expectations, for the Orthodox Church in Russia has been from his time to the present the right-hand support of absolutism. The tsars have exalted the Church as the fountain of order and holiness; as a veritable ark of the covenant have the clergy magnified and extolled the autocracy.

[Sidenote: Secular Power of the Tsar]

A remodeling of the secular government of Russia along autocratic lines was another achievement of Peter the Great which long endured. At the head of the state was the tsar or emperor, possessing absolute, unlimited powers. An ancient assembly, or Duma, of nobles, which had formerly exercised vague legislative rights, was practically abolished, its place being taken by an advisory Council of State whose members, usually noblemen, were selected by the tsar. All traces of local self- government were similarly swept away, and the country was henceforth administered by the tsar’s personal agents. To enforce his autocratic will, a system of police was organized on a militia basis, its chiefs being made dependent on the central authority. In these, as in all his other reforms, the tsar encountered a good deal of opposition, and for a while was obliged to rely largely on foreigners to carry them out. As soon as possible, however, Peter employed natives, for it was a cardinal point in his policy that the Russians themselves must manage their own state without foreign interference or help.

[Sidenote: Attempted Social Reforms of Peter the Great]

Like his contemporaries in western Europe, Peter gave considerable attention to the economic condition of the monarchy. He strove, though often in a bungling manner, to promote agriculture and to improve the lot of the peasantry, who still constituted the overwhelming bulk of forms of the population. He certainly deprived the nobles of many of their former privileges and sought to rest political power and social position on ability rather than on birth. He understood that Russia grievously lacked a numerous and prosperous middle class, and he aimed to create one by encouraging trade and industries. His almost constant participation in wars, however, prevented him from bringing many of his economic and social plans to fruition.

[Sidenote: Ambitious Foreign Policy of Peter the Great]

Internal reforms were but one-half of Peter’s ambitious program. To him Russia owes not only the abolition of the _streltsi_, the loss of the independence of the Church, the Europeanization of manners and customs, and the firm establishment of autocracy, but also the pronouncement and enforcement of an elaborate scheme of foreign aggrandizement. On one hand, the tsar showed a lively interest in the exploration and colonization of Siberia and in the extension of Russian dominion around the Caspian Sea and towards the Persian Empire. On the other hand,–and this, for our purposes, is far more important,–he was resolved to make the cultural and commercial connection between Russia and Europe strong and intimate, to open a way to the west by gaining outlets on both the Black and Baltic seas–“windows” to the west, as he termed them.

On the Baltic Sea, Sweden blocked him; toward the Black Sea, the Ottoman power hemmed him in. It was, therefore, against Sweden and Turkey that Peter the Great waged war. It seemed to him a matter of dire necessity for the preservation of European civilization in Russia that he should defeat one or both of these states. Against the Turks, as events proved, he made little headway; against the Swedes he fared better.

In order that we may understand the nature of the momentous conflict between Russia and Sweden in the first quarter of the eighteenth century, it will be necessary at this point to notice the parallel development of Sweden.

SWEDEN AND THE CAREER OF CHARLES XII

[Sidenote: Sweden a Great Power in the Seventeenth Century]

It will be recalled that a century before Peter the Great, the remarkable Gustavus Adolphus had aimed to make the Baltic a Swedish lake. To his own kingdom, lying along the western shore of that sea, and to the dependency of Finland, he had added by conquest the eastern provinces of Karelia, Ingria, Esthonia, and Livonia [Footnote: Livonia, occupied by Gustavus Adolphus during the Polish War of 1621-1629, was not formally relinquished by Poland until 1660. Esthonia had been conquered by the Swedes in 1561, but Russia did not renounce her pretensions to this province until 1617.], and his successful interference in the Thirty Years’ War had given Sweden possession of western Pomerania and the mouths of the Elbe, Oder, and Weser rivers and a considerable influence in German affairs. For many years after the death of Gustavus Adolphus, Sweden was the recognized leader of continental Protestantism, and her trade on the Baltic grew and thrived. The exports of Russia and Poland found a convenient outlet through the Swedish port of Riga, and those of the northern Germanics were frequently dispatched on Swedish vessels from Stettin or Stralsund.

Repeated efforts were made by Denmark, Poland, and Brandenburg to break the commercial monopoly which Sweden enjoyed upon the Baltic and to deprive her of her conquests, but for a long time in vain. Victory continued to attend Swedish arms and a general treaty in 1660 confirmed her dominion. At that time Sweden was not only a military power of the first magnitude but also one of the largest states of Europe, possessing about twice as much area as present-day Sweden. Her area embraced a land-surface 7000 square miles larger than the modern German Empire. All the islands and the greater part of the coast of the Baltic belonged to her. Stockholm, the capital, lay in the very center of the empire, whose second city was Riga, on the other side of the sea. In politics, in religion, and in trade, Sweden was feared and respected.

[Sidenote: Elements of Weakness in Sweden’s Position]

Yet the greatness of Sweden in the seventeenth century was more apparent than real. Her commerce provoked the jealousy of all her neighbors. Her dependencies across the Baltic were difficult to hold: peopled by Finns, Russians, Poles, Germans, and Danes, their bond with Sweden was essentially artificial, and they usually sympathized, naturally enough, with their sovereign’s enemies. They, therefore, imposed on the mother country the duty of remaining a military monarchy, armed from head to foot for every possible emergency. For such a tremendous destiny Sweden was quite unfitted. Her wide territory was very sparsely populated, and her peasantry were very poor. Only the French alliance gave her solid backing in the Germanies, and, with the decline of the fortunes of Louis XIV and the rise of Prussia and Russia, she was bound to lose her leadership in the North.

To the fate of Sweden, her rulers in the seventeenth century contributed no small share. Nearly all of them were born fighters and nearly all of them were neglectful of home interests and of the works of peace. The military instincts of the Swedish kings not only sacrificed thousands of lives that were urgently needed in building up their country and cost the kingdom enormous sums of money but likewise impaired commerce, surrounded the empire with a broad belt of desolated territory, and implanted an ineradicable hatred in every adjacent state. Then, too, the extravagance and negligence of the sovereigns led to chaos in domestic government. Taxes were heavy and badly apportioned. The nobles recovered many of their political privileges. The royal power steadily dwindled away at the very time when it was most needed; and a selfish, grasping aristocracy hastened their country’s ruin. [Footnote: A reaction appeared under the capable Charles XI (1660-1697), but its fruits were completely lost by his son and successor, Charles XII.]

[Sidenote: Coalition against Charles XII]

At length, in 1697, when Charles XII, a boy of fifteen years, ascended the throne of Sweden, the neighboring Powers thought the time had arrived to partition his territories among themselves. Tsar Peter, while returning home the following year from his travels abroad, had discussed with Augustus II, elector of Saxony and king of Poland, a plan which the latter had formed for the dismemberment of the Swedish Empire: Poland was to recover Livonia and annex Esthonia; Russia was to obtain Ingria and Karelia and thereby a port on the Baltic; Brandenburg was to occupy western Pomerania; and Denmark was to take possession of Holstein and the mouths of the Elbe and Weser. Charles XII was to retain only his kingdom in the Scandinavian peninsula and the grand duchy of Finland. At the last moment Brandenburg balked, but Saxony, Denmark, and Russia signed the nefarious alliance in 1699. The allies expected quick and decisive victory. All western and southern Europe was on the verge of a great struggle for the Spanish inheritance and would clearly be unable to prevent them from despoiling Sweden.

[Sidenote: Military Exploits of Charles XII]

But the allies grossly underrated their foe. Charles XII was a mere boy, but precocious, gloomy, and sensitive, and endowed with all the martial determination and heroism of his ancestors. He desired nothing better than to fight against overwhelming odds, and the fury of the youthful commander soon earned him the sobriquet of the “madman of the North.” The alliance of 1699 precipitated the Great Northern War which was to last until 1721 and slowly, but no less inevitably, lower Sweden to the position of a third-rate power. It was amid the most spectacular exploits of the boy-king that the ruin of Sweden was accomplished. It was a grander but more tragic fate than in the same period befell Spain.

Charles XII did not give the allies time to unite. Hurriedly crossing the straits, he invaded Denmark, whose terrified king promptly signed a treaty with him (1700), paying a large indemnity and engaging to keep the peace in future.

Thence Charles hastened across the Baltic to Esthonia in order to deal with the invading Russians. At Narva he met and annihilated their army. Then he turned southward, clearing Livonia and Lithuania of Poles, Saxons, and Russians.

Into the very heart of Poland he carried the war, possessing himself of both Warsaw and Cracow. He obliged the Polish Diet to dethrone Augustus and to accept a king of his own choice in the person of a certain Stanislaus Leszczynski (1704).

All these things had been done by a young man between the age of seventeen and twenty–two. It was quite natural that he should be puffed up with pride in his ability and successes. It was almost as natural that, hardened at an early age to the horrors of war, he should become increasingly callous and cruel. Many instructions the impulsive youth sent out over conquered districts in Russia, Poland, and Saxony “to slay, burn, and destroy.” “Better that the innocent suffer than that the guilty escape” was his favorite adage.

Small wonder, then, that neither Peter the Great nor the Elector Augustus would abandon the struggle. While Charles was overrunning Poland, Peter was reorganizing his army and occupying Karelia and Ingria; and when the Swedish king returned to engage the Russians, Augustus drove out Stanislaus and regained the crown of Poland. Yet Charles, with an unreasoning stubbornness, would not perceive that the time had arrived for terminating the conflict with a few concessions. Russia at that time asked only a port on the Gulf of Finland as the price of an alliance against Poland.

[Sidenote: Battle of Poltava (1709): Defeat of Charles XII]

To all entreaties for peace, Charles XII turned a deaf ear, and pressed the war in Russia. Unable to take Moscow, he turned southward in order to effect a juncture with some rebellious Cossacks, but met the army of Peter the Great at Poltava (1709). Poltava marks the decisive triumph of Russia over Sweden. The Swedish army was destroyed, only a small number being able to accompany the flight of their king across the southern Russian frontier into Turkish territory.

Then Charles stirred up the Turks to attack the tsar, but from the new contest he was himself unable to profit. Peter bought peace with the Ottoman government by re-ceding the town of Azov, and the latter gradually tired of their guest’s continual and frantic clamor for war. After a sojourn of over five years in Ottoman lands, Charles suddenly and unexpectedly appeared, with but a single attendant, at Stralsund, which by that time was all that remained to him outside of Sweden and Finland.

[Sidenote: Obstinacy and Death of Charles XII]

Still, however, the war dragged on. The allies grew in numbers and in demands. Peter the Great and Augustus were again joined by the Danish king. Great Britain, Hanover, and Prussia, all covetous of Swedish trade or Swedish territory, were now members of the coalition. Charles XII stood like adamant: he would retain all or he would lose all. So he stood until the last. It was while he was directing an invasion of Norway that the brilliant but ill-balanced Charles lost his life (1718), being then but thirty-six years of age.

[Sidenote: Decline of Sweden]

Peace which had been impossible during the lifetime of Charles, became a reality soon after his death. It certainly came none too soon for the exhausted and enfeebled condition of Sweden. By the treaties of Stockholm (1719 and 1720), Sweden resigned all her German holdings except a small district of western Pomerania including the town of Stralsund. Denmark received Holstein and a money indemnity. Hanover gained the mouths of the Elbe and Weser; Prussia, the mouth of the Oder and the important city of Stettin. Augustus was restored to the Polish throne, though without territorial gain. Great Britain, Denmark, and Prussia became the principal commercial heirs of Sweden.

[Sidenote: Treaty of Nystad (1721): Russia on the Baltic] [Sidenote: Petrograd]

The treaty of Nystad (1721) was the turning point for Russia, for thereby she acquired from Sweden full sovereignty over not only Karelia and Ingria but the important Baltic provinces of Esthonia and Livonia and a narrow strip of southern Finland including the strong fortress of Viborg. Peter the Great had realized his ambition of affording his country a “window to the west.” On the waste marshes of the Neva he succeeded with enormous effort and sacrifice of life in building a great city which might be a center of commerce and a bond of connection between Russia and the western world. He named his new city St. Petersburg [Footnote: Known generally in the Teutonic form “St. Petersburg” from its foundation until the War of the Nations in 1914, when the Slavic form of “Petrograd” was substituted.] and to it he transferred his government from Moscow. Russia supplanted Sweden in the leadership of the Baltic and assumed a place among the Powers of Europe.

Peter the Great did not realize his other ambition of securing a Russian port on the Black Sea. Although he captured and held Azov for a time, he was obliged to relinquish it, as we have seen, in order to prevent the Turks from joining hands with Charles XII.

[Sidenote: Character of Peter the Great]

Nevertheless, when Peter died in 1725, he left his empire a compact state, well-organized, and well-administered, westernized at least superficially, and ready to play a conspicuous role in the international politics of Europe. The man who succeeded in doing all these things has been variously estimated. By some he has been represented as a monster of cruelty and a murderer, [Footnote: Peter had his son and heir, the Grand Duke Alexius, put to death because he did not sympathize with his reforms. The tsar’s other punishments often assumed a most revolting and disgusting character.] by others as a demon of the grossest sensuality, by still others as a great national hero. Probably he merited all such opinions. But, above all, he was a genius of fierce energy and will, who toiled always for what he considered to be the welfare of his country.

CATHERINE THE GREAT: THE DEFEAT OF TURKEY AND THE DISMEMBERMENT OF POLAND

It is hardly possible to feel much respect for the character of the Russian rulers who succeeded Peter the Great in the eighteenth century. Most of them were women with loose morals and ugly manners. But they had little to fear from Sweden, which, utterly exhausted, was now on a steady decline; and domestic difficulties both in Poland and in Turkey removed any apprehension of attacks from those countries. In policies of internal government, Peter had blazed a trail so clear and unmistakable that one would have difficulty in losing it.

[Sidenote: Character of the Tsarina Catherine II]

Of those female sovereigns of the Russian Empire, the most notable was Catherine II, usually called Catherine the Great (1762-1796). By birth she was not even a Russian, but a princess of Protestant Germany, whom dynastic considerations made the wife of the heir to the Russian crown. [Footnote: The marriage was arranged by Frederick the Great in order to minimize Austrian influence at Petrograd.]

No sooner was she in her adopted country than she set to work to ingratiate herself with its people. She learned the Russian language. She outwardly conformed to the Orthodox Church. She slighted her German relatives and surrounded herself with Russians. She established a reputation for quick wit and lofty patriotism. So great was her success that when her half-insane husband ascended the throne as Peter III in 1762, the people looked to her rather than to him as the real ruler, and before the year was over she had managed to make away with him and to become sovereign in name as well as in fact. For thirty-four years Catherine was tsarina of Russia. Immoral to the last, without conscience or scruple, she ruled the country with a firm hand and consummated the work of Peter the Great.

[Sidenote: Her Administration]

In the administrative system Catherine introduced the “governments” and “districts,” divisions and subdivisions of Russia, over which were placed respectively governors and vice-governors, all appointed by the central authority. To the ecclesiastical alterations of Peter, she added the secularization of church property, thereby making the clergy distinctly dependent upon her bounty and strengthening the autocracy.

[Sidenote: Her Patronage of Learning]

The tsarina had some personal interest in the literary and scientific progress of the eighteenth century and was determined to make Russia appear cultured in the eyes of western Europe. She corresponded with Voltaire and many other philosophers and learned men of the time. She pensioned Diderot, the author of the great Encyclopædia, and invited scholars to her court. She posed as the friend of higher education.

[Sidenote: Her Foreign Policy]

Of the three foreign countries which in the eighteenth century blocked the western expansion of Russia, Sweden had been humbled by Peter in the Great Northern War and the treaty of Nystad. Poland and Turkey remained to be dealt with by Catherine the Great. Let us see what had lately transpired to render this task comparatively easy for the tsarina.

[Sidenote: Poland in the Eighteenth Century]

Poland in the first half of the eighteenth century was geographically a large state, but a variety of circumstances contributed to render it weak and unstable. In the first place, it was without natural boundaries or adequate means of defense. To the west it was separated from Prussia and Austria by an artificial line drawn through level plains or over low-lying hills. To the south a fluctuating frontier, fixed usually along the Dniester River, set it off from the Ottoman Empire. The fertile valleys of the Dnieper, to the east, and of the Dona, to the north, were shared by Russia and Poland. No chains of mountains and no strongly fortified places protected the Polish people from Germans, Turks, or Russians.

Nor was this wide, but indefensible, territory inhabited by a single homogeneous people. The Poles themselves, centering in the western cities of Warsaw and Cracow, constituted a majority of the population, but the Lithuanians, a kindred Slavic folk, covered the east-central part of the kingdom and a large number of Cossacks and “Little Russians” [Footnote: Ruthenians.] lived in the extreme east, while along the northern and western borders were settlements of Germans and Swedes. Between the Poles and the Lithuanians existed a long-standing feud, and the Germans regarded all the Slavs with ill-disguised contempt.

Religion added its share to the dissension created by race and language within Poland. The Poles and most of the Lithuanians were stanch Roman Catholics. Other Lithuanians–especially the great nobles–together with the Russians and Cossacks adhered to the Greek Orthodox faith, while Lutheran Protestantism was upheld by the western settlements of Swedes and Germans. The Dissenters, as the Orthodox and Protestants were called, demanded from the Catholic majority a toleration and a freedom of worship which at that time existed in no other country of Europe. When it was not forthcoming, they appealed to foreign Powers– the Lutherans to Prussia, the Orthodox to Russia.

[Sidenote: Wretched Social Conditions in Poland]

Worst of all were the social conditions in Poland. By the eighteenth century, the towns had sunk into relative insignificance, leaving Poland without a numerous or wealthy middle class. Of the other classes, the great nobles or magnates owned the land, lived in luxury, selfishly looked out for their own interests, and jealously played politics, while the mass of the nation were degraded into a state of serfdom and wretchedness that would be difficult to parallel elsewhere in Europe. With a grasping, haughty nobility on one hand, and an oppressed, ignorant peasantry on the other, social solidarity, the best guarantee of political independence, was entirely lacking.

[Sidenote: Weakness of Polish Political Institutions]

An enlightened progressive government might have done something to remedy the social ills, but of all governments that the world has ever seen, the most ineffectual and pernicious was the Polish. Since the sixteenth century, the monarchy had been elective, with the result that the reign of every sovereign was disfigured by foreign intrigues and domestic squabbles over the choice of his successor, and also that the noble electors were able not only to secure liberal bribes but to wring from the elect such concessions as gradually reduced the kingship to an ornamental figurehead. Most of the later kings were foreigners who used what little power was left to them in furtherance of their native interests rather than of the welfare of Poland. Thus the kings in the first half of the eighteenth century were German electors of Saxony, who owed their new position to the interested friendship of Austria, Prussia, or Russia, and to the large sums of money which they lavished upon the Polish magnates; these same Saxon rulers cheerfully applied the Polish resources to their German policies.

Another absurdity of the Polish constitution was the famous “_liberum veto_,” a kind of gentlemen’s agreement among the magnates, whereby no law whatsoever could be enacted by the Diet if a single member felt it was prejudicial to his interests, and objected. In the course of the seventeenth century the principle of the _liberum veto_ had been so far extended as to recognize the lawful right of any one of the ten thousand noblemen of Poland to refuse to obey a law which he had not approved. This amounted to anarchism. And anarchism, however beautiful it might appear as an ideal, was hardly a trustworthy weapon with which to oppose the greedy, hard-hearted, despotic monarchs who governed all the surrounding countries.

[Sidenote: Steady Decline of Ottoman Power during Seventeenth Century]

The Ottoman Empire was not in such sore straits as Poland, but its power and prestige were obviously waning. In another place we have reviewed the achievements of the Turks in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries–how they overran the Balkan peninsula, captured Constantinople, put an end to the ancient Græco-Roman Empire and under Suleiman the Magnificent extended their conquests along the northern coast of Africa and in Europe across the Danube into the very heart of Hungary. Although the sea-power of the Turks suffered a serious reverse at Lepanto (1571), their continued land advances provoked in Christendom the liveliest apprehension throughout the seventeenth century. After a twenty-five-years conflict they took Crete from Venice. They subjugated to their dominion the Tatars and Russians immediately north of the Black Sea. They exacted homage from the princes of Rumania and Transylvania. They annexed Hungary. For a time they received tribute from the king of Poland. In 1683 they laid siege to the city of Vienna and would have taken it had not the patriotic Polish monarch, John Sobieski, brought timely aid to the beleaguered Austrians. That was the high-water mark of the Mohammedan advance in Europe.

Thenceforth the Turkish boundaries gradually receded. An alliance of Venice, Poland, the pope, and Austria waged long and arduous warfare with the Ottomans, and the resulting treaty of Karlowitz, signed at the very close of the seventeenth century, gave the greater part of Hungary, including Transylvania, to the Austrian Habsburgs, extended the southern boundary of Poland to the Dniester River, and surrendered important trading centers on the Dalmatian and Greek coasts to the Venetians. Two subsequent wars between the sultan and the Habsburgs definitely freed the whole of Hungary from the Ottoman yoke. The reasons for the wane of Turkey’s power are scarcely to be sought in the inherent strength of her neighbors, for, with the possible exception of Austria and Russia, they were notoriously weak and had seldom been able or willing to work together in behalf of any common cause. The real reasons lay rather in the character and nature of the Turkish power itself. Domestic, not foreign, difficulties prepared the way for future disasters.

[Sidenote: Nature of the Turkish Conquests]

It should be borne in mind that the Turks never constituted a majority of the population of their European possessions. They were a mere body of conquerors, who in frenzies of religious or martial enthusiasm, inspired with the idea that Divine Providence was using them as agents for the spread of Mohammedanism, had fought valiantly with the sword or cunningly taken advantage of their enemies’ quarrels to plant over wide areas the crescent in place of the cross. In the conquered regions, the native Christian peoples were reduced to serfdom, and the Turkish conquerors became great landholders and the official class. To extend, even to maintain, such an artificial order of things, the Turks would be obliged to keep their military organization always at the highest pitch of excellence and to preserve their government from weakness and corruption. In neither of these respects did the Turks ultimately succeed.

[Sidenote: Corruption In the Turkish Government]

The sultans of the eighteenth century were not of the stuff of which a Suleiman the Magnificent had been made. To the grim risks of battle they preferred the cushioned ease of the palace, and all their powers of administration and government were quite consumed in the management of the household and the harem. Actual authority was gradually transferred to the Divan, or board of ministers, whose appointments or dismissals were the results of palace intrigues, sometimes petty but more often bloody. Corruption ate its way through the entire office- holding element of the Ottoman state: positions were bought and sold from the Divan down to the obscure village, and office was held to exist primarily for financial profit and secondarily as a means of oppressing the subject people.

The army, on which so much in the Turkish state depended, naturally reflected the demoralized condition of the government. While Peter the Great was organizing a powerful army in Russia, and Frederick the Great was perfecting the Prussian military machine, the Ottoman army steadily declined. It failed to keep pace with the development of tactics and of firearms in western Europe, and fell behind the times. The all- prevalent corruption ruined its discipline, and its regularly organized portion–the “janissaries”–became the masters rather than the servants of the sultans and of the whole Turkish government.

It was the fortune of the Russian tsarina–Catherine the Great–to appreciate the real weakness of both Turkey and Poland and to turn her neighbors’ distress to the profit of her own country.

[Sidenote: Catherine’s Interference in Poland]

No sooner had Catherine secured the Russian crown and by her inactivity permitted Frederick the Great to bring the Seven Years’ War to a successful issue, than the death of Augustus III, elector of Saxony and king of Poland, gave her an opportunity to interfere in Polish affairs. She was not content with the Saxon line which was more or less under Austrian influence, and, with the astute aid of Frederick, she induced the Polish nobles to elect one of her own courtiers and favorites, Stanislaus Poniatowski, who thus in 1764 became the last king of an independent Poland.

With the accession of Stanislaus, the predominance of Russia was fully established in Poland. Russia entered into an execrable agreement with Prussia and Austria to uphold the anarchical constitution of the unhappy and victimized country. When patriotic Poles made efforts–as they now frequently did–to reform their government, to abolish the _liberum veto_, and to strengthen the state, they found their attempts thwarted by the allies either by force of arms or by bribes of money. The racial animosities and the religious differences within Poland afforded sufficient pretexts for the intervention of the neighboring Powers, especially Prussia and Russia.

A popular insurrection of Polish Catholics against the intolerable meddling of foreigners was crushed by the troops of Catherine, with the single result that the Russians, in pursuing some fleeing insurgents across the southern frontier, violated Turkish territory and precipitated a war between the Ottoman Empire and Russia.

[Sidenote: Catherine’s War with the Turks, 1768-1774]

This Turkish War lasted from 1768 to 1774. The Ottoman government was profoundly alarmed by the Russian foreign policy, believing that the intrigues in Poland would end in the annexation of that state to Russia and the consequent upsetting of the balance of power in the East, and that, Poland once being disposed of, the turn of Turkey would come next. The Turks, moreover, were egged on by the French government, which, anxious also to preserve the balance of power and to defend the liberties of Poland, was too financially embarrassed itself to undertake a great war against Prussia and Russia.

This war between Russia and Turkey fully confirmed the belief that the power of the latter was waning. The Ottoman troops, badly armed and badly led, suffered a series of reverses. The Russians again occupied Azov, which Peter the Great had been compelled to relinquish; they overran Moldavia and Wallachia; they seized Bucharest; and they seemed likely to cross the Danube. Catherine went so far as to fan a revolt among the Greek subjects of the sultan.

[Sidenote: Treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji (1774): Russia on the Black Sea]

At length, in 1774, the treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji was concluded between the belligerents. It was most important in marking the southern extension of Russia. By its provisions, (1) Turkey formally ceded Azov and adjacent territory to Russia and renounced sovereignty over all land north of the Black Sea; (2) Turkey recovered Wallachia, Moldavia, and Greece, on condition that they should be better governed; (3) Russia obtained the right of free navigation for her merchant ships in Turkish waters; and (4) Russia was recognized as the protector of certain churches in the city of Constantinople.

Within a few years after the signature of the treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji, Catherine established Russian control over the various Tatar principalities north of the Black Sea, whose sovereignty Turkey had renounced, and by a supplementary agreement in 1792, the Dniester River was fixed upon as the boundary between the Russian and Ottoman empires.

The Turkish policy of Catherine the Great bore three significant results. In the first place, Russia acquired a natural boundary in southern Europe, and became the chief Power on the Black Sea, whence her ships might pass freely through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles out into the Mediterranean to trade with western Europe. Russia’s second “window to the west” was gained. Then, in the second place, Russia was henceforth looked upon as the natural ally and friend of oppressed nationalities within the Turkish Empire. Finally, the special clause conferring on Russia the protectorate of certain churches in Constantinople afforded her a pretext for a later claim to protect Christians throughout the Ottoman state and consequently to interfere incessantly in Turkish affairs. Since the treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji, Turkey has declined with ever-increasing rapidity, and Russia has become an eager candidate for a liberal share of the spoils.

[Sidenote: Catherine and the Partition of Poland] [Sidenote: First Partition, 1772]

Even while the Turkish War was in progress, Catherine the Great had not lost sight of her Polish policy. Frederick of Prussia had doubtless hoped that she would, in order that he might have a free rein to direct a distribution of territory entirely satisfactory to himself and to Prussia But the wily tsarina was never so immersed in other matters that she neglected Russian interests in Poland. In 1772, therefore, she joined with Frederick and with Maria Theresa of Austria in making the first partition of Poland. Russia took all the country which lay east of the Dona and Dnieper rivers. Prussia took West Prussia except the town of Danzig. Austria took Galicia and the city of Cracow. In all, Poland was deprived of about a fourth of her territory.

[Sidenote: Second Partition, 1793]
[Sidenote: Third and Last Partition, 1795]

The partition of 1772 sobered the Polish people and brought them to a full realizing sense of the necessity of radical political reform. But the shameful and hypocritical attitude of the neighboring sovereigns continued to render their every effort abortive. For another twenty-one years the wretched country struggled on, a victim of selfish foreign tutelage. Although both Frederick and Maria Theresa died in the interval, their successors proved themselves quite as willing to coöperate with the implacable tsarina. In 1793 Russia and Prussia effected the second partition of Poland, and in 1795, following a last desperate attempt of the Poles to establish a new government, they admitted Austria to a share in the final dismemberment of the unhappy country. Desperately did the brave Kosciuszko try to stem the tide of invasion which poured in from all sides. His few forces, in spite of great valor, were no match for the veteran allies, and the defense was vain. “Freedom shrieked when Kosciuszko fell.” King Stanislaus Poniatowski resigned his crown and betook himself to Petrograd. Poland ceased to exist as an independent state.

By the partitions of 1793 and 1795, Austria obtained the upper valley of the Vistula, and Prussia the lower, including the city of Warsaw, while the rest–the major share–went to Russia. Little Russia (Ruthenia) and approximately all of Lithuania thus passed into the hands of the tsarina. Russia thenceforth bordered immediately on Prussia and Austria and became geographically a vital member of the European family of nations.

Catherine the Great survived the third and final partition of Poland but a year, dying in 1796. If it can be said of Peter that he made Russia a European Power, it can be affirmed with equal truth that Catherine made Russia a Great Power. The eighteenth century had witnessed a marvelous growth of Russia in Europe. She had acquired territory and a capital on the Baltic. She had secured valuable ports on the Black Sea. She had pushed her boundaries westward into the very center of the Continent.

The rise of Russia was at the expense of her neighbors. Sweden had surrendered her eastern provinces and lost her control of the Baltic. Turkey had abandoned her monopoly of the shores and trade of the Black Sea. Poland had disappeared from the map.

[Illustration: THE ROMANOV FAMILY: RUSSIAN SOVEREIGNS (1613-1915)]

ADDITIONAL READING

THE RISE OF RUSSIA. Elementary sketches: J. H. Robinson and C. A. Beard, _The Development of Modern Europe_, Vol. I (1907), ch. iv; H. O. Wakeman, _The Ascendancy of France, 1598-1715_ (1894), ch. viii, xii, xiii; Arthur Hassall, _The Balance of Power, 1715-1789_ (1896), ch. v, xi; A. H. Johnson, _The Age of the Enlightened Despot, 1660-1789_ (1910), ch. iv, v; H. T. Dyer, _A History of Modern Europe from the Fall of Constantinople_, 3d ed. rev. by Arthur Hassall, 6 vols. (1901), ch. xxxvi, xxxviii, xli, xlix, 1. More detailed histories: _Cambridge Modern History_, Vol. V (1908), ch. xvi-xix, and Vol. VI (1909), ch. x, xix; _Histoire générale_, Vol. V, ch. xvi-xviii, xx, Vol. VI, ch. xvii-xix, xxi, xxii, Vol. VII, ch. viii, ix, excellent chapters in French by such eminent scholars as Louis Leger and Alfred Rambaud; V. 0. Kliuchevsky, _A History of Russia_, Eng. trans. by C. J. Hogarth, 3 vols. (1911-1913), authoritative on the early history of Russia, but comes down only to 1610; Alfred Rambaud, _Histoire de la Russie depuis les origines jusqu’à nos jours_, 6th ed. (1914), ch. xiv-xxxii,–an earlier edition of this standard work was translated into English by Leonora B. Lang and published in two volumes, of which the larger part treats of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; James Mayor, _Economic History of Russia_, Vol. I (1914), Book I, ch. iv-vii, especially useful for the economic and social reforms of Peter the Great. On the Russian sovereigns: R. N. Bain, _The First Romanovs, 1613-1725_ (1905), and, by the same author, _Pupils of Peter the Great: a History of the Russian Court and Empire from 1697 to 1740_ (1897); Eugene Schuyler, _Peter the Great_, 2 vols. (1884), a scholarly work; Kazimierz Waliszewski, _Peter the Great_, an admirable study trans. from the French by Lady Mary Loyd (1900), and, by the same author, though not as yet translated, _L’héritage de Pierre le Grand: règne des femmes, gouvernement des favoris, 1725-1741_ (1900) and _La dernière des Romanov, Elisabeth R_ (1902); Alexander Bruckner, _Peter der Grosse_ (1879), and, by the same author, _Katharina die Zweite_ (1883), important German works, in the Oncken Series; E. A. B. Hodgetts, _The Life of Catherine the Great of Russia_ (1914), a recent fair-minded treatment in English. On the expansion of the Russian people: Alfred Rambaud, _The Expansion of Russia_, 2d ed. (1904); F. A. Golder, _Russian Expansion on the Pacific, 1641- 1850_; Hans Übersberger, _Russlands Orientpolitik in den letzten zwei Jahrhunderten_, Vol. I, down to 1792 (1913).

THE DECLINE OF SWEDEN, TURKEY, AND POLAND. On Sweden: R. N. Bain, _Scandinavia, a Political History of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, 1513-1900_ (1905), and, by the same author, _Charles XII_ (1899) in the “Heroes of the Nations” Series. On Turkey: Stanley Lane- Poole, _Turkey_ (1889), in the “Story of the Nations” Series, and E. A. Freeman, _The Ottoman Power in Europe, its Nature, its Growth, and its Decline_ (1877), suggestive outlines by eminent English historians; Nicolae Jorga, _Geschichte des osmanischen Reiches_, 5 vols. (1908-1913), particularly Vols. III, IV, the best and most up-to- date history of the Ottoman Empire; Joseph von Hammer, _Geschichte des osmanischen Reiches_, 10 vols. (1827-1835), an old work, very detailed and still famous, of which Vols. VI-VIII treat of the eighteenth century prior to 1774. On Poland: W. A. Phillips, _Poland_ (1915), ch. i-vi, a convenient volume in the “Home University Library”; R. N. Bain, _Slavonic Europe: a Political History of Poland and Russia from 1447 to 1796_ (1908), ch. v-xix; _Cambridge Modern History_, Vol. VIII (1904), ch. xvii; W. R. A. Morfill, _Poland_ (1893), in the “Story of the Nations” Series; R. H. Lord, _The Second Partition of Poland: a Study in Diplomatic History_ (1915), scholarly and well-written; R. N. Bain, _The Last King of Poland and his Contemporaries_ (1909); U. L. Lehtonen, _Die polnischen Provinzen Russlands unter Katharina II in den Jahren 1772-1782_ (1907), a German translation of an important Finnish work. An excellent French account of international relations in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, affecting Russia, Sweden, Poland, and Turkey, is Émile Bourgeois, _Manuel historique de politique étrangère_, 4th ed., Vol. I (1906), ch. viii, x, xiii.