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Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War

By El Volio in Culture
Mon Sep 23, 2002 at 05:06:41 PM EST
Tags: Books (all tags)
Books

Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War examines the first arms race of the twentieth century, that of the modern battleship. Robert Massie lays out the development of the Dreadnought-class battleship and its implications, beginning with Queen Victoria's ascension to the throne and ending with the declaration of World War I. The focus is on the monarchies and constitutional governments, and the book closes with the sequence of declarations of general European war in the summer of 1914.


Interestingly, the book does so from a biographical perspective. Virtually every word is focused on giving the reader a clear picture of the personalities involved, from the Queen herself to Kaiser Wilhelm (referred to unfailingly as William in the book), from Cecil Rhodes to Prince Bismarck. This makes the book somewhat more readable, but leaves the reader with the impression that the arms race (and thus the War) is entirely due to individual personalities. Very little time or attention is given to broader social developments, reducing the citizenry of each nation to little more than observers, often even less given the secrecy behind many of the developments.

Kaiser Wilhelm is especially closely considered, making it clear that, at least in part, his own inferiority complex and vacillation between Anglophilia and Anglophobia led to Germany's near-inexorable march towards war. At times, he desired nothing more than the acceptance and respect of his grandmother and uncle (Victoria and Edward VII); at others, he would repudiate any possible tempering influence they might have had. After Bismarck, one chancellor after another rotated through the government, serving at the Emperor's pleasure (due to Bismarck's design in the constitution). Still, the volatile Emperor was occasionally easily manipulated by experienced politicians without realizing it. In most cases, this maintained peace and allowed the danger of war to pass.

Particular attention is also given to Admiral Jacky Fisher, whose reforms in the British Navy at the close of its heyday are still seen in modern navies all over the world. During the great sail-to-steam conversion, it was his focus on gunnery and simulation of wartime situations that kept his Navy at the top of the game. Realizing the importance of speed in naval operations, he continued to push for steam vessels even when this was still controversial. The development of the modern battleship is due in large part to his driving force, constantly seeking to defend his island nation.

Dreadnought does a fine job of illustrating the developments, both military and political, that led to the declaration of one of the most important wars of the last century, little-discussed though it may be. While Dreadnought spends practically no time on the war itself, gaining familiarity with this era of history leads to a sense of sadness at the loss of the world's innocence nearly one hundred years ago.

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Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War | 31 comments (23 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
2 more WWI book plugs... (4.00 / 3) (#7)
by graal on Mon Sep 23, 2002 at 03:01:05 PM EST

The Guns of August and The Zimmermann Telegram, both by Barbara Tuchman.

--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)

Guns of August (5.00 / 1) (#12)
by rodgerd on Mon Sep 23, 2002 at 07:06:38 PM EST

Has a great deal of detail on German atrocities in places like Belgium. It's something that's downplayed now, but the German troops of WW I acted absolutely appalingly. While there was nothing comparable to the genocide of WW II and the Holocaust, whole communities of Belgian civilians were exterminated and one third of the then-extant medieval manuscripts in the world were destroyed when the Germans razed Universities and museums.

On the other hand, Tuchman flirts more with indulging in stereotyping of the German national character than I find easy to read.



[ Parent ]
A fair point. (none / 0) (#20)
by graal on Mon Sep 23, 2002 at 10:16:37 PM EST

On the other hand, Tuchman flirts more with indulging in stereotyping of the German national character than I find easy to read.
True enough. Her background, as I recall, was in journalism, and not history. The last book of hers I read was The First Salute, which focused on the American Revolution in terms of sea power in general and on the Dutch in particular.

If the Dutch could have gotten their internal house in order during the 17th century, they could have pretty much ruled the world.

--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)
[ Parent ]

She's got some great stuff, though. (none / 0) (#21)
by rodgerd on Tue Sep 24, 2002 at 12:29:10 AM EST

Her March of Folly and her stuff on China are really interesting - and should be required reading for US high schools; her evidence on way the US State Department, Millitary, and Intelligence agencies managed to screw up in China and turn Ho Chi Minh against the US when he courted America should make US citizens think twice about trusting those groups to represent them abroad.



[ Parent ]
March of Folly was awesome. (none / 0) (#24)
by graal on Tue Sep 24, 2002 at 10:32:42 AM EST

It's about time for a re-read. I've got her book on Stilwell on my list and also want to round out the WWI books with The Proud Tower.

For a great break from the modern era, check out A Distant Mirror, which is her book about plague-era (14th cent.) France.

--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)
[ Parent ]

That was my first 8) (none / 0) (#25)
by rodgerd on Tue Sep 24, 2002 at 03:23:55 PM EST

And it really is rich in parallels. My favourite was the rationale behind the sumptuary laws, which mirror various attempts to force people to put their money into the sharemarket for their savings plans.



[ Parent ]
Australia and WWI (4.33 / 3) (#10)
by cam on Mon Sep 23, 2002 at 06:45:58 PM EST

one of the most important wars of the last century, little-discussed though it may be

In Australia, World War I is the most written about conflict Australia has been involved in, predominantly because of Gallipoli and the ANZAC myth stemming from it. One of the oddities of this is that Australia provided much larger forces in World War II and was domestically in greater danger.

At the Armistice of WWII, the RAAF was the fourth largest Air Force on the planet. Also Australian forces staged remarkable victories such as Kokoda and Milne Bay on Australia's doorstep and directly affecting Australia's security, yet Gallipoli, Beersheeba, the Somme and Le Hamel get far more written about them.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic

Founding of the nations (none / 0) (#11)
by rodgerd on Mon Sep 23, 2002 at 07:03:20 PM EST

WW I in general and Gallipoli in particular were key incidents in both New Zealand and Australia waking up to the fact that their future ultimately lay away from Britain. The policy of the unified forces of chucking Empire troops into the most dangerous positions ahead of English troops, and the huges losses by percent of population - aggrivated by the great flu epidemic arriving in New Zealand via returned servicemen - made it a huge impact on the national psyche of the respective countries.

Bear in mind something in excess of 10% of New Zealand's population died outright in WW I, in a war which ultimately seemed rather irrelevant to our future; Australia suffered smaller but comparable losses.

My Geographical History of New Zealand has street maps of then-important cities in New Zealand with causualties mapped on them. There's not a single street in any of them that didn't have at least one fatality. WW II was far milder, by comparison, although it completed the breakaway from the UK when the English surrendered at Singapore and we became dependant on the US to assist with defence (since all the New Zealand forces were in Egypt).



[ Parent ]
New Zealand losses in WWI (none / 0) (#13)
by dirc on Mon Sep 23, 2002 at 07:52:49 PM EST

According to the New Zealand Government, one hundred thousand New Zealanders served during World War I. The total population was just under 1 million. They also state that 18,042 New Zealanders died during the war.

The loss of about 2 percent of the population is not insignificant, but I think your 10% figure is the number who served, not the number who died.

These figures come from the New Zealand Government and Commonwealth War Grave Commission site.



[ Parent ]
Spanish Flu? (none / 0) (#16)
by gsl on Mon Sep 23, 2002 at 09:18:51 PM EST

Is rogerd including losses from the Spanish Flu pandemic? I don't know what it's impact was like in New Zealand, but world-wide it killed more people than died from fighting during WWI. Still, 10% seems a bit steep.

Actually looking a bit further, this link says 8000 died in NZ from the epidemic. Include the 6400 NZers in Europe who died from it and the losses from the flu is comparable to the losses from combat in WWI.

Geoff.
--
NP: Mostly Autumn - The Spirit Of Autumn Past [Styhead Tarn]



[ Parent ]
I'll double-check... (none / 0) (#17)
by rodgerd on Mon Sep 23, 2002 at 09:51:36 PM EST

That may be casualties, not deaths (as in, people crippled and maimed.

The Spanish Flu epidemic is often included because it was introduced to New Zealand by returning soldiers - New Zealand had avoided it by quarantine measures, but they were broken die to demand that "the boys come home".



[ Parent ]
Kiwi's and some British and Dominion (2.00 / 1) (#26)
by cam on Tue Sep 24, 2002 at 10:16:33 PM EST

but I think your 10% figure is the number who served, not the number who died.

I think the Kiwi's have the highest casualty rate per capita, sorry no firm figures. Australia has the highest casualty rate per embarkations. Some more numbers.

Britain

In terms of total deaths, the British Forces (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) had 723,000 deaths, 2,535,424 casualties from a mobilization of 6,147,000. That is a death rate of 118 per thousand mobilized, a death rate of 16 per thousand of population and a casualty rate of 50.71% by embarkations.

Canada

The Canadians had 61,000 totals deaths, 210,000 casualties from a mobilization of 629,000. That is a death rate of 97 per thousand mobilized, a death rate of 8 per thousand of population and a casualty rate of 49.74% by embarkations.

Australia

The Australians had 60,000 total deaths, 215,585 casualties from a mobilization of 413,000. That is a death rate of 145 per thousand mobilized, a death rate of 12 per thousand of population and a casualty rate of 64.98% per embarkations.

New Zealand

The New Zealanders had 16,000 total deaths, 58,526 casualties from a mobilization of 129,000. That is a death rate of 124 per thousand mobilized, a death rate of 15 per thousand of population and a casualty rate of 59.01% per embarkations.

Frightening numbers no matter which way they are looked at. The allied average for deaths per thousand mobilized was 120, Australia and New Zealand were both above that amount, Australia with 145 and New Zealand with 124.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

huh (none / 0) (#22)
by tjb on Tue Sep 24, 2002 at 12:59:21 AM EST

As an American, I find that, well, interesting :)

On the one hand, Gallipoli was a disaster of epic proportions, and Aussie forces took the brunt of it for no good reason whatsoever.  Somme was also a disaster, though British forces were annihilated, I'm sure the empire forces were also killed in mass numbers, though I haven't ever seen the stats on that.  In fact, all of WWI was a disaster, the generals involved had no clue how to prosecute a modern war and zero regard for the lives of their soldiers (except the Germans, which was a large part of why they surrendered without being totally beaten - German generals hated losing troops).  Any country heavily involved in WWI would have bad memories of it, but Australia proper wasn't even remotely threatened in WWI.

On the other hand, Australia was bombed in WW2.  How can you not make a big deal of that?  Not to mention the huge forces they deployed in the Pacific.

I'm totally guessing as to motivation here, but in WWI, Australia could be seen as playing a rather signifcant role.  Gallipoli, though a total disaster at the time, played a large role in the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and British troops were able to use the opening provided by the over-commitment of Ottoman troops to take serious land.  And, as mentioned above, it left a distaste for the Empire for many Australians.

In WW2, in the Pacific, the war was essentially won when the US navy parked four Japanese carriers at the bottom of the ocean near Midway and then took Guadalcanal.  Any serious threat to Australia was ended at that point, the US navy had total control of the seas and an airbase to provide for support of island hopping marines.  The Australian role was that of speeding up the inevitable.  In Europe, while some Australian troops landed at Normandy, once the beachhead was established they were in a more-or-less auxilliary role.

Tim

[ Parent ]

Some comments (none / 0) (#23)
by gsl on Tue Sep 24, 2002 at 02:06:20 AM EST

Gallipoli was a disaster of epic proportions, and Aussie forces took the brunt of it for no good reason

People seem to forget that the landing at Anzac Cove was a walk in the park compared to the British landings at V & W Beaches on Cape Helles. In total the British and French suffered far more casualties during the Gallipoli campaign than the Australians and New Zealanders. Roughly British 21,000 dead, French 10,000 dead, Australians 8,000 dead, New Zealanders, 2,500 dead. As a proportion of the population, it's another matter, of course.

the generals involved had no clue how to prosecute a modern war and zero regard for the lives of their soldiers (except the Germans

I think you credit the Germans with too much compassion for their troops. When they were on the attack in the west in 1914, they attacked in the same reckless fashion as the British and French. 1st Ypres is known to the Germans as "Der Kindermord bei Ypern" -- the Massacre of the Innocents, where student volunteers from the German reserves were slaughtered. Then there's Mons and Verdun -- both bad for the Germans.

And to say all British generals were clueless is an exaggeration. Certainly the likes of Hunter-Weston, who was in command at Cape Helles in Gallipoli, and Hubert Gough were your classic "butchers". And there were plenty of gross incompetents like that bloke in command at Suvla whose name I forget. But generals like Plumer, Maxse, Monash for the Australians, Currie for the Canadians were competent, if not brilliant generals.

On the other hand, Australia was bombed in WW2. How can you not make a big deal of that?

It's a reasonably big deal as far as Australians go. The anniversary of the bombing of Darwin usually rates a mention every year. And recently there's been a bit of attention given to the Battle of Isurava (29th of August, 1942 -- turning point in the Owen Stanley campaign).

Geoff.
--
NP: Mostly Autumn - The Spirit Of Autumn Past [Evergreen]



[ Parent ]
Australia in WWI and WWII (5.00 / 1) (#27)
by cam on Tue Sep 24, 2002 at 11:38:35 PM EST

and Aussie forces took the brunt of it for no good reason whatsoever.

As Geoff said, the British, French and Indians were deployed in the Dardanelles campaign in larger numbers than the Australians and New Zealanders. Because Australian history and Australian media dominates the international telling of the Dardanelles campaign, this is often overlooked.

Before Gallipoli, Britain in Australia was viewed as some mythical camelot home country. Gallipolli and later the Somme is noticable for introducing the average Australian to British fallibility. Something the tommies had been putting up with for a while and now the digger was exposed to.

The Breaker Morant story has since been told in these terms. At the time in Australia the Morant and Handcock trial was viewed as those two getting what they deserved. Nowadays that story is told very differently with Morant and Handcock assumed as dominion scapegoats for Britains political purpose.

though I haven't ever seen the stats on that. In fact

Over 45 days in 1916 during the Somme offensive, the AIF lost 23,000 men in area no wider than a mile. While the Australians distrusted many British Generals after this, Australian Generals were just as capable of killing Australians as the British Generals were.

On the other hand, Australia was bombed in WW2. How can you not make a big deal of that?

In World War I most of what Australia did was a success and gained greater position for Australia. Australia combined the older bush ethic with the ANZAC spirit to make a powerful cultural combination that ended up being the celebration of a nation blooding itself. Australians went over to WWI thinking they were British and discovered they were Australian, so there is cultural recognition of a national culture. Much of the friction between the British and Australians on the subject of discipline were essentially cultural clashes.

Those Australians in WWI validated the Australian way of doing things, the Australian way held up under the extreme stress of combat and didn't fail, the AIF actually over-achieved which has also wound itself into the ANZAC legend.

Australia also forced itself onto the global stage, Billy Hughes signed the Treaty of Versailles as an independant nation rather than a British dominion. Australia was the only dominion to set up an independant air service. Australia asserted the Australian soveriegnty over their Australian troops refusing to allow them to be absorbed into the British forces. There was much to be proud of in Australia asserting itself as an independant nation and recognizing it's growth as an independant nation.

This of course was only 13 years after Federation, but I am still uncertain what role this played in Australian assertion of independance of spirit and character. I think it is more along the lines of the culture was ripe and with 300,000 Australian going overseas ( about 8% of the population ) they got a good dose of the world and the world got a good dose of Australia.

Not to mention the huge forces they deployed in the Pacific.

At the height of US build up in New Guinea, Australian troops outnumbered US troops 3:2. When Guadalcanal was being defended by one lone USMC squadron, New Guinea was being defended by one lone RAAF squadron. At the Armistice, the RAAF was the fourth largest air force, mainly because of it's need to defend the Australian continent and territories.

I'm totally guessing as to motivation here, but in WWI, Australia could be seen as playing a rather signifcant role.

This is the conundrum. In WWI Australia played an insignificant role in terms of allied strategy and tactics. Australian had neither the numbers of the British or French forces, it didnt raise the hardware assets such as aviation or naval that the British of French pushed into action.

A good amount of AIF forces were deployed in Palestine and Syria, but that was a war of logistics which wasnt mastered until Allenby came to the front and the water pipelines and rail were built to support the British and Dominion forces.

In WWII, Australian forces were far more significant to allied strategy and ability to pursue second fronts in 1941 and 1942. By 1943, the US ability to bring arms into place and Australia's lack of ability to replenish manpower made this less obvious but in 1941-1942 Australia was extremely important. However this position of strength in the allied cause by Australia was not used to Australian advantage by Menzies or Curtin. The opposite actually occurred both handed over Australian soveriegnty of forces without any return.

In 1940-1941 it was the movement of Australian divisions to North Africa that gave the allies enough manpower to pursue a second front after the failed Greek and Macedonian campaigns. It was these numbers of Australian forces which helpled route the Italians and Free French in North Africa and Syria, forcing the movement of the Afrika Korps to that front.

The "Rats of Tobruk" were the Australian 7th and 9th Divisions. Apparently Rommel made the remark that if he had a division of crazy Australians he would be in Cairo within a month. The highest scoring squadron of the North African campaign was an Australian squadron as well, plus there was Australian naval assets moved into the Mediterrainian.

This was the time that Menzies and Blamey should have pushed that position of bargaining strength for Australian purposes. Such as greater involvement in strategy at higher levels and for the movement of sorely needed aircraft to Australian shores. Both Churchill and Menzies were Imperialists, and Churchill treated Menzies like a colonial PM. Menzies lost his government over it.

Menzies had also bled most of his military command of the assertive pro-Australian leaders and replaced with with hacks from England who saw Australian policy as Imperial policy first. Replacing the pro-Australian Richard Williams with the British hack Charles Burnett is a good example. Burnett was so bad the Biritish didnt want him, but Menzies being Imperialist knew everything British was better than Australian(my emphasis).

Burnett went in May 1942 but not after the Empire Air Training Scheme had been passed and Australia gave it's young pilots directly to the British Forces. Compare that to WWI when the AIF wouldnt let the RFC recruit into the AIF and wouldnt let RFC officers transfer or command AFC units. Rather than Australian empowerment in WWII we have the cultural cringe.

At the same time as Pearl Harbour was struck, the Japanese invaded Malaya. British, Australian and Indian troops were the main defenders until Singapore when that was surrendered. Again Australians got exposed to British fallibility which had been learnt in 1915, but forgotten by future Australians. It is a fact of martial history Australians perform better when they are managing and leading themselves, however Australian governments past and present do defence on the cheap limiting Australian management of Australians and hence Australian effectiveness and independance.

By May of 1942, Australia had the most troops in the South Pacific, New Guinea was entirely garrisoned by Australian troops, Australia lacked in air and naval assets. The RAN had been tied to RN integration so was useless as an independant fighting force, but it slipped into the USN easily. HMAS Australia was the leading Battle Cruiser in the Coral Sea strike force.

Again Australia was in a position of negotiating strength with it's allies. If the US wanted to pursue a two front war in the Pacific with New Guinea and Guadalcanal it couldnt do it without the Australian Army. This should have been used to negotiate for aircraft to protect Australia's northern shores.

Reinforcing this was the fact that the first allied land victories against the Japanese were by the Australian Army. Milne Bay was the first instance of a Japanese landing force being forced back into the sea.

Instead Curtin handed over sovereignty of Australian troops to MacArthur, probably the worst person to do it to. He treated Curtin like he had the Phillipinos and later the Japanese. Again the cultural cringe, but this time to the US instead of Britain.

MacArthurs vanity knew no bounds, supposedly during the Battle of Brisbane MacArthur hearing the gathering commotion on the street came to his balcony to wave to the admiring throngs. In reality his two main forces, Australian and American were busy fighting each other with fists, clubs and eventually guns.

With the Japanese coming over the Kokoda Track neared Port Moresby, MacArthur feared for his own command with another defeat and ordered Blamey to take over the defence of Port Moresby, this was just as Rowell had got the Japanese to retreat. Again Curtin and Blamey should have said no and allowed Rowell the Australian victory. Again mismanagement on Australia's part.

By the end of 1943, Australian manpower was exhausted from fighting since 1940 in two torrid fronts, and US application of might through aircraft carriers was greater than anything Australia could muster. So Australia's relevance was minimal after Japan broke it's back on Guadalcanal. Australia actually started disbanding troops in 1944 to go back to the home front industries and agriculture to help support the US forces logistical needs such as shoes, carry sacks, food etc.

When you study Australia in WWI you can't study it without ending up interpreting national identity and national growth of independance. One of the major themes is despite the mismanagement of Australians by British, Australians still over achieved. More importantly it is the triumph of Australian independance and the Australian way of doing things.

The reality is slightly different of course, the Australia Corps was led by Monash from mid 1918 and Chauvel was the ranking AIF officer in Palestine. Le Hamel was an Australian victory orchestrated by Monash, as the last successful cavalry charge at Beersheeba was orchestrated by Chauvel.

Compare the themes in WWI to WWII. In WWII we have Australians achieving despite Australian mismanagement at the highest levels. Worse the mismanagement often resulted in the capitulation of Australian sovereignty of Australians to British or US forces.

This is the total opposite of the common notion of the Australian experience of WWI. I dont think Australians want to recognize just yet, the endemic incompetence at highest levels in WWII nor the limited belief in Australian achievement or independance Curtin, Menzies or Blamey showed.

I have also noticed that language in which history is termed is dominated by the nation that puts the most positive spin on their experience. In WWII this is the US, the US tells it's story of WWII in terms of it's notions of liberation and coming of age as a superpower.

In this language the Australian involvement in the South Pacific is often drowned by Pearl Harbour, Midway, Coral Sea, Guadalcanal and Okinawa. This langauge also dominates the popular view of the French, often being seen in light of the defeat in 1940. In WWI the French Army was large, covered the greatest area and took the brunt of most of the German offensives yet still held.

Interesingly I have noticed that other nations are starting to adopt Australia's language on WWI. This is also despite the lack of media saturation that Australia can bring to bear on the world.

In Europe, while some Australian troops landed at Normandy, once the beachhead was established they were in a more-or-less auxilliary role.

I dont believe any AIF troops took part in Normandy nor were any stationed in Europe. RAAF units were, but not infantry.

WWI studies for Australians are fascinating as it isnt solely about martial history it involves so much more, which is probably why they are written about so much. After looking at this in preview I realise I have written a lot! :)

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Error (none / 0) (#28)
by cam on Tue Sep 24, 2002 at 11:52:06 PM EST

.. route the Italians and Free French in North Africa and Syria, forcing the movement of the Afrika Korps to that front.

Sorry meant Vichy French not Free French.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Extensive... (none / 0) (#29)
by El Volio on Tue Sep 24, 2002 at 11:53:07 PM EST

...but I have one question: who are "the tommies" and "the diggers"?

[ Parent ]
Tommies & Diggers (none / 0) (#30)
by gsl on Wed Sep 25, 2002 at 12:46:19 AM EST

The story I am familiar with is that "Tommies" is short for "Tommy Atkins" which is just some name the Duke of Wellington made up to represent your basic British soldier. There seems to be more to it than that.

"Diggers" are Australian infantry (possibly New Zealanders as well, I don't know). So named, presumably, because they did a lot of digging.

Geoff.
--
NP: Camel - A Nod And A Wink [A Boy's Life]

[ Parent ]

Normandy (none / 0) (#31)
by tjb on Wed Sep 25, 2002 at 09:12:50 PM EST

I dont believe any AIF troops took part in Normandy nor were any stationed in Europe. RAAF units were, but not infantry.

I was under the impression that of the five beachheads at Normandy, 2 were US, 2 British, and 1 Empire troops consisting of Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders.  

But perhaps it was only Australian air-cover there...

Tim

[ Parent ]

for another review (4.00 / 1) (#14)
by danny on Mon Sep 23, 2002 at 07:54:50 PM EST

I've also written a review of Dreadnought.

Danny.
[900 book reviews and other stuff]

Thanks (none / 0) (#19)
by El Volio on Mon Sep 23, 2002 at 10:09:03 PM EST

I really enjoyed that; that's a very detailed review. Site has been duly bookmarked.

[ Parent ]
Prince Bismarck? (none / 0) (#15)
by LilDebbie on Mon Sep 23, 2002 at 08:05:34 PM EST

Since when was the great Bismarck royalty? I could have sworn he was merely noble born and served only as an adviser (though he did unify Germany) to the various Wilhelms. Are we talking about a different Bismarck, or am I simply mistaken?

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

Prince Bismarck (4.00 / 1) (#18)
by El Volio on Mon Sep 23, 2002 at 10:05:31 PM EST

On March 21, 1871, shortly after the end of the Franco-Prussian war and the proclamation of the German Empire, Count von Bismarck was raised to prince. He wasn't the crown prince or anything of the sort; this merely denoted his noble status. Actually, he esentially wrote the constitution for the empire, crafting the post of Chancellor (who controlled foreign policy but not the military) for himself, and was much more than an advisor, though later chancellors did not typically wield as much power as he did.

[ Parent ]
Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War | 31 comments (23 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
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