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War And Revolution In The Eighteenth And Twentieth Centuries

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War and Revolution in the Eighteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Wars in the Eighteenth and Twentieth Centuries, although more than a hundred years apart, shared similar effects and consequences in society that in turn led to revolutions that changed the course of history itself. Often the relationship between war and revolution is characterized by the rapid but certainly important change in social structure of nations. Revolutions produce enough impact to shatter the social structure of a society and implement a new one, although this one may not be accepted easily in its beginning. The conflict that arises as a result of the new structure altering the old one, often leads to initial acts of violence between both supporters. Ultimately, such violence escalates into international conflicts as a result of clashing social and political systems. On the other hand, wars in themselves set the stage for subsequent revolutions as a result of out coming tensions. More often than not, wars solve a problem but create another, as it has been seen throughout history. These newly created problems initially seen as tensions escalate into conflicts that may induce social change and therefore, set the stage for a revolution. The chain reactions produced over time by wars and revolutions show their relationship as one of codependence, one mingling with the other, blurring the line between one’s cause and the other’s effect; creating a cycle that would set in motion series of events leading to all the radical changes occurring in world society.

The Eighteenth century was a century of rising conflicts between old powers, as France, Spain, and England and emerging powers like Prussia. This period of time created the first feelings of nationalism as these old regimes tried to balance each other’s power so that none would get to have an advantage over the other. This goal was countered by the general desire of powers to prove their might to other nations. In the War of the Spanish Succession, dating from 1701 to 1713, Louis XIV, Bourbon King of France and Leopold I from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, fought to obtain the throne of Spain since the last king of the Habsburg dynasty, James II left no heir. Since the beginning of his reign, Louis XIV had created an absolute monarchy that led to superior unity and resistance to internal conflicts. This centralization of power allowed for the King to expand outwards to other regions such as Naples in Italy. This success in both internal and foreign policy was much envied and feared by the surrounding powers. Thus, the European nations, mainly England and the Dutch Republic supported the Holy Roman Empire’s side to prevent French expansion and preserve their current positions in the world. Ultimately, this ordeal caused for increased tensions that would lead to subsequent wars in the same century.

Thirty-seven years later, another war broke out, this one including new emerging powers, the War of the Austrian Succession. The war centered on an attack made by the Prussian King, Frederick II, to the Austrian controlled province of Silesia. Although his pretext was that he had dynastic claim to that land, the true reason was expansion based on the weaknesses of Maria Theresa. Similarly to the Spanish succession this war showed how the powers wanted to empower themselves and expand.

Although the succession wars did not create any immediate significant change it did, however, alter the aggressiveness with which countries wanted to expand and show their power. These successions, as well as rising imperialistic tensions, set the stage for the first Global war between the European powers. The Seven Years War came about when nations where at their height in production and expansion. England attacked France because of France’s overseas territories and soon all other powers began to take sides in accordance with their interests. The Treaty of Paris, signed by Great Britain, France, and Spain on February 10, 1763, ended the war. It stated that France ceded Canada and all its territory east of the Mississippi River to England, and Spain yielded Florida to England. Worldwide, France was humbled and the treaty marked the start of the colonial and maritime supremacy of Great Britain. The war was the greatest the world had ever seen and its culmination allowed for some alleviation of the conflicts that led to it, yet they created others that would in turn lead to the most important revolution in history.

As a result of the seven years war as well as an inability to correctly manage its resources, France entered a phase of mass discontent. The deteriorating economy, abusive monarchy and greedy nobility, drove the people to “ask” for a change. After the calling of the Estates General matter took a turn for the worse. The middle class realized their newfound power and made an Oath вЂ"Tennis Court Oath вЂ"that they would not leave Paris until they obtained just representation as the majority of the population. These radical ideas complimented with the effects of the Enlightenment, produced a new radical movement that no longer conformed itself with obeying the monarchy and nobility but instead wanted to rule without their presence. With this in mind the French revolution eliminated the monarchy and turned the French nobility into Ð"©migrÐ"©s. A constitutional monarchy was instituted and now the king had to share his power with the common people. This change in government did not alleviate the conflicts that arose it, instead the showed the people that with unison they could make any change they desired. With this new idea in mind the French Revolution ascended into a completely new level of radicalism. The king Louis XVI was killed and a republic was instituted but even that did not go further enough, in 1793 Maximillian Robespierre made himself dictator and instituted the Reign of Terror. This stage was characterized its radicalism and proved to be the most deadly phase of the French Revolution and the one that began to frighten all powers showing that this revolution was not a transitional effect but instead a movement to be feared by all. This radical phase escalated to such levels that it caused an opposite radical movement called the Thermidorian Reaction which was a stage of terror against the radicals advocating for the French revolution. This reaction sought to remove the reign of terror and go back to just a normal republic. A directory was established and a new stage of great conservatism emerged. Similarly, all the world powers began to become more and more conservative in fear that a revolution would spread in their soil. France entered a new phase with the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. A member of the triumvirate, Napoleon began to expand the French empire to limits never



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