Foreign policy 1868-1880


Gladstone's Foreign policy approach

Believed in the Concert of Europe.

Accepted the code of international law,.


Respected the right to other nations.

Morals were at the heart of his foreign policy.


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Weak, spineless, unworthy of Prime Minister position

Policy was against British interests

Disraeli was his main critic.

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Franco-Prussian War

Britain remained neutral.

Belgium might get involved, which threatened British interests.

Gladstone intervened anf got an agreement that neither side would invade Belgium.

It was a TRIUMPH.

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Britain weren't out of danger.

France were heavily defeated.

Russia renounced the Black sea clause and this threatened British interests.

There was Anti-Russian feeling in Britain.

There was little Gladstone could do as France was on the verge of collapse.

Gladstone put faith in the Concert of Europe which Granville organised. It was a international conference in London that all great powers attended.

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Results of the conference

Diplomatic defeat as clauses were cancelled.

It wasn't a complete faliure as Granville had some success:

- secured an agreement that no government could break part of the treaty unless they all agreed.

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Attitude if the public.

Thought Gladstone acted weakly.

Believed that the Russian's told Britain what to do.

This was exploited by the Conservatives.

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Alabama Case

US demanded $9 million compensation from Britain for her behaviour in the civil war- broke neutrality. And for the damages inflicted by ships (Alabama) in the North.

Led to the Geneva Conference and put faith in International Arbitration.

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US got $3.25 million.

Canada got $1.5 million for damages for her economy.

It was seen that the Liberals acted weakly.

Britain dropped the claim for compensation against US fenian raids on Canada.- Diplomatic defeat.

Defended Britain's economic interests and laid foundation of British and US friendship.

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Disraeli's opinion & Gladstone's defence

Disraeli didn't help on Gladstone's attacks and accused him of dismanting the empire.

His evidence:

- withdrew British troops from Canada and New zealand.

- Offered Canada a Prime Minister, , supporter of independance and a knighthood.

- June 1870 planned to abandon Gambia and France.

Gladstone's defence:

- Those who recieved self-government were responsible for their own security.

- Empire should develop into self governing colonies. 1872 cape colony given self-government.

- 1876 Ashanti King threatened British gold coast, sent military expidition and defeated Ashanti and brought it under British colonial control.

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Eastern Crisis 1875-1878.

Proved to be the most serious problem faced by Disraeli's government.

The Turkish Empire was begining to disintegrate. Why?:

- It was unjust & corrupt: The Balkan Christains overtaxed & persecuted by the Turks.

- Panslav (the unity of all slave people) ideas were spreading.

- Russia promised to stay out of Turkey's affairs only if she reformed. But Turkey did not reform & so a major diplomatic crisis was always likely.

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The Crisis

1875-1976 a crisis erupted as the Balkan States rebelled against their Turkish rulers most notably Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Bulgaria.

The Great Powers tried to contain the crisis to prvent it from turning into a major war.

From 1875-1877 the Dreikaiserbund tried to find a diplomatic solution- The Andrassy note and the Berlin Memorandum both requested that Turkey reform. Turkey did not reform.

In 1877 Russia decided to take direct action and declared war on the Turkish Empire.

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What was Britain's involvement?

1875-1878 British policy towards the crisis was hampered by 3 factors:

- There were major disagreements in the cabinet between those who wanted decisive action (Disraeli) and those who did not (Derby, foregin secretary).

- Disraeli's main aim was to disrupt the Dreikaiserbund. He was suspicious of it and beleived it worked against British interests. Therefore Disraeli's policy was to maintain the ottoman Empire:

              - Against Russian influence.

              - Against Russian warships entering the Med through the straits.

              - To protect her route to India vis te Suez Canal.

- It was difficult for Disraeli to support the Turkish Government after the publication of ht eBulgarian Horrors in 1876 when Turkish troops massacred Bulgarian civillians. This resulted in anti-Turkish agiation led by Gladstone. With public opinion and strong oposition in Parliament against aiding the Turks Disraeli found it to protect British interests.

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Development of British Foreign Policy in the Near,

In July 1875 a revolt broke out against Turkish rule in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Austrians sent the 'Andrassy Note' in December 1875 (supported by the Dreikaiserbund) to the Turkish Government requesting Turkish and economic reforms. And was the 1st diplomatic attempt to end the crisis, Disraeli reluctantly agreed but:

- He was unhappy that the Dreikaiserbund were taking initiative in the area.

- He had not been consulted before the 'Note' was published.

- The insistence on Turkish land reforms might inspire the Irish peasantry.

The 'Andrassy Note' was unsuccessful as the Turk's refused to reform.

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Development of British Foreign Policy in the Near,

The Berlin Memorandum in May 1876 was the 2nd diplomatic attempt by the Dreikaiserbund to resolve the crisis. They demanded a ceasefire in Bosnia-Hersegovina and Turkish reforms.

Disraeli rejected the Dreikaiserbund's attempt at a diplomatic solution:

- The Memorandum was sent to Britain for immediate approval at a weekend- INSULT.

- Derby was reluctant to follow any fixed policy (wary of being drawn into war).

- Most importantly, Disraeli didn't approve of the Dreikaiserbund taking initative again.

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What action did Disraeli take? And consequences.

Disraeli decided to act independently and sent the Navy to Besika Bay.

Impact of this action:

- Made him very popular at home.

- Dreikaiserbund was infuriated.

- The Turks became stubborn believing they could rely on British support against the Dreikaiserbund.

Consequences of Disraeli's action:

- Risked an escalation of the dispute and British involvement in a war.

- His policy of disrupting the Dreikaiserbund helped to prolong and deepen the crisis.

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Summer 1876, the crisis had worsened

- The Turks confident of British support were even tougher on the rebels- The Bulgarian Horrors led to public outrage against the government's pro-Turkish policy.

- The rebellion spread to Serbia and Montenegro.

- There was a rise in Panslav feeling in Russia.

- November 1876, 160,000 Russian troops were moved to the Balkan frontier.

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In defence if Disraeli's Action

Independant states in the Balkans would be dominated by Russia and her expansion into the Balkans, threatened British interests in the Med and India.

The Berlin Memorandum made too many demands on Turkey and so risked foreign intervention.

The naval movement to Beskia Bay helped avoid a Russian invasion in the area.

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Constantinople Conference 1876-1877 & Russian's de

In the end of 1876 Disraeli was concerned at the deteriorating situation. He now took initative and proposed a conference of the Great Powers at Constantinople to force theurks to settle. The Sultan rejected its suggestions still confident of British support in a crisis.

Now the Russian's declared war on Turkey April 1877:

Anti-Turkish public opinion and divisions in the cabinet meant Disraeli was forced into a position of neutrality. But he did secure a promise to the Tsar that he would not capture Constantinople nor send warships through the straints. In 1878 Britain came close to war with Russia. Russian military success against the Turks meant that by Jan 1878 the Russian's reached the outskirts of Constantinople.

Disraeli's action:

Public opinion was now clamouring for war against Russia. But Disraeli's policy was based on threats rather than direct action. So the answer was to make the Russian's believe that Britain would not be prepared to go to war if British interests were threatened. The navy was sent to constantinople to threaten Russia. Russian's agreed to peace talks.

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The Treaty of San Stefano

This marked the end of the Russo-Turkish War and was negotiated between the 2 countires i.e. not a 'European Treaty.' This treaty led to the most serious threat of war between Britain and Russia. In fact this treaty faced opposition throughout Europe. Britain opposed for 3 major reasons:

- It raised the possibility of Russian warships in the Mediterranean through the creation of 'Big' Bulgaria', it was to have access to the Aegean and the Mediterranean. It was feared it would become a Russian satellite.

-It disrupted the European balance of power as Russia now expanded her influence into the Balkans.

- It threatened the existence of the Ottoman Empire as Constantinople and the straits became vulnerable even undefendable.

Under German and British pressure the Russians offered to renegotiate the treaty.

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