Section 9 - History


Foreign Affairs and the Search for Allies

  • When Salisbury retired in 1902 = Britain had no close allies
  • All other great European powers belonged to defensive alliances 
  • Isolation had been highlighted by the Boer War
  • Britain was made aware of its vulnerability if war was declared on Britain by any other European powers
  • Britain's island security could only be broken by naval attack
  • Threat of naval supremacy = building of the Kiel Canal and the passing of the Navy Laws by Germany
  • Final attempt to form an agreement with Germany failed
  • Throughout Salisbury era = Britain remained close with Triple Alliance than Dual Alliance 
  • Years of tension between Russia and Britain 
  • Increase in Russian military presence promoted Britain to consider its first alliance 
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The Anglo-Japanese Alliance, 1902

  • Signing of this alliance signalled the end of 'splendid isolation'
  • Japan = emerging industrial nation and naval power
  • Both anxious about the Russian military build-up in its sphere of influnce
  • If either were attacked by more than one power, the other would help
  • Japan recognised British interests in China and the Pacific
  • Britain recognised Japan's rights in Korea
  • A naval force superior in strength to that of any third power would be maintained
  • Allowed Britain to concentrate on its fleet nearer home
  • Also a warning to Germany who had colonies in the Pacific
  • Japan went to war against Russia in 1904 
  • Britain was able to abide by the terms of the agreement as well as steer clear of any dispute
  • France wanted no involvement 
  • Looked towards Britain for a conclusion to recent friendship talks 
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Relationships with European Powers to 1914

Entente Cordiale, 1904

  • 1902 = Britain finally felt ready to engage in new friendship talks with European neighbours
  • France was ready to lay aside resentment of Britain over Egypt 
  • More anxious about the potential threat from Germany
  • Britain's alliance with Japan concerned them, because tensions between Japan and France's ally Russia - war between Japan and Russia could cause problems between France and Germany
  • Face of navy build up from Germany, a stronger relationship would make sense for Britain regarding France
  • Signing of the Entente Cordial with France was a clear reversal of British policy
  • Signified a closr involvement with Europe
  • France = recognised British occupation of Egypt and the Sudan
  • Britain = recognised French interests in Morocco
  • Entente was not a defensive alliance, or an anti-German alliance
  • Friendly agreement
  • Brought anend to British fear of any Franco-Russian naval cooperation 
  • Moved Britain closer to the possibility of cordial relations with Russia but suspicions still remained
  • Minimised any potential damage caused by the Russo-Japanese War 
  • Upset the Kaiser and created tension with Germany 
  • Slight **** in balance of power in Europe 
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Relationships with European Powers to 1914

  • Britain avoided clarifying the extent of its allegiance with France
  • Situation of growing unease between old neighbours 
  • No further references to Britain's 'splended isolation'
  • Increasing tension and suspicion made relationships difficult
  • Europe was on the brink of war on many occassions
  • Grey aimed to strengthen relationships and lessen the mistrust 
  • Imperative for Britain to maintain a naval presence worldwide 
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Relationships with European Powers to 1914

Germany Rivalry

  • Kaiser regarded Britain as a commerical and Imperial rival
  • Ambitions to create for Germany an overseas empire justified his naval expansion
  • Germany had always been considered to be a land power 
  • Had a huge conscripted army to protect its extensive borders 
  • Short coastline and few colonies
  • Navy Laws were seen as a direct threat to Britain's security
  • Defence = Britain operated the two-power standard
  • Britain maintained the same strength in fighting ships as the sum of the next two naval powers
  • Difficulty = preserving its strong naval presence and concentrating enough ships in the North Sea to compete with the growing German fleet
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Relationships with European Powers to 1914

Naval-build up:

  • 1905 = British and German naval rivalry existed
  • Next 10 years = tried to outdo each other in the construction of battleships
  • Plans to improve naval defence were started under Balfour's government
  • Dreadnought made all other battleships obsolete
  • Attempts by Britain to persuade Germany to halt the race failed
  • Bannerman had reduced the number of dreadnoughts being built in 1906
  • Germany responded by increasing production
  • British press reports caused public alarm
  • Government increased dradnought production
  • Cost was immense 
  • 1914 = Britain had a clear lead with a total of 29 compared to 17 in Germany
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Relationships with European Powers to 1914

British Army Reforms: 

  • Anxiety was mounting over German hostility
  • Liberals reviewd the state of the British Army
  • Britain's army could never compete with the size of conscripted armies 
  • Haldane introduced a General Staff to achieve better planning of operations and coordination and a volunteer territorial army to supplement the professional army 
  • An Officers' Training Corps' was established in public schools
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Relationships with European Powers to 1914

The Moroccan Crises and the Entente with Russia:

  • Kaiser tried to cause a rift between Britain and France 
  • Also test the strength of their relationship
  • Morocco = one of few semi-independent territoris remaining in Africa 
  • France was keen to increase its sphere of influence there
  • Adjacent to French Algeria, had extensive iron ore deposits, stratgically important position and had a weak ruler
  • Kaiser visited Morocco = declared his support for its indepedence 
  • Criticised French ambitions
  • Kaiser called an international conferences in Spain to settle Morocco's position
  • Grey came out in France's claims over Morocco, followed by Russia, Spain and Italy
  • Germany was defeated and isolated
  • The conference had brought France and Britain closer together and led to the start of informal Anglo-French military talks, in which plans for possible future action swere discussed
  • Kaiser's action caused anxiety that Germany was trying to establish domination
  • Short-sighted policy and made Grey determined to continue his support of France and look towards an understanding with France's ally Russia 
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Relationships with European Powers to 1914

  • 1907 = Britain signed an Entente with Russia 
  • Most areas of conflict between them were settled
  • Now possible to plan to concentrate Britain's Expeditinary Force in Europe 
  • 1911 = French troops occupied the Moroccan Capital Fez to protect th Sultan from an internal revolt 
  • Kaiser claimed compensation for German citizens living in Morocco 
  • Sent a warship to the Moroccan port of Agardir
  • Britain responded to the Kaiser's bullying tactics 
  • Left in no doubt that Britain would come to France's aid if necessary 
  • Entente with Britain and France was loking more likely an alliance than understanding
  • Britain and France began naval talks
  • Anti-German feeling was developing in Britain 
  • Tension between Germany and Britain was dangerously close to an outbreak 
  • Neither side wanted war 
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Bosnia and the Balkans

Annexations of Bosnia:

  • 1908 = Austria took advantage of a revolt in Turkey 
  • Annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Action roused nationalist feelings in Serbia and increased hostility towards Austria 
  • Balkans was not an area of immediate concern for Britain or France
  • Germany took the opportunity to undermine Russia by putting pressure on them to recognise Austria's annexation
  • British and French concern about Germany were raised
  • Russia embarked on a rearmament programme to strengthen its position
  • Cautious references were made to a Triple Alliance betwen Russia, France and Britain
  • Remained a diplomatic alliance 
  • Emphasised the alignment of the European powers in two blocs
  • Germany was in danger of the encirclement it most feared - Britain, Russia and France
  • Primarily defensive alliance
  • Neither system was made as a preparation for war
  • Rather as an attempt to preserve peace 
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Bosnia and the Balkans

The Balkan Wars, 1912-13

  • Britain did involve itself indirectly with the Balkan wars
  • Attempt to prevent hostility escalating between Austria and Serbia 
  • The Balkan League = Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria 
  • Defeated the Ottoman Turks and chased them out of Europe
  • Victory for Balkan Nationalism
  • Germany, Austria and Russia each had cause for concern at the potential power of the victorious independent Balkan nations 
  • Austria was particularly concerned with the growing influence of Serbia 
  • Grey called the Conference of London to settle the territorial outcome of the war
  • Agreement between Britain, Germany and Austria 
  • General satisfaction of the European powers
  • Serbia and Bulgaria fell out over their gains and there was a brief second Balkan War
  • Bulgaria was defeated and a large and powerful Serbia was created
  • Agreement in London = German and British tension were eased
  • It was the calm before the storm 
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Europe at War, June to August 1914

  • 28th June 1914 = Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Bosnia
  • Lit the fuse that sparked off the Great War, 1914-18
  • Austria accused Serbia of complicity in the assassination 
  • War was declared on Serbia on the 28th July
  • Russia came to the aid of Serbia and Germany declared War on Russia = 1st August
  • Germany declared war on France = 3rd August
  • Looked at thought Britain would be drawn 
  • German troops marched into Belgium to knock France out of the war 
  • Germany had breached the Treaty of London of 1839 
  • Britain declared war on Germany on 4th August 1914
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Reasons for Britain's Entry into War

  • Britain was not obliged to help France, but there was a moral duty to do so 
  • Attack of France threatened British security
  • German Naval build up also caused anxiety for Britain
  • Relations with Germany had worsened 
  • No outstanding dispute between them 
  • Britain's fear was that Germany would defeat France and Russia would be in a position to dominate Europe - Britain could not run that risk 
  • Germans did not think Britain would feel strong enough with the BEF
  • Haldane's reforms produced an effective force
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The Challenge to Liberalism

Decline of the Liberals?

  • Liberalism had traditionally gone hand in hand with Radicalism 
  • 1906 = Liberals greatest electoral successes
  • Followed this up by establishing a government of extreme talent which carried out many far-reaching reforms in an attempt to address the problems of poverty
  • Liberals then faced the challenge of taking Britain through war 
  • After the war = Liberals power had vanished 
  • In its place was the Labour Party 
  • Astonishing political turnaround - many indicators along the way
  • Liberals had left behind bitter divisions over Home Rule and Imperalism 
  • Difficult to tell whether these divisions had weakened the party to contribute to Labour
  • Victories of the Liberals were due to Conservative problems too
  • 1915 = Britain was facing a major crisis in terms of shortage of men and munitions
  • A split developed between those like Lloyd George and those like Asquith 
  • Liberals were left weakened  
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The Labour Party in 1906

  • Viable alternative to the other political parties
  • Taff Vale Judgement and refusal of Balfour to introduce legislation to protect unions had brought a huge increase in union support for the LRC
  • LRC were able to put up mroe candidates for election with increased funds
  • Lib-Lab Pact = crucial for the advance of the Labour Party
  • Election of 29 MPs was undeniable success 
  • Labour was keen to maintain the agreement for the future
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Labour's Failure to Make an Impact, 1910-15

The Osborne Case, 1909, and payment of MPs

  • Osborne, a Liberal, objective to his trade union (ASRS), using part of his union subscription to support Labour and the case went to the House of Lords
  • Decision was made in favour of Osborne 
  • It was now illegal for trade unions to use their funds for political purposes
  • Huge blow for Labour whose MPs could not afford to take their seats without financial backing
  • Party's continuing pact with the Liberals became vital
  • Situation was eased y the introduction of payment to MPs in 1911 
  • Partial reversal of the Osborne Judgement in 1911 with the Trade Union Act
  • Allowed the unions to set up a separate political fund
  • Threat had been removed by the actions of the Liberals 
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Criticism of Labour

  • Criticism from Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Fabian Society 
  • Labour had failed to put its socialist principles into practice
  • Lack leadership
  • Appeared to be merely a wing of the Liberals 
  • Labour came bottom of the poll in every by-election from 1910 to 1914
  • Lost four seats 
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Trade Union Unrest, 1911-14

  • Period of significant industrial unrest 
  • Many strikes and lock outs
  • Trade union membership doubled to about 4 million
  • Triple Alliance = miners, the railwaymen and transport workers 
  • Formed for mutual support during strike action
  • Rise of syndicalism among some unions 
  • Had a limited following in Britain compared to other countries
  • Tensions between the union movement encouraged the leaders of the traditional trade unions to move away from middle-class Liberalism and lend support to Labour 
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Irish Nationalism

  • Push for self-government had faded after Gladstone in 1894
  • Bitter feuding kept the parliamentary Home Rule Party weak and divided
  • Party split after the death of Parnell in 1891
  • Underlying support remained, little open rebellion
  • Salisbury's tough measures quietened the calls for Home Rule
  • 1903 = Land Purchase Act that finally brought in terms that were favourable to the majority of tenants to buy the land they worked, and the landlord was content with the amount paid 
  • Government poured £86m into the scheme
  • 1915 = almost two-thirds of Irish farmers owned their land 
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Re-Emergence of Home Rule

  • John Redmond led the minority Parnellite Nationalists during Salisbury's Government 
  • Maintained a low profile
  • 1900 = able to reunite the pary
  • Influence during the first Liberal government was non-existent
  • 1910 = 80 seats won and they held the balance of power between the Liberals and Conservatives 
  • Asquith needed the promise of the Irish Nationalist vote in the Commons to deal with the crisis
  • Given by Redmond
  • Reward was the 1911 Parliament Act 
  • Feelings were running high between allparties as they contemplated the outcome of the Home Rule Issue 
  • Asquith introduced another Home Rule Bill in 1912
  • Passed by the Commons, with the Irish Nationalist vote, but rejected by the Lords
  • Parliament Act would only allowed a 2 year delay 
  • Expected to become a law in 1914
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Ulster, 1912-14

  • Not the happy ending to a campaign of sustained electoral support for Home Rule
  • Question of Ireland's future was thrown into the melting pot as the Protestant Ulster Unionists threatened to revolt if they were pushed unwillingly into a Catholic-dominated Ireland
  • Forced to sever ties with Britain 
  • Ulster Unionists began to resist the introduction of Home Rule 
  • Mobilised their forces
  • Led by Carson who whipped support for separate treatment for Ulster
  • Recruited an 'army' of 100,000 Ulster volunteers - the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
  • Illegal organisation to prepared to use force 
  • Carson bought guns from Germany and organised the signing of the Ulster Solemn League 
  • Protestant pledge to defend their right to remain part of the union 
  • New Conservative leader resented the Parliament Act and the power it gave the Irish Nationalist MPs 
  • Relations between the politicians at Westminster became extremely tense as the Conservatives sought means to preserve the union
  • Law dropped a bombshll by promising Conservative help for the Ulster rebels in their defiance of the will of parliament 
  • Asquith was faced with a dangerous and seemingly itractable situation 
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The Curragh Mutiny

  • Liberals accepted the need to offer a special concession to Ulster
  • To appease its Protestant majority 
  • Aswuith inserted an exclusion clause into the Home Rule Bill
  • It would allow the people of any Irish county to vote to opt out of a united Ireland 
  • Temporary measure which would be reversed after 6 years
  • Danger of civil war became very real
  • 1914 = rumours that British army officers stationed in South Dublin would 'prefer to accept dismissal' than fight against fellow Protestants
  • Law was implicated in this act of near treason 
  • Seely was forced to resign after he agreed not to use the army in Ulster 
  • Asquith = weak handling of this situation in which army officers appeared to be dictating government policy, and for underestimating the seriousness of the threat from Ulster 
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Re-Emergence of Home Rule

  • Various movements for Irish nationalism were emerging at the turn of the 20th century
  • Formation of the Gaelic League in 1893 encouraged an Iirsh Literary revival
  • The Irish Republican Brotherhood resurfaced
  • Sinn Fien was founded by Arthur Griffith in 1905 
  • Irish Labour Movement campaigned for a socialist society - set up the Irish Citizen Army
  • Nothing much was heard of any of these groups until the Home Rule crisis
  • Shared a dislike of English domination and preferred independence rather than Home Rule
  • 1913 = Irish Volunteers were formed as a response to the Ulster Volunteers 
  • Soon infiltrated into the Irish Republican Brotherhood 
  • Ready to challenge government if Ireland was denied freedom 
  • Sinn Fein increased its influence 
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Home Rule for Ireland

  • Home Rule Bill was passed through the Commons for the third time in 1914
  • Still no solution for Ulster and an all-party conference in July failed to find compromise
  • Arms smuggling and gun running by both the UVF and the Irish Volunteers brought Ireland to the edge of civil war 
  • Home Rule was due to become law in 1914 but hostilities between the major European powers broke out at the end of July, it was agreed to suspend Home Rule until the end of war
  • Carson's UVF immediately signed up to join the war effort
  • Redmond persuaded the Irish Volunteers to do the same
  • Both sides hoped that their loyal action would bring the government around 
  • Home Rule failed to offer the solution that Ireland needed
  • Majority of Irish Volunteers followed Remond
  • Small extreme group split and prepared for insurrection against the British government 
  • Carried this out in 1916
  • Troubled years ahead for Ireland and Britain 
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The Impact of Coming War

  • Asquith recieved the confidence of the Commons to continue in government and manage the war, although many had wavered and there were two resignations from the Liberal Cabinet 
  • Asquith appointed Kitchener Secretary of State for War 
  • Virtually relinquished political control
  • Asquith's poor reputation as a war leader
  • Many thought war would be over by Christmas
  • 'Business as usual'
  • Wave of patriotism at home encouraged young men 
  • 1 million volunteer came forward 
  • Basic weapons and training in Ireland before being shipped to France 
  • The Defence of the Realm Act was passed in August 1914 
  • Gave government wide powers to introduce restriction on the civilian population whilst at war
  • Measures = slow but remarkable as it approved State intervention
  • Income tax was doubled and  press cennsorship in place
  • Everything was played down 
  • Full cooperation from the workforce established 
  • Striking was made illegal 
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