The Long Nineteenth Century

Generally, the XIX century is considered to the one of the most turbulent and uneasy ones in modern history. It was marked not only with major political events such as Napoleonic wars or wars between Russia and Turkey, but also with crucial economic developments related to industrialization. Cultural and scientific progress made a remarkable difference to the way of life of individual people as well as of the whole states and continents.

XIX century may be considered as a starting period of globalization. Although some scholars name it the period of the great geographic discoveries as the de facto beginning of this process, I disagree with them. I think the XIX century is the period when truly tangible rapprochement and connectivity between countries began. It was inspired and largely spurred by the invention of telephone by Bell and Watson in 1876 and telegraph by Morse in 1835. Also, railroad building boomed, especially in Britain, Germany and later in russia. It had to develop a decent transport infrastructure and to become the main way of transportation..Moreover, XIX century saw the invention of electricity and of the steam engine which, consequently, gave a way to further development of industry and agriculture, new categories of prosperous life.

We most certainly must pay due attention to the demographic outburst that XIX century witnesses. 3,8 to 4,5 billion people lived on the planet in the course of the century; the number may vary according to different data sources, but not drastically. The tendency towards expanding this number was one of the catalysts of the Industrial Revolution which had the idea of substituting a man with a machine.

The XIX century chronologically was transformed to the intellectual period known as the Enlightenment. The European Enlightment period was a witness of the Age of Reason and the Scientific Revolution. It changed the idea of the world and caused the Industrial Revolution that influenced economy around the entire world. The Industrial Revolution had started in Britain where the concepts of a factory, mass production and mechanization were introduced. These innovations required less time and people to be involved in the process of production and manufacture. In addition, The Age of Reason and such political events as American and French Revolutions of XVIII - XIX centuries became the foundation for current idea of democracy. . This idea had an important influence on the next political events and quality of life in general.

Napoleon’s wars and the occupation of European states caused the nationalism growth in these countries. As a result of nationalistic movements, the Austria-Hungary as a state was created as well as the unification of Germany and the unification of Italy. On the other hand, unresolved problems in the Balkans and conflicts between the Triple Alliance and the Entente resulted into the First World War. The war by itself triggered the Russian Revolution and the intervention of the US troops, thus ending the period of isolationism in American foreign policy as well.

One of the distinctive characteristics of the XIX century history was a certain foreign policy tendency called the gunboat diplomacy. It refers to the use of warships as an instrument of foreign policy. It was successfully employed, first of all, by the leading state of the world of that period. It is particularly associated with British imperial policies within the course of the century. Britain’s general naval strategy was to keep most of the fleet in home waters and occasionally dispatch a squadron to a particular region. The purpose was to restore order, to enforce the payment of debts or engage in punitive intervention.

Politically, XIX century became the time of the so-called “European concert of nations” established after the Vienna Congress and the period of decadence of the empires. Britain became the undoubted leader, “the empire that sun always shines upon”. This phrase referring to the cast territories upon which the state spread itself. The leader was followed by the Russian Empire and the German Empire, which established itself after the gruesome period of conflict and war with its traditional friend and rival, France. For Japan, the middle of the XIX century, specifically 1861, became the ultimate ending to the period of reclusive existence on the world arena. For China, this century was marked by the increasingly serious interventions of Western countries wishing to make use of the resources of China as well as its sea ports. In historical science of some countries, these interventions are known as the “Opium Wars”. They are believed to have partly caused the degradation of the Chinese Empire and its subsequent transformation into a communist state after the civil war. In the US, Civil war happened in 1861-1865 followed by the so-called Gilded Age that mostly was marked by pileup of social problems of internal nature. Generally, the century is often called the Victorian Age, according to the particular period in the European history. Ottoman Empire and Mughal Empire were living their last decades. By the end of the century the existing controversies and clashes of interest that existed between the states made the First World War almost inevitable. It was a logical and understandable result of the whole century.