Tuesday, 15 October 2013

WDF 25.3 Stuff

Hey history friends, welcome to the new episode on the 30 Years War! This time we look at Freddy's acceptance of the crown of Bohemia, the revolt in Bohemia itself, and look at Ferdinand's treatment of the rebels and his not so stellar reputation.

Here's the bibliography, and remember to check the post further down for the maps. Note that, to my immense embarrassment, the 'C.W. Wedgewood' that I've been referring to is actually a Ms C.v. Wedgewood, apologies for the confusion!

Peter Wilson, Europe's Tragedy; a History of the Thirty Years War (Penguin Group Publishing; 2001).
Geoffrey Parker, Europe In Crisis 1598-1648 (Fontanna Press; 1990).
David Maland, Europe at War 1600-1650 (MacMillan Press; 1980).
G. Pages, The Thirty Years War 1618-1648 (A & C Black Ltd; 1970 (translated in 1970, originally published in 1931) ).
C. V. Wedgewood, The Thirty Years War (New York Press Review; 2005).
David Sturdy, Fractured Europe 1600-1721 (Blackwell Publishers; 2002).


Friday, 11 October 2013


Are you a tad confused by my state hopping? Fear not, the HRE really is a very confusing place, so I scoured the net for a map of the HRE that would fill in some of the gaps for you guys and settled on this one. It's not prefect, but does a good job of showing you that each so-called state is actually like a Land-Polynesia of states surrounded by other states, connected only by a common prince.
Look in Particular for the min names I spout off in the next episode, such as Bohemian and the Palatinate. Look at Bohemia, seems simple right? That's because Bohemia has the fortune of being an actual kingdom, so it doesn't look like a child attempted to draw it into a map of Europe. Now look at Mainz. This Electorate is a vital 'state' in the HRE because it provides one of the votes during the voting for the next Holy Roman Emperor. But look at its lands. See that pink in the HRE with the words 'Elect. of Mainz' written across it? Well follow that pinkish colour southwards aswell, because it pops up in little bits all throughout Austria. Now you see my dilemma; if I was to tell you where Mainz actually was, I'd be describing Austria's location!

Anyway you get the idea. Here's a few maps that'll hopefully give you a better picture of the HRE geographical situation.

And this one, a little more city-oriented:

Finally, Here's a handy link to a map of the HRE that you can really zoom in on. It's from 1789, but still.
-> http://www.zonu.com/fullsize-en/2009-12-21-11431/Holy-Roman-Empire-1789.html

Hope that clears up some of the confusion for you history friends, WDF 25.3 out soon!

Monday, 23 September 2013

WDF 25.2 Bibliography and more

Hi history friends, I know it's been a really long time coming, over three weeks in fact, but at last the third part of the special on the 30 years war is your to listen to, and here's a few reasons why it took so flaming long.

College: as you've seen from the previous post, college is back up and running, which means I have more work to do (5 4,000 word essays...) and less time to pod
Work: As in a certain coffee shop beginning with C and ending with O. This takes a lot of my time, but on the bright side I should be working there less soon since I'm back to college.
GTA 5: Ok that's not even true, since I haven't been able to play this game nearly as much as I'd like, but still, the temptation to procrastinate is strong with this one.

Basically, what I'm trying to say is, in order to churn out the quality of product I want to churn out, a little more time will have to be taken. That's not to say I want to spend 3 weeks every time, in fact I'm aiming for 2 podcasts a month, which I figure is good work considering I'm in my 3rd and most heavy work year of college. Anyway, because I have a lot on my plate, I'd like to remind you that your support REALLY IS IMPORTANT. Keep BE-ing FIT, because you can never do that too much!

The two sources I used for this episode will reappear next time and likely all over this special, simply because they are so good, so check 'em out if you can.

·         Peter H. Wilson, Europe’s Tragedy; A History of the Thirty Years War (Penguin Group Publishing).
·         Geoffrey Parker, Europe In Crisis; 1598-1648 (Blackwell Publishers Ltd.)

Well, that's about all I have to say, I better get back to college work (ahem, GTA 5....)


Sunday, 8 September 2013

Who is Zack Twamley? Part One: College.

Hello history friends, hope this post greets you well. I've been asked many times exactly what it is I'm doing in college. Some of you would know that I'm studying History and Politics with International Relations in University College Dublin, but those of you that know universities and know them reasonably well may want a little more info on exactly what it is I'm studying when I mention it ad hoc on the podcast. Apologies if this post seems a tad self-indulgent or long-winded, but I feel as my listeners, you do have a right to know what it is I study, so that when I do go to inform you of something of the podcast or perhaps teach you something you weren't aware of, you can see here that I at least have a bit of a right to do that. Maybe.

the UCD logo>

A little bit of background info first. University College Dublin (UCD) is the largest college in Ireland with about 30,000 students. Its campus houses other buildings such as Engineering and Science, and I understand  that a Law building is being made, as well as an expanded Engineering campus for all those tech heads. There is also a great deal of nursing, agricultural science and technology courses available. For me though, and thousands of others like me, I am studying arts. What is arts you may ask? Well, for starters, it has nothing to do with actual art. What it does entail is either picking two subjects (a joint major) focusing more on one subject than the other (major-minor) or just focusing on the one subject (single subject major) for your degree. This is where I come in. I am a part of the arts program, which means that at the end of my 3 year course I will (hopefully) receive my Bachelor of Arts (BA) from UCD, and progress onto other things from there if I wish.

One of the many lecture halls I find myself in>

I am doing a joint major in history and politics, which means that I should be spending equal time between both history and politics for my studies, and means that I don't have to have a favourite, though realistically I often do. The BA program is split into 2 stages in its 3 year form. 1st year is referred to as Stage 1, in which you have 60 credits. Each subject is worth (generally) 5 credits, so that means I should complete 12 modules over 1st year within my BA program. Honestly, 1st year was a bit shit, since I had to do certain subjects and didn't really get a chance to specialise. That's what made 2nd year at least somewhat better. 2nd and 3rd year are grouped together in the case of the BA program into what's called Stage 2. I'm not really sure why they do this, but regardless, I must complete 120 credits for Stage 2 which, yes, is just the same as completing 2 years worth of credits (60 and 60 again).

2nd year itself was ok; I was introduced to some subjects I did like (International Relations, Comparative Politics, International Peace and History) and some I did not (Individuals and the State). The exams went quite well to be quite honest, and by the end of it I had completed 60 credits, and knew that for 3rd year I'd have to do another 60. Then a few things changed, including the history course, and after a bit of stress I was at last able to register for my 3rd year subjects and see the final stages of my degree flesh itself out. I have to say, I like what I see.

On a sidenote, electives are subjects that do not necessarily have anything to do with my core subjects (in this case Politics and History). For Stage 2 (remember 2nd AND 3rd year) I had to take in total 20 elective credits to make up my 120 credits, but didn't take any in 2nd year, thinking I'd save my 20 elective credits for 3rd year. To cut a long story short, it's all worked out, so here's what my degree looks like in 3rd year.

Semester One.
=> Politics, Culture and Diplomacy in Post-Westphalian Germany.
Yes, this is EXACTLY my cup of tea. This module covers the rise of Prussia as the Holy Roman Empire declines. It follows from 1648 onwards, which should give an indication as to why the special I'm doing on the 30 Years War is so well-fitted to my degree at this stage too. In short, it's exactly what I want, and I'm so pleased to be able to specialise in this way. Hopefully, the course WON'T cover the entire period we all know so well (1870-1945) since I really feel it's been done to death. I'll keep you guys posted, but I am hopeful that I'll be seeing parts of Germany that I haven't really seen before.

the post-Westphalian peace settlement is a concept we'll examine in the not too distant future

=> Debates in History.
My only core module in 3rd year history. It covers the kinds of ideas propagated by history peeps and I'm looking forward to debating with people over things that they are wrong about. Seriously, I am looking forward to writing my mandatory 4,000 essay (or paper to my American friends) on something I'm passionate about. The possibilities are hopefully endless.

=> Latin American Politics.

Interesting ay? I went for this subject on a bit of a whim, but I am looking forward to learning more about a region in which I know very little. Also, because I'd be interested in learning more about the history of the region, I figure gaining a good grounding in the politics of those states now would be a good place to start.

Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, second right, with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez,
Bolivia's Evo Morales and Ecuador's Rafael Correa at the meeting in which they
talked about regional integration in Manaos, Brazil, October 2008. Go team South America! 

=> Integration, Fragmentation and the Global System.
A rather long title for a subject that basically translates as 'we're gonna look at the world today and decide how things have changed, how they've stayed the same and why; on international terms.' It's one of those standard international relations modules which, while interesting, usually don't go into too much detail. Hopefully for 3rd year this will change.

Semester Two.

everyone knows about knights, but I'm looking forward to seeing a different side of the Middle Ages too.

=> Kingdoms and Empires in the Restless Middle Ages.
Focusing on the period 800-1300, this module will give me a better understanding of a period I've kind of been avoiding in the podcast. The world was a very different place at this time, different ideas were floating around and the map of the world looked vastly different to how it looks in most of my episodes. It'll be a trial run for me in many ways, to see if bringing the podcast to any part of the era in particular would be viable. Of course, it'll also be incredibly interesting to venture through a period of history I hadn't given much thought to before.

=> Politics of the European Union.
Yes, it does sound a bit lame, but the hope is that there will be a proper focus on the EU's acting in the world, and its place in it, as well as the world views it, rather than the extremely dull focus I'd been subjected to before, in which we spent a nerve freezing semester examining the institutions of the EU and what they did. I'm a tad skeptical that UCD will satisfy my craving for a proper EU politics module, but I'm willing to be proven wrong!
=> Politics of Constitutions.
Now this one may sound a bit iffy, but I have a good feeling about it. It examines basically what states are made of from the ground up focusing on, you guessed it, their constitutions; the blueprints of those states. It then compares states across the globe and determines who takes their constitution seriously....and who doesn't. Should be an interesting change of pace.

Perhaps the most famous constitution, but I hope to see some others too!

=> International Political Economy.
Two of the words in this module title I like, the other scares the crap out of me. I'm not one for economics once it starts to really put a microscope over heavy economic terms, so I'm hoping that this module won't do that too much. On the one hand, it could be a good change of pace from what I'm used to; looking at the world through the eyes of money, rather than just politics. On the other hand, it could be a horrendous mistake, and I could be bombarded with terms that I have no hope of remembering or understanding. Here's to it being the former.

=> Homer and the Age of Heroes.
Introducing the first of my electives that take a giant leap out of my apparent comfort zone; this module deals with Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, with special reference to the epic heroes Achilles and Odysseus. The lectures will begin by examining the historical background of the Trojan War, and the context in which the Iliad and the Odyssey were composed around 725-700 B.C. The lectures will also discuss the structure, characters, and main themes of the two works. I'm not too keen on the text examination part, though I do feel that that'd do no harm to my overall historical skills, and I do look forward to learning more about the period.

Time for a trip to Troy perhaps? Definitely have to rewatch the movie at least! 

=>Virgil's Aeneid.
When Virgil began writing his epic poem the Aeneid, Augustus was establishing his imperial rule. While Virgil's contemporaries, and generations to come, greeted the Aeneid as a celebration of Augustan Rome, modern readers tend to view it as a powerful denunciation of war and imperialism. This module explores the ways in which the text engages with both political ideologies and the literary tradition. I am certainly looking forward to examining the historical era, but as I said before a heavy examination of any text isn't really my cup of tea.

And that's about it. Two things you should have noticed from this outline of my 3rd year. First, I have way more work in semester two than semester one, yes I realise this, but it just kind of happened that way because of timetable constraints etc. Second, I am on paper doing more politics than history modules. In actual fact, the workload should be the same. The way it works in 3rd year history at UCD is, those two awesome sounding modules on the Middle Ages and Germany are worth 10 credits each, and require a more intensive learning process than the other subjects (worth 5 credits each) in politics (or in my electives) as a result.

So that's me then, if you have any questions, or have been genuinely intrigued by these revelations I'd love to hear from you, so please contact me via the Facebook page or via email, wdfpodcast@hotmail.com

Until then, thankssssss, and I hope to be working on part three of the 30 Years War Special very soon!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

WDF 25.1: SPECIAL= The Thirty Years War Part Two: The Germans and the East

I'm back history friends, with the biblio and some helpful maps for you!

The Spanish Road:

And The Balkans, this should give you an idea of the Ottoman-Habsburg dueling over the period known as the Long War:

Herein lies the bibliography:

Geoffrey Parker, Europe In Crisis 1598-1648 (Fontanna Press; 1990).
Richard Bonney, The Thirty Years War 1618-1648 (Osprey Publishing; 2002).

Mieczysław B. Biskupski, The History of Poland (Greenwood Publishing Group; 2000).


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

WDF 25.0 Bibliography & More

History friends! I know we were a bit late, but as usual I have a really uninteresting techhy reason for the lateness; basically my lappy had to ruin itself on me. Currently I'm still installing the insane number of updates required by windows, though I thankfully backed up everything before I wiped the hard drive. Once again I was driven mad by technology, and the whole laptop episode probably set me back about 3 days podcast work. But there you go, my luck is bad, and yet the podcast is hopefully up to your standards! 

I added some extra music this time around, I hope you enjoy it! Expect the next installment of WDF 25 in about a week. I am genuinely TRYING to churn these bad boys out, so that they reach you freshly and well within a reasonable time!

Anyways, here be the bibliography for the episode! Thanksssss.

Peter Padfield, Armada (Victor Gollancz LTD; 1988).
Vincent J. Pitts, Henri IV of France: His Reign and Age (JHU Press; 2012).
Geoffrey Parker, Europe in Crisis 1598-1648 (Fontanna Press; 1990).
Edward Barton and Edwin Pears, “The Spanish Armada and the Ottoman Porte”, The English Historical Review, Vol. 8, No. 31 (Jul., 1993), pp. 439-466.
Matthew Dimmock, New Turks: Dramatizing Islam and the Ottomans in Early Modern England (Ashgate Publishing; 2005).
Hiram Morgan, Tyrone's Rebellion: The Outbreak of the Nine Years War in Tudor Ireland (Boydell Press; 1999).

Brendan Fitzpatrick, Seventeenth-century Ireland: The War of Religions (Rowman and Littlefield; 1989).

Sunday, 11 August 2013

The REAL Red Wedding within the TRUE Game of Thrones

I don't know about yourself, but when I discovered that in 1572, Catherine de Medici, mother of the King of France Charles IX invited the leader of the Huguenots Henry III to marry Charles' sister and thus ensure peace at last between the long conflicting Protestant and Catholic elements in France....only to have all the Protestant guests at the wedding murdered, and to instigate a wave of mob violence across Paris, I could think of one thing: the absolute shock I was struck with during episode 9 of the most recent series of Game of Thrones, in which occurred perhaps the most unexpected and graphic scenes of television. The similarities between the two events is nothing short of startling, and leads me to wonder whether George R R Martin may have looked to France's troubled dynastic past for some inspiration.

Not to mention what happens next. After escaping with his life from this red wedding, young Henry of Navarre then engages in the fantastically named "War of the Three Henrys", a dramatically confusing three sided war in which Henry of Navarre, Henry III of France, the monarch at the time, and finally Henry of Guise, whose creation and leadership of the Catholic League and its support from Spain granted Mr. Guise a very strong position, all fought for France's throne. I won't spoil the story for you guys, you'll have to listen to the episode, but isn't it funny when we see events in history like this that are SO similar to things on TV, you wonder if it really is history repeating itself, or if the events within that period of history are just so spectacular, they deserve to be cast on the big screen?

Regardless, this is the painting of history's real red wedding by Francois Dubois, a Huguenot painter who eventually settled in Switzerland. Expect WDF's first episode on the 30 Years War within the week!


Saturday, 10 August 2013

Here Comes The War! Notes on the 30 Years War Part 1

Hello history friends, just a bit of an intro here to remind you all that I still exist. WDF 20.0: SPECIAL= The Thirty Years War Part One: 1589-1600 is due for release soonish, within the next week, so I'd like to familiarise you all with the characters visually so that you know who I'm talking about and can at least picture them in your head. Bear in mind of course, that I will have to do this with the next few batch of episodes once these fine folks here pass on, but so lasting are their respective legacies that it is important you know who they are.

So for starters, here's Henry of Navarre, now known as Henry IV of France, and one of the key figures in the buildup to the 30 Years War, as well as a key ally of Elizabeth and enemy of Philip. Henry had to fight for his right to sit on the French throne every step of the way, but is widely seen today as one of the most charismatic and widely loved monarchs to have sat on it. That's probably why he has a quite obvious smile on his bearded face.
Next up is Queen Elizabeth, also referred to as Liz for convenience, she ruled England through this vital period in its history, and was England's last Tudor monarch. Her reign of over 40 years is seen as one of the most significant of any monarch of the era, so here she is in all her jazzed up glory.
Finally, Philip II of Spain enters the scene now. Philip oversaw the rule of Spain through years of financial strain and military supremacy, while also seeing his Armada fail against England. Philip was a micro-manager and one who didn't give up easily, and thus he was as good a match as any for Liz, once the war between the two heated up after the famous 1588 incident. Here's his face.
Hopefully that simplifies things a bit for you guys, now wish me luck as I get back to work!


Thursday, 1 August 2013

WDF 24 Bibliography

Here you have it, let me know what you thought of the episode as always. This time we were meant to have actually released this like a week ago, since it's been practically finished since that time, but things just kept gettting in the way, so here we are. Better late than never! Let's hope my 30 Years War narrative is a little less up and down.

  • Peter Padfield, Armada (Victor Gollancz Ltd; 1988).
  • Lawrence Flanagan, Ireland’s Armada Legacy (Gill and McMillan Ltd; 1988).
  • Edward Barton and Edwin Pears, “The Spanish Armada and the Ottoman Porte”, The English Historical Review, Vol. 8, No. 31 (Jul., 1993), pp. 439-466.
  • Colin Martin & Geoffrey Parker, The Spanish Armada: Revised Edition (Manchester University Press; 1999).
  • Garret Mattingly, The Defeat of the Spanish Armada (Random House Publishing; 2011).


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

WDF 24: The Anglo-Spanish War 1585-1604

How does someone even begin to approach a conflict like this one? I often find that with wars that are so well known, there is the added pressure to deliver, whereas with the lesser known wars, though they are in their own right harder to research, because less is known about them I will generally be less criticised. There is also the fact that this period, the Armada and all its consequences, has been covered so many times, that it is difficult to really put my own spin on it. That said though, it is a thoroughly fascinating time.
I especially love the idea of a powerful Spain, because such an idea does not last very long in the grand scheme of things. Indeed, as we shall soon see, once the 30 Years War changes the balance of power in a big way, Spain becomes perhaps the largest non-entity in the world, culminating in its domestic and international collapse in 1702, which we know as the War of the Spanish Succession.

It is a fall from power which Philip no doubt did not see coming, as he plotted his invasion of England in the late 1580's. Indeed, upon his succession to the throne in 1555, the Habsburgs, of which Philip was a member, could count among his dominions the majority of Europe, not to mention the majority of the known world.
It must have been inconceivable to Philip that Elizabeth and her tiny island dominion would be his downfall, but that's exactly what happened. After years of ruling the world, Philip's son would inherit a Spain unsure of its place in the world, and unaware that its ship had sailed in the never-ending struggle for European, and by extension world, dominance.

Check me out as I cover the Armada and more in WDF 24: The Anglo-Spanish War 1585-1604, coming soon! Thankssssss.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

WDF 23: The Greek War of Independence Bibliography and More

Hey guys, thanks for dropping by!

I just wanted to give a little of my own thoughts on how the actual episode itself went, and as usual give you the Bibliography afterwards. First of all, a huge thankssss to John, Phil and Joseph on their donations; your financial support is seriously appreciated so cheers sincerely.

If you were expecting an account of how the Greeks were militarily successful in this war then you may be disappointed. Everyone knows by know, I'd assume, that this isn't a military history podcast, but even so, I think this may well have been the least military detail I ever put into an episode. The reason for this is that I got so caught up in everything else, namely, the awesomeness that is Metternich.

Ever since I started WDF I've been dreaming up ideas for other podcasts, yet I simply don't have the time to do them. What I have been considering, after a few listeners suggested it, is taking a few episodes out to cover important figures in diplomacy. Metternich is an obvious example of such a figure, but I'd also love to properly get into the life of Bismarck again, and other figures I don't know that much about, in completely different eras, such as Kissinger. What I'm saying is that the giant presence of Metternich in this episode was no accident...kind of. You should expect him to reappear in the future, hopefully in that important figure episode format, but also just generally. I really enjoyed looking at the impact he made and what his concerns were within his foreign policies. I hope my focus on him, and often narration of the episode from his point of view was a positive thing, and that those looking for a more militarily focused episode weren't too upset.

I hope that in general the episode greets you well. I had wanted originally to delve into the Russo-Turk War of 1828-29 in more detail, but I simply did not have the time. Also, sincere apologies for saying I was going to release the episode on Friday 12th and not actually releasing it until 5 days later. I am a bit of a mess at the moment between everything that's going on.

So I hope you enjoyed this trip forward into the post-Napoleonic era, we'll be going back to our more familiar late Medieval narrative next time, specifically to look at the Spanish Armada of 1588, so I hope you'll join me for that!

Here is the bibliography. As usual any questions please send them on. Thankssss once again history friends.

  • Douglas Dakin, The Greek Struggle for Independence: 1821-1833 (University of California Press; 1973).
  • Virginia Penn, ‘Philhellenism in Europe, 1821-1828’, The Slavonic and East European Review, Vol. 16, No. 48 (Apr., 1938), pp. 638-653.
  • Virginia Penn, ‘Philhellenism in England’, The Slavonic and East European Review, Vol. 14, No. 42 (Apr., 1936), pp. 647-660.
  • Angelo Repousis, ‘The Cause of the Greeks": Philadelphia and the Greek War for Independence, 1821-1828’, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 123, No. 4 (Oct., 1999), pp. 333-363.
  • Allan Cunningham, ‘The Philhellenes, Canning and Greek Independence’, Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 14, No. 2 (May, 1978), pp. 151-181.
  • Walter Laquer, Guerrilla Warfare: A Historical and Critical Study (Transaction Publishers; 1976).
  • http://www.tc-america.org/issues-information/turkish-history/greek-war-of-independence-and-its-toll-on-turks-668.htm
  • http://www.chioshistory.gr/en/itx/itx25.html

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

WDF 23: The Greek War of Independence

This episode takes a different period, that of post-Napoleonic, pre-Crimean Europe, and focuses mainly on the history of the Ottoman Empire up to 1821, when the Greeks proclaimed a national uprising. This proclamation was not the first in the history of a Greece controlled by the Turks, but it would be the last. Additional attention is paid to the international intervention in this Greek War; why foreign nations such as France, Britain and Russia chose to get involved and what such involvement meant not just for Turkish sovereignty, but for its empire as a whole.

All in all, it's a fascinating glimpse at what is to become the norm for the Ottomans, and is also a key stop off for Europe before the Crimean War, because it demonstrates Russia's newfound sense of purpose on the international stage, when such actions were not altogether familiar to the Western European camp. It is something of a detour from our Medieval European narrative, but I hope you won't mind that too much!

Once again, thankssss to listener Benjamin Ashewell, and be sure to look out for his podcast on the unification of Italy soon!

Monday, 17 June 2013

WDF 22: The Dutch Revolt, Bibliography

Hello history friends! Here's the bibliography for WDF 22

>Graham Darby (Ed), The Origins and Development of the Dutch Revolt (2001: Routledge).
>Geoffrey Parker, The World Is Not Enough: The Imperial Vision of Philip II of Spain (2001: Baylor University Press).
>Richard Vaughan, Philip the Bold: the formation of the Burgundian state (2002: The Boydell Press).
>Martin van Gelderen, The Dutch Revolt (1993: Cambridge University Press).
>Abraham Van de Velde, THE WONDERS OF THE MOST HIGH (A 125 YEAR HISTORY OF THE >UNITED NETHERLANDS 1550-1675), available: http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/wonders.htm
>Yolanda Rodríguez Pérez, The Dutch Revolt Through Spanish Eyes: Self and Other in Historical and Literary Texts of Golden Age Spain (c. 1548-1673) (2008: Peter Land Publishing).
>Roland E Miller, Muslims and the Gospel: Bridging the Gap: a Reflection on Christian Sharing (2005: Kirk House Publishers).

>John Lothrop Motley, History of United Netherlands 1586 to 1589 (2004: Kessinger Publishing).

Saturday, 8 June 2013

WDF 22: The Dutch Revolt To Come

When the Seventeen United Provinces of the Netherlands began their revolt against Spanish rule, few could have anticipated either their success or the results of their success. Facing down the largest, richest and most militaristically powerful empire in the world, Dutch romanticists believed in a form of rule that was fair; with a taxation system that did not target them and a religious policy that did not target them. Their moves in the mid 1560's sparked a series of chain reactions in international relations and within the balance of European power that ensured Europe itself and the world would never be the same again.

Tune in on Sunday, 16th June for WDF 22: The Dutch Revolt to hear the full story of the prelude to the event, the international implications and the subsequent consequences. Observe below the size of the United Provinces, then imagine it compared to the rest of the Spanish Empire, and you can imagine the difficulty history has in explaining its success. Thankssss!

Friday, 24 May 2013

WDF 21 Bibliography

Hello history friends, here's this week's bibliography as promised. Any inquiries about what sources I used are welcomed!

>James Gairdner, Henry the Seventh, (2004; Kessinger Publishing).
>Ciro Paoletti, A Military History of Italy, (2008; Greenwood Publishing Group).
>Robert Evans and Peter Wilson, The Holy Roman Empire, 1495-1806: A European Perspective, (2012; BRILL).
>David Gilmour, The Pursuit of Italy, (2011; Penguin Books).
>John Norwich, A History of Venice, (1989: Vintage Books).
>Francesco Guicciardini, The History of Italy, translated by Sydney Alexander, (1984: Princeton University Press).
>William J Moylan, The King of Terror, (2013: Xlibris Corporation).

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Imagine Crimea: finding the great war's origins in the 1850's

Hello history friends, I hope you're enjoying the WW1 Special of WDF! A recent essay I recieved from listener Rafael Antonio Cabrero laments on the situation Europe and the near east was in in the 1850's. It reads a lot like my episode on the Crimean War itself, so check that out after reading this if you feel in the mood through this website:


or organically if you have already downloaded it. Anyway, please take the time to read this and give me feedback where you can. Rafael would love to hear from you! Here is the essay:

The Crimean War marked the death knell of the first phase of the post-Napoleonic European international order. The Congress of Vienna established an informal mechanism, the Concert of Europe, where the Great Powers (Great Britain, Prussia, Austria, Russia and later France) pledged themselves to consult and work together to maintain the peace in Europe. The great revolutionary upheavals of the mid- 19th Century frayed the Concert of Europe, but the Crimean War killed this political arrangement for good.

A long view of the Crimean War sets up the geopolitical and diplomatic scene for the Great War. I submit nonetheless a few geopolitical and diplomatic issues that affected the various statesmen’s calculations in the crisis that led to the Crimean War and their future capabilities in the world stage when peace was restored in 1856.

1.       Russia
One point we need to bear in mind that historically Russia has had two major strategic goals. The first was the search, since the times of Peter the Great, for an ice-free port for the Russian fleet. The Black Sea and its access to the Mediterranean is the obvious candidate and has been central to Russian foreign policy even today. This wish to maintain a secure access to warm water ports is still seen today in the decade-long dispute with newly-independent Ukraine to maintain an extraterritorial base in Sebastopol , its involvement in the current Syrian Civil War as it maintains a major Mediterranean naval base, and its meddling in Georgian Abkhazia as it juts into the Black Sea.

The problem with Russia is geography. There are two natural (and one man-made) choke points in the Mediterranean Basin, Gibraltar in the West and the Dardanelles in the East, with the Suez being the third, man-made one. Russia sits atop the Black Sea, but Turkey controls the narrow point of the Dardanelles. So, although the Black Sea is ice-free year-round, it is a limited inland sea whose only exit is the choke point in the east of the Dardanelles.

Turkey’s 19th Century weakness put Russia in a good strategic position to explode into the Dardanelles and the Mediterranean. This threatened British interests in the Mediterranean and its communication lines with India and of course, led to conflict in 1853. Once Russia was stymied after the Crimean War, her search for an alternative to the Black Sea as a viable ice-free port to the world would eventually lead to the Russo-Japanese War a half-century later.

The second great driver in Russian foreign policy in the 19th Century was an attempt to take Constantinople for Orthodoxy. Although Istanbul (not Constantinople—had to go there!), had been under Turkish control for half a century, the Czars had been looking to take Constantinople from the Turks and restore the traditional Byzantine capital back to Orthodox Christianity. This has been a long-term goal since the Russians established themselves as a Black Sea power in the 18th Century and one could argue that Russia’s later pan-Slavic tendencies arise from this initial aspiration to be the protector of Constantinople.

As an added bonus, controlling Constantinople would also help on the first imperative as controlling the city would also mean controlling the door from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean. Of course, those pesky Brits would make sure that wouldn’t be happening anytime soon (or would they?).

2.       Turkey
A quick point on the maximum extent of the Ottoman’s easternmost extension, the farthest east the Ottoman Empire reached was Western Persia. India was controlled by the Mughals, a Mongol descendants group which did share some ethnic elements with the Ottomans. Nonetheless, it was not under the Ottoman Sultans but the Mughal Rajs.

Turkey’s slow disintegration was the great geostrategic challenge of 19th Century Europe. In a sense, the Turkey’s disintegration in the Balkans follows similar lines to Yugoslavia’s own disintegration a century later. The problem, contrary to the 20th Century 19th Century Europe did not have security mechanisms to take over from Turkey once it left or was pushed out from the Balkans and two Great Powers would potentially be rubbing against each other, the Austrians and the Russians. Turkey’s disappearance from the Balkan’s geopolitical map eventually pushed to World War I which started surprise, surprise in Sarajevo, capital of the formerly Ottoman, Austrian owned, but Serbian-desired Bosnia-Herzegovina.

3.       The Bosporus and  Dardanelles
Although not a Great Power (or a sovereign country), the Bosporus and Dardanelles are especially important and deserve its own analysis. Their importance lies on the fact that it is the transit point between the Mediterranean and Black Seas. The reason the British propped up the Ottoman Empire was to avoid the Russian Empire controlling Constantinople and its fleet spilling over into the Mediterranean, posing a direct threat to its naval routes to India and its interests in the region. The importance of the Bosporus and Dardanelles staying off unfriendly (in British eyes) hands grew even larger after the Crimean War, with the establishment of the Anglo-Egyptian condominium and the Suez as well as the establishment of a base in Cyprus.

In fact, and very a propos with the Super Mega Podcast Event When Diplomacy Fails Takes Word War I, one of the reasons for the fiasco on the Dardanelles campaign during the Great War was to knock of Turkey off the war and remove the Dardanelles from enemy hands. Although the economic and commercial angles are important, we cannot overlook the strategic importance of the Dardanelle, even to this day. While Russia does have a warm water access in the Black Sea, it is constrained by the requirements of the Montreux Convention, despite their efforts to change its requirements to allow a bigger role for the Russians in the Dardanelles.

4.       France
France’s political adventurism during the reign of Napoleon III that would come to roost a decade later in the Franco-Prussian War started in the Crimea. In an effort to protect the Catholics who were going to fisticuffs with the Orthodox Christians over the Church of the Nativity, do a bull in a china shop routine and extract a treaty from the Turks establishing French protection over Christians in the Ottoman Empire followed by a warship when the Russians called foul. So in the end, the French go to war with the British (who were not very happy with Napoleon III’s little naval adventurism) as an ally. So by the time things got really bad for France with Prussia a decade later, Napoleon would not be able to count on Russia as a counterbalance.

5.       Great Britain
I submit that Britain’s Splendid Isolation began after the Crimean War. The appalling conditions in the Crimea, and the incompetence of British commissioned officers turned the country inward. This did not mean that the Britain was completely free from conflict with other European Powers, but these were mostly in the colonial sphere.
Britain’s desire to keep Europe at an arm’s length proved to be, now with 20/20 hindsight, unfortunate as shirked its traditional role of counterbalance to the strongest Continental Power to maintain the peace at a moment of geopolitical revolution. Even after the appearance of Germany and Italy in the European map and the terminal decline of the Ottoman Empire disrupts the security environment in Europe, Britain had a Crimean War mentality at a time when it was falling toward the abyss of World War I.

6.       Austria
Poor  Austria! I think probably the most nervous of all the Great Powers in the lead-up to, and during the Crimean War, was Austria. Sure, the recent Hungarian revolution and Russia’s support was all fine and dandy, but I submit to you, if you were the Austrian Emperor, seeing the Turkish Empire having its Slavic provinces sliced off by the Russians would have kept you up at odd hours of the night. After all nationalism was on the rise and the Austrian Empire was a patchwork of ethnic group and nationalities that had been in ferment for a while.
 Russia’s expansion into Slavic lands in Eastern Europe meant it would have a presented a dilemma. It is true that the Talk episode was correct in pointing out that Russia and Austria were supposed to be allies, but her security and continued existence looked like it would be secured with a neutral Austria quietly hoping on an Anglo-French victory. An even bigger Russia right across the border, threatening its rights of passage in the Danube was more potent motivator in Vienna than a continued alliance with Saint Petersburg. In the end, it was a losing proposition for Austria either way

Austria is probably the great loser in this whole war, which is sad for a country that avoided getting involved in the Crimea. Russia was mad with Austria and wouldn’t lift a finger when the Franco-Sardinian alliance and the Prussians came a-knocking a few years later demanding their pound of Austrian flesh.

On a side note, listening to the Austro-Prussian War podcast, I was not aware of the attempt by the Austrians to form an alliance with Prussia and form a united front to deter the Russians from getting too close to their territory and interests. You learn something new all the time!