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Britain Foreign Policy 1870 1914 Essay

1287 words - 5 pages

British Foreign Policy 1870 - 1914: A SummaryThe main aims of British foreign policy were1. To maintain the balance of power in Europe and to prevent one country or group of countries becoming too powerful. Traditionally France was seen as the main threat in this regard e.g. Napoleon.2. To protect its naval superiority over any other European country. The British army was small and her power rested on the strength of her navy that was the largest in the world. It was this determination that led to a serious breakdown of relations with Germany as she built up her navy to rival the British one.3. To protect and expand her colonial Empire. France was traditionally her rival.4. To defend the sea routes to India (Suez canal and South Africa) and to prevent landward encroachment towards the subcontinent by Russia.5. To prevent Turkey from collapsing and Russia expanding her influence in the Balkans at Turkey's expense.During the 1880s and 1890s Britain had pursued a policy of avoiding alliances that involved any sort of military commitments. This policy was known as "Splendid Isolation" and it was most associated with the figure of Lord Salisbury, prime-minister for most of this period.However the Boer War (1899-1902) had exposed Britain's lack of a reliable ally and proved she had very few friends. This allied to the growing might of Germany, caused Britain to abandon her policy of isolation.In 1902 she formed an alliance with Japan mainly directed against Russia. In 1904 she settled her colonial differences with France and the Entente Cordiale was formed.Partly as a result of French encouragement she did the same with Russia in 1907. This alliance between the three nations became known as the Triple Entente but as Joll notes "relations between Russia and Britain never became close".In 1912 the Entente between France and Britain was strengthened when an agreement on naval co-operation, in the event of war, was reached between the two.In the Cato Street Conspiracy of 1820, some men known to be radicals planned to murder and overthrow the government. Despite the fact that the men had a very weak plan for this venture and their gang had been infiltrated by police spies, five were sentenced to death and duly executed while another five were transported to Australia for life.Those who attacked machinery fearing that they would lose their jobs to machines were also harshly dealt with. In the so-called Swing Riots of 1830, nine men classed as machine wreckers were hanged. Those in power were unwilling to show any signs of weakness. Those considered to be trouble makers were transported to Australia.Despite the government's attempts to stop protests - or even because of them - the desire for political change grew and grew. More worryingly for those in power, the calls for change also came from the educated middle class - men who were lawyers, accountants etc. The upper class became seemingly more and more isolated.In 1830, William IV became king. He did not...

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