History Optional Paper- 2 Solution – 1998: Q.5 (c)

History Optional Paper- 2 Solution – 1998: Q.5 (c)

Q.5 (c) “Lord Beaconsfield after his return from the Congress of Berlin (1878) boasted: “I have brought peace with honour.” Comment.


The Treaty of Berlin

Congress of Berlin (1878) was a diplomatic meeting of the major European powers at which the Treaty of Berlin replaced the Treaty of San Stefano, which had been signed by Russia and Turkey at the conclusion of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78.

Dominated by the German chancellor Bismarck, the congress solved an international crisis caused by the San Stefano treaty by revising the peace settlement to satisfy the interests of Britain (by denying Russia the means to extend its naval power and by maintaining the the integrity of Ottoman Empire) and to satisfy the interests of Austria-Hungary (by allowing it to occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina and thereby increase its influence in the Balkans).

Claim by Lord Beaconsfield and reality

The British Prime Minister, Disraeli also called Lord Beaconsfield, returned from Berlin claiming to have brought “peace with honour” because:

(a) Disraeli had negated the right of individual intervention claimed by Russia and compelled her to accept the collective authority of the Powers.
(b) A check had been administered to Russia in the interest of England and Austria.
(c) Turkey was allowed to recover portion of the territory which she had lost at San Stefano.
(d) There was peace in near future (upto three decades)

Inspite of the claim by Disraeli, the analysis of the impacts of the Treaty of Berlin gives different pictures and the triumph was only apparant because:

(1) Treaty of Berlin did not weaken Russia

(a) Russia, though checked, had recovered, had practically recovered all the losses of the Crimean War.
(b) If Russia was checked in Balkan, it began to expand in Central Asia reaching North West frontier of India threatening British India.

Thus, the Russian menance to British interest was not removed and was only transferred from Europe to Asia.
The treaty had not the intended effects of weakening Russia and strengthening Turkey.

(2) British robbery

To look upon the treaty as honourable to England as claimed by Disraeli, one must revise one’s idea of honour. An arrangement which took advantage of Turkey’s extremity to tear away from her Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina looked like robbery by Britain who had professed the principle of the integrity of the Ottoman Empire.

(3) Treaty of Berlin contained seeds of future wars

Though the treaty gave peace for three decades, it contained within itself seeds of future wars. Holding back Russia and encourasing Austria in Balkan created bitterness which led to the formation of the rival camps in Europe. The provisions of the treaty and the subsequent bitterness led to situations causing the Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913 and then the First World War of 1914.

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