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Partitions Of Poland Notes

History Notes > General History X: Europe 1715-99 Notes

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Contents

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International Relations Tutorial
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The Balance of Power -- H. Butterfield
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The New Diplomacy and Historical Diplomacy -- H. Butterfield
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International Relations in Europe 1689--1789 -- J. H. Shennan
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Eighteenth Century Theories of the Balance of Power -- M. S. Anderson
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The rise of the great powers 1648--1815 -- D. McKay and H. M. Scott
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God's Playground: A History of Poland -- N. Davies
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The Balance of Power: History and Theory -- M. Sheehan
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The First Partition of Poland -- H. H. Kaplan
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The Second Partition of Poland -- R. H. Lord
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The Transformation of European Politics 1763--1848 -- P. W. Schroeder

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International Relations Tutorial
Large szchlata -- notion of golden liberty => weakness of Poland
Small states are usually close together
~ Poland is surrounded by larger states
3 possible situations for a small country
~ Small city--states e.g. Italy -- all the same together
~ Small countries with small countries on one side and a great power on the other
e.g. Geneva -- essentially a French protectorate
~ Poland is surrounded by great powers
Unique -- disappears as a country
Transitional period
~ Dynasticism and religion => ideology and nationalism
~ Raison d'etat and territorial aggrandisement
Internal state interests v. overall principles
Leader of the last rising was educated in France
Polish Constitution -- 4 months before the French
Polish officers go back to France -- when Poland was obliterated
~ Fought for France
~ A lot of Napoleon's marshals were Polish officers
A lot of Irish soldiers also went to France -- wanted sovereignty and independence
Balance of power -- intervention in countries due to their internal developments => not
just between states
Main idea of prevention of a country becoming too powerful
~ Aim of balance of power is not peace => independence and not too great power
2 ways to understand the balance of power
~ Descriptive law e.g. Hume -- occurs naturally

~ Linked to the Newtonian Revolution
~ Prescriptive law -- men should strive to follow it

~ Renaissance Italy
Prescriptive -- 2 different aspects
~ Political -- good for the long--term power of the state
~ Moral way to behave
Countries will always follow their interest
Fear of dominant power -- obsessed with the Roman Empire
~ Idea of a 'universal dominion'
~ Issue within the French Revolution
Louis XIV made France a target
~ Even Napoleon can be seen as following in this tradition
Another reason for the balance of power was that it helped to preserve the
independence of small countries

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Diplomatic -- utilitarian uses of this rhetoric
~ Yet individuals may have believed it
Many commentators believed in the balance of power
~ Edmund Burke -- 'the Empress has breakfasted, where shall she dine? => after the
First Partition

~ Thinks that the balance is a good system which avoids large wars

~ Criticises the partition of Poland as a betrayal of the balance of power
system
Burke in France in the 1790s -- suddenly decides we need to intervene in France for
internal, ideological reasons
~ Against previous argument
English Whigs point out Burke's inconsistency in his previous criticism of the partition of
Poland
Pitt -- need to invade France to maintain the balance of power
Cameralism -- heads of state became professionalised and gained executive power

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2 levels of equilibrium -- overall and parochial
Tried to make the balance of power work 1792--3

~ Failed

~ Rise of nationalism -- linked to the rise of romanticism


~ New view of foreign policy


~ The nation--state is the new stable entity


~ Poland shows hints of future developments -- partly pre--French Revolution
Pivotal moment of the French Revolution as a national war
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~ Nationalism and absolute war

~ Yet the example of Poland can precede this -- Polish troops are similar to a
national corps
! France saw the example of Poland -- fear of partition => informed fighting

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1713--1790s time of the balance of power theory
~ Makes a comeback at Vienna in 1815 to prevent continuous war -- yet then linked
to nationalism
Balance of power was many things -- system or doctrine?

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The Balance of Power -- H. Butterfield
(Diplomatic Investigations: Essays in the Theory of International Politics -- H.
Butterfield and M. Wight (eds.))
(London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1966)
pp. 132--148
Idea of the 'European state--system'
~ Ideas of mass and equilibrium
What to do when neighbours are at war
Machiavelli can be seen to take an ancient approach -- should not ally with a stronger
power unless necessary yet if so, it is better to ally with the stronger power as when it is
the victor it will be better for your state
~ Contemporary Guicciardini had a similar interest in the issue of remaining neutral

~ Saw it as a good thing yet dangerous for a power that is weak
Guicciardini made the crucial advance and gave the first vivid picture of the balance of
power -- political situation in Italy
~ System of forces that has been brought to an equilibrium
~ Did not expound a general theory of balance -- doctrine did not become current in
the world
End of the 16th century -- Justus Lipsius
~ Redeemed the reputation of Machiavelli by separating scientific aspects from
unethical maxims
~ Did not know about balance of power-- merely put forward the doctrine that it is a
mistake to remain neutral when other powers are at war

~ Francis Bacon comes nearer to the modern idea

After 1600, references to the balance of power become more numerous and less
clouded by ambiguities

~ Huge number after the middle of the 17th century

~ Despatches of Mazarin in the 1640s
! Louis XIV -- France had replaced Spain as the menace to Europe

~ Came to be seen that it was not a peculiar wickedness of the Spaniards that had

threatened the world -- it was the disposition of forces that made the Spaniards the

aggressors in one age and then the French in another
! 'The doctrine of balance was often deprecated in this new epoch by the French, for of
course it became an important weapon against them as Louis XIV proceeded in his
career of aggrandisement' (p. 139)
! Significance of the theory was magnified because governments were paying attention
to propaganda

~ Louis XIV's wars in various countries great number of pamphlets and topical
treatises
! 'The War of the Spanish Succession was a remarkable example of the way in which the
policies of European states came to be affected by the doctrine of balance. By this time
the doctrine is repeatedly appearing diplomatic despatches, state papers, treaties of
alliance and treaties of peace' (p. 139)

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Fenelon
! Fenelon -- if once a Power was allowed to rise to a position of predominance, you would
not be able to count on its good behaviour, however moderately it had hitherto
behaved
! Once it could act with impunity it would not confine its ambitions within the
accustomed channels
! Also said that even a nation which at one time has been helping to check an aggressor
will in the very course of those proceedings move imperceptibly into a career of
conquest
! Fenelon is remarkable because he held that the balance of power should be regarded as
an over--ruling law

~ Internal law of a country e.g. succession to the throne, should give way to 'the

right that so many nations had to security'

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Were now supposed to aim at the preservation of the international order, the
maintenance of the balance of power
~ Prescribed working limits to egotism and ambition
~ Limiting short--term objects for long--term advantage
'It is easy to see why the 18th century attached so much importance to the doctrine of
balance, it constantly remembered the aggressions of Louis XIV as things that must
never be allowed to happen again. It rejoiced that now there was no single Power which
could be described as having the predominance, lording it over the continent' (p. 141)
18th century -- Baltic was now divided into 5 different states => no single one had
predominance
Repeated remembrance of the Wars of Religion
'The 18th century did not set its heart on either a Catholic order in Europe or a Protestant
order, but on an international system which was to be defended for its own sake; a new
kind of order because it comprised both Catholics and Protestants, just as it comprised
both monarchies and republics' (p. 141--2)
Even looked back as far as the Roman Empire as something that must never be allowed
to happen again
~ 2 alternatives -- either a distribution of power to produce equilibrium or surrender
to a single universal empire like that of ancient Rome
A civilisation fundamentally one but split into different areas
Not at all necessary nor possible for all the states to be equal or even roughly equal in
power
~ Gentz (1806) -- when one state increases its territory it was by no means always
necessary that others should do so => rectification of the balance might normally
be brought about by a reshuffling of alliances
~ Guaranteed existence of small states -- power of independent action in foreign
policy
Richelieu once pointed out that small states had greater freedom of action than larger
states -- in the case of an alliance it was the larger rather than the smaller power that
was likely to be abandoned by its partner
~ System of the balance of power even depended on the free acton of the smaller
states -- as an ally became too powerful they could shift their allegiance
School of writers in Hanover -- regarded Great Britain as the standing supporter and
guardian of the balance of power
~ A maritime state is never a danger to liberty

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French -- England was an offensive intruder => really belonged outside the alliance
system

~ Saw England as talking about the balance of power in Europe but showing no

respect for the principle in the rest of the world
French complained in a similar way against any government that allied itself with Russia
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! Turkey -- in the 1790s the question was raised in the British parliament as to whether she
was within the system or outside it
! Can see an equilibrium between the south--western states, then another among the
north--eastern states, a third within Germany and finally a comprehensive European
one, embracing all these and spanning the whole continent
! 'After 1763, when both Russia and Prussia had emerged to greatness, you had a curious
triangle of forces in Eastern Europe -- Austria, Russia and Prussia all poised against one
another, all crouching like tigers ready for a spring' (p. 143)

~ 'If one gained an advantage the other two would draw together to redress the

balance and secure compensation -- there was constant switching and
interchange' (p. 143)
! 'But if those three Powers ever agreed on a policy, the Western states -- England and
France, for example -- could never stop them in Eastern Europe. And that is how the
Partition of Poland was able to take place -- there might be a balance in Eastern Europe,
but there was a defect in the overall European balance--system' (p. 144)

~ West counter--balanced the East -- England and France were able to check Russia


~ Partly through the existence of sea communications

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Principle of the balance of power tended to the preservation of the status quo
Frederick the Great in one of his Political Testaments marked out a piece of territory for
future acquisition -- not feasible at the time as other state would intervene and sides
would be too equally matched
Edmund Burke in the Annual Register -- 'The balance of power, the pride of modern
policy and originally invented to preserve the general peace as well as freedom of
Europe, has only preserved its liberty. It has been the original of innumerable and
fruitless wars . . . What they gain in on part is lost in another; and in conclusion, their
affairs become so balanced, that all the powers concerned are certain to lose a great
deal; the most fortunate acquire little; and what they do acquire is never in any
reasonable proportion to charge and loss . . . [In] modern treaties of peace . . . None can
properly be called conquerors or conquered'

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Balance of power vindicated small states -- operated to preserve freedom rather than
peace
! 'It corresponded to one of the peculiarities of the European order -- an order in which
freedom was more important than tranquility. In other words, you have to choose
between the principle of universal empire and the principle of the distribution of
power' (p. 145)
! Edinburgh Review (1802) -- idea of the balance of power was the result of the progress of
science and the peculiar circumstances of he modern world

~ Ought to prevent the excessive aggrandisement of any power -- too late
afterwards

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Rigidity was a serious danger -- threat of deeply rooted prejudices
Presumption in favour of keeping things as they were
Way of speaking about the balance as though it were a constitution

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Gentz defended the whole system in the time of Napoleon -- 'What is generally known
as the balance of power is that constitution of neighbouring and more or less connected
states, by means of which no one of them can damage another in its independence or
essential rights without being restricted somewhere and therefore endangering itself'
! Statesmen often identified the balance of power with the existing map of European
forces -- disliked any change
! Various states would set out to preserve what they perceived as their own system of the
balance of power
! Sentimental alliance or fixed because of marriage connections or commercial interest
! 'The French, when in the 18th century they talked of maintaining the balance, often
meant the preservation of the existing alliance--systems instead of rapid adjustments to
a change in the distribution of power' (p. 146)

~ Attachment to Sweden, Poland and Turkey -- may have been too lacking in
flexibility in the face of Russia

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Balance of power -- 'The 18th century regarded it rather as a law which operates
wherever there is an international order and a states--system, a law which operates if
governments are alive to their long--term interests' (p. 147)

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