I have started my reading of The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman today. I hadn't planned on starting this yet, but don't want to fall too far behind the group I am reading it with. This post sums up the first chapter of the book, titled "A Funeral".
King Edward VII of England spent his time prior to taking the throne in 1901 schmoozing his way around the world. He was known as a playboy prince, much to the dislike of his mother, Queen Victoria. His time attending various political functions seems to have allowed him to become a well liked figure and even allowed him to turn the tides of people against him to his favor. When he visited France in 1903 he entered the city under a silence with derogatory remarks thrown his way. When he left they were chanting "Vive notre roi!" (Long live our king).
Edward was known as the "Uncle of England", as he was related to almost every other European monarch in some fashion. William II, Germany's Emporer, was his nephew and bitterly disliked Edward VII. William felt Berlin [Germany] was unfairly looked over by world as nobody would make official visits to the city and everyone would flock to Paris. He viewed Edward as his bane, "he is Satan." (p 2)
Edward worked to form an alliance between Russia, France and the Great Britian in 1907 at the Anglo-Russian Convention. This was to ease tensions between the three regarding the struggle for power over land in Persia and Central Asia. Further exasperating William's feeling of being over-run, encircled and disrespected. There is great debate as to the level of importance this treaty caused in the start of World War I. The poster to the right shows how Russia ultimately felt, represented by the lady in the center holding the Orthodox Cross. While, Marianne (French national emblem) on the left and Britannia (female personification of the island) on the right look up to Mother Russia. They each hold one of the symbols of faith (cross), hope (anchor) and heart (charity). The background depicts a battle scene.
King Edward's funeral was widely attended as nine kings rode in the funeral procession, but was this day marked with a warning? May 19, 1910 was marked with the earth passing through the tail of Halley's comet. Just what significance does this allude to? This astronomical event has been traditionally viewed as disaster to come. The Norman Conquest and from Julius Caesar:
When beggars die there are no comets seen;
I'll leave you with the words from General Friedrich Adolf Julius von Bernhardi, he was the first German to ride through the Arc de Triuomph in 1870 when Germany entered Paris and went on to be a military historian and writer. His most notable work included Germany and the Next War.
War, he stated, "is a biological necessity"; it is the carrying out among humankind of "the natural law, upon which all the laws of Nature rest, the law of the struggle of existence." Nations, he said, must progress or decay; "there can be no standing still," and Germany must choose "world power or downfall." (p 13)
"France must be so completely crushed that she can never cross our paths again"; she "must be annihilated once and for all as a great power." (p 13)
Images: Triple Enente
Original Source: Poster from 1914
This work is in the public domain.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Images: Funeral Procession
Original Source: Leo S. Olschki, La Bibliofilia, Firenze: Giuseppe Boffito, 1906
This work is in the public domain in the United States.
Source: Wikimedia Commons