Thursday, July 26, 2012

June 25, 1948 – Berlin Airlift Begins World War III

Postwar Europe became divided when territory liberated by the Soviet Union from Nazi Germany came under seemingly permanent communist rule.  The Potsdam Agreement in 1945 divided Germany itself into sectors held by differing Allies.  Berlin, one hundred miles inside the Soviet sector, was divided into four sectors with the West held by Britain, France, and the United States while the Soviets controlled East Berlin.  Stalin reorganized the communist and socialist parties into the Socialist United Party and told his comrades that he worked toward a Germany reunited under communism.  As part of his plan, he ended food delivery to West Berlin and limited Western allies to a single train per day, encouraging West Berliners to come to the Soviet sector for groceries.  The plan backfired, however, as the local elections in 1946 proved to be overwhelmingly pro-democracy.

Stalin was further infuriated by the 1947 announcement of the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe.  He preferred his hard-won “war booty”, seeing the American move as “dollar imperialism.”  Soviets further restricted travel through their sector in the spring of 1948.  Americans responded by delivering military material by air, and Soviets sent up planes to buzz the cargo planes.  A crash occurred between a Soviet fighter and a US airliner, killing everyone on both planes.  The Soviets reduced their interference with train travel but considered the exercise a victory as they seized all communication beacons within the Soviet sector for air security.

Stakes were raised again when the western Allies proposed the new Deutsche Mark to replace the devalued Reichsmark.  Currency had been so over-printed by the Soviets that bartering had replaced cash, creating a weak economy that forced German reliance on Moscow.  The British and Americans announced their attempt to revamp the economy on June 18, 1948, stating that the Deutsche Mark would be considered legal tender on June 21.  The Soviets refused and began halting all ground travel to prevent the flood of marks into Berlin, even though 250 million had already been shipped in.  Outraged, the Soviets announced the “Ostmark” as their own currency and forbade the use of Deutsche Marks.  On June 24, the Soviets ended all rail and water traffic from West Germany.  Travel by road was permitted, though heavily dogged.  Electricity produced by Soviet-held power plants outside of the city was cut off.  The Americans under General Lucius D. Clay refused to leave, and he announced an airlift of food and coal supplies as had been seen months before, expanding plans already put into place by the British. 

The endeavor required 1,500 tons of food and 3,500 tons of fuel to be transported daily into the city when the combined aircraft of the British and Americans in the area could carry only 700 tons.  Clay launched Operation Vittles, and planes were flown in to increase the tonnage.  The United States had already begun to demilitarize in Europe, and Britain was still recovering from the damage of the Blitz (the 1948 London Olympics, which the Soviets did not attend, featured no new construction of venues or housing).  The Soviet Union watched, eagerly anticipating the West to admit the transport cost was too great and to abandon Berlin.

All through July, the planes flew.  The Soviets carried out massive propaganda programs in print and on radio, lambasting the Western efforts.  However, nothing seemed to stop the planes until “Black Friday”, August 13, when a C-54 crashed at the end of the runway and two more planes crashed after it.  All planes awaiting landing were sent home, and the Soviets decided to make their move.  They publically claimed the airlift “unsafe” and moved troops to take the airfields under the guise of aiding in cleanup.  Fights began, and soon Soviet tanks rolled in to besiege the city.  War was declared between the Soviet Union and the Anglo-British alliance with France, fighting in Indochina already, seeking neutrality.  French forces were returned to their sector in the south, but the rest of West Berlin continued under heavy siege.  Despite psychological warfare, West Berliners refused to give up, such as the rousing speech by city councilor Ernst Reuter, "You peoples of the world, you people of America, of England, of France, look on this city, and recognize that this city, this people, must not be abandoned — cannot be abandoned!"  As winter approached, supplies ran out, and thousands of Americans, British, and Germans were taken prisoner.

American and British troops began campaigns attempting to penetrate the Soviet defenses, but the armies were unable to overwhelm heavy fortifications.  While the US had been demobilizing, Stalin had kept up his urgency of military preparedness.  Soviet forces swept into West Germany, finally realizing Stalin’s plans of reunifying the country.  Content with a French buffer and strong air defense, the Soviets moved toward Iran, seizing oilfields that had been the object of debate between Moscow and the British and recreating the People’s Republic of Mahabad.

The Americans threatened counterattack with atomic weapons, but the threat was hollow until 1949 when the first atomic-adapted B-29 Silverplate arrived in Britain.  The question of whether to use atomic weapons in Germany was brought to President Truman (who had won the 1948 election by a wide margin against isolationist Thomas Dewey), but he determined to use it only against Russia itself and encourage uprising from the “liberated” nations under Soviet control.  He expanded the war to a new front in Turkey and pushed for new air bases in preparation for wide-scale attack from the Black Sea on the Caucasus and across Ukraine.  After a great deal of deliberation, the US also joined the nationalists in the Chinese Civil War, reinforcing Chiang Kai-shek with aid and advisors.

In late 1949, the first atomic bomb fell on Russian territory, followed by dozens more.  Stalin used the fallout to his advantage through propaganda, but, while much of Russia continued to support him, the edges of his the bloc began to collapse.  Starting in 1950 after a revolt in Berlin, bloc countries began to rebel one after the other with American support, prompting stiff Soviet response.  Russian resources became strained while the Americans continued to remobilize, pushing up through the Caucasus into Stalin’s birthplace in Georgia and atomically bombing Stalingrad in 1951.  On the first of March 1953, Stalin was discovered dead in his bunker west of Moscow.  He had not left a clear successor, and internal squabbles destroyed the peoples’ faith in Soviet government.  Ukraine became liberated that summer in Operation King Cobra, and the road to Moscow was open to be taken by September.

Following the Third World War and the breakup of the USSR, capitalism and democracy had proven itself the victor over communism and fascism.  The Anglo-American alliance dominated the United Nations and began the long era of rebuilding in the Pax Americana.  Technology flourished, and international communication satellites began being launched in the 1970s, uniting the world on a new level, even though a manned mission into space had never gone beyond experimentation by the USAF.


In reality, the Soviets did not move on the “Black Friday” crash of the Berlin Airlift.  On August 1, they offered free food to West Berliners who registered their ration cards with the Soviets, but few accepted.  Instead, Berlin was supported by air for eleven months in an unprecedented feat.  Crews began bringing in record tonnage, as was seen in the “Easter Parade” that carried nearly 13,000 tons of coal.  The Soviets decided to lift the blockade, opening the gates on May 12, 1949, and the Cold War would drag on for another four decades.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

June 23, 1956 – Egypt Formally Divided

While ruling its own ancient empires for millennia, Egypt became a prize in modern times that rarely had its own independence.  Centuries of rule by the Ottomans ended with occupation by the French under Napoleon in 1798.  Muhammad Ali seized power upon the departure of the French, creating a sultanate with British backing still nominally under the banner of the Ottomans.  European influence continued and increased as the French-constructed Suez Canal was completed in 1869, making Egypt a nexus of world commerce.  Britain began a new occupation of Egypt in 1882, though growing opposition from the populace caused them to establish a sultanate under Hussein Kamel in 1914.  In 1922, the British ended Egypt’s protectorate status, though British troops remained, and Fuad I declared himself king.

After the Second World War, the empires of Europe were exhausted, and a new era of Post-Colonialism came upon regions of the world that had been ruled for years by faraway governments.  Egypt was particularly eager to rid itself of British involvement and a royal family whose government was considered impossibly corrupt.  Soviet and American propaganda contributed to the feelings of the Egyptians, who had already begun to form a society known as the Free Officers aimed at ending dominance by elites and establishing democracy.  They came under command of Gamal Abdel Nasser, who coordinated and recruited key men within the military and bureaucracy.  Defeat in the 1948 war with Israel firmly set the nation against the British-friendly royals, and action began to overthrow King Farouk I.

In 1952, resistance fighters known as the fedayeen attacked British points of strength, particularly at the Suez Canal, where violent measures and strikes had been carried out for years.  The British pursued a group of fedayeen to a police station in Ismailia, where the police refused to cooperate with British demanding the attackers be turned over.  A firefight ensued, and fifty Egyptian police were killed along with a hundred wounded.  Free Officers instigated riots that became the internationally notorious Cairo Fires.  King Farouk ended the government and attempted to install a series of prime ministers who could alleviate the turmoil, but the end had come.  General Muhammad Naguib, the face of the Free Officers Movement, announced a coup as Nasser’s allies took control of communication and transport hubs.  The king fled to Italy, and the government was placed in the hands of the Revolutionary Command Council with Naguib as chairman and Nasser as vice-chairman.

The RCC quickly began reforms on land ownership, ending the power of former royals.  Land reform seized property from anyone white as well as anyone Jewish, Greek, or Coptic.  Naguib envisioned a fast transition to civilian government, but other RCC members such as Nasser were more comfortable with military rule during the turbulent times as political parties (which became banned) could challenge their control.  Nasser began to chafe under Naguib’s conservatism and expanded his own powers.  Naguib gradually became a puppet holding executive offices and was forced to carry out RCC mandates despite his own voice being ignored.  Finally Naguib began to call for support from the banned political parties, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Wafd, who had served as a liberalizing faction in the past decades.

Nasser responded by having his allies in the military arrest Naguib in February of 1954.  Following the announcement, however, protests rose up from the people so much that Naguib was released and reinstated.  Even as Naguib came back into his position, Nasser moved to make himself prime minister and strip the office of commander of the army from Naguib, whom Nasser accused of aspiring to become dictator.  Defying the majority of RCC opinion, Naguib determined to denounce Nasser publically and called for immediate elections to a constitutional convention, riding the wave of anti-Nasser sentiment from his unlawful arrest.

Much of the army was still loyal to Nasser, but Naguib had been an influential commander and, using what was left of his command, relieved many of Nasser’s allies.  The populace reaffirmed his demand for elections with demonstrations, and Nasser could not muster enough support to stop the movement.  Having cut out much of Nasser’s support, Naguib reappointed Nasser as a representative to Europe to push for British withdrawal from the Suez Canal.  Nasser refused to leave Egypt and determined to continue RCC government while Naguib pressed for elections with his own staff.  Fighting ensued and spread to become the Egyptian Civil War.  Nasser’s forces held the north while Naguib, half-Sudanese himself, controlled the south.  Britain and France eagerly moved to aid Naguib, while Nasser, who eventually sought to nationalize the Suez Canal, gained aid from the Soviet bloc.  The war dragged on to a standstill, much as had been seen in Korea between the American-aided south and Chinese-aided north.  Sinai and the Suez Canal were occupied by Israel, whose armies devastated any forces sent by Nasser to retake it.

In 1956, UN resolutions affirmed the separation of Egypt into the Egyptian Republic and the Sudan and the UN-takeover of the canal as international territory, which was demanded by US President Eisenhower.  Ideas of pan-Arabism had been shattered along with the Arab League, and instead the Cold War carved up the region into clear Soviet-leaning and West-leaning nations.  Revolutions were suppressed by dominant parties while funding from economic patron countries allowed for development within the nations and pacification of despondent peoples.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union, much of the foreign political influence diminished while the price of oil remained low through the 1990s and early 2000s.  Global development increased demand for oil, creating a new era of wealth for the region.


In reality, Naguib did not oust Nasser and lost the power struggle in 1954 when Nasser declared himself prime minister and removed Naguib from Commander of the Armed Forces.  After a new constitution was readied in 1956, Nasser won the election to the presidency that June and began the Suez Crisis as he successfully nationalized the canal.  His victory over the West solidified his rule, and Nasser inspired many other coups throughout the region.  Nasser’s ideals of modernization, socialization, and pan-Arabism increased, even forming the short-lived United Arab Republic with Syria.  Ultimately, however, the Six Day War with Israel would lead to Nasser’s resignation in 1967, although his followers’ dominance in Egypt would continue until 2011, heralding the Arab Spring.

Friday, July 20, 2012

June 19, 1754 – Iroquois Leave Albany Congress

As Europeans explored and settled North America, the Native American peoples gained new markets for prized beaver pelts.  A confederation of Iroquois-speaking peoples made up of the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and Mohawk tribes served as the dominant political entity in the region and economic center through which most of the beaver pelts passed on their way to Dutch traders.  In the seventeenth century, the French under Samuel de Champlain allied with enemies of the Iroquois such as the Algonquin and Huron and pushed the Confederation south, clearing the northerly trade route up the St. Lawrence River for French domination.  Overhunting due to the easy use of firearms caused a decline of beaver population, and the Iroquois, aided by the Dutch, pushed north and west in search of more hunting grounds.  Conflict with allies brought the French into the war directly, and the two fought for decades until the Iroquois saw a greater threat: English settlement.  The English had replaced the Dutch as trade-partners, but they settled much more aggressively, and in 1701 the Iroquois and French signed the Great Peace of Montreal despite English outrage.

A delicate balance of power formed around the Ohio Valley.  The French dominated Canada while the English held the eastern seaboard, and both vied for trade with the Iroquois, who transformed their society by improving farming and education.  Proximity and economics gravitated the Iroquois toward the English, even to the point of Queen Anne welcoming four chiefs to her court in London.  Despite familiarity, the problem of settlement continued.  The Tuscarora were pushed out of their lands in what the English claimed as North Carolina and became part of the Iroquois Confederacy when they settled among the Oneida and Onondaga.  Settlers in Virginia set up on land west of the Blue Ridge Mountains despite the 1722 Treaty of Albany, nearly leading to war before Governor William Gooch purchased settled land.  The Treaty of Lancaster in 1744 saw the Iroquois sell the rest of the territory claimed by the Virginia.  Both sides saw the sale meaning different territory, however; the Iroquois believed it to be the Shenandoah Valley while the English understood it to be the full 1609 claim stretching to the Pacific.

Amid the turmoil, the French determined to strengthen their hold on the Ohio Valley.  Their position had weakened among Native Americans due to the British blockade during King George’s War of the 1740s, leaving English settlers as the only trade-partners for locals.  In 1749, Governor-General of New France Comte de la Galissoniere dispatched Captain Céloron de Blainville from Detroit to demarcate river-ways to prove their claim and impress local Indians.  He came to Logstown, a settlement of thirty log cabins that had been placed in modern western Pennsylvania by the French several years before and donated to the local Indians.  There, he found English traders, and became enraged.  Instead of acting out, however, he decided to use the incursion to his advantage and point out mockingly just how far beyond their treaties the English would settle again and again while the French had yet to break any word from Montreal.  His Iroquois guides were impressed, and word spread about French recognition of treaties, creating a potent diplomatic victory upon the announcement of active settling in the area by the Ohio Company of Virginia.  Trade with the French became encouraged as the blockade ended, and a new market opened down the Mississippi River.  In 1752, Iroquois and Ohio Company representatives met, but the heightened Iroquois demands for payment were considered too expensive.

Relations worsened in December of 1753 as Governor Robert Dinwiddie of Virginia, himself heavily invested in the Ohio Company and standing to lose money, demanded the French leave Ohio by letter through Major George Washington.  The French commander, Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre, refused, and war began.  The Iroquois led by the Mohawk were caught in the middle of the growing conflict and agreed to meet with representatives from seven American colonies at a conference in Albany, New York.  The Iroquois demanded terms of permanent borders with stiff penalties for those who settled illegally.  When the colonists could not agree, the Iroquois left the conference with impressions of war.  Some historians believe the move was to show the seriousness of leverage and that the Iroquois expected to have another meeting soon.

Colonists at the time, however, were terrified of losing their ally to France and took very seriously the proposal for a defensive union made by Benjamin Franklin, head of the representatives from Pennsylvania.  His “Albany Plan” outlined a detailed confederated colonial government consisting of an executive President General appointed by the Crown and a Grand Council formed of representatives from the colonies.  While the full plan outlined ideals for shared trade powers and the right to create treaties with Indians, the assembly streamlined it for acceptance at a time of war to a simpler military union.

The panicked colonial legislatures, unnerved further by Franklin’s “Join or Die” cartoon, approved the confederation and began organizing taxes to support local armies beyond militia.  The Colonial Office in London agreed as well, seeing a chance to earn badly needed cash for the coming war with France and Spain in Europe.  Major General Edward Braddock was named the first President General and dispatched with an army to be joined by American troops, but his first expedition ended in failure and his own death.  The war went poorly for the British initially as the Iroquois joined with other French allies in attacking settlers, but the colonies rose up as former militia became hardened soldiers through British training.  By the end of the war, the Americans had stormed into the Ohio Valley and conquered Canada.

In the 1760s, the colonies enjoyed their newfound military autonomy under President Generals Jeffrey Amherst and Thomas Gage, who seemingly encouraged encroachment to further British military holdings in the face of Spanish Louisiana and Florida.  To fund their expansion, the colonists held congresses that sold seized land and offered prizes to colonies who volunteered treasury money.  The right to tax was discussed often, but outspoken leaders such as Thomas Paine and Samuel Adams refused to let the common man pay for another man’s profit.  London became nervous about coming so close to Spanish lands, but wealthy officers among the growing plantation class in the South and land speculators in the North encouraged cooperation by aiding with the enormous debts from the Seven Years’ War.  Colonies such as Delaware and South Carolina, who felt they had no stake in the military defense, left the union.  Further divisions such as the problem of slavery and the sale of bonds for infrastructure weakened the confederation into northern and southern camps.

Revolutions in France followed poor harvests in the 1780s, and like-minded thinkers in America called for direct representation in Parliament in the 1790s while others sought continued self-rule.  Prime Minister William Pitt agreed with the former, as the move would mean Americans would be responsible for aiding directly with the war effort against Revolutionary France.  Americans fought on battlefields in Europe as well as gaining Louisiana and Florida from the Spanish by conquest.  After the wars of revolution, Britain and her American colonies continued amicably until the empire-wide end of slavery caused several colonies to attempt secession.  After years of violent war in the early 1830s, these colonies were brought back into the fold under a Reconstruction program.  Later wars in the twentieth century would weaken the empire overall, spurring decolonization to the Commonwealth into a series of six dominions.


In reality, Céloron’s diplomacy was merely use of force as he threw out the English traders, which disgusted his Iroquois guides and provoked them to leave for home, tearing up demarcation plaques as they went.  Later Céloron wrote, "All I can say is that the Natives of these localities are very badly disposed towards the French, and are entirely devoted to the English. I don't know in what way they could be brought back." The Iroquois Confederation were tight allies with the British up to the American Revolution, when the tribes split with the Oneida and Tuscarora joining the patriots while the rest remained loyal to Britain and suffered when Britain surrendered.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

June 18, 1815 – Napoleon Victorious at Waterloo

Born the second of eight children of a Corsican lawyer, Napoleon Bonaparte rose to become Emperor of France through merit and impeccable timing.  As a colonel and then general in Revolutionary France, Napoleon proved himself on battlefields in Italy and the streets of Paris.  He returned to France from a failed expedition to the Middle East, hurrying just in time to be part of a coup that would eventually set him up to autocratic power as a champion of liberty.  He used his military genius to expand French rule over almost all of Europe from Portugal to Russia, where he invaded in1812 to force his Continental System of economics in hopes of starving out his last enemies, the British.  The invasion turned into a fiasco, and Napoleon abdicated in 1814, retiring to the island of Elba in the Mediterranean.  After being frustrated with attempts to get his allowance and bring his family from the Austrian court, Napoleon evaded British naval patrols and returned to France.  For a time known as the Hundred-Twenty Days in 1815, Napoleon regained his title as emperor and mustered 200,000 soldiers into an army that hoped to secure France’s position among Europe.

The other nations, however, already moved in the Seventh Coalition to force his second abdication.  Austria, Prussia, Russia, United Kingdom, and Bourbon France had already begun meeting at the Congress of Vienna along with Spain, Sweden, Portugal, and many other delegates from southern and central Europe.  One of the first actions was the agreement of each major power to put armies of 150,000 men into the field, creating a staggering opposition that Napoleon determined to defeat with a preemptive campaign.  He marched with an army of 126,000 into the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, where he hoped to break the British under Wellington and the Prussians under Blucher before they could join their forces into an army twice his size.

The Dutch Campaign began with a French victory over Blucher at Ligny on June 16.  The Prussians were driven to retreat northward, and Napoleon sent Marshall Grouchy in pursuit.  Wellington, meanwhile, realized his position had become jeopardized and fell back as well.  Napoleon and the bulk of his army followed, finally catching him at the village of Waterloo. Torrential rainstorms had moved in, but a westerly wind pushed the majority of the rain fell east to where the Prussians’ retreat became mired as they tried to reform corps for a counter-attack.  Grouchy redirected his attacks to the western flank when he heard cannon begin the Battle of Waterloo some miles to the southwest and cut off any chance of a Prussian flank.

At Waterloo, there was much less rain, and Napoleon deemed the battlefield dry enough for a fight by midmorning.  Wellington’s troops withstood repeated attacks from the French before finally breaking under the strength of Napoleon’s elite Old Guard.  Despite British reserves and cavalry charges, the French pushed the British into retreat by afternoon.  On June 19, Napoleon marched his forces to Wavre, where Grouchy had pinned up reinforcements, and the combined French force crushed the Prussians.  He turned northward again and drove Wellington into the sea before turning south to deal with the next Coalition force.

A massive Austrian force of 225,000 soldiers were marching through the Rhineland under Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg, the man who had defeated Napoleon at Leipzig in 1813 and taken Paris in 1814.  Napoleon had left Marshall Rapp in his path with 23,000 men, but Rapp, despite winning a victory at La Suffel against a force of 40,000 under the Crown Prince of Wurttemberg, could do little to stall the large force.  Napoleon marched south back into France, joined with Rapp, and made his final stand at Nancy.  Many of his attendants would later recall Napoleon’s observation that Charles the Bold had died at Nancy and ended Burgundian Valois.  The exhausted French army was overwhelmed by the Austrians, and Napoleon was taken captive July 15, 1815.

Napoleon was imprisoned in the Austrian court, where he lived out his life with his wife and son, whom he had missed dearly in Elba.  Klemens von Metternich, who had guided Austria as Foreign Minister and Minister of State during the Napoleonic Wars, met with him often, discussing the liberalization of Europe.  Metternich had orchestrated the short-lived alliance between Austria and France and Napoleon’s marriage to Princess Marie Louise but switched sides as he predicted Napoleon’s eventual defeat.  The Congress of Vienna, which decided nearly all of the geographic and political questions in post-Napoleon Europe, had been his brainchild.  As witness at the Battle of Nancy and then champion opposing the notion of breaking up France, Metternich was considered the most powerful diplomat in the world.  Demands for independence from Austrian rule in Germany after the fall of the Holy Roman Empire and talk of unification in Italy still plagued him, however.

In moves that were believed to have been advised by Napoleon recalling days of the Revolution, Metternich shifted his standings on the questions to public support, emulating what Napoleon had done convincing a liberal France to support an autocratic emperor.  Metternich had long served the conservative, royal factions and now campaigned for them to follow the ideals of Italian unification (under Austrian terms, of course).  The press was seen as the pulse of the people, and Metternich followed it closely to guide him in maintaining power.  He set up reforms throughout the myriad of people-groups in Austria, encouraging a Hungarian diet as well as economic unions through the south of Germany that would counterbalance the growth of Prussian power in the north.  His work seemed successful when Austria proved immune to liberal revolts that plagued Spain, where he was quick to act as assert yet more diplomatic authority.  Later, his attention turned eastward, encouraging Greek nationalism and intervening in the Egyptian-Ottoman War of 1831, affirming a confederation (under Austrian guidance) for the Balkan nations seeking to throw off the yoke of Ottoman rule.

Through his tenure, Metternich carefully balanced conservative ideals on the growing wave of liberalism throughout Europe.  He frustrated the attempts at Tsar Alexander I’s “Holy Alliance” to repress democracy and instead stirred favor for the Austrian model.  Vienna continued to be the diplomatic capital of the continent, though it drove away Britain, who focused attention on empire worldwide.  Britain finally came back into European affairs with the Russian-Ottoman War in 1853, and, in the last years of his life, Metternich recommended action that resulted in Vienna once again hosting an international treaty in 1856.  After Metternich’s death in 1859, Austria would continue to be a sprawling empire under Franz Joseph, who upheld many of Metternich’s ideas on directing liberalization.  While much of Europe carried out imperialistic wars in Africa, Central Asia, and the Pacific in the twentieth century, Austria maintained its position as a central power, practically the hinge on which Europe, and the world, swung.  Even the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914 by anarchists was smoothed as Serbia, part of the Balkan Confederation headed by Austria, gave its deepest condolences.


In reality, the rains did not slow the Prussians’ march, and Napoleon’s wait until noon for the battlefield to dry has been criticized as one of many possible points where the battle was lost.  Blucher’s forces swept into the battlefield in a flanking maneuver that defeated the French utterly, leading Napoleon to surrender to the HMS Bellephoron and into British political asylum.  Metternich’s Congress of Vienna determined a new Europe, satisfying conservatives while ignoring the growing strength of liberalization that had been spread by the short-lived Napoleonic Empire.  Although it created decades of external stability, revolutions and nationalistic wars would eventually shatter the ideals of empire.

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