Ch 11 The Industrial Revolution

CH.11-THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

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CHAPTER XI  THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

SECTION 5: THE NAPOLEONIC WARS

 

FROM 1793, THROUGH VARIOUS COALITIONS, BRITAIN REMAINED AT WAR WITH FRANCE UNTIL 1814 AND WAS ABLE TO CAPTURE PARIS.

SHE WAS ABLE TO DO THIS THROUGH THE STRENGTH OF HER CAPITALIST ECONOMIC ORGANISATION. INCREASINGLY MODERN INDUSTRY WAS ABLE TO RAISE VAST SUMS OF MONEY WITHOUT BANKRUPTCY.

THE DEBT ROSE SHARPLY TO £334 MILLION, RAISED AT A HEAVY DISCOUNT, YET ONLY £200 MILLION WAS RECEIVED IN CASH BY THE GOVERNMENT.

THE DEBT REDUCED REAL WAGES AND FORCED UP PRICES, BUT FINANCIERS, RENTIERS AND BANKING MAGNETS INCREASED AND PROSPERED.

THE EFFECT OF THIS WAR FINANCE CREATED THE MODERN TORY PARTY.

PEERAGES MULTIPLIED. IN 17 YEARS, PITT CREATED 95 ENGLISH AND 77 IRISH PEERS. "THE ANCIENT NOBILITY AND GENTRY", WROTE COBBETT IN 1802, “HAVE WITH VERY FEW EXCEPTIONS BEEN THRUST OUT OF ALL PUBLIC EMPLOYMENTS… A RACE OF MERCHANTS, MANUFACTURERS, BANKERS AND LOAN JOBBERS AND CONTRACTORS HAVE USURPED THEIR PLACE," AND, IN 1804, "THERE ALWAYS WAS AMONG THE CREATIVE AND CLOSE ADHERENTS OF MR PITT, A STRANGE MIXTURE… JOBBERS IN THE MORNING AND METHODISTS IN THE AFTEROON.”

YET THE WEALTH AT PITT’S DISPOSAL COULD NOT PREVENT HIS COALITION FROM GOING DOWN LIKE NINEPINS BEFORE THE ARMIES OF FRANCE.

FLANDERS AND HOLLAND WERE OVERRUN, THE DUKE OF YORK, POSSIBLY OUR MOST INCOMPETENT GENERAL, WAS TROUNCED AT DUNKIRK.

THE WEST INDIES, ALWAYS A VITAL CONCERN TO THE CITY, ABSORBED THE GREATER PART OF BRITAIN'S LAND FORCES. IN THREE YEARS, 80,000 MEN WERE LOST THERE WITH NO RESULT. THIS EXPEDITION WAS IN LINE WITH PAST PRACTICE -INADEQUATELY EQUIPPED TROOPS SENT TO A TROPICAL CLIMATE.

THE CONQUEST OF ITALY DROVE AUSTRIA OUT OF THE WAR. BRITAIN WAS ISOLATED, AS FRANCE HAD BEEN IN 1792. THE WAR COULD HAVE ENDED BUT FOR NAPOLEON’S STRATEGIC MISCALCULATION: HIS DECISION TO INVADE BRITAIN THROUGH EGYPT, INSTEAD OF THROUGH IRELAND.

IT WAS A DECISION THAT SHOWED THE EXTENT TO WHICH GRANDIOSE SCHEMES WERE REPLACING REVOLUTIONARY REALISM. THE FRENCH REPUBLIC HAD FINALLY HARDENED INTO A MILITARY DICTATORSHIP.

IRELAND HAD BEEN MORE AFFECTED BY THE FRENCH REVOLUTION THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY IN EUROPE. UNDER WOLFE TONE, THE UNITED IRISHMEN DEMANDED IRISH INDEPENDENCE WITH THE RADICAL REPUBLICANISM OF PAINE. THE IRISH WERE RIGHTLY DISTRUSTFUL OF THE ARISTOCRACY AND MIDDLE CLASS, AND THEIR ‘VOLUNTEERS’ APPEALED TO “THAT LARGE AND RESPECTABLE CLASS OF THE COMMUNITY OF MEN WITH NO PROPERTY.”

THE UNITED IRISHMEN QUICKLY TOOK THE LEAD AND BROKE THE HOSTILITY BETWEEN THE CATHOLICS AND PROTESTANTS, COMBINING BOTH AGAINST ENGLAND AND THE IRISH RULING CLASS.

TONE WENT TO FRANCE, BUT NAPOLEON HAD HIS EYES FACING EAST. HOWEVER, A FORCE OF 15,000 MEN WAS PREPARED FOR AN INVASION, BUT PLANS WERE ONLY HALF HEARTED. WHEN THE FLEET SET FOR MUNSTER FROM BREST, THE WEATHER AND MILITARY BLUNDERS PREVENTED A LANDING AT BANTRY BAY.

ONE CHANCE WAS MISSED, BUT ANOTHER CAME IN 1797 WHEN THE BRITISH FLEET WAS PARALYSED BY THE NORE MUTINY. THERE HAD BEEN BAD PLANNING AND MISMANAGEMENT OF THE EXPEDITION, WHICH WAS NOT READY UNTIL THE MUTINY WAS CRUSHED.

THE IRISH WAITED TWO YEARS FOR HELP, BUT NONE CAME, AND SIR RALPH ABERCROMBIE, THE ENGLISH COMMANDER IN IRELAND, DECLARED "EVERY CRUELTY THAT COULD BE COMMITTED BY COSSACKS OR CALMUCKS HAD BEEN TRANSACTED HERE."

THE CATHOLIC AND PROTESTANT ALLIANCE WAS BROKEN WHEN THE CATHOLIC PEASANTS ROSE ALONE IN MAY 1798. THE RISING WAS SUPPRESSED AFTER HARD FIGHTING, AND BRUTALITY COWERED THE COUNTRY. WHEN A SMALL FRENCH FORCE DID ARRIVE, IT FOUND THE REBELLION OVER AND WAS FORCED TO SURRENDER.

TONE WAS CAPTURED AND COMMITTED SUICIDE. A SECOND INSURRECTION LED BY ROBERT EMMET WAS CRUSHED TOO.

NAPOLEON’S FLEET WAS DESTROYED AT THE BATTLE OF THE NILE IN 1798, CUTTING HIS TROOPS OFF FROM HOME. A RUSSIAN ARMY DROVE THE FRENCH OUT OF NORTH ITALY, AND THE BOURBON KING OF NAPLES CAPTURED THE SOUTH WITH THE AID OF NELSON’S FLEET.

THE FRENCH ARMIES HAD BEEN WELCOMED AS LIBERATORS BY THE MIDDLE AND LOWER CLASSES OF THE COUNTRIES THEY CONQUERED: ITALY, SWITZERLAND, THE RHINELAND AND THE LOW COUNTIES.

MARX DESCRIBES THE TYPICAL REACTION IN TRIER, WHICH RELEASED THE PEASANTS FROM FEUDALISM, FREED THE INTELLIGENTIA FROM THE TUTELAGE OF THE PRIESTS AND ENTHUSED THE TOWN TO DANCE  ROUND ‘THE TREE OF FREEDOM’, AS HAD THE INHABITANTS OF MAINZ. THEY HAD THEIR OWN JACOBIN CLUB, WHICH HAS LASTED TO THIS DAY.

THE PRICE OF LIBERATION WAS HEAVY TAXATION AND THE CONSCRIPTION OF THEIR SONS INTO THE GAPS OF THE FRENCH ARMY.

THE NAPOLEONIC REGIME COULD ONLY CONTINUE BY EXPLOITATION OF MORE ‘LIBERATED’ TERRITORIES. MORE TERRITORY HAD TO BE ‘LIBERATED’ AND EXPLOITED, THE LONGER WAR WENT ON.

THERE WAS NO ESCAPE FROM THE CONTRADICTION. FURTHERMORE, THE PRACTICE OF LIVING OFF THE COUNTRYSIDE WAS A MILITARY STRENGTH BUT A POLITICAL WEAKNESS.

PEOPLE WHO HAD WELCOMED THE FRENCH WERE GRADUALLY ALIENATED. BEETHOVEN INTENDED TO DEDICATE HIS ‘HEROIC SYMPHONY’ TO NAPOLEON AND THEN THOUGHT BETTER OF IT.

BY BREAKING THE SHELL OF FEUDALISM, THE FRENCH HAD CREATED A BOURGEOIS NATIONALISM THAT INEVITABLY TURNED AGAINST ITS CREATORS.

NAPOLEON HAD MANY YEARS OF VICTORY BY THE END OF THE CENTURY. IN THE YEARS THAT FOLLOWED, ALONG WITH BRITAIN, HE FORMED THE CODE NAPOLEON, CREATING A MODERN AND EFFICIENT CIVIL SERVICE.

THE TREATY OF AMIENS, THOUGHT ONLY TO BE A TRUCE, GAVE WAY TO HOSTILITIES AGAIN IN 1802, LEAVING FRANCE IN CONTROL OF HOLLAND AND THE WEST BANK OF THE RHINE.

WHEN WAR RESUMED, NAPOLEON HAD AS ALLIES SPAIN AND HOLLAND. THE FRENCH ARMY WAS CAMPED AT BOULOGNE READY FOR THE DESCENT ON ENGLAND IF THE FRENCH FLEETS COULD BE BROUGHT TOGETHER FOR THE CROSSING.

IN MARCH 1805, THE TOULON FLEET SLIPPED PAST THE BLOCKADE AND SAILED FOR THE WEST INDIES WITH NELSON IN PURSUIT, BUT THE BREST FLEET FAILED TO ESCAPE, AND THE TOULON FLEET DOUBLED BACK TO JOIN THE SPANISH AT CADIZ. IN OCTOBER, BOTH FLEETS WERE DESTROYED AT TRAFALGAR.

HOWEVER, BEFORE TRAFALGAR, THE SCHEME TO INVADE ENGLAND HAD BEEN ABANDONED. PITT HAD PERSUADED AUSTRIA AND RUSSIA TO JOIN IN THE THIRD COALITION, AND THE FRENCH ARMY MARCHED ACROSS EUROPE TO MEET THE NEW ENEMY.

IT IS A MYTH THAT TRAFALGAR SAVED ENGLAND FROM INVASION. WHAT IT DID WAS TO PLACE HER NAVAL SUPREMACY BEYOND QUESTION FOR THE REST OF THE WAR.

ON THE DAY BEFORE TRAFALGAR, NAPOLEON DEFEATED AN AUSTRIAN ARMY AT ULM ON THE DANUBE AND, SOON AFTER, DEFEATED AUSTRIAN AND RUSSION FORCES AT AUSTERLITZ.

PITT DIED IN JANUARY 1806, LEAVING BRITAIN TO BE GOVERNED BY THE JACKALS CASTLEREAGH, SIDMOUTH, ELDON AND PERCEVAL. IN THE OCTOBER, THE KING OF PRUSSIA, WHO HAD REFUSED TO JOIN THE THIRD COALITION, WAS PUSHED INTO WAR AND DEFEATED AT JENA.

FOR SIX YEARS, NEITHER AUSTRIA NOR PRUSSIA COUNTED AS EURPOEAN POWERS, AND, AFTER DEFEAT AT FRIEDLANDIN IN 1807, THE TSAR OF RUSSIA MADE HIS PEACE.

NAPOLEON NOW RULED A EUROPEAN EMPIRE.

IT WAS RUSSIA AND SPAIN, THE TWO REMOTEST AND LEAST DEVELOPED POWERS OF EUROPE, WHO FINALLY BROKE NAPOLEON.

NEITHER OF THESE COUNTRIES HAD STRONG MIDDLE CLASSES, AND, FOR A TIME, TSAR ALEXANDER AND NAPOLEON COMBINED TO DOMINATE EUROPE. HOWEVER, NAPOLEON REFUSED TO TREAT ALEXANDER AS AN EQUAL, AND HE WOULD NOT BE SUBORDINATED.

NAPOLEON TRIED TO STRIKE AT ENGLAND BY IMPOSING A BAN ON HER MANUFACTURED GOODS. ENGLAND REPLIED WITH A BLOCKADE. NEITHER WERE EFFECTIVE, BUT THE ALLIANCE WITH RUSSIA WAS STRAINED THEN BROKEN.

BEFORE THIS, PORTUGAL, DOMINATED BY THE BRITISH FOR A CENTURY, REFUSED TO RECOGNISE NAPOLEON’S ‘CONTINENTAL SYSTEM’, AND THE FRENCH ARMY WAS SENT TO PREVENT TRADE BETWEEN BRITAIN AND PORTUGAL. AT THIS TIME, NAPOLEON ATTEMPTED TO CHANGE HIS INDIRECT CONTROL OVER SPAIN BY MAKING HIS BROTHER, JOSEPH, THE KING.

THE SPANISH PROVED TO BE THE WORST REGULAR SOLDIERS AND THE BEST GUERRILLAS IN EUROPE. THEIR ARMIES WERE DEFEATED, BUT THE PEOPLE FOUGHT A WAR WHICH FORCED NAPOLEON TO CONCENTRATE LARGER AND LARGER FORCES IN SPAIN.

IN 1808, SIR ARTHUR WELLESLEY, LATER DUKE OF WELLINGTON, WAS SENT TO PORTUGAL WITH A SMALL ARMY TO ASSIST THE SPAINISH AND PROTECT PORTUGAL. ALTHOUGH THE FRENCH HAD 300,000 MEN IN THE PENINSULA, THEY WERE ONLY ABLE TO CONCENTRATE A FIFTH AT A TIME AGAINST WELLINGTON.

IN SIX YEARS OF CAMPAIGNING, THE FRENCH WERE UNABLE TO ADVANCE, RETREAT OR BATTLE EFFECTIVELY DUE TO GUERRILLA CAMPAIGNS.

IN 1811, NAPOLEON HAD WITHDRAWN PART OF THE FORCE FOR THE RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE, AND WELLINGTON WAS ABLE TO TAKE THE OFFENSIVE. STEP BY STEP, THE FRENCH WERE DRIVEN OUT OF THE PENINSULA.

WITH AN ARMY OF HALF A MILLION, COMPRISING   POLES, ITALIANS, GERMANS AND FRENCH, NAPOLEON ATTACKED RUSSIA. THE GRAND ARMY MARCHED ON MOSCOW, AND ITS DISASTROUS RETREAT SET EUROPE ABLAZE. GERMANY ROSE AGAINST THE DEFEATED EMPORER.

HE EVEN PUT TOGETHER ANOTHER ARMY, ALMOST AS LARGE AS THE ONE HE LOST, BUT WAS DECISEVELY BEATEN AT LEIPZIG IN 1813. IN SPITE OF THIS, HE REJECTED AN OFFER OF PEACE, LEAVING HIM THE RHINE AS A FRONTIER. IN APRIL 1814, THE ALLIES ENTERED PARIS

ENGLAND, RUSSIA, AUSTRIA AND PRUSSIA FOUGHT OVER THE SPOILS AT THE CONGRESS OF VIENNA BUT IN 1815 WERE INTERRUPTED BY NAPOLEON ‘S RETURN TO FRANCE AND THE 100 DAYS’ CAMPAIGN, WHICH ENDED IN HIS DEFEAT AT WATERLOO.

THE MAIN SETTLEMENT AT VIENNA WAS THE RESTORATION OF DESPOTISM AND THE TRIUMPH OF WHAT WAS CALLED ‘PRINCIPLE OF LEGITIMACY’. THIS WAS ONLY NEGLECTED WHEN IT HAPPENED TO RUN COUNTER TO THE INTERESTS OF AUSTRIA, RUSSIA OR PRUSSIA. THUS, POLAND VENICE, SAXONY AND OTHER SMALL STATES WERE SWALLOWED BY GREATER NEIGHBOURS.

REVOLUTION WAS FELT TO BE AS MUCH AN ENEMY AS FRANCE. THERE WAS ‘THE HOLY ALLIANCE’: AUSTRIA RUSSIA AND PRUSSIA AGREED TO GIVE EACH OTHER SUPPORT AGAINST THE HORROR OF AN INSURGENT DEMOCRACY.

IT DID NOT SURVIVE THE UPRISING AND UPHEAVALS OF 1830, HOWEVER. IN FRANCE, THE RESTORATION OF THE BOURBONS DID NOT MEAN THE RESTORATION OF ARISTOCRATIC PRIVILEGE OR SUPERSESSION OF THE ‘CODE NAPOLEON.

IN GERMANY, PRUSSIA EXTENDED ITS POWER OVER THE RHINELAND, BUT MOST OF THE SOCIAL CHANGES RESULTING FROM FRENCH OCCUPATION WENT UNDISTURBED.

THE PATCHWORK OF GERMAN STATES WAS DRAWN TOGETHER INTO A GERMAN CONFEDERATION, IN WHICH AUSTRIA AND PRUSSIA BOTH PARTICIPATED. IT BECAME THE THEATRE OF BATTLE BETWEEN THEM FOR THE HEGEMONY OF CENTRAL EUROPE.

ENGLAND’S SHARE OF THE PLUNDER CAME MAINLY FROM OUTSIDE EUROPE BY THE ACQUISITION OF MALTA, MAURITIUS, CEYLON, HELIGOL AND THE CAPE, THEN ONLY INHABITATED BY A FEW DUTCH FARMERS AND VALUED ONLY AS A STOPPING PLACE ON THE WAY TO INDIA.

THE BRITISH BOURGEOISIE CAME OUT OF THE WAR READY TO CONSOLIDATE A WORLD MONOPOLY FOR THE PRODUCE OF THEIR FACTORIES AND TO BEGIN A PERIOD OF HITHERTO UNIMAGINED ADVANCE.

YET, THE RESULT OF THE PEACE WAS A SEVERE POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC CRISIS.

NEXT - CHAPTER XII - THE TRIUMPH OF INDUSTRIAL CAPITALISM: ENGLAND AFTER WATERLOO

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