Waterloo and the Advent of Pax Britannica

On the morning of 18 June 1815, few could have guessed that a sleepy village twenty kilometers south of Brussels would be thrust to prominence. The Battle of Waterloo, an epic clashing of arms, saw Napoleonic France face a coalition of Belgian, British, Dutch and German, Dutch troops under the command of the Duke of Wellington. Late on the morning of 18 June, a sizable … Continue reading Waterloo and the Advent of Pax Britannica

The Peace that Changed North America: The 1763 Treaty of Paris

There have been many Treaties of Paris throughout the modern era. Perhaps the best known of these are the treaties of Versailles (1919) and Saint-Germain (1919), that brought an end to World War I, and which are named after the Parisian suburbs where they were signed. However, the 1763 Treaty of Paris is one of the key documents of eighteenth century history. Indeed, it is … Continue reading The Peace that Changed North America: The 1763 Treaty of Paris

A Biography for New Year’s

For some, the New Year is a time for resolutions. A few among us might decide to tackle a historical biography. I know I will. I plan on reading a biography on the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898). A few historians will say that biographies distort history. Some say biographies, by focusing on individuals, ignore the so called great forces of history. That history … Continue reading A Biography for New Year’s

​Is Germany to Blame for the First World War?

The First World War is one of the great human catastrophes of world history. It ushered in a century of conflict, on a scale, and of a scope, never before seen. It has been 100 years since World War I began. Since it began, in the sordid summer of 1914, debate has surrounded its origins. The issue has yet to be resolved. There is no … Continue reading ​Is Germany to Blame for the First World War?

Can History be Objective?

My last article was on the 100 year anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo in 1914. In it, I questioned the tendency of historians to focus on German decision-making in the lead up to World War I. My focus was on Austria-Hungary, and more precisely the Austro-Hungarian Emperor, Franz Joseph. I received an interesting comment on the article that has stayed … Continue reading Can History be Objective?

Sarajevo, 100 Years On

It is one of those rare days that come to define a century. Sunday 28 June 1914. The day the first shots of what would become the Great War were fired. World War I was not inevitable. We should not read history backwards. The assassinations at Sarajevo were a crossroad, not a way station, on the road to Armageddon. The catastrophe that fell upon Europe … Continue reading Sarajevo, 100 Years On