Awful Governments

Stupid and Corrupt governments



Read on to discover the shocking facts about just how dreadful your government would have been if you have lived in Europe in 1900:




Germany was massively powerful, with the most up-to-date industry in the world.   Germany had become a united country for the first time in 1870-1.   At first, the Chancellor Otto von Bismarck was careful not to annoy other countries, but after 1890 the slightly-mad Kaiser Wilhelm II took over the government.  



A very weak despotism, ruled by a corrupt government.   Turkey was known as ‘the sick man of Europe’.    Once, Turkey had ruled all of the Balkans, but now the peoples of that area were rebelling and driving the Turks out – this created a significant area of instability in Europe: ‘the Balkan pressure-cooker’.


Austria Hungary

Had once been a strong empire, but now the government was weak and divided (the Austrians and the Hungarians hated each other).   Austria-Hungary had been built up by marriage and diplomacy during the Middle Ages, and was known as the ‘polyglot (many languages) empire’ because of all the different races in it.   The Habsburg rulers were stupid and inbred, and Emperor Franz Josef was old and autocratic.   



A new country formed in 1866.   A weak ruler, chaotic governments and a pathetic army.   The Mafia and corruption everywhere.



Russia was huge but backward.   Nicholas II was a weak and ineffectual ruler, dominated by his wife and the ‘mad monk’ Rasputin.   He kept power by setting the Cossacks on the mob, and by his Okhrana (secret police).   Russia lost a war to Japan disastrously in 1904.



France was a democracy, but the French government was weak.   In 1870-1, when Germany was trying to become a united country, France had gone to war to try to stop it.   The Germans won the war easily, and took the area of Alsace Lorraine from France.   The French were desperate for revenge.



Britain was a democracy with a huge empire, but until 1900 Britain believed in ‘splendid isolation’ – keeping out of affairs in Europe.   Neither do you want to go running away with the idea that Britain had an efficient or modern government.   The army was still dominated by the aristocracy, Britain in 1900 did not have state unemployment pay, sick pay or old age pensions, and women were not given the vote until 1918.










 Did You Know?

Kaiser Wilhelm had a withered arm and suffered a slight paralysis which made him unsteady on his feet.   To overcome this, his teachers bullied him; historians think that this caused his unstable and aggressive character - and may have been a contributory factor to the outbreak of war.