In 1901 Edward VII came to the British throne, The Victorian age was over, Britain was the richest and most powerful country in the world and the first to become industrialized in the nineteenth century. (Workshop of the world) Although it was a rich country there was a tenth of the population who were living in semi starvation and dirt. In 1899 there was a war with the Boers(South Africa) English people went there in order to conquer land and they were surprised by the strength and decision of the Boers. The firm centre of the middle class lived in a solidly build terraced house heavily furnished. King Edward the seventh died in 1910 and his successor was George the Fifth. He had to face the nationalism problem: The Irish wanted home rule and the liberals promiseda new bill that would give it to them at last.
The German Empire was the most important military power in Europe. People were prosperous, hardworking educated and orderly. The emperor Kaiser William the II had more power than the British King. The German socialist party was the biggest in the Reichstag.
The French third Republic was less industrialized than the others and there wasdiscontent among the industrial workers. From 1900 there was a succession of big strikes. Most of the French people remained united because of the hatred against Germany due to the humiliation suffered in the war of 1870_1.
The Austro- Hungarian dual monarchy was another divided state, mainly between different nationalities. The two leading nations were the German-speaking Austrians (west) and theHungarians (east).
The Russian Empire was the biggest but weakest of the great powers. Its big size made it difficult to govern. In 1900 it was still a society of peasants and landlords, ruled by the tsar with absolute power. In 1904 there was a war with Japan, trade went down and prices rose. In St. Petersburg there was procession of poor people to the winter palace, where the soldiers opened fireand lots were killed, this was known as the “bloody Sunday”. In 1905 there were lots of strikes and the government created a parliament or duma. In 1906 they created a parliament of sorts and with this there were some improvements: better education and help for peasants.
The world outside Europe
In many lands across the ocean far from Europe there were European nations. They had grown fromcolonies (Spanish-speaking or English-speaking). Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were self-governing countries that stayed in the British Empire because they wanted to. The Spanish-speaking countries of South America, and Portuguese speaking Brazil, had become entirely independent of the mother country during the early nineteenth century. The United States of America had grown bigenough to rank with the great powers. However, the USA refused to become involved with Europe unless her own prosperity and safety could be at risk in the Pacific or in South and Central America.
Japan had to learn western technical skills in order to survive. By 1900 they had an efficient western- style civil service, army and navy and her industries were growing well. Finally, they foughtin the Russo- Japanese war of 1904-5 and won.
China had been slow to learn and suffered one humiliating defeat after another and forced to hand over great port to foreigners and allowed them to behave as masters of the country in large areas (spheres of influence).
India had never been one unified empire. The British imposed their raj (rule) in 18th and19th century. With the Indian mutiny of1857 almost smashed the British whole. In 1885 the Indian National Congress Party was founded to work peacefully to persuade the British to give more power to India. In 1906 the Muslim league was founded. Britain‘s Indian Empire was the greatest and richest.
A worn out civilization
In Paris, some painters tried to rebuild the geometrical shapes behind every thing (Cubism) or to express...