War and Social Upheaval: Peace Conferences


Figure 1.--

Ennumerable wars commonly followed by peace treaties punctuate humn history. Most treaties proved to be mere armed truces. Others have been major turing points in history, marking important historical eras. There have been countless attempts, even in our modern age, to conquer nations or groups of nations. Some have involved minor territorial aims while others have sought to titally subject other nations. Most have ended with minor peace treaties between the major combatant countries. Some have evolved into major conflagrations causing untold death and distruction. The most devestating modern wars have been the 30 Years War which devestated Germany, the Napoleonic Wars, World War, and World War II. After each of these major wars, international conferences attempted to reconstruct Europe and in the case of the Worlds Wars, much of the rest of the world as well: Westphalia (1648), Vienna (1815), Paris (1919), and San Francisco (1945). The results even of the Peace of Westphalia persist in our modern world. Some of these treaties proved more controversial than the wars themselves, especially as the wars receeded in people memories. The Congress of Vienna became a symbol of the repression of the Ancien Regime. Hitler railed against the Versailles Peace Treaty, not the War. The American right after World War II attacked the Yalta Agreements and the United Nations created in San Francisco. While many treaties have ended wars, important treaties consumated both military and ecomomic alliances.

Treaty of Verdun (843)

Charlemange was crowned by Pope Leo III (800). This is generally seen as the foundation of the Holy Roman Empire. His son Louis the Pious ( -840) was a weak leader and Charlemagne's Empire began to decline. Louis had given his sons their own kingdoms to govern under him. Lothair had Italy, Louis the German had Bavaria. Charles the Bald had Aquitaine. The brothers after their father died fought over the Carolingian Empire, seeking to enlarge their territory. While brothers, they were raised separate and developed different outlooks. Lothar I the eldest brother attempted to establish his authority as emperor. The Franks had a system of partible or divisible inheritance rather than primogeniture, inheritance by the eldest son. Louis II (the German) and Charles II (the Bald) joined forces against their older brother. There were several bloody battles, the worst was Fontenoy in which Lothar's forced were badly was defeated. Louis and Charles swore the Oath of Strasbourg (842). Finally Lothar expressed a willingness to negotiate. The brothers reached an agreement--the Treaty of Verdun (843). The Treaty is often seen as the birth of modern Europe after the fall of Rome and the Germanic invasions that followed. The Empire under the treaty weas divided into three separate kingdoms. The kingdoms were arrange rather strangely on a north-south axis , ignoring major geographic features such as the Alps. Louis the German retained Francia Orientalis. Lothar obtained Francia Media (including northern Italy) anCharles the Bald obtained Francia Occidentalis. The three kings recognized themselves as equals. Lothar retained the imperial title and the imperial capital at Aix-la-Chapelle (modern Aachen). The separation of te Empire into three kingdoms, however, meant that the Empire in reality had lost its universal character,

Peace of Westphalia (1648)

The Peace of Westphalia ended the 30 Years War which ravaged much of Germany. The Treaty established the still conorstone of modern diplomacy that states are soverign. Before Westphalia there were other contending structures, most notably that of international religious organizations such as the Catholic Church. Religious passions subsided in Europe after the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht. Waring factions did not abandon their commitment to their version of orthodoxy, but the motivation to force such orthodoxy on another state by force was larely abandoned. War was certainly not abandoned in Europe, but religion became an increasingly lessimportant factor in the wars. This shift and the steady appearance of new Protestant denominations were undoubtedtly factors in the steady development of religious tolerartion within states, especially Preotestant states.

Treaty of Utrecht (1713-14)

The Treaty of Utrecht ended the War of the Spanish Sucessioin. There were in effect several treaties which were signed by the waring parties in Utrecht (1713). The wholesale peace included the Franco-Austrian treaties of Rastatt and Baden (1714). Several major provisions were concerned with the peace. The treaties recognized Philip V as the king of Spain and Philip renounced any claims to the Frenchb throne. Possession of the Spanish Netherlands (basically Belgium) and Italian provinces (Milan, Naples, and Sardinia) were transferred to the Austrian crown. British possession of Gibraltar and Minorica were confirmed. Sicily was awarded to Savoy. France recognized the legitimacy of the Hanovarian dynasty on the British throne. Commercial provisions were favorable to the Netherlands and Britain.

The Treaty of Paris (1783)

The Revolutionary War largely ceased after Lord Cornwallis surendered his army at Yorktown (1781). This was the second field army that Britain had lost in the War and there was no desire in Britain to continue fighting. Many issues remained to be settled in the peace negotiations. America's European allies (France and Spain) had their own demands on Britain. The Treaty of Paris bewtween Americand Britain formally ended the War (1783). The Treaty resulted when America broke from her Allies and signed a separate peace with Britain. As a result, the British conceded the new American Republic half a continent.

Congress of Vienna (1815)

The Congress of Vienna was the international conference held by the Great Powers to remake Europe after the cataclysmic convulsions of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars had shaken the old regimes of monarchial governent. The Congress was held in Vienna, Austria (September 1814 to June 1815). The Congress was in session when Napoleon escaped fom Elba and carried out his 100 Days campaign ending at waterloo. The Congress dominated by Russia and Austria. Austrian Foreign Ministr Meternich in particular played a key role. There were three primary outcomes. First, the Congress reimposed a conservtive regime in a Europe that had been fundamentally changed by the ideals of the French Revolution, no matter how imperfectly spread by Napoleon's military campaign. Second, the Congress sought to establish a balance of power in Europe to prevent future waes and the dominance of any single country. Third, Major territorial changes were made which redrew the map of Europe. The Great Powers had the ability to reimpose the Old Regime, but it did not have the ability to eradicate the ideas unleased by the French Revolution, both ideals of democrativ government and nationalist sentiment. Ignored by the Congress was the Industrial Revolution tht had begin in Britain and in the process of fundamental reshaping Europe and the balance of power with which the delegates at Vienna were so concerned.

World War I Peace Conferences (1918-21)

The Paris Peace Conference met in 1919. Terms in large part were dictated by the Big Four (the United States, Britain, France, and Italy). There were several actual treaties that ended the War. One, the Treaty of Breast-Litovsk between Germany and the new Bolshevick state in Russia was abrogated by the terms of the Armistace (November 11, 1918). The others were seprate traeties for each successor state of the Central Powers (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bugaria, and Turkey). The most famous of these treaties was Versailles (1919), the treaty ending the War with Germany. Germany and the other Central Powers were not invited to Paris to negotiate, only to sign the agrrement agreed to by the Allied Powers. The borders drawn for the defeated Central Powers in large measure reflect today's map of Europe, except for the changes made to the German border as a result of World War II. The Paris Paece Conference also enshirined the principle of national self determination. The Conference, unfortunately only ended the first round of a European conlict that would be renewed again after a 20-year truce in 1939. The World War I peace treaties could have brought a new era of self determinism to Europe, but proved to be mere cease fires leding to an even more terrible war.

Washington Naval Conference (1921)

The major naval powers (America, Britain, France, Italy, and Japan) agreed to substantial limitations on their naval strength which at the time was measured in battleships. American Secretary of State, Charles Evans Hughes organized a conference to address the problem of spiraling naval expendidutres as a result of the naval arms race. Senator William E. Borah, Republican of Idaho, who had led the fight againstvAmerican ratification of the Treaty of Versailles and participation in the League of Nations, strongly advocated efforts to limit the arms race. His efforts were not at first favored by the new Harding administration, but was eventually adopted as the Republican alternative to the Democrat's (Wilson's) policy of collective security through the League of Nations. The Confrence opened on Armistice Day 1921--a very meaningful date so close to World War I. The American delegation was led by Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes. Hughes shocked the other delegates by proposing a major reduction in naval fleets and not just limitations on new construction. This was far beyond what the other countries had anticipated. Some have called this one of the most dramatic moments in American diplomatic history. The American proposals entailed scrapping almost 2 million tons of warships as well as alengthy “holiday” on new building. The consequences of the Washington Treaties went far beyond this.

Kellog-Briand Treaty (1928)

The Kellogg-Briand Pact or the Pact of Paris where it was signed. The treaty renounced war "as an instrument of national policy." It was one of the best known efforts to prevent another Great War. Its idealism appealed to the temper of the times, but the treaty was one of the great failures of the inter-War era. It is name after American secretary of state, Frank B. Kellogg, and French Foreign minister Aristide Briand, who jountly drafted the pact. The pact was conceived in 1927 by Briand. His goal was a bilateral treaty with the United States. Because the United States had not joined the League, the United States was not involved in European security arrangements. Briand conceived of the danger to France of not having strong allies. The Russian Revolution meant that France no longer could look to Russia. Briand wanted a bilateral treaty with the United States. He knew that Ameica would never agree to a military alliance. So he conceived of a treaty outlawing war between the two countries. Of course war between the two countries was hardly likely, but Briand theorized that such a treaty might help secure American aid if another country attavked France. Kellogg was not at all interesed because the temper of the time was to avoid entangling alliances. Most Americans had come to think of participation in the War as a mistake. On the other hand, Briand's concept of outlawing war had appeled to the American public. Kellogg thus countered with a proposal for a multilateral treaty. Negotiations were held in Paris and an greement signed (August 27, 1928). Eleven countries (Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Germany, India, the Irish Free State, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States) signed. (France and the United States did not immediately sign. Three more countries (Poland, Belgium, and Japan) quickly signed. The United States Senate overwhelmingly approved the treaty with only one discenting vote. The Senate added a reservation that the treaty coul not infringe upon America's right of self defense and that the United States was under no oblifatio to enforce the treaty against countries which violated it. Sixty-two nations eventually signed the pact. The Kellogg-Briand Pact like the Washington Naval Conference help to allay public fears about war and probably helped to reduce military spending in America and other countries. This is one of the reasons that the democracies were so poorly prepared when World War II erupted. The Pact did not prevent war. Only a few years after signing the Pact, Japan invaded Manchuria (1931). The Pact did, however, help establish the legal bases for making the use of military force unlawful. The Nuremberg International Military Tribunal after World War II found several NAZI defendents guilty of Count Two, wageing Aggresive War/Crimes Against the Peace.war.

Munich Agreements (1938)

Hitler pitched his campaign against Czechoslovakia as being just an attempt to achieve a just settlement for the Sudeten Germans. The Allies in part came to agree that the Versailles Peace Treaty needed to be revised. More importantly they did not want War. Chamberlain presented Hitler a statement guaranteeing that Germany would make no further territorial demands in Europe. He eagerly signed. Chamberlain flew back to London and wabed the paper saying that he had achieved "Peace in our times". The Allies hoped that Munich had corrected the errors of Versailles and would be a lasting peace settlement. Only months later, Hitler in violation of the Munich Accords and is pledge to Chamberlain, seized the rest of Czechoslovakia and issued further territorial demands, this time against Poland.

NAZI-Soviet Non-Agression Pact (1939)

NAZI Foreign Minister Ribbentrop and newly appointed Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs Molotov on August 23, 1939, signed the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. At the time of thesigning, British and French delegations were in Moscow trying to reach an understanding with Stalin. Hewas convinced, however, that they were tring to draw him into a war with Hitler. The two countries which until that time had been bitter foes, pledged not attack each other. Any problems developing between the two countries were to be delt with amicably. It was last for 10 years. The Pact shocked the world and the purpose was immedietly apparent. It meant that Germany could attack Poland without fear of Soviet intervention. Thus after defeating Poland, Germany did not have to fear a full-scale European war on two fronts. What was not known at the time was that there was a secret protocol to the pact which in effect divided Eastern Europe betwen the two countries. This protocol was discoered after the end of the World War II in 1945. The Soviets continued to deny this protocol until 1989. The NAZIs 8 days after signing the Pact invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, launching World War II. Britain and France declared war September 3. Poland's fate was sealed on September 17, when the Soviets invaded Poland from the east. Although the Soviet's did not enter the War against Britain and France, the Soviets were virtual NAZI allies as they provided large quantaies of strategic materials, especially oil. Communist parties in Britainand France opposedthe war effort. The Communst Party in America opposed President Roosevelt's efforts to expand defense spending and assist Britain and France.

Axis Alliance (1940)

Germany, Italy, and Japan signed the Tripartite Pact September 27, 1940. The agreement allied Germany and Italy (which were at war with Britain) and Japan (which was at war with China). Germany and Italy has since 1939-40 been at war with Britain. Japan since 1937 had been at war with China. The alliance did not require the partners to join these wars, but it did require them to come to each other's aid if attacked by any country. The alliance became known as the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis alliance, or commonly the Axis. The three Axis partners recognized German hegemony over most of Europe; Italian hegemony in the Mediterranean, and Japanese hegemony in East Asia. After the Axis agreement was signed, several German allies joined the Axis, notably Vichy France and Fascist Spain refused to do so. Japan had no Asian allies, except for the puppet state of Manchukuo.

The Atlantic Charter (1941)

President Roosevelt and Primeminister Churchill meet aboard the Prince of Wales on August 9-13, 1941 at Placentia Bay. The Prince of Wales had been badly mauled by Bismark in May. It was to be sunk by a Japanese aerial attack in December. Roosevelt and Churchill issue the Atlantic Charter. The two were war time allies. Britain had weathered the worst that the NAZI Luftwaffe could throw at it. America and Britain were fighting the U-boats in the North Atlantic to keep Britain alive. It was clear that America would soon be drawn into the War. America had already played an important role in keeping Britain alive and the two countries were the only hope of the occupied European and in fact Western civilization itself--threatened by the evil tide of NAZI tyranny. The two leaders, the two most important men of the 20th century, agreed to a simple, but elegant eight-point statement of their aims and today still stands as the central credo of the Atlantic Alliance.

Yalta Agreements (1945)

The Yalta Conference was held in the Soviet Crimea, territory liberated from the NAZIs. An ever warry Stalin refused to leave the Soviet Union. As a result, a very sick Roosevelt had to make the long journey. The Big Three (Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill) met February 4-11) in the summerpalace of Tzar Nicholas II. The War in Europe had reached in climatic phase. The Red Army in the East had reached the Oder River and was preparing for an assault on Berlin. The Soviets now held all of Poland. The Red Army was the largest military force in Europe with 12 million soldiers in 300 divisions. The Allies in the West had defeated the last German offensive in the Ardennes and were driving toward the Rhine on Eisenhower's broad front. The Allies had a force of 4 million men in 85 divisions. The Allies had a massive air force which had devestated German industry and communications. The Yalta Agreement reached by the three leaders established the basis for the joint occupation of Germany and the establishment of democratic governments in the liberated countries. The Soviets agreed to a friendship pact with China. The three also agreed to establish the United Nations. Yalta is the most controversial of the World War II conferences. Some historians see Yalta as the beginning of the Cold War. The Yalta agreement included Soviet demands for reparations from Germany, for Poland to the Curzon line, for three seats in the United Nations, for territory in the Far East including Outer Mongolia, south Sakhalin Island, the Kuriles. After the War, Stalin did not honor the pledge to permit democratic elections in the liberated countries. As a result, Roosevelt was criticized for acceptng these demands. Right wing groups accused him of "selling out", in some cases the same people who had ealier opposed his efforts to prepare America for war. . Roosevelt was undeniably in poor healt at the conference, He in fact fied of a cerebral hemorrhage only 2 months later. While his declining health must have affected his performance at Yalta, the simple matter was that it was the Red Army that had liberated Eastern Europe and was the stringest military force on the Continent. The Allies had nor real way of preventing Stalin from drawing borders in the East and establishing repressive governments. Roosevelt told Adolf Berle after the Conference, "I didn't say the result was good. I said it was the best I could do." Roosevelt hoped that the new United Nations would be able to resolve the issues emerging at Yalta. [Dallek] This was as we now know an unrealistic assessment, but it was the only viable alternative availavle to both Roosevelt and Churchill in light of the reality of Soviet military power.

San Francisco Conference (1945)

Many of the territorial decissions following World War II were made at Yalta and Potsdam by the Big Three (Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States). The United Nations was created at San Francisco. The American political right after World War II attacked both the Yalta Agreements and the United Nations. The Yalta Agreements were flawed, but not as charged because of incompetence or more outlandishly treason. The Yalta Aggreements meerly recognized the existing power equilibrium between East and West. After the Fall of France in 1940, any outcome of World War II was going to disappoint the democrarcies. In actual fact, it was the Soviet Union and Red Army that played the central role in defeating the German Wehrmacht and any peace settlement short of a war with the Soviet Union had to reflect this. The San Francisco Conference had little chance of real success. Even befor World War II had ended, Stalin began to install repressive, puppet governments in each of the countries it controlled, except for Austria. Western opposition to Stalin's program to sovetize Eastern Europe as well as threats to Western Europe led to the Cold War which lasted until 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Marshall Plan (1948)


NATO (1948)


Treaty of Rome (19??)

The Treaty of Rome (19??) has led ultimately to the shaping of modern Europe and the European Union.






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Created: November 15, 1998
Last updated: 3:22 AM 10/15/2010