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Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 11, Slice 8 "Germany" to "Gibson, William"

Bismarck had maintained an attitude of neutrality


Except

in the matter of insurance, the total result, however, for the moment was small. The demands repeatedly made by the Centre and the Conservatives for effective factory legislation and prohibition of Sunday labour were not successful. Bismarck did not wish to lay heavier burdens on the capitalists, and it was not till a later period that they were carried out.

Foreign affairs: the Triple Alliance.

During all this period Bismarck's authority was so great, that in the conduct of foreign affairs he was freed from the criticism and opposition which so often hampered him in his internal policy, and he was able to establish that system of alliances on which for so many years the political system of Europe depended. The close union of the three empires which had existed since the meeting of the emperors in 1872 did not survive the outbreak of disturbances in the East. Bismarck had maintained an attitude of neutrality, but after the congress of Berlin he found himself placed between the alternatives of friendship with Austria or Russia. Movements of Russian troops on the western frontier threatened Austria, and the tsar, in a letter to the German emperor, stated that peace could only be maintained if Germany gave her support to Russia. Bismarck, now that the choice was forced upon him, determined in favour of Austria, and during a visit to Vienna in October, arranged with Count Andrassy an alliance by which in the

event of either being attacked by Russia the other was to assist; if either was attacked by any power other than Russia, the other was to preserve benevolent neutrality unless the attacking power was helped by Russia. The effect of this was to protect Austria from attack by Russia, and Germany from the danger of a combined attack by France and Russia. Bismarck with some difficulty procured the consent of the emperor, who by arranging a meeting with the tsar had attempted to preserve the old friendship. From that time the alliance with Austria has continued. In 1883 it was joined by Italy, and was renewed in 1887, and in 1891 for six years, and if not then denounced, for twelve.

In 1882, after the retirement of Gorchakov, the relations with Russia again improved. In 1884 there was a meeting of the three emperors, and at the same time Bismarck came to a close understanding with France on colonial questions. The period of quiet did not last long. The disaster in Tongking brought about a change of ministry in France, and Bulgarian affairs again alienated Austria and Russia. Bismarck with great skill used the growing foreign complications as a means of freeing himself from parliamentary difficulties at the same time that he secured the position of Germany in Europe.

Elections of 1887.

To meet the increase in the French army, and the open menaces in which


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