Pretend you’ve read it: Europe: A History by Norman Davies (3)

Reformation and Counter-Reformation in Europe and their consequences in 16th to middle of 17th century


Thinking about Reformation its worth to remember about the epoch of Renaissance. The Renaissance cannot be easily defined. It always discussed to note a period when prospered the study of classics, the art was flourishing and new inventions were introduced. However the world of Renaissance and Reformation was also the world of astrology, folk cures, omens and ghosts. Magic in that time continued to interact with religion and science. The Renaissance also was called the epoch of “rebirth” because it was encouraged by the studying of classical texts and helped to understand the world in a different way.

Therefore the Renaissance and Reformation can be tied together by the reason that the epoch of “rebirth” brought a flow of new ideas and with the invention of printing press, helped to spread these ideas. Among the ideas raised a belief in individualism which convinced the human ability to choose between good and bad, right and wrong. So called “l’uomo universale” or complete man[1] has appeared. The influence of the Catholic Church was enormous and it proclaimed that salvation for the people would be found only within the church. And the openness to new ideas allowed to Marin Luther to introduce a challenge to the church with the bible passage that just by the faith, the soul can be saved.

The important bound between the secular Renaissance and the religious Reformation was provided by the rise of biblical scholarship that was based on the study of original Hebrew and Greek texts. The concept of humanism in the epoch of Renaissance shifted the theocratic world view to the man-centered view. In religious thought, it was a necessary precondition for Protestant emphasis on the individual conscience.[2]

But unlike humanism, the Reformation intruded to the deepest devotional traditions of the Middle Ages and affected not only scholars but the masses. The Renaissance and Reformation grew in a very different directions and the similar split developed within the movement for Church reform. This church revival was divided into two movements, known as the Catholic Reformation and the Protestant Reformation.

The Catholic Church was on the edge of collapse-as a result of corruption and it couldn’t any longer provide for spiritual needs of the people. Arbitrariness of churchmen, their luxurious life, drinking parties created a church consisted of “unholy men in holy orders”. Other cause of the Reformation was the long-term economic hardship in some parts of Europe such as in German and its depressed condition of peasants was blamed on Church greed.

The price inflation during that time also served as an economic cause. Mainly the middle class protested against the church because it was dominated by the upper classes and was administrated for their benefits. Middle class had to bear all brunt of taxation while nobles were free from taxation.[3]

Another reason for Reformation was the rise of nation-states and the establishing of absolute rule of monarchy. The existence of church was a serious check on the authority of monarchs and the church was outside the authority of the King, so the property of the church was excluded from taxation to royal family. The establishing of new Protestant churches meant for monarchs that the churches would be depended upon them and accepts the political authority.

The immediate cause of the Reformation was Martin’s Luther’s reaction to the sale of indulgences. It led the start to the Reformation and introduction of 95 theses published in 1517. Luther received some support from German prince who was interested in seeking tax relief from Rome. Luther proclaimed that God was able to endow human with his grace in answer to his sincere faith, therefore, the Church in the form in which it was presented by Catholics, is unnecessary link in this chain.

The role of the priest was not to mediate between God and man, but to show man the way, following which he will be able to achieve the divine grace. With this purpose Luther suggested to eliminate sharp borders existing between clergy and laity. The process of worship significantly simplified, and the Church was deprived of numerous attributes of icons, elaborate rituals and rites.

The head of the Church became a secular ruler of a single country or a city. This provision of the Lutheran creed was especially advantageous to numerous German princes, because it deprived them from the dependence of the Church and the Pope and made them the rightful rulers of their own land. The result of the efforts of Luther and Calvin was the emergence of a new stream of Christianity-Protestantism, which was not adopted by the Catholic Church.

The effect of Protestantism was seen in every sphere of European life. The major impact on education in the Protestant countries made the necessity of Bible-reading. In economic sphere it made a contribution to the rise of capitalism. In politics it proved the contention between states and rival groupings within states. [4]

The Counter-Reformation was born to oppose the Protestant Reformation. It was the period of Catholic revival which began with the Council of Trent in 1545 and ended with the Thirty Years’ War in 1648. [5] The first act of confrontation to Protestantism was the formation of the Jesuit order. Ignatius Loyola and his supporters formed a society which is intended to contribute to the restoration of the Catholic Church and the power of the Pope.

The principal obligation, which assumed the Jesuits, was to blindly obey everything that is told by current and future Pope.[6] One of the important tasks of the order was political activity: intrigue at the courts of kings and princes, espionage, performing a delicate diplomatic assignment to eliminate unwanted politicians. The reaction against Luther and his followers was met by the Council of Trent under the guidance of Pope Paul III, Julius III and Pious IV. It confirmed that Church alone could interpret the Scriptures and that the true religion was derived from Catholic tradition. [7]

The impact of the Counter-Reformation was felt across the Europe. Counter-reformation has found an ally in the absolutist power in Spain and Portugal, the principality of southern Germany and in Italy. Philip II, building on the strengths of his vast powers and international unions, led the attack on Protestantism throughout the Europe. He sought to destroy the most powerful citadel of Protestantism – the British monarchy.

And also the situation in German lands, they became the center of confrontation between the two religious-political coalitions. The policy of the papacy aggravated not only the internal political situation in European countries, but was complicating the international relations. Not accidentally, at the conclusion of the peace of Westphalia of 1648, which ended the Thirty Year’s war, [8]the Pope was not given any role, despite the protests of the Holy See. And the papal throne ceased to be the main center of European politics.

Nevertheless, the consequences of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation in the intellectual sphere firstly were generally unfavorable, but ultimately proved to be beneficial. The Thirty Years ‘ war has convinced everyone that neither Protestant nor Catholics fully it is impossible to overcome and therefore appeared the possibility to discard the medieval hope for the establishment of the unity of the faith, and this increased the freedom of people to think for themselves even about the most fundamental issues.



[1] Davies, Norman. Europe: A. History – Oxford, New York, 1996.- P. 471

[2] Ibid p. 479

[3] What are the causes of Reformation in Europe? Preserve Articles.

[4] Davies, Norman. Europe: A. History – Oxford, New York, 1996.- P. 494

[5] Davies, Norman. Europe: A. History – Oxford, New York, 1996.- P. 496

[6] An Orthodox Response to the Recent Roman Catholic Declaration on the Nature of the Church. Fr. John Morris. October 2007 issue of the world magazine.

[7] Davies, Norman. Europe: A. History – Oxford, New York, 1996.- P. 496-497

[8] Treaty of Westphalia. Leibnitiana. University of Houston.


Pretend you’ve read it: Europe: A History by Norman Davies (2)

Political struggles and monarchical wars in Europe in 17th-18th century. Absolutism.


Socio-economic changes taking place in France in the XVI – XVII centuries and the related sharpening of the class struggle have forced the ruling class to seek a new, more suitable to the conditions of the time the form of the state. Such was the absolute monarchy, which later adopted in France its most complete form.

The dominant position of France in Europe lasted more than a hundred and fifty years: accession to the throne of the young Louis XIV in 1661 until the fall of Napoleon in 1815.[1] However, even defeat in the Napoleonic wars didn’t deprived France ultimately, the position of the most powerful state in Europe. This position she lost only after the capitulation of Germany of Bismarck in 1871. And almost all this time, Paris remained unconditional capital of European politics, culture and fashion.

This advantage can be explained in different disorders in the main rivals of France: the decline of Spain, the destruction of Germany, sections of Italy, the fact that Austria was busy fighting with the Turks. France is very benefited from exceptional longevity few Bourbons: Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI, since these kings were the centre of unity and stability. At the end of this period, however, increased friction within the French society and new strong state, particularly the UK, has emerged.

Undoubtedly, the roots of absolutism should be sought in the late feudal period, when strength monarchy has fought with old privileged provinces and nobility, and in the Catholic world, where the Catholic Church wasn’t controlled by direct political control.

Absolutism is impossible in conditions of Protestantism, or being in Orthodoxy. Absolutism includes a set of political ideas and positions that have arisen in connection with the need to do away with the extremely decentralized institutions left over from the Middle Ages. Often absolutism just means some personal power of the monarchs in its opposition to the limited power of the other, whose power was limited by the local saeima, the autonomy of provinces, municipal charters and free of taxation the nobility and the clergy.[2] For point of reference, we should take the French absolutism.

Louis XIV was the main symbol of his time, more than any of the European monarchs. It could be said that he was the embodiment of the monarchy, simply a form of absolutism; he created and inspired a perfect monolithic system of power; he was the driving force behind economic development and colonization, the legislator in the artistic and intellectual life, «the most Christian king»[3] of Catholic nation that did not know deviations from religion, dean of the European diplomacy, sovereign of the formidable army on the continent.

And yet, despite the magnificence of the facade a grand experience of absolutism had many failures. Versailles was not the whole of France, and king often met resistance. This large country had more opportunities of disobedience than the opportunities of coercion. Parliament and the province constantly protested, and the wars of Louis brought more debt and humiliation than the actual acquisition.[4]

Louis tightly held in his hands the levers that could strengthen his power. He inherited a giant bureaucracy, a large regular army, a huge Treasury and submissive nobility. He further extended his power over the Gallican Church, which was obedient to him; he destroyed the Huguenots state in the state and submitted its province to his rules, having no Central legislative body. [5]

Still the large provinces of France were divided on the pays d élection, where significant was the direct power of Royal officials, and the pays d état, which enjoyed considerable autonomy. In the North of France acted customary law, in the South – codified Roman law. Inside the provinces still remained many local libertés (freedoms), parlements (parliaments), franchises (benefits) and priviléges (privileges); the aristocracy preserved to a considerable extent their traditional authority to administer justice in their own lands.[6]

It was extremely important that the legislative Assembly – General States – were kept as an Institute in a permanent suspension of their activities, and the Central Parliament in Paris learned to approve Royal decrees without discussion. During this time was developed a systematic plan to put finances, taxes and Commerce on a healthy basis. In the area of finance Colbert created the office of the General the controller of Finance, through which was supervised all other subordinated financial institutions – Treasury, the Royal Council, annual budget assumptions and balance sheet and principal register payments from the state budget. [7]

Good old noble’s militia was abolished, completely changed the structure of the regiments. There was created the new service connections: Grenadier, the silhouettes of the Fusiliers and scorers. The leading role in the army moved from the cavalry to the infantry. In new XVIII century entered new service connections, passed through severe learning school, armed with matchlocks and bayonets, dressed in a beautiful uniform.

The result of these transformations: France has created such a powerful military machine, which could be stopped only by the united efforts of its neighbors. The motto of the army was the words Nec pluribus impar” (by power equal to the whole multitude).[8]

Religion on the need was close to the center of events. After the second secret marriage with Madame de Maintenon in 1685 the king came under the strong influence of the Jesuits.[9] Towards Protestants Louis consistently shifted from passive discrimination petty harassment, and, finally, to brutal persecution. The first Protestant chapel was demolished.

From 1679 were taken legal and military measures with a view to the total eradication of Protestantism by force.[10] And in regard by Jansenists the policy of king has changed from compromise to repression. In 1713 Unigenitus bull openly condemned by Jansenists and all their works; monastery Pores Royal was closed, the local Church was destroyed, and the cemetery also was destroyed.[11] By One blow Louis turned doctrinal dispute in the long confrontation top of the Church and the state with the intellectual circles of the country. Then the actual French Enlightenment has started.

The best indicator of power and prestige of Louis XIV was his foreign policy. It was based on the most perfect diplomatic service, which Europe has ever known – it personally was supervised by the king of Versailles, and also on military force that was used only after long and careful preparation.[12] This policy has plunged Europe into a military conflict. So Louis XIV even in some places was considered as the first of the tyrants, who tried to conquer Europe by force, the predecessor of both Napoleon and Hitler.

But actually the horizon Louis was quite limited because he did not has any clear plan to achieve «natural borders» of France, not to mention the subjugation of the entire continent. Of the four major wars of Louis, two were limited to the territory of the Netherlands; the third was caused by réunions campaign on the acquisition of German territories through legal tricks.[13] The fourth was a consequence of the suppression of Spain’s ruling dynasty.

But behind all of them were standing rivalry States for colonies and markets. According to the final result of the French wars enshrined in the two treaties – Utrecht (1713) and Rastatt (1714) France had moderate its claims, but did not abandon them altogether. She held many conquests, including Lille, Franche-Comte and Alsace, and Philip of Anjou remained on the Spanish throne.

Spain suffered a repulse, when she came in anti-french coalition, failed again, now in coalition with France. The main purpose of the Spaniards was to keep its Empire united. Now they found that they provoked that catastrophe, which sought to avoid. The Austrians, who sought to prevent France from getting the «Spanish succession», been satisfied to its fragments, having received the Spanish Netherlands, Milan, Naples and Sardinia.[14] Both external and internal policies were aimed at maintaining in all fields of the status quo. Inherent in this system, the natural conservatism even more strengthened with the collapse of risky projects of John Lowe, who have discredited the very idea of change and reform.

English Absolutism 

Already formed, the United Kingdom considerably increased its status, having received the control over Gibraltar and islands Minorca, Newfoundland, other American lands and Spanish colonial trade. United Kingdom – not just England – was already the first Maritime power, the chief mediator in diplomacy and the main obstacle to the establishment of the French superiority.

Speaking about Britain, here we find the reign of Charles II. During his reign were two Dutch war, slanderous accusation of Papists in the conspiracy in 1679 and two rebellions of Scottish Presbyterians. Like his father, the king reluctantly obeyed need to edit through parliaments. In the religious policy, he chose a middle course between the extreme Protestants and Catholics.[15] In foreign policy, it should be noted the deep gap between enmity against the Dutch on the grounds of trade and a simultaneous support of religious and strategic issues.

The main feature of the English absolute monarchy was that along with strong Royal power in England continued to exist the Parliament. English ideology postulates absolute independence of the Parliament. According to this doctrine the «absolute despotic power», passed from the monarch to an elected Parliament. At least theoretically, the Parliament received the authority to rule with the same arrogant authoritarianism, which before had English kings.

This is its fundamental difference from the doctrine of popular sovereignty, which turned the other European countries like the USA or revolutionary France: it assumes that the state administration is carried out by the Constitution to determine all branches of government. English ideology became the instrument not only of Protestantism, but also of maintaining the superiority of the British in the UK at all, because the English have always been the majority in the Parliament.[16] It will survive all the changes in the ages to come and 300 years later, will remain the main obstacle on the way of entering Britain into the European community.

Other features of the English absolutism included the preservation of local self-government, the absence of this centralization and bureaucratization of the state apparatus, as on the continent. In England was absent and large standing army. The Central bodies of power and management in the period of the absolute monarchy in England were the king, the Privy Council and Parliament. Real power was concentrated in this period is completely in the hands of the king.

Privy Council of the king, finally formed in the period of absolutism, consisted of senior state officials: the Lord Chancellor, Lord high Treasurer, Lord Guardian of the stamp and other. Increased the Royal power has failed to abolish Parliament.[17] Its stability was the result of Union of the gentry and the bourgeoisie, the foundations of which were laid in the preceding period.

The Union was not allowed to Royal authority, using strife estates, eliminate representative institutions on Central and local levels. Also in the period of absolutism finally was approved the rule of Royal power over the English Church. With the purpose of the establishment in the country the Church, which is subordinated to the Royal power, in England was held reformation, accompanied by the seizure of Church lands and turning them into state ownership (secularism).

In the late XVI century through legislation was established contents of the creeds of the new Church, as well as the order of public worship.[18] Thus, so-called the Anglican Church was not dependent on the Pope and became part of the state apparatus.




[1] Davies, Norman. Europe: A. History – Oxford, New York, 1996.- P.614

[2] Ibid P. 371

[3] Ibid P. 393

[4] Ibid P. 394

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid P. 395

[8] Ibid P. 396

[9] ibid

[10] Ibid P. 397

[11] ibid

[12] Ibid P. 399

[13] ibid

[14] Ibid P. 400

[15]Ibid P. 402

[16] Ibid P. 403

[17]Особенности английского абсолютизма. Юридический портал.

[18] ibid

Pretend you’ve read it: Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime by Richard Pipes

Political Processes in Europe in the 20-ties

What is fascism? It is socialism released from democracy, as noted the publicist Charles Morra.[1] Communist activity at home and abroad paradoxically led not to a revolution in the world but to the rise of movements, who mastered their spirit and copied their methods for struggle against communism. In this sense, the so-called right radicalism, or «fascism»[2], which has emerged in Europe after the First World War, often seen as the opposite to communism.

On canonical left version formulated by the Comintern, «fascism» is the opposite to communism, and the attempt to unite them under the term «totalitarianism» rejected as a product of «cold war». «Fascism,» according to this view, is a characteristic of the imperialist stage of capitalism prior to its final collapse: foreboding his death the «monopoly capitalism» resorted to «the fascist dictatorship» in a desperate attempt to keep control over the working class[3].

Another regime was Nazism. As a political phenomenon the Nazism represented: first, the techniques of manipulation over the masses, making an impression of the wide people’s participation in the political process, and, secondly, the system of government in which the German national socialist labour party has monopolized power and transforming state institutions in the party tool.[4] In both cases, the influence of Marxism in its original and in the Bolshevik form indisputable.

All three regimes had a common enemy: liberal democracy and a multiparty political system, respect for law and property rights, the ideals of peace and stability. Curse of Lenin, Mussolini and Hitler in the address of «bourgeois democracy» and the social Democrats are completely interchangeable.

The collapse of Germany and Austria had caused a political vacuum to appear in the center of Europe: accompanied as it was by economic breakdown and social unrest, it seemed to provide an ideal breeding ground for revolution.[5] Germany, like several other countries, was rapidly embracing a democratic ethos, just as the Great War and its aftermath had centralized much of the economy, expanded voting rights, and raised Wilsonian ideas of national self-determination.[6]

In Western Europe, the democratization of the management board was accomplished at the moment when the liberals did not meet the requirements of politically emancipated mass of the population, left parties on ideological grounds considered it impossible, on the basis of these masses to seize the political power, and left (Communists) were ready to destroy democratic system. But nevertheless, in Europe in the first half of the twentieth century, it leads to revanchism and chauvinism, nationalism, often ethnically painted, the displacement of Patriarchy in the political sphere, which led to authoritarianism.[7]

Anti-democratic orientation was visible in the right-wing of conservative formations. They rejected democracy as a system that destroys the nation. In their view, democracy gives the nation to the hands of the social and individual egoism through internationalism and cosmopolitanism and pacifism, making the people of the nation vulnerable to internal (ethnic minorities) and external outsiders. In contrast to the democracy they putted forward the idea of nationalism, and in its new totalitarian interpretation.

Nationalism – ideology and politics on the national question, the basis of which is the interpretation of the nation as the Supreme value and form of community.[8] In 19-20th centuries nationalism acted as a powerful integrative force in the struggle for national liberation in Europe, and then in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Nationalism, accompanied by the idea of national superiority and national exclusivity, often accepts extreme forms (chauvinism), is moving closer to racism and leads to sharp internal or interstate conflict.[9]

 Speaking about Germany after the end of the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles has put Germany in a very difficult situation, in fact – in the international isolation. This contributed to both policies of the victorious powers, putting her in a position unequal to the European community, and the policy of Soviet Russia, which was in a similar position and therefore became like a «natural ally» of Germany, which took advantage of the situation and blackmailing the country-winner with possibility of creating the German-Soviet Union, forced them to make certain concessions.[10]

Another reason for France, England and the US wish for the economic revival of Germany was that a poor country, which has become Germany, simply could not pay its huge reparations. The League of Nations was created by the Paris Peace Conference in April, 1919. In 1926, Germany was admitted to the League of Nations and demonstrated its move out of economic depression, in the direction of normal diplomatic status.[11] And there were two agreements that eased the realm of reparations. The restoration of Germany heavily relied on loans; peculiarly from the United States, by the end of 1929 the perspective had suddenly turned very dismal. Further, Government by emergency decrees became not meaningful from 1930.

Germany was not appeased, conciliated or permanently weakened, consequently which become reasons leading to later conflicts.

Germany lost its overseas empire and the new states – Czechoslovakia, Poland and Yugoslavia were created.



[1]П 12 Пайпс Р. Русская революция: В 3 кн. Кн. 2. Большевики в борьбе за власть. 1917—1918. — М., Захаров, 2005 глава 5. Коммунизм,фашизм,национал-социализм.

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Pipes, Richard. Russia under the Bolshevik Regime – New York, 1995. – p. 168.

[6] The strange triumph of liberal democracy. Jan/feb 2012 issue

[7] Module 04: The End of Optimism? The Great Depression in Europe

[8] A few remarks on Democracy.

[9] ibid

[10]Изменение геополитической ситуации после первой мировой войны.

[11] Germany joines the League of Nations. 1926. The Weimar republic timeline.

Pretend you’ve read it: Europe: A History by Norman Davies

Causes of the Second World War and the Fate of Poland


In any book about European history, the 1939 named as a «year, when the world came back to war» or something like that. In all chronologies, except for those that were once released in the USSR, this year marks “the beginning of the Second world war”.[1]

However, by this time the war was pacing the world for 8 years. The Japanese invaded Manchuria in 1931 and fought a war in Central China from 1937. From August 1938 they had pulled the rest of the countries. Two years before that, at the insistence of Churchill, England decided to enlarge and re-equip its air force. Thanks to this decision, England in the future will survive. At the same time, France has created a new Ministry of defence and nationalized great concern of Schneider Creusot.

It was clear that the European governments were preparing for the long war, in which the industrial power of the country will be equally decisive, as and trained troops.It was clear that Stalin and Hitler already had military machines, which no one had in the Europe. If the US had stayed away, hardly Western countries would have deterred Hitler or Stalin. If Stalin and Hitler were united, the West would not be able to stop them. The views of all were chained to Stalin and Hitler and to those unfortunate countries that became trapped between them. Everything else was secondary.

Speaking about the reasons of the Second World War, firstly, the existence of the USSR could not instill fear for Europe. In 1939, really existed the possibility that, having won the West, Hitler would turn to the USSR; but this was only one of several possible options: not the most likely and not the closest.

Should take into account at least three scenarios. Firstly, the West could, as in 1918, defeat Germany. Secondly, the West and Germany, leading to one another bloody war, could finally come to a standstill, and then the USSR without a single shot would be in Europe as arbitrator. As Goebbels imagined this game, which was conducted by the Soviets.

“Moscow intends to stay out of the war until Europe … will bleed till the end, he said. – Then Stalin will move to Europe to bolshevize it and impose there his own rule».[2]

Was another option: Stalin uses a break, given to him by Hitler’s war with the West, to prepare and deploy their own attack.

Another reason for the War was – territorial disputes, which arose after the First World War, and sometimes a lot sooner. Redivision of the world in favor of the countries-winners in the war of 1914-1918, primarily England and France, the loss of Germany and its allies significant part of their former territories, the collapse of two major European multinational empires: the Austro-Hungarian and Russian, on the ruins of which there were new nine independent States – Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, the Serb-Croat-Slovene Kingdom, Yugoslavia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, with new, often contentious borders, have become a source of permanent tensions and military conflicts.

Another one was the competition between the leading powers, their desire for expansion, to the European and world hegemony. Hard to admit that erased from the world history Germany, after its defeat, did not dream of revenge. Devoid of the ability to have its army, Germany, accustomed to the role of one of the leading world empires could not accept the loss of its domination. The beginning of the World War II, in this aspect, was only a matter of time.

Generally accepted, the first victim of the beginning of the war became Poland. In early 1939, Hitler was still ready to negotiate a deal with Poland. Hitler offered to poles give Germany the right to Danzig and allows the construction of the highway Berlin-Koenigsberg on the Polish territory, and in exchange they could enter in useful for them political and economic Alliance directed against the USSR.[3] Hidden threat was clear. If the poles are so ‘stupid’ that they will refuse, then Hitler will take Danzig anyways, after which it will seek political and economic Union with the USSR against Poland.

Yet, the Fuhrer languished in anticipation, as the weeks passed; Poland intentionally opened negotiations on “trade relations and good neighborly relations” with the USSR when the proposals of Berlin has been left unanswered. After the fall of Czechoslovakia, it became known that the lack of progress led the Fuhrer in anger. In March 28, Germany denounced the non-aggression Pact towards Poland. Nazi propaganda turns to the theme of Danzig and the intolerable situation of the Germans in Poland.

In March 31, England provided to Poland a guarantee of its independence. In response, Hitler on April 3 gave secret instructions of plan of the capture of Danzig and a possible war with Poland.[4]
Having certain obligations towards Poland, Western States now wanted to take some measures. In April and May, the inter-allied mission visited Warsaw. It was especially emphasized, that in case of attack of the Germans in Poland the task of the Polish army will be to deter Wehrmacht troops, while the allies will prepare a counterattack on the West.[5]

As soon as Stalin and Hitler threw the mutual suspicions and their representatives started the negotiations, they must be quickly understood what prospects opened in front of them. Due to indecision of the West, Poland remained a serious obstacle to divide Eastern Europe.

But nevertheless, the invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 was not the beginning of the fighting in Europe. Before this Germans invaded Lithuania in March 1939 and the Italians invaded Albania in April.[6] But, mainly, as a result of the invasion of Poland local wars have become a part of the world conflict. As a result of the German-Soviet Pact, in Europe has developed a new geopolitical situation. Covenant transformed the European stage, which allowed Germany and the USSR to destroy Poland and restore the common border, as it existed in the nineteenth century. Then they were able to sweep away all small States, who stood on their way.

According to the German-Soviet Treaty on friendship and border between USSR and Germany, Lithuania was in the Soviet sphere in exchange for a slice of Central Poland.[7] Soon, Warsaw surrendered. The Polish government has managed to go into exile. The final capitulation took place on 4 October, the day when Hitler came to Warsaw, where he was welcomed by the full adoration by German part. All that was found to the East of the Bug River, was captured by the Soviets.

As a result of double occupation of Poland two laboratories of totalitarianism began to work side by side. Two years the Nazi and Soviet vultures with impunity lacerated the body of defeated Poland. In the German zone the Western regions were annexed by Reich and underwent intense racial selection. All other regions were included in the so-called General government under the control of the SS and the military.

This «Gestapoland»[8], which did not act neither on the Polish nor the German laws, became the proving ground of ideology of the Nazis. Only in this part of the occupied Europe to implement its Eastern policy of conquest of Lebensraüm the Nazi converters managed to apply their racial policy with all the fervor towards all the population. In the adjacent Soviet zone was staged pseudo-referendum, which was to confirm that the Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine come out in favour of a proposal for the accession to the USSR. About 40 categories of citizens, not only of the poles: from policemen ending philatelists – were subjected to immediate arrest and deportation.[9]

Another heavy blow for the Polish people was the tragic death of General Wladyslaw Sikorski. Prime Minister and commander of the Polish Armed Forces died in July 1943, in uncertain circumstances in a plane crash over Gibraltar.[10] This has occurred at a time when the fate of Poland was on the international arena. The new head of the Polish government was appointed, the politician Stanisław Mikołajczyk.

[1]Дэвис, Н. История Европы / Норман Дэвис; пер. с англ. Т.Б. Менской. — М.: ACT: Транзиткнига,

  1. P. .628

[2] Дэвис, Н. История Европы / Норман Дэвис; пер. с англ. Т.Б. Менской. — М.: ACT: Транзиткнига,

  1. P. 633

[3] Дэвис, Н. История Европы / Норман Дэвис; пер. с англ. Т.Б. Менской. — М.: ACT: Транзиткнига,

  1. P. 630

[4] ibid

[5] ibid

[6] Дэвис, Н. История Европы / Норман Дэвис; пер. с англ. Т.Б. Менской. — М.: ACT: Транзиткнига,

  1. P. 632

[7] Дэвис, Н. История Европы / Норман Дэвис; пер. с англ. Т.Б. Менской. — М.: ACT: Транзиткнига,

  1. P. 635

[8] ibid

[9] ibid

[10] Четвёртый раздел Речи Посполитой. Польша в годы Второй Мировой войны. Часть 6

Pretend you’ve read it: The Russian Revolution by Richard Pipes

Events in Russia and Their Impact of the Situation in Europe in the Years 1917 – 1920

In the centre of attention of researchers of the Russian revolution is usually a power struggle for military and political forces in Russia in the period from 1917 to 1920. But, considered in historical perspective, Russian revolution event seems much larger than the struggle for power in the country because the winners of this battle were attracted to the idea of not more than «turn the whole world», according to one of the organizers of this victory, Leon Trotsky.[1] Under this, implied a complete overhaul of the state, society, economy and culture around the world for the sake of the ultimate goal – the creation of a new human society.

These far-reaching consequences of the Russian revolution was not so obvious in 1917-1918, and this is partly explained by the fact that in the West, Russia was the country lying somewhere on the periphery of the civilized world, and partly because there was a revolution in the midst of unprecedented devastating war. In 1917-1918 events in Russia outside seemed to be exclusively the problem of the local value, not having any external influence and, in any case, clearly easy to resolve in peacetime. Things had turned out differently. Echoes of the Russian revolution were heard in subsequent years in all corners of the globe.

The revolutionary movement becomes essential feature of Russian history already since the sixties of XIX century. The first phase of the Russian revolution, in the narrow sense of the word, started with the unrests in 1905. Then they managed to cope combination of repressive measures and concessions, but in twelve years, in February 1917, the excitement came out with a bigger scope and culminated in the October Bolshevik revolution.

After a three year battle with internal and external enemies the Bolsheviks established an indisputable dominance over much of the former Russian Empire. However, to implement its ambitious plans in the field of economy, social and cultural transformation they were still too weak. This task has been postponed for several years, during which the country could recover from shocks. Revolution resumed in 1927-1928 years and ended only ten years later, at the cost of terrible trials and millions of lives.

It can even be said that the revolution ended only with the death of Stalin in 1953, when his successors hesitantly and with reservations have embarked on a policy that could be described as a counter-revolution from above, which led, as we could see, in 1990, to renounce of a good half of the revolutionary achievements.[2]

The autocratic monarchy that ruled the country since XIV century could no longer meet the requirements of modernity and gradually gave way their positions to radical intellectuals combined in itself a confession of extremely utopian ideas with boundless desire for power. For the Russian revolutionaries power was just an instrument to achieve their ultimate goal: the creation of a new man.

In the first years of the reign, they lacked the power to carry task, so distant from the people’s interests, but they have not abandoned their attempts and thus they laid the Foundation of the Stalinist regime, which had resumed their ideas far more comprehensively.[3]

We may speak only about the fact that there have been many reasons, which made the degree of probability of the revolution in Russia very high. From them, apparently, the most significant was the downfall of the Imperial family in the eyes of the population, accustomed to them managed unshakeable, flawless in all respects power – seeing in her unshakeable collateral eligibility.

After period of military victories and conquests of the middle of XIX century up to 1917 Russia has undergone from foreigners, one humiliation after another defeat in the Crimean war on its own territory, the loss of the fruits of the military victory over the Turks at the Congress of Berlin, the defeat of Japan and failures in the global war.[4] This series of failures could undermine the reputation of any government – for Russia it was a fatality.

Another factor of revolutionarity was a mentality of the Russian peasantry – class, never been integrated in the political structure. The problem of the Russian peasantry was not its suppression, but in detachment. Peasants were isolated from the political, economic and cultural life of the country, and therefore, they almost touched upon the changes that have occurred in Russia since the time, when Peter the Great instructed country on the path of Europeanization. The peasantry was revolutionary in only one respect: it did not recognize private ownership of land and together with poorly developed view on the law the peasant did not feel much respect to private property.[5]

The main and, perhaps, a decisive revolutionary factor was the intellectuals, which in Russia had a big influence than anywhere. As in other countries, where it had no legal ways of political influence, the intellectuals in Russia formed a caste, and because its essence and basis of generality were ideas, it adopted the extreme intellectual intolerance.

Assuming educational opinion, according to which the man is not more than the material substance, is formed under the influence of the surrounding phenomena, intellectuals made a natural conclusion: changing environment will inevitably change human nature.[6] Therefore intelligentsia saw «revolution» like not the replacement of one system by another, but something much more significant: the complete transformation of the human environment for the sake of creating a new breed of people – primarily, of course, in Russia.

In short, if the fall of the regime was not inevitable, it was very likely due to the deep cultural and political faults; their failure to tsarism channelled economic and cultural development of the country and was fatal to the regime under hard trials, presented by the First World War. And if tsarism is still the possibility to establish order in the country, it was suppressed by the efforts of the militant intelligentsia, which sought to overthrow the government and use Russia as a springboard for the world revolution.[7]

Speaking about the civil war, and about of the Russian revolution, it should be remembered that these terms are ambiguous. In its ordinary sense of the term «civil war» applies to armed struggle between the red Army and various anti-Bolshevik, or «white», military compounds, which lasted from December 1917 until November 1920, when the remains of the white armies were evacuated from Russian territory.[8] For Lenin, it meant the global class war between his party, the vanguard of the «world proletariat», and the international bourgeoisie, the class struggle in its most broad sense, only one of the directions of which was the armed conflict.

Lenin not only foresaw that a civil war will start immediately after the Bolsheviks would take power, he seized power in order to start a civil war. Russian civil war was taking place in three main fronts: the southern, Eastern and North-West. Civil war in a military sense began when a small group of patriotic officers who took as a personal humiliation the collapse of the Russian army and the failure of the Bolshevik governments to implement promises made to the allies, decided to continue military actions against the Quadruple Alliance.

In the basis their enterprise had rather not anti-bolshevik, but anti-germanic character, because Lenin was not whom other, as agents of the Kaiser.[9] Bolshevist mood manifested in the southern army later, after Germany and Austria withdrew troops from the territory of Russia and the Bolsheviks, to everyone’s surprise, remained in power. On the Eastern front the situation from the very beginning evolved differently. Here Bolshevist sentiments were expressed by either the socialists-revolutionaries, proudly raised the banner of the Constituent Assembly, or Siberian separatists.

By the end of 1918, when Admiral Kolchak took upon himself Supreme powers, nationalist slogans began to prevail here. While the Volunteer army was formed in the North Caucasus, in the Middle Volga region and Siberia gathered other Bolshevist grouping.[10] These movements were more political than military in nature; their purpose was to either establish a democratic Russian government, or to achieve independence from Moscow for their territories. Military forces here were rather a secondary factor, at least until November 1918, the command of the Eastern front took Admiral Alexander Kolchak.

Kolchak enjoyed the strong support of Britain, mainly due to the sympathy which felt for him a General Knox. Until after his defeat in the summer of 1919, Britain had high hopes for Kolchak and supplied military aid.[11] The rest of the powers referred to the Supreme ruler with lukewarm. General Maurice Janin, who arrived in Omsk in December and combining the powers of the head of the French military mission and the commander of the Czechoslovak legions, considered Kolchak as British creature.[12] He insisted that he should be placed at the head of the united forces of the allies in Siberia, including the Russian part. This requirement was strongly rejected by Kolchak.

Over time, a compromise solution was found, according to which Kolchak commanded the Russian forces, but coordinated its military operations with Janin. Most active in trying to counteract Kolchak, the Japanese feared that he would prevent them to attach the far Eastern Russian province and although the original objective of the Japanese military forces was the opening of a new front, Tokyo deliberately ignored calls of Britain to promote these forces to the West and to assist in trouble to Czechoslovaks.[13]

On the contrary, these forces were used to establish the occupation regime in its cruel nature. In August 1918, the United States sent from Philippines to Siberia under the command of Major General William Sidney Graves, expeditionary force of 7,000 people and Graves had received instructions to facilitate restoration of anti-germany front, but to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Russian. [14] This instruction suffered a certain inconsistency, as the mere presence of U.S. military forces in the territory under the control of the anti-Bolshevik forces, determined their place and part in the Russian civil war.

After the end of the Civil war in Russia, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or USSR, created by the Bolsheviks prevailed more territory in the country, which was previously called the Russian Empire. All these movements have led to a chain of events that helped to Joseph Stalin to rise to power.

[1] П 12 Пайпс Р. Русская революция: В 3 кн. Кн. 2. Большевики в борьбе за власть. 1917—1918. — М., Захаров, 2005.

[2] П 12 Пайпс Р. Русская революция: В 3 кн. Кн. 2. Большевики в борьбе за власть. 1917—1918. — М., Захаров, 2005. C 10

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid

[7] П 12 Пайпс Р. Русская революция: В 3 кн. Кн. 2. Большевики в борьбе за власть. 1917—1918. — М., Захаров, 2005. C 10

[8] П 12 Пайпс Р. Русская революция: В 3 кн. Кн. 2. Большевики в борьбе за власть. 1917—1918. — М., Захаров, 2005. Chap.1

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid

[11] П 12 Пайпс Р. Русская революция: В 3 кн. Кн. 2. Большевики в борьбе за власть. 1917—1918. — М., Захаров, 2005. Chap.1

[12] Ibid

[13] Ibid

[14] Ibid