"Whoever has been inside British foreign policy is familiar with the emotion of indignation, amusement, or contempt with which he reads of the deep motives and the clever schemes that are invented for present-day British diplomatists and attributed to them by ingenious writers in foreign, and sometimes even in the British, press.
"One who is conscious of this may well be cautious in attributing deep and sinister designs to the action of foreign Governments."(100)
British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey
Page 2: Foreign Secretary Edward Grey: Balkans Crisis Arbitration 1903-1914
1914: A general willingness to believe "war was something that was not going to happen in Europe."
Page 3: "Caught Looking": Physical Working Models
of European/British Response to June 28-July 1914 Crisis
Historians on Causes of World War I
Foreign Secretary Edward Grey: Delayed Telegrams June-July 1914
Foreign Secretary Edward Grey on the June 28-July 1914 Crisis
Winston Churchill on the June 28-July 1914 Crisis
Ambiguous Defensive/Offensive Military Preparations
June 29th-July 1914, Wagons-Lits to the French Riviera
Switzerland: Europe's Strongest Neutral Armed-Power and the June 28-July 1914 Balkans Crisis
- Stopping the Austria-Serbia Crisis in it's Tracks:
So since European/British gov't officials were operating under the wrong assumption, was there any practicable way to promptly freeze the June 28-July 1914 Austrian-Serbian Crisis in its tracks? If no Great Power had an alliance or an entente or an "understanding" with either Austria or Serbia, then of course the risk of the crisis expanding seems minimal. But this was not the case. By 1914 a heavily-armed Russia had become a strong ally of Serbia, and a heavily-armed Germany a strong ally of Austria-Hungary.
Which begs the question: from the day of the regicide on June 28th onwards, exactly what else were European and British gov't officials thinking might happen? This is not CalTech's isotope-dilution mass-spectrometric analysis of Greenland's pre-Cambrian ice-sheet cores to estimate lead-aerosol levels, or peer-reviewing the Journal of the American Chemical Society / Physical Review.
As slow-witted as some politicians seem if placed alongside the likes of a Sir Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Nicholas Copernicus or Michael Faraday, it takes almost no imagination to ask what if either an outraged Austria or a frightened Serbia (or both) had right away asked their giant allies for help, and gotten it?
The Austria-Serbia Crisis could almost instantly drag the Great Powers into a cataclysmic Category-5 hurricane-scale war, fueled by assembly-lines volcanically spewing almost endless quantities of industrial-scale artillery/shells and truly revolutionary Maxim machine-guns.
As for how June 28-July 1914's political meltdown could have been rapidly halted, some historians and WWI analysts argue that the British Empire was then the most stable civil parliamentary government,(101) and was most capable of promptly offering to help arbitrate the Austria-Serbian Crisis. Britain was the only Great Power having a Common Law based on a 1215AD Magna Carta.
Even the American Founding Fathers, who fought and won the Revolutionary War against Britain, unhesitatingly praised the British civil gov't, with all of its flaws, as nevertheless indisputably #1, unmatched anywhere else on Earth. The American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton stated flatly the British civil gov't was the "best gov't in the world."
British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey hits the exact point:
"And what about Russia? I know of nothing to alter the opinion, expressed in this conversation, about the Tsar, Sazonof, and Benckendorff ; but it may fairly be thought, in the light of after-knowledge, that more allowance should have been made for the inherent instability in Russian Government; for the possibility that, in a moment of great crisis and excitement, the Tsar might be rushed into some imprudent act.
"It needs more than good-will to preserve peace in a crisis; it needs steadiness and strength. The Tsar was not strong, and the Kaiser was not steady, and in each country there was a military element."[italics added]102
"In Austria, as in Russia, there was no head with direction and grip of affairs."103
British Foreign Secretary Grey puts his finger on a paramount reason the June-July 1914 Crisis exploded: the European Great Powers were too unstable. We agree. The iconically stable British civil gov't was vastly better positioned to make a prompt offer to help set up a mediation conference to lower tensions and prevent the increasingly intense Austria-Serbia Crisis from expanding into a General European War.
Anyone objecting to starting with Britain as the apex of European political stability in 1914 is welcome to provide details showing the more stable political system in 1914 was actually Poincare's France (some 40 different govt's between WWI and WWII), or Kaiser Wilhelm II's German Empire, or Tsar Nicholas II's Russian Empire, or Franz-Joseph's Austria-Hungarian Empire, or the Ottoman Empire, or the Italian gov't.
- June 28-July 1914: the most catastrophic political period in recorded human history:
VV Putin's nuclear, ballistic-missile-armed Russia did not just pop into existence out of nowhere: it derived from the Cold War. Ditto Communist China, North Korea, NATO and the EU. The Cold War came directly from WWII. WWII derived from the hasty Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles and a colossal political vacuum in Europe in the aftermath of WWI:
"This war [World War II] would never have come unless, under American and modernizing pressure, we had driven the Habsburgs out of Austria and the Hohenzollerns out of Germany. By making these vacuums we gave the opening for the Hitlerite monster to crawl out of its sewer on to the vacant thrones. No doubt these views are very unfashionable...." (104)
Winston Churchill, 8th April 1945 "If the Allies at the peace table at Versailles had allowed a Hohenzollern, a Wittelsbach and a Habsburg to return to their thrones, there would have been no Hitler. A democratic basis of society might have been preserved by a crowned Weimar in contact with the victorious Allies."(105)
Winston Churchill, 26th April 1946
And WWI sprang out of a fierce political meltdown from June 28-July 1914, the singular point at which Western Civilization went completely off the rails.
(1)"I came to see World War I...as the great seminal catastrophe of this century--the event which...lay at the heart of the failure and decline of this Western civilization."(106)
George F. Kennan [architect of U.S. Cold War Policy of Containment]
"First, how did a Continental war break out...? I think, whether you agree with what I am going to say or not, I think you would agree it is an important question because many believe that the outbreak of the War is the most important event of the twentieth century."
Perhaps you would not have had Hitler or a Second World War, and some might argue the Second World War was, in a way, a consequence of the First."[italics added](107)
"The Last Days of Mankind: 28 June-4 August 1914. It [WWI] was nothing less that the greatest error of modern history."[emphasis in original](108)
Niall Ferguson: The Pity of War
"The war of 1914 had such profound, and predominantly negative, consequences -- four years of industrial-scale slaughter all but destroying western faith in human progress, the violent break-up of empires which had endured for centuries, the bloodletting begat by the Russian Revolution and Civil War, the rise of fascism, Nazism, and all the rest..." [italics added] (109)
Sean McMeekin: July 1914: Countdown to War
“...the first calamity of the 20th century, the calamity from which all other calamities sprang.” [italics added](110)
Fritz Stern, German-American historian
"It is now conventional wisdom that the First World War and its senseless, unimaginable slaughter was the Ur-catastrophe of the last century. The war radicalized Europe; without it, there would have been no Bolshevism and no Fascism."(111)
"But...World War I was more devastating to civility and civilization than the physically far more destructive World War II: the earlier conflict destroyed an idea. I cannot erase the thought of those pre-World War I years, when the future of mankind appeared unencumbered and without limit." [italics added]
Alan Greenspan [former US FED Chief]: The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World.
"It may be that the incapacity of reason and of political will to impede the massacres of 1915-17 ought to have proved a final warning as to the fragility and mutually isolated condition of the fabric of culture...The marks on the actual landscape made by World War I, the broken plateaus, the gouged fields, bit deeper than the traces left by 1940-45."(112) George Steiner, In Buebeards Castle, 1971.
"In the case of the Great War [1914-1918] this is, for once, true. The war really did change everything: not just borders, not just governments and the fate of nations, but the way people have seen the world and themselves ever since. It became a kind of hole in time, leaving the postwar world permanently disconnected from everything that had come before."[italics added]
G. J. Meyer: A World Undone
- The Maxim Machine Gun: The 1914 Revolution in European Warfare:
Since WWI was such an unexpected catastrophe, the principals blamed each other. Semi-hidden agendas were ascribed to several of the countries involved: Germany was plotting to go to war while they were still strong enough, France was plotting to take back Alsace-Lorraine, Britain was plotting to encircle Germany (the iron ring) to maintain its maritime supremacy, Russia was plotting to move against Austria-Hungary to regain its lost prestige in the Balkans, secure the Ottoman Straits etc.
Suppose all of them to be true. Did any single country's alleged secret war plans take into account the shattering military revolution that changed the face of European warfare forever? In World War I, the Maxim machine-gun burst onto the scene, operationally deployed as a battlefield lawnmower:
"World War 1 was the proving ground for many-a-new war implement and the Maxim 08 was no exception...the machine gun was utilized to create maximum amounts of carnage and at the same time could deliver such a psychological effect on enemy troops that its appearance in the conflict could never be understated." [italics added](113)
"We were very surprised to see them walking. We had never seen that before. The officers went in front. I noticed one of them walking calmly, carrying a walking stick. When we started firing we just had to load and reload. They went down in their hundreds. You didn't have to aim. We just fired into them."
German machine-gunner at the Somme.(114)
- The Maxim Machine-Gun Makes It's Appearance: The Battle of the Somme:To pick a single day: July 1, 1916, the first day of the Somme Offensive, was the single worst day in British military history, British troops were literally ordered to advance across No Man's Land at a walk:
"In the days leading up to the Somme offence in northern France, Gen Sir Henry Rawlinson issued a blithe communique to his corps commanders. The British guns, some 1,600 in total, had commenced the largest bombardment in history.This unique military tactic promptly resulted in 55,000 British casualties, the great majority in the first hour of the battle, some 40% from prototypes to the German Maschinengewehr 08 machine gun:
"On an 27km (18 mile) front north of the river Somme, every gun the British could purloin was ranged against the German enemy. Some like the 15-inch howitzers fired a shell so large they sounded like express trains roaring overhead.
"For six days and nights the bombardment continued. The British Tommies sheltering in deep dugouts could not sleep. The Earth rocked like a ship at sea. Rats fled terrified into no man’s land. The Germans, cowering deep underground, had nothing to eat or drink, yet surfacing meant certain death. One described it like a “hellish concert”.
“Nothing could exist at the conclusion of the bombardment in the area covered by it,” Rawlinson, the commander of the British Fourth army, told his generals.... One brigadier-general even told his men they could light up their pipes and cigarettes in no man’s land."(115)
"...a commanding view of No Man's Land. Immediately in front, and spreading left and right until hidden from view, was clear evidence that the attack had been brutally repulsed. Hundreds of dead, many of the 37th Brigade, were strung out like wreckage washed up to a high-water mark. Quite as many died on the enemy wire as on the ground, like fish caught in the net.
The SommeThe French and British military leaders conducted a fierce 7-day artillery barrage in hopes of cutting the German barbed wire. Evidentally the artillery shells did not cut the wire.
"They hung there in grotesque postures. Some looked as though they were praying; they had died on their knees and the wire had prevented their fall. From the way the dead were equally spread out, whether on the wire or lying in front of it, it was clear that there were no gaps in the wire at the time of the attack.
"Concentrated machine gun fire from sufficient guns to command every inch of the wire, had done its terrible work. The Germans must have been reinforcing the wire for months. It was so dense that daylight could barely be seen through it. Through the glasses it looked a black mass. The German faith in massed wire had paid off.
"How did our planners imagine that Tommies, having survived all other hazards - and there were plenty in crossing No Man's Land - would get through the German wire? Had they studied the black density of it through their powerful binoculars?
"Who told them that artillery fire would pound such wire to pieces, making it possible to get through? Any Tommy could have told them that shell fire lifts wire up and drops it down, often in a worse tangle than before."(116)
George Coppard: With A Machine Gun to Cambrai (1969)
"The British expended 1.76 million shells in the course of a seven-day bombardment. Incredibly, it was not enough. A third were duds. A third were shrapnel shells, ineffective against barbed wire. The remainder were high explosive shells. The area covered by the bombardment was just too vast.What is most curious is that the French and British military leaders did not bother to peer through their field glasses the morning of battle to make certain the wire had been cut before sending all their troops into No Man's Land"
"High explosive shells were supposed to destroy the German frontline positions and kill all the occupants. But the German were sheltered from the worst the British could throw at them.
"Churchill would later recall that the British attacked the 'most perfectly defended position in the whole world'.
"The discovery of the intact bunker ought to have given the British pause for thought at the Somme. Scouts found the German barbed wire intact. One battalion commander reported the uncut wire to his superiors but was ignored. His men were slaughtered. Riven with remorse, he shot himself after the battle."(117)
"Captain Wilfred Nevill sought to encourage the four platoons of his 8th East Surrey Battalion to continue moving forward by presenting each with a soccer ball and promising a prize to whichever was first to kick it into the German trenches. One platoon painted 'The Great European Cup' and 'East Surreys v. Bavarians' on its soccer ball.British Commander General Douglas Haig decribes the German barbed wire at the Somme:
"When the whistles blew at 'zero hour,' the cheering East Surreys kicked their balls as they moved forward, but they couldn’t escape the carnage. Seven officers were killed, and the 21-year-old Nevill was shot through the head in the first minutes of the battle. Two of the soccer balls were recovered from the battlefield near his body."(118)
"The front of the trenches in each system was protected by wire entanglements, many of them in two belts forty yards broad, built of iron stakes interlaced with barbed wire, often almost as thick as a man's finger."(119)General Haig knew how formidable the German barbed wire was. The query is, why didn't he look through his own field glasses to make certain - CERTAIN - the 8-day artillery bombardment had indeed cut the wire before ordering the attack. How would General Haig himself expect to walk through German "wire entanglements, many of them in two belts forty yards broad" without being spotted hundreds of yards off and the German Maxim Machine guns opening up?
"They advanced in line after line, dressed as if on parade, and not a man shirked going through the extremely heavy barrage, or facing the machine-gun and rifle fire that finally wiped them out. I saw the lines which advanced in such admirable order melting away under the fire. Yet not a man wavered, broke the ranks, or attempted to come back.And that's just the first day. By the Somme's end 4 months later the Allied line had advanced an average of just 5 miles. Cost: 400,000 British casualties, combined British, French and German losses exceed 1,000,000 casualties - 1 battle.
" I have never seen, I would never have imagined, such a magnificent display of gallantry, discipline and determination. The reports I have had from the very few survivors of this marvellous advance bear out what I saw with my own eyes, viz, that hardly a man of ours got to the German front line."(120)
General Rees, British Commander, 94th Infantry Brigade at the Somme, July 1, 1916.
1,000,000 casualties to advance 5 miles? That's not possible. From Julius Caesar to Gengis Kahn to Frederick the Great to Napoleon, even if they had such massive swarms of soldiers, none of these world-famous military commanders would permit such gigantic losses, particularily the Mongols.
Peering closer, one possible explaination is the catastrophe at the Somme was little more than sort of a logical military extension of June 28th-July 1914's total political meltdown. An easy explaination is the military genuises in charge of the Somme battlefield appear cut from the same distracted AWOL cloth as many of the political mandarins at the European/British helms from June 28-July 1914.
Holt Manufacturing Co, the original 1890 American tractor-maker, had sent hundreds of heavy-duty tractors to Europe, to be used to haul heavy artillery. These tractors, specifically designed for uneven terrain, had been used at the Somme to bring in thousands of artillery field pieces.
Allied commanders at the Somme had a quarter of a century to realize the military applications of Holt's tractors. Evidentally not a single allied commander considered welding basic iron plating onto the tractors and driving them at 15-20 mph straight across "no man's land" to crush the German barbed wire and break through the German line.
Maxim machine guns had a reported range of 2,000-4,000 yards. Impossible to take seriously, but apparently one commander at the Somme had announced that on the field his cavalry horse was a worthy opponent of the Maxim machine gun:
“...if only the Generals had not been content to fight machine-gun bullets with the breasts of gallant men, and think that that was waging war."(121)1,000,000 casualties to advance 5 miles is ≈ 113 casualties to advance 1 yard, or ≈ 3+ casualties per inch. (At that attrition rate, to advance the 510 miles from the Somme battlefield to Berlin ≈ over 100,000,000 casualties).
Or take Verdun: A 10-straight-month battle on less than 10 square kilometers, ≈ 700,000 French and German casualties - 1 battle.
Which country's secret warplans also took into account the possibility of 4 long years of trench warfare, 15,000,000 dead, some 9,000,000 injured and the total demolition of the Austro-Hungarian, Russian, German and Ottoman Empires and the Russian Revolution/the rise of Communist Russia?
"I think,actually, on the Austria-Hungarian side, the only what if that really matters, is the one where had any one other than Franz Ferdinand been assassinated, you would have had a radically different outcome.
"Franz Ferdinand was assassinated partly because Serbian military police believed he was the head of the 'war party' in Vienna, egging Austria-Hungary to war against Serbia.
"In fact, this was 180 degrees from the truth. Franz Ferdinand was, again, because he was a total reactionary....He would have been the one, had any one else been assassinated, he would have been the one saying, 'Oh, no. There will be no war, no major power war. No. We will work this out however we have to.'
And that's bitterly ironic."(122)
John Schindler [Professor of National Security Affairs, U.S. Naval War College, formerly NSA]
- Officials in the capitols of Europe/Britain during July 1914:
Since World War I was a global catastrophe that nobody anticipated, those at the helm during June 28-July 1914 would certainly have had motive to flee the scene, and pleaded vehemently for minimizing their direct role in the catastrophe.
And when you read their accounts you notice many of the principals involved wrote as if the events of July 1914 were occurring in some very distant land - or on another planet. No matter who you read, almost all make an identical pleading: they weren't close enough to events to be able to affect them.
The impression is as if every single principal during July 1914 was staring through the equivalent of NASA's Hubble Telescope watching events at an ungodly distance away. Many predelegated too much of their own official responsibility to others.
A highly popular alibi that apparently all of them plead is they were not informed of or were not aware of specific events until it was too late to intervene.
If we accept all these arguments, what we have is a group of principals who were never really in charge of keeping the peace, that is, preventing a general war in Europe/Britain. That is, if every single time something major goes wrong all the principals are allowed to flee the scene, in what sense can these people be said to be in charge?
And one answer is that they weren't, they were just standing at the helm, almost like dime-store mannequins, as if they were in charge. The moment anything goes seriously wrong, suddenly they are nowhere to be found.
Their writings create the impression that as long as everything is running fine, the wheelhouse of each of the capitols of Europe/Britain is busy with officials typically pushing to expand their influence. July 1914 appears like a Category 5 hurricane making landfall and each reverses course, striving to telescope, or collapse the significance of their office or post, preferably to the point where each has virtually no discernable responsibility or role whatsoever.(14)
After July 1914's total meltdown and the boot-up of World War I, each gov't official strove to appear to the outside world a definite high-toned, moral & compassionate but severely distracted bystander. Before July 1914 many officials strove to stand out and gain recognition. During and after July 1914's total political meltdown many officials reversed course 180 degrees, striving to fit in, or disappear completely from public scrutiny.
"...the July Crisis ensued; world war broke out in August, with all of the fearful and long-lasting consequences mentioned above. All of these world-shaking events were man-made. They are therefore quite properly subject to human judgement."[italics added]
Sean McMeekin: July 1914 Countdown to War(15)
"...the agency of those individuals, those statesmen who chose this war, because this war was not a natural event, it wasn't a volcanic eruption. It didn't have to happen. It was a war that was, like all wars, chosen by the individuals who made it." [italics added]
Christopher Clark: Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 (16)
World War I could not have occurred without these officials on site during July 1914. The remedy was clear. Each pretended to be profoundly afflicted with a short or non-existant attention-span. Each official utilised the horror of WWI as a firewall to hide behind, as if to say to alarmed-but-sober queries, "How insentitive it is to ask me to revisit in my memory that disasterous month of July 1914 which led to the awful conflagration in which so many of our people perished."
This tactic was used to discourage a systematic, rigorous accounting of everybody's official duties and actions - and inactions - for each and every single day, starting on June 28th and running to the end of July 1914.
July 1914's "performance" was not leadership nor anything resembling sober responsibility and in fact was the diametrical opposite. This stunning political abdication of timely official responsibility is how Hitler eventually gained power in Europe. This is how Europe's WWII started. This is how Stalin came to power. This is how the thermonuclear/ballistic-missile balance-of-terror ("deterrence") spread across and now overshadows the entire Earth. Because this June 28-July 1914 idiocy was permitted to pass for responsible European/British statesmanship the wheels fell off Western Civilization, never to be put back to this day.
"To me, it is, if anything, more unsettling that a conflict of such world-shattering proportions could be conjured up by such a small handful of men."(17)
[(Right) British King Edward VII]
Instead of having full responsibility for preventing a World War, what if we let a small handful of men like these "cooperate" in regulating the operation of the New York Stock Exchange, or in determining control-room design layouts of upwards of one thousand switches, gauges, alarms etc. required for sudden emergencies in atomic reactor Loss-of Coolant-Accidents (LOCA's), or cooperate in formulating exact structural engineering design codes for high-altitude commercial jetliners, Golden Gate Bridge-sized suspension bridges or VLCC/ULCC's (global ocean-transport very large/ultra-large crude carriers)?
What if a July 1914-style mentality was given full responsibility for engineering the USA's stupendous task of putting a man on the Moon, or for engineering NASA's bohemoth Saturn-V space rocket? What if a July 1914-style mentality was given full responsibility for engineering the International Space Station?
How about allowing a July-1914-style crew to determine the required strength of steel and concrete in constructing 100-floor tall skyscrapers in New York, Chicago, Singapore, London, Tokyo, Paris, Shanghai and Dubai? It'd be a hell of a spectacle, there'd be a catastrophic collapse of a 100-floor skyscraper in a major city of the world every other month.
This was the European/British political mentality at the helm in July 1914. Install this July 1914-style brain-trust in any other large-scale command-and-control engineering project across the civilized world and the result would be identical: brazen indifference, virtually instant fighting, disagreements, carelessness & pandemonium leading directly, sooner or later, to widespread mayhem and total catastrophic ruin.
How about a European/British July 1914-style brain-trust cooperating in the command and control of nuclear weapons? How well would they handle the very scary Soviet air-raid alerts(18) that occurred at North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) over several years - not to mention the mega-scary 13-day-long atomic Cuban Missile Crisis?
The paramount point is that starting about 11:30am on Sunday, June 28, 1914, those squabbling officials in each of the capitols of Europe/Britain had four straight weeks to make certain - CERTAIN - the initially localized political effects of the regicide in Sarajevo did not expand into a global war (45,000,000 men mobilized) and it still wasn't enough time.
"The assassination of the Austrian heir apparent in Sarajevo on 28 June similarily excited little [UK] comment. When Frank Bertie, on a visit from Paris, saw Grey in London on 16 July, the Foreign Secretary was more interested in talking of cricket, football and fishing' and bemoaning 'the supplanting of cricket to a great extent by football which has become a medium of betting.'"
British Naval Policy in the Mediterranean, 1900-1914, the Commitment to France
and British Intervention in the War
- The History of Eruope/Britain: Extreme Superstitiousness, Plagues and Continuous Wars:
This was the problem in July 1914. All Europe/Britain was being led by gov't officials who, if their writings can be believed, seemed to have scant idea what their most important responsibility was. It's the same region of Earth that grew up having many thousands of knights in armor on horseback roaming the area looking for battle.
As late as 1917, during (surprise) World War I, an American astronomer on the Hale 60" reflecting telescope at Mt. Wilson made the jaw-dropping discovery that the Sun was NOT at the center of our galaxy. The discovery, comparable to Copernicus discovering that the Sun doesn't orbit the Earth, compressed out of existance forever that strenuously-held but hideous European/British inversion of the Nature of Physical Reality; for over a thousand years the Europeans and Brits had drawn up 100% fictitious childlike maps out of thin air that "proved" they were at the veritable center of all creation itself.
If European/British history books can be believed, people milled around for 20 centuries dead certain the Sun orbited the earth. Christopher Columbus was begged by "highly sophisticated Europeans" not to depart for fear his ships would fall off the "ends" of the Earth. Almost every major country was almost constantly either preparing for or prosecuting the most violent wars with every other one.
Then there's the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Bubonic Plague, dozens of overwrought Vatican popes across many centuries issuing cruel ex cathedra edicts, fierce religious battles between Protestants and Catholics, one war between the Dutch and the Spanish lasted 100 years. The famous European oil painters depicted the intense superstitution and rampant confusion of the era.
Scientists (astronomers) were burnt at the stake. Thousands of supernatural beliefs and truly idiotic fables sprang up out of nowhere and spread across the continent, inflaming the peasantry. Many thousands (the Flagellants) armed with torture devices would invade entire cities, literally whipping themselves with metal spikes in the belief that if they lost enough blood and suffered like Christ they would be spared the Black Death and later go to heaven.
Reportedly hundreds were burnt at the stake out of a great fear the flagellants would demoralize society. The Black Death killed ≈ 1/3 of the entire population because the Europeans and the British were too busy praying to try (surprise) sanitation. Its own writings are a treasure-trove for dystopian science fiction and leave the impression that life (although that may be too generous a term) in Europe/Britain must have been - at best - a part-time madhouse.
- A leisure-class attitude pervades the gov't houses of Europe/Britain:
The desire to escape centuries upon centuries of unspeakable experiences must have affected every strata of society. Acquiring the means to distract oneself without limit became practically the end-goal of European/British high society, and by 1900-1914 was full-tilt. In the capitols of Berlin, Paris, London, St. Petersburg and Vienna, high gov't oficials act as if a near-constant recreation, daffy behavior & a finely-tuned capacity for distraction were the new official imprimatur of high office competence:
"Viennese society was a whirl of balls and operas. Everybody, from the aged Emperor in his palace to the young ticket collector on the Mariahilfer Strasse tram, was addicted to music. A wrong note on the tuba at the Hofoper opera house was a citywide tragedy. Vienna had eight orchestras and 247 male choirs..."
"By 1913 the Austrian parliament in Vienna was a Punch & Judy show. Representatives spoke in 10 different languages but there were no translators. Proceedings were a Babel of insults..."(19)
By 1914 an intense leisure-class reaction to 15 centuries of awful European/British fighting, wars, supersititions and plagues had taken a firm grip on the capitols of Europe/Britain.
Everyone knows the only way of becoming highy competent in a field is laser-concentration & assidious work for many years, but in 1914 leisure-driven Europe/Britain this equation was reversed or turned upside down. It was as if the more often each top gov't official was able to leave his post (to go off to do what he really wanted) the more acclaim and unquestioned authority he was accorded upon his return.
The President of France Raymond Poincare was at Longchamp Racetrack June 28, 1914, when he received word of the killing of the Archduke Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. President Poincare had an aide draft condolences for Austria-Hungary and then stayed on to enjoy the rest of the races.
Eighteen days later, as the regicide ramps the Austrian-Serbian Crisis into a Category 3 hurricane, Poincare takes a leisurely state visit on his yacht to Russia. The Germans block many telegrams from his ship. Poincare returns to Paris on the afternoon of July 29th, strolls into his office and is shocked to discover how close (measured in hours) France - the same country Poincare was elected President to run - is to war.
"Will you tell me how to prevent riches from becoming the effects of temperance and industry—Will you tell me how to prevent riches from producing luxury—Will you tell me how to prevent luxury from producing effeminacy intoxication extravagance Vice and folly..[?]" [italics added]
US Founding Father John Adams to US Founding Father Thomas Jefferson December 21, 1819.
According to a telegram sent from Belgrade to British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey, the Russian Minister to Serbia held a bridge party on the evening of the Archduke's murder. The Roumanian and Greek Ministers were invited.
The telegram was sent July 13th, but Foreign Secretary Grey did not receive it until the 20th. Belgrade to London is about 1,700 kilometers. Now 7 days to deliver a message 1,700Km is something the Mongol Empire mail riders wrapped in mummy tape (for sleeping while riding overnight) could do in 1200AD.
Yet 700 years later a set of chronically-delayed telegraph wires were what another master of timeless leisure, the British Foreign Secretary, had gambled the world's greatest 1,000-year-old Imperial Empire upon to resolve a local crisis that risked dragging all the Great Powers into a catastrophic World War.
The French President Poincare and the British Foreign Secretary Grey weren't alone. It seems almost the entire French nation was consumed by the notorious Caillaux Trial sucking all the oxygen out of the Paris newspapers. French Prime Minister René Viviani, who had accompanied Poincare to Russia, reportedly avidly followed the Caillaux telegraph reports throughout the voyage. As for Lonchamp, the mega-popular luxury destination started in 1857 in the presence of Napoleon III:
"War games: Finishing touches for the first big fashion show were briefly interrupted by conflict. On 3rd August 1914 Germany declared war on France. Would the show be cancelled? Bien sûr que non! Races and Fashion are indelibly imprinted in Paris’ genes."It's obvious what had happened: the fierce leisure-class reaction to a thousand years of non-stop fighting, warfare, religious superstition & plagues had became overwhelming among the masses and especially the upper classes, and by 1900-1914 the fantasy of timeless leisure had deeply infected and gripped even the highest officials calmly but oh-so-firmly in its talons.
"The popularity of Longchamp attracted increasingly large crowds; all ranks and classes, le Tout-Paris attended the races. Quick to grasp an opportunity, Parisian couturiers sent models wearing their latest designs, off to mingle with society ladies and gentlemen. Longchamp became one large, bubbling catwalk." [italics added]
2018 - 2020