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Пётр Вели́кий,96 EUROPE ON THE EVE OF GREAT
September 24, 1932
WE have tried to have a little peep into the minds of the men and women of the eighteenth
century in Europe, especially in France. It has been just a glimpse revealing to us some new
ideas growing and battling with the old. Having been behind the scenes, we shall now have a
look at the actors on the public stage of Europe.
In France old Louis XIV finally succeeded in dying in 1715. He had outlived several
generations, and he was succeeded by his great-grandson, who became Louis XV. There was
another long reign of fifty-nine years. Thus two successive kings of France, Louis XIV and XV,
reigned for a total period of 131 years ! Surely this must be a world record. The two Manchu
emperors in China, Kang Hi and Chien Lung, each reigned for over sixty years, but they did not
follow each other, and there was a third reign in between.
Apart from its extraordinary length, the reign of Louis XV was chiefly remarkable for its
disgusting corruption and intrigue. The resources of the kingdom were used for the pleasures of
the king. There was extravagance at Court based on graft. The men and women at Court who
happened to please the king got free gifts of land and sinecure offices, which meant income
without work. And the burden of all this fell more and more on the masses. Autocracy and
incompetence and corruption went hand in hand, merrily forward. Is it surprising that before the
century was over, they came to the end of their path and stepped into the abyss ? What does
surprise us is that the path was such a long one and the fall came so late. Louis XV escaped the
people's judgment and vengeance; it was his successor in 1774, Louis XVI, who had to face this.
In spite of his incompetence and depravity, Louis XV had no doubts about his absolute authority
in the State. He was everything, and no one could challenge his right to do anything he chose.
Listen to what he said, addressing an assembly in Paris in 1766 :
" C'est en ma personne sevl que reside l 'autorite souveraine. . . . O'est a moi sevl qu'appartient le
pouvoir legislatif sans dependance et sans portage. L'ordre public tout enlier emane de moi ; j'en
suis le guardien supreme. Mon. people n'est qu'un avec moi ; les droits et lea interest de la nation,
dont on ose faire un corps separe" du monarque, sont nicessairement unis avec les miens et ne
reposent qu'entre mes mains."
Such was the ruler of France for the greater part of the eighteenth century. He seemed to
dominate Europe for a while, but then he came into conflict with the ambitions of other kings
and peoples, and had to acknowledge defeat. Some of the old rivals of France no longer played a
dominant part on the European stage, but
others arose to take their place and challenge the French power. Proud Spain had fallen back
both in Europe and elsewhere after her brief day of imperial glory. But she still held large
colonies in America and the Philippine Islands. The Hapsburgs of Austria, who had so long
monopolized the headship of the Empire and, through this, the leadership of Europe, were also
no longer so prominent as they used to be. Austria was not the leading State of the Empire now;
another, Prussia, had risen and become equally important. There were wars about the Austrian
succession to the crown, and for a long period a woman, Maria Theresa, occupied it.
The Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, you will remember, had made Prussia one of the important
Powers of Europe. The House of Hohenzollern ruled there and challenged the supremacy of the
other German dynasty—the House of Hapsburg in Austria. For forty-six years (1740-1786)
Prussia was ruled by Frederick, who has been called, because of his military success, the Great.
He was an absolute monarch, like the others in Europe, but he put on the pose of a philosopher
and tried to be friends with Voltaire. He built up a strong army and was a successful general. He
called himself a rationalist and is reported to have said that " everyone should be allowed to get
to heaven in his own way ".
From the seventeenth century onwards French culture was dominant in Europe. In the middle
years of the eighteenth century this became even more marked, and Voltaire had a tremendous
European reputation. Indeed, some people even call this century " the century of Voltaire ".
French literature was read in all the Courts of Europe, even in backward St. Petersburg, and
cultured and educated people preferred writing and speaking in French. Thus Frederick the Great
of Prussia almost always wrote and spoke in French. He even tried writing French poetry, which
he wanted Voltaire to correct and polish up for him.
East of Prussia lay Russia, already growing into the giant of later years. We have seen, when we
were considering Chinese history, how Russia spread across Siberia to the Pacific, and even
crossed to Alaska. Towards the end of the seventeenth century Russia had a strong ruler, Peter
the Great. Peter wanted to put an end to many of the old Mongolian associations and outlook that
Russia had inherited. He wanted to " westernize " her, as they say. So he left his old capital,
Moscow, which was full of the old traditions, and built himself a new city and a new capital.
This was St. Petersburg, in the north, on the banks of the Neva, at the head of the Gulf of
Finland. This city was quite unlike Moscow with its golden cupolas and domes; it was more like
the great cities of western Europe. Petersburg became the symbol of " westernization ", and
Russia began to play a greater part in European politics. Perhaps you know that Petersburg, the
name, is no more. Twice in the course of the last twenty years it has changed its name. The first
change was to Petrograd, and the second one, which now holds, to Leningrad.
Peter the Great made many changes in Russia. I shall mention
one which will interest you. He put an end to the practice of the seclusion of women, called
terem, which prevailed in Russia at the time. Peter had his eyes on India and knew the value of
India in international politics. In his will he wrote: " Bear in mind that the commerce of India is
the commerce of the world; and that he who can exclusively command it is dictator of Europe ".
His last words were justified by the rapid growth in England's power after she gained dominion
over India. The exploitation of India gave England prestige and wealth, and made her for several
generations the leading Power of the world.
Between Prussia and Austria, on the one side, and Russia, on the other, lay Poland. It was a
backward country with a poor peasantry. There was little trade or industry and no great towns. It
had a curious constitution with an elected king, and with the power in the hands of the feudal
aristocrats. As the countries surrounding it became stronger, Poland became weaker. Prussia and
Russia and Austria eyed it hungrily.
And yet it was the King of Poland that had beaten back the last Turkish attack on Vienna in
1683. The Ottoman Turks were not aggressive again. They had exhausted their energy and the
tide turned gradually. Henceforward they were on the defensive, and slowly the Turkish Empire
in Europe began to shrink. But in the first half of the eighteenth century, the period we are
considering, Turkey was a powerful country in the south-east of Europe, and her empire
extended over the Balkans and across Hungary to Poland.
Italy in the south was split up under different rulers and did not count for much in European
politics. The Pope no longer played a commanding r61e, and the kings and princes, while
treating him with deference, ignored him in political matters. Gradually a new system was
arising in Europe, the system of great Powers. Strong centralized monarchies, as I told you,
helped to develop the idea of a nation. People began to think of their countries in a peculiar way,
which is common enough to-day, but was uncommon before this period. France, England or
Britannia, Italia and other similar figures, begin to emerge. They seem to symbolize the nation.
Later on, in the nineteenth century, these figures take definite shape in the minds of men and
women and move their hearts strangely. They become the new goddesses at whose altar every
patriot is supposed to worship, and in their name and on their behalf patriots fight and kill each
other. You know how the idea of Bharat Mata —mother India—moves all of us, and how for this
mythical and imaginary figure people gladly suffer and give their lives. So people in other
countries felt also for their idea of their motherland. But all this was a later development. For the
present I want to tell you that the eighteenth century saw this idea of nationality and patriotism
take root. The French philosophers helped in this process, and the great French Revolution put
the seal on this idea.
These nations were the " Powers ". Kings came and went, but the nation continued. Of these
Powers gradually some stood out
as more important than the others. Thus in the early eighteenth-century France, England, Austria,
Prussia and Russia were definitely " Great Powers". Some others, like Spain, were in theory
great, but they were declining.
England was rapidly gaining in wealth and importance. Up to the time of Elizabeth she had not
been an important country in the European sense, and much less so in the world sense. Her
population was small; probably it did not exceed 6,000,000 at the time, which is far less than the
population of London now. But with the Puritan revolution and the victory of Parliament over
the king, England adapted herself to the new conditions and went ahead. So also did Holland,
after the yoke of Spain had been shaken off.
In the eighteenth century there was a scramble for colonies in America and Asia. Many European
Powers took part in this, but the chief contest ultimately lay between two—England and France.
England had got a great lead in the race, both in America and India. France, apart from being
incompetently governed by Louis XV, was too much involved in European politics. From 1756
to 1763 war was waged between these two Powers, as well as several others, in Europe and
Canada and India to decide as to who was to be master. This war is called the Seven Years' War.
We saw a bit of it in India when France was defeated. In Canada also England won. In Europe,
England followed a policy, for which she has become well known, of paying others to fight for
her. Frederick the Great was her ally.
The result of this Seven Years' War was very favourable to England. Both in India and Canada
she had no European rival left. On the seas her naval supremacy was established. Thus England
was in a position to establish and extend her empire and to become a world Power. Prussia also
increased in importance.
Europe was again exhausted by this fighting, and again there appeared to be comparative calm
over the continent. But this calm did not prevent Prussia, Austria and Russia from swallowing up
the kingdom of Poland. Poland was in no position to fight these Powers, and so these three
wolves fell on her, and by partitioning her repeatedly, put an end to Poland as an independent
country. There were three partitions—in 1772, 1793 and 1795. After the first of these, the Poles
made a great effort to reform and strengthen their country. They established a parliament, and
there was a revival of art and literature. But the autocratic monarchs surrounding Poland had
tasted blood, and they were not to be baulked; besides, they had no love for parliaments. So, in
spite of the patriotism of the Poles and the brave fight they put up under their great hero
Kosciusko, Poland disappeared from the map of Europe in 1795. It disappeared then, but the
Poles kept alive their patriotism and continued to dream of freedom, and 123 years later their
dream was realized, when Poland reappeared as an independent country after the Great War.
I have said that there was a measure of calm in Europe in the
second half of the eighteenth century. But this did not last long, and it was mostly on the surface.
I have also told you of various happenings in this century. But the eighteenth century is really
famous for three events—three revolutions—and everything else that happened in Europe during
these 100 years fades into insignificance when put beside these three. All these three revolutions
took place in the last quarter of the century. They were of three distinct types—political,
industrial, and social. The political revolution took place in America. This was the revolt of the
British colonies there, resulting in the formation of an independent republic, the United States of
America, which was to become so powerful in our own time. The Industrial Revolution began in
England and spread to other western European countries and then elsewhere. It was a peaceful
revolution, but a far-reaching one, and it has influenced life all over the world more than
anything in recorded history before. It meant the coming of steam and the big machine, and
ultimately the innumerable offshoots of industrialism that we see around us. The social
revolution was the great French Revolution, which not only put an end to monarchy in France,
but also to innumerable privileges, and brought new classes to the front. We shall have to study
all these three revolutions separately in some slight detail.
We have seen that on the eve of these great changes monarchies were supreme in Europe. In
England and Holland there were parliaments, but they were controlled by aristocrats and the rich.
The laws were made for the rich, to protect their property and rights and privileges. Education
also was only for the rich and privileged classes. Indeed, government itself was for these classes.
One of the great problems of the time was the problem of the poor. Although conditions
improved a little at the top, the misery of the poor remained, and indeed became more marked.
Right through the eighteenth century the nations of Europe carried on a cruel and heartless slave
trade. Slaves, as such, had ceased to exist in Europe, although the serfs or villeins, as the
cultivators on the land were called, were little better than slaves. With the discovery of America,
however, the old slave trade was revived in its most cruel form. The Spanish and Portuguese
began it by capturing Negroes on the African coast and taking them to America to work on the
land. The English took their full share in this abominable trade. It is difficult for you or for any
of us to have any idea of the terrible sufferings of the Africans as they were hunted and caught
like wild beasts and then chained together, and so transported to America. Vast numbers died
before they could even reach their journey's end. Of all those who have suffered in this world,
the Negroes have perhaps borne the heaviest burden. Slavery was formally abolished in the
nineteenth century, England taking the lead. In the United States a civil war had to be fought to
decide this question. The millions of Negroes in the United States of America to-day are the
descendants of these slaves.
I shall finish this letter on a pleasant note by telling you of the
great development of music in this century in Germany and Austria. As you know, Germans are
the leaders in European music. Some of their great names appear even in the seventeenth
century. As elsewhere, music in Europe was almost a part of religious ceremonial. Gradually this
is separated, and music becomes an art by itself, apart from religion. Two great names stand out
in the eighteenth century—Mozart and Beethoven. They were both infant prodigies, both
composers of genius. Beethoven, perhaps the greatest musical composer of the West, became,
strange to say, quite deaf, and so the wonderful music he created for others he could not hear
himself. But his heart must have sung to him before he captured that music.
Peter the Great was born in 1672 and he died in 1725. Peter was tsar of Russia from 1682 to 1725. His self-given title was Peter the Great
- 71 days ago via site
Architect UK BHOOBALAN's @archbhoo World class New Mega City 'NEW CHENNAI"
Attn #Modi #BJP #GOI #India #Urban #archbhoo #Architecture #NewCity
Chennai to become twin cities?
IS IT time to think of a New Chennai? Is there escape from the urban sprawl and chaos of the metro of today?
Questions like these are largely confined to academic reports and discussion fora, but some urban planners are taking it beyond, to the realm of the drawing board. After all, Mumbai has done it while in Chennai, it remains one of the discussion items for the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority.
Three years ago, the idea of a Second or New Chennai came from the CMDA. But, the politicians found it unattractive. The results were apparently not going to materialise in the time frame which politicians think about. In any case, previous special development areas thought of by the CMDA, such as Maraimalai Nagar had flopped badly.
Actually, the CMDA's random thought was to use the unused ayacut area around the Chembarampakkam tank that lies 20 km west of Chennai. The means to create a New Chennai with the least possible governmental involvement was conceptualised. However, the idea was dropped.
Dreams of a New Chennai, however, have not stopped.
One of those who speak about developing a problem free New city is Mr. U. K. Bhoopalan, an architect.
He has been collecting materials since 1984 for a ``new, wholly- planned international city.'' For this architect a New Chennai is not a mere fancy. It is needed for one simple reason. Chennai, as its exists now, will become unsustainable in the next few decades. ``We may have to look for an alternative, as Brazil and Mexico did and achieved recently.''
The new city will steer clear of the mistakes made so far: in respect of traffic design and engineering problems, environmental hazards, drinking water, unplanned development and congestion.
Mr. Bhoopalan's idea of a futuristic city is not unique, it only brings into focus the planning that has gone into global cities.
For instance, he moots a 1000 sq.km area to support a population of one million but would it help curb the urban sprawl, which forces people to commute long distances daily?
The concept envisages that about 40 per cent of the city will be built up with varying FIR according to land use. The rest remains open space or will comprise water bodies. The ambitious road network will cover 23,000 km, 10 per cent of which will be arterial roads to connect all districts.
The entire city will be split into 20 segments with activity based divisions such as industry, information, administration, business, commercial, agro-based, entertainment, parks, education and civic providers, including water recycling plants. Each unit will have exclusive sub-units to cater for the disabled, for emergency and tertiary/trauma medicare. University and R and D facilities will be centralised in a single district, approachable from all sides.
To promote a clean transport system, the plans can provide for exclusive bicycle tracks to promote this cheaper and cleaner method of commuting (which would be akin to Milton Keynes, an entirely new city created in Britain, though with mixed success). The entire city will be surrounded by a ring road leading to other parts of the State.
A major feature will be that no development will be allowed on a 10-km wide belt around the New City, but used exclusively for farming activity to cater for the residents' needs.
An orbital ring road and mass transit system will form the backbone of inter-modal transport. The inner core will be an administrative and international trade centre, with a high floor index ratio of even 5 to 5.5.
All this seem like sound a pipe-dream: But, Mr. Bhoopalan asks, ``Does one have an alternative to this for the long term?''
As for the money, he feels the prospective residents, city-users and NRI support can be tapped with the Government only identifying the land and playing the role of facilitator.
He says the idea itself can be branded and marketed internationally. Fiscal incentives for prospective investors can find the needed sources.
By K. Ramachandran
- 101 days ago via site
Muesli. Long live the healthy food.. #newcity-newlife
- 688 days ago via site