- Aug 2010
- Welsh Marches
It would have made an important difference, though, if Hanover was still under the direct rule of the British monarch; the law of successin there, which excluded Victoria from the Hanoverian succesion, worked to Bismarck's advantage. I wonder how things might have turned out if that had not been the case.I don't think Britain gave two shits about Hanover or Brunswick in the timeperiod we are talking about. "Britain has no permanent friends or permanent enemies - only permanent interests." - Palmerston (the same Palmerston, who also did not do anything when Bismarck did his landgrabbing). Sure, they might have filed an offical complaint but they were never going to do anything about it, and the British have a nice and oppurtunistic tradition of selectively enforcing their alliances as it suits their geopolitical interests. Besides, Prussia and Britain were also traditionally on cordial terms, in a way (if not as strongly).
Otherwise I broadly agree with your post in the sense that he didn't percieve Britain to be a threat, but I think Bismarck might have been mildly friendly rather than uninterested in the British. At the Berlin conference Bismarck was apparently impressed by Disraeli stating "Der alte jude, das ist der mann!" I think Bismarck appreciated Britain, as it was the only European power that did not have a latent conflict with interest with Germany. And in fact, if you look at the kind of policy Bismarck pursued, it was broadly speaking very similar to what Britain had historically done (and kept doing during the 1800s). Limit the amount of war, avoid encirclement and try to stabilize the overall situation.
There was a natural commonality of interests, but no - an explicit alliance would not have worked probably. Both were too independent, and given Britain's antagonisms with Russia etc. together with the provocation of Russia and France, with their much greater armies might have effectively encircled Germany. Germany would have provoked France and Russia in exchange for... what exactly? The same army he would have had arrested...? The British did not have enough skin in the game in continental Europe to be a viable alliance partner, otherwise I think they might have tried it.
On the other hand, given how Bismarck's policy turned out when Wilhelm II kicked him out maybe he would have actually done a better job of pursuing closer ties.