Why there were fewer wars in 19th century in Europe?

Dec 2016
Which are supported reasons that there were fewer wars in 19th century in Europe compared to previous centuries after Napoleonic Wars? 18th century and especially 17th century were known to have lots of wars. After the defeat of Napoleon's French Empire in Waterloo in 1815, there were a long period of relative peace and then in the first half of 20th century there were two big wars that took place mainly in Europe.

As for 19th century, after 1815, I can only think about Carlist Wars, Crimean War, Italian Wars of Independence, Schleswig War, Austro-Prussian War, Russo-Turkish War, Franco Prussian War. This is a fair number of wars, but few compared with 18th century and 17th century but also these wars lasted 1 year maximum while in previous periods lasted many years.

I am sure there should be many political considerations that make this period to be more pacific (in Europe) than the previous ones.

Edric Streona

Ad Honorem
Feb 2016
The balance of power was preserved.
The stronger powers were preoccupied with colonial expansion?


Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
The economic situation in most countries was improving - at least for some people, social change was happening giving more power to the people, European powers looked outwards to the colonies, 'Pax Britannica' kept a lid on simmering hostilities...and possibly Europe just needed a breathing space after centuries of almost continual warfare. Even so, as the OP points out there were still conflicts in Europe throughout the 19th century....peace is a relative term.


Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
Too busy with colonialism and imperialism, lot at stake moneywise and stopping to war with another European state in Europe was just too costly and pointless, for the most part.


Forum Staff
Aug 2016
The Congress of Vienna did actually resolve a lot of the previous border tensions.

Under the Concert of Europe the various absolutist states were more afraid of the rising tide of democracy than they were of each other. Most states made common cause in defense of monarchy against democracy.

Colonialism was an effective alternative outlet for various national ambitions.


Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
Lewis Fry Richardson a British mathematician , inventor of Fractals had a logarithmic theory of violence

put simply it would be similar to earthquakes ,

plenty of little ones whose aggregate would be equal to the violence of less frequent big ones


as an example , WW1 would have been intensity 7 with 11 millions dead , WW2 intensity 8 , 60 millions

the longer the delay the stronger the next big one

from this estimate we are overdue for a Richter 10 to 11 at about 360 millions

paranoid marvin

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
Most of Europe had found a common enemy in France and worked together to achieve victory. Also after the Napoleonic Wars, Europe was getting fed up of the pointless fighting and starting to look more towards peace.
Aug 2018
-The Napoleonic wars
-The revolutionary wars of the 1830s and 40s
-The wars of Balkan independence
-The Franco-Prussian war
-The wars of Italian unification

Those are a hell of a lot of wars waged inside Europe that were also very devastating. The Balkans, including Greece, was turned into the lame man of Europe by them, for example. The 17th century with the Thirty Years War looks tame by comparison, in all honesty.
Oct 2016
1) border stability. artificial states like Habsburg Holland got eliminated. (worth noting that fractured Italy was one of the few trouble spots)

2) decline of royal influence. no more Louis XIV types meddling.

3) reduction of Catholic-Protestant conflict. Napoleon was not a religious zealout, his successors even more apostate.

4) technology made war much more expensive. larger armies, artillery, more sophisticated rifles.

5) troop training became more and more complicated. no more rounding up a few thousand peasants and handing them spears and flintlocks. Governments more reluctant to go to war considering the time and expense invested in troops.

this would eventually reverse to the point that participants in WWI would have millions of easily-used rifles and millions of conscripts, used (and wasted) with little regard.

6) emigration (mostly to North America but also Australia etc) and colonization provided an outlet for extra people and ambitious officials.

simplistic I know but maybe some talking points.

one notices two of the major post-Napoleon wars were Prussia-Austria and Prussia-France. too bad those darn Prussians were so aggressive. Europe might have stayed at peace for much longer
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Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
@ sailorsam , some good points there ,
also the 19th century was the century of revolutions lot of popular insurrections ,national movements , the monarchies were under internal threats from "the enemy within" and often enough were looking at their fellows monarchs for support .
the industrial revolution following the French one was creating a new mindscape ,the old world of the 18th century was gone for good .

the point about emigration is very good ,it's often the most active , disgruntled or hopeful who take such a drastic step those are social ferments leaving a more placid place behind

colonial adventures kept the military busy
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