Europe in the decade or so before the First World War was a continent with many deep contrasts in its political, economic and social structure. To outward appearance its characteristics were self-confidence, stability and steadily growing wealth. Political power rested in the hands of the rich and the privileged, whilst (except in republican France and Switzerland) monarchy seemed to be as firmly established as ever it had been in past centuries as the traditional framework of government. In Vienna the Emperor Francis Joseph, doyen of European monarchs, was sufficiently confident in this tradition to build massive extensions to the imperial palace of the Hapsburgs. In England it was the time of that splendid Indian summer of upper-middle-class prosperity enjoyed under Edward VII. The courts of Europe, linked by royal marriage, were the focal point of an elaborately formal cosmopolitan ‘society’, an élite of privilege.
KeywordsMigration Corn Depression Europe Shipping
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Books for Further Reading
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