By Dr Maartje Abbenhuis
An Age of Neutrals offers a pioneering background of neutrality in Europe and the broader global among the Congress of Vienna and the outbreak of the 1st global battle. The 'long' 19th century (1815-1914) used to be an period of unheard of industrialization, imperialism and globalization; one that witnessed Europe's fiscal and political hegemony the world over. Dr Maartje Abbenhuis explores the ways that neutrality strengthened those interconnected advancements. She argues passive belief of neutrality has to date avoided historians from figuring out the excessive regard with which neutrality, as a device of international relations and statecraft and as a favored perfect with a variety of purposes, was once held. This compelling new heritage exposes neutrality as a colourful and crucial a part of the nineteenth-century overseas procedure; a strong tool utilized by nice and small powers to unravel disputes, stabilize diplomacy and advertise a number of pursuits inside of and out of doors the continent.
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Extra info for An Age of Neutrals: Great Power Politics, 1815-1914
24 Still, neutral states, of which there were many, advocated loudly and strongly for particular definitions of neutral rights within international law in order to protect the economic advantages that neutrality seemed to guarantee. The Seven Years War (1756–63), which saw almost all of the European countries and their empires take up arms against each other, was also a key conflict in terms of neutrality. The United Provinces (the Netherlands) was one of the few countries not to go to war. 25 Ships flying the neutral Dutch flag took over much of the colonial trade of Britain’s enemies, France and Spain, particularly in and around the West Indies and the American seaboard.
Burk, Old world, new world. Great Britain and America from the beginning. New York, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2007, p. 25. 17 During the Thirty Years War, the ‘just war’ principle still dominated statecraft and theory. 18 However, these years of war also witnessed a change in the understanding of state behaviour. Hugo Grotius was one of the first legal theoreticians to allow for neutrality, but only when there was a ‘just’ cause on both belligerent sides. 20 These principles formed the foundation of international legal expectations relating to neutral conduct in time of war from this point on, even if in practice the principles were infrequently enacted or exacted.
As the Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus was said to have uttered about the matter during the Thirty Years War (1618–48): ‘But what is neutrality? I don’t understand it. ’1 For the king, neutrality did not exist because he chose for it to have no meaning – either his neighbours were with him or they were against him, in which case they became his enemies. Of course, the basic principles underpinning Realpolitik – namely, that in time of war, ‘the ends justify any means’ and ‘might makes right’ – inevitably affect the viability of the neutrality of non-belligerents.