The Europe of congresses during the nineteenth century culminated in three major moments: the Congress of Vienna in 1814 and 1815; the Congress of Paris in 1856; and the Congress of Berlin in 1878. Between these dates, and up until the final crisis of 1914, the Concert of Europe took the form of secondary congresses, such as during the time of the Holy Alliance, either in the form of diplomatic conferences or through multilateral negotiations on technical subjects, even during times of exacerbated nationalism.
The gradual abolition of the slave trade and slavery in European colonies led authorities to call on foreign labourers in Asia and Africa to meet manpower needs in the colonies. Consequently, by way of a system of indenture, many millions of workers emigrated to European colonies in the Americas, the Pacific, or the Indian Ocean. In exchange for the promise of a better life, they signed an indenture contract the duration of which varied according to the worker’s origin and the host colony. Often compared to the slave trade, this system, the abuses of which were visible, gradually disappeared on the eve of World War One.
The European Union (EU) is considered one of the world’s most advanced political systems with regard to the promotion of gender equality, with its policies aiming to combat gender inequality often being considered “exceptional”.
For nearly four decades, the EU has imposed on member states a series of norms and values that are higher than those in effect in most countries, and has offered a particularly welcoming environment for feminist mobilization. Nevertheless, the serious and lasting economic and budgetary crisis in the late 2000s has raised questions about the EU’s capacity to offer a privileged space for the deployment of an ambitious public initiative to combat gender inequality.
Since its creation in 1830, the young country of Belgium has sought a cultural identity. At the turn of the twentieth century, critics and art historians consequently established the nationalist notion of Flemish art, meant to encompass all of the country’s artistic production within the fold of realism. Symbolism, which was held somewhere between ostracization and assimilation, had a considerable impact in Belgium, and was also the subject of this identity-based construction.
Governed by Estate law, the political systems of Central European States were based on power-sharing between the sovereign and orders. The Diets of various territories were central points of political life. The increase of the sovereign’s power, which ultimately limited that of the orders, did not proceed along a general or a linear arc, as proven by the permanence of the political influence of Diets in Central Europe, sometimes until the nineteenth century, notably in Hungary.
Excluded from politics, women intruded upon the secrecy of diplomacy in the fashionable gatherings of the Congress of Vienna in 1815, in intellectual salons, and from 1830 onward in embassies within the shadows of their husbands. After the Great War, the diplomatic profession gradually opened up to women, although the resistance of men, who saw diplomacy as their domain, explains the slow pace of feminization in the profession.
During colonization in the nineteenth century, European countries imposed a political violence which stemmed from their military and economic superiority. The order based on white supremacy was accompanied by specific gender relations, formed far from the home country and thriving on an often-ambivalent imagination regarding indigenous men and women. Practices were consequently quite varied, ranging from cohabitation to the use of colonial soldiers, to bloody repression and the regulation of prostitution. Up until independence, the political order went hand in hand with questions of gender and “race,” regardless of the home country involved.
Territorial diplomacy is the “small” foreign policy practised by local and regional authorities, who thereby become genuine actors in international relations. It originally began with the policy of Franco-German town-twinning after World War Two for the purpose of reconciliation. Fostered since the 1980s by globalization and the process of European integration, cities, regions, and federal states in Europe have increasingly contributed to the “main” foreign policy conducted by their national governments, as well as to the implementation of European Regional Policy and the European Neighbourhood Policy. Their diplomacy is often informal. However new legal instruments, both European and national, now enable them to formalize their close neighbourly relations. The external action of local and regional authorities has therefore gradually broadened and put an end to the traditional conception of the Westphalian state, which possesses the privilege of exclusivity over foreign policy.
The bayonet, which appeared in the seventeenth century, is a bladed weapon adapted to a rifle muzzle, and one of the primary pieces of equipment for infantry. The socket bayonet, which was adapted thanks to Vauban, solved the problem of defence for the shooter, as the firearm could henceforth be used both as a shooting weapon and a polearm. This stage left a lasting mark on infantry combat techniques, at least until the First World War. The bayonet also underwent other transformations after World War Two.