THE FIFTY YEARS WAR
As the war raged all across Europe, the coal-and-steam technology of the time advanced rapidly, leading to increasingly destructive weapons of war. Steam-powered tanks, airships, machineguns and steamships were all developed in the race to produce a war-winning weapon. Nonetheless, the main combatants -France, England, Prussia, Austria, Russia and Turkey - were more evenly matched by the end of the war than they had been at the start. The war became a stalemate, of which the only lasting consequence was the rapid industrialisation of all parts of the continent. By the time peace arrived, over 2 million men, women and children had died and over 5 million had been maimed. Cities and property had been wiped out on a vast scale, and the effects on agriculture were even more long-term, with pollution blanketing the sun and pollutants poisoning the ground.
MAJOR BATTLES OF THE WAR
Jemappes 1792 French army under Dumouriez defeats Austrian army and saves French Revolution from conservative coalition
Wattignies 1793 Jourdan and Carnot lead the French Revolutionary army to victory
Marengo 1800 Napoleon Bonaparte, in command of French forces in Italy, overthrows the Austrians in Italy, while Moreau also defeats invasion north of the Alps
Esternay 1810 Holland rebels against the Napoleonic Empire. Britain sends an army to support Holland's rebellion against the Napoleonic Empire; the combined force is annihilated at Épernay
Liegnitz 1818 Napoleon defeats a Pan-German coalition at Liegnitz.
Magdeburg 1824 Prussia and Russia rise against Napoleon while he engages in an attempt to conquer Turkey. The Grande Armée suffers a major defeat at Magdeburg
Bratislava 1838 With Napoleon old and ailing, the Grande Armée under Marshal Jeanjean is beaten at the Battle of Bratislava, thanks to a spirited counter-attack by Britain's Marshal Dorrin. However, Jeanjean rallies and repels an attempted invasion of France.
Before the French Revolution in 1789, the old powers of Europe founded colonies all around the world: first the Spanish and Portuguese, then the British, French and Dutch. When the French Revolution led to the Fifty Years War against Napoleon Bonaparte, all attention was focused on the fighting in Europe, and the colonies were left to fend for themselves. Attacked by native forces and starved of support, many failed completely. Others shrank back to the size of the original settlement, surviving as mere ports and forts,
After the end of the Fifty Years War, they gained a new lease of life in the Age of Imperialism selling coal and other supplies to the juggernauts that now roamed the globe.
After the English troops defeated a pro-Revolutionary, pro-Napoleonic working-class uprising, the British general Arthur Wellesley flooded the tunnel under the Channel, and the French commanders surrendered at the Surrender of Aylesham in1807. 100,000 surviving French troops were herded into concentration camps along with the English rebels. The war continued with British Expeditionary Forces sent to aid allies on the continent.
However, the rapid industrialisation of England under pressure of war required an ever-increasing workforce, and factory owners were soon crying out for labour. The government saw a way to make the camps pay for themselves by hiring out prisoners to work as slaves, under the supervision of troops of armed public officers (the first police force). Attempted rebellions were put down cruelly and ruthlessly, as in the three Manchester Massacres of 1838. It was around the time of the Manchester Massacres that the term ‘Filthies’ first came into popular use.
As the war dragged on, the army could no longer maintain its numbers with volunteer recruits. Beginning in 1820 and intensifying towards the later years of the war, press-gangs were used to seize males from the streets and force them into military service. Conscription laws were passed in 1832, but it was the press-gangs that enforced the laws against the will of the population.