European Empires: Origins, Politics, Expansion, and Decline

Classified in History

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  • Began with Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Overthrew the monarchy and established the empire

Politics & Economics

  • Established two Napoleonic Republics
  • Relied heavily on taxation
  • Conquests fueled by financial need
  • Possessed a formidable military
  • Defeated in the Franco-Prussian War
  • Lost territory and military power
  • Battle of Waterloo marked a turning point
  • Focused on conquest rather than rebuilding France
  • Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were the last monarchs
  • Economy suffered after the Franco-Prussian War


  • Conquered territories both within and outside Europe
  • Lost many territories after the Franco-Prussian War



  • Formed in the 18th century under Queen Victoria
  • Established an empire through extensive conquests
  • Queen Victoria's leadership and diplomacy fostered international peace
  • Her family's influence in Europe facilitated expansion

Politics & Economy

  • Industrial Revolution transformed the economy
  • Conservative and liberal factions influenced government policies
  • Trade and exports played a vital role in economic growth
  • Taxation policies shaped economic direction
  • Strong economy with consistent financial stability
  • Territories contributed to economic prosperity
  • Mercantilist approach focused on financial gain
  • Controlled expenses to ensure economic and political stability


  • Conquered empires primarily for economic purposes
  • Established exclusive trade relationships with conquered territories
  • Sold conquered territories back to colonies
  • Economic stability maintained through these practices
  • Empire gradually declined but never fully dissolved



  • Established as an empire by Peter the Great in 1721
  • Wealth inequality led to widespread poverty
  • Assassination of Tsar Alexander I by political factions
  • Public demand for constitutional government
  • Duma National Assembly established but failed to address concerns
  • Social demands fueled revolutions in Russia



  • Unification of Prussia and German states
  • Otto von Bismarck played a key role in establishing the empire
  • First Prime Minister of Prussia and later of Germany

Politics & Economics

  • Federalist structure
  • Empire established due to military power
  • Victory in the Franco-Prussian War
  • Established the gold currency, the Goldsmark
  • Rivalry with the USA and Britain
  • Industrial Revolution transformed the economy
  • Ruled by Wilhelm II, King of Prussia and first Emperor of Germany
  • Second largest economy during the First Industrial Revolution
  • Second largest empire
  • Rapid economic expansion
  • Bismarck's policies shaped political and economic advancements
  • Unification of Prussia and the North German Confederation boosted the economy


Geographical Expansion

  • Two methods of conquest: annexation and protectorates

Conflicts & Alliances

  • France and Britain: enemies due to Napoleonic Wars
  • Alliances formed based on shared interests
  • Efforts to prevent German expansion in African colonies
  • Crimean War: three conflicts involving Russia and Germany
  • Franco-Prussian War: France defeated, Prussia gained power
  • Led to World War I
  • Territorial disputes were a major cause of conflicts
  • Russia: limited international influence until World War I
  • Russia: concerned about German expansionism
  • European powers largely ignored America in the 19th century


  • Britain: ceased to be an empire after World War I
  • France: decline began with the Franco-Prussian War, accelerated by World War I
  • Germany: Wilhelm II's involvement in World War I led to loss of power and abdication
  • Russia: Russian Revolution of 1917 marked the end of the empire

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