Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Nicholas Hamner

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access



For years Great Britain had followed the time-honored doctrine in foreign affairs of maintaining the balance of power which meant

to resist by diplomacy or arms the growth of any European State at once so formidable and so potentially hostile as to threaten our national liberties, the security of our shores, the safety of our commerce or the integrity of our foreign possessions.

With the defeat of Napoleon in 1815 and the establishment of the Metternichian concept of the concert of Europe, Britain's historic determination to preserve the balance of power gave way to a new attitude in foreign affairs that became known as "splendid isolationism." This new approach to international relations was based on her desire to be free from continental entanglements in order to devote all her energies to developing her industry and commerce; and at the same time to protect her economic and political "interests" by diplomacy or the use of force whenever and wherever they were threatened. Throughout the nineteenth century the policy of "splendid isolationism" was followed, regardless of the changing definition of British "interests," by all ministries whether they were Whig or Tory, Liberal or Conservative. The policy was sorely tested on numerous occasions when confronted with the challenges to her aims by other states, both large and small. One of the most serious and longlasting threats was known as the "Eastern Question."

In the nineteenth century the Eastern Question was a problem that confronted not only Great Britain but most of Europe as well. The tottering, disintegrating Ottoman Empire, the demise of which had been expected and anticipated for at least century, was the prize that certain European powers were waiting to grasp. It was an empire which at this time not only extended to the borders of Austria, taking in the lands of the Greeks, Serbs and Bulgars, but also controlled the vital passage into the Black Sea, the Dardanelles. The Ottoman Turk in Europe was an alien substance, having no link either in religion, race or social customs with the Balkan peoples.

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