Saturday, March 13, 2010

Done and Dusted :)

Last week I handed my masters thesis in for marking. It proved to be a mammoth undertaking, trying to combine research with a full time job which often demands close to double the 40 hour working week we commemorate on Labour Day every year. With part time study and deferring it for a year, there were times when I feared it would never be finished. But now it is, yay!

The official title of my thesis is "Down the Toilet: The Flushing Incident and the Decline of the Anglo-German Relationship, 1890-1914". I've reprinted the abstract below if anyone happens to be interested.

The Flushing Incident of 1910-11 provides an intriguing insight into the state of diplomatic relations in north-western Europe prior to the outbreak of the First World War, and contributes to the body of evidence detailing the deterioration of Anglo-German relations during the first decade of the twentieth century. There is a gap in the existing historiography of the origins of the 1914-18 war, an absence caused perhaps by many previous historians’ lack of interest in the role played by neutral powers such as the Netherlands in the strategic planning of Britain, Germany, and France.
The public interest shown by newspapers in Britain, France, Germany, and Belgium towards the Dutch government’s decision to upgrade its coastal defences in late 1910 was immense. The Netherlands tried to remain aloof from Great Power politics in the early 1900s, but could not avoid being entangled in the web of intrigue, suspicion, and distrust which had ensnared its three powerful neighbours by 1910. The debate over the Dutch right to fortify the coastal approaches to a river within their own territory was more than an attack on the sovereign right of a nation to defend its own land. It cut to the heart of British, French, and Belgian suspicions of Germany’s future intentions. In so doing, the Flushing Incident cast a cat among the pigeons at the British Foreign Office, tasked with maintaining the balance of power in Europe and, above all, keeping the Channel ports free from any Great Power. Considered in this context, the Flushing Incident assumes a significance hitherto denied it by the historiography of this period.
This thesis aims to demonstrate the importance of the Flushing Incident in portraying the tensions that existed between Britain and Germany in 1910-11, to position it within the context of the Anglo-German relationship, and to use the incident to examine the influence played by the neutral Netherlands and Belgium on British and German strategists before 1914. The Flushing Incident has been undeservedly neglected by past historians, and deserves to be considered alongside the other crises and events which contributed to the First World War.

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