University of Sussex
Crook, Christopher Thomas.pdf (1.79 MB)

Empire and Europe: a reassessment of British foreign policies 1919-1925

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posted on 2023-06-09, 08:57 authored by Christopher Thomas Crook
This thesis is a reassessment of British foreign policies from the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 until the Treaties of Locarno in 1925. It initially argues that much of the historiography of this period is unbalanced in its judgement of the different governments because it views them from a teleological perspective that fails to differentiate this period from the inter-war years as a whole. The problem with this approach is that the rise of Hitler and the causes of the Second World War became so dominant in such analyses that most issues within these years have only been judged within that wider context. The thesis argues that an assessment of the foreign policies between 1919 and 1925 must take greater account of all the diplomatic, military and economic difficulties in the years after the Great War, and also recognise the degree of stability achieved by the end of 1925. The difficulties included the expansion of the British Empire as a result of Versailles, ongoing financial and economic problems including wartime debts, the complexities of the Irish negotiations, and the major European issues that had not been resolved at Versailles. Britain was still a great power and its foreign policies are analysed both as an imperial power, including the newly acquired territories in the Middle East, and as a major European power. After an analysis of primary and secondary sources, it is argued that despite all the difficulties, and the seeds of long-term decline in imperial matters, British foreign policies contributed to greater stability in international affairs by the end of 1925. This is especially true of the achievements at Locarno in respect of Germany’s western borders and in establishing Germany as an equal diplomatic partner. There were also no obvious new diplomatic hostages to fortune. Whether Britain and other powers could build on this greater stability after 1925 is a different issue, but that should not detract from recognition of the achievements during these six years.


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