1878-1899: World Events: Selected Occurrences Outside the United States
1878-1899: Chapter One: World Events: Selected Occurrences Outside the United States
China — Emperor Tsai-t’ien (1875-1908), Empress Dowager Tz’u-hsi (regent, 1875-1889, 1898-1908)
France — Presidents Marie Edmé Patrice de MacMahon (1873-1879), Jules Grévy (1879-1887), Sadi Carnot (1887-1894), Jean-Paul-Pierre Casimir-Périer (1894-1895), Felix Faure (1895-1899), and Émile Loubet (1899-1906)
Germany — Emperors William I (1871-1888), Frederick III (1888), William II (1888-1918); Chancellors Otto von Bismarck (1871-1890), Leo von Caprivi (1890-1894), and Chlodwig Karl Victor, Prince of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfùrst (1894-1900)
Great Britain (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland) — Queen Victoria (1837-1901); Prime Ministers Benjamin Disraeli (1874-1880), William Ewart Gladstone (1880-1885, 1886, 1892-1894), Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, third Marquess of Salisbury (1885-1886, 1886-1892, 1895-1902), and Archibald Philip Primrose, fifth Earl of Rosebery (1894-1895)
1877-1878 — Russo-Turkish War
1879 —Zulu War against the British in South Africa
1883-1885 —Nationalist uprising against Egyptian rule in Sudan
1884-1885 —Tonkin War between France and China
1885 — Serbo-Bulgarian War
1894-1895 — Sino-Japanese War
1894-1895 —French invasion of Madagascar
1895-1896 — Italo-Ethiopian War
1896-1898 —Egyptian reconquest of Sudan
1898 —Spanish-American War
1899-1900 —Greece vs. the Ottoman Empire
1899-1902 — Boer War
1898 — Cuba
- British playwright William Schwenck Gilbert and British composer Arthur Seymour Sullivan complete H. M. S. Pinafore, their second popular comic opera.
- British novelist Thomas Hardy publishes The Return of the Native.
- German scientist Wilhelm Max Wundt (1832-1920) establishes the first laboratory devoted entirely to experimental psychology.
- French scientist Paul Bert conducts research on the deep-sea divers’ disease known as the bends, proving that the often fatal condition may be prevented by decreasing air pressure slowly and by degrees. The discovery makes the construction of bridges and underwater tunnels far less hazardous than in the past.
- A Belgian group headed by King Leopold II engages explorer Henry M. Stanley to establish trading stations in the Congo River region, a commission he carries out in 1879-1884.
- 7 Feb. Pius IX dies after the longest papacy in history, thirty-two years He is succeeded by Leo XIII (1810-1893).
- 3 Mar. Russia dictates the Treaty of San Stefano, which marks its victory in Russo-Turkish War. The treaty recognizes the independence of Serbia Montenegro, and Romania from the Ottoman Empire. Bulgaria is made an autonomous state within the empire with an agreement that Russian troops will remain there for two years.
- 11 May. Radicals attempt to assassinate Emperor William I of Germany. Another such attempt is made on 2 June.
- 18 May Colombia grants a French company a nine-year concession to build a Panama Canal.
- 30 May Russia and Great Britain reach a secret agreement to divide up Bulgaria.
- 4 June Great Britain secretly agrees to defend Turkey against further incursions by Russia and others into Ottoman Empre territory in Asia Minor In return British troops are allowed to occupy Cyprus.
- 13 June–13 July At the Congress of Berlin, German chancellor Otto von Bismarck brokers a settlement of the differences among Russia, Great Britain, France Italy, Turkey, and Austria-Hungary that have arisen in the aftermath of the Treaty of San Stefano and various secret agreements that have followed. The independence of Serbia, Montenegro, and Romania is reaffirmed, but Bulgaria is divided into three parts and given limited autonomy.
- 15 Aug. In Egypt Nubar Pasha forms a government with an Englishman as minister of finance and a Frenchman as minister of public works. The two European countries have extensive financial interest in Egypt because of the Suez Canal, which opened in 1869. Though still part of the crumbling Ottoman Empire, Egypt has had self-rule since 1805.
- 19 Oct. Germany passes the Anti-Socialist Law, which is renewed periodically until 1890. The law prohibits public meetings, publications, and collections involving Socialists or Communists, effectively driving the Socialists underground.
- 21 Oct. The Irish Home Rule Confederation, with Charles Stewart Parnell as president, is founded to campaign for independence from Great Britain.
- 20 Nov. Reacting to Russian advances in central Asia, Great Britain invades Afghanistan to secure its frontier in India and puts Yakub Khan on the throne.
- British novelist George Meredith publishes The Egoist.
- Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky publishes The Brothers Karamazov.
- Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen writes A Doll’s House.
- The British defeat the Zulus in South Africa.
- After four years of fighting Egypt succeeds in cutting off Ethiopia from the sea.
- 24 Jan. Samoa grants Germany use of the port of Apia and a naval base, in a treaty similar to one in which it gave the United States use of the harbor at Pago Pago in 1878.
- 18 Feb. The Nubar government of Egypt fails after a demonstration by army officers thought to be backed by Khedive Ismail Pasha, who resents British and French involvement in the government of his country.
- 25 June Under pressure from the British and French, the sultan of the Ottoman Empire deposes Khedive Ismail Pasha of Egypt. Tawfiq Pasha becomes khedive.
- Sept. Fighting flares up in Afghanistan after the murder of a British agent.
- 4 Sept. The British and French ministers are reappointed to the Egyptian government with the condition that they cannot be removed without consent from Great Britain and France.
- 7 Oct. Germany and Austria-Hungary sign a military alliance that remains in force until 1918.
- France annexes Tahiti.
- French sculptor Auguste Rodin completes The Thinker.
- French fiction writer Emile Zola publishes his harshly naturalistic novel Nana.
- Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky completes his 1812 Overture.
- Two large corporations, the Barnato Mining Company and the De Beers Mining Corporation, are organized by British businessmen in South Africa to take advantage of the rich diamond mines in the region.
- Alarmed by Henry M. Stanley’s activities on behalf of the Belgians in the Congo, the French send Savorgnan de Brazza to the region. He later makes treaties with tribal chiefs on the north side of the Congo, founds Brazzaville, and establishes a French protectorate there.
- 24 Mar. Germany, Great Britain, and the United States sign an agreement recognizing Malietoa Talavou as king of Samoa and setting up an executive council with one representative from each of the three western nations.
- June-Nov. The Albanians prevent Montenegro from taking territory granted to Albania by the Treaty of Berlin. A meeting of the great powers gives Montenegro the Adriatic seaport of Dulcigno (present-day Ulcinj) instead. The Turks stage naval demonstrations in protest, but they back down after British threats to take over the customs house at Smyrna.
- 20 July The British agree to recognize Russian-backed Ab-er-Rahman as ruler of Afghanistan.
- 22 Dec. British novelist Mary Ann Evans (born in 1819), who wrote under the pseudonym George Eliot, dies.
- 31 Dec. Boers (descendants of Dutch settlers in South Africa) in Transvaal declare a new republic, less than three years after their South African Republic was annexed by Great Britain.
- Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky dies.
- New Zealand bars Chinese immigration.
- Led by Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, the British Parliament passes the Land Act, which creates a court to mediate between landowners and Irish tenants to fix fair land rents and grants tenants some security from being evicted without cause.
- Swiss fiction writer Johanna Spyri publishes Heidi.
- Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen writes Ghosts.
- British playwright William Schwenck Gilbert and British composer Arthur Seymour Sullivan complete their operetta Patience.
- 1 Feb. Nationalist army officers rise up to protest foreign influences in the Egyptian government. A second nationalist revolt occurs on 9 September.
- 13 Mar. Alexander II of Russia dies after his coach is bombed in Saint Petersburg. He had just signed an order that allows the orderly expression of dissenting opinion.
- 5 Apr. To avoid war the British government recognizes the independence of the Boers’ South African Republic under the nominal sovereignty of Great Britain.
- 30 Apr.-12 May French troops invade Tunisia and make it a protectorate of France.
- 24 May Great Britain, France, and Germany force Turkey to give up the parts of Thessaly and Epirus awarded to Greece by the Treaty of Berlin.
- 18 June Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary form the secret Alliance of the Three Emperors, which remains in effect through 1887. They agree that if one of them goes to war with Turkey the others will remain neutral and that any further division of Turkish territory must meet with the approval of all three powers. Also, Austria-Hungary reserves the right to annex Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the three nations agree not to oppose the union of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia.
- 28 June Austria-Hungary and Serbia sign a secret, ten-year treaty in which Serbia accepts much-needed financial help in return for promising not to make agreements with other foreign powers without approval from Austria-Hungary, which pledges to help Serbia in acquiring territory to the south of its borders. Although the Austrians recognize Milan as ruler of Serbia, the agreement essentially makes Serbia a protectorate of Austria-Hungary.
- 30 June A major insurrection begins in Tunisia, forcing the French to launch military actions there, at the same time as it fights an uprising in neighboring Algeria, which has been part of France since 1848.
- 12 July Faced with a continuing civil war in Samoa, the governments of Germany, Great Britain, and the United States recognize Malietoa Laupepa as king.
- German scientist Robert Koch identifies the bacterium that causes tuberculosis.
- Writing under the pseudonym Carlo Collodi, Italian fiction writer Carlo Lorenzini publishes The Adventures of Pinocchio.
- Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen finishes An Enemy of the People.
- Russian composer Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov completes the opera Snow Maiden.
- British playwright William Schwenck Gilbert and British composer Arthur Seymour Sullivan write lolanthe.
- The Boers establish two states in Bechuanaland (Botswana).
- The French proclaim a protectorate over the northwestern part of the island of Madagascar.
- 5 Feb. Under pressure from nationalists, Khedive Tawfiq Pasha of Egypt appoints anationalist government.
- 6 May Two high English officials are assassinated in Ireland by radicals, setting off a wave of terrorist attacks that includes the dynamiting of public buildings in England.
- 20 May Italy, Germany, and Austria sign the Triple Alliance, pledging mutual assistance in case of attack by one of the other world powers. The alliance remains in effect until 1915.
- 25-28 May With squadrons in the harbor at Alexandria the French and British successfully demand the resignation of the nationalist government in Egypt, but the khedive is unable to form a new government.
- 11 July Supporting Khedive Tawfiq Pasha against nationalists forces, the British bombard Alexandria and send forces to protect the Suez Canal.
- 15 Sept. The British occupy Cairo.
- French Impressionist painter Edouard Manet dies.
- German scientist Robert Koch demonstrates that cholera is waterborne.
- British writer Robert Louis Stevenson publishes Treasure Island.
- German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche publishes the first part of his best-known work, Thus Spake Zarathustra.
- Frenchman Paul Gauguin abandons his job as a stockbroker in order to become a full-time painter.
- French composer Leo Delibes finishes the opera Lakme.
- American-born British inventor Hiram Stevens Maxim invents the first fully automatic machine gun.
- William Siemens, the German-born British inventor, demonstrates his electric locomotive, the first vehicle of this kind, in northern Ireland.
- Swedish explorer Nils Adolf Erik Nordenskiold penetrates eighty-four miles into Greenland.
- Feb.-Apr. The Germans establish a colony in South-West Africa, beginning their colonialism on that continent.
- 11 May The Egyptian government is reorganized, giving all real authority to the khedive and a British consul general. Under Consul General Sir Evelyn Baring, Karl of Cromer, British advisers are appointed for all important Egyptian officials.
- 1 June The government of Madagascar and the French go to war over the status of the island. The war continues inconclusively until December 1885.
- 8 June Tunisia and France sign the Convention of Marsa, giving France virtual control of the Tunisian government.
- 25 Aug. Faced with an uprising in Tonkin, the French force Emperor Tu Due of Annam to sign the Treaty of Hué, recognizing the French protectorate over Cambodia and three kingdoms that correspond roughly to modern-day Vietnam: Tonkin, Annam, and Cochin China.
- 27 Aug. The small volcanic island of Krakatau in the East Indies erupts. Ash is thrown fifty miles into the air, and the sound is heard twenty-two hundred miles away in Australia. Areas near the volcano are in darkness for two and a half days, and the explosion sets off a ridai wave that drowns some thirty thousand people of Java and Sumatra.
- 30 Oct. Carol I of Romania, fearing that Russia intends to establish control of his country, arranges a secret alliance with Austria-Hungary, which remains in effect until 1916.
- 5 Nov. Sudanese religious leader Muhammad Ahmad, known as the Mahdi, defeats a Bntish-led Egyptan force at the Battle of El Obeid in a vigorous revolt against egyptian rule in Sudan.
- Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen completes The Wild Duck.
- French composer Jules Massenet completes his opera Manon.
- British inventor Charles Algernon Parsons devises the first practical steam turbine, which can greatly increase the speed of steamships.
- Frenchman Louis Comte de Chardonnet invents rayon, the first artificial fiber.
- Russian-born French bacteriologist Ilya Ilich Mechnikov recognizes the role of white blood cells in fighting bacterial infections, a discovery that earns him a Nobel Prize in 1908.
- Great Britain annexes southeastern New Guinea while Germany takes control of the northeastern part of the island.
- Germany establishes protectorates over Togoland and the Cameroons in West Africa.
- Great Britain and France establish separate protectorates over parts of Somalia.
- The United States and Germany recognize the Belgian committee now known as the International Association of the Congo as a territorial power.
- Jan. The British force a reluctant Egyptian government to agree to evacuate Sudan, and Gen. Charles G. Gordon is sent to Khartoum to arrange the withdrawal of Egyptian troops and to negotiate a settlement with the Mahdi.
- 4 Apr. The treaty ending the War of the Pacific, which has been raging since 1879, grants Chile an area of desert previously under the control of Bolivia and Perù. Chile declared war on its neighbors to obtain this land for its nitrates, which are used in fertilizers and explosives.
- 23 June The Chinese defeat French forces at Baclé, beginning an undeclared war over Tonkin, which both China and France claim as a protectorate.
- 15 Nov. Representatives of fourteen nations — including the United States, Great Britain, and Germany — arrive in Berlin for a conference on Africa, which continues until 26 February 1886. Agreeing to work for an end to the African slave trade, they declare complete freedom of commerce and navigation on the Congo, the Nile, and their tributaries. During this conference Britain, France, and Russia recognize the International Association of the Congo, which takes the name Independent State of the Congo.
- Dec. The British Parliament passes the Franchise Bill, which extends voting rights to nearly all males in Great Britain.
- Austrian composer Johann Strauss completes the operetta The Gypsy Baron.
- British writer Walter Pater publishes the historical novel Marius the Epicurean.
- British novelist H. Rider Haggard publishes King Solomons Mine’s.
- British poet and novelist Robert Louis Stevenson publishes A Child’s Garden of Verses.
- French novelist Emile Zola publishes Germinal
- German Carl Friedrich Benz builds the first working automobile powered by an internal-combustion engine. The car has three wheels.
- British explorer Richard Francis Burton begins translating The Arabian Nights into English, a task he completes in 1888.
- British playwright William Schwenck Gilbert and British composer Arthur Seymour Sullivan write their operetta The Mikado.
- Liberty Enlightening the World (better known as The Statue of Liberty), by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, is presented to the United States.
- In West Africa, Spain establishes a protectorate over Rio de Oro and Spanish Guinea, and Great Britain proclaims a protectorate over the Niger River region.
- Having deprived the Boers of their states in Bechuanaland, Great Britain divides the entire territory into British Bechuanaland and the Bechuanaland Protectorate.
- Germany establishes a protectorate over German East Africa (now parts of Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi) and South-West Africa (now Namibia).
- Germany annexes the Marshall and Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
- 26 Jan. Gen. Charles G. Gordon’s proposal to make the Mahdi sultan of Sudan while maintaining a measure of Egyptian control over the nation has met with continued fighting and finally the massacre of Gordon and the garrison at Khartoum. Forces sent in August 1884 to relieve Gordon arrive too late to save him.
- Apr. An Anglo-Russian crisis occurs after Russian incursions into Afghanistan, and the British seize Port Hamilton on the coast of Korea in retaliation. The crisis is resolved by negotiation.
- King Leopold II of Belgium proclaims himself sovereign of the Independent State of the Congo, which becomes his personal possession, not a colony of Belgium.
- 8 Apr. British Prime Minister William E. Gladstone puts forward the First Home Rule Bill, providing a measure of self-rule, but not complete independence, for Ireland. The bill is defeated in July, bringing down Gladstone’s Liberal government.
- 7 May The Canadian transcontinental railroad is completed. It opens to the public in May 1887.
- 9 June In the Treaty of Tientsin, China recognizes the French protectorate of Tonkin in return for France’s promise to respect China’s southern borders.
- 21 June The Mahdi dies in Sudan and is succeeded by Abdullah el Taashi.
- 30 July Sudanese forces take complete control of Sudan. Skirmishes along the Sudan-Egypt border continue for the next ten years.
- 6 July French scientist Louis Pasteur administers his rabies vaccine to a human for the first time.
- 1 Aug. King Leopold II declares the neutrality of the Congo State.
- 18 Sept. A rebellion breaks out in Eastern Rumelia, an autonomous province of the Ottoman Empire since 1878, led by individuals favoring a union with Bulgaria.
- Oct-Nov. Reacting to Burmese violations of a treaty giving them rights to unrestricted trade in that country, the British launch the Third Burmese War, forcing King Thibaw into exile in India.
- 13 Nov. Considering a Bulgarian takeover in Eastern Rumelia contrary to its interests in the Balkan region, Serbia declares war on Bulgaria. By the end of the month Bulgaria has invaded and totally defeated Serbia.
- 17 Dec. In the treaty ending its war with Madagascar, France is given control of the island’s foreign affairs but pledges not to interfere with domestic matters.
- 17 Dec. Liberal Allan Octavian Hume convenes an “Indian National Congress,” which becomes an annual event for discussing reforms in British colonial rule and measure for increasing Indian self-government. The meeting is usually considered the beginning of an upsurge in the Indian nationalist movement.
- French sculptor Auguste Rodin completes The Kiss.
- British poet and fiction writer Robert Louis Stevenson publishes Kidnapped and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
- British novelist Thomas Hardy publishes The Mayor of Casterbridge.
- French chemist Henri Moissan isolates the element fluorine, for which he wins a Nobel Prize in 1906.
- French scientist Paul Héroult devises a practical method for the electrolytic production of aluminum, making this metal more plentiful and less expensive.
- Rich veins of gold are discovered in southern Transvaal.
- 1 Jan. The British annex upper Burma; scattered guerrilla fighting continues until 1891.
- 3 Mar. Austria-Hungary negotiates a peace settlement between Serbia and Bulgaria after forcing Bulgaria to withdraw from Serbian territory.
- 5 Apr. Prince Alexander I of Bulgaria is named governor of Eastern Rumelia for a term of five years, essentially bringing about its annexation by Bulgaria.
- 20 June The British and Dutch, who have argued over Borneo since 1881, agree to divide the island, with the Netherlands retaining the larger part.
- 24 July China officially recognizes British control in Burma in return for the face-saving continuation of the tribute it has traditionally received from Burma.
- Russian composer Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov finishes Capriccio EspagnoL
- British novelist H. Rider Haggard publishes She.
- Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi writes his opera Otello.
- British novelist Arthur Conan Doyle introduces detective Sherlock Holmes, one of the most popular fictional characters of all time, in A Study in Scarlet.
- Great Britain celebrates Queen Victoria’s “Golden Jubilee,” in recognition of her fifty years as monarch.
- Polish Jew Ludwik Lejser Zamenhof, upset by the discrimination against Jews in Russia under the rule of Alexander III, devises an artificial language he calls Esperanto (one who hopes). Zamenhof hopes that it will be adopted as a universal language and lead to peace.
- German inventor Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler builds the first four-wheeled automobile.
- Belgian biologist Joseph van Beneden shows that the number of chromosomes in the body cells of a particular species is always the same, except in sperm and egg cells, which contain only half the usual number.
- Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud, following the example of fellow Austrian Josef Breuer and others, encourages psychologically disturbed patients to discuss their fantasies, sometimes with the aid of hypnosis.
- Great Britain and France agree to joint control of the New Hebrides.
- France combines Cochin China, Annam, Tonkin, and Cambodia into the united protectorate of Indo-China.
- 12 Feb. Great Britain and Italy sign the First Mediterranean Agreement, subsequently adhered to by Austria and Spain, establishing a basis for common action if France or Russia attempts to upset the status quo in the Mediterranean or North Africa.
- 18 June Russia and Germany sign the secret Reinsurance Treaty to replace the expired Alliance of Three Emperors among Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary, which Russia has refused to renew. Russia and Germany pledge that each will remain neutral if the other goes to war, except in cases when Germany invades France or Russia declares war on Austria. They also pledge to maintain the status quo in the Balkans, and Germany recognizes Russia’s influence in Bulgaria. The treaty remains in effect until 18 June 1890
- 21 June The British annex Zululand to keep the Boers of Transvaal from gaining a link to the sea.
- 24 July Germany sends troops to Samoa, deposing Malietoa Laupepa and proclaiming Tamasese king.
- 12 Dec. In the Second Mediterranean Agreement, Great Britain, Italy, and Austria agree that Turkey must be kept free of foreign domination and that the Turkish-controlled straits to the Black Sea must remain open.
- Austrian composer Johann Strauss completes his Emperor Waltz.
- British author Oscar Wilde publishes the children’s story The Happy Prince.
- Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky writes his Fifth Symphony.
- Russian composer Nickolay Rimsky-Korsakov writes the symphonic suite Scheherezade.
- British inventor John Boyd Dunlop patents the pneumatic rubber tire, initially used for bicycles but later essential for automobiles, buses, and trucks.
- French scientist Henry Le Chatelier develops Le Chatelier’s Principle, which predicts the nature of the change that will take place in an equilibrium when the conditions of that system are disarranged.
- German scientist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz discovers radio waves.
- Hungarian Samuel Teleki discovers Lake Rudolf in East Africa.
- The first Chinese railroad is built. It runs for eighty miles from Tangshan to Tientsin.
- Great Britain upholds the exclusion of Chinese immigration in Australia.
- The British establish a protectorate over the Cook Islands.
- The De Beers corporation, directed by Cecil Rhodes, gains a virtual monopoly on the South African diamond industry.
- 28 Jan. Italy agrees to provide troops to Germany in the event of a Franco-German War.
- 13 May Slaves in Brazil are emancipated.
- 4 Sept. Mataafa leads a Samoan revolt in response to the German intervention of July 1887.
- 19 Oct. Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Spain, the Netherlands, Russia, and Turkey sign the Suez Canal Convention, which declares the canal free and open to merchant and military vessels of all nations at all times, except when the government of Egypt deems a blockade necessary to its security.
- 29 Oct. The British government gives the British South Africa Company, headed by Cecil Rhodes, nearly unlimited power to govern a large area north of Transvaal and west of Mozambique.
- 11 Dec. The French colony of Gabon is united with the French Congo.
- German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche has a mental breakdown from which he never recovers.
- British playwright William Schwenck Gilbert and British composer Arthur Seymour Sullivan write their operetta The Gondoliers.
- French composer Cesar Franck completes his Symphony in D Minor.
- Russian scientist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov studies the manner in which nerve action controls the flow of digestive juices in the stomach. In 1904 he wins a Nobel Prize for his work.
- Japanese bacteriologist Shibasaburo Kitasato isolates the bacterium that causes tetanus and also the one that causes anthrax.
- British scientists Frederick Augustus Abel and James Dewar produce cordite a mixture of nitroglycerin, nitrocellulose, and petroleum jelly that replaces gunpowder. The use of the new smokeless powder allows improved visibility on battlefields.
- A Centennial Exposition in Paris celebrates the one hundredth anniversary of the French Revolution and features Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel’s 984-foot-tall Eiffel Tower, the tallest man-made structure built to this time.
- New Zealand adopts universal male suffrage.
- 30 Jan. Grand Duke Rudolf, son of Francis Joseph I of Austria-Hungary, commits suicide with his mistress to avoid a marriage arranged by his father.
- 11 Feb. Japan establishes a constitution after organizing a Western-style government modeled after that of Germany.
- 15-16 Mar. A powerful hurricane hits the Pacific islands.
- 2 May Menelik II of Ethiopia signs a treaty with Italy, which Italy interprets as establishing an Italian protectorate over Ethiopia.
- 31 May Great Britain passes the Naval Defense Act, stipulating that the British navy must always be as powerful as the fleets of the next two strongest powers combined.
- 29 Apr.-14 June A conference among Germany, Great Britain, and the United States results in the Samoa Act, in which the three powers agree to restore Malietoa Laupepa to the tnrone and jointly supervise the government.
- French novelist Jacques Thibault, writing under the pseudonym Anatole France, publishes Thais.
- British scholar James George Frazer publishes The Golden Bough, a study of ancient myths and rituals.
- Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen writes Hedda Gabler.
- British poet and fiction writer Rudyard Kipling publishes The Light That Failed.
- Italian composer Pietro Mascagni writes his one-act opera Cavelleria Rusticana.
- German scientist Emil Adolf von Behring discovers that it is possible to produce an immunity against tetanus by injecting an animal with a minute amount of blood serum from an animal infected with the disease.
- Italy combines its holdings on the East African coast, where it has been establishing footholds since 1882, into the colony of Eritrea.
- The French defeat the king of Dahomey in West Africa, forcing him to accept a French protectorate over his nation.
- 18 Mar. Unhappy with his nation’s policy toward Russia and hoping for closer relations with Austria and Great Britain, Emperor William II of Germany forces the resignation of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who has held the position for twenty-eight years.
- 1 July In an agreement with Great Britain, Germany gives up large colonial claims in East Africa in return for Helgoland, an island in the North Sea. Since the island is considered largely worthless, the agreement is seen as a German attempt to establish its friendly intentions toward the British.
- 2 July An international conference in Belgium ends with the signing of the Brussels Act, which includes an agreement to systematically eliminate the slave trade worldwide.
- 3 July King Leopold II gives Belgium the right to annex the Congo State after ten years.
- 17 July Cecil Rhodes becomes prime minister of the British Cape Colony in South Africa.
- 29 July Dutch painter Vincent Willem van Gogh, who has been living and working in France, shoots himself and dies.
- French poet Arthur Rimbaud dies.
- British author Thomas Hardy publishes Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
- British novelist George Du Maurier publishes Peter Ibbetson.
- French ballet composer Leo Delibes dies.
- German inventor Otto Lilienthal invents and flies the first hang glider that can bear the weight of a person for an extended period of time. He dies after a glider crash five years later.
- Construction begins on the Russian Trans-Siberian Railroad.
- 9 Feb. King Menelik II of Ethiopia asserts that the treaty he signed with Italy on 2 May 1889 does not make his country an Italian protectorate.
- 15 May Pope Leo XIII issues the encyclical Rerum novarum, which describes poor labor conditions as a moral problem in need of remedy.
- An uprising of Arab slave traders on the upper Congo and in the Tanganyika region is put down by Belgian troops over the next eleven months.
- 11 June An Anglo-Portuguese Agreement ends a long territorial dispute in Africa, giving Portugal Angola and Mozambique and Great Britain Nyasaland (Malawi), which becomes the British Central African Protectorate in 1893.
- British novelist J. M. Barrie publishes The Little Minister.
- Italian composer Ruggiero Leoncavallo writes the opera Pagliacci.
- Belgian-born French playwright Maurice Maeterlinck completes Pelleas and Melisande, often considered the first important Symbolist drama.
- British playwright Oscar Wilde writes Lady Windermeres Fan.
- Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky writes the Nutcracker Suite.
- British novelist Israel Zangwill treats Jewish immigrant life in East London in The Children of the Ghetto.
- British poet and fiction writer Rudyard Kipling publishes Barrack-Room Ballads.
- Russian composer Sergey Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff writes his Prelude in C-sharp Minor.
- British scientist James Dewar invents the Dewar flask, a precursor of the thermos bottle.
- Russian scientist Dmitri Ivanovsky identifies the first known virus, the tobacco mosaic virus.
- German scientist Emil Adolf von Behring develops an antitoxin that produces immunity to diphtheria and helps to fight the disease if infection has already occurred. In 1901 he wins a Nobel Prize for this discovery.
- Abbas Hilmi II succeeds his father, Tawfiq Pasha, as khedive of Egypt.
- Dadabhair Naoroji becomes the first Indian to be elected to the British Parliament. He openly criticizes British policies in India.
- TheFrench depose the king of Dahomey, sparking uprisings that continue into 1894.
- In East Africa the British begin the pacification of Nyasaland (Malawi), which continues until 1898.
- France continues its conquests on the upper Niger.
- British playwright Arthur Wing Pinero writes The Second Mrs. Tanqueray.
- Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky completes his Sixth Symphony, also known as the Pathetique. He dies later this year.
- Italian composer Giacomo Antonio Puccini completes his opera Manon Lescaut.
- Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi writes his opera Falstaff.
- The World Parliament of Religions is held in Chicago.
- Austrian novelist Arthur Schnitzler publishes Anatol.
- Bohemian composer Antonin Dvorak completes his From the New World symphony.
- German scientist Wilhelm Wien demonstrates that the higher the temperature of a substance, the shorter the wavelength of the radiation it produces. He wins a Nobel Prize in 1911 for this discovery, which lies behind Max Planck’s groundbreaking work on developing the quantum theory in 1900.
- New Zealand grants woman suffrage.
- Laos becomes part of French Indo-China.
- Indian lawyer Mohandas K. Gandhi arrives in Natal, South Africa, to begin a protest against the mistreatment of Indian immigrants there by whites.
- 13 Feb. Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone of Great Britain introduces the Second Home Rule Bill in Parliament. Though the bill granting partial self-government for Ireland passes in the House of Commons on 1 September, it is overwhelmingly defeated in the House of Lords a week later.
- 27 Apr. Universal male suffrage is established in Belgium. The Belgian government also begins plural voting, which gives the wealthy and other privileged classes of voters the right to vote more than once.
- 6 Aug. A canal is cut through the isthmus that connects the Peloponnese peninsula to the rest of Greece.
- 10 Oct. Prime Minister Eduard von Taaffe of Austria proposes a bill granting universal male suffrage. Its rejection on 19 October is followed by Taaffe’s resignation.
- 13 Nov. The British agree that the Transvaal should have Swaziland, but the Boers still lack access to the sea.
- 27 Dec-4 Jan. France and Russia form an alliance, which remains in effect until 1915, promising to support one another militarily if either is attacked by Germany and its allies.
- Under the pseudonym Anthony Hope, British novelist Anthony Hope Hawkins publishes his best-seller The Prisoner of Zenda, set in a fictional Balkan kingdom.
- French composer Claude Debussy completes his symphonic poem Afternoon of a Faun.
- British poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling publishes The Jungle Book.
- British novelist George Du Maurier publishes Trilby introducing the fictional villain Svengali, whose name is still used to describe someone with evil intentions who manipulates another to do his bidding.
- British novelist Israel Zangwill publishes The King of the Schnorrers.
- British playwright Oscar Wilde writes Salome.
- British scientists John William Strutt, Baron Rayleigh, and William Ramsay discover argon, an inert gas. Both men win Nobel Prizes in 1904.
- In Java, Dutchman Eugene Dubois discovers a thigh bone, skullcap, and two teeth of a primitive hominid, which he names Pithecanthropus erectus (erect ape-man). Such hominids are later called Homo erectus.
- British archaeologist Arthur John Evans begins digs in Crete that establish the existence of an early Minoan civilization.
- South Australia grants women the right to vote. By 1909 all the other Australian states follow suit.
- The British win their third war against the Ashanti tribe of West Africa and establish a Gold Coast protectorate.
- 3 Mar. Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone of Great Britain, upset by the failure of the Second Home Rule Bill and unwilling to go along with an increase in naval expenditures, retires from politics at age eighty-four.
- 15 Mar. An agreement between France and Germany leaves France free to advance through Sudan to the Nile. Subsequent maneuvers by the British and Belgians to stop the French fail because of objections from Germany.
- 18 June Great Britain announces that it has established a protectorate over Uganda in East Africa.
- 24 June President Sadi Carnot of the French Republic is assassinated by an Italian anarchist. He is succeeded by Jean-Paul-Pierre Casimir-Périer.
- 1 Aug. China and Japan go to war over Korea.
- Sept. The French send Victor Liotard to establish posts in southwestern Sudan as part of a plan to occupy all of the region and to force the British to leave Egypt by threatening to interfere with the Nile water supply. Some in the French government hope to create a belt of French colonies from West Africa across the Nile and Ethiopia to French Somaliland.
- 25 Spet. The British annex Pondoland to the British Cape Colony, establishing a link to Natal.
- 15 Oct. Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, a French Jew assigned to the war ministry, is arrested and charged with treason on the basis of a document forged by Maj. Marie-Charles-Ferdinand-Walsin Esterhazy. Dreyfus is court-martialed, found guilty on 22 December, and deported to Devil’s Island in French Guiana Liberals and anticlerics charge that he had no motive for such treason and is being used as a scapegoat because he is a Jew.
- 12 Dec. After further friction between France and the government of Madagascar which resents the imposition of a French protectorate over the island, France invades and completes its conquest of the island by 1 October 1895
- British novelist Thomas Hardy publishes Jude the Obscure.
- British playwright Oscar Wilde completes The Importance of Being Ernest.
- British science-fiction writer H. G. Wells publishes The Time Machine.
- British scientist William Ramsay is the first to detect the presence on Earth of the element helium, which was found thirty years earlier on the Sun.
- German scientist Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen discovers X rays, initiating what has been called a Second Scientific Revolution and winning a Nobel Prize in 1901 for this discovery.
- Native uprisings begin in Mozambique and last into 1899, hampering Portuguese efforts to develop the colony.
- 17 Jan. French President Jean-Paul-Pierre Casimir-Périer resigns because of the controversy generated by the Dreyfus Affair, which also affects the political fortunes of his successor, Félix Faure.
- 23 Jan. Norwegian Léonard Kristenson and the crew of his whaler become the first humans to stand on the land inside the Antarctic Circle.
- 24 Feb. Cuban nationalists rise up against Spanish rule, putting in motion a series of events that culminates in the Spanish-American War of 1898.
- Mar. Italian forces enter Ethiopian territory, intending to establish control over the country.
- 17 Apr. The Treaty of Shimonoseki ends the Sino-Japanese War. Under its provisions, China recognizes Korea’s independence; gives Taiwan, the Pescadores Islands, and the Liaotung Peninsula to Japan; and pays Japan a large indemnity.
- 23 Apr. Russia, France, and Germany force Japan to return the Liaotung Peninsula to China and accept a second large indemnity instead. The action is the beginning of a period of antagonism between Russia and Japan that leads to the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904.
- 3 May The British South Africa Company territory south of the Zambezi is named Rhodesia to honor Cecil Rhodes.
- June Germany opens the Kiel Canal, which cuts across the isthmus south of Denmark and allows easy access between the North and Baltic Seas.
- 11 June The British annex Tongaland to block the Boers’ last avenue of linking Transvaal to the sea through Swaziland.
- Aug. Turkish troops begin to massacre Armenian nationalists seeking independence from the Ottoman Empire.
- Sept. King Menelik II of Ethiopia declares war on Italy, whose troops have been advancing into his country.
- 8 Oct. The queen of Korea is assassinated. Her murder is assumed to be associated with the rivalry between Russia and Japan for control in Korea.
- 17 Oct. Under pressure from the major powers, the sultan of the Ottoman Empire agrees to some reforms for Armenia, but the massacre of Armenians continue.
- 11 Nov. British Bechuanaland, which lies west of the South African Republic, is made part of the British Cape Colony.
- 29 Dec. Leander Starr Jameson, administrator of the British South African Company territory and a close friend of Cecil Rhodes, leads five hundred horsemen in an illegal act of war, invading Boer territory in what has become known as the “Jameson raid.” Rhodes and Jameson, along with British Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain, believe incorrectly that British settlers in the territory will rise up to assist Jameson against the Boers. Jameson surrenders on 2 January 1896.
- British novelist J. M. Barrie publishes Sentimental Tommy and turns to playwriting.
- Italian composer Giacomo Antonio Puccini completes the opera La Bohème.
- Polish novelist Henryk Sienkiewicz publishes Quo Vadis?
- Russian dramatist and fiction writer Anton Chekhov writes his play The Seagull
- British poet A. E. Housman publishes A Shropshire Lad.
- French physicist Antoine-Henri Becquerel discovers that a uranium compound is the source of previously unexplained radiation. In 1903 he shares a Nobel Prize with Pierre and Marie Curie for his work on radiation.
- A group of young liberal Turkish exiles, who become known as the “Young Turks, is founded to advocate reform and modernization of the Ottoman empire.
- The first Modern Olympic Games are held in Athens, Greece.
- Hungarian Jew Theodor Herzl publishes The jewish State, calling for the reestablishment of the Jewish homeland, helping to begin what is later called the Zionist movement.
- 3 Jan. Attempting to show the British the foolishness of being isolated from Germany, William II sends a telegram to Presiderà Paul Kruger of the Boer South African Republic congratulating him on stopping the Jameson raid. The telegram infuriates British citizens, who clamor for an alliance against Germany rather than onewithit, as William II has intended.
- 6 Jan. Because of his part in planning the Jameson raid, Cecil Rhodes is forced to resign as prime minister of the British Cape Colony.
- 15 Jan. After much friction behveen Great Britain and France in Southeast Asia the two nations agree to guarantee jointly the independence of Siam (Thailand) so that it can serve as a buffer between the British in Burma and the French in Indo-China.
- Feb. Greece foments an insurrection in Crete, hoping to annex the island, which is part of the Ottoman Empire. After intervention by the major powers the sultan agrees to give Crete partial autonomy.
- Mar. Col. Georges Picquart, the new head of the French intelligence services, uncovers evidence that Maj. Ferdinand-Walsin Esterhazy has forged the letter that incriminated Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, but his superiors refuse to reopen the case and transfer Picquart to a post in Tunis.
- 1 Mar. Ethiopian forces win a decisive victory over the Italian invaders at the Battle of Adua, ending the war between Ethiopia and Italy.
- 13 Mar. Egyptian and British troops led by Gen. Horatio Herbert Kitchener begin the reconquest of Sudan to keep it from falling into French hands
- 17 Mar. Responding to the Jameson raid, the Boer governments of Transvaal and the Orange Free State form a military alliance.
- 3 June Russia and China sign a secret treaty that allows Russia to construct a railroad across Manchuria as a shortcut to Vladivostok.
- 6 Aug. France proclaims Madagascar a French colony.
- 26 Aug. Armenian revolutionaries seize the building that houses the Ottoman bank inspirmg other uprisings in the Ottoman capital and resulting in a three-day slaughter of thousands of innocent Armenians. Armenians continue to be killed until after June 1897, when the Armenian nationalist movement begins a graduai collapse.
- 26 Aug. Philippine insurrectionists led by Emilio Aguinaldo rise up against colonial government by Spain.
- 26 Sept. The Transvaal passes the Allens Expulsion Act, aimed particularly at British settlers, an act that Great Britain interprets as a threat to its sovereignty over the Boer state.
- 26 Oct. Italy signs a treaty recognizing the independence of Ethiopia.
- Great Britain celebrates Queen Victoria’s “Diamond Jubilee,” marking the sixtieth anniversary of her coronation.
- French composer Paul-Abraham Dukas writes The Sorcerers Apprentice.
- British poet and fiction writer Rudyard Kipling publishes Captains Courageous.
- Russian playwright Anton Chekhov completes Uncle Vanya.
- French artist Henri Rousseau paints The Sleeping Gypsy.
- French playwright Edmond Rostand stages his Cyrano de Bergerac.
- The Moscow Art Theater is founded by Konstantin Stanislavsky, who has produced Chekhov’s plays.
- British science-fiction writer H. G. Wells publishes The Invisible Man.
- Polish-born British novelist Joseph Conrad publishes Nigger of the “Narcissus.”
- British novelist Bram Stoker publishes Dracula.
- German inventor Karl Ferdinand Braun invents the oscilloscope, a precursor of the television screen.
- British scientist Joseph John Thomson discovers the first subatomic particle. In 1906 he wins Nobel Prize for his discovery.
- British scientist Ronald Ross discovers the protozoan that causes malaria, which becomes the first infectious disease known to be caused by a nonbacterial agent. Ross, who also finds that the protozoan is carried by mosquitoes, is awarded a Nobel Prize in 1902 for his discoveries.
- British inventor Charles Algernon Parsons displays his steam-turbine engine at the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. During a review by the British navy, Parsons’s steam-powered ship, the Turbinia, passes their ships at top speed, greatly enhancing the popularity of steam turbines among shipbuilders.
- 2 Feb. The people of Crete again rebel against Ottoman control.
- 6 Feb. Crete declares its union with Greece.
- 10 Feb. Greek troops leave for Crete to defend it against an impending Ottoman attack.
- 20 Mar. Ethiopia and France sign a treaty defining the frontier between Ethiopia and Somalia. The French hope to use Ethiopia as a base for an advance on the Nile.
- 17 Apr. Greece declares war against the Ottoman Empire in spite of pressure from Russia and Austria-Hungary, which hope to avoid another Balkan crisis.
- 14 May Great Britain and Ethiopia sign a treaty granting much of Somaliland to Ethiopia, but King Menelik II of Ethiopia refuses to surrender his claims on the Nile, as the British have hoped.
- 18 July The treaty ending the Greco-Turkish War leaves Crete under Turkish sovereignty, while granting Crete a modicum of self-government and installing an International force there to keep the peace. Prince George, a younger son of the king of Greece, is appointed high commissioner of the island.
- Aug. Hungarian Jew Theodor Herzl organizes the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland.
- Nov. Mathieu Dreyfus discovers independently that Maj. Ferdinand-Walsin Esterhazy has forged the letter that has incriminated his brother Capt. Alfred Dreyfus and demands that Esterhazy stand trial.
- British playwright George Bernard Shaw satirizes conventional attitudes in three plays published this year:Arms and the Man, Candida, and Mrs. Warren’s Profession.
- British science-fiction writer H. G. Wells publishes The War of the Worlds.
- British novelist Anthony Hope (Anthony Hope Hawkins) publishes Rupert of Hentzau.
- Italian electrical engineer Guglielmo Marconi is sending and receiving signals using radio waves over eighteen-mile distances. In 1900 he patents the earliest version of the radio.
- Danish inventor Valdemar Poulsen patents a method of wire recording.
- Polish-born French scientist Marie Curie and her husband, Pierre Curie, isolate polonium and radium, elements in uranium ore that are more radioactive than uranium and thorium. Marie Curie is awarded Nobel Prizes in both physics (1903, with her husband and A. H. Becquerel) and chemistry (1906).
- Russian physiologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov begins studying conditioned reflexes, observing that if he rings a beli every time he feeds a dog, the dog’s naturai response to food - salivation - can eventually be provoked by ringing the beli alone.
- British scientists William Ramsay and Morris William Travers discover the elements neon, krypton, and xenon.
- Camillo Golgi describes cytoplasmic nerve cells of interlaced threads that become known as the “Golgi apparatus.”
- The Social Democratic Party, led by Georgy Valentinovich Plekhanov, is founded in Russia.
- 11 Jan. Maj. Ferdinand-Walsin Esterhazy is tried and hastily acquitted. Debate over the Dreyfus Affair reaches a high point with Dreyfusards (liberals, anticlerics, Jews intellectuals) expressing outrage at Esterhazy’s almost immediate exoneration and anti-Dreyfusards (clerics, conservatives, militarista and anti-Semites) continuing to assert that Capt. Alfred Dreyfus is guilty.
- 13 Jan. French novelist Emile Zola publishes J’accuse, an open letter to the president of the French republic denouncing the members of the general staff who condemned Dreyfus.
- 23 Feb. Because of his accusations of individuals connected to the Dreyfus Affair, Zola is tried for libel and sentenced to a year in prison, but he escapes to England.
- 28 Mar. The German legislature allocates funds for building a Modern German navy, prompting the fear in Great Britain that Germany plans to challenge them on the seas.
- 1 May During the Spanish-American War, the American fleet commanded by Commodore George Dewey destroys the Spanish ships in Manila bay.
- 22 June Ethiopian and French forces reach the Nile, while other Ethiopian troops push north and south, expanding the boundaries of their country to those of present-day Ethiopia.
- 13 Aug. American troops, assisted by Emilio Aguinaldo’s guerrillas, take Manila during the Spanish-American War.
- 22 Aug. After the death of King Malietoa Laupepa of Samoa, German warships land to support Mataafa. Backed by the Germans, he is elected king in November, but the British and Americans refuse to recognize him.
- 30 Aug. French chief of intelligence Col. Hubert-Joseph Henry admits to forging documents used to implicate Capt. Alfred Dreyfus. He commits suicide in prison the next day.
- 2 Sept. Gen. Horatio Herbert Kitchener’s army defeats Sudanese troops at Omdurman and takes Khartoum.
- 10 Sept. While traveling in Switzerland, Empress Elizabeth of Austria-Hungary is assassinated by an Italian anarchist.
- 17 Sept. General Kitchener’s troops in Sudan reach Fashoda and discover it has been occupied by the French, precipitating the Fashoda Crisis, the most serious threat to Anglo-French relations of the period. Finding itself unprepared for war with Great Britain, France orders the withdrawal of its troops on 3 November.
- 17 Nov. Germany begins to plan a railroad from Berlin to Baghdad in Iraq, then part of the Ottoman Empire. Great Britain and Russia are worried by this obvious attempt to increase German influence in the Middle East.
- 21 Nov. Trade between Italy and France is reestablished.
- British writer Rudyard Kipling writes “Recessional,” a poem expressing the fear that Great Britain’s status as a world power may decline.
- Jan. Following a brief civil war in Samoa, Mataafa sets up a provisional government.
- 19 Jan. Egypt and Great Britain agree to establish and jointly administer Anglo- Egyptian Sudan.
- 15 Mar. British and American warships bombard Apia in Samoa to protest the actions of Mataafa and the Germans.
- 21 Mar. In an agreement with Great Britain, France relinquishes all claim to Egypt and the Nile Valley in exchange for territory in the Sahara Desert.
- 24 Mar. British settlers in Transvaal send Queen Victoria of Great Britain a petition listing their grievances against the South African Republic.
- 13 May A British-German-American commission meeting in Samoa abolishes the Samoan monarchy.
- 18 May-29 July At the First Hague Peace Conference delegates from twenty-six countries reach no agreement on methods of arms control and disarmament, but establish a permanent court for international arbitration to be headquartered at The Hague.
- 31 May-5 June President Marthinus Steyn of the Orange Free State hosts a conference between President Paul Kruger of the South African Republic and Sir Alfred Milner, British high commissioner in South Africa. The two sides fail to resolve their differences, and by September both sides are preparing for war.
- Sept. Somali chief Mohammed ben Abdullah, who becomes known as the “Mad Mullah,” proclaims himself Mahdi and begins raiding British and Italian possessions in East Africa.
- 9 Sept. Following the admissions of Col. Hubert Henry, Capt. Alfred Dreyfus is retried, again declared guilty, and given a reduced prison sentence of ten years. President Emile-Francois Loubet, the Dreyfusard who took office earlier this year, pardons Dreyfus on 19 September. The case is reopened on 12 July 1906, and Dreyfus is finally exonerated.
- 12 Oct. The Boer War breaks out in South Africa, finally ending in total British victory in May 1902.
- 3 Oct. A serious border dispute between Venezuela and British Guiana, which began in 1895, is finally settled. Great Britain obtains most of the territory in question, except for the mouth of the Orinoco River, which Venezuela retains.
- 14 Nov.-2 Dec. The United States, Great Britain, and Germany sign treaties dividing the Samoan Islands among themselves.
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