Home / Robert Farley / The Cubs Must Not Win (I)

The Cubs Must Not Win (I)


When last the Cubs won the World Series, the Hohenzollerns still ruled Germany.

The Hohenzollern are first mentioned in the eleventh century. Holding lands in southern Germany and the Black Forest, the family slowly expanded its territory until it acquired Brandenburg in 1415. The center of Hohenzollern power moved north, and Berlin became the chief city of the realm. The Hohenzollerns took advantage of the decline of the Teutonic Knights to expand into east Prussia. In 1525 Albert I converted to Lutheranism, took the lands of the Teutonic Knights, and assumed the title Duke of Prussia. A later Duke converted to Calvinism, and House Hohenzollern became known for its religious tolerance. Frederick William I, also known as the Great Elector, helped build the army that Prussia would become renowned for in later years. In 1701 Frederick William’s son Frederick declared himself King ofin Prussia, which helped sever the ties between Prussia and the Kingdom of Poland. Frederick II, or Frederick the Great, used the army to good effect against overwhelming odds in the First and Second Silesian Wars, the War of Austrian Succession, and the Seven Years War. Frederick the Great also patronized Voltaire and Kant, and granted Jean Jacques Rousseau refuge from France.

In the 1860s Otto Von Bismarck, Chancellor to King Wilhelm I, engineered wars against Denmark, Austria, and finally France. Victory in the last catalyzed German nationalism, bringing Wilhelm the title Emperor. After the ninety-nine day reign of Frederick III, Wilhelm II assumed the throne. Although Wilhelm II wasn’t the only source of Germany’s militaristic approach to the international system, he certainly didn’t help the situation. In 1890 he fired Bismarck, and through the last decade of the nineteenth and the first of the twentieth he lent heavy support to German plans for colonial and naval expansion. Trauma during birth left Wilhelm II with a withered arm and may have caused some brain damage. Nevertheless, Wilhelm cannot be held solely responsible for World War I; there’s enough blame to spread around liberally.

Germany’s situation began to deteriorate rapidly in November 1918. With revolution in the air and the Reichswehr at the breaking point, pressure grew on Wilhelm to abdicate. Although he realized that holding that Imperial crown might become untenable, he hoped and believed that it would be possible to remain King of Prussia. One can sympathize with this feeling; having lost the war, Wilhelm at least hoped not to undo all of the work that his family had accomplished over the last five centuries. Nevertheless, under the advice of Paul Von Hindenburg, a committed royalist, Wilhelm abdicated both crowns and fled to Holland. Wilhelm II’s most significant redeeming quality was a loathing of Adolf Hitler, although he did send Hitler a congratulatory note after the conquest of France in 1940. Of Nazi policy toward the Jews he may have written “for the first time I am ashamed to be a German,” although the source of that quote remains questionable. Although the Allies had requested the Wilhelm be turned over for prosecution, Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands refused. Wilhelm II died on June 4, 1941, and was given an honor guard of German soldiers, an act which almost resulted in the firing of a general by an angry Adolf Hitler. Although Hitler wanted to bring Wilhelm’s body back to Berlin for a state funeral, the former Emperor had explictly provided that his body not return to Germany prior to the restoration of the monarchy.

The actions of Wilhelm II should not prejudice us against Georg Friedrich, the current head of House Hohenzollern. He seems like a very nice young man. Great great grandson of Wilhelm II, Georg Friedrich does not claim the imperial throne, but does use the title Prince of Prussia. He served two years in the Bundeswehr, and has travelled extensively. An anglophile like his great-great-grandfather, he finished college in the United Kingdom, later studying business economics in Germany. Chances for restoration appear extremely grim, as there is almost no sympathy for the monarchy in the contemporary German political scene. Georg Friedrich is, however, 150th in line to the British throne.

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  • jamesjhare

    Is the message here that if the Cubs win the monarchy will return to power in Germany? I’m confused.

    • Robert Farley

      Quite likely, yes.

      • Avattoir

        You’ve made a compelling case that WWI 2 is as about likely from north Chicago winning as Cold War 2 is from Cleveland winning.

        I’m now searching for a market to wager that the wingosphere picks Bill Clinton as the prime suspect in the impending suicide of the next administration’s first deputy WH Counsel.

        • swaninabox

          That feels like a bit of a sucker’s bet.

          My money is on Bill Clinton as the suspect in literally every death in Washington DC for the next 8 years, with repeated viewing of Scandal and House of Cards as proof.

          • efgoldman

            My money is on Bill Clinton as the suspect in literally every death in Washington DC for the next 8 years

            Nope. This script features Huma Abedin as an Arab Mata Hari workig for a cabal of Suadi princes, Daesh and the Clintons’ grandchild.

            I am not a crank.

      • Colin Day

        Of course, that also applied to the 2004 Red Sox and 2005 White Sox.

    • Honoré De Ballsack

      My great-grand-uncle Nick–who was a young boy in Cleveland circa 1909–and (although of Slovak ancestry) originally learned “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” in German and would sing it at family gatherings (“und ist eins! zwei! drei! ist geschlosst mit dem alt Ball-spiel!”) until his death in the early 1990s. It would be imprudent to deny the possibility that sleeper cells may still exist.

      • ist geschlosst mit dem alt Ball-spiel!

        First the alts came for right field, but I did nothing.

      • Karen24

        I now have a homework assignment! Get the lyrics to that song in at least three languages.

        • Darkrose

          Please post!

          For bonus points, get the lyrics to the whole song, not just the chorus.

    • ploeg

      Crown Prince Wilhelm pitched for the Cubs under an assumed name in Game 3 and was shelled by Ty Cobb and the Detroit Tigers for 8 runs in the only game that the Cubs lost that World Series.

  • Colin Day

    Hey, the last time the Cubs won, Leo Tolstoy was alive (from George Will, who also grew up in central Illinois, where all of his friends grew up to be well-adjusted Cardinals fans while he rooted for the Cubs.)

    • keta

      All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, except Cubs fans.

      Leo “The Lip” Tolstoy

    • N__B

      Hey, the last time the Cubs won,

      Ambrose Bierce was still writing.

      • keta

        Brian Jones was still a Rolling Stone.

      • econoclast

        Sex wouldn’t be invented for another 55 years.

    • Ahenobarbus

      Geronimo was still alive.

    • Mellano

      This is also why, in his words, George Will grew up to be a conservative Republican.

      Could Madden et al break The Curse that twisted young Will, Darth Vader-like, into a champion of fear and anger, more wingnut than man?

      • Objection! There’s no proof that young George wasn’t so fundamentally twisted that he had to be unscrewed from his mother’s womb. I’m gonna give the Cubs a pass on this one.

    • Ahuitzotl

      well-adjusted Cardinals fan


    • mikeSchilling

      George Will had friends?

  • SteveHinSLC


  • vic rattlehead

    As a Miami native, I found this highly amusing.

    That being said, Cleveland had a great run in the 90s, and the Marlins-Indians series was awesome-no shame in losing that one.

    As far as the Cubbies go, I still feel bad about 03.

  • (((Hogan)))

    I am so looking forward to this series.

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    hm, I don’t have these kind of world-historic reasons for preferring that the Indians win, it must just be low grade perversity on my part, considering the Cubs have a lot of fans around here

    • brewmn

      As a long-suffering Illinois sports fan, I am no longer defined by who I root for, but whom I root against.

  • Murc

    Although the Allies had requested the Wilhelm be turned over for prosecution, Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands refused.

    … really?

    That’s a lot of chutzpah on their part. If started ill-advised wars for nakedly mercenary or ideological reasons is a crime… well, I mean, it is, of course, but the British and French don’t precisely have what you’d call clean hands there.

    The post-WWI resolution process was very, very unusual at the time in terms of great powers resolving a war among themselves, wasn’t it? I’m trying to imagine Otto von Bismarck putting Napoleon III on trial after his capture. I don’t think it would have occurred to the man for one second.

    • geniecoefficient

      started ill-advised wars for nakedly mercenary or ideological reasons

      If the account of the inception of the war in The Sleepwalkers is to be believed, the only true part of that statements is “ill-advised”. The Austrians had a just claim! The Germans justifiably backed their ally. With respect to Russia, the Germans are guilty of a bit of “preventive” thinking, but they had little confidence Russia would back Serbia. Hawks in charge of France and Russia (Russian military) bear a lot of culpability. If a country could be an *sshole, Serbia was f*cking one about the whole business of the assassination and aftermath.

      Eh, I would enjoy a WWI inception thread. But I’m aware the topic doesn’t quite fit the historical expertise in the neighborhood.

      • Colin Day

        Eh, I would enjoy a WWI inception thread. But I’m aware the topic doesn’t quite fit the historical expertise in the neighborhood.

        Since when has lack of expertise ever stopped us before?

        • Caepan

          The World War I Document Archive

          Chock full of edumacational stuff for those who crave WW1 ka-now ledge.

        • rhino

          If I don’t know something, I can always speculate. It would be irresponsible not to.

        • geniecoefficient

          It would stop me, *ahem*, to approximately the extent that the risk of continental-scale devastation stopped the bozos responsible for the war…

      • Jackdaw

        I just finished an excellent book on this very topic, July Crisis by T.G. Otte. Based on that account it is clear that, although Austria-Hungary had a genuine complaint against Serbia, and virtually every power in Europe had some missteps which contributed to the problem, A-H deserves the lion’s share of the blame for the fact that it resulted in a World War…willfully hiding their intentions (with some German collusion) expressly to AVOID any sort of diplomatic talks.

        • geniecoefficient

          Oh good – I’ll have to try to find the implicit counterargument in Clark’s book. I seem to recall Clark characterizing gestures toward a diplomatic resolution from the Entente powers as either half-hearted, profoundly structurally flawed, or both. It looks like Otte specializes in diplomatic history, whereas Clark I think is primarily a historian of Prussia.

          • Jackdaw

            Yes, it was pretty “dense” reading….not because of any flows by Otte as a writer, but because it is a very ground-level, blow-by-blow recounting of everything that happened at all the various nations’ embassies and foreign ministries.

            I knew very little about much of it beforehand. One of the things I found fascinating was how Germany and Austria-Hungary more or less drove Italy out of their three-way alliance by excluding them from all the Serbian discussions.

  • Peterr

    When last the Indians won the World Series, Stalin still ruled the Soviet Union.

    Before the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union, researchers who attempted to count the number of people killed under Stalin’s regime produced estimates ranging from 3 to 60 million. After the Soviet Union dissolved, evidence from the Soviet archives also became available, containing official records of 799,455 executions (1921–1953), around 1.7 million deaths in the Gulag and some 390,000 deaths during kulak forced resettlement – with a total of about 2.9 million officially recorded victims in these categories.

    The official Soviet archival records do not contain comprehensive figures for some categories of victims, such as those of ethnic deportations or of German population transfers in the aftermath of World War II. Eric D. Weitz wrote, “By 1948, according to Nicolas Werth, the mortality rate of the 600,000 people deported from the Caucasus between 1943 and 1944 had reached 25%.” Other notable exclusions from NKVD data on repression deaths include the Katyn massacre, other killings in the newly occupied areas, and the mass shootings of Red Army personnel (deserters and so-called deserters) in 1941. The Soviets executed 158,000 soldiers for desertion during the war, and the “blocking detachments” of the NKVD shot thousands more. Also, the official statistics on Gulag mortality exclude deaths of prisoners taking place shortly after their release but which resulted from the harsh treatment in the camps. Some historians also believe that the official archival figures of the categories that were recorded by Soviet authorities are unreliable and incomplete. In addition to failures regarding comprehensive recordings, as one additional example, Robert Gellately and Simon Sebag Montefiore argue that the many suspects beaten and tortured to death while in “investigative custody” were likely not to have been counted amongst the executed.

    Historians working after the Soviet Union’s dissolution have estimated victim totals ranging from approximately 4 million to nearly 10 million, not including those who died in famines. Russian writer Vadim Erlikman, for example, makes the following estimates: executions, 1.5 million; gulags, 5 million; deportations, 1.7 million out of 7.5 million deported; and POWs and German civilians, 1 million – a total of about 9 million victims of repression.

    Stalin is already making a bit of a comeback in Moscow — we dare not encourage it further.

  • Fighting Words

    I am looking forward to the entries on the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Qing Dynasty.

    • Fake Irishman

      What about votes for women?

      • Ken

        A passing fad, to be relegated to the ash-heap of history next time the Republicans hold all three branches of government.

        (As someone said – not sure if it was here or at Balloon Juice – you can’t gerrymander women, leaving repeal of the 19th the only recourse.)

  • N__B

    I’m indifferent to the series outcome, but I’m glad the Cubs have performed the most important duty in baseball: squashing the Dodgers.

    • Don’t you start nothin’, you never know where you’ll end up:

      The ‘world’s saddest’ polar bear is trapped in a tiny cage at a shopping mall in China

      P.S.: As a gracious loser, I fully expect Chicago to whup the Clevelanders to prove their worthiness.

      • N__B

        Don’t you start nothin’

        I did’t start it. Garvey and the rest of those assholes did with their whining about how terrible it was that clean-cut young men like them had to travel to the Bronx. Those comments annoyed me, but the hatred comes from them making me cheer for the Yankees.

    • Funkhauser

      The Cubs are owned by the Trump-supporting Ricketts.

      The Dodgers currently have the first Muslim GM in MLB.

      Go Cleveland Natives.

    • Darkrose

      I’m in this line. Because my three favorite teams in baseball are the White Sox, the Giants, and whoever’s playing the Dodgers.

  • Bootsie

    The last time the Cubs won a World Series, there were people alive who were born in countries ruled by Napoleon Bonaparte.

    • CD

      Salvador Allende, James Stewart, Simone de Beauvoir, and Claude Levi-Strauss were all born.

  • Judas Peckerwood

    Georg Friedrich is, however, 150th in line to the British throne.

    See that’s why I’m glad that I wasn’t born into royalty. That would be just close enough to start giving me ideas…

    • Peterr

      What makes you think it hasn’t given him ideas?

      He [Georg Friedrich] served two years in the Bundeswehr, and has travelled extensively.

      A suspicious mind might look at this and think that he was preparing something . . .

    • Like Kind Hearts and Coronets?

      A distant poor relative of the Duke of D’Ascoyne plots to inherit the title by murdering the eight other heirs who stand ahead of him in the line of succession …

      • Porlock Junior

        With Alec Guinness (later Sir Alec) playing all the D’Ascoynes except the distant poor relative.

        I saw that movie for the first time when I was a child (missing about as many of the finer points as you would expect) and I don’t know how many times since, though it’s not in single digits.

    • Murr

      In a George R. R. Martin novel, 150th in line generally means dead, crowned, or both before the end of the book.

      • (((Hogan)))

        You win AND you die.

  • IS

    In 1701 Frederick William’s son Frederick declared himself King ofin Prussia, which helped sever the ties between Prussia and the Kingdom of Poland.

    For shame.

    • It’s certainly eccentric to declare oneself a suburb of Philadelphia, but shameful?

      • Richard Hershberger

        While King of Prussia has a substantial shopping mall, if that is the road you want to go down it would make more sense to go with the Mall of America.

      • N__B

        It’s certainly eccentric to declare oneself a suburb of Philadelphia, but shameful?

        The problem, as always, is suburbia. When DJT declares himself Fishtown, all will cheer.

        • (((Hogan)))

          Ich bin ein Fischendorfer!

      • (((Hogan)))

        When I moved here I had hopes that King of Prussia was named after the oak tree with which George III tried to start a conversation, leading to his final visit to the laughing academy. Turns out it was the name of a local tavern.

  • Richard Hershberger

    This otherwise fine post neglected to mention that Frederick the Great also employed CPE Bach, was a fine flutist, and composed some flue concertos and sonatas that remain in the repertoire today, albeit not in the first rank. This need not, however, force us to root for the Cubs. Some prices are too high to pay.

    • This otherwise fine post neglected to mention that Frederick the Great also employed

      Casanova, to run the state lottery. (At least, that’s how Casanova told it in his Memoirs.)

    • Karen24

      It must be difficult to play a flue concerto, what with the instrument being so difficult to move and all. ;)

      • N__B

        Not to mention the black dust getting in your mouth.

        • efgoldman

          Not to mention the black dust getting in your mouth.

          Well, they had a royal chimney sweep, you know!

      • skate

        PDQ Bach probably wrote something for flue, but it is as yet undiscovered.

    • Porlock Junior

      Frederick also wrote one tune which has survived the centuries and is still going strong. This was when court composer CPE was visited by his father JS, an event that motivated the King to give orders that he was to be informed the moment Old Bach arrived; upon which, Frederick walked out of a high-level meeting to welcome Bach. And in the course of this visit Bach took a tune that the King had written, and started constructing The Musical Offering around it. He completed it when he got home again, and sent it as a sort of bread-and-butter gift.

  • Warren Terra

    I don’t much care about batball (I do respect them for having a genuine minor-league system, and being less reliant on defrauding and robbing aspiring “student-athletes” than the other important sportsballs in America), but the Cubs are facing a team with an explicitly racist name and especially mascot. The Cubs must win.

    • Darkrose

      Baseball’s minor league system waits until after they’re drafted to defraud and rob student-athletes, along with the kids from Latin America and the Caribbean.

      Also, the Cubs have an (alleged) domestic abuser closing games for them, so it’s hard for me to root for either team.

      • Warren Terra

        I’m perfectly happy to root for them both to lose, but anticipate disappointment.

      • Warren Terra

        Baseball’s minor league system waits until after they’re drafted to defraud and rob student-athletes

        A big part of my problem with the phenomenon of the “student-athlete” is that a lot of kids, and especially poor kids from parents without a lot of education, are encouraged to pursue professional sports as a possible rapid path to riches that will in any case get them a college education – and then very few of them get an athletic scholarship or help getting into a good school, and even fewer of of those who do get to be college “student-athletes” manage to get a good education in the face of a crushing athletic workload and an advising staff interested in maintaining eligibility rather than in intellectual development.

        I have no doubt that baseball’s minor league system is every bit as bad as you say, but at least it doesn’t (or doesn’t fully) share those problems. Aspiring baseball players realize that the path to wealth requires time spent apprenticing in the minor leagues, and don’t confuse “baseball” with “college” to nearly the same degree.

        • Mellano

          Supposedly high school students signed by big-league teams out of the MLB draft (US and PR, maybe Canada also?) have college tuition included in their deal to be paid by the team if and when they retire. I have no idea how many players get this, or how much money they get, but at least according to Keith Law this makes taking the minor league deal a solid option (because unlike NCAA coaches, minor league teams have every incentive to train players for the long term and not blow out pitchers’ arms). Kind of makes sense, too, since the drafting teams are competing with scholarship offers anyway.

  • sleepyirv

    To my knowledge, the Cubs aren’t a Seattle Mariners rival, is there a reason LGM is anti-Cubs?

    • Warren Terra

      Farley tweeted something earlier (inspired by news having to do with the death of the former something or other of Surinam) that he wanted to resurrect his former pastime of blogging deposed monarchies.

      He also tweeted that he has never developed a liking for any form of Thai food, so maybe we should just generally be calling his judgment into question.

      • N__B

        I eagerly await his tweet that the Cubs should be removed from the National League and merged with the army air corps.

      • wjts

        He also tweeted that he has never developed a liking for any form of Thai food, so maybe we should just generally be calling his judgment into question.

        How can he be expected to develop a liking for it when it all tastes like shit?

        • Warren Terra

          oh, god, it’s spreading.

          • econoclast

            Time to shut down the blog before it can do more damage.

            • rhino

              Nuke it from…

      • Has he tried catsup on the Thai food?

        • Cool Bev

          As understand it, the secret to a proper Pad Thai is a little tomato catsup. When Pad Thai was invented (or standardized or whatever), that sauce was considered modern and progressive.

          So that might explain his lack of interest.

  • Richard Hershberger

    Downside of a Cubs win: Cubs fans will become insufferable. See also: Red Sox fans.

    Upside of a Cubs win: They might stop whining about losing.

    Were the no-more-whining a sure thing, this would almost make a Cubs win desirable. I fear, however, that they will find some way to continue it, while also being insufferable about winning.

    And really, this whining is pathetic. Over the course of their history, they have been about average, with two legitimate dynasties. Yes, these were in the 1880s and 1900s, but they still count. Anything else is vulgar presentism.

    You want historical awfulness? The Phillies (a decade younger than the Cubs) have lost far more games. In fact, they have lost more games than any team in any sport in the world. That there is some powerful futility! People overlook this because they have gone through two periods in living memory of being pretty good. But this, too, is presentism.

    • vic rattlehead

      That there is some powerful futility!

      Just wanted to say that this is a great sentence.

      • osceola

        Futility is Empowering!

    • N__B

      In fact, they have lost more games than any team in any sport in the world.

      This is almost enough to make one reconsider one’s atheism.

    • Joe_JP

      Thought Red Sox fans were the whiners, Cubs were about the “friendly confines.” Kids today are so greedy.

      [Yankee fans too — they had a run & then expected playoffs every year.]

      • Warren Terra

        I lived in Boston for a decade. Anything that makes Boston sports fans unhappy is A-OK with me. Buncha obsessive privileged loudmouthed whiners (when they’re not gloaters) – and I say that as someone who’s not a fan of any other team, who doesn’t talk sports with them. You just can’t get away from them.

      • Ahuitzotl

        [Yankee fans too — they had a run & then expected playoffs every year.]

        There are years when the Yankees are in the World Series, and there are (occasional) years when there is No World Series. That is all.

    • wjts

      I believe the Washington Generals lost more games than the Phillies have.

      • mds

        I thought they were due!

    • Colin Day

      What’s worse for Philadelphia is that it had two major league teams, and the better one left.

  • sharculese

    I just dont want them to win because it would make “Cubs In Five” less good.

  • Ransom Stoddard

    Tangentially, why didn’t England ally with Germany as opposed to Russia and France in the late 19th century, and did Wilhelm I play a role in this? I know of course that the German naval build up scared British policy makers, but I’m quite curious as to the larger diplomatic context. It always seemed to me that the interests of England, as a global maritime power with no territorial aspirations on the European continent and some colonial rivalries with France in Africa and Russia in Central Asia, would have made it a natural ally of Germany, a continental land power conveniently seeking to expand its sphere of influence in the Low Countries and Eastern Europe vis a vis France and Russia. And, with the benefit of hindsight at least, it further seems to me that England would have been considerably better off had it stayed neutral or allied with Germany in 1914.

    • wjts

      If I remember correctly, Britain’s long-standing policy towards Europe was to ally itself with weaker nations against rising or dominant powers as a way of blocking the potential rise of a Continental power strong enough to threaten it. So when France was riding high under Napoleon, Britain allied with Prussia. One hundred years later, when Germany is the rising power, Britain makes buddy-ami with France.

      • Ransom Stoddard

        Indeed, that was my impression of British diplomacy as well. However, (and granting that this a somewhat separate line of argument) it seems to me that by 1914 this was an outdated strategy, and rather that than trying to hold back the tides and “contain” Germany, it would have been wiser to accept an expansion of German influence on the continent following unification as a result of its industrial capacity, population size and ability to convert the former two into military power.

        Also, it’s worth noting that in previous conflicts under this strategy like the Seven Years War and Napoleonic Wars (IIRC) the British contributions were largely naval, peripheral/global/colonial and financial, rather than the mass deployment of a land army for a protracted struggle on the continent.

        • wjts

          In the 18th and 19th centuries, British armies fought in Continental Europe during the War of Spanish Succession, the Seven Years War, the Napoleonic Wars (Napoleon, as I recall, likened the Peninsular War to a running sore that sapped his strength), and the Crimean War.

          As for whether or not the strategy still made sense in 1914, I don’t know. It certainly got a lot of people killed.

          • Ransom Stoddard

            Yeah, the Crimean War and the War of Spanish Succession are definitely valid counter-examples. (It is worth noting that in both cases the British forces were fighting as part of an alliance, though the same was also true of WW1.) But I think both the Seven Years War and the Napoleonic Wars are good examples (which is, naturally, why I cited them in the first place.) I believe the British forces deployed on the European continent in the SYW were relatively negligible, and that most of the fighting there was done by Prussian forces. Whereas Britain made notable contributions in terms of financing Prussia, defeating French ground forces in India and North America and naval victories. While the Peninsular War definitely weakened Napoleon, a large part of that was the vast number of troops needed to fight Spanish guerrillas and secure supply lines, rather than (only) engaging British forces in conventional fighting as in WW1. I’m not sure exactly how large Wellington’s forces in Spain were, but I don’t they compared with the land armies raised by France and Russia in this period. And the real end for Napoleon was of course his defeat on land by Russia after his invasion thereof.

            • wjts

              As I remember, Wellington’s army in Spain, at its peak, had a little over 50,000 soldiers. Smaller (probably by an order of magnitude) than the French and Russian armies in the east, but not an insignificant number of men. (I don’t know how many British soldiers fought on the Continent in the Seven Years War, but you’re probably right that it wasn’t very many.)

              • dpm

                The King of England was still the ruler of Hanover back then, so although there were few British troops, there was a biggish army of Brits, Hanoverians and other Germans, keeping the French out of Hanover.

    • Colin Day

      it further seems to me that England would have been considerably better off had it stayed neutral or allied with Germany in 1914.


      • Warren Terra

        Not really a fair counter-example. If, like Britain, Belgium had the good sense to be an island on the North Sea, its neutrality might have been respected. Especially if it were an island with the world’s leading navy.

        • Ahuitzotl

          One of the shibboleths of British foreign policy has always been to avoid letting any major power have control over the mouths of the Rhine/Scheldt river complex. Hence, Belgium must not be conquered.

      • Ransom Stoddard

        Yeah, sucks for the Belgians. But was it worth 700,000 British deaths, especially when the Germans quite possibly could have won the war anyway? And, while I think this is actually exogenous, one could also say that if the British were so morally concerned with securing self-determination, they could have started with India.

        Or are you saying that Belgium demonstrates Germany would have violated its neutrality anyway? Belgium was on the way to France, and not a superpower, so I don’t think it’s a valid point.

        • dpm

          Self determination wasn’t the point. The point was keeping the German fleet out of Antwerp, from where it could have threatened the South coast of england

          • Ransom Stoddard

            I do think British policy makers genuinely cared about the independence of Belgium, though I agree that channel ports was the bigger consideration. I don’t think it changes anything, though, because—as the war demonstrated—the German fleet was at most a match for and quite possibly considerably inferior to the Royal Navy. Also, I don’t think the Germans wanted to go to war with, much less invade the homeland of, Britain if they could help it. And, while I might be hilariously wrong here, it also seems to me that if the Germans did build the kind of super-navy that could defeat the Royal Navy so decisively as to make invasion a real possibility, it wouldn’t matter too much whether they docked in the channel or in German ports.

            • Warren Terra

              The German Navy was nearly a match for The Home Fleet, not The Royal Navy. Remember that in addition to keeping the entire German fleet bottled up the Royal Navy had a presence that spanned the globe.

              • RobNYNY1957

                And to have a strategic victory, the Germans had to break out of the Baltic so that the fleet could roam the world, like the Emden. The High Seas Fleet was contained in Kiel, and Jutland just sent it back there. Jutland may have been a tactical draw, but it was a huge strategic loss for Germany. Most of the High Seas fleet was eventually scuttled at Scapa Flow in Scotland in 1919, long after hostilities had ceased.

    • AMK

      if Germany was allowed to crush France, it would have gotten the French overseas colonies AND ruled the continent. Which would have destroyed any balance of power..

      • Ransom Stoddard

        Did Germany plan to demand substantial French colonies in the event of victory? Seems a little out of character, and also I imagine if the British had made it clear that they wanted the colonies for themselves/to stay in the hands of French in exchange for their neutrality, the Germans would have been happy to comply.

        And even if Germany won the war, I think they still would have had to worry about France and Russia. (Just as despite winning the war OTL France had to worry about Germany.)

        • Warren Terra

          Certainly the histories I’ve read insist that Kaiser Wilhelm’s Germany was very unhappy about being late to the land grab overseas, and badly wanted substantial holdings, that could only be had by poaching them from their existing European colonizers.

          • RobNYNY1957

            “A place in the sun.” Pretty well documented.

            • mikeSchilling

              Then why didn’t he attack the Basques?

      • Colin Day

        If the Germans had defeated France and Belgium, they could have taken territory to make the next war in the West even easier for them. Given the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Germans would have been very powerful.

  • RobNYNY1957

    He should probably consult with Karl-Theodor zu Gutenberg about how far unearned privilege can lead you. Former Defense Minister of Germany, now living in disgrace in England, after it was proven that his doctoral thesis was almost entirely plagiarized. Good Catholic, though.

    Eager to hear of the Hollenzollerns’ accomplishments, apart from criminalizing homosexuality and starting a world war. I guess one of the homos composed a flute concerto.

  • The Hohenzollerns were not, as long as the Holy Roman Empire lasted, Kings of Prussia but Kings in Prussia. Prussia was always outside the HRE. It was not regarded as good form to remind the Electors of Brandenburg of this nicety.

    • Warren Terra

      Does this mean the Philadelphia suburb needs to be renamed?

    • econoclast

      The town in Pennsylvania with the mall is called King of Prussia. If it’s good enough for a mall, it’s good enough for me.

    • john theibault

      If we’re correcting details of Hohenzollern history in the post, a more useful place to start is probably mentioning that Frederick William the Great Elector and Frederick William I are two different people — though both, in their own ways, contributed to building the army that Prussia became noted for. Frederick William I was Frederick I’s son, not his father. He’s the one with the fetish for tall soldiers and the inventive parenting style for his son Frederick II, who he never thought was going to amount to much.

      All in all, the post needs more Frederick William. Where’s Frederick William III, who got squashed by Napoleon at Jena and Auerstaedt and later joined the Holy Alliance? Where’s Frederick William IV, who rejected the “crown from the gutter” offered by the Frankfurt Parliament?

  • LeeEsq

    Elector Frederick crowned himself King in Prussia and not King of Prussia for a variety of complicated reasons relating to the fact the Hohenzollern domain was part of the Holy Roman Empire and not part of it.

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