Decadence Of Southern Europe

The fall of the Ottoman power in Europe began with the Treaty of Carlowitz in 1699, and during the Eighteenth Century Turkey continued to decline. A gleam of success came in 1715, when the Turkish arms recovered the Marea from Venice, but Austria assisted the republic, and Prince Eugene’s victories at Peterwardein and Belgrade in 1717 obliged the Sultan to give up Belgrade, with a part of Servia and Wallachia. The House of Austria thus gained territory at Turkey’s expense. The Peace of Passarowitz in 1718 confirmed Turkey in the possession of the Morea and all former Venetian territory in the East except the Ionian Islands, and the long contest between Venice and the Ottoman power thus came to an end. Another change came in 1739, when Turkey recovered Belgrade, Servia, and Wallachia from Austria. Great losses of Turkey were due to the success of Russian arms, and that the frontier of Russia was fixed at the Dniester by the Peace of Jassy in 1792. Internal disunion and misgovernment were at the same time weakening the fabric of the Ottoman Empire, and the rumblings of coming troubles began to be heard in Servia and Greece.

The Peace of Utrecht in 1713 had deprived Spain of her outlying territories in Europe, giving Naples, Sardinia, Parma, Milan, and that part of the Netherlands now known as Belgium, to. Austria, and Sicily to Savoy. Under the rule of the Bourbons the Spanish Nation finally lost its constitutional rights, the last sitting of the Corte-being held in Castile in 1713, and in Aragon in 1720. Under the reign of Charles III (1759-1788), much advance was made in agriculture, trade, and manufactures, and the population rapidly increased. The power of the Inquisition was restricted, and the Jesuits were banished, with the confiscation of all their property, in 1767.

Portugal was much injured during the Sixteenth Century through the influence of the Inquisition and the Jesuits, and toward the close of that period was conquered by Philip II of Spain. In 1640 the Portuguese regained their independence, but their indolence in previous times had given over the carrying trade between Europe and the East to the Dutch, who also, during the Seventeenth Century, deprived Portugal of her valuable settlements in Guinea, the Moluccas, Malacca, and Ceylon. Portugal still held her colonial Empire in Brazil, and the discovery of gold mines there led to the conclusion of a treaty with England in 1703, since which time the countries have been on friendly and intimate terms. Under the rule of Joseph I (1750-1777), a vigorous reformer arose in the person of the able Marquis of Pombal. This celebrated statesman had four main objects in view the expulsion of the Jesuits, the humiliation of the greater nobles, the restoration of prosperity to Portugal, and the establishment of the royal authority in an absolute form. The country was without army, navy, commerce, or proper agriculture. The earthquake which destroyed Lisbon in 1755 was a terrible blow, but Pombal, becoming first minister in 1756, and being well backed by the King, set himself bravely to work. He swept aside all opponents, banished the Jesuits, and took away their lands in 1759, humbled the leading nobles, made laws which greatly increased the royal power, reorganized the army, improved the schools, and, though he lost his power on the King’s death in 1777, effected permanent good in the introduction of enlightened views, and the rousing of a lethargic people.

Italy remained, during the Eighteenth Century, as she had long been, subject to foreign domination, or split up into separate republics and principalities. Freedom was extinct and national feeling had well-nigh faded away. The Popes of the period had no importance as temporal rulers. The different States were bandied to and fro, by the chances and intrigues of war and diplomacy, between Austria, Spain, and Savoy. The day of Venice was gone; some national life lingered yet in Corsica and Genoa. The House of Savoy alone displayed a vigor worthy of lier past, and destined, in a happier age, to bring about great results for her sovereigns and for the whole Italian peninsula. Soon after the Peace of Utrecht (1713), Victor Amadeus II of Savoy became King of Sardinia, and his successor, Emmanuel III (1730-1773), received an accession of territory on the mainland after the war of the Austrian Succession, and added greatly to the resources of his realm by his own wise administration.