Online Encyclopedia

THULE

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V26, Page 897 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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THULE, the Greek and Roman name for the most northerly known land in the north Atlantic. The first to use the name was the Greek navigator Pytheas (about 300 B.C. probably). He calls it the most northerly of the British Isles and says that he reached it after six days' sail from Britain: it was inhabited, but produced little; corn grew there sparingly and ripened ill; in summer the nights were long and bright. This account of his travels is lost save for fragments, and the few surviving fragment{ service at Constantinople, by means which would probably not bear investigation, were invested in France. Thugut became acquainted with many of the leaders in the Revolution. From 1787 to 1789 he was minister at Naples, and showed great tact in managing the queen, Maria Carolina, a daughter of Maria Theresa. In 1790 he was sent by the emperor Joseph II. to Bucharest, nominally as commissioner with the hospodar of Wallachia, but in reality in order that he might open negotiations for peace with the Turks. Until 1792 he was much in France and Belgium, partly as a diplomatic agent, but largely because he was anxious to rescue his investments, which were ultimately lost. His personal grievances may have had some share in creating the hatred of the Revolution and the Jacobins, for which he was afterwards famous. In 1792 he was associated with Mercy Argenteau, formerly Austrian ambassador in France, as diplomatic agent at the headquarters of the allied army. The mismanagement of the invasion of France excited his anger. He came back to Vienna to report the facts to Francis II., to whom he presented a statement on the 27th of December. On the 19th of January 1793 he was appointed armee-diplomat at head-quarters, largely, it is said, by the intrigues of Philip Cobenzl and Spielmann, who wished to have him out of the way. But he never went, for at this time Russia and Prussia annexed large parts of Poland. Austria, entangled in the war with France, was left empty-handed (see POLAND: History). The emperor, dissatisfied with the ministers who had not prevented this misfortune, dismissed them, and after some delay Thugut was named " director of the foreign affairs of Austria " on the 25th of March 1793. When Prince Kaunitz died in the following year Thugut was appointed to " discharge the duties of the office of house, court, and state chancellor." His promotion to the foremost place in the Austrian administration met with much opposition, and is known to have been largely due to the empress Maria Theresa of Naples. The Austrian government was by tradition very aristocratic. The empress Maria Theresa, mother of Francis II., though she valued the services of Thugut, had consented with reluctance to make him commander of the order of St Stephen, and had only yielded to the urgent requests of Kaunitz and of her son Joseph II. She thought the promotion excessive for a man of his plebeian origin. The nobles, who thought that the great offices of state should go to themselves, were of the same opinion. Thugut, who had a large fund of vanity, resented their insolence, and did nothing to disarm their hostility. He was unmarried, and he avoided all society. In the discharge of his duties he took counsel with nobody. All the confidential work of his department was done by himself with the help of two clerks he could trust, and he took all important papers directly to the emperor, keeping no copies in his own office. He had his own experience to teach him how easy it was to bribe the officials of Austria. The nobles, who regarded themselves with good cause as the supporters of the Crown, and who expected to be consulted, resented his indifference and secrecy as the arrogance of an upstart. They were his constant enemies and critics. A few of them who admired his abilities supported him on personal grounds, but with these exceptions Thugut had no friends in Austria. Out of it, he was commonly regarded as the representative of all that was most unscrupulous and self-seeking in the methods of the Austrian government. He had inherited from his master Prince Kaunitz the firm conviction that Prussia was the worst enemy of Austria. From him, too, he had learnt that the first duty of an Austrian minister was to be an increaser of the empire, even at the expense of allies, and that excuses for annexation were to be made when they could not be found. His hatred of France, and of the Revolution, was no doubt sincere. But while prepared to defend Europe from French aggression, it was with the implied intention that Austria should be rewarded for her exertions by increases of territory, and should be made the absolute mistress of Germany. The history of his policy from 1793 to 1800 is the history of Europe. The conflicting objects
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MORITZ AUGUST VON THUMMEL (1738-1817)

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