Europe 1815-1830


From 1815-1830 Conservatism was reigning Europe through the concert established at Vienna after Napoleon’s defeat.



Britain Britain had not wanted to follow along with the alliance that was involving itself in the domestic business of Italy and Spain and wanted to keep European powers out of Latin America’s affairs. This was to of course protect their self-interests. Britain was making lots of money by taking natural resources from Latin America and using them to manufacture goods and then selling them back to Latin America. This makes the area dependent on Britain.


Britain was willing to step in for Greece in 1821 to support the Greek independence movement, probably because they did not see this as a European issue but more as a foreign occupation since it was the Turks of the Ottoman Empire who had this land. They get a new monarchial line but it is Austrian.


Britain is ruled by conservative Tories who won’t budge on suffrage expansion and still there are many rotten boroughs and places like Manchester had no representatives!


France more and more conservative from 1815 to 1830 through Louis XVIII (Louis XVI’s brother because the boy who would have been Louis XVII died in captivity during the Revolution). He agreed to live by Napoleon’s Code and was a limited monarch. Very few voters allowed as qualifications were ridiculous to the point that about 100,000 could vote. Liberals wanted more and ultraroyalists wanted less. Then Louis died and his brother Charles X (who had left France as an émigré) takes over. He reinstates the idea of divine right and has a 5 hour coronation ceremony. He wanted to reimburse nobles who had their land confiscated and he wanted the Catholic Church more involved in the educational system. He eventually dissolved the legislature and France again is looking at revolution in 1830. Constiutional Charter is dead and people rebel.


Prussia had two forces, reform yet attempts at authoritarian non-representative control. Frederick William III created political reforms after losing to Napoleon: freed serfs, local led governments, expansion of schools, universal military conscription to create a national army but he did not create a legislative assembly or a representative government of any kind. German students and professors were feeling more nationalism and wanted a unified state. “Honor, Liberty, Fatherland” as said by Friedrich Ludwig Jahn who had organized gymnastic societies during the Napoleonic Wars to impact the German Youth. Eventually a disturbed student murdered a conservative playwright and Metternich helped the Germanic Confederation draw up the Karlsbad Decrees which shuts down anti-conservative protests and movements.


Austria…is a mess. It should not exist with its 11 major groups of which the Germans were only ¼. Metternich just did what he could to quiet nationalism and liberalism as it would tear his empire apart.


Russia is still backasswards. Still serfs. Many liberal, socialist and intellectual groups forming. Decembrists rebelled with coronation of Nicholas I which only made the Czar more conservative/reactionary. More on this later.



Then 1830


France: Elections of 1830 had created more liberals than Charles X was comfortable with so he issued the July Ordinances: censor press, dissolved legislative assembly, reduce electorate (it was only 100,000 as is!) This turns into the July Revolution and barricades are up in France (do people store these with their holiday decorations or something? There are always barricades in France). Louis Philippe who was Charles’s cousin comes to the throne as new monarch (what is their obsession with monarchs?) and Charles runs off to England. A lot of these French revolutions are not supported by peasants because too much talk of socialism which is about sharing land and peasants wanted to own their own land! This hurts the unity of revolutions actually all over Europe at this time.


Louis Philippe is a bourgeois king and even dressed in business suits. Made some reforms but nothing spectacular as electorate is expanded to 200,000 woo hoo! Still only the wealthiest in France had clout.


Problem is that lower middle class and Parisian working class had helped overthrow Charles X and had expected more. This population was growing in numbers as the industrial revolution came to France. Occasional outbursts of violence from 1830’s to 1840’s because of terrible working and living conditions mixed in with some periodic economic crises.


Thiers: ministerial responsibility (meaning others in government than the monarch should be responsible for ruling the nation).

Guizot: France was a “Perfect form” of government. Helped Louis-Philippe suppress ministerial responsibility and continued to look out for the wealthiest in France.


Belgium: had been given to Dutch Republic at the Congress of Vienna after Napoleon’s defeat to make a stronger state alongside France. The Catholic and Protestant states had not been getting along so well so the Belgians rebelled in 1830. They will lose as the Concert of Europe wanted the area to stay united as they had established it as a policy of balance of power. Eventually it will be the Dutch people who say good riddance to Belgium because they are tired of having to pay higher taxes to support a larger military that was being used to control the uprisings that continued throughout the 1830’s. By 1842 Belgium is its own country under the father of the jerk King Leopold II.


Poland: They tried but were crushed by Russians and put under a much harsher military dictatorship. Life under the control of Russia had never been so bad as after the rebellion.


Italy: 3 states will attempt to rebel but Metternich sends in Austrian troops to crush it.


Great Britain: Whigs in power now instead of Tories and more and more industrial leaders objected to the corrupt British system which had excluded them from political power, even though many were from landed classes they understood that reform was preferable to revolution. Both parties were still pretty conservative at this time but Whigs were thinking let’s reform before it is forced upon us with violence as they had seen over much of Europe. So Reform Act of 1832. Changed the map of representation to allow more voice in government but property qualification was still retained so little change,  voters went up from 478,000 to 814,000 (1 in every 30 could vote)


Classic Liberals passed these “reforms”: Repeal of Corn Laws and Poor Law of 1834


“1833 Earl Grey, the Prime Minister, set up a Poor Law Commission to examine the working of the poor Law system in Britain. In their report published in 1834, the Commission made several recommendations to Parliament. As a result, the Poor Law Amendment Act was passed. The act stated that:

(a) no able-bodied person was to receive money or other help from the Poor Law authorities except in a workhouse;

(b) conditions in workhouses were to be made very harsh to discourage people from wanting to receive help;

(c) workhouses were to be built in every parish or, if parishes were too small, in unions of parishes;

(d) ratepayers in each parish or union had to elect a Board of Guardians to supervise the workhouse, to collect the Poor Rate and to send reports to the Central Poor Law Commission;

(e) the three man Central Poor Law Commission would be appointed by the government and would be responsible for supervising the Amendment Act throughout the country.”


Britain avoids rebellion while the rest of Europe experiences it again in 1848. Did pass labor reform for children and women with Factory Act of 1833 and Mines Act of 1842.



Then 1848


France again! Industrial and agricultural depression in 1846 along with middle class mad they still can’t vote leads to more upheaval. A coalition of radical republicans, socialists (even Louis Blanc) and upper middle class under Thiers wanted Guizot out. They couldn’t have political rallies so they had banquets and then one was disallowed so up go the barricades by students and workers. Louis-Philippe (remember him, the bourgeois king) tried to propose reform but couldn’t successfully form a government so he abdicates and joins Charles X in Britain. A provisional government made up of moderate and radical republicans ordered a new constituent assembly be convened and be elected by universal male suffrage.


Louis Blanc (a French politician and socialist) pressured for national workshops which would be cooperative factories run by workers. It basically had the government paying for unemployed workers to rake and dig which became a burden to the government. Moderates in government were concerned with the price and growing numbers of unemployed in the workshops so they were closed in June so guess what, they fight in the streets and thousands are killed (4,500) others (4,000) are sent to France’s colony Algeria. As per the usual creative names for events in France, these are called the June Days. A Constitutional Republic will be the June Days result.


Karl Marx was loving this and many people in other nations are freaking out about the idea of International Revolution, even some of the socialists are scared of the violence so the First International falls apart. (Marx dies in 1883, so not around for revisionism theories saying he was wrong and a new way of thinking that is more moderate must be followed)


The Second Republic is formed with a new constitution and a president is elected through universal male suffrage, they elect Napoleon’s nephew and within 4 years he becomes Emperor Napoleon. Come on France!

Why Napoleon: name and middle-class and peasant property owners were scared of Marxist predictions so wanted protection. He had a plan to help France and he had been jailed trying to overthrow Louis Philippe which gave him street cred.


Napoleon at first gained support from the people and then when he wanted to revise the constitution to allow his reelection he is denied so he overthrew the government and then like his uncle he goes to the people and asks if he can be president for 10 years 7.5 million say yes and 640,000 say no. Then he went and asked to restore the empire and 97% said yes so then you have Napoleon III and the Second Empire.


France Second Empire. Napoleon III’s (ruled 1848-1870) first 5 years saw great success and the whole world was experiencing economic prosperity. He believed in industrial growth and promoted it. Used government subsidies to construct infrastructure (rail lines, canals, roads, harbors). Also provided hospitals and free medicine for workers and supported better housing for working class. Also rebuilt Paris with large boulevards (to try to avoid those barricades, seriously!), underground sewage, water supply, gaslights.


He briefly controlled Mexico and put Belgium’s King Leopold I’s daughter (Charlotte) and her husband (Austrian Ferdinand Maximilian) on the throne. He is killed and she goes insane and Napoleon leaves Mexico.


He took control of army, police and civil service and could introduce legislation and declare war.

Eventually middle class liberals will bring him down. He tried to give greater legislative powers and allowed a new constitution which made his position a chief of state but allowed great powers to parliament. He had allowed democracy and democracy was taking away his power but no barricades!


A Third Republic will be established that will last until Hitler’s invasion. It is at first led by Thiers who loses support when he agrees to pay reparations and loses Alsace and Lorraine to the Germans after Franco-Prussian War (especially since some French had tried to fight until the end by eating rats and zoo animals in Paris) and then a Paris Commune was created by army members which reigned for about 2 months until Thiers brutally put it down. A republican government with a president will emerge and reforms made but Dreyfus affair and an attempted military takeover (Boulanger crisis) will show France is still not 100% stable but President Gambetta will continue the major changes like education, trade unions, colonial empire, male and female married teachers, made some peace with Catholic Church until Dreyfus Affair and then Catholic Church loses all state funding of anything.


Germanic. Because of France 1848 many local Germanic leaders started promising constitutions, free press, jury trials, etc. In Prussia King Frederick William IV (1840-1861) abolished censorship, established a new constitution and would work for a united Germany. Russia and Austria blocked this attempt since it would hurt the balance of power. Frederick had wanted the effort to be led from the top down.

The Frankfurt Assembly was created by all German governments and was elected by universal male suffrage. Met at seat of German Confederation. Middle class professors, lawyers, bureaucrats. Immediately controversial because they claim to be the government for all of Germany. Then they argued over Grossdeutsch and Kleindeutsch (Big/Small German). The Big Germans who supported Austria in the nation dropped out and when offered the title Emperor of the Germans in March 1849 Frederick William said he wouldn’t accept a crown from the gutter (remember he wanted any unification to come from the top, not from the masses) and disbanded the group who had no power to enforce what they had created.


A sort of parliament was left in Prussia and it was made up of the liberal middle class by 1859. William I (1861-1888), who had taken over Prussia after Frederick, wanted a strong army which needed more spending which meant higher taxes. The middle-class wanted less militarism rather than more and they wanted their own political power over the king. Parliament will reject the military budget so William calls on Count Otto von Bismarck to control parliament. Brilliant move.


Bismarck unifies Germany through Autro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian wars, gives power to king over military and foreign affairs and pleases a second house (Reichstag) with universal male suffrage and the unified Germany they had wanted. Nationalism running high. Bismarck goes after Catholic Church with Kulturkampf after pope issues a reminder of his infallibility but it doesn’t work so he backs off and then works with Catholics to protect economic interests with tariffs. He puts off socialists that he seriously fears by granting reforms .Plus the socialists were becoming less radical in Germany as they were identifying more as Germans. The country was becoming more and more patriotic with a young new Kaiser, William II (1888-1918) at the helm.


Austrian: France 1848 flamed fire in Austria too. Kossuth (Hungarian/Magyar) wanted commonwealth status which would create their own legislature but they would recognize a Habsburg monarch. March 1848 Metternich was dismissed after demonstrations in Buda (1/2 of Budapest), Prague and Vienna. Same types of educated and propertied folks as in other nations created a liberal constitution. Hungary given own legislature, army and control of foreign policy and budget. Czechs wanted own government too. Emperor Ferdinand I (1835-1848) starts to send in army against Czech rebels and then puts down Vienna rebellion in reaction to a mob’s murder of a minister. He had some support from middle class as they started to fear the working classes. In December Ferdinand abdicates in favor of the more able Francis Joseph (1848-1916).He still is unable to put everyone down especially Hungarians so got help from Russian Czar Nicholas I. Everything back to the same at that point. Russia will expect pay back from Austria and are furious when they do not receive it after victories over Ottoman Empire later in 1800’s. Austria-Hungary is one of the weaker empires of Europe at this point. Hungary’s failure at independence can be contributed to their oppressive rule to minorities such as Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. The area dominated by Magyars was filled with rebellious minorities so the Hungarians had their own local concerns.


Italian Italy had tried for unification in 1830-1831 but had failed. The Risorgimento (resurgence) was now led by Giuseppe Mazzini who had founded Young Italy (wanting a united Italian Republic) in 1831. In Duties of Man he urged Italians to dedicate their lives to the nation of Italy. Revolts broke out all over the Italian city states and people were promised constitutions and they threatened their foreign Austrian leaders. Austrian forces were able to put these down and counterrevolutionary forces stopped this liberalism.


The Catholic Church was at first supportive of unification and then worried so back off and Pius IX wrote Syllabus of Errors in 1864 which explained the wrongs of Enlightenment ideals and sounded like the status quo.


Garibaldi, Mazzini and Cavour will end up uniting Italy with Garibaldi being the “sword” with his Red Shirts, Mazzini being the “heart” with his nationalist poetry and Cavour being the “mind” with his use of diplomacy to rid the area of France and Austria. A Parliamentary Monarchy under Victor Emmanuel is created. Not incredibly democratic in the end as only a few could vote.


Ireland: Making progress towards its own nationhood. Northern counties which were dominated by Protestants stay with England, not because the Northern Irish wanted to but because they were stuck. Devastated by the Potato Famine which was mostly man-made as the English continued to export foor from Ireland and refused to repeal the Corn Laws to allow cheaper food in Ireland.


Anti-Semitism re-emerges and Zionist Movement initiated by Herzl. Jewish population across Europe had been gaining rights as religious tolerance was the trend as was equal rights to all men. Many restrictions lifted on their lives. Many were making their way into their nations’ middle classes and were patriots. This new success and competition will lead to good ‘ole prejudice when there was an economic downturn in late 1870’s. Over the next couple decades political parties were created surrounding these views and politicians made speeches appealing to those who were already anti-Semitic. (Hitler will hear one of these when he had moved to Vienna as he was trying to become an art student, 1907-1913)


Russian Jews had never been emancipated and were used as “foreign” scapegoats for Russia’s problems in 1880’s so pogroms looted and destroyed property. 


Theodore Herzl promotes the idea of a safe-haven or Jewish nation. European and Russian Jews start to move to Palestine. Some conflict between those living there with these new immigrants will occur. Other Jews at this time go to America.



Crime and stability Britain initiates the idea of a civilian police force separate from the military. Force is not respected at all at first and then gained recognition by 1830’s. Nicknamed “Bobbies” since Sir Robert Peel introduced the legislation to create the force. Had been sending their convicts to Australia but that slows down in 1830’s as they began to reform their ideas of punishment. Paris will also create a force of “serjents” in blue uniforms who will be lightly armed with a cane during the day and a saber at night. France tried prison reform and the idea of single cells but it got too crowded so they sent people to Algeria and French Guiana (located just North of Brazil). Germany’s Schutzmannschaft (protection team) will start as a civilian force but then developed into a heavily armed (swords, pistols, brass knuckles) group. They will be active later in the policies of Hitler’s Final Solution.


Culture Romanticism and its more exaggerated form of Gothic Literature (Edgar Allan Poe and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein). Mystic and pantheism (idea of combining the forces of nature with power of God). In music…BEETHOVEN (influenced by Haydn and Mozart) used “uncontrolled rhythms to create dramatic struggle and uplifted resolutions.”


Nationalism and patriotism was on the rise as technology had brought more wealth and weapons to nations. National identity and respect becoming more and more important. Some felt included and others felt as outsiders in a nation they did not identify with.




·         Potato blight across Europe and other agricultural issues in 1846 caused a major food shortage and famine conditions. Lower-class households around 1850 still spent between two-thirds and three-quarters of their incomes on nourishment. The bulk of the food purchased consisted of grain products and potatoes, which rendered household budgets very sensitive to changes in the prices of these goods.

·         Manufacturing slump across Europe as falling consumption and investment demand transformed the agricultural supply shock into a lagged demand shock to the manufacturing sector. Everyone was having to spend much more on food because of lack of supply. Also, some had overspeculated with their projected future crops and when it didn’t come to harvest, they were in debt. Credit will tighten making loans more difficult to obtain. Textile firms collapse, railway investment slows

·         Urban poor: growing in numbers and after financial crisis of 1846 many unemployed, horrible conditions at work and home

·         Peasant poor: wanted land ownership, stable grain prices, food

·         Nobles: wanted more power from monarch

·         Middle-class: growing but hitting a glass ceiling

·         Media: increased literacy and more nation-wide, faster in spreading the news

·         Leadership: authoritative and conservative

·         Nationalism: growing for all groups

Nobles and middle-class served as protagonists but the workers and urban/rural poor provided the muscle.

Some argue this is not a series of revolutions since little changed, maybe it was just a series of uprisings.

Is 2011(Tunisia, Yemen, Lebanon, Egypt) a repeat of 1848?

Same because…

Different because…


Importance of media?



Current leadership qualities/policies?



Rural poor grievances?



Urban poor grievances?



Middle-class grievances?



Ideology vs Economic conditions?



Clash of groups’ ideologies?



Knowing what you know of the results of 1848 in Europe, what is your prediction for the results of 2011? Do you think this will be remembered as revolutions or uprisings?