Conclusions of the Revolutions of 1848: Timeline http://www

Overview on the Web:
. . . We have been beaten and humiliated . . . scattered, imprisoned, disarmed and gagged. The fate of European democracy has slipped
from our hands.
Pierre Joseph Proudhon, after the failures of 1848, quoted in The Age of Revolution and Reaction, (references), by Charles Breunig.
The February Revolution in France gave impetus to a series of revolutionary explosions in Western and Central Europe. However
the new French Republic did not support these movements. The stage was set when the unrest caused by the economic effects of severe
crop failures in 1846-47 merged with the discontent caused by political repression of liberal and nationalist aspirations.
In the German states, popular demonstrations and uprisings (Feb.-Mar., 1848) led to the dismissal of unpopular ministers and the
calling of a national parliament (see Frankfurt Parliament ) to draft a constitution for a united Germany. While the constitution was debated
at length, rulers of the German states were able to recover their authority. By 1849, the Frankfurt Parliament and the provisional government
it established had collapsed and the old order was restored.
The revolution within the Austrian empire was one of initial success and subsequent defeat. In contrast to the situation in Germany,
however, revolutionists in the Hapsburg domains (see Austria , Hungary , and Bohemia ) demanded less central authority and a more
autonomous role for the national groups. Lack of cooperation among the revolutionary movements and the loyalty of the armies to old
authorities permitted the suppression of the insurgents by armed might. In Italy (see Risorgimento ) the demand for expulsion of the
Austrians and for national unification found a champion in King Charles Albert of Sardinia, but again the revolutions were put down by
Austrian armies.
Conclusions of the Revolutions of 1848:
The revolutions of 1848 failed notably because three kinds of demands—social and economic, liberal, and national—were not
easily reconciled. In 1848, the revolutionaries were idealistic but too divided by the multiple aims for which they fought -- social, economic,
liberal, and national. Conservative forces exploited these divisions, and revolutionaries suffered from mediocre leadership. Middle-class
revolutionists feared the lower classes, and counter-revolutionists exploited the gaps. As some reforms were enacted and the economy
improved, some revolutionaries lost heart. When the Habsburgs lightened the burden of feudalism peasants quit the revolution in droves and
similar failures occurred elsewhere. These failures are best illustrated by the experience in France. There, the Socialists Blanc and Albert
on the one side rebelling, while the Liberal Republicans Marie and Arago on the other. Middle-class moderates like Lamartine gained
control of the revolutionary movements and resisted the more radical demands of the lower classes, thus losing much of the popular support
that was essential to their success. The results of the uprisings were the spread of parliamentary governments, the extension of manhood
suffrage in France (and briefly in Austria), the abolition of feudalism (serfdom) in Central Europe, the beginnings of the German and Italian
unification movements, and the establishment of Hungary as an equal partner with Austria under Hapsburg rule. Ten years after the
Revolutions of 1848, little had visibly changed, and many historians consider the revolutions a bloody failure.
On the other hand, both Germany and Italy were unified in somewhat over 20 years, and there were a few immediate successes
for some revolutionary movements, notably in the Habsburg lands. Austria and Prussia eliminated feudalism by 1850, improving the lot of the
peasants. European middle classes made political and economic gains over the next twenty years; France kept its universal manhood
suffrage. Even oppressive Russia later freed the serfs on February 19, 1861. The Habsburgs finally had to give the Hungarians more selfdetermination in the Ausgleich of 1867, although this in itself resulted only in the rule of autocratic Magyars in Hungary instead of autocratic
Most of what the revolutionaries wanted they eventually got. After the middle classes had much of what they desired,
they sometimes confounded the Marxists by giving more power to the lower classes.. International support likewise lacked. Autocratic Russia
of course did not support the Revolutions, actively helping Austria in her war with a restive Hungarian splinter group..
And why did little happen in Britain and nothing in Russia? Russia was still feudal and oppressive, but Britain was mostly industrialized.
Freedom of speech and the electoral reform of 1832 in Britain are telling differences with the rest of Europe, who of course pointed out how
horribly the Irish were treated. There was the minor uprising of the Chartist in 1848 who had six demands including: votes for all men; the
abolition of the requirement that Members of Parliament be property owners and the secret ballot. The Chartists had one and a quarter
million signatures and presented the Charter to the House of Commons in 1839, where it was rejected by a vote of 235 to 46. Many of the
leaders of the movement, having threatened to call a general strike, were arrested. When demonstrators marched on the prison at Newport,
Monmouthshire, demanding the release of their leaders, troops opened fire, killing 24 and wounding 40 more. A second petition with 3 million
signatures was rejected in 1842; the rejection of the third petition in 1848 brought an end to the movement.
The net result in the German states and France was more autocratic systems, despite reforms such as universal male suffrage in France,
and strong social class systems remained in both. What reforms were enacted seemed to be basic reforms to stop the lower classes from
rebeliing, but the most basic privileges for the landed and wealthy remained untouched. Nationalistic dreams also failed in 1848.
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