- 1 - The Revolutions of 1848-49: A Timeline History 323 / Spring

The Revolutions of 1848-49: A Timeline
History 323 / Spring 2010
Jan. 27
The King of the “Two Sicilies” in Naples, Italy promises a constitution; Italian rulers in
Florence and Sardinia-Piedmont follow suit by the end of February
Feb. 24
Louis-Philippe of Orleans, king of France, abdicates after three days of street protests in
France; a provisional government is put in place
Feb. 27
The “Mannheim Rally” (in Baden) sees the formulation of four demands by Gustav von
Struve: (1) a people’s army with elected officers; (2) unconditional freedom of
the press; (3) trial by jury; (4) immediate creation of a German parliament.
These become known throughout Germany as the “March demands.”
March 2
30,000 irate peasants march on Wiesbaden (near Mainz) and force the Duke of Nassau to
abolish serfdom; agrarian revolts also in Baden and Württemberg
March 3
Ludwig Kossuth, a Hungarian nationalist, calls for constitutional reforms in Austria
March 5
In Heidelberg, opposition figures from across Southwestern Germany gather to prepare
the groundwork for an all-German constitutional convention
March 6
King Ludwig I of Bavaria declares freedom of the press and ministerial responsibility to
the Bavarian parliament
King Wilhelm of Württemberg dismisses his ministers; a few days later, he calls the
leader of Württemberg’s opposition to become prime minister
March 9
In Frankfurt, the Bundestag (Federal Assembly) declares black, red, and gold to be
Germany’s official colors
March 13
In Vienna, crowds gather outside the building where the Austrian Estates are meeting; the
restive crowd breaks into the building, provoking an extended street battle.
Prince Metternich resigns and flees the country
March 15
Emperor Ferdinand promises a constitution and the lifting of censorship in Austria
March 16
King Ludwig I of Bavaria abdicates in favor of his son Maximilian
March 17
Revolution in Venice, Italy; a republic is proclaimed
March 18
In Berlin, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV prepares to issue a proclamation guaranteeing free
press, a constitution, and a Prussian-led unification of Germany; but violence
ensues when soldiers try to clear the plaza
Street battles in Milan, Italy force the Austrian garrison to leave town
Germans living under the Danish crown protest the new king’s plans to incorporate
Schleswig and Holstein into a consolidated Danish state
March 19
FW IV orders Prussian troops to vacate Berlin
March 21
FW IV dons the black-red-gold, symbolically aligning himself with the revolution
March 24
Germans in Schleswig and Holstein declare a state of emergency and form a provisional
government to resist annexation by Denmark
March 29
A “March Ministry” is formed in Berlin with two liberals, Ludolf Camphausen and David
Hansemann, as Minister-President and Finance Minister.
March 31
The “pre-parliament,” consisting of 600 prominent Germans invited from around the
country, gathers in Frankfurt. Its job is to draft procedures for all-German
elections in May. Radicals such as Friedrich Hecker and Gustav von Struve
envision a republic along American lines; moderates like Heinrich von Gagern
plead for cooperation with Germany’s kings
April 7
Regulations are circulated for the upcoming German elections: mature, “independent”
males are entitled to vote; no provisions made for secret ballots or direct voting.
It varies by state, but some 75% of German adult males are eligible to vote
April 12
Provisional authorities in Frankfurt declare war by the German states against Denmark;
supreme power is vested in Prussia to execute the war, but Federal German
troops participate
In Baden, Hecker and Struve try to rally the population to overthrow the monarchy and
establish a German republic; their poorly equipped army of some 4,000-6,000 is
crushed on April 20 by forces from several German states
May 18
The Frankfurt Parliament convenes. It consists mainly of civil servants, judicial officials,
lawyers, professors, journalists, and physicians, but some 10% are businessmen
May 19
Heinrich von Gagern is elected chairman of the Parliament
June 2
A “Pan-Slav Congress,” featuring Polish, Czech, Serb, Slovene, and other Slavic
representatives, convenes in Prague. Austrian forces take minor acts of violence
in Prague as a pretext to shut down the Congress
June 21
In Paris, unemployed workers take to the barricades against the provisional government;
the government wins after four bloody days. This signals a conservative trend in
France that catches on in Germany as well
June 24
Gagern suggests the appointment of a Habsburg, Archduke Johannn, as “Imperial
Regent” of Germany; four days later, Central Power is vested in Johannn
The “Imperial” government in Frankfurt demands that soldiers across Germany swear
loyalty to Archduke Johann; Hanover, Bavaria, Prussia, and Austria refuse to let
their troops transfer allegiance
July 3
The Frankfurt Parliament begins debating a catalog of Basic Rights for all Germans;
these are finally promulgated on December 27, but the largest states refuse to
endorse them
July 26 – Aug. 6
Austrian forces crush the uprisings in northern Italy
Aug. 26
Prussia signs an armistice with Denmark, providing for a partition of Schleswig-Holstein
along national/linguistic boundaries. German nationalists bitterly denounce the
Sept. 16
The Frankfurt parliament, having initially condemned the Prussian-Danish armistice,
reverses its vote and endorses the armistice. This provokes mob violence in
Frankfurt; a handful of parliamentarians are killed; the remainder must be
rescued by Prussian and Hessian soldiers
Oct. 3
Austria’s Emperor Ferdinand dissolves the Hungarian parliament in Budapest and orders
a state of siege in Hungary; Croatian soldiers impose a brutal martial law
Oct. 6
Radicals in Vienna refuse to fight the Hungarians; students and workers command a
following of as many as 100,000 in the city center
Oct. 26-31
Austrian soldiers lay siege to Vienna and finally take the city; as many as 2,000 civilians
are killed; Robert Blum, one of Austria’s most prominent representatives in the
Frankfurt Parliament, is executed; a conservative ministry headed by Count Felix
zu Schwarzenburg is installed
early Nov.
Prussian troops march from Potsdam to Berlin and sweep away the leftists; a
conservative ministry is put in place
Nov. 21
Leftists found the Central Association for the Preservation of the Victories of March;
soon there are 950 branches with 50,000 members
Dec. 2
Kaiser Ferdinand of Austria steps down in favor of Francis Joseph (who goes on to reign
in Vienna until 1916!)
Louis Napoleon is elected President of France’s Second Republic; a proponent of “law
and order,” he moves within a few years to abolish the Republic and establish a
French Empire on the model of his uncle
March 7
Schwarzenberg dismisses any possibility of Austrian participation in a German national
Apr. 3
A delegation from Frankfurt offers Frederick Wilhelm IV the crown of the German
Empire; he declines
early May
Uprising in Dresden; revolutionaries, including Richard Wagner, rally in vain for a
democratic, united Germany
Archduke Johann “fires” Gagern and orders the dissolution of the cabinet in Frankfurt
June 21
Rebel forces in Baden are soundly defeated by the Prussian army
Frederick William IV, in a private letter, regarding the Imperial crown:
“What is offered me? Is this birth of the hideous labor of the year 1848 a crown? The thing which we are
talking about does not carry the sign of the holy cross, does not bear the stamp ‘by the grace of God’ on
its head, is no crown. It is the collar of servitude, by which the heir of more than twenty-four rulers,
electors, and kings, the head of 16,000,000, the master of the most loyal and bravest army in the world,
would be made the bondservant of the revolution... The revolution is the abolition of the godly order... the
setting aside of legitimate order, it lives and breathes its deadly breath so long as bottom is top and top is
bottom.” (Cited in Eric Dorn Brose, German History 1789-1871 [New York: Berghah, 1997], 261)
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