Essay--Revolutions of 1848 "The revolutions did prove to those

Essay--Revolutions of 1848 "The revolutions did
prove to those observing these events... that the
people could indeed undermine the government
to bring about reform and create the policies of
socialism and liberalism." By Mike White
workers sought to overthrow the government. This
led to three days of bloodshed in Paris, which is now
known as the "June Days," when thousands of
Frenchmen lost their lives as the army restored order
to the city.(4) Just as Prince Klemens von Metternich
pointed out, the infection of revolution spread from
France, causing further revolts.(5)
The Revolutions of 1848 were a series of political and
economic revolts that took place in Europe because
of a recession and abuse of political power. Those
involved in these revolts included several groups; the
Germans, the Italians, the Hungarians and others.
Although changes were made all throughout Europe,
the original, oppressive government took back
control soon after, undoing the work of the
revolutionaries. And though these changes didn't last
long, the revolutions did prove to those observing
these events (including the governments and
revolutionaries) that the people could indeed
undermine the government to bring about reform
and create the policies of socialism and liberalism.
Soon after the French, other countries took up the
torch of revolution and carried it until either they
were defeated and suppressed, or they were
successful in implementing their plan. The next
country to take charge of what they thought was a
degrading government and establish their ideals
were the people in Vienna, the capital of the
Austrian Empire. The object of their uprising was to
establish a liberal constitution that abolished
serfdom, and promised self-rule for the Hungarians.
Their plan was successful, when the weak ruler,
Emperor Ferdinand I, gave in to their requests and
granted it so. Conservative minister Prince
Klemens von Metternich was forced to resign when
demonstrations by university students and workers
broke out. However, the tide soon turned when
differences among the revolutionaries gave the
reactionary forces an opportunity to suppress the
There was a pattern, or cycle that was evident
throughout these revolutions.(2) This cycle had four
distinctive stages: First, the workers, university
students, and other revolutionaries agitated for
change. Next, the revolutionaries revolted and
brought about change and established what they
thought was the ideal government, sometimes forcing
the king and other leaders to flee. Third, the activists
began to quarrel among themselves, disputing over
the fine points of their ideas and actions. This
disunity set up the fourth and final distinct stage,
when the old government was given the opportunity
to take back control, or a new government that was
even more repressive than the former took control by
brutally crushing and repressing the revolution.
What sparked these revolutions was the second
revolution in France, which drove Louis Philippe
from his throne and brought in a provisional
government dedicated to a democratic franchise and
"national workshops" to reduce unemployment. This
government also passed laws to handle the unstable
condition in Paris and established was a constitution
that provided universal manhood suffrage (all men
could vote).(3) However, this was not the end. When
elections were held for a new legislature, the voters
sent a fairly conservative assembly to Paris. This
message sent by the voters was clear--the rural areas
in France did not want to be taxed in order to support
the unemployed. This new legislature abolished the
workshops. In reaction to this, the unemployed
In June, Czech leader Frantisek Palacky organized
a Pan-Slav Congress in the city of Prague,
demanding equality with the Germans. On June 17,
Austrian forces crushed this rebellion and a month
later regained control. In December, Francis Joseph
succeeded Ferdinand I as the emperor of Austria and,
using the force of a Russian army, was able to get the
Hungarian revolutionaries to surrender their
In the summer of 1849, a Roman republic crated by
Guiseppe Mazzini and Guiseppe Garibaldi was
created but later collapsed, and the Austrian forces
took back control of Venice. In Italy, the Napoleonic
Era awakened liberalism and nationalism. Many
Italians longed for an Italy unified under a republican
constitution. This movement, or the Risorgimento
(resurgence), was led by Guiseppe Mazzini, who, in
1832, started Young Italy, which was a patriotic
society that advocated and was ready to fight for the
unification of Italy if necessary.(7) In 1848, revolts
broke out in several Italian states. These revolts
forced the leaders to establish the constitutions of the
In Sardinia, King Charles Albert was one who
voluntarily granted a new constitution to his people.
However, these strides in progress were soon
crushed and repressed when in came the Austrian
army. Charles tried to drive the Austrians out of
north Italy, but was defeated at Custoza in 1848 and
Novara in 1849 and was abdicated.(8) Revolutions
elsewhere were suppressed, including one in Rome,
where Mazzini had formed a short-lived republic. The
movement for the unification of Italy was temporarily
shut off until 1859.
The wave of revolt also swept across the states of the
German Confederation. In the spring of 1848, riots
broke out as German people sought freedom from
their repressive rulers. The Prussian king, Frederick
William IV, was forced to agree to a democratic
constitution and to support the unification of
German states when the disturbance of the revolts
became increasingly powerful. The Frankfurt
Parliament was established to draw up a
constitution for the unification. In May of 1848,
members of the Frankfurt Parliament, or the National
Assembly convened in Frankfurt to begin the writing
of the new constitution. But the bright prospects of
the new Assembly began to fade as members of the
Assembly began to dispute over which territory to
include in the new Germany.(9) This dispute forced
them to a compromise, and a constitution that would
accept Frederick William IV to be the head of this
new government. However, Frederick refused to take
this position, delivering the famous line, "I do not
accept a crown from the gutter!", and had, by this
time, gained control of the Prussian army once again
and soon brought the demise of the Frankfurt
Parliament. Once again, as in Italy and others, hopes
for unification were crushed momentarily, this time
until 1866.
These revolutions all did one thing together; that the
people did have the power to overtake the
government and establish what they thought as the
ideal government that was run by their constitution.
And even though the Italian and German revolts did
not last, they too showed their strength in their
national feeling. Eventually, the revolts led to reform
and ultimate success under different leaders and
different years. But in 1848, the main result was
gained respect and intimidation from the
revolutionaries and their leaders.
Spain – 1820-23
Goal: to confirm liberal concessions
Result: revolution suppressed
Two Sicilies – 1820-21
Goal: to protest a repressive monarchy
Result: revolution suppressed
Russia – 1825
Goal: to protest the succession of reactionary
Result: revolution suppressed
Greece – 1821-32
Goal: to obtain independence for the Ottoman Empire
Result: independence achieved
France (I) – 1830
Goal: to overthrow a reactionary monarchy
Result: establishment of a liberal monarchy
Belgium – 1830
Goal: to assert independence
Result: independence recognized
Poland – 1830
Goal: to demand national autonomy
Result: movement crushed and further Russification
France (II) – 1848
Goal: to overthrow a liberal monarchy that had
become reactionary
Result: establishment of a republic-under Napoleon
Hungary – 1848
Goal: to assert national independence
Result: movement crushed
Prussia – 1848
Goal: to demand constitutionalism
Result: rebellion subverted
Austria – 1848
Goal: to oppose stringent conservative government
Result: new conservative government
German States – 1848
Goal: to oppose backwards monarchies and strive
toward unification
Result: failure
Bohemia – 1848
Goal: to obtain Czech/Slavic autonomy
Result: movement crushed