Revolutions in Europe
How did the age of Revolution impact Europe?
The European Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Spring of Nations or the Year of Revolution, were a series of political upheavals throughout the continent. Described by some historians as a revolutionary wave, the period of unrest began on 12 January 1848 in Sicily and then, further propelled by the French Revolution of 1848, soon spread to the rest of Europe.
Great Britain, the Kingdom of Poland, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Principality of Serbia and the Russian and Ottoman Empires were the only major European states to go without a national revolution over this period.
Russia's relative stability may be attributed to revolutionary groups' inability to communicate between each other. In the Kingdom of Poland and the Province of Lithuania (annexed lands of Grand Duchy of Lithuania), uprisings did take place in 1830-31 (November Uprising), 1846 (Kraków Uprising) and in 1863-65 (January Uprising), but not in 1848. While there were no uprisings in the Ottoman Empire as such, political unrest did occur in some of its vassal states.
In Great Britain, the middle classes had been pacified by general enfranchisement in the Reform Act 1832, with consequent agitations, violence, and petitions of the Chartist movement that came to a head with the petition to Parliament of 1848. The repeal of the protectionist agricultural tariffs - called the "Corn Laws" - in 1846, had defused some proletarian fervor. Elsewhere in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the population of Ireland was being decimated by the Great Famine. The Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848 was a short-lived attempt to protest peacefully against British mis-rule, suppressed mercilessly. Switzerland was also spared, having been through a civil war the previous year. The introduction of the Swiss Federal Constitution in 1848 was a revolution of sorts, laying the foundation of Swiss society as it is today.
These revolutions arose from such a wide variety of causes that it is difficult to view them as resulting from a coherent movement or social phenomenon. Numerous changes had been taking place in European society throughout the first half of the 19th century. Both liberal reformers and radical politicians were reshaping national governments. Technological change was revolutionizing the life of the working classes. A popular press extended political awareness, and new values and ideas such as popular liberalism, nationalism and socialism began to spring up. A series of economic downturns and crop failures, particularly those in the year 1846, produced starvation among peasants and the working urban poor.
Large swathes of the nobility were discontented with royal absolutism or near-absolutism. In 1846 there had been an uprising of Polish nobility in Austrian Galicia, which was only countered when peasants, in turn, rose up against the nobles. Additionally, an uprising by democratic forces against Russia occurred in Greater Poland. Next the middle classes began to agitate. Despite the aspirations Karl Marx and his followers may have had as laid out in The Communist Manifesto, the workers had little solidarity and practically no organization.
Both the lower middle classes and the working classes wanted liberal reform. The revolutions of 1848 were an expression of this sentiment. While much of the impetus came from the middle classes, much of the cannon fodder came from the lower. The revolts first erupted in the cities.
In the post-revolutionary decade after 1848, little had visibly changed, and some historians consider the revolutions a failure, given the seeming lack of permanent structural changes.
On the other hand, both Germany and Italy achieved political unification over the next two decades, 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 retained universal male suffrage. Russia would later free the serfs on February 19, 1861. The Habsburgs finally had to give the Hungarians more self-determination in the Ausgleich of 1867, although this in itself resulted only in the rule of autocratic Magyars in Hungary instead of autocratic Germans.
But in 1848, the revolutionaries were idealistic and divided by the multiplicity of aims for which they fought -- social, economic, liberal, and national. Conservative forces exploited these divisions, and revolutionaries suffered from mediocre leadership. Middle-class revolutionaries feared the lower classes, evidencing different ideas; counter-revolutions exploited the gaps. As some reforms were enacted and the economy improved, some revolutionaries were mollified. When the Habsburgs lightened the burden of feudalism, many peasants were satisfied by the reforms and lost interest in further revolt; revolutions elsewhere met similar resolutions. International support likewise waned.
Autocratic Russia did not support such revolutions at home, but actively helped the Austro-Hungarian Empire in her war with a restive Hungarian splinter group. Both Britain and Russia opposed Prussia's plans on Schleswig-Holstein, tarnishing their view among Germany's liberal nationalists. 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 like sops thrown to quell dissent, while privilege remained untouched. Nationalistic dreams also failed in 1848.
The Italian and German movements did provide an important impetus. Germany was unified under the iron hand of Bismarck in 1871 after Germany's 1870 war with France; Italy was unified in 1861. Some disaffected German bourgeois liberals (the Forty-Eighters, many atheists and freethinkers) migrated to the United States after 1848, taking their money, intellectual talents, and skills out of Germany. 1848 was a watershed year for Europe, and many of the changes of the late ninetenth and early twentieth centuries have origins in this revolutionary period.
Each revolution is different and effected many countries in different ways. Many changes had been taking place in European society throughout the first half of the 19th century. Both liberal reformers and radical politicians were changing national governments. Technological change was revolutionizing the life of the working classes. A popular press extended political awareness, and new values and ideas such as popular liberalism, nationalism and socialism began.
The age of revolution was Italian States,French Revolution German States,Hungarian Revolution,Greater Poland, Wallachian Revolution of 1848 and Praieira revolt. Each one is different but impeacted each other greatly. Many of the dramatic changes in this time was durring this time peroid that shaped Europe into what it is today and is very important to European history and culture.
The age of revolution impacted Europe tremendously in many different ways. Europe had many of the changes of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have origins in this revolutionary period. All of these changes were influenced by the revolutions in 1848. One way the age of revolution changed Europe is when Germany was unified under the iron hand of Bismarck in 1871 after Germany's 1870 war with France along with Italy. This time period shaped Europe into what it is today and is very important to European history and culture.
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