1848
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The European revolutions of 1848-1849

In February 1948, the British historian Lewis Namier (1888–1960) delivered a lecture commemorating the centennial of the european revolutions of 1848.

In this lecture Namier presented facts about the historical developments, themes, and events evident in 1848 and reached the conclusion that:-
“1848 remains a seed-plot of history. It crystallized ideas and projected the pattern of things to come; it determined the course of the following century."

“Each revolution must be assessed in its own context, each had a distinctive impact. The revolutions spread from one point to another. They interacted to a limited extent. . . . The drama of each revolution unfolded separately. Each had its own heroes, its own crises. Each therefore demands its own narrative.”

Peter N. Stearns, 1848: The Revolutionary Tide in Europe.
- (From the introductory chapter and quoted by Anne Applebaum in a well-received article appearing in the Washington Post and in Slate Magazine [February 2011] comparing the on-going irruptions in the Arab world to the European Revolutions of 1848).

We are pleased to make available a series of quite brief, but nevertheless informative, pages about the highly significant and historically instructive european revolutions of 1848 :-

1 The European Revolution of 1848 begins
A broad outline of the background to the onset of the turmoils and a consideration of some of the early events in Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Budapest and Prague.

2 The French Revolution of 1848
A particular focus on France - as an Austrian foreign minister said "When France sneezes Europe catches a cold".

3 The "Italian" Revolution of 1848
A "liberal" Papacy after 1846 helps allow the embers of an "Italian" national aspiration to rekindle across the Italian Peninsula.

4 The Revolution of 1848 in the German Lands and central Europe
"Germany" had a movement for a single parliament in 1848 and many central European would-be "nations" attempted to promote a distinct existence for their "nationality".

5 The European Revolutions - reactionary aftermath 1848-1849
Some instances of social and political extremism allow previously pro-reform liberal elements to join conservative elements in supporting the return of traditional authority. Such nationalities living within the Habsburg Empire as the Czechs, Croats, Slovaks, Serbs and Roumanians, find it more credible to look to the Emperor, rather than to the democratised assemblies recently established in Vienna and in Budapest as a result of populist agitation, for the future protection of their nationality.
The Austrian Emperor and many Kings and Dukes regain political powers. Louis Napoleon, (who later became the Emperor Napoleon III), elected as President in France offering social stability at home but ultimately follows policies productive of dramatic change in the wider European structure of states and their sovereignty.

6 Some detailed historical background to the European Revolutions of 1848
Some quite detailed background information relating to the historical situation just prior to the onset of the European Revolutions of 1848 is available on this linked page.

Source Documents

The Statuto Constitution of the
Kingdom of Sardinia 1848

Letter from Palacky
to the Frankfurt Parliament 1848

Papal Allocution of 1848 Prague Slav Congress 1848
Manifesto : Austro-Slavism

Under Construction

The Habsburg Empires lands
and the revolutions of 1848


The following wider selection of quotations from the introduction to Peter N. Stearns, 1848: The Revolutionary Tide in Europe is intended to place the quotation quoted by Anne Applebaum in her well-received article appearing in the Washington Post and in Slate Magazine [February 2011] in a fuller context.
The chapter begins:- “ The revolutionary outburst of 1848 was unprecedented in Europe. ...

... only in 1848 did revolution assume virtually continental proportions. ... Serious revolutions broke out in France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Bohemia and Hungary, while there were stirrings of some significance in Switzerland, Rumania, Poland and Ireland. ... ... And for the most part these various risings were interconnected, linked by economic causation, ideology, and by the fascination of revolution itself. Knowledge that a regime had been shaken seemed a valid reason to try the same thing in one's own backyard.”
...

The preceding selection of quotations appear on page 1 of the work and it is page 5 of same where the selection quoted by Anne Applebaum appears:-

... "Each revolution must be assessed in its own context, each had a distinctive impact. The revolutions spread from one point to another. They interacted to a limited extent. ... The drama of each revolution unfolded separately. Each had its own heroes, its own crises. Each therefore demands its own narrative. ”

The introductory chapter concludes with this paragraph on pages 8-9:-

“In what they ended and in what they began, the principal revolutions of 1848 served as a transition from an old society to a new one. They captured the growing pains of an area on the verge of industrialization. In this, as much as in their specific achievements and failures, lies their fascination. In this lies also their contribution to the understanding of other societies, even in the present day, (work published 1974), which are in a similar situation. Most of the participants in the revolutions sought to protest change, to return to older ways. They lost, even as conservative governments seemed to win the day. The revolutions opened the way to further change as they forced governments to adopt new methods to stay in power and as they helped reshape the mentality of large groups within the society at large. The revolutions, the result of a precarious balance between old and new, tipped the scales.”

Peter N. Stearns, 1848: The Revolutionary Tide in Europe.

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