The 1848 Revolutions

  • Created by: jojo10834
  • Created on: 21-02-17 11:08

Transformation of Europe

- 18th Century Europe in a period of political and social Ferment

- Aided by industrial revolution which, in turn, led to urbanisation

- Long-term transformation

- Aftermath of 1789 - end of ancien regime

- The revolutions acted as a catalyst for the abolishment of Monarchy 

1 of 27

Class Consciousness

- Central to 1848 revolutions, but complex

- Marxist formulation - historical change only happens where there is a clash between classes and their economic interests

- Marx: As industrialisation progresses, each class develops its own "consciousness"

- Middle classes - own "means of production" - working class consciousness centred by this

- Middle class = Mild reform
  Working class = Revolution

2 of 27

Breakdown of traditional political control

- Industrialisation and population growth

- Clash between ancien regime and the growth of nationalism

- Elites aware of the power of the people

- France saw the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy: Louis Philippe

- France+Liberal State = seeds of destruction

- 1815-1830 Conservative ascendancy 

3 of 27

Breakdown of traditional political control 2

- If uprisings are successful than the elites position is threatened

- 1815-1830 - Elites re-asserted themselves according to historians in this periodisation

4 of 27

New Forces: Liberalism

1. Attacking arbitrary authority - Government should be based on consensus

2. Advocating weakening of traditional institutions

3. Often associated with middle classes - part of progress

4. Wanted to strengthen power of parliament

5. Liberal discussions just intellectual debates?

5 of 27

New Forces: Democracy

- Universal adult suffrage - will of the people

- Abolition of monarchy and hereditary power

- Appeal to the urban working class

- Democratic politics/principles most developed in France

6 of 27

New Forces: Socialists

- Economic reform over political reform

- 1830s - still infancy as an ideology 

- Common ownership of the means of production

- Politically activity under 'socialism' very diverse in the 1830s

7 of 27

New Forces: Nationalism

- Common characteristics bind people together, therefore these should be the basis for nation-states

- Similarity rather than difference?

- Exclusionary?

- Still embryonic 

8 of 27

New Forces Combined 1

- Elites fear the new social forces - because they perceive them as threatening their position

- Historians agree that 1848 revolutions were characterised by a lack of philosophical coherence importance of local conditions. Interactions between global forces and local conditions

9 of 27

New Forces Combined 2

How did we get to revolution?

- Marxists: Revolutions were spontaneous and were precipitated by financial and food shortages - but gap between ideology and reality of the revolution which apparently was corrosive 

- Elite inaction of paralysis - allowed opportunistic workers to act

10 of 27

Crisis of the 1840s

- Economic deterioration as contribution to revolutions hotly contested by historians

- Does it make any sense to separate politics and the economy

- Agricultural crisis-crop failure - increase in grain and bread prices, BUT food riots is not only explanation

- Financial and industrial crisis (esp. France) - depressed investment lack of financial confidence - unemployment

11 of 27

Agricultural crisis

- 70% of working class income spent on food, price of grain rose between 100%-150% - price rises especially in France

12 of 27

Financial and industrial collapse

- Food crisis and financial - industrial collapse interacted cumulative effect

- France: 1841 purchase of land for railway building 

- Rise in bankruptcies of the petite bourgeoisie

- Production - Profit 

- Middle class withdrew support for the regime when not working fo them - The Definitive Factor in the Revolutions 

- Collision of political - economic and social instabilities 

13 of 27

Revolution gathering pace

- National guard defected

- Elite interaction working class opportunism

- Revolution only made possible when middle class "switch" sides?

- The city as the focus of the revolution - circulation of pamphlets and leaflets. Ruling elites couldn't control the centres

14 of 27

1848: Commonalities or divergences

- Revolutions so widespread, historians have invariably looked for common threads

- Domino effect? France than "the rest"?

15 of 27

France 1

- Regime losing credibility

- Guizot's government faced opposition, opponents wanted reform, not revolution (liberal)

- Administration tainted by scandal and corruption, therefore legitimacy weakening - Guizot not strong enough

- More banquets (political meetings taking place)

- 1846, some parliamentary reforms, but too slow

- Banquets banned = demonstrations - Barricades

16 of 27

France 2: What happened?

- Regime faltered because:
1. Defection of National guard
2. Collective malaise

- Creation of power vacuum

- 24th February - Chamber invaded by armed insurgents elite politicians also lose confidence  

17 of 27

France 3

- February revolution - relatively bloodless

- Provisional government set up - dominated by moderates who a) weren't far-reaching enough in their agenda b) populated by people with different priorities so a lack of coherence

- Main priorities of government:
1. Finance - needed people to spend money
2. Political consolidation
3. Social issues - reduce unemployment issues

- Fear that people would push for more reforms

18 of 27

France 4

- French society becoming more polarised 

- Working class = "too radical", Middle class switch allegiance - support repression

- Middle class - Balance power

- June days - Aftermath = growing strength of the right

- Bonaparte wheeled in as "bankable" name to take charge, brutal repression, restoration of status quo


19 of 27

Habsburg Lands 1

- Following France?

- Or something quite different altogether?

- 13th March 1848 Metternich resigns as Chancellor defiguring moment: been in power too long & desire for liberal reform

20 of 27

Habsburg Lands 2

- Did "1848" happen to Habsburg lands because a lack of cohesion between the ruling elite, rather than REAL revolutionary fever

- Dominant modes of interpretation
1. Middle-class revolution framed by liberal reform (party of progress)
2. National revolution

- Had to balance what different groups of people wanted

- People wanted a national post-revolutionary world

21 of 27

Habsburg Lands 3

- March Laws

- Magyar nationalism, as exclusionary nationalism? 

- Czech nationalism, liberal programme

- October days: repression - Viennese bourgeoisie on side of elites

- Counter-revolution because of nationalism? Because of lack of coherence 

- Liberalism and nationalism weakened in 1848

22 of 27

German lands

- Not a geographical identity in strict sense, but in 1848 "unites" in context of spread of liberal nationalism

23 of 27

German lands 2

- Middle-class liberal in nature, but some divergence with working class aspirations 

- Capitalist development uneven

- Prussia: Monarchy acquiesce to revolution - through fear and indecision

- New liberals want democratic reform but within structure of existing order

- Revolutions fuelled because of a lack of common ground between revolutionaries

24 of 27

Italian Peninsula

- Is Italy different? Do the revolutions pre-date France

- Revolution in Peninsula had made considerable headway

25 of 27

Italian Peninsula 2

1. Revolution again Austrian rule in Lombardy and Venetia - escalated into war

2. General demand for more liberal and democratic governance

3. Urban craftsmen and artisans wanted social revolution 

26 of 27

Italian Peninsula 3

- Living standards big issues: Naples life expectancy 24 in 1840

- Majority employed in agriculture - Agriculture practices inefficient 

- Urban workers = Vanguard - peasants also supporters

- Italian workers and peasants motivated by complex interplay between economic grievances

- Revolutionary spirit short lived, some satisfied with liberal concessions, counter-revolution swift

27 of 27


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all The 19th Century World resources »