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1848 Revolutions Essay

The German revolution of 1848

The dream of a unified Germany existed long before the First World War. Prior to 1848, Germany was not only fragmented but retained much of the feudal system. According to Herbert Germany was a land of many principalities, both large and small, governed by absolute monarchs; it seethed with territorial clashes and conflicting interests. However, the German revolution of 1848/49 paved the way for Germany’s unification and remains a pivotal moment in the country’s history.

A strong, albeit not unified, movement of liberal opposition started forming in the early 19th century. Though of diverse political philosophies, all pursued such basic rights as a trial by jury, freedom of expression, as well as the amalgamation of Germany into a singular nation-state. Political and social tensions exacerbated in 1847 as economic disasters, including a disastrous harvest that sparkled food riots, extended throughout Europe; the number of demonstrators and peasants' uprisings increased. Finally, an insurrection in Paris in March 1848 sparked analogous armed uprisings in Berlin and Frankfurt; these two cities were to become the centers of the revolution.

The revolutionary movement in Germany set up base in Frankfurt where on May 19th, 1987 they convened and officially opened the National Assembly at St. Paul's Cathedral. The Assembly had two main tasks: to create a centralized form of government and to come up with a national constitution. It was also tasked with crafting a provisional Imperial government. However, this newly created government faced a myriad of problems. Not only did its composition reflect the complications of relations between Germany as a unified nation and the individual states, principally Austria and Prussia, but it also lacked a standing army and a fully-fledged civil service.

Friedrich posits that it is due to these problems that a group of influential German monarchs declined to swear their troops allegiance to the Imperial Administrator. Consequently, chaos continued into 1849. A big number of liberal delegates abandoned the Assembly, and a few months later it was forcibly disbanded by Württemberg’s military forces. For all purposes and intents, the German revolution of 1848/49 ended.

The German revolution was imperfect and short-lived; nonetheless it was not unproductive. On the contrary: the principles that inspired the revolutionaries and the assembly they established directly led to the unification of Germany in1988, the constitution of the Weimar Nation in1919, and to the Common Law of the post-Second World War Republic of Germany. The political alliances and groupings that materialized during this period, however unsuccessful, may be regarded as precursors to the political organization and parties of modern-day Germany. All in all, the revolution remains a pivotal moment in German history.

The European Revolutions Of 1848 Essay

The revolutions of 1848 were widespread and affected about 50 countries in Europe, considering the previously separate lands of Germany and Italy. These revolutions were extremely violent and costly. In terms of lives, tens of thousands were lost during battles with several thousand more being lost in executions. Over 100,000 individuals were jailed or exiled as well. While these individual countries had significant nationalistic grievances, such as anti-Austrian attitudes in Italy, anti-Russian and anti-Turkish opinions in Rumania, anti-Habsburg in Prague and Budapest, German patriotism divided German as did Polish patriotism in Poland; it was the political and economic struggle that were the prevailing catalysts for the revolutionary uprisings.
There was widespread economic crisis in the European continent in the mid 19th century. Agricultural failures from 1845-1847 which resulted in increased food prices impeded the people’s ability to buy food. The people in Berlin were so angered over the cost of food that they rioted for four days. A third of the German population was on government relief by 1847, resulting in the number of Germans leaving for the United States in search of farmland to increase dramatically. In Prussian Silesia and Austrian Galicia over a quarter of a million people died as a result of starvation.
Anger over the ancient regime of government and its political tyranny was viewed as the single most important cause of the numerous revolutions. Heightened political awareness due to the invention and extensive use of the printing press was instrumental in fostering political awareness of new ideas such as liberalism, nationalism and socialism. Additionally, many of the countries were aware of the successful national unity of both France and the United States, and they wanted that same unity and democracy for their own countries.
In the 1840’s liberalism meant restrictions on the church and the states power, agreement of the governed, a republican government (that is a government where all people are considered to be equals regardless of social or economic status), and freedom of the press. Nationalism was viewed as a means of uniting people by a mix of common languages, cultural and/or religious beliefs, a common history and direct geographic proximity. Socialism had no clear definition and meant different things to different people, but in general referred to more power for the worker. Socialism of the 1840’s was based on worker ownership of the process of production.
The February Revolution, desiring a more libel reform of government in France, was the spark that set a blaze of revolutions in Western and Central Europe. Rather than attempt to crush the rebellion, King Louis-Philippe relinquished his crown to his nine-year old grandson leaving the Chamber of Deputies in power. The Chamber of Deputies then created a government of mostly moderates with a few radical and declared it the Second Republic. In May,...

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