Site Loader
Get a Quote

Richard Van Pelt
HIST 3326.701 Europe Since 1815
Dr. Spickermann
Paper 1
March 18, 2018

It can be little difficult determining when democracy started showing itself in Europe. Especially since it was under the control of a conservative monarchy for such a long time. First, I want to explain what enlightenment and revolution is. Second, I will cover different reforms that were passed and why they were so critical in those time periods. I’ll also discuss the patterns that I’ve noticed throughout all the revolutions even though they had failed they still made contribution to equality and the liberties of people in Europe.
The Enlightenment period in Europe greatly affected the way people thought and encouraged free thinking. It also questioned the old monarchy ways and traditional authority. The enlightenment ideas shaped political attitudes. John Locke was an eighteenth-century philosopher whose theory was that right to rule came from the “Consent of Governed”. Jean-Jacques Rousseau states that society should be ruled by the “general will” of the people. Philosophers continued to question the amount of individual freedom an individual had to sacrifice under the monarchy rule. The old ways were submissive, paranoid, superstitious and were ruled by an angry God. Age of Reason encouraged a new way of thinking. Happiness and progress was brought by scientific ideas and reasoning. The Kings had an obligation to their people and did not rule over them by divine right. The reason I bring up the Enlightenment period is because the thoughts it contributed during those days were crucial in establishing equality and liberty throughout Europe (THREE PHASES).
Revolution is an act of assault against existing rule or institutions of the government. The assault that just changes who is in power is not revolution but called “coup d’├ętat” Revolution looks to setup another government institute or ruling in position of the old one. Revolutions could be better referred to as internal wars. Revolutions are uncommon in places or times where beliefs of progress or restoration exist (THREE PHASES).
European liberalism and the revolution era began in a time people refer to as the “Atlantic Revolution”. The roots of the Atlantic Revolution go back as far as The Puritan Revolution and the Glorious Revolution. The French Revolution in 1789 was a time where the third estate stood up against the unfair treatment of the other two social estates; the clergy and the aristocracy. There is supporting evidence that shows that the French Revolution and the reforms that came with it had beneficial effects. Revolution destroyed the institutional bases of the monarchy elites who were against economic change and the new coming industrial opportunities. These opportunities helped lead the way for future growth in the economy, but also led to disaster and struggle (THREE PHASES).
The French Revolution of 1789 wasn’t a complete disaster like so many like to believe because it encouraged change in the very Catholic and oppressive monarchy rule that represented France. The people at that time didn’t know what else to do but revolt and start a revolution. The French Revolution turned a little radical though, because of the ideas and bloodshed that were brought about by Maximilien Robespierre and the Jacobins. Instead of forming a republic that would establish equalities and liberties for the people it ended up doing the exact opposite. The French rebels in a way ended up turning into the same thing they were working so hard to get rid of, a monarchy rule. Having a bunch of people beheaded at the guillotine during the Reign of Terror doesn’t sound like equality or liberty to me but sounds like something a Monarchy would do (Merriman, John).
One of the greatest influences of Enlightenment in Europe was Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon while emperor of France was very liberal and supported what the French Revolution stood for. Napoleon was a great leader and a great military commander of his time. With his military experience France conquered Egypt, Belgium, Holland, Austria, Poland, Spain and much of Italy, and much of Germany. Since Napoleon and his armies were products of the French Revolution it encouraged the movement of Enlightenment teachings and ideas. These ideas inspire thoughts of human reason, happiness, liberty, and human rights. Places that were dominated and influenced by the French had their political structures removed and changed into systems that better reflected Enlightenment ideals. Italy for example benefited the most from Napoleon’s rule. His brother Joseph Bonaparte implemented education into a civil institution. This made modern enlightened teachings more accessible to both men and women. Each providence was given its own college and free university education.
Revolutions in 1848 of Italy, Germany and Hungary focused a lot around nationalism and creating of new states of unified nations. The French focused more on the social side of things. The 1830 revolutions didn’t offer much to the working class. The 1848 revolution in France consisted of France being ruled by a resenting constitutional monarchy. Louis Philippe represented the wealthy more than the working class and that caused problems. It was only a matter of time before the workers got upset and fought with the government troops, which led to a new revolution. Again, the power to vote was reserved to the wealthier class of people. A major factor that plagued people in the revolutions throughout 1848 Europe was poor economic conditions, and this was very apparent with France. Rural population of France dominated the population and were mostly made of conservatives (The Class).
The economy of France was really feeling the tension with the increasing population and declining of work thanks to the Industrial Evolution. Industrial advancements also led to higher prices in food. The thing that wild up the French people the most were the crops failing in 1846 which resulted in the 1847 economic depression. Food prices started to increase higher than they already were. These prices were outrageous, and the people could barely make do with what they had even if they were working. The government didn’t understand the continual struggles the working class was facing. The part of government that was democrat was being controlled by people with money and education, the things that the working class didn’t have. These poor representations of democracy were due to the restrictions placed on voting (The Class).
Only the population with high levels of income could vote and this kept the poor working class out of the politics, so their voices weren’t being heard. Alexis de Tocqueville saw the unfolding events in France and blamed the government. He compared them to a corrupt business that was looking out for the stockholders rather than the common people. The monarch that was ruling during that period was continually trying to curb the reforms that would benefit the working-class people. The monarchy felt the reforms had a socialist essence to them. France started to organize a banquet, in other words a protest. Banquets were banned but it didn’t stop the radicals from doing it anyways. The banquet surprised a lot of people after it turned into a revolution. The king felt threatened and fled to England (The Class).
The first acts the new government wanted to start working on was ones that would help the working class. Shortly after the revolution took place French foreign workers were being hassled and forced to leave the country. The machinery that came with the industrial revolution became the prime recipients of working class anger. Hand presses and Mechanical printing presses were being destroyed so hand presses could be returned. The railroad was also a target of the working class and tradesman. Industrialization after all was the main culprit for the massive unemployment rate that France was facing (The Class).
The provisional government that was established in Paris soon became a Second Republic and it didn’t take long for reforms centered around the working class demands to take effect. One of the first decrees that were put into effect was universal manhood suffrage, which made it possible for males over the age of twenty-one to vote. This opened government to millions. National Workshops later came to assist the unemployed population, but they couldn’t be kept open unless increases in taxes were put into place. This was one of the issues with the revolution of 1848 in France. Taxes were being raised on the conservative rural landowners to keep the workshops running (The Class).
The taxes infuriated a lot of the rural working class who thought the taxes were only benefiting the poor in urban France. Many said they weren’t going to pay and, in some places, riots broke out. The government was trying to unify France into a Second Republic but first they needed to gain support from the rural provinces. The citizens in rural areas wanted tax relief and credit to purchase needed supplies. To gain the support of the rural workers these two conditions had to be met. Nevertheless, the urban working class and its leaders weren’t interested in working things out with the rural workers. The creation of the provisional government had other problems on its hands (The Class).
Political clubs in Paris were growing and so were their demands to make the government more socialistic. Louis Blanc’s National Workshops is a great example of trying to bring socialism into France. They would press the government into following their ideas by using aggressive demonstrations, banquets and fear of another revolution. A lot of the club leaders inspired the idea of imitating the Jacobins instead of teaching the new truths of democratic institutions. Many people in Paris believed socialism was a feasible option to help the thousands of unemployed workers, but the ideas did not reach out to the rural working class (The Class).
When National elections took place and the National Assembly was elected most of them were conservative. The first things that was on their agenda was getting rid of the socialistic ideas of taxes place on the rural workers and National Workshops made for the urban Paris workers. Problem with this Revolution was rural workers outnumbered the urban workers and even though the urban workers took over it was a matter of time before rural ones controlled it. Radical Socialist clubs started to protest but ended with 3,000 people dead after the national Assembly commanded troops to control the situation. To increase political stability of the government Louis Napoleon was elected president and then later becomes emperor four years later, the irony (The Class).
The French had enough strength in Paris to start a revolution and to overthrow the King but since they weren’t a unified people throughout all of France they ultimately lost to the conservatives once again. Similar things occurred at the end of the 1789 Revolutions but this time radical socialistic ideas were persuading the people. I also notice a pattern with the demands of the people. The people wanted work, food and the equal rights to vote. The National Workshops act gave the urban people liberty but didn’t give equality to the rural area workers. There was a lack of support in the 1848 French Revolution and we can see this through all the other revolutions of 1848 (The Class).
Paris, France encouraged revolution to take place in Germany. The word had spread throughout Germany that their King was overturned, and a Second Republic was formed. Soon people rose up in Vienna and Berlin. Nationalism was a common belief at the time and liberals wanted to unite all of Germany. The Frankfurt National Assembly in 1848 had goals in mind. First, they wanted to produce a national constitution and then a create a unified government. They also wanted to extend “Basic Rights to the German People” by allowing press and trial by jury (The German revolution).
The National Assembly had its own problems though. Like France it was difficult uniting people. The Representatives couldn’t agree on the border of a German nation and even though a lot of them were highly educated people they lacked political experience. Prince Schwarzenberg suggested a centralized imperial constitution for all the Austrian empire and extended the Kaiser Frederick Wilhelm IV the crown. The Kaiser didn’t agree to it and voiced against uniting. Thoughts and plans weren’t going anywhere, and several liberals ended up leaving the National Assembly. The German Revolution came to an end after it was broken up by military action (The German revolution).
Industrial Revolution made a big impact on Germany just as it did everywhere else. It wasn’t uncommon to see children and women working fourteen-hour shifts. The work environments were unsafe. Like France they struggled to make it by even though they worked so much. One third of the working people were living in poverty in the years leading up to 1848. Two things really escalated everything. One, a lot of new businesses weren’t working out and a lot of people started losing jobs that paid hardly anything. Second, there was that failing harvest that occurred throughout Europe and left the German states hungry (The German revolution).
The working class wanted immediate change and help. A lot of these workers were conservatives and didn’t want the government to change a lot but just wanted help. After eleven months of the National Assembly talking over things the working class became impatient. The working class had no leadership and was divided into classes based on trade, so it was difficult for them to come together. Survival was more important to the workers, so they stopped with the ideas of a new government and went back to work. The middles class and working class just needed to come together and if parliament was just a little quicker then the workers may have staid motivated long enough to enter into a new liberal, nationalistic Germany (The German revolution).
Ideas of nationalism and independence grew in Italy. Giuseppe Mazzini ideas of a unified Italy was spreading rapid. Many reforms took place in the Papal State, Tuscany, Lucca and the Kingdom of Sardinia during the 1840s. These reforms were too late, and it wasn’t enough to slow down the revolution of 1848. The reforms did the opposite of what they were designed to do. The revolts in Sicily and the protest in Lombardy mark the beginning of Italian Independence. Pope Pius left Rome and soon the Roman Republic was announced. Mazzini became Chief Minister of the Roman Republic in March of 1849.King Albert of Piedmont-Sardinia joined the war and tried to kick the Austrians out of the country. Independence for Italy was looking good but then the Austrians defeated King Albert at the battle of Novara in 1849. The King was than exiled and his son became king of Piedmont (Italy revolution).
The Italian revolution was greatly dependent on unifying all the Italian states in efforts of getting rid of the Austrian influence before they could create a new state. Uniting all of Italy failed and so did the Revolution. King Albert in 1848 showed that the Piedmont army was fully capable of relinquishing the Austrian forces. Civil leaders Giuseppe Mazzini and Massimo d’Azelglio had a lot of liberal demands for the people. This was too much for the governments they were trying to create. The Italian people became unaware of things when they focused too much of their attention on the ideas of Mazzini that they overlooked military and political threats. Piedmont’s failure was due Pope Pius IX removing his troops from Lombardy and others saw this and followed. The revolution needed the support of the Pope to make things happen. The Pope Pius IX feared that if he continued the war against Austria it would lead to a religious split between the church in Austria and that of Rome (Italy revolution).
France, Germany and Italy all had a revolution in 1848, but why didn’t Britain because there were social tensions among its people. There are two reasons why this didn’t happen. One, reform was successful and there existed a Chartist movement that wasn’t violent. The 1832 bill allowed a lot of the middle class to vote. Two, the British self-identified themselves as reformist, not revolutionist. Some were not satisfied with the reform bill of 1832 so in 1838 some working-class leaders made the people’s charter that called for universal male suffrage, the removal of property qualifications for office and election by secret ballot. This movement known as the Chartist movement never grew that politically strong and concurred with the revolutions of 1848. The reason why I am bringing these things up is I am seeing liberty being established here, slowly yes but it is happing. In my opinion fear of revolution and uprising really brought about the movement of equality and liberty (HIST 202).
All three of these revolutions had something in common. They all started after the end of Napoleon Bonaparte’s rule. Enlightenment ideas were brewing and challenged the political structure. This encouraged the people to take a stand and many wanted those rights associated with the Enlightenment ideas. Another commonality amongst all three revolutions was the shortage of food. Since the crops failed so did the businesses, which increased the cost of food. People in the working class were crying out for relief. The middle classes had the money and the resources to withstand the difficult times while the working classes were struggling to survive.
After the Revolutions of 1848 the European states became stronger. French, Prussian and Austrian authorities weren’t militarily prepared. The Revolution of 1848 was defined as the first-time workers put out organized demands for rights. Many of the goals of revolutionaries focused on the middle class demanding reform. People demanded freedom of press and universal male suffrage. The people wanted to be heard and these are some of the patterns we see throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. More people could vote and have their voices heard in Parliament. I can understand why the revolutions weren’t a success because being ruled by a monarchy for so many years and being subjected to submissive rule is tough. The people lacked the experience to convert the Monarchy into a Democracy. The ideas that they were spreading will help future representatives of democracy, equality and liberty. It wasn’t the end, it was just starting. (Merriman, John).


Merriman, John. A History of Modern Europe. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2010

THREE PHASES of European and World Revolution.2010-2015 Kimball Files. Retrieved March 17, 2018 from

History of Italy. Retrieved March 16, 2018, from Gascoigne, Bamber. HistoryWorld. From 2001, ongoing.

Democratic Values – Liberty, Equality, Justice. 2008. Philadelphia. Retrieved March 17,2018 from

HIST 202: European Civilization, 1648-1945. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2018, from

Italy revolution 1848 Retrieved March 16, 2018, from

The Class Struggles in France, 1848 to 1850. Retrieved March 17 ,2018, from

The Impact of Enlightenment in Europe. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16,2018 from

The German revolution 1848 Retrieved March 16, 2018, from

Post Author: admin