Scope: The Industrial Revolution was primarily a Northern and Western European phenomenon. Elsewhere, the big issue was nationalism. The failure of the Congress of Vienna to take the new forces of nationalism and liberalism into account led to revolutions across Europe throughout the next 30 years, in France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Greece, the German states, the Italian states, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Where those revolutions received the assistance of the middle class (France) or outside countries (Greece), they prospered. Otherwise, the forces of reaction were too strong.
The period after the Congress of Vienna saw a marked attempt to turn the clock back on liberalism and nationalism.
The Congress of Vienna had been called into being by the Allied powers to solve the mess created by the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars.
1. The Austrian foreign minister, Prince Klemens von Metternich (1773−1859), and the British foreign minister, Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh (1769−1822), agreed that France had to be contained but also preserved as a great power.
2. The third architect of the Congress was the French foreign minister, Count Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand (1754−1838).
3. All three were wily conservatives who feared liberalism and sought to preserve the ancien régime and European peace; their approach was to ring big countries with defensible borders by shuffling little countries around in defiance of nationalist sentiment.
4. They restored the Bourbon monarchy in France (albeit constitutionally), Spain, and Naples.
5. They then divided the rest of Europe up among the remaining great and lesser powers.
6. The European state system devised by the Congress of Vienna worked for 99 years, but that does not mean that the people who lived under it were happy.
a. Monarchies were preserved and new liberal ideas coming out of France and England were
b. Many people were ruled by governments of a different nationality and culture.
i. The Dutch ruled the Belgians.
ii. The Austrians ruled Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, some Poles, Rumanians, Serbs, Slovenes,
Croats, and some Italians.
iii. Russians or Prussians ruled the rest of the Poles.
iv. The Russians also ruled Finns, Ukrainians, Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians.
v. The Swedes ruled the Norwegians (albeit with plenty of autonomy).
7. Only in France was some of the legacy of the French Revolution honored in a moderate constitution.
The Holy Alliance was formed by the five great powers to stave off the threat that liberalism and nationalism would once again erupt into revolution, bring down their ancien régimes, and break up their empires.
Proposed by Czar Alexander I, the idea was that the great powers would rule their peoples with paternalistic Christian love as an antidote to godless democracy.
If that did not work, the leaders of the five great powers would hold periodic conferences to discuss their differences and possible trouble brewing.
If that did not work, and any of them suffered a liberal or nationalistic revolt, they would all rush to defend each other.
Initially, this seemed to work.
In Spain and Portugal, Napoleon’s liberal reforms were abolished.
In the Papal States, Pope Leo XII also abolished Napoleonic reforms, revived the Inquisition, and drove some Jews back into the ghetto.
In Russia, Prussia, and Austria, liberals were fined and imprisoned.
d. In 1819, Prussia and Austria agreed to the Carlsbad Decrees, stifling freedom of expression in universities.
5. But in the end, the Holy Alliance was not terribly realistic and early on lost the support of increasingly liberal regimes in Britain and France. Gradually, Europe split into a liberal West and a conservative South and East.
II. If the period 1820−1848 was another age of revolutions in Central, Southern, and Eastern Europe, these were provoked equally by the increasingly respectable ideas of liberalism and nationalism and the increasingly harsh repression of the ancien régime.
A. Southern Europe experienced a series of revolutions in 1820–1823.
1. In Spain, liberal intellectuals demanding a return to the Bonapartist Constitution of 1812 were suppressed by French troops.
2. The revolution spread to Portugal and Italy, where it was suppressed by the Austrian army.
B. In Russia, the Decembrist Revolt against the conservative Czar Nicholas I failed in 1825.
1. Nicholas I, pathologically fearful of reform, established a secret police, the Third Section, to spy on the opposition.
2. The issues he deferred would erupt again in 1905 and 1917.
C. Revolutions in the Balkans and Greece (1817−1829) against the Ottoman Empire were more successful because they were supported by many Western European governments.
1. In 1817, the Balkans and Greece were still controlled by the Ottoman Empire, which was well run and relatively tolerant but viewed in Europe as corrupt and oppressive.
2. In 1817, the Serbs rebelled and gained their independence.
3. In 1820, a Russian general of Greek descent led a Greek revolt against the Turks that failed when
Metternich urged the czar not to support the rebellion.
4. In 1821–1823, a second round of revolts began at the grassroots. Greek peasants killed Turks, and
Turks retaliated by hanging the Greek patriarch of Constantinople, pillaging Greek Orthodox
Churches, massacring thousands of men, and selling Greek women into slavery.
5. This enraged Western public opinion. Greece was portrayed as the cradle of Western civilization,
fighting barbarian occupiers.
6. In 1827, a combined British, French, and Russian fleet defeated the Turkish navy at Navarino.
7. In 1828, Russia advanced on Istanbul.
8. In 1829, all parties signed the Treaty of Adrianople. Greece received its independence the following year, and Russia was appointed to “protect” the semi-independent provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia, that is, western and eastern Romania.
9. This arrangement would eventually lead to the Crimean War (1853–1856).
D. Revolutions elsewhere in 1830 only succeeded where great powers did not interfere.
1. As we have seen, the French deposed Charles X and installed a moderately liberal constitutional monarchy under Louis-Philippe.
2. From this point, the revolution spread to Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Poland, and Italy.
3. But this wave of revolution was successful only in Belgium. The great powers, occupied with
rebellions closer to home, acceded to Belgian independence on the promise of Belgian neutrality.
4. Elsewhere, the revolutions were crushed by Russian and Austrian troops.
III. The revolutions of 1848 were the most threatening of all: During one remarkable year, the entire continent west of the Elbe exploded in revolution.
A. All over Europe, the revolutions of 1848 were precipitated by bad harvests and declining economies.
B. The rebellions began, as usual, in France, on 22 February 1848.
1. As we have seen, Louis-Philippe was deposed in favour of a republic under Louis Napoleon.
2. This event touched off nationalistic/liberal revolutions elsewhere, except in Britain and Russia.
C. Liberals in German states revolted in March 1848 to create a single, liberal German state.
1. But each important group in Germany wanted something different out of the revolution.
2. Above all, the revolutionaries could not decide at first whether the united Germany should be headed by Prussia or Austria.
a. Neither monarchy wanted a liberal constitution.
b. Neither monarchy was willing to accept second place.
3. Delegates from all over Germany met in Frankfurt to try to hammer out these differences.
4. After a year of debate, they offered a constitutional crown of Germany to Frederick William IV
(1840−1861) of Prussia.
5. But Frederick William, encouraged by the success of the Austrian emperor in suppressing the
revolution in his own domain, refused any crown offered by the people.
In Italy, the Risorgimento (“resurgence,” that is, of Italian unity and greatness) was equally a movement to unite the country under a liberal constitution and, in this case, to drive the Austrians out of Venetia (Venezia).
1. Revolts began in Sicily in January 1848, where nationalists and liberals wanted the Bourbon monarchy to push for both national unification and a liberal constitution; the revolts then spread north to Venice.
2. As in Germany, nationalists could not agree on who should lead Italy—Piedmont-Sardinia, Venetia (controlled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire), the pope, or the Two Sicilies—but their reactions to the Risorgimento made their decision for them.
a. Austria crushed the Venetian Revolt.
b. In the Two Sicilies, the government also suppressed a revolt.
c. The pope condemned the rebellion, then fled Rome.
i. Briefly, a Roman Republic was established under the radical nationalist Giuseppe Mazzini, supported by Giuseppe Garibaldi.
ii. But in 1849, the French intervened on the side of the pope and crushed the republic.
d. Only King Charles Albert of Piedmont-Sardinia (1831−1849) embraced the Risorgimento.
i. He enacted a liberal constitution.
ii. He attempted to aid Venetian rebels but was defeated at the Battle of Novara by the Austrian
army in 1849.
3. Thus, the Revolution of 1848 failed in Italy, too.
In Austria-Hungary, the revolution sought independence for the constituent members of the empire, as well as liberal constitutions.
1. The revolution began in the spring of 1848 with simultaneous anti-Austrian riots in Venetia and Hungary, as well as student riots in Vienna.
2. Austria’s corrupt government fled to Innsbruck; promising an elected parliament, an end of censorship, and Hungarian home rule.
3. A National Assembly convened to draft a constitution, first passing the March Laws granting Hungary some self-government and abolishing the last vestiges of aristocratic privilege, feudalism, and serfdom.
4. In Hungary, nationalist Lajos Kossuth (1802–1894) proclaimed complete independence.
a. He abolished serfdom, thereby offending the landlords.
b. He offered nothing to Czechs, Serbs, Croats, and Rumanians.
5. Gradually, the Austrian monarchy under a young, new emperor—Franz Josef (1848−1916)— reasserted itself.
a. He mobilized the army under Count Joseph Radetzky.
b. He gathered allies among the aforementioned groups pushed around by Kossuth.
c. Together, they crushed the rebellion in Italy, then Hungary.
6. In 1849, the National Assembly was dissolved and an authoritarian constitution was imposed. All across Central, Southern, and Eastern Europe, the old monarchies and aristocracies had reasserted
failure of these revolutions tells us six important things about Europe at this time.
First, liberalism, nationalism, and in France, socialism were important and, to some extent, viable movements in Central and Southern Europe.
B. Second, the fact that the revolutions failed tells us that the ancien régime still had a great deal of residual strength.
1. There was little unity on the other side. Different groups were attracted to one or another of these movements in varying degrees and for different reasons, but there was little revolutionary unity across national boundaries, as Marx had wanted.
2. As in Britain and France previously, liberal intellectuals wanted government reform, universal manhood suffrage, and a free press. The middle class wanted government reform, the vote for itself alone, and economic equality. The working class wanted the vote and social welfare programs, and peasants wanted land. Yet none of these programs had a chance unless their backers were united.
The third significant point about the Revolutions of 1848 was what happened to the radicals who advocated them.
1. Many were proscribed in their own countries.
2. Many emigrated to the United States, where they were instrumental in helping to form radical
Fourth, before the “liberal” issues could be solved, the national issues had to be solved. That is, before Germany, Italy, and Austria-Hungary could enact liberal constitutions, they had to sort out whether they would be countries. They had to go through the process that Britain and France had experienced from the Middle Ages to the 18th century.
Fifth, given that unification would clearly come from the top down, it was highly doubtful that the result would be liberal democracies.
1. In every case, the hopes for national unity began to focus on a king or great leader.
2. As this implies, the champions of reform in 1848 had to grow less idealistic and more practical.
F. Finally, it should be clear that German or Italian unification depended to a great extent on what happened in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. For once, the key to Europe’s future lay in the east and south.
Chambers, chapter 22, section I; chapter 24, section I.
H. Kissinger. A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace, 1812–22. P. Alter, Nationalism.
E. J. Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789 to 1848.
Questions to Consider:
1. On balance, was the Congress of Vienna a success or a failure?
2. Are nationalism and liberalism compatible?
Scope: Following the revolutions of 1848, Prussia and Piedmont-Sardinia rose to leadership of the German and Italian states, respectively. In the meantime, the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires grew weaker as many of their constituent peoples (Germans, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Rumanians, Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, and others), especially in the Balkans, yearned to break out and form their own independent states. The creation of a unified Italy in 1861 did little to upset the balance of European power because its economy remained primarily agricultural. But the unification of Germany at the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, combined with its growing industrial might and the instability of Eastern and Southern Europe, would upset the balance of power on the Continent for generations to come.
I. All across Europe, Germans, Italians, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Rumanians, and others had, since Napoleon, begun to embrace the uniqueness of their own history, language, and culture and to argue that they needed to live in nations of their own.
A. For Germans, this meant national unification.
B. For the Italians and everybody else, it meant the removal of foreign occupiers, followed by national unification or independence.
C. In many ways, the key region for all of this was Central Europe, especially the Austro-Hungarian Empire, because its weakness would make German and Italian unification possible and render the Balkans unstable, thus making Russia and the Ottoman Empire players in this “great game.”
A. It did so by making concessions at first, followed by repression.
B. But the problems that led to 1848 did not go away.
Austro-Hungarian Empire barely weathered the revolutions of 1848.
1. The Ottoman Empire continued to weaken, leading to independence movements and general instability in the Balkans.
2. Austria’s failure to support Russia in the Crimean War against the Ottoman Empire (1853−1856) meant that Russia would not support Austria in holding onto its Slavic and Balkan territories.
a. Rather, Russia publicly supported the claims of ethnic Serbs, Hungarians, Rumanians, and others.
b. It secretly hoped to “move in” and become the next big imperial power in the Balkans.
3. Austria’s response was tighter repression.
C. Austria’s obsession with its eastern and southern problems would divert it from the German and Italian
questions, making unification possible in those two regions.
III. After 1848, it was clear that Piedmont-Sardinia, under the Savoy dynasty, was the key to Italian unification. Piedmont-Sardinia had stood up to Austria (albeit unsuccessfully) and retained its liberal constitution in 1848.
In 1852, King Victor Emmanuel II (1861−1878) named the extremely competent Count Camillo di Cavour (1810–1861) as first minister.
1. He strengthened Piedmont-Sardinia against its Austrian rival.
a. He fostered the creation of a modern industrial and financial state.
b. He reformed and expanded the armed forces.
c. He secured the support of France in case of war with Austria.
2. In 1859, Austria demanded that Piedmont-Sardinia stop its military build-up.
When the Italians refused, Austria invaded Piedmont-Sardinia.
1. Napoleon III sent troops.
2. The French forces defeated the Austrian army at Magenta and Solferino.
At this point, nationalists all over Italy rose in revolt against their conservative rulers.
1. The southern revolt, led by Giuseppe Garibaldi and his Carbonari, was especially successful.
2. Fearing that Garibaldi might establish an Italian republic, Cavour ordered the Piedmontese army to
march further south.
3. But when the two armies met, Garibaldi knelt and submitted to Victor Emmanuel II as king of Italy.
E. Victor Emmanuel II was proclaimed king of Italy in March 1861.
1. Venezia remained officially Austrian until 1866.
2. The pope disliked the new arrangement, and Rome remained under papal control until 1870.
3. Liberals were disappointed: They wanted a republic.
F. Contemporaries thought that the unification of Italy was an epochal event, reviving the Roman Empire.
G. In fact, Italy’s internal rivalries and relatively poor agricultural economy meant that its unification did not change greatly the balance of power in Europe.
IV. In Germany, too, the weakness of Austria, the pretensions of Napoleon III, and the machinations of a great minister proved decisive.
A. German nationalists were torn in attempting to decide whether Prussia or Austria should lead a unified Germany.
1. Austria-Hungary was the sentimental favourite.
a. It was already an empire, descended from the Holy Roman Empire, the first German Reich.
b. The Austrian government, though, was repressive, inefficient, corrupt, and obsessed with its
c. Its defeat by Piedmont-Sardinia in 1859 further damaged its prestige.
2. Prussia had numerous advantages.
a. Its population was more homogeneous.
b. Its government was efficient.
c. Its economy was strong in agriculture and industry.
d. Its army was the best trained in Europe.
e. Its chancellor from 1862 was the brilliant Otto von Bismarck.
B. Arguably, the most significant European statesman of the 19th century, Bismarck believed that politics should be governed by practical considerations and realistic aims, that is, Realpolitik.
1. Bismarck’s aim was to ensure Prussia’s supremacy among the German states, especially in the north, but not to unite Germany—unification was instead the dream of the National Liberals.
2. But Austria would not cooperate, attempting to subtly undermine Prussian influence with the north German states.
3. Bismarck prepared for a showdown. He made an alliance with Russia, he favoured Italy and France in disputes with Austria, and he engineered three wars as demonstrations that only the Prussian state could protect the interests of Germany.
C. The first of these clashes, the Dano-Prussian War of 1864, began in a dispute with the Danes over the independence of Schleswig-Holstein.
1. In 1863, Denmark foolishly annexed Schleswig-Holstein.
2. Both Prussia and Austria sent forces north, which handily defeated the overmatched Danes.
3. The Peace of Vienna of 1864 gave Prussia and Austria joint responsibility for Schleswig-Holstein.
4. This created tensions with Austria that would boil over into the Austro-Prussian War of 1866.
D. Bismarck used disputes over the administration of Schleswig-Holstein as a pretext to send troops into Austrian Holstein, but the Austro-Prussian War was really about who was to lead Germany.
1. At the end of seven weeks, Prussia’s more efficient military overwhelmed the Austrians.
2. The Peace of Prague (1866) was relatively lenient, but it led to the establishment of the North German
Confederation in 1867, which excluded Austria. Prussia and Bismarck had achieved their goal.
3. After 1866, France grew alarmed at the growing might of Prussia.
a. Napoleon III had supported Bismarck in the hope that Austria and Prussia would destroy each other.
b. Instead, Prussia appeared to be reviving a strong German presence on the western border of France, which was very unpopular with the French people.
c. To retrieve his prestige, Napoleon demanded German territory of Bismarck or, failing that, Belgium.
4. Realizing that the French problem would not go away, Bismarck began preparations to fight France on Prussia’s terms.
The Franco-Prussian War 1870−1871 was Bismarck’s masterpiece. 1. Bismarck maneuvered France into isolation and war.
a. First, he discredited Napoleon III by informing both the southern German states and Britain of his request for territory.
b. Then, he manufactured a pretext for war by proposing a member of the Prussian Royal House as the new king of Spain.
i. Spain needed a king because it was in the midst of a revolution against the Spanish branch of
ii. The French were appalled at the thought of German rulers on two borders (sort of Louis
XIV’s dream in reverse!).
iii. When French diplomats attempted to get the Prussian king to renounce the Spanish throne for
his nephew, Bismarck edited his answer (the Ems dispatch) so as to be insulting to the
iv. He then sent copies to the French papers.
v. The French people demanded war.
2. As usual, Prussia’s more efficient government, industrial might, and better trained army, allied with the south German states, beat the French in a matter of weeks.
3. Napoleon III’s defeat at Sedan was the end of the Second Empire, yet the war dragged on.
a. Liberals and Socialists proclaimed a new republic—the Third Republic—and immediately sought
b. Bismarck insisted that France give up the rich western provinces of Alsace and Lorraine.
c. The French foreign minister, Jules Favre, tried to argue that the days of conquest and passing land
around like poker chips were over, that seizing French provinces would permanently embitter the
d. Bismarck insisted, and the French resolved to fight on.
e. At this point, toward the end of 1870 and the beginning of 1871, the Germans surrounded Paris
and lay siege to it.
f. On 28 January 1871, the French finally signed an armistice. The Peace of Frankfurt, worked out
by May 1871, was harsh, breeding French feelings of humiliation and resentment that would
contribute to future wars.
g. The fall of France weakened the new republic from its inception. The citizens of Paris proclaimed
the Commune in 1871, which existed for two months as a self-governing communist entity. The government restored order after bloody street fighting.
Bismarck used the war and Prussia’s victory as an argument that all Germans needed the protection of living in a single German Empire.
1. On 18 January 1871, in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, all the German states, minus Austria, acknowledged the king of Prussia, Wilhelm I (1861−1871) as kaiser (emperor) of all Germany (1871−1888).
2. This event changed the balance of power in Europe forever.
3. Europe would spend a century adjusting to the new reality.
unification of Germany initiated a new epoch in Europe.
It created a state that was rich, powerful, and ambitious in its middle.
That was made more dangerous by the fact that the Austro-Hungarian Empire had not solved its
The Ottoman Empire grew weaker.
Russia was anxious to take advantage of the situation. What role would Germany play?
C. Finally, in solving their nationalistic problems, neither Cavour nor Bismarck had concerned themselves overmuch with ethical or moral issues. Rather, international diplomacy and politics were decided by considerations of Realpolitik and expenditures of iron and blood.
1. Other old verities, such as French supremacy, German weakness, and British neutrality, were also swept away in the German tide.
2. Could Europe adjust to the new rules? Could Europe contain this new colossus and its ruthless leadership?
Chambers, chapter 24, sections II–III.
D. Beales, The Risorgimento and the Unification of Italy.
O. Pflanze, Bismarck and the Development of Germany: The Period of Unification, 1815–1871. M. Howard, The Franco-Prussian War.
Questions to Consider:
1. Why did contemporaries think that the unification of Italy was a momentous event?
2. How would a Germany united around Austria have been different from the one created by Bismarck?
To what extent was Frederick William IV the reason for the failing of the Frankfurt Parliament?
Bismarck’s quote on the Frankfurt Parliament is expressing doubt in the orthodox opinion that Frederick William IV was responsible for the failure of the Frankfurt Parliament. Three different incidents from the time of the Frankfurt Parliament will be analysed, explained and evaluated in this essay. Thereafter a conclusion will be drawn to clarify a plausible justification.
„Nicht durch Reden und Majoritätsbeschlüsse werden die großen Fragen der Zeit entschieden — das ist der große Fehler von 1848 und 1849 gewesen — sondern durch Eisen und Blut.“ - Otto von Bismarck
In March of 1849 the Frankfurt Parliament voted for Frederick William IV to be the German Emperor. He refused the crown, with the implication that ‘the gentlemen of Frankfurt’ who had taken it upon themselves to speak for the united Germany without any legal authority, had no right to offer the crown to him. Frederick William IV was acting in his own interest with his refusing of the crown. Reasons why he didn‘t accept the crown include, but are not limited to: Foreign Policy Issues / probable war with Austria, and putting himself and Prussia under the control of the Frankfurt Parliament.2 It can be deduced that Frederick William IV was acting in a tactical manner, not yearning power, but politically evaluating the situation and choosing his best option. After Frederick William IV refused the crown, the rulers of Bavaria, Saxony and Hanover rejected the offer as well. This caused around 400 delegates to leave the parliament, and left the 130 remaining delegates to trying to recover the situation. This eventually led the Parliament to be moved to Stuttgart, and being dispersed by the King‘s soldiers in June 1849.3 If this situation is analysed with the domino effect in mind, it can be reasoned that Frederick William IV was the reason for the breakdown of the Frankfurt Parliament.
The Schleswig-Holstein dilemma in 1848 was one of the failures of the Frankfurt Parliament if seen from a revisionist point of view. The Frankfurt Parliament turned for help to Prussia, and did receive it. The Prussian army occupied Schleswig and Holstein and later signed a treaty with Denmark, which caused both of them to retreat from the territory. Even though Denmark no longer had control of Schleswig-Holstein, the Frankfurt Parliament saw the retreat of the Prussian Army as a betrayal of the German national cause. Nevertheless they could do nothing about it.4 This showed the people of Schleswig-Holstein and Germany that the Frankfurt Parliament was weak and had no control over the land. The withdrawal of the troops was Frederick William IV’s decision, as the Frankfurt Parliament asked him for help in the first place. The growing mistrust in the eyes of the people, towards the Frankfurt Parliament was caused by the poor decisions of the very same Parliament. Frederick William IV had made a political decision of withdrawing from Schleswig-Holstein which he did to please the Russian and British opposition, who had been disapproved his decision to send his army to Schleswig-Holstein.5 Taking all above into consideration the Frankfurt Parliament is more to be blamed for their own failure and loss of citizen’s trust, than Frederick William IV.
The Frankfurt Parliament was divided into two groups of members; those who wanted Grossdeutschland and those who wanted Kleindeutschland. The debate between the two groups tediously continued for about the entire existence of the Frankfurt Parliament. The Frankfurt Parliament had little respect for non-Germans in Germany, so the crumbling relations between the people of Central Europe didn’t help the situation.6 Frederick William IV played no part in this debate and the conflicts between the groups. He neither endorsed nor opposed the ideas of the Frankfurt Parliament and simply minded his own business. He kept balance between Prussia and his oppositions and did everything to strengthen Prussia and no one else.7 The Frankfurt Parliament lost all of it’s support in this debate, and there by became it’s own worst enemy. Frederick William IV was not the cause for the Frankfurt Parliament to fail in it’s debates, rather it was the delegates in the Parliament that where unsuccessful.
Overall this essay has only scratched the surface of the problems with the Frankfurt Parliament. Nevertheless it can be deduced that Frederick William IV was not the main cause for the Parliament’s failure. Over and again more often it was the Parliament itself that stopped the development of Germany and of the promised exercising the liberal rights promised. In this case Otto von Bismarck was right in saying that not through talking and voting will they progress... but with iron and blood.
1 "Otto Von Bismarck." Wikiquote. Wikiquote, 2 July 2013. Web. 21 Sept. 2013. . 2 Stiles, Andrina. "Chapter 2." The Unification of Germany 1815-191. By Alan Farmer. Third ed. London: Hodder Education, 2007. 36. Print. 3 Stiles, Andrina. "Chapter 2." The Unification of Germany 1815-191. By Alan Farmer. Third ed. London: Hodder Education, 2007. 36. Print. 4 "Frankfurt Parliament." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 09 Dec. 2013. Web. 21 Sept. 2013. . 5 Stiles, Andrina. "Chapter 2." The Unification of Germany 1815-191. By Alan Farmer. Third ed. London: Hodder Education, 2007. 35. Print.
Fredrick William IV is to blame for a small extent for the fall of the Frankfurt parliament just like the other causes. However this essay will argue that he is not the main cause for the fall but another reason that caused it to fail.
After the wave of revolutions in 1848, 1849 wasn’t a quiet year. The disorder and Uncertainty swept throughout Germany for example in Prussia after the events in 1848 there was total confusion and discomfort. Therefore when the Frankfurt parliament was elected it was a big and important achievement. The Frankfurt parliament’s main goal and main issue was to make a national constitution, which would be accepted by all Germans. Also, they were hoping to make ‘A basic Right and Demands’ series which would include, freedom of the press, equality of political rights without judging your religion and more. However, it was hard for the parliament to reach agreements, this led the Frankfurt parliament to become a ‘talk shop’.1 Meaning they addressed the matter and problems but didn’t agree on what action to take or how to resolve it. For example, setting up a government. Setting up a government became a difficult task to the parliament because some of them wanted to do things differently and not follow the logical orders like other suggested. Another reason that caused the fall of the Frankfurt parliament was the division within the parliament.
Another aspect that caused the fall of the Frankfurt parliament was the division within the parliament. There was a group of liberals who wanted a moderate settlement, which would protect the rights of individual states and the government. Nevertheless, there was another group of conservatives who wanted to protect the rights of individual states but also make sure that the parliament or the government would have enough power and control. Additionally the parliament found it very confusing and hard to take control and resolve the differences without causing more revolutions and problems. Furthermore, there was a lack of support from the working class side to the parliament. They didn’t see ‘eye to eye’ with the parliament and most of time they felt like the parliament was failing them2. For example, in 1848 the German artisans (skilled-workers\craftsman) made their own assemblies. There were two important Meetings in Hamburg and Frankfurt, where the industrial code were discussed. The code helped to progress and adjust hours and rate of pay of the middle class. In the meetings it was also suggested to the working class to keep the restrictive practices of the old guild system. This work agreement was great for the working class. Nevertheless, the parliament rejected the industrial code because they regarded political freedom and economical freedom as one principle and the code did not fit to what they believed. Therefore the working class lost faith in the parliament. Another example that caused the Frankfurt parliament to fall was Fredrick IV.
In March 1849 a constitution for a German emperor was agreed upon. 3The parliament decided that there should be an emperor who had significant power but he would only be able to have legislation for a certain period of time. The Frankfurt parliament voted to choose the Prussian king, Frederick William to be the emperor of Germany. However, Frederick chose to refuse the offer because he didn’t want to be given a crown from his liberal opponents. Frederick was a conservative and he thought that it wasn’t the parliament’s place to offer him the crown. The parliament did not have another emperor in mind other than Frederick and to top it all the rulers of Prussia, Saxony, Hanover and Bavaria also rejected the constitution. With all the disappointments, most members left the parliament and went back to their homes. The remaining 130 tried to recover and made an attempt for a new election to the first ‘New German parliament’ (Reichstag) but it failed too and the parliament was driven out of Frankfurt by the government. Even though the parliament was a good idea and they had high hopes for a unified Germany, it failed for many reasons.
The Frankfurt parliament failed for numerous reasons for instance, the lack of support from the middle class, the division within the parliament, the hours of discussions without taking action and finally the rejection of Frederick William and the rejection of the constitution. All these reasons led to the failure of the parliament, Frederick William was another cause that unfortunately led to the breaking up of the parliament. Additionally, the main reason of the failure was that the parliament just talked and didn’t take enough action. People did not fear the parliament and all that Frederick William did, was to reject an offer that led to total defeat. Therefore Frederick William is not to blame for the failure of the Frankfurt parliament, simple because he was only another factor of the termination of the parliament. He is not the main cause and for that reason he is not to blame to the full extent. He can be blamed to a small extent but just like the other causes, which led to the failure. Meaning, if Frederick led to the failure than the lack of support from the middle class led to the failure just as much. To conclude Frederick William did not cause the Frankfurt parliament to fail.
“That a Parliament, especially a Parliament with Newspaper Reporters firmly established in it, is an entity which by its very nature cannot do work, but can do talk only” - Thomas Carlyle1Thomas Carlyle’s words are quite powerful being read now; even though they did not have direct relation to the events of 1848-9 they have meaning, the quote seems to suggest that a Parliament is doomed from its creation to fail in accomplishing anything. In 1848 after widespread revolutions across the German States a parliament was set up known as the Frankfurt National Assembly or the Frankfurt Parliament. Just a mere year later after being created the Assembly was dissolved and the full hierarchy was re-established. This essay shall attempt to answer the question as to why the Frankfurt Parliament failed with a specific look upon Frederick William IV and to what extent he was to blame for it’s failure. The essay shall attempt to accomplish this by first looking at the three major issues of the parliament itself, then two lesser issues until finally Frederick William IV’s failures to uphold the assembly and shall end off by concluding that although Frederick is partially to blame for the failure of the Frankfurt parliament the majority of the blame falls upon the parliament itself.
The Frankfurt National Assembly was created in response to widespread revolutions across the German states, with a mission of creating a constitution that would satisfy the needs of all member states and institute a central government for ‘Germany.’ It could be argued that in many ways it was doomed to fail from the start. It was created amongst turmoil in an attempt to create peace and control; in addition to this it had 5 major flaws, amongst these there were three dominant issues that were: the fact that the Parliament was divided, it was disorganised and it was a “product of a middle-class franchise that omitted the masses2 (Page 48).” The Parliament was full of divisions, there were liberalists who wanted a constitutional monarchy with partial incorporation of democracy, then there were the radicals who wanted to go to the extremes and then there were the conservatives. Having such divisions made the creation of a constitution that keeps everyone happy an idealistic dream that would never come true. In addition to this the Assembly was unorganised, referring back to the original quote, “is an entity which by its very nature cannot do work, but can do talk only3” it can be seen that this was also true of the assembly, the Frankfurt parliament with it’s divisions became a lot of debate with little action; every idea or proposal that one side would have would be crushed by the other leading to unresolvable blockages and a lack of action. Marx’s friend called it an “assembly of old women4” Furthermore the parliament was created by the middle class and therefore failed to develop and gather the amount of support needed from the lower class; the parliament failed to account for the majority of the populous and therefore weakened its political grip.
There were two less prominent issues with the assembly, among these was the fact that the parliament contained the two major powers of the time, Austria and Prussia, who both wished to protect and preserve their Sovereignty.5(Page 37) The two powers both wanted to keep the German states weak and divided so that they were able to establish monopolies and control; such an opposing force would obviously have made the mission and objective of the parliament a much harder thing to achieve. The other issue that the parliament had was that it did not have the support of Prussia; Prussia having the largest army at the time 6 had a huge amount of power and influence, the rest of the German states had to rely upon Prussia for any military action and the past had proven that Prussia had issues with external authority, i.e. in Denmark where the Parliament had not given Prussia to use its army for military force and were not listened to where Prussia acted without the permission of the Assembly.7 Such disobedience would have reflected poorly upon the Assembly’s ability to rule.
Frederick William IV was the King of Prussia, the largest empire and army in Europe at the time. Being an autocrat he did not believe in the people having a say, the parliament was created due to the revolutions and he was quick to dissolve it. It could be said that it’s failure was his fault, his refusal to receive the position as Emperor due to it being ‘an abridgement of the rights of princes of the individual German states’,8 his absolute lack of respect and obedience for the parliament and his failure to see the Emperor’s position as a political vantage and tactical move. Frederick William IV was a militaristic man in charge of a militaristic state; the entire state was surrounded by the military and he would use it with or without the permission of an unimportant assembly. An example of this was in Denmark where Frederick William IV went to war in Schleswig without the permission of the parliament, and the parliament couldn’t do anything about it; this undermined the authority of the parliament and reduced the level of respect the people had for them. Another fault was the fact that taking position as Emperor would have been a large tactical advantage and given a lot of power to the already powerful state and King. Prussia wanted Europe and this would have given them more of a possibility for this.
It can be concluded that although Frederick William IV was partially to blame for the fall of the Frankfurt Parliament it was mainly their own fault. Unfortunate circumstances and failure to act upon their part; with division from within and the two major powers not fully behind the mission would have made the Assembly’s mission near impossible to accomplish. The assembly’s failure to demand respect, to take action and it was divided. This in addition to Frederick William IV’s lack of confidence in the parliament and his refusal to follow its orders lead to it failing and being dissolved.
1 Carlyle, Thomas. The Works of Thomas Carlyle. London. 1865 Print. 2 Farmer, Alan. The Unification of Germany 1815-1919. London. 2007. Print 3 Carlyle, Thomas. The Works of Thomas Carlyle. London. 1865 Print. 4 Friedrich Engels 5 Farmer, Alan. The Unification of Germany 1815-1919. London. 2007. Print 6 Kock, H. W. A History of Prussia. New York. 1978. Print 7 "The Schleswig-Holstein Rebellion - Dansk Militærhistorie." 2003. 23 Sep. 2013 8 Frotscher, Werner. Verfassunggeschichte. Munich. 2005 (5th Ed.)
The Frankfurt Parliament was created in 1848 in order to fill a power vacuum that has been created by the widespread revolutions throughout Germany. The liberal Parliament intended was to establish a united Germany under a constitutional monarch who would role through an elected Parliament1. However, the Parliament was weak and it had failed. Despite some achievements the parliament was unable to establish none of its goals2 which mainly were unification of Germany, freedom of the press, fair taxation, equality of political rights and German citizenship for all. The failure of the Frankfurt Parliament was partly to do with the Prussian king - Fredrick William IV. In this essay I will be examining to what extend Fredrick William is to be blamed for the failure and the other main reasons which led to it.
Since the establishing of the Parliament, it lacked power. It consisted 596 elected representatives, one representative for every 50,000 people, from all German states (80% of its members had university degrees and the rest was comprised of a few land owners, four craftsmen and one peasant3). This led to division within the parliament, and to many conflicts. Every representative came from a different state, a different point of view and with a different interest. Discussions were ill organized and it was a complete ‘talk shop’, however, took a little action. Conflicts were uneasily solved and it was almost impossible to agree on something with so many people who think differently and have different opinions and interests.
Additionally, the Frankfurt Parliament had no power at all. It had no loyal army and no financial power. Without those, decision cannot be made, due to the fact that there is no army or administration to carry those out. The lack of an army or an administration weakens its power. There is not proper back up behind the Frankfurt Parliament. Moreover, the Parliament lacked support. As mentioned before, it was consist of mainly educated people with universities degrees, land owners etc. It was a middle- class parliament, and did not show the views of a large segment of the population- the lower (working) class. Therefore, the lower class did not have any faith toward the parliament. Furthermore, the leader of the Parliament, Heinrich von Gegern (a successful liberal politican), lacked charisma and the ability and the force needed to command the assembly and direct the debate.4 Due to all of the mentioned reasons, we can see that the parliament was weak, and we can even say that it was incapable of not failing.
In March 1849 the Frankfurt Parliament had a vote in order to elect an Emperor of Germany. The Parliament voted (290 votes in favour, 240 against), to elect Prussian King Frederick William IV. However, he rejected the offer and refused to cooperate. He was not prepared to be Emperor of Germany if it meant putting himself and Prussia under the control of the Frankfurt Parliament5. He wrote a letter to his people, the Prussians, which explains why he acted the way he did; “The majority of its [the Parliament] members are no longer those men upon whom Germany looked with pride and confidence. The greater part of the deputies voluntarily left the Assembly when they saw that it was on the road to ruin, and yesterday I ordered all the Prussian deputies who had not already withdrawn to be recalled. The other governments will do the same.”6 We can see from this paragraph that Fredrick William led and convinced other rules of German states (Saxony, Hanover and Bavaria) that the Parliament was too liberal, too democratic and basically powerless. Basically, if Prussia (one of the greatest states at that time, and the only state with an army who is capable of protecting Germany) does not support the Parliament, none of the states will dare to support it. And together with Prussia, they all stop their support in the Parliament. Due to all this rejection and another one from Austria, many members of Parliament gave up. The Parliament did not survive. The remains members, (about 130 of them) made a last attempt to overcome the forlorn situation and established a new German Parliament (Reichstag), which failed miserably, and they were ordered home by their governments. By June 18, 1849 the Frankfurt Parliament had failed, its power no longer recognized.
In conclusion, the Frankfurt Parliament failed to fill the power vacuum and was indeed weak and incapable of making decisions. It is due to the lack of a strong leader and army, too many different shades and opinions and the rejection of Fredrick William IV. Fredrick William has contributed to the fail of the Parliament however, I do think that the failure of the Parliament is more to do with all the other factors mentioned above and Fredrick William’s role in this is minor compared to the other problems that the Parliament has faced.
"READING." Prussian King Refuses German Crown (1849). N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2013. http://products.ilrnsupport.com/wawc2c01c/content/wciv2/readings/king.html Reeve, Adam. "The Success and Failures of the Frankfurt Parliament." Helium. Helium, 07 Mar. 2007. Web. 23 Sept. 2013.| http://www.helium.com/items/200847-the-success-and-failures-of-the-frankfurt-parliament?page=2 http://files.campus.edublogs.org/blogs.yis.ac.jp/dist/6/103/files/2011/09/Frankfurt-Parliament-history-1j5jd1a.pdf Reeve, Adam. "The Success and Failures of the Frankfurt Parliament." Helium. Helium, 07 Mar. 2007. Web. 23 Sept. 2013. Page 2 http://www.helium.com/items/200847-the-success-and-failures-of-the-frankfurt-parliament?page=2 SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2013. http://www.sparknotes.com/history/european/1848/section10.rhtml "Frankfurt National Assembly (German History)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2013. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/217271/Frankfurt-National-Assembly "Frankfurt Parliament for a German Constitution." Frankfurt Parliament: 1848. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2013. http://www.thenagain.info/webchron/westeurope/FrankfurtParl.htm
"The history of the world is but the biography of great men" This is a quote by Thomas Carlyle (4 December 1795 – 5 February 1881) who was a Scottish philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, historian and teacher. The Great Man Theory was a popular 19th century idea according to which history can be largely explained by the impact of highly influential individuals who, due to their personal charisma, intelligence, wisdom, or Machiavellianism utilized their power in a way that had a decisive historical impact. Marxist historians, notably Karl Marx and Lenin’s Marxist view disagree with this quote as they believe that history is like a flowing river and by setting a foot in it, it will not stop flowing or change it’s direction. Therefore, they would argue that Fredrick William IV is not to blame for the fall of the Frankfurt Parliament. However, Liberal historians focus on key individual actors and their roles when analysing events such as the Stalin’s rise to power or the revolutions in Russia. Therefore, they would agree with this quote, as Fredrick William IV was a man with much power and occasionally is blamed for the fall of the Frankfurt parliament. This essay shall seek to evaluate to weather Fredrick William IV is to blame for the fall of the Frankfurt Parliament. We shall firstly look at his unwillingness to accept the crown and how it assisted in the causing of the failure of the Frankfurt parliament. Secondly, we shall look at how the parliament was divided and the affect of that on it’s failures. Thirdly, we shall look at the lack of ‘muscle’, basically an army and how this could relate to the failure of the parliament. We shall conclude by determining that Fredrick William IV is to blame to a small extent for the fall of the Frankfurt parliament as there are numerous other aspects that aren’t related to him.
On the 3rd of April 1849 ____ offered the crown to Fredrick William IV. This words were said on the 15th of May 1849 Charlottenburg “I was not able to return a favorable reply to the offer of a crown on the part of the German National Assembly, because the Assembly has not the right, without the consent of the German governments, to bestow the crown which they tendered me, and, moreover, because they offered the crown upon condition that I would accept a constitution which could not be reconciled with the rights and safety of the German states.”1 This book is reliable and valuable as it firstly has many sources that agree with it and secondly is written by an American historian that wrote a number of other well-known and reliable books containing authentic documents and speeches. Fredrick William IV here basically states that he will not accept the crown from the gutter and if the Frankfort parliament could offer it to him they could just as quickly take it away. In order for a government or parliament to have success they rely on people to believe in it and support it and this is why when Fredrick William IV refused to support and lead the Frankfurt parliament he basically could be blamed for it’s failure.
Additionally, when Fredrick William IV said, “The majority of its members are no longer those men upon whom Germany looked with pride and confidence. The greater part of the deputies voluntarily left the Assembly when they saw that it was on the road to ruin, and yesterday I ordered all the Prussian deputies who had not already withdrawn to be recalled. The other governments will do the same.”2 that he has ordered all the Prussian deputies to be recalled and that the other governments will do the same, he is basically defeating any chances for the parliament to succeed.
The Prussian king stated a number of things, which were inaccurate and baseless leading to the decreasing support by not only the monarchs but also the people towards the Frankfurt parliament. “While the parliament urges the unity of Germany as a pretense, they are really fighting the battle of godlessness, perjury, and robbery, and kindling a war against monarchy; but if monarchy were overthrown it would carry with it the blessings of law, liberty, and property. The horrors committed in Dresden, Breslau, and Elberfeld under the banner of German unity afford a melancholy proof of this. New horrors are occurring and are in prospect. While such crimes have put an end to the hope that the Frankfort Assembly can bring about German unity, I have, with a fidelity and persistence suiting my royal station, never lost hope. My government has taken up with the more important German states the work on the German constitution begun by the Frankfort Assembly”3 This tells us that not only does Fredrick encouraged the monarchs and people to go against the parliament but also insists that he could lead to German unification without the Frankfurt parliament. Without the essential support of either Prussia or Austria, the Frankfurt National Assembly could not survive. By May, Gagern’s ministry had broken up, and the governments of their respective states ordered the majority of the deputies home.4 We can conclude this paragraph by stating that Fredrick William IV did not support or believe in the Frankfurt parliament, said numerous things that resulted in the parliament loosing some of its subsistence and therefore can be blamed for the failure of the Frankfurt parliament.
Secondly, the division in the parliament, the radical challenge, and the Klein-Deutschland or Gross-Deutschland debate, are most often claimed to be the biggest reasons to why the parliament fell. Many historians, and the revisionist view would agree with this, as they would not blame the fall of the parliament on one man, they believe it would take many. The division within the parliament was most certainly a cause to the fall of the parliament. Most representatives desired a constitutional monarchy incorporating ideals, which estranged radicals who wished to go further, and outraged the conservatives. The attitude of Germany and Austria was crucial in the failure of the parliament, as Austria had no wish to see a united Germany, as they preferred to dominate it by keeping it weak and divided. Austria feared a strong united Germany at their borders and that later other countries like Hungary shall wish to unite.5 Therefore the Frankfurt parliament’s only chance was to turn to Prussia where Fredrick William IV would not accept the throne. Therefore the division about the constitutional monarchy was difficult to solve. The radicals both within and outside the Frankfurt parliament continued to demand the wide spreading of political and social reform. Around 200 delegates representing radical associations from across Germany met in Frankfurt in mid June and agreed to form a national and republican movement, which helped them gain support from the urban workers. The Malmo armistice accepted the group and therefore the more disagreement took place throughout the parliament. On the 18th September 1848 a radical mob stormed the pauluskirche (where the Frankfurt parliament met) 80 were killed including 2 conservative deputies, which led to even more disagreement and division within the parliament.6 This caused the liberals to join forces with the conservatives out of terror of further violence of the radicals because they regarded law and order as more important than freedom and equality. The radicles refused to five up the struggle and the division continued to slow down the parliament and prevent it from coming to agreements. This source is valuable to a large extent as it doesn’t contain false information and has many other sources that agree with it. Additionally, the author has written two other books about this topic; thus we can trust them to be well informed and have some valuable information.
Probably the most debated topic and crucial decision that the parliament needed to take was the geographical context of Germany. The members who wanted a Gross Deutschland, that would include the predominantly German-speaking province of the Austrian empire, disagreed with the member who favored a Klein Deutschland that would exclude Austria but would include the whole of Prussia. The plan of the Gross Deutschland would be to maintain the leadership of Germany by catholic Austria, whereas the plan for Klein Deutschland would leave protestant Prussia as the dominant German state. This also meant that division between the different religions within the parliament aroused which increased the disunity. The debate dragged on inconclusively as the parliament was not able to decide between the two proposals.7 This book was written by Alan Farmer and Adrina Stiles, and is a book for educational purposes and therefore might not include all details but only the basic information. Many sources agree with this so we shall therefore consider this information however not make it the basis of our argument.
Thirdly, in order for a parliament to achieve dominance they require financial strength, support and an army. The parliament was unable to collect taxation, thus it had no financial power. It didn’t have an army either. The only army capable of acting was the Prussian one however the Prussian General that was appointed minister of war, only agreed to accept post on the condition that he would not be expected to act if Fredrick Willian IV would not agree. Therefore, when the Frankfurt assembly came to decisions it did not have an army to carry them out. For example at he Frankfurt National Assembly attempted to take over the conduct of a war with Denmark concerning the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, but Prussia, ignoring the assembly, abruptly concluded the war in August.8 Some historians blame Fredrick Willian IV for his non-willingness to come to agreement with the parliament, whereas others believe it is the parliament that is to blame for not organizing an army.
In conclusion of the whole essay it is visible that there are numerous reasons to why Fredrick William IV could be blamed for the fall and failure of the parliament. However, there is a lot of evidence that suggests other wise like the division within the parliament and the fact that the parliament didn’t have an army. We shall conclude this essay by stating that it is fair to note to some extent that Fredrick William IV is to blame for the fall and failure of the Frankfurt Parliament. The quote "The history of the world is but the biography of great men" is not an accurate description of the failure of the parliament, as it didn’t take one great man, but many ordinary men.
2 Robinson, James Harvey. "IV." Readings in European History. Boston: Ginn, 1904. 571. Print. 3 Robinson, James Harvey. "IV." Readings in European History. Boston: Ginn, 1904. 571. Print. 4 "Frankfurt National Assembly (German History)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2013.
5 "Germany and Prussia in 1848." SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. 6 Farmer, Alan, and Andrina Stiles. "Germany in Revolution 1848-9." The Unification of Germany, 1815-1919. London: Hodder Education, 2007. 25-48. Print. 7 Farmer, Alan, and Andrina Stiles. "Germany in Revolution 1848-9." The Unification of Germany, 1815-1919. London: Hodder Education, 2007. 25-48. Print.
The reasons why the Frankfurt Parliament failed are highly debated. In this essay I will be asking if the responsibility of the Frankfurt Parliament’s failure fall squarely on the shoulders of Frederick William IV or if the Frankfurt parliament’s lack of resolve and power are to blame. Finally, the essay shall present the argument that the Frankfurt Parliament did not represent the people and therefore did not satisfy the public’s thirst for political representation.
The Frankfurt Parliament was designed to create a united Germany that would be held together by a constitution, however without the order and discipline provided by any real leaders the Frankfurt Parliament descended into a ‘talking shop’1. The Frankfurt Parliament commanded no power and this resulted in the few decisions that were reached, being rarely followed through because of this absence of power. Once it became clear that they were struggling to formulate a constitution for the united Germany, it was decided that one leader should be elected by the Parliament to help get things done. The leader that was their first choice was Frederick William IV this was because, although he was not a man with liberal views, he commanded one of the most powerful armed forces at the time. But when offered the crown he was quoted as saying that he refused to “pick up a crown from the gutter”2. Also the lack of power that the Frankfurt Parliament had, was explicitly shown when the decision was taken to ‘liberate’ Schleswig-Holstein from the Danish. However, because of the lack of resources at the disposal of the Frankfurt Parliament, they were forced to request Prussia’s aid.3 This shows us that the Frankfurt Parliament was nothing without the backing of Frederick William IV. The reason why Frederick William IV could be named as one of the reasons for the failure of the Frankfurt Parliament was because his lack of cooperation he had with the Parliament. Therefore they could only talk about solutions but not act upon them.
However, it is also a valid point to say that the lack of a common goal, within the Frankfurt Parliament, doomed it to failure. This is shown when the Parliament was split with one group calling for a Kleindeutschland and others for a Großdeutschland. This further unsettled the Parliament because it was impossible to unite Germany when nobody could agree what ‘Germany’ was.4 This may have led to the downfall of the Frankfurt Parliament because they lacked resolve on the central points which would determine the future of ‘Germany’.
Arguably the main reason why the Frankfurt Parliament failed was because it didn’t properly represent the people. Only four guild masters and one lone present, but not a single worker, were the only representatives of the lower classes,5 this is in stark contrast with one third in Cologne, for example being on poor relief6. This shows that although the majority of the people who lived in these counties were working class this group did not have their view represented or articulated in the Frankfurt Parliament. This leads to a feeling of alienation because they had no influence over the laws that would affect them.
To conclude this essay there was not one single reason why the Frankfurt Parliament failed, but it was due to a number of reasons, for example without proper coordination they would not have, for obvious reasons, achieved anything. However, from the points that this essay has argued, it seems that the main reason was because of the lack of representation of the people, which would ultimately result in their lack of support.
1 Farmer, Alan, and Andrina Stiles. The Unification of Germany, 1815-1919. London: Hodder Education, 2007. Print. Page 32/3 2 Frederick William IV 3 "Frankfurt Parliament for a German Constitution." Frankfurt Parliament: 1848. 4 Blanning, T. C. W. The Oxford History of Modern Europe. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000. Page 341 5 A History of Modern Germany: 1840-1945, Volume 3 Hajo Holborn - Princeton University Press - 1959 6 Farmer, Alan, and Andrina Stiles. The Unification of Germany, 1815-1919. London: Hodder Education, 2007 Page 31.
The Frankfurt Parliament was founded in 1848 to create a German constitution that would please the entire Germany through an elected Parliament. However, even though the Parliament made some accomplishments, they were never able to get power or authority, so it was accurate to say that King Frederick William IV of Prussia was responsible for the failure of the Frankfurt Parliament.1 There were 3 main reasons for this. The first reason was that the Frankfurt Parliament failed to attract mass support because the Parliament was the product of a middle-class franchise that overlooked the crowds.2 The second reason was that to carry out the decisions made at the Parliament, they in need of an administration or an army.3 The third reason was that Frederick William IV of Prussia refused to receive the German crown ‘from the gutter’ even though he was elected.4 Therefore, the Frankfurt Parliament failed because Frederick William IV did not take any action to fulfill the constitution that was written.
Firstly, the Frankfurt Parliament failed because they failed to attract mass support. This was because the Parliament was the product of a middle-class franchise that overlooked the crowds. For example, the Frankfurt Parliament did not represent the population as a whole in May 1848. The middle-class, such as teachers, professors, lawyers, and government officials with over 80 percent of the members having university degrees, filled the almost the whole members in the Parliament out of the 596 members.5 Only a few landowners, four craftsmen, and one peasant were at the Frankfurt Parliament.6
Secondly, the Frankfurt Parliament failed because they didn’t have an administration or an army to carry out the decisions made by them. Even though the Frankfurt Parliament was founded, they had no power at all right from the start. They were unable to collect taxation, and had no great army as well. The only fine army that they had was the Prussian’s army that was able to act as a national army in 1848. Therefore, they picked the general of that army to become the Minister of War. He asked the army of Bavaria and Austria to join forces to make a national German army but failed.7 Therefore, they couldn’t accomplish their decisions.
Lastly, the Frankfurt Parliament failed because Frederick William IV of Prussia refused to receive the German crown from the liberals.8 The Frankfurt Parliament elected him with 290 votes in favour in March 1849 to become the Emperor of Germany. However, he refused to accept the crown because he distrusted ‘the gentlemen of Frankfurt’.9 And he was also not prepared to become the Emperor of Germany yet. He also thought that there will be many problems in the foreign policy implications and then lead to a war against Austria if he has accepted the crown. In conclusion, the Frankfurt Parliament failed because they failed to attract mass support, failed to carry out the decisions, and got rejected by the chosen emperor.
Therefore, because of these reasons, Prussia rejected the constitution as well with Austria also rejecting, and these lead to dishearten most members and they went home.10 And these were all Frederick William IV’s fault for not taking action of the constitution and rejecting to receive the crown from the liberal opponents.
“Power resides only where men believe it resides.” This statement sheds light upon the collapse of the Frankfurt parliament as it was incapable of demonstrating its authority to the public and failed to convince the masse of it’s potential. The delegation was unable to attract mass support from the multitude by refusing to compromise with citizen’s enthusiasm. The parliament lacked sufficient power, because it relied heavily on the Prussian army since it had not army of its own and it had no financial leverage. It was also indecisive in taking action due to the segregation of opinions between delegates. I will argue that Frederick William IV had a partial impact on the demise of the Frankfurt Parliament but it was, however not his rejection of leadership, but the disunity and incompetency of the organization itself that led to its own failure.
One of the substantial reasons for the failure of the Frankfurt Parliament was it’s inability to reach united decisions and settle on a plan of action. The main cause for this inadequacy was the contrast of views and opinions of the 596 delegates (1). “No institution can function smoothly if there is disunity among its members.” (10) The majority of representatives were were middle-class, which determined the overall liberal bend of the party. However, the minority of extremist members contradicted the aims of the liberal and radical party members. This disharmony proved fatal for the Frankfurt Parliament, because settlements were rarely reached due to the incapacity to resolve differences and compromise (2). Most members desired a constitutional monarchy incorporating liberal ideals of limited democracy, however this outraged conservatives and alienated radicals (5). Discussions in the Legislature were also poorly organized and little action was taken (5). This weakness is proven in the decision of Germany’s territorial extent, whether Germany was to become ‘Großdeutschland’ (including Austrian territory)or ‘Kleindeutschland’ (not including Austria) (4). The Parliament was unable to conclude between the two proposals and the debate dragged on inconclusively (3) . For the institution to secure its authority it would have been necessary to take decisive action, however this act was hindered by the division and disunity between it’s members (2).
Another primary cause of the collapse of the Frankfurt Parliament was the absence of real power (1). The association had no money or armed forces to execute its will (4). It was unable to collect taxation and had no financial leverage (3). The assembly’s impotence was validated in the unsuccessful events that took place at Schleswig-Holstein in April 1848, where the parliament was forced to rely on the Prussian army to defend German interests (6). Without the assistance and aid of an army loyal to it, the authority of the Parliament remained theory, and was not recognized by the people as the leading governing administration (3).
The Frankfurt Parliament failed to attract mass support from the German population (5). The members consisted mainly of educated middle-class representatives, who were prominent figures of local communities. There were a substantial numbers of teachers, professors, lawyers and government officials (7). However, the institution lacked diversity in societal status, as there were only four craftsmen and one peasant (7). The parliament was also not in harmony with a large fraction of the working class and insufficient guidance lead to the establishment of other private assemblies (6). In 1848, German artisans initiated their own congregation to support the needs of the working class that were not being met by the Frankfurt Parliament. The Artisan Congress fabricated the Industrial Code which included regulations regarding hours and rates of pay (6). However, considering political freedom and industrial freedom as inseparable fundamentals, the Frankfurt Parliament rejected the Industrial code. Thus the parliament was unsuccessful in attracting support from the working class.
Frederick William IV had a limited effect on the weakness of the Frankfurt Parliament. He rejected the crown that was offered to him on the grounds that it was not the Parliament’s to offer. He would only accept it if it came from his equals, his fellow princes (8). Frederick William questioned the parliament’s legal authority to represent a united Germany, and was not prepared to put himself and Prussia under control of the Frankfurt Parliament (9). In March, 1849, rulers of German states, including Bavaria, Saxony and Hanover, together with Prussia declined the German Constitution composed by the Frankfurt Parliament. On the face of these setbacks a vast number of delegates relinquished and went home. The Frankfurt experiment terminated in June 1849 where it was forcibly disbanded by the Frederick William’s army. By dispersing the Frankfurt parliament Frederick William denied partnership and alliance between democracy and nobility and by rejecting the crown he diminished the institution’s pride and authority.
Despite the Frankfurt Parliament’s deterioration, they succeeded to make few positive adjustments to the previous oppressive regime that should not be ignored. The peaceful and successful manner in which the Frankfurt Parliament was elected was an achievement in itself (2). Additionally the Parliament did draw up a constitution for a German Empire and the Fifty articles of the fundamental rights of the German citizen were approved and became law. Such rights included equity before the law, freedom of worship and freedom of the press, freedom from arrest without warrant and an end to discrimination because of class (2). Given the problems and opposition that the Parliament faced, the agreements that they achieved were beneficial for the German nation and it’s people. Nevertheless, such attainments are insignificant given the defeat and collapse of the institution.
In conclusion, the Frankfurt Parliament’s discontinuation was the result of not only Frederick William IV’s limited input and final termination, but also the disharmony from within the delegation, the lack of ‘real’ power and the insufficient support from the public. The conflict within the establishment itself and the disunity between its members prevented it from reaching its full effectiveness. The process of making decisions and taking action was detained and hindered. The lack of support from the people diminished the power of the Parliament as the Parliament failed to recognize the desires of the public on several occasions and lacked the dedication and co-operation of all the German states that it needed to succeed (2). The absence of an army or civil service also lessoned the administration’s power, by depriving it of means of security and offense. Frederick William may have hammered the nails in the Frankfurt Parliament’s coffin, however the organization would not have been in a position to carry on anyway, due to its many other shortcomings.
Farmer, Alan, and Andrina Stiles. The unification of Germany, 1815-1919. 3rd ed. London: Hodder Education, 2007. Print. (page 32) Reeve, Adam. "The success and failures of the Frankfurt Parliament - by Adam Reeve - Page 2 - Helium." Helium - Where Knowledge Rules. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. . Farmer, Alan, and Andrina Stiles. The unification of Germany, 1815-1919. 3rd ed. London: Hodder Education, 2007. Print. (page 34) The Unification of Germany, Michael Gorman (page 7) Farmer, Alan, and Andrina Stiles. The unification of Germany, 1815-1919. 3rd ed. London: Hodder Education, 2007. Print. (page 48) The Frankfurt Parliament.doc (other Problems) 7) Farmer, Alan, and Andrina Stiles. The unification of Germany, 1815-1919. 3rd ed. London: Hodder Education, 2007. Print. (page 31) The unification of Germany Access History- Adrina Stiles (page 36) Farmer, Alan, and Andrina Stiles. The unification of Germany, 1815-1919. 3rd ed. London: Hodder Education, 2007. Print. (page 36) "Atharva Veda quotes." Find the famous quotes you need, ThinkExist.com Quotations.. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. . George R.R. Martin, http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/GeorgeR.R.Martin317683.html
To what extent was Frederick William IV to Blame for the Fall of the Frankfurt Parliament?
“To enlist the support of the people and of parliament, you only have to propose a profitable villainy.”1 exclaims Franz Grillparzer. Franz Grillparzer was an Austrian writer known predominantly for writing the oration for Ludwig Van Beethoven’s funeral. The connotation of this quote is that for the support of both the parliament and the people you have to propose a beneficial and wicked behaviour. This essay shall be arguing that the primary reasons that caused the fall of the Frankfurt Parliament depended more on the inability to construct abrupt vital decisions and the serious division of the Frankfurt parliament leading to row’s between constitutions and liberalists opposing radicals than King Frederick IV not accepting the crown as it “came from the people of the gutter” referring to liberals and democrats.
The Failure of the Frankfurt Parliament was precipitated by a number of factors, One of these was the inability to make quick, vital decisions within the Parliament.It had been a great achievement to have had the Frankfurt Parliament elected, convened and ready to begin work. For the moment, the Parliament filled a power vacuum that had been created by the revolutions.2 The Parliament was essentially moderate and liberal. It intended to establish a ‘united’ Germany under a constitutional monarch who would rule through an elected parliament. Only a small minority of it’s members were radical, revolutionary or republican. Reactionary conservatives were similarly scarcely represented.3 The question was whether the Parliament would be able to draw up a national constitution which would be accepted by ALL Germans. It also hoped to agree on a series of basic rights and demands, such as: Freedom of the press, fair taxation, equality of political rights without regard to religion and German citizenship for all. The intention of the Parliament was that the new Germany should have a much stronger central government, with correspondingly greater control over the actions of the territory seen as part of Germany, namely Posen, Bohemia and Schleswig-Holstein. From the start however, the Frankfurt Parliament lacked real muscle. Unable to collect taxation, it had no financial power over the German states, nor did it have an army. The only army in any way capable of acting as a national army was the Prussian army. Without a loyal army, the authority of the Frankfurt Parliament remained ‘theory’ rather than ‘fact’. It quickly decided that any national constitution it framed would be sovereign, and that while the state parliaments would be free to make state laws, these would only be valid if they did not conflict with that constitution.4 By the end of May the Frankfurt Parliament had declared authority over the states, their parliaments and princes. Now it remained to draw up a constitution and to organize the government. Most members of the Parliament accepted that the local approach would be to agree on a constitution and then to set up a government according to it’s terms. However, it was another matter to find a majority of members who favoured any one procedure for carrying out these tasks, or who agreed on the type of constitution that should be established. Without the discipline imposed by ‘well-organized’ parties and without the leadership provided by outstanding individuals, the Frankfurt Parliament became a ‘talking shop’ in which it was difficult for anybody to agree on anything.5Once it became clear that it would not be possible to reach a rapid agreement on a constitution, steps were further taken to establish a provisional government to rule in the meantime. But, so little was agreed about the specific ways in which it’s powers were to be carried out the the ‘Provisional Central Power’, established at the end of June, was largely ineffectual.
“The trouble with our Liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so”6 exclaims Ronald Reagan the 40th president of the United states. Eighty percent of the Parliaments members were made up of people who had university degrees. Of the 596 members, the vast majority were middle-class which meant that overall the parliament was moderately liberal in politics. 7 However, the minority of extremist members of the Parliament, as well as the differing aims of it’s liberal and radical affilates, proved fatal for the Frankfurt Parliament. Differences could not easily be resolved between these groups and so a majority decision was seldom reached. The Frankfurt parliament was seriously divided. The radical minority, who wanted to replace the princes with a republic, found themselves in serious conflict with the majority of liberal members who wanted a more moderate settlement which would ‘safeguard’ both the rights of the individual states and of the central government, and with a minimum of social change.8 In addition to the main groups there were also a large number of independent, politically uncommitted members. For much of the time it proved impossible to resolve the difference between the members sufficiently to reach ANY decision. The parliament was also handicapped by its unwise choice of leader, Henrich [von] Gagern. He was a distinguished liberal politician, sincere and well meaning, but without the force of character needed to dominate the assembly or lead a favourable debate.9 Radicals, both within and outside of the Frankfurt Parliament, continued to demand widespread political and social reform. Some of these radicals agreed to form a national democratic and republican movement in Berlin. Urban Workers supported them considerably. On 18th September 1848, a radical mob stormed the Paulkirche. In total eighty people were killed, this violence discredited the radicals in the eyes of many Germans. Moderate liberals, horrified by the prospect of further violence joined forces with the conservatives to combat the radicals. They regarded law and order as more important than freedom and equality. Regarding political freedom and economic freedom as inseperable principles, liberals rejected the Industrail code out of hand. Many workers thus lost faith in the Frankfurt Parliament.It had been an article of faith among most European liberals that all people would live in peace and harmony once they had thrown off the yoke of opression. The events of 1848-9 were to destroy these naive illusions. Relations between the peoples of central Europe deteriorated as national conflicts broke out between Czechs, Poles, Italians and Germans.
“I am moved to declare solemnly that no power on earth will ever succeed in prevailing on me to transform the natural relationship between prince and people....into a constitutional one. Never will I permit a written sheet of paper to come between our God in Heaven and this land...to rule us with it’s paragraphs and supplement the old sacred loyalty”10- King Frederick William IV. Frederick William was a romanticist and a mystic, therefore believing that god had given him his crown therefore he would only accept the crown from another German prince and not from the gutter as he refers to the liberals making up the Frankfurt Parliament. In March 1849 the Frankfurt Parliament voted, half-heartedly to elect Prussian King Frederick William as Emperor of Germany. Frederick William refused to accept on the grounds that it was not the Parliaments to offer. He believed that a monarch by divine right could not receive authority from an elected assembly.11 Frederick William knew that the acceptance of Germany would lead to war with Austria and make him into a constitutional monarch, neither of which he desired. Thus after turning the offer down, all the deliberation of the Frankfurt Parliament resulted in nothing. Germany remained fragmented after 1848, and the small rulers of the various small German states came back to power.12
It can be concluded that Frederick William IV can be blamed to a certain extent for the fall of the Frankfurt Parliament. After he declined the crown and reffered to the liberals within the Frankfurt Parliament as an unimportance to him the Frankfurt Parliament resulted in nothing. The weakness of the Frankfurt Parliament however are pimarily to blame. The inability to construct quick and accurate decisions within the Parliament lost popularity and support from many of the outsiders as it became a ‘talking shop’ and difficult for anybody to agree on any conclusion presented. The second reason of the fall of the Frankfurt Parliament was that it consisted of mainly liberals which after the radicals mobbed the Paulkirche joined with with the conservatives to combat the radicals outbreaking in further differences and rows between the groups. The Frankfurt Parliment fell due to it’s own mistakes within the Parliament whereas Frederick William was the trigger pulled to shoot the bullet and knock the Parliament down.
1 http://quotes.dictionary.com/search/Frankfurt+Parliament 2 The 1848/9 Revolutions. N.p.: n.p., n.d. PDF. 3 The 1848/9 Revolutions. N.p.: n.p., n.d. PDF. 4 4 The 1848/9 Revolutions. N.p.: n.p., n.d. PDF. 5 5 The 1848/9 Revolutions. N.p.: n.p., n.d. PDF. 6 http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/liberal.html 7 Frankfurt-Parliament-History. N.p.: n.p., n.d. PDF. 8 The 1848/9 Revolutions. N.p.: n.p., n.d. PDF. 9 The 1848/9 Revolutions. N.p.: n.p., n.d. PDF. 10 Farmer, Alan, and Andrina Styles. Third ed. N.p.: n.p., 2008. Print. 11 http://www.sparknotes.com/history/european/1848/section10.rhtml
“Je suis le signet qui marque la page où la révolution s'est arrêtée; mais quand je serai mort, elle tournera le feuillet et reprendra sa marche (I am the signet which marks the page where the revolution has been stopped; but when I die it will turn the page and resume its course)” - Napoleon Bonaparte
This quote is interesting because after the revolution in France, revolutions spread like Wildfire across Europe. France had started the wheel turning and it wasn’t going to stop any time soon, Poland, Italy, the Austrian Empire and Germany soon followed. This essay shall attempt to answer the question of ‘Why Revolutions broke out in 1848’ with a specific focus on Germany. In attempting to answer this question this essay shall focus upon the Agricultural Crisis within Germany, the Industrial Crisis and finally the relationship between the two and the revolt. This essay shall terminate in concluding that Revolutions broke out in 1848 due to lowered living standards.
In the 1840s the ‘German’ states were majorly Agricultural; 63% of the German population was working in the Agricultural sector. In the year of 1845 there was the great ‘potato famine’ of Ireland where approximately one million people died, the failure of the harvest also led to great famine and suffering across the German States. The year after exceedingly hot weather and low humidities led to an atrocious wheat harvest. Such events caused great strife and trouble for the people of the German states. They struggled to spread the surplus of the previous harvest and make it last. In Switzerland, the cost of rye doubled within the same two years, and the prices for bread doubled in the year of 1846/47. In Hamburg the price of wheat rose 51.8% between the years of 1841 and 1847, 70% of that increase occurred during 1845-47. Even when the importing of foreign grain was feasible, the state that the European Railway system was in, and it’s incomplete condition made the move of such commodities impossible to many parts of the continent. Such events and difficulties made German life hard, and gruesome; the lower and middle-class grew restless with having to deal with such hardship. What made it worse was the simultaneous issues with the industrial sector of the states.
One of the most trysome and severe industrial crises hit Europe in the years of 1845-47, partially this was due to overproduction, where manufacturers had overproduced which in turn overloaded and saturated the market causing them to cut back on jobs, which caused unemployment and wage reductions. In the years 1844-47 Germany’s amount of spun yarn exported by the member states of the Zollverein fell by 40% The crisis was partially initiated by the introduction of modern production methods which lowered the need and market for older forms of production. Acts of hostility shown by artisans and skilled craftsmen towards mills, factories, railways and their owners clearly showed who they believed to be responsible for the loss in market and source of the suffering. The industrial crises were also closely linked to the Agricultural due to the need for economic support from the banks and government to buy foreign corn leaving little to no money to invest into the sector. Bankruptcies multiplied, becoming more and more common, with the faith in business lowering by the day.
The combination of the crises of high food prices, unemployment and declining wages lead to unique circumstances resulting in widespread suffering, poverty and hardship mostly centred in towns. In these towns three elements of the ills came together, the lower-class peasants who had left their poverty-ridden land, unemployed artisans looking for jobs and food, the middle class with their nationalist and liberal opposition to the existing regime. Historian Ernest Labrousse writes “the wave of high prices had spread over the country like a flood, and, like a receding tide it left behind it a ruined population.” Such a quote is powerful because it brings to mind the image of a dissipated, poverty-ridden people with lives full of hardship. With such an image it is not difficult for one to understand the reasoning behind the peoples want for change, they had such miserable lives that they felt their lives were not worth living without improvements. This could be stated as the reason as to why the people revolted.
In conclusion in the 1840s the populus of the German states were rife in poverty, hunger, unemployment and hardship. Ruined harvests due to bad weather and climate led to hunger and poverty for parts of the working lower-class. Industrial crises in turn led to the loss of jobs and lowered wages. Due to such hardships the people of the German states wanted change, they revolted and demonstrated, acts of violence were carried out upon the owners of mills, factories and the like. Therefore the answer to the question of “Why did Revolutions Break out in 1848” is due to a lowered living standard and lowered living conditions within the German states.
Why did the Revolution break out in Germany in 1848?
Ernst Toller, the German left wing playwright and President of the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic (1) once declared “We revolutionaries acknowledge the right to revolution when we see that the situation is no longer tolerable, that it has become frozen. Then we have the right to overthrow it.” (2) This essay will argue, supported by the Marxist interpretation, that the revolutions in 1848 Europe were caused by a lack of commodities (food, shelter, employment). The intolerable circumstances, comparable between many European countries at this time, generated turmoil and eventually spawned rebellion. In addition, citizens suppressed by autocratic rule, felt that they had right to strive towards a more liberal and socialistic government that may better provide them with the essentials to live.
Fundamentally, the first indications of civil unrest were caused by the increasing population. (3) This dramatic escalation of populace was mainly by reason of the downtrend of the death rate. Due to the fact that the German Nation was no longer at war or being threatened by France, many areas found it difficult to support their residence. (3) This caused a significant number of inhabitants from rural areas to migrate into towns in search wage labour. Numerous municipalities struggled to provide sufficient job opportunities. Unemployment rates escalated, and even when work was available, the working conditions were egregious and unsanitary. Labourers were forced to work for 13 or more hours per day, and inadequate sanitation allowed disease to spread, such as Typhoid and Cholera. (4) The migrant workers, relied on charity from Christian churches (5) to compensate for their lack of wealth. Their dissatisfaction with the government lead to crime. Strikes and riots multiplied among the working class and industrial proletariat of urban areas. The revolutionary movement in Berlin, as predicted by the Marxist theory, demanded “trade unions, higher wages, better working condition and regulation of factories.” (6)
Furthermore, the agrarian and economic crisis of 1846-7 made a substantial impression on the series of revolutions that took place shortly afterwards across the German states. The exiguous corn harvest (4) and potato blight of 1846 and 1847 meant malnutrition and potential starvation for many. These calamitous events were also the cause of thousands of poverty-related deaths. (6) In repercussion of insufficient food, there was distress and dissension which lead to food riots (Hobsbawm). Additionally, in industrial towns there was an abrupt and sharp rise in food prices. Cereal prices doubled to nearly 50% in 1847, making groceries unaffordable for many. The rising inflation rates lowered consumer spending and the German economy suffered. Inevitably, industrial production and specifically the textile industry deteriorated. Many workers were laid off and wages were cut to compensate for the losses. The calibre of living declined perturbingly as a consequence of higher food prices coinciding with lower wages. (4)
As a further consideration, I strongly believe that a significant contribution to the revolutions in Germany was the suppressive and ineffectual government that lead the country through this era of turbulence. Initially, the governing figures consisted only of aristocratic associates, and the vast proletariat and peasant population desired a more liberal regime.
During the years of the Vormärz, and the rise of nationalism within the German Nation, when german culture including literature, music, art and philosophy thrived, political excitement and liberalism was becoming a topic of interest to the educated middle class citizens. (7) Revolutionary ideas were becoming more common (7) as more student movements, such as the Wartburg Festival, pushed for a united Germany and demonstrated against the leading principalities for a more democratic administration. Soon Metternich, the Austrian Foreign Minister at the time, enforced oppressive reforms, such as press censorship and he ensured that student societies were disbanded. Additionally, even attempts of partial democratic institutions such as the Frankfurt Parliament had no “real” power (army or civil service). Parliament associates were not in a position to address or redress grievances of the peasants (5) and were not elected by the people, but chosen by the existing leaders of the Nation States. Moreover, at The Congress of Troppau, Metternich received sympathy from great powers, such as Alexander I of Russia, for his reactionary beliefs. They proposed an agreement that Russia, Austria and Prussia should act jointly, ‘using force if necessary, to restore any government that had been overthrown by force.’ (7) and that ‘they would never recognize the rights of a people to restrict the powers of their King.’ (7) This directly contradicted the expressed desires of the citizens’ liberal and democratic views, as demonstrated in their student movements.
Some may contend my theory, that the incapability of the government to provide its citizens with the necessities to live and choosing to oppress rather than compromise with the desires and changing views of it people is the reason for internal insurgence, as incorrect. You could argue that the reasons for rebellion were not because of the failure to meet the needs of the people, but the influence of external origins, such as the French Revolution in 1789, sparked the initial defiance against its leading administration. This statement is true to a certain extent. The Napoleonic wars were a source of distress and incongruity, as seen in the battle of Leipzig (8), and the German “Volk” initially learned to collaborate during the Battle of Liberation, after France conquered Germany. (8) German unity originated from sharing a common enemy, France. as Germans worked together towards the goal of overthrowing French rule. However, I remain unmoving about provenance of the german revolutions. I believe that the principal motives derived from the short term causes of insufficient employment, famine, lack of food and oppressive reforms.
In conclusion, the predominant factors that led citizens of the German states to rebel against their government, were primarily because their governing leadership failed to supply them with sufficient means to live (food, housing, employment) and they were unable to adapt with the changing needs of their people. “A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation” (9) Metternich, who believed strictly and only in autocratic rule and absolute power, was incapable of adjusting to his modernizing country and unable to provide the essentials to his suffering people.
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Farmer, Alan, and Andrina Stiles. The unification of Germany, 1815-1919. 3rd ed. London: Hodder Education, 2007. Print.
Fulbrook, Mary. A concise history of Germany. Cambridge [England: Cambridge University Press, 1990. Print.
Gorman, Michael. The Unification of Germany. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989. Print.
in, a self-appointed group of liberals based. "The European Revolutions of 1848 : history." The Faith vs Reason debate. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Sept. 2013.
Stiles, Andrina. The unification of Germany, 1815-90. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 19891986. Print.
Zaidi, Jaffer. "Revolutions of 1848." OoCities - Geocities Archive / Geocities Mirror. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Sept. 2013.
“The first lesson a revolutionary must learn is that he is a doomed man”
This is what Huey P. Newton, an African-American political and urban activist, said. Huey P. Newton, not only taught himself how to read and write but also founded the left-wing Black Panther Party for Self Defence. A parliament that strongly believed that violence is required to bring about social change. Huey P. Newton died on August 22, 1989, in Oakland, California, after being shot on the street.
This compels us to question ‘what does it takes for a man to revolt if the result is being doomed or even dead?’ The subject of revolution in the Germanic states and in addition to all of Europe during 1848, is clearly one of the most important issues in the history of German unification and in the lives of those who revolted and died in desire for change. Some historians, notably Karl Marx, argues that rise of the middle class, class consciousness and more generally European-wide factors, explain the cause, course and failure of the revolutions
. Whereas others believe that revolutionaries had grievances and demands therefore willed to risk their lives for political change. Hence, this essay shall seek to answer the question, Why did revolution Break Out in 1848?. Thus, we shall structure this essay, by firstly looking at the long term causes of the revolution. Thereafter, we shall look at the short term causes. This essay shall conclude, by determining that although Huey P. Newton was born about 100 years after the 1848 revolution, his quote describes both the long term and short term causes of the 1848 revolutions accurately.
“Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime”
This is a quote by Aristotle, a Greek philosopher and polymath, who lived from 384 BC to 322 BC.
In this paragraph we shall seek to determine weather the Greek philosopher’s statement of 2000 years ago agrees with the longterm causes of the 1848 Revolution. There were many long term causes to the 1848 revolution, such as the increase of population and the problems in towns and the countryside, however we shall focus on the rising middle class. This shall allow us to determine that although Aristotle is a philosopher and polymath of 2000 years ago, his quote reflects the longterm causes of the revolution quite accurately.
The rising middle class in Russia 1917 were not the only ones wanting a political representation and a say, such demands were expressed by wealthier and more educated middle classes continuously throughout history. One of the most influential factors of the 1848 revolutions is the familiar theme of the rising middle class expressing the most important change in social values. In order to understand the rise of the middle class and their longterm affect on the revolution, we shall question who were these people and what were their believes? The middle class is a class of people in the middle of a societal hierarchy. The middle class is the broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economically between the working class and upper class, in Weberian socio-economic terms. Marxism, which defines social classes according to their relationship with the means of production, the "middle class" is said to be the class below the ruling class and above the proletariat in the Marxist social schema.
This was a class that accepted change, they thought in terms of science and material progress, were sure a better world was being built through industrialisation and could accept the idea of social mobility. Members of the middle class hoped themselves to rise in society as they were eager to acquire a new standard living. Therefore they were conscious of the need to save money as this was the source of investment funds and dowries for daughters, however they were quickly open to new pleasures such as, consumers of better furnishing for their homes. They sent 30% of their sons into the higher ranks of the middle class, where they would use scholarships and were entitled to enter more modernised better playing positions like law and teaching. The middle class wanted an efficient state that would not waste money.
After understanding who were their middle class and some of their main desires we shall continue by looking at the rise of the class and the longterm affects it had on the revolution. As the middle class became more educated, they started working in professions such as lawyers, doctors, Journalists, teachers and civil servants. In Russia the university enrolments rose from 1,700 in 1825 to 4,600 in 1848. Numerous were aristocrats, however there was a growing middle class element.
This informs us about the vast increase of middle class students studying, though we must question what longterm affect it had on the revolution. The growth of business and of governmental activities increased the need for for professional people and therefore relevant education opportunities expanded. In Britain the professional ranks grew by 165 per cent from 1803 to 1847. A distinct smaller middle class arose as retail shop keeping expanded everywhere, which was a vital economical function, now that there were more goods to distribute and shops replaced fairs an come craftsmen, as the purveyors of goods. The lower middle class weren’t the only group benefiting, upper-middle class also benefited from new economic opportunities.
The wealthiest segments of the middle class in Paris rose from 2.4 percent of the population to 3.6 percent in 1847 and the city population itself had risen during the same years. In addition, the middle class owned property, shops and businesses and were content with their success. The rise of the middle class was very tangible and the class could be easily measured off from other groups.
This source can be trusted to a certain extent and the information is valuable and many sources that agree with it. Although there are several limitations to the source and the information, we shall not discuss them as the essay shall not focus on source analysis.
We have established the idea of the rise of the middle class, which now allows us to finally question what longterm affects it had on the revolution and how it is connected to Aristol’s quote. The question of what longterm affects the rise of the middle class had on the revolution can be answered by looking at who played an important role in the revolution. It was mostly the students and the middle class, who demonstrated in Wartburg in 1817, and Hambach in 1832, not the upper class. We shall seek to determine for what and why were the students and middle class willing to risk their lives. Most evidence suggests that firstly, the middle class were dissatisfied because the land was in the hands of nobility, they were excluded from the political process and were restrained free expression by censor and secret police. Therefore they craved a new parliament system that allowed them basic civil rights such as higher wages, better housing and a shorter working day. Secondly, middle class in Germanic states looked at surrounding countries, where people were better off politically, economically and socially, when their conditions were most certainly not the best. They became ambitious yet the monarchs didn’t permit their demands. Therefore the monarchs were becoming hated by the more educated middle classes. Thirdly, Middle class Germans wanted establishment of united Germany, in order to ensure national prosperity. Lastly, during the 1847 famine the sharp rise in food prices resulted in less people spending money in things that aren’t unessential. Therefore, craft and industrial production suffered a steep fall in demand and many of the lower-middle class shop owners, were closing down. When conditions had reached a stage when a person that has sold all his property, has no basic civil rights and barely has money and food to feed his children, he revolts. By this point any person is willing to die in the hopes of a better future for his wives and children and for a united Germany. Therefore, all which we have been looking at before agrees with both Huey Newton’s and Aristotle’s quote. Poverty was most certainly the parent of the 1848 revolution and the people of middle class most certainly were doomed when they chose to revolt.
“People have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take.”
This is a quote by Emma Goldman, who was an anarchist recognised for her political activism, writing, and speeches. She played a central and crucial role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century.
Emma Goldman was born on on 27th June, 1869 only 20 years after the 1848 revolutions. Goldman was well known during her life, and was often described as "the most dangerous woman in America".
There are numerous short term causes leading to revolution, such as the trade recession throughout Europe and many more social, economical and political problems. However, we shall focus on firstly the “sneezing” of France and the cold the rest of Europe received, thereafter we shall look at the harvest failures in 1846 to 1848. We shall conclude this section, by determining that although Emma Goldman’s was an anarchist and was born 20 years after 1848 outside of Europe, her quote agrees with the short term causes of the 1848 revolution.
The Arab spring, which began in Tunisia when a fruit vendor set himself on fire in front of a Government building, leading people to revolt in Libya, Egypt, Syria and many more countries to revolt.
The Arab spring which began in 2010 is the most recent revolutionary wave however it is not the only one. On the 24th of February 1848, King of France Louis-Philippe of Orleans, abdicated after a series of street demonstrations and constant unrest of the French citizens. The revolution was sparked by the suppression of the campagne des banquets. Those who led the revolution had nationalist and republican ideals among the French general public and they strongly believed the people should and were capable of ruling themselves.
The revolution ended the constitutional monarchy of Louis-Philippe, and led to the creation of the French Second Republic. This government was headed by Louis-Napoleon, who, after only four years, established the Second French Empire in 1852.
Numerous historians claim that revolutions in the Arab spring began in a very similar way to the revolutions of 1848, which basically enforces the idea that history repeats itself. This encourages us to believe that just like in the Arab Spring when revolution started in one country and spread, the revolutions in Europe 1848 began similarly. In 1848, france had caught a flue of revolution, once it “sneezed” most of Europe got a cold, and was swarming with revolutions as well.
We shall seek to determine why revolutions are like viruses and why they spread so uncontrollably. To determine this we shall look at the conditions throughout Europe. In order for the spreading of revolutions to had happened, the people in France and the rest of Europe must have suffered from similar conditions, or else the revolutions wouldn’t have occurred at the same time. Revolutions swept across Europe from Paris in the west to cities throughout Germany and Italy, to Berlin in Prussia, and to Vienna and Prague and Budapest in the Austrian Empire.
One of the most important short term causes to the revolution and a common condition, is the economic crisis of 1846-7. In 1846 and 1847 there were disastrous corn harvests and the situation was made even worse by a serious outbreak of potato blight*
. Due to the fact that potatoes were the main item of diet for most European peasants, the potato crop being destroyed and a bad harvest of cereals that followed meant starvation. There had been poor harvests before, however the increased population created even more distress and unrest, so that food riots broke out. The cereal prices increased by 50 per cent in 1847.
The inflated prices caused a reduction in consumer spending on items other than food. Conditions became progressively worse in 1846 and 1847 and a main consequence of craft and industrial production suffering a steep fall in demand, was the rapid increase of unemployment and cut wages. It is estimated that about one-fifth of the population of Paris was unemployed in February 1848 when the revolution occurred. Circumstances in Germany were similar.
These were the conditions that caused the people to revolt, those in Germany, Austria, Prussia and Hungary saw that the French people revolted against their countries’ regimes, took an example from them and revolted against their own regimes. This brings us back to Huey Newton’s and Emma Goldman’s quotes, and allows us to state that the 2 causes that we investigated, were short term causes for the 1848 revolutions and agree with the quotes. We know this because in order for a person to decide to revolt and be doomed as Huey Newton stated, there must have been very severe conditions, such as famine and vast numbers of unemployed, and there were. Additionally, when referring to Goldman’s quote people have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take we shall look at when France “sneezed” and the people had the intelligence to desire change and courage to seize this opportunity and revolt against their countries’ regime.
In the conclusion of the entire essay, we shall state that Huey P. Newton’s quote “The first lesson a revolutionary must learn is that he is a doomed man” does apply and agree with the short and long term causes of the 1848 revolutions. Additionally, it should be worthwhile to further investigating historian opinions on the revolutions, such as the marxist, libertarian, orthodox, revisionist and post revisionist views on the causes of the 1848 revolution.
The Reasons to The Collapse of The Frankfurt Parliament
The Frankfurt parliament was created on the 31 March 1848, to deal with the problems of the working men. The Vor-Parliament was the parliament that decided were would the Frankfurt parliament meet, who would be included, how many representatives for how many people, should be elected by people who have the correct age and who is economically independent. The Frankfurt Parliament met in Pauluskirche (st. Paul’s church), the Parliament consisted of 754 representatives from almost every state of the Confederation, there was 1 representative for every 50,000 citizens. (1) (2)
Noted sex predator Lorne Armstrong, fellow of the Hambubger Institute and founder of the Church of Cawd argues that the Frankfurt Parliament did achieve some good decisions for the people of the Confederation of the Rhine (now called Germany). They were able to created the 50 Articles, the 50 articles were essential rights that the people of the Confederation were able to have. They included that the people should have equality before the law, The people should have freedom of the press and that the people should have an end of discrimination because of class.
The Problems that the Frankfurt Parliament faced were that they did not have much support from the Middle classes, because the parliament was there to make the people of the confederation equal, but the Middle Classes did not want to give there Money and Land to poorer people. They also lacked popular support from many people from the working class because it did not share the same views, such as political freedom and economical freedom so many of the workers lost faith in the Frankfurt Parliament. (1)
Another problem that the Frankfurt Parliament faced was the agreement within the people of the Parliament, this means that the Parliament found it hard for everybody to agree on one topic, so it made the solving of the problem a long and stressful period, therefor they would often not solve the problem because they found it difficult to agree on the topic. They main topic they could not agree on was if they should make a Grossdeutchland that consisted on the rhine confederation (including Prussia) and Austria, or make a Kleindeutchland which only consisted of the rhine confederation (including Prussia) but no Austria. (2)
A serious problem that the Frankfurt Parliament faced was that since they were unable to agree on many things they needed a leader that would help make the right decisions, the leader that the they wanted was Frederik William iv, because if he accepted they would have an army of there own and they would have been taken more seriously by other countries, so they would elect Frederik William iv as the emperor of the ‘Germany’. He declined because the crown was not theirs to give away, because he thought only God could give you the title of King or the Emperor, He also thought that “if the people give me this title than they could also take it away from me”. Since Frederik William iv declined they decided they should elect Archduke John was elected as the leader of the parliament. They also elected Heinrich Von Gagern to be the President of the Frankfurt Parliament. But the leaders did not have real influence on the people and they did not have any real muscle upon the Frankfurt Parliament and they did not speak up so they would be heard.(1), (2)
In Conclusion despite of the majority of the citizens that wanted this parliament it failed due to lack of agreement through out the parliament, lack of support from the middle class and Failure to make the requests and changes that the working class and the people asked for.
Stiles, Farmer. The Unification of Germany 1815-1919 Third Edition. N.p.: Michael Lynch, 2008. Print.
"Frankfurt National Assembly (German History)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2012.