Was Frederick William IV to blame for the failure of the Frankfurt Parliament?

To what extent was Frederick William IV the reason for the failure of the Frankfurt Parliament?


Example I:  

„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
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 analyzed, explained and evaluated in this essay. Thereafter a conclusion will be drawn to clarify a plausible justification.

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.

Example II:
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.

 Example III:
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 Carlyle1  

Thomas 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 only3it 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.)       

 Example IV: 
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 politician), 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    

Example V:

"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 Lorne Armstrong 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.

Example VI:

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 publics 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. 

Example VII:

 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.

Example VIII:

    “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 offence. 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

Example IX:

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 

The Frankfurt Parliament was a pivotal moment in German history, a time when the people sought to establish a united German state under a liberal constitution. The question that has since prevailed among historians is whether Frederick William IV, the King of Prussia at the time, was largely to blame for its failure. The complexity of the situation requires a nuanced and balanced analysis, considering Frederick William IV's actions and stance, the internal problems of the Frankfurt Parliament itself, and the broader historical context surrounding these events.

To begin with, Frederick William IV indeed played a significant role in the Frankfurt Parliament's demise. Undeniably, his decision to reject the imperial crown offered to him by the Parliament in 1849 was a critical moment, undermining the Parliament's credibility and authority. It was an action that epitomised Frederick's conservative ideology and his adherence to the principle of divine right. Hobsbawm emphasises this, noting Frederick's proclamation that he would not "accept a crown from the gutter," indicative of his contempt for liberal democracy and the concept of power derived from the people. Moreover, the King's refusal of the 'Kaiserdeputation' not only rejected the offered constitutional title but also symbolically dismissed the entire national movement. However, whilst Frederick William IV's refusal undeniably dealt a fatal blow to the Parliament, it is worth considering the context of his decision. Historian Bracher points out that Frederick was in a precarious position, facing pressure from the conservative Junker aristocracy on one side and the liberal national movement on the other. Any decision he made was bound to be controversial and potentially destabilising. 

Furthermore, his acceptance of the crown would have required him to overrule the legitimate rulers of other German states, creating considerable political tension. His refusal can thus be seen not only as a rejection of liberal democracy but also as an attempt to maintain the existing balance of power. Whilst Frederick William IV's actions are undoubtedly significant, it is important not to overlook the internal issues of the Frankfurt Parliament itself. Sheehan argues that the Parliament was inherently flawed, with a lack of executive power and clear mandate. The delegates were torn between 'Grossdeutsch' and 'Kleindeutsch' plans for unification, leading to internal divisions and indecisiveness. These issues were not caused by Frederick William IV, yet they undermined the Parliament's effectiveness and ability to confront opposition from conservative forces, including Frederick himself. 

This brings us to the broader historical context, which plays a significant role in understanding the Parliament's failure. It is noteworthy that the revolution of 1848-1849 was not solely a German phenomenon, but part of a series of liberal revolts across Europe. Blackbourn highlights the lack of popular support for these revolutions, resulting in their ultimate failure. The Frankfurt Parliament's failure can therefore be seen in this wider context of unsuccessful liberal movements. Moreover, the conservative backlash across Europe was a major factor in the Parliament's demise, and Frederick William IV was just one among many rulers who resisted the liberal tide. Certainly, it is clear that Frederick William IV played a significant role in the failure of the Frankfurt Parliament. However, laying the blame solely at his feet oversimplifies the complexity of the situation. It is necessary to consider the internal problems of the Parliament, as well as the broader historical context, to gain a full understanding of this pivotal event in German history. This analysis exemplifies how historical events are seldom the result of a single factor, but rather the interplay of multiple interconnected elements. To place the entirety of the blame on Frederick William IV would thus be an oversimplification, neglecting the intricate web of historical forces at work during this period. 

Continuing from the analysis thus far, it is important to delve deeper into the personal attributes of Frederick William IV and his overall policy approach. Biographers and historians alike have often noted the King's inconsistency and indecisiveness, which arguably contributed to the Parliament's downfall. Historian Pflanze points to his initial willingness to embrace liberal reforms during the March Revolution of 1848, only to revert to a more conservative stance as the political tide turned. This inconsistency undermined his credibility and damaged the prospects of a constitutional settlement. On the other hand, Ramm argues that this vacillation reflected the King's struggle to reconcile his personal conservative beliefs with the pragmatic need to accommodate liberal demands, highlighting the inherent tensions within Prussian society at the time. It is equally important to consider the perspective of the Parliament's members and their view of Frederick William IV. Historian Winkler argues that the Parliament's offer of the imperial crown to Frederick was a strategic miscalculation, as it underestimated his staunch conservatism and belief in divine right. Rather than reaching out to potential allies among the other German states, the Parliament placed its hopes on the King of Prussia, inadvertently setting itself up for failure. From this perspective, the blame for the Parliament's failure lies not solely with Frederick William IV, but also with the political naivety and strategic misjudgement of the Parliament's leaders. 

Another significant factor to consider is the influence of external powers. Austria, under the leadership of Prince Metternich, had been the traditional overseer of the German Confederation and was wary of Prussian ascendancy. Historian Hamerow suggests that Austria exerted considerable pressure on Frederick William IV to reject the imperial crown, fearing that a united Germany under Prussian leadership would threaten Austria's position. In light of this, Frederick's decision can be seen as a response to international power dynamics, rather than merely a personal rejection of the Parliament's liberal aspirations. Considering the socio-economic factors, one should also note that the Frankfurt Parliament was a product of its time, existing in an era when industrialisation was not yet widespread and the proletariat was not politically organised. As Hobsbawm points out, this lack of a strong and unified popular base meant that the liberal revolutionaries were unable to mobilise significant mass support, rendering the Parliament vulnerable to conservative opposition. Frederick William IV's role in the Parliament's downfall, while significant, must be seen within this socio-economic context. 

In conclusion, while Frederick William IV undoubtedly played a critical role in the failure of the Frankfurt Parliament, it is reductive to lay all the blame at his feet. His decision to reject the imperial crown was indeed a blow to the Parliament's ambitions, but it was by no means the only factor at play. The internal weaknesses of the Parliament, the broader historical context of unsuccessful liberal revolutions across Europe, and the pressures exerted by conservative forces both within Prussia and internationally, all contributed to the Parliament's ultimate downfall. Consequently, a nuanced understanding of the Parliament's failure necessitates a multifaceted evaluation that goes beyond the actions of a single individual, however influential.