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Europe After Napoleon Index

Europe After Napoleon : The Congress of Vienna
The Congress of Vienna : Outcome and Alliances
Nationalist Revolutions after 1820
Europe After 1848
The Unification of Italy and Germany (The Breakdown in the Balance of Power)
Italy (1859-1970)
Germany (1848-1871)

History Chapters Main Index

 

Socialism

The year 1848 was also important for European and world history because of the publication of one of the most influential documents ever printed.

 

Karl Marx

Karl Marx

After being involved in the revolts in Germany, Karl Marx fled to England where he published 'The Communist Manifesto'. His experience during the revolutions of 1848 had convinced him that the greatest enemies of the workers in mines and factories were not kings or emperors, but the middle class owners of the mines and factories.

Between 1848 and his death in 1883 in London, Karl Marx continued to write and publish works. The most important was "Das Kapital", which helped make the industrial workers throughout Europe become militant, and even violent, in their demands for better pay and better working conditions.

 

 

TWO CENTURIES OF REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE

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Europe After Napoleon

The Revolutions of 1830 and 1848

The revolutions that began in France spread to many parts of Europe.

It was during the "July Days" of 1830 that a Bourbon monarch, Charles X, was overthrown and replaced by another king, Louis-Philippe d'Orléans. But the French example was followed in many parts of Europe in the same year. These all failed, with the exception of Belgium, which managed to obtain its independence from the Dutch in 1830. In Poland, Italy and Germany the nationalist and liberal revolts were mercilessly crushed.

 

King Charles X of France

King Louis-Philippe of France

King Charles X of France

King Louis-Philippe of France

 

1848 was another year of revolutions in Europe. Once again they were sparked off by a revolution in Paris which overthrew the "July Monarchy" of Louis-Philippe, but very soon revolt had spread to other parts of Europe. Although these nationalist and liberal revolutions all failed, with the exception of the French, Europe would never be the same again.

The years 1815 to 1848 have often been called "the years of Metternich". Klemens von Metternich was the Austrian chancellor during this period and he was, without doubt, the greatest statesman in Europe. His ambition had been to destroy all traces of revolutionary change in Europe introduced since 1789. He was the arch-conservative who was violently opposed to any kind of reform and who succeeded in imposing his ideas on the rest of Europe, helped by the Holy Alliance.

Metternich was not a fool, nor was he a man living in the past. On the contrary, he understood only too well the rapidly growing demand throughout Europe for liberal and nationalist reforms. He also realised that if these demands were met, and the people of Europe were given the chance to freely choose the country in which they lived and the type of government that ruled them, then the Austrian Empire was finished. It was for this reason that he devoted his life to maintaining the power of Austria, the only true descendant of Charlemagne's empire. Until 1848, he had largely succeeded, but, in that year, when Hungary had risen in revolt and Austrian students had demonstrated in the streets of Vienna demanding "Down with Metternich!", the emperor dismissed him.

 

Prince Metternich

Habsburg Austrian Emperor Franz-Joseph

Prince Metternich

Habsburg Austrian Emperor Franz-Joseph

 

It was the end of an era in the history of Europe. After he had gone, the Hungarian nationalist movement increased in strength until, in 1867, the Habsburg Austrian Emperor, Franz-Joseph was forced to accept that Hungary was a self-governing part of the empire. He even had to accept the "Dual Monarchy" which meant that he was "Emperor of Austria" but only "King of Hungary". Metternich's fears were being realised.

 

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