Lecture 10, October 10, 2013
Midterm will cover topics from Napoleon to the Revolutions of 1848. Two parts. ID part: names,
places, movements - access the importance, significance, consequences. Essay-type: major
issues, access significance - have an introduction, thesis, prove your points by arguments, bring
in as much evidence as possible.
The Revolutions of 1848
The Springtime of Peoples & The Year of Barricades
Nationalism and Liberalism became mainstream ideologies of the middle class, undermining the
stability of the continent in social, political, and economic terms. Late February 1848 - a spring
of Revolutions occurred in Europe that covered the entire continent. Nearly all central European
states went through upheavals. Map. Revolutions occur in central Europe. Notably, during the
first revolutionary wave of 1820s, the periphery of the continent was affected (Spain, Russia,
Greece). Now - centre.
• Why there?
None of these places had any political representation, no liberalism. Also, industrialization was
having its worst effects around this time: low standard of living, famine, unemployment.
In Britain, Belgium, Sweden - timely reforms saved the states from upheavals. States that
avoided the revolution:
1) The British understood the rising social tensions: after all, industrialization started earlier
there, in the mid-18th century. By 1830s, great political instability existed in Britain. It became
clear for the government that if they won't accommodate to the rising middle class they will have
a revolution like the French one. One of the greatest reforms was introduced: 1832 - Reform
act. Voting rights were extended to the cities and extension of franchise to now 3-4 % of the
total population; this was still enough to satisfy the upper echelon of the new industrial middle
class. So, political opposition to the state slowed down.
The British read the situation correctly in the 1840s also. Again, one of the most important
concessions occurred - getting rid of the Corn Laws in 1846 that had only one objective: to
keep the landed aristocracy rich. The Corn Laws prevented imports of the cheap grain, which
meant that the aristocracy would sell their grain at high prices and the lower classes could never
buy enough bread. It was the industrialists who argued for cancellation of these laws, since
cheaper grain would mean that they would have to pay lower wages to the workers to keep
them satisfied. It took several years to implement this reform - landed aristocracy fought it tooth
and nail. But - the industrialists were the new money. So, cheap foreign grain was allowed, by
so doing illuminating the pressure from below and preventing the revolution in Britain.
2) In Belgium, political representation was also almost non-existent. The government had to
offer a timely concession to the people. In February 1848, during the Revolution in France, Belgians were terrified that France, as always, will want to include them. Also, unemployment,
starving masses, and recession contributed. So, the conservative government brought in liberal
reforms. Revolutionaries, like Karl Marx, resided in Belgium at the time. By 1848, franchise
was extended to 3% of the population. The upper-middle class was immediately satisfied. The
lower classes were also kept happy. At the same time, many state projects were launched in
Belgium to improve infrastructure, immediately employing hundreds of thousands of workers,
thus avoiding the revolution. Any European government could have done that to avoid the
revolution, but only a few were decisive enough to embrace liberal concessions.
3) Russia did not have a revolution at the time because it had virtually no middle class ,
liberalism was under political repression; no industrialization was underway yet. Millions of
peasants-serfs are not enough to start a conflict that was led by the power of middle class.
4) Same reasoning