HIST 2510 Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Provisional Government Of The French Republic, Unthinkable, Danubian Provinces

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10 Aug 2016
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Week 6
Revolution From Above and Below – European Politics from the French
Revolution to the First World War – page #32-38:
The Great Age of Revolutionary Wars:
The 1850s and 1860s were dominated and transformed by a renewal of warfare between the
great powers this owed much to the new establishment of a new regime in France
The democratic election of a president for the Second Republic, in December 1848, was
followed by a coup d’etat and his assumption of unrestricted power in 1851
This was endorsed by plebiscites which turned the president into an emperor a year later
so came into being the French Second Empire under Louis Napoleon Bonaparte
He was the first democratic dictator, endorsed by popular vote; liberals despaired more
important, if Napoleon III had a consistent policy stance, or at least an outlook to which he
tended to return, it was directed towards overturning the 1815 settlement and promoting the
cause of nationality
His hold on power remained firm while many of his countrymen could see him as the
guardian of social order and others could believe he had progressive ideas about the working
class
Paradoxically, he first took France to war in a seemingly conservative cause
Great Britain and France fought Russia in 1854 to protect the Ottoman Empire; Russian
armies had invaded the Danubian provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia this had opened a
new phase of Eastern Question what was to be the fate of the Ottoman Empire in Europe?
which released further revolutionary wars after the Crimean war, and shaped the history of
Europe not only until 1918 but well beyond
In 1854 that balance of power was upset and the Holy Alliance powers divided dynasticism
and partnership in the Polish crime were huge conservative forces, but Austria could not
ignore Russian encroachment in the Danube valley; though she did not go to war with
Russia, she mobilized her own armies and sent them into the Danubian principalities
The main conservative goal of the war, the safeguarding of the Ottoman Empire, was
achieved, but at the Congress of Paris, which met to settle the war in 1856, there were
representatives of the smallest of the victorious allies, Sardinia
A more obviously revolutionary result of 1856 was the eventual emergence of an independent
Romania (finally acknowledged in 1881)
Finally, it became clear, the war brought revolution to Russia, but it did so from above
Russia had always escaped it from below, and contained it successfully in her Polish
provinces even if her countryside was often turbulent; but defeat in the Crimea showed that
Russia could not regain her standing as a great power without modernization
In 1863, the Tsar decreed the emancipation of the Russian serfs, the largest simple piece of
social engineering to be attempted by any European state down to that time bond labour,
an institution which lay at the root of all European history hitherto, was now abolished
Russia’s eclipse as a European policeman was also assured for some years this opened
the way to revolution further west, but in ways importantly different from those envisaged in
the first half of the century
Assured of Napoleon III’s benevolence towards changes in the map at the expense of the
Habsburgs, two able conservative statesmen managed a series of rearrangements which
rebuilt international order in the interests both of the vested interested they wished to uphold
and, paradoxically, of the cause of nationalism each sought to assure the survival and, if
possible, preponderance of the states they represented (Sardinia and Prussia) within larger
national units (Italy and Germany)
One was Cavour, the Sardinian who built on an alliance with France a policy of provocation
towards Austria which enabled him to retain the support of Italian liberals disappointed in
1849 10 years later, France went to war with Austria in support of Sardinia
Napoleon did not exact from a defeated Austria all that Cavour wanted, but the peace gave
his king Lombardy, and opened the way to the unification of the rest of the peninsula that
unification was part political manipulation, part revolution, part conquest: Sardinian forces
invaded the kingdom of Naples, ostensibly in support of a filibustering campaign by the
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