The Revolutions of 1848

I am going to discuss four different revolutions, or attempts at revolution, during the year 1848.

The French revolution of 1848 began under the reign of King Louis-Philippe. It began because the government had banned public political meetings of more than twenty people. The people got around this law by having banquets at which they would talk about politics. When the government found out and attempted to prevent such a banquet, revolts broke out. With the revolution upon him Louis-Philippe left the throne and fled France.

The Second Republic of France was then established as the government. Socialists and liberals* worked side by side in this new republic. However, the liberals wanted to get rid of the socialists and therefore gave them useless jobs to keep them busy.

The Second Republic soon established National Workshops, in favor of the socialists. These were places the unemployed could go to get jobs. However, the public began to see these as a waste of taxes and therefore the National Workshops became unpopular. Soon after, the workshops were voted away.

This sparked revolts by the artisans and workers associated with the socialists. These revolts, called the June Days revolts, were quickly and harshly subdued by the government.

Napoleon III
Napoleon III

The French elected Louis-Napoleon to be the president of the Second Republic. Soon after, Louis-Napoleon, the nephew of Napoleon I, gained so much power that he declared himself Emperor Napoleon III in 1852.

The French attempt to establish a republic in their nation had failed.

In Austria, the revolution began when they heard of the French attempt to establish a republic. The Austrians began to insist upon a more liberal (classical liberal) government. The emperor then resigned the throne and crowned his grandson Franz-Joseph instead. He did this in hope that the people would be subdued. However, the revolts did not stop until Russia stepped in and helped Austria put down the revolutionaries.

In the non-Austrian German states nationalism began to prevail when the different states began to declare the desire for a united Germany. The Frankfurt Parliament was established to write a constitution for the new Germany. The main question was who would be the ruler. They invited the Prussian king, who refused saying that he didn’t want to be subject to the German liberal views. This discouraged the German states and they remained separated. Once again the revolutionary attempts had failed.

Pope Pius IX
Pope Pius IX

The Italian states had a similar revolution to the German states’. They wanted to be a unified Italy. But it was unsuccessful. They attempted to throw Austria and the pope (Pius IX), who had been trying to prevent a revolution, out of Italy. But when the pope was thrown out of Rome he got help from France who subdued the Italian states. Another attempt at revolution had failed.

*Note: Liberal during this time meant a classical liberal. Classical liberals believed in a limited government, individual rights and self-ownership.

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