In 1848 there was a chain reaction of revolutions throughout Europe, much to be accounted for from the Congress of Vienna and the restoration of monarchy, and aristocratic privileges. Other reasons for the outbreak of revolutions were many long term tensions, aggravated by food crisis, and financial crisis. Yet the real point was that these people were being denied liberty, and were having an increase in nationalism.
What led these revolutions to the point of mass outbreak though may be accounted for by the anger created from the murder of their own.The French revolution keyed up the Austrian revolution, which then led to the revolutions of other countries. It sin this way these two revolutions outbreaks were very similar. Each group fighting for more or less the same reasons.Before beginning to asses the immediate reasons of outbreak one needs to look at the tensions of Europe during 1815-1848 which catalyzed the revolutions. First was the increase in population. This put strains on the already increasing agricultural. Thus when there was a poor harvest there would not be adequate amounts of food, as happened in the 1840s.
There was also an increase in industrialization creating tensions. This caused problems for handicraftsmen, who were being replaced by machines, and cheap labor, such as immigrants who would work for lower wages. Most migrants were uneducated, and did not care about their new home, thus creating crimes.
This created lost of problems between the migrants and the natives.The increase in industrialization also caused housing problems so that many people would be packed into small houses. This along with inadequate sanitation brought about disease which was quickly spread due to the overcrowded homes, so that life expectance decreased to a mere age of 32. In just Paris during six months 18,400 people died.The more immediate tensions during 1845- 1848 were brought about by two major crises.
The first being a food crisis which was severe due to the previous long term tensions, and only gave the people more of reasons not to let it just go by. There was a poor harvest, creating a food shortage as well as inflation on most simple needs. Many riots were caused due to starvation as well as 70% of working class income being used on food supplies.The economic crisis was also creating a financial crisis for businessman. Due to food shortage and income being spent on simply food needs, no one was buying manufactured goods. Interest rates increased, as well as unemployment, and bankruptcy for most businessman.
This was especially apparent in France where overproduction was apart of every industry. Yet as the supply overcame demand in coalmining and iron making companies had to cut back including staff. Since overproduction was a result of government led investment, many turned on the government. With their lives in shambles it was only time till all the masses came together in outrage, to the point of revolution.As was such with the French revolution. Made up of mainly the artisans who were unable to prosper due to the industrial growth (one reason they failed is because the masses i.e.
the peasants were not involved). So it was the working class agitated from food prices, the economic crisis and the number that were unemployed. They also felt an absence of liberty and wanted to abolish the monarchy and set up free elections so that all men could vote.
It all really began though with the liberals opposing what they stated was a corrupt government. The fought the government with two immoral examples, asking how they could they have a government that wasn’t corrupt if this is the way they acted. The first example was in 1847 where at a trial the Minister of Public Works accepted bribes. The second example was Duc de Praslin who killed his wife in order to be with his mistress, then committing suicide before his trial.
But this wasn’t the only reason they were detested.The Middle class felt they had no rights with the government. For there was a 200 franc tax in order to vote, enabling the middle class to vote, and putting all the votes to the 240,000 wealthy nobles. Doctors, students, lawyers, journalist etc were disenfranchised, and wanted a change for the electoral law.Though in 1847 they tried to reduce this tax to 100.
But Louis Philippe was unconcerned with the liberals and would not reform. Perhaps if he had granted them this he would have gained their support, which he had lost during the financial crisis. This was probably the real point of anger as they realized that they could not compromise, and would have no choice but to rebel.Thus they began to hold “reform banquets” since it was illegal to have political meetings. Yet the government began to ban these dinners as well, starting on 22 February, and while the liberals did not protest. But this now gave reason to have a protest demonstration especially with unemployment and starvation high. As liberal opposition to the monarchy was only increased by the economic crisis.
Ex, at the Place de la Madeleine where there grew a large crowd.Louis Philippe did try to make some changes in the end, but by then it was too late. Later in the evening of 23 February a crowd came towards the Foreign Ministry where many were shot, 40 due to the troops. The murder of the protesters led to revolt among the angered people of Paris. It was only an accident that the revolution had started, and it was all due to these murders. From then on there was violence in front of barricade-buildings.
Louis Philippe refuses to send army, sending in inexperienced troops instead, and since the men weren’t use to such violence they retreated behind the barricades. The crowds drove Louis Philippe from France to Britain, leaving his throne. Hence the revolution had begun, and already they were placing a new government dedicated to a democratic franchise, and national workshops for the unemployed. Though the revolution went on to fail returning to its previous conditions.This revolution did manage to spark up other revolutions, this including the Austrian revolution. They were also very similar in they both were mainly caused by the fact they both had inflexible government.
The most general causes were the economic depression and crop failures of the previous years joined with the political frustration felt by liberal middle-classes who were being denied political power as well as the nationalistic groups who were being excluded.The Austrian Empire was probably the most illiberal and anti-nationalist state in Europe, containing at least 12 nationalities. Germans being predominant in Austria, Magyars in Hungary, Czechs mainly in Bohemia, and Slavs making up the rest of the Empire.While Metternich wanted to keep them all together the ethnic groups became more nationalistic wanting to gain independence and break away from the Hungarians.
While the Hungarians wanted to dominate other nationalities in a “fanatical nationalism” creating a basic fight of Hungarians against Croats, Serbs and Romanians, Czechs against Germans.Other than nationalism the people of the Habsburg Empire were living in a time of horrible conditions. There was inflation, much unemployment as well as no relief for these workers that had been laid off, 10,000 in just 1847. Those that did keep their jobs were only being paid 40 kr per day.
While prices for 1 lb of butter was 66 kr, and an egg 7.5 kr. 26,000 people weren’t receiving the nourishment they needed. It wasn’t only food that was having prices increased, plus heavy taxes, but also wood prices skyrocketed by 250%.
It is the build up of such problems that led the people to rise up.The events of the Austrian Revolution happened all very quickly following the 23-24 February events of France. The pressures of all the years had finally added up so that the people hungry, unemployed, and just unhappy with the government were ready to take a stand.
In Hungary the breaking point was brought about by leader Louis Kossuth on March 3. He was an important nationalistic, delivering speech that encouraged everyone demanding an independent Hungary. His speech led to the change of the Press burg Diet accepting the “March Laws.” The “March Laws” answered to many of the demands of the Hungarians; independent government, a parliament elected on a franchise, no more tax exemptions for nobles, abolishment of robot, uncensored press, Transylvania and Croatia brought into the Hungarian state, and that candidates running for new parliament being familiar with the Magyar language. It is these items which explain the reasons, and wants of the people of the Revolution.In Vienna the movement was that of petitions but they were standing up for the same reasons that occurred in Hungary. The people wanted reforms so that they would have a free press, jury trials, emancipation of the peasants, civil rights, and a constitutional government.
On March 13, 1848 they finally made a move. A Magyar group led by Louis Kossuth began giving speeches for independence movement, which were printed in Vienna, where they brought about an uprising led by students, workers and intellectuals, liberals pressing for a constitution, and an end to feudalism. The peasants were not involved being a conservative group, and being illiterate rural peasants with no notion of nationalism, making up the army instead.The people turned towards Metternich the symbol of what was holding them from their needs.
Though like the French he sent troops to calm the crowds they only became more violent, frantic and tense. Metternich in fear resigned and fled to Britain. Whether the situation was that bad that he needed to flee is not probably, yet his leaving energized the people, having more get involved.
So that the whole structure fell down in just a few days. Though their needs weren’t met immediately there were constant out brakes and demonstrations till Ferdinand was forced to set up a constitution. Yet they wanted more and finally were able to receive their Constitutional Assembly, while the Emperor fled.
In Bohemia the need for revolution was brought about by the need of liberal changes, and the unity and independence of the “lands of St Wenceslaus.” While in Northern Italy it was once again the need for freedom of the Press, and elections to a parliament.Though the revolutions outbreaks may have immediate reason of accident, it was only a matter of time before they broke out.
Due to the social, economic and political changes from the time of the Congress, as well as the effects of the food, and financial crisis. It is these events which pressured the people, who were having their needs denied, an absence of liberty, as well as an increase in nationalism. It is all these things, plus the encouragement brought about by the people of other countries standing up for what they want, enabling others to make a move rather than stand back when all of Europe was being swept up into this need of change, the need to be heard.