Chapter 4: GERMAN REVOLUTION
Revolutionary movements in Europe
The French revolution and the Napoleonic wars had ended and monarchy
was restored in France but the idea of a republic wasn't crushed.
The revolution had inspired protests against Despotism all over the
world. The leaders that emerged in these states were not fighting
for their own freedom or removal of despotism from their country but
for removal of despotism from everywhere.
The universal brotherhood had developed to combat the forces of
autocracies. The idea of a modern nation emerged after the
revolution in France and a nation became more than a territory. It
was to be represented by its people.
Till the rise of Napoleon everyone supported the french revolution.
It symbolized principles of equality unlike the system of privilege
on which the monarchical order was established in Europe. Leaders of
revolutions in Italy, South and Central America fought against
However like the spirit of the revolutionaries the rulers of these
states too were united n crushing these revolutions.
Holy Alliance in Europe
The nations of Austria, Holland, Russia combined forces to form
an alliance against revolutions. They decided to unite to keep the
legitimate rulers from collapsing and agreed to watch out for each
The new leader of France to joined this Alliance. This came to be
known as the Holy Alliance.
The leaders of the alliance sent forces to suppress revolutions
in each others territory and restore the rulers authority. Large
number of spies were recruited, freedom of speech and press was
curbed. But this didn't affect the revolutionaries spirit.
In 1830 revolutions began and french ruler was forced to
abdicate. Though most of the revolts were crushed, freedom was won
by Greece and Belgium.
1848 - A Glorious year for revolutions
1848 was a year when the spirit of revolution peaked across all
European countries. The revolutions broke out and all states of
the Holy Alliance were shaken by them. The monarchs had to give
constitutional reforms to the people. Although few succeeded in
overthrowing despots but the new social order was emerging. The
monarch of France who came to power in 1848 was removed but soon
replaced by Napoleon III. When the Empire of Napoleon III crumbled
after the Prussian was , France became a republic.
The workers were the main leaders in the revolts. They wanted a
new social order that would remove the ill effects of capitalism.
But the others revolutionaries like peasants and middle class
looked at these goals with horror. It wanted only constitutional
reforms and so compromised with the rulers.
Democracy in England
The first revolution against autocracy was in England in the 17th
century. The parliament became supreme and monarch was a titular
head. But Parliament wasn't a fully democratic organization.
The right to vote belonged to a minority and women and
underprivileged had no representation. The radical leaders of
workers and industrialists protested to increase the vote.
Initially the representation to Parliament wasn't based on
Population size but electoral districts. So some constituencies with
a few houses got representation but cities with lakhs of people were
not represented adequately.
These rotten boroughs were eliminated by the Act of 1832.
Soon the Chartist movement that rose to increase votes for
all started but by mid 19th century its influence declined. But its
impact was seen later as by 1929 the vote was increased to all and
Parliament became a true representative of the people.
German Revolution for Independence
The 18th century Germany was divided into a number of states.
Some of these were small as cities but some like Bavaria, Saxony,
Prussia were powerful and large. During the Napoleonic war's some
of these ceased to exist but by 1815 there were 38 territories in
Prussia was the largest and most powerful. It was dominated by
landlords known as Junkers. Due to the division of Germany the
political and social system was very backward. Civil liberties
were absent. The French revolution had raised national
consciousness amongst the Germans and they too wanted a united
In 1815 the Germanic states and Austria came together to form the
German Confederation but each state wanted to maintain its own
system and hence it failed. During 1848, revolutions broke out
throughout German states and monarch's were forced to grant
concessions to people. The leaders met at Frankfurt assembly to
discuss the German constitution.
But the rulers were secretly planning to unite and crush the
rebels. The Frankfurt assembly offered to the king of Prussia the
title of Emperor of Germany and a united German nation. But the
King refused to accept the offer of the rebels and sent forces to
crush the revolts. The protests failed and all initial concessions
to were withdrawn. Many rebels had to flee the country.
Germany Struggle Part II - Bismarck and policy of "Blood and
Bismarck belonged to aristocratic family in Prussia. He too
wanted a united Germany but not a democratic empire but a
militaristic one. He believed that there should be a domination of
army and landed aristocrats in Germany.
To achieve this he followed a policy of war known as Blood
and Iron. Under this he fought with Austria to ensure
it was removed from the Germanic confederation. After Austria's
defeat the 22 states of Germanic confederation were brought
together under a single leader.
The French king Napoleon III too was provoked by Bismarck and he
too waged a war on Prussia but was defeated. The war proved
fruitful to Bismarck who absorbed the remaining German states into
the German Empire.
The King of Prussia became the hereditary Emperor of Germany.
Thus unlike the French revolution, the unification of Germany was
due to a Policy of war. It was also not fought under the same
ideals of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. This was to bear fruit
soon as such aggression led to the World War where Germany was
Fig 1: Unification of Germany
Unification of Italy
Like Germany, Italy too was divided into many states. Some like
Lombardy were occupied by foreign powers, Large states like
Sardinia, Kingdom of Two Sicily's and Rome were either under
monarchs or under papal occupation.
Manzinni and Garibaldi were two great leaders
of the unification movement. They started the Young Italy movement
too start a rebellion against the monarchs. The work was dual as
the people had to remove foreign occupation and convince the
monarchs to unite.
The kingdom of Sardinia was the most powerful and the king to
wanted the unification of Italy under him. He implemented many
reforms after the 1848 revolts broke out. His PM Cavour followed
Bismarck's policy and joined forces with France to fight Austria.
Though France couldn't win Austria was ousted and Lombardy was
recovered. Soon other smaller states in the Northern Italy became
a part of Sardinia.
The Kingdom of Two Sicily and Rome were still outside Italian
state. Garibaldi marched to these states with his revolutionaries
and freed them. But the rebels couldn't continue this struggle and
surrendered these kingdoms to Sardinia. The King now became the
Emperor of Italy.
Rome was under Papal occupation and guarded by French soldiers.
These were withdrawn after the French - Prussian war and Italy
occupied it. Rome became the capital of Italy.
Just like Germany, Italy too saw a people's rebellion but it
culminated in a monarchy. The difference between them is that the
aristocracy united Germany whereas in Italy the popular revolt
played an important role.
Fig 2: Unification of Italy