German History, 1789-1871: From the Holy Roman Empire to the Bismarckian Reich

German History, 1789-1871: From the Holy Roman Empire to the Bismarckian Reich

German History, 1789-1871: From the Holy Roman Empire to the Bismarckian Reich

German History, 1789-1871: From the Holy Roman Empire to the Bismarckian Reich

Synopsis

During recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in interest in the nineteenth century, resulting in many fine monographs. However, these studies often gravitate toward Prussia or treat Germanys southern and northern regions as separate entities or else are thematically compartmentalized. This book overcomes these divisions, offering a wide-ranging account of this revolutionary century and skillfully combining narrative with analysis. Its lively style makes it very accessible and ideal for all students of nineteenth-century Germany.

Excerpt

H istorians always take liberties with the starting and ending dates of their studies. In order to explain developments fully as well as to assess their long-term significance, it is necessary to wander backwards and forwards beyond the chronological parameters set in the title. Nevertheless, there should be good reasons why an author chooses one specific period over another, for, despite the natural liberties taken, the underlying constraints imposed by the time period limit him.

This book is set between 1789 -- the outbreak of the French Revolution -- and 1871 -- the formation of the Second German Empire. Both years were meaningful turning points in the history of Germany and Europe. In 1789, the numerous states of German Europe were still organized into the Holy Roman Empire. While there was much discussion of reforming this medieval hold-over, there was no reason to assume that the Empire would end in the foreseeable future. The Enlightenment of the eighteenth century had generated much discussion and debate about reforming monarchy, similarly, but none of the hundreds of German rulers was constrained by an elected political body. Socially and economically, moreover, Germany was already experiencing change as serfdom and the corporate world of the guilds began to yield to newer institutional forms. Yet there was no reason at all to believe that serfdom would soon begin to disappear or that a nascent modern industry and mechanical technology would spread from England and inundate the continent. By 1806, however, the French Revolution and the wars it sparked had terminated the Holy Roman Empire, prompting six decades of discussion, controversy, and . . .

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