1848: The Revolutionary Tide in Europe

1848: The Revolutionary Tide in Europe

1848: The Revolutionary Tide in Europe

1848: The Revolutionary Tide in Europe

Synopsis

The revolutionary outburst of 1848 was unprecedented in Europe.

Excerpt

The revolutionary outburst of 1848 was unprecedented in Europe. Two centuries before to the very year, revolts had developed in southern Italy, Spain, and Muscovy, while Leveller agitation crested in Britain and the Fronde rebellion shook France. These revolts had some common features with those of 1848, including a severe famine in the two preceding years, but they were not the result of direct revolutionary contagion and for the most part their impact was muted. Revolutionary change had spread widely in Western and Central Europe after the French Revolution of 1789, but, except in France, this was due mainly to the conquests of French armies, not to a series of rebellions. More recently, still, 1830 had proved a foretaste of the revolutionary current. Revolt in France was followed by outbreaks in Belgium, Poland, and central Italy, while agitation mounted in Germany and Britain. But only in 1848 did revolution assume virtually continental proportions. Russia and Spain were exempt, of the larger countries. Serious revolutions broke out in France, Italy, German, Austria, Bohemia, and Hungary, while there were stirrings of some significance in Switzerland, Denmark, Rumania, Poland, and Ireland. Britain, although apparently immune to formal revolution, saw the last wave of Chartist agitation, And for the most part these various risings were interconnected, linked by economic causation, ideology, and by the fascination of revolution itself. Knowledge that a regime elsewhere had been shaken seemed a valid reason to try the same thing in one's own backyard.

This was a special moment, for the revolutionary current has never been so strong in Europe since that time. Indeed this kind of contagion has few parallels anywhere in world history. There have been some peak revolutionary years since World War II in . . .

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