The Transformation of European Politics, 1763-1848

By Paul W. Schroeder | Go to book overview

15
Revolutions, Progress, and Standstill, 1830-1833

CONTEMPORARY observers and historians agree, by and large, on the results of the revolutions of 1830-1. In the domestic sphere they produced real and useful political and social change in France, Belgium, Switzerland, and parts of Germany, though in Italy and Poland they failed. In foreign affairs, they led to serious crises and war scares which challenged the Vienna system and weakened it over the long run. Major treaties were overturned, conservative solidarity was eroded, and Europe was divided more clearly into rival ideological camps, portending future trouble.1

On the domestic side the verdict is sound. The year 1830 may not compare with 1789 or 1848 in drama, violence, and ideological resonance, but its revolutions arguably produced or paved the way for more solid political, social, and economic progress in Europe than either of them. The Metternich system of internal governance (union of throne and altar, unalloyed monarchic sovereignty, preventive censorship, no representative constitutions, etc.) was clearly weakened, even where it survived outwardly intact. Whether the 1830 revolutions also undermined the international system, however, is another question. The case can be made that the Vienna system emerged from the 1830 challenge unshaken, perhaps in certain ways improved. Once again some of the system's distinctive characteristics--a de-emphasis on balance of power and emphasis on obeying the rules of the game, the use of restraining alliances and ententes, and the preservation of intermediary bodies--proved their value.


I. THE JULY REVOLUTION IN FRANCE

The Paris revolution that overthrew Charles X in late July and replaced him with Louis-Philippe, Duc d'Orléans, is a good example of how the same revolution could undermine the Met-

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1
Church ( 1983).

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