Spain 1820s

Posted: Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The execution of Torrijos, by Antonio Gisbert Perez. Ferdinand VII, after his restoration as absolute monarch in 1823, took repressive measures against the liberal forces in his country.

The instruments of liberal revolution in Spain and Portugal were the secret societies (whose successful activities from 1815 to 1820 account for the obsessive concern of Iberian clericals with freemasonry) and the pronunciamiento, an officers' revolt based on the crude political theory that the general will of the nation, when vitiated by a monarch's evil counsellors or corrupt parliamentary institutions, was to be sought in the officer corps. The pronunciamiento was to develop a rigid form, with a consistent weakness: fear of discovery of elaborate negotiations meant that most pronunciamientos went off at half cock. This was balanced by the inefficiency of government detection and detention: Quiroga, the chosen leader in 1820, was allowed complete freedom to conspire from prison. A ramshackle despotism encouraged revolutionary irresponsibility. The early pronunciamientos in Spain and Portugal merely produced martyrs, Gomes Freire d'Andrade in Portugal and Lacy, the symbol of Catalan liberalism. Civilian support was limited though increasing, and the rank and file were indifferent to their officers' liberalism. If there was a vast masonic, civil conspiracy in 1817, it came to nothing. Why did the Cadiz revolution of 1820 succeed, led, as it was, by young officers and inexperienced civil hotheads after the higher officers and the notables of Cadiz masonry had been frightened by O'Donnell's betrayal of the 'respectable' conspiracy of 1819? What gave the revolution its strength was 'the repugnance of the rank and file against embarking for America', which, for the first time, gave sergeants and soldiers a direct interest in revolution. The British consul believed that revolt 'would die a natural death'; it triumphed through the feebleness of a government which could not collect a force to fight it. In March the revolution spread to the great towns of Saragossa, Corufia and Barcelona. General Ballesteros and O'Donnell deserted to the revolution; the king was forced to accept the constitution of 1812 (which Riego had adopted on the spur of the moment), not by the force of public opinion expressed in demonstrations in Madrid but because he had lost control of the army.

The revolution of 1820-3 set the programme and procedures of Iberian liberalism and that of its enemies. In Spain, 1812 had been a dress rehearsal in exceptional circumstances; in Portugal, the revolution of 1808 had failed to materialise. The new party groupings of the 1820 revolution were permanent. Liberalism both in Spain and Portugal was divided into moderate and exalted wings.

The strength of the Exaltados lay in the provincial extremism of the Juntas, which ruled Spain until June-July, and in the revolutionary army of Riego. Thus emerged the mechanism of revolution: on its military side the army coup; on its civilian side, the take-over by local Juntas whose extreme claims, particularly in Galicia and the south, constituted a federal structure where sovereign Juntas, controlling the new Urban Militia, communicated directly with each other. Though these enthusiasts had made the revolution, they did not share the definitive distribution of higher patronage. The government, composed of men of 1812, regarded the new revolutionaries as 'poor folk'. In the capital the Exaltados could produce mob pressure which may be seen less as the emergence of an underworld terror depicted by Galdos than as the ebullience of the fiesta. From the ministry's endeavour to regain control of the army and from the use of the Madrid mob by the Exaltados in defence of Riego's army dates the split in patriot unity that was to paralyse the revolution (September 1821). The Exaltados were weak in a capital of satisfied job-seekers: the government impotent in the provinces. This dualism was to define revolutionary politics until 1874.

The exiles of the ministry of 'gaol birds' (March 1820) sought to control the committee stage of the revolution, enshrined in the Juntas and the clubs, and to satisfy the king by a conservative revision of the constitution of 1812. In exile, men like Martinez de la Rosa had been converted to a belief in a limited franchise, a second chamber and a strong executive. The amnestied Afrancesados, the ablest single group in politics, would have been their natural allies but for the doubtfully patriotic past which cut them off from office, leaving them the professional critics of the regime. The moderate programme could only succeed with the loyal support of the king: instead the court plotted against any constitution to the point of allying itself with the Exaltados. The great weakness of the revolution was that the constitution could not do without a king whose sole aim was to destroy it.

Revolution in Italy 1820s Part I


General Guglielmo Pepe

The revolution in Naples had military leadership. Although their interests had been safeguarded in 1815, many of Murat's officers felt that they were being unjustly discriminated against in promotion. The rivalry of Carbonari and Calderari had led almost to civil war in some regions and this focused the soldiers' sense of grievance. The lodges of the Carbonari formed a link between them and the middling landowners who ran most of the lodges. In so far as they were defined, the aims of the Carbonari were limited monarchy, administrative reform, the continuation of the assault on feudalism and the abandonment of mercantilism. Occasionally there were hints of a more active Carbonarist interest in land-reform. In 1820 the soldiers and Carbonari suddenly came together because of circumstance; in the long run this was a source of weakness but it produced the Neapolitan revolution.

In Naples the repressive measures of the regime reached a climax in May and June 1820. In Spain there had been a successful revolution in January and for the moment it did not look as if the powers were going to intervene there; perhaps, then, there was reason to think they would not intervene if a rising took place in Naples. Spain was also connected with Naples through Ferdinand. He had a claim to the inheritance of the Spanish throne; to maintain his rights there he had taken an oath to maintain the 1812 constitution and, if he could do this in Spain, why could he not also swear to uphold a Neapolitan constitution? On 2 July there was a mutiny in the garrison at Nola, and the local Carbonari supported it. The garrison at Capua joined in the next day and General Guglielmo Pepe assumed the leadership of the rebels. The government soon gave in and promised a constitution on the Spanish model. A new ministry, consisting of former sympathisers with Murat, was set up, but contained no members of the Carbonari; this was important, for the lodges were the only effective popular or semipopular support available to liberals. Pepe was the only real link between the ministry and the Carbonari.

It was not surprising that the Neapolitan revolution should have been followed a week later by a Sicilian separatist rising. Its disorders soon alarmed the possessing classes in the island, which was paralysed during the summer while the revolution was contained by the aristocracy and members of the corporations. The rebels were weakened by the rivalry of Palermo (where the original outbreak had taken place) with Messina, and they finally capitulated in September. When, on 1 October, the new parliament met at Naples it contained no Sicilian deputies. It supported a Carbonarist ministry deluded by the belief that Great Britain would, if necessary, intervene to protect Neapolitan constitutionalism and by confidence in Ferdinand's word.

Unfortunately the attitude of Great Britain towards intervention was that it was not objectionable if Austria acted alone. After the preliminary protocol of Troppau, Ferdinand lied himself into being allowed to present the Neapolitan case to the allies and, as soon as he was safely at Genoa on a British cruiser, disavowed all his concessions. He asked formally for assistance at Laibach. The Neapolitan government had been much weakened militarily by the absence of many of their soldiers in Sicily, and morally by the split which now divided the Muratist officers from the Carbonarist politicians. General Pepe was defeated by an Austrian army which on 23 March entered the capital. The restoration had been accomplished quickly and not very bloodily. Afterwards only two liberals were executed although many went into exile. In May an amnesty was offered to all except the original mutineers. The revolution had failed because of the divisions among the revolutionaries themselves, because of the distraction of the Sicilian revolt (which gave its last kick at Messina in March 1821), because of its lack of agreed aims, because of Ferdinand's duplicity, but above all because the powers acquiesced in the use of the Austrian army against it. Had the revolution succeeded, it might have blocked the way to unification by creating a constitutional state with a particular interest in survival. By failing, it contributed powerfully to the mythology of the risorgimento and to the growing number of exiles. Above all, it clearly associated Austria with the preservation not merely of a divided Italy but of anti-liberal governments. The Austrian army remained at Naples until 1827.

1848 in Austro-Hungary

Posted: Sunday, June 13, 2010

Capitulation of Hungarian Army at Világos 1849
In 1848, when a series of revolutions broke out across Europe, Pest, Vienna, and Prague were among the cities at the forefront of experiments with political reform. In Hungary, under the leadership of Lajos Kossuth (1802.1894), the diet rapidly proclaimed a new constitutional regime in April (the April Laws). This arrangement confirmed Hungary’s existence independent of other Habsburg territories, promised liberal rights of citizenship and enfranchisement to many more inhabitants (although not to Jews or to small property owners), and maintained full enfranchisement for any noble, no matter how poor. The Hungarian reformers postponed any significant transformation of the manorial system, a tack that pleased the broad gentry class and nobility but did little to satisfy the peasantry. Furthermore, the April Laws imposed the Magyar language on state and society, and this tended to diminish revolutionary unity, provoking opposition among leaders in Croatia and Transylvania who rejected Magyar predominance and insisted on using Latin in their communications with the government. In fact the question of defining the nation and the privileged role of the Magyar language helped to alienate many who spoke other languages and who might otherwise have sympathized with the new liberal constitutional regime. Later in 1848 and 1849 the Habsburg military carefully exploited this alienation as the dynasty struggled to reimpose control over Hungary. The dynasty’s strategy of divide and conquer ultimately provoked the Hungarian revolutionaries in turn to depose the Habsburgs and to declare full independence in April 1849.

In Vienna the government collapsed in March 1848, Metternich fled, and the emperor;s advisors promised a constitutional regime with liberal franchise laws, civil rights, the abolition of censorship, and, eventually, an end to the remaining vestiges of serfdom and the manorial system (which in Galicia were considerable). Occasional outbursts of popular violence in Vienna throughout the spring continued to drive the revolution further to the left, until the court found it expedient to remove itself to the safer, more conservative city of Innsbruck. In July an Austrian parliament elected by means of an extremely generous suffrage set about writing a constitution, and it too was eventually removed to the sleepy town of Kremsier/Kroměříž. in Moravia in order to avoid the political pressures exerted by the radical crowd in the streets of Vienna. At the same time, the issue of political nationalism came to the fore in several different and often contradictory contexts. Austria sent a large delegation to the Frankfurt National Assembly, which struggled in 1848 and 1849 to forge a new united Germany. Liberal Austrians who sat in the Frankfurt National Assembly tended to share an idealistic vision of a future united Germany that would include the non-German-speaking Habsburg territories. The inhabitants of these territories, it was imagined, would receive linguistic rights where necessary from the fraternal German people, and they would reap considerable benefits from their participation in the high cultural and economic development of the German nation. In fact, using a universal language of inclusion, many Austro-German liberals imagined their nation to be defined by its very commitment to the values of liberal humanism, values available to any struggling people in east-central Europe.

At the same time, and in reaction to the events at Frankfurt, Czech national liberal leaders proclaimed their own adherence to an Austria separate from Germany and defined by Slav interests. The (bilingual) Bohemian historian František Palacký(1798–1876), who had been invited to participate in the planning process for the Frankfurt National Assembly, used the occasion of his reply to articulate this Austro-Slav position most effectively. Calling for an Austria organized around a principle of Slav solidarity, since this would protect the so-called smaller nations of central Europe from German and Russian hegemony, Palacký argued that had Austria not existed, it would have had to be invented for this very purpose. In June an informal Slav Congress even met in Prague, although its activities tended to demonstrate the difficulties of forging a common program that would unite the political interests of Czech, Polish, Ukrainian, Slovak, Serbian, and Slovene speakers across the Monarchy.

Many historians have since judged nationalism rather than liberalism to have been the major source of discontent in 1848. Such a judgment accepts the nationalist rhetoric of 1848 at face value, and views it in the context of modern nationalist sensibilities, rather than in terms of the specific and limited meanings that attached to such language over 150 years ago. The fact that Austro- Slav declarations by Czech nationalist leaders caught their German-speaking counterparts in Bohemia by surprise should alert the observer to the relative novelty and insignificance of the national issue to most Austrians in 1848. Nationalist discourse became a critical vehicle for conveying regional demands that year, but the nations it invoked were largely figments of the nationalists’ own imagination. More often than not, regional and class loyalties far outweighed their nationalist counterparts. German and Czech-identified deputies to the Austrian parliament from Bohemia (many of whom were bilingual) agreed more often with each other, for example, than they did with German-speaking delegates from Lower Austria or Styria. And unlike their Polish noble counterparts, Polish-speaking peasant deputies to the parliament sought an immediate end to all forms of manorialism. Many historians of 1848 have also argued that the work of the constitutional committee at the parliament in Kremsier constituted the last possibility for a friendly constitutional understanding among the various ‘‘nations’’ of Austria. Indeed the work of the committee provided a notable model for later Austrian constitutions, but the compromises achieved by the committee emerged from its members’ powerful conviction that their common liberal sympathies far outweighed nationalist differences. Whether they held centralist or federalist views, German national or Slav national orientations, the men at Kremsier largely put aside their differences over the latter issues to produce a bill of rights and state structure that would have transformed dynastic Austria into a genuinely constitutional regime.

Their efforts, however, would not pay off for another twenty years. Already in the summer of 1848 the regime had begun to reassert its dominance against the revolution, even against its more moderate proponents. In June, Field Marshal Prince Alfred Windischgrätz successfully laid siege to Prague, ending both the Slav Congress and a radical student uprising there. In October the military besieged revolutionary Vienna, long since abandoned by the court and most moderates. In early December the regime replaced the faltering Emperor Ferdinand with the eighteen-year-old Francis Joseph I (r. 1848–1916), and in the spring of 1849 the new emperor and his prime minister, Felix Schwarzenberg, sent the Austrian parliament home, imposing a constitution of their own devising on Austria. Later in 1849, with the help of the Russian military, the Austrians finally managed to defeat the armies of the Hungarian rebels, and in 1851 the emperor decided to rule openly as an absolute monarch by abrogating the constitution he had issued a year before.

1846 in Galicia


"Rzeź galicyjska" by Jan Lewicki (1795-1871)

Some critical observers such as Count István Széchenyi (1791–1860) in Hungary blamed Hungary’s political weakness and economic poverty precisely on a shortsighted nobility that gave little thought to the economic welfare of the larger society and fought only to maintain its class privilege. Nobles in Galicia learned the hard way that if a Polish nation did in fact exist, its membership was limited to the uppermost classes, who were often hated by the rest of society. In another sign of the limited extent of national self-identification in these regions, peasants often mythologized their Habsburg rulers for having attempted to intervene on their behalf over the years against their noble masters. Such peasants did not see themselves as part of an imagined Hungarian or Polish nation. When in 1846 Polish nobles in Galicia rebelled against the Habsburgs, Polish- and Ukrainian-speaking peasants famously turned on their rebellious landlords in large numbers and massacred them, claiming to oppose the oppressive Polish nation in whose name the nobles had rebelled.

Armies of the 1848-49 Hungarian Rising

Posted: Monday, May 31, 2010


Posted: Monday, May 10, 2010

The unrest in Hungary in 1848 and 1849 was largely an expression of Magyar nationalism, and as such was opposed by those from minority ethnic groups, in particular the Croats. In 1849, with Louis Kossuth appointed president of an independent republic of Hungary, the Austrians accepted Russian assistance, offered in the spirit of the Holy Alliance, and the rebels were eventually crushed at the Battle of Timisoara.

Austria was by this time largely under the control of Foreign Minister Metternich, who used his influence to persuade the other major European powers to assist Austria in crushing revolts in Spain, Naples and Piedmont. His own methods involved the limited use of secret police and the partial censorship of universities and freemasons. The years 1848 and 1849 saw a succession of largely unsuccessful uprisings against the absolutist rule of the Habsburg monarchy. Although reforms of the legal and administrative systems (known as the "April Laws") were set to take effect in Hungary later that year, they did not apply to the rest of the Habsburg territories. The unrest started in Vienna in March 1848 (as a result of which Metternich was dismissed) and spread to Prague, Venice and Milan. A Constituent Assembly was summoned to revise the constitution, but its only lasting action was to abolish serfdom. By the autumn the unrest had reached Hungary as a number of ethnic groups within the empire made bids for greater national rights and freedoms. In December the ineffectual Ferdinand I abdicated in favour of his nephew, Francis Joseph. Not feeling bound by the April Laws, Francis Joseph annulled the Hungarian constitution, causing the Hungarian leader Louis Kossuth to declare a republic. With the help of the Russians (who feared the spread of revolutionary fervour), and the Serbs, Croats and Romanians (who all feared Hungarian domination), the Austrian army succeeded in crushing the revolt in 1849.

From 1849 onwards an even more strongly centralized system of government was established. Trade and commerce were encouraged by fiscal reforms, and the railway network expanded. Coupled with peasant emancipation - for which landowners had been partially compensated by the government - these measures led to a trebling of the national debt over ten years. Higher taxes and a national loan raised from wealthier citizens led to discontent among the Hungarian nobles, who wished to see the restoration of the April Laws. In 1859 war in the Italian provinces forced the Austrians to cede Lombardy.


Posted: Sunday, April 25, 2010

Filippo Giuseppe Maria Ludovico Buonarroti
The Carbonari were one of the many secret societies that proliferated in the years after the French Revolution, and especially after the Bourbon Restoration. Indeed, the secret societies and the fears of secret conspiracies were skillfully exploited by legitimist governments after 1814 to justify often extreme measures of political repression and the curtailment of individual liberties.

Since the numbers of the secret societies and the often impossible actions attributed to them were deliberately exaggerated as much by their supporters as by opponents, it is often still difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. But the secret societies existed, among them the Carbonari, which were prominent and especially prolific in southern Italy. Like nearly all the other secret societies, the Carbonarist lodges were modeled on the freemasonic lodges that had spread widely in Europe in the late eighteenth century and were officially promoted throughout Napoleon’s empire (1804–1814/15). As opposition to French imperialism grew, however, the secret societies offered the emperor’s opponents a less visible alternative to freemasonry.

The first references to the Carbonari in southern Italy came at precisely the moment when relations between Napoleon I and his brother-in-law Joachim Murat (1767–1815), were breaking down. Murat had ruled Napoleon’s satellite Kingdom of Naples since 1808, but relations with Paris deteriorated to the point that in 1811 he nearly lost his throne. As Murat’s position in the imperial enterprise weakened, he became more dependent on his Neapolitan supporters, who in turn pressed for a constitution.

This became the principal political platform of the Carbonarist lodges, whose name was adopted from the Charbonnerie, an informal secret association among the charcoal burners (charbonniers) of the Jura Mountains between France and Switzerland. The name seems to have been taken at random by a group of French officers, hostile to Napoleon, whose regiment took part in the conquest of southern Italy in 1806. One of the first Carbonarist lodges was founded in Calabria by Pierre-Joseph Briot, a senior French official who was also an unreconstructed Jacobin and a longtime opponent of Bonaparte’s dictatorship.

The Carbonarists had adopted two alternative political projects. One was the constitution conceded by the king of Spain to the Cortes (legislative assembly) of Cadiz in 1812, and the other was the very different constitution that the British had imposed on Sicily in the same year. Support for these demands spread quickly, and an insurrection in the Abruzzi in 1813 revealed strong support in the army as well. The government immediately banned the Carbonarist lodges, and in Milan, Napoleon’s viceroy Euge`ne Beauharnais did the same. But when in 1814 Murat defected from the empire, on three separate occasions his generals demanded a constitution as the condition for their support.

In southern Italy the Carbonarist lodges played an important role in the transition of power after the fall of Napoleon and Murat and the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in 1815. Their great hope was that the Bourbons would extend the Sicilian constitution to the whole kingdom, but instead it was abolished. As a result, the lodges began to spread both on the mainland and now also in Sicily much to the alarm of the authorities.

Those fears were shared more widely as numerous new and old secret societies began to appear all over Europe. They had a bewildering panoply of names and projects: the Adelfi, the Decisi, the Perfect Sublime Masters, the Calderai, to name only a few. Some supported the legitimist restorations, others opposed them, and others had their own projects, like the Russian Decembrists, the Polish Patriotic Society, and the Greek Hetaira Philike´. A growing source of public alarm, the presence of these conspiracies, real or imagined, provided the authorities with pretexts for draconian public security measures, whereas for an inveterate conspirator like Filippo Michele Buonarroti (1761– 1837), a conspirator in the 1796 ‘‘Conspiracy of Equals’’ in Paris and now in the safety of Geneva, these fears gave substance to a revolutionary threat that he knew did not exist but dearly wanted to create.

In southern Italy the Bourbon government was paralyzed by its fear of the Carbonari. The fears grew when an insurrection at Macerata in the Papal State in 1817 was attributed to the Carbonari, but in Naples the generals reported that the lodges were too many and too powerful for a frontal attack. When the Spanish revolution took place in January 1820, southern Italy at first seemed calm. But when a protest began in the cavalry barracks at Nola at the beginning of July, within days the protest spread to other regiments. Faced with a general mutiny the monarchy was forced to concede the Spanish constitution.

The revolutions in Naples and Sicily in 1820 succeeded because the constitutional program had overwhelming support in the army, but there is strong evidence to suggest that they were planned in the Carbonarist lodges, where the constitutional project was prepared and which during the nine months of constitutional government played an important role in maintaining order. But it was hardly surprising that the Carbonarist revolution in Naples and Sicily rang fresh alarms through Restoration Europe and many now claimed that the secret societies were the invisible hand that linked the revolutions in Spain, Naples, and Sicily to the Cato Street conspiracy in London, the murder of the duc de Berri in France and of the journalist August von Kotzebue in Germany in 1819, which was the immediate pretext for the draconian Carlsbad Decrees.

In November, Prince Clemens von Metternich (1773–1859) summoned the European rulers to meet at Troppau in October to coordinate action against the forces of revolution. During the meeting, when the tsar, Alexander I, was informed of a mutiny in one of the St. Petersburg regiments, he immediately detected the work of the secret societies. With the willing complicity of the king of Naples, an Austrian army was dispatched to southern Italy in March 1821, and the revolutions were crushed. The Carbonarist lodges were closed, and their members arrested or placed under police surveillance, dismissed from public office, and banned from the professions.

According to Metternich, the Carbonari were ‘‘prelates, priests and citizens of distinguished rank.’’ In fact, they also included many artisans and lesser landowners, but overwhelmingly the Carbonarist lodges gave political voices for the first time to the provincial gentry, of which they were now deprived. However, the police records also show that their numbers were much smaller than the authorities liked to believe, and their suppression served primarily to justify political purges that extended to the entire army, public officials, and the clergy.

Despite the defeat of the revolutions in Naples and Sicily, elsewhere in Europe fear of the secret societies now reached a peak. In December 1821 the Carbonari were banned by the pope, but the discovery of plans by a French Charbonnerie to stage revolts in Belfort and Saumur in December 1821 caused new alarms that were exacerbated when four sergeants who were put on trial at La Rochelle for complicity refused to divulge any information.

By 1824 the panic was subsiding, Europe was not in flames, and Metternich decided that the threat had been grossly exaggerated all along. By now the revolutionaries were also losing patience, and the failed insurrections that took place in the Papal State in 1831 were the last strike of the Carbonari. A year later Giuseppe Mazzini (1805–1872) founded Young Italy, the revolutionary society that explicitly rejected the tradition of secret conspiracy. Mazzini had begun his career as a member of the Carbonari in Genoa, but now he called on Italian revolutionaries to declare themselves openly and to proselytize the young to the national cause, accusing the Carbonari of adhering to the revolutionary strategies of the French Jacobins that he believed to be outdated and unworkable.

The Carbonari now disappeared as quickly as they had materialized. Under attack from the revolutionaries and under growing pressure from the police, the secret societies came to be seen as anachronistic. Former Carbonarists found new berths in a variety of political movements, some more some less militant, while others reverted to mainstream freemasonry. In France, for example, the Charbonnerie made a brief reappearance during the July Revolution in 1830 but were subsequently absorbed into the republican movement. However, while the political threat they posed was certainly exaggerated, the Carbonari and other secret societies enabled European governments to impose even tighter controls—over the press and public associations but also on army officers, public servants, the clergy, and the independent professions—that remained in force down to 1848, and in many cases well beyond.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Davis, J. A. Naples and Napoleon: Reform, Revolution, and Empire in Southern Italy, 1750–1820. Oxford, U.K., forthcoming. Roberts, John Morris. The Mythology of the Secret Societies. New York, 1972. Spitzer, Alan B. Old Hatreds and Young Hopes: The French Carbonari against the Bourbon Restoration. Cambridge, Mass., 1971.


The Carlsbad Decrees were a series of measures adopted by the German Confederation in 1819 that established severe limitations on academic and press freedoms and set up a federal commission to investigate all signs of political unrest in the German states.

The Napoleonic Wars had spurred the growth of a small but influential nationalist movement in Germany, which garnered some of its most fervent supporters from among students and professors. After the anti-Napoleonic campaigns of 1813– 1815, student veterans returned to their universities and founded a series of nationalist fraternities or Burschenschaften, which were intended to promote the values of ‘‘Germanness, militancy, honor, and chastity.’’ While the Burschenschaften were active throughout Germany’s Protestant universities, the radical hub of the movement was Jena. There students and like-minded professors took advantage of the new press freedoms granted in Saxony-Weimar’s 1816 constitution to promote liberal and nationalist positions and critique the slow pace of reform in Germany since the Congress of Vienna. Saxony-Weimar was also the site of the Wartburg Festival (October 1817), in which students gathered to sing nationalist hymns, issue vague demands for freedom and unity, and burn a list of books they deemed reactionary or anti- German. These developments were viewed with alarm by the Austrian chancellor Clemens von Metternich, who saw the student movement as a serious threat to the Restoration order established at Vienna. Metternich maintained that such radicalism was encouraged by an overly lenient attitude among government officials in Prussia and by the broader push toward constitutional government in Baden, Bavaria, Württemberg, and Saxony- Weimar.

Metternich was already seeking to clamp down on the Burschenschaften and their supporters when they provided him with a perfect pretext. On 23 March 1819 the student Karl Sand assassinated the conservative playwright August von Kotzebue in his apartment in Mannheim. Kotzebue had been a vociferous critic of the radical nationalist movement (one of his books was on the list burned at the Wartburg Festival); moreover, as a prolific and highly successful author of light comedies he was widely seen as the embodiment of Old Regime frivolity and lasciviousness. Recently it had become known that Kotzebue was sending reports on German cultural affairs to the Russian tsar. Sand, a student of theology at Jena and a member of the local Burschenschaft, resolved to take matters into his own hands, striking down this ‘‘traitor’’ to the German nation. With Kotzebue dead, Sand attempted to kill himself but was instead arrested, tried, and eventually executed. Meanwhile, a deranged student had made an attempt on the life of a district official in Nassau, adding to the sense of unrest and imminent revolution.

Sand’s act represented a substantial reversal for the reform party in Prussia, as moderates like Karl August von Hardenberg and Karl von Altenstein lost influence with Frederick William III (r. 1797–1840) to more reactionary members of his cabinet. At a meeting in Teplitz on 1 August, Metternich and the Prussian king agreed that their states would take a common hardline policy against the ‘‘revolutionary party’’ in Germany. The outlines of that policy were hammered out two weeks later at a conference of ministers from ten leading German states, which took place in the resort locale of Carlsbad. The conference drafted a series of decrees, which were then approved unanimously at a meeting of the Federal Diet on 20 September 1819.

The Carlsbad Decrees consisted of four laws. The University Law established a state plenipotentiary for each university, who was responsible for maintaining proper discipline and morality. The state governments were obligated to remove any teacher who taught subversive doctrines or otherwise abused his authority and to enforce existing laws against secret student organizations (that is, the Burschenschaften). Professors fired by one university could not be hired by another, and students found guilty of involvement with the Burschenschaften were banned from future employment in public office. The Press Law required that all books and periodicals shorter than 320 pages be approved by a censorship board before they could be published. Periodicals that harmed the interests of a German state could be shut down and their editors banned from publishing for as long as five years. An Investigative Law set up a federal investigative body that was charged with examining and reporting on all evidence of political unrest in Germany (though prosecution of suspects was left to the individual states). Finally, the Provisional Execution Order granted the Confederation the authority to take action against states that failed to suppress revolutionary activities within their borders.

The immediate effect of the Carlsbad Decrees was a stifling of liberal political expression in Germany. The Burschenschaften were banned, liberal professors were fired, and students suspected of illegal activities found the path to government office blocked. Thus Prussia and Austria were able to impose an effective conservative hegemony within the Confederation, hampering efforts toward liberal or constitutional reform. Once the decrees attained permanent status in 1824, government spying and censorship became a way of life in Germany, often lamented in the writings of Heinrich Heine and Ludwig Börne. Yet the impact of the Carlsbad Decrees should not be overstated. Application of these laws was always uneven, and opposition figures became quite skillful in skirting the censors. Moreover, the Revolution of 1830 in France would unleash a new wave of political unrest in Germany, which led to new constitutions in Hannover and Saxony and liberal reforms in a number of other states. Still, it required another revolution (that of 1848) before the Carlsbad Decrees were finally repealed by the Federal Diet in April 1848.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Büssem, Eberhard. Die Karlsbader Beschlu¨ sse von 1819: Die endgültige Stabiliserung der restaurativen Politik im Deutschen Bund nach dem Wiener Kongress 1814/15. Hildesheim, Germany, 1974. Huber, Ernst Rudolf. Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte seit 1789. Vol. 1: Reform und Restauration 1789 bis 1830. Stuttgart, Germany, 1957. Sheehan, James J. German History, 1770–1866. Oxford, U.K., 1989. Williamson, George S. ‘‘What Killed August von Kotzebue?: The Temptations of Virtue and the Political Theology of German Nationalism, 1789–1819.’’ Journal of Modern History 72, no. 4 (2000): 890–943.

Radetzky in Italy

Posted: Sunday, February 21, 2010

Johann Josef Wenzel Graf Radetzky von Radetz

Liberal Hungary’s nemesis was certainly gathering strength. A week after the chain bridge accident, the reaction triumphed again, this time in Italy. In June Field Marshal Radetzky had at last convinced the Austrian government that the war was winnable. The cabinet had been rather stung by the old fox’s recent sharp remarks, such as, in a letter to Latour on 21 June, ‘I only wish . . . that the Minister [Pillersdorf ] could have as much success in battle against the intelligentsia of our time . . . as I am now having, despite being in the minority, in battles and skirmishes with the King of Sardinia.’ Six days later, Latour gave Radetzky the order he sought: to gamble Austrian power in Italy on one decisive battle.The omens were good. Charles Albert had divided his forces, with 28,000 in front of Verona and 42,000 laying siege to Mantua. Radetzky now had 74,000 troops. He planned to ram a wedge between the Piedmontese by driving those in front of Verona back on to Peschiera.

The attack began on 22 July, and on the following day Radetzky smashed his way through the very centre of the Piedmontese line, which defended a series of hill-top villages north of the settlement that gave this epic encounter its name: Custozza. Charles Albert tried to counter-attack in the broiling heat of 24 July – and, at one stage, the King saw Italian tricolours being waved triumphantly on the heights – but in the small hours of the next day, Radetzky brought the full weight of his forces to bear on the parched, exhausted Italian units and swept them back off the slopes.

 Charles Albert’s forces fell back on Milan, which turned out to be a mere staging-post in a general Piedmontese withdrawal from the war. In the Lombard capital power now slipped out of the hands of discredited monarchists and into those of the republicans, who, advised by Mazzini, prepared to resist the Austrians by throwing up earthworks, building barricades and collecting what money, ammunition and provisions could be had at such short notice. Food and ammunition were scarce and most of the available artillery was in Piacenza. While Charles Albert assured the populace on 5 August that he intended to fight, he was already negotiating terms with Radetzky. It was agreed that the Piedmontese would march out of Milan on 6 August and then have a day in which to withdraw altogether from Lombardy, taking with them all those who had ‘compromised’ themselves in the revolution. Radetzky would enter the city the following day. When word of this deal leaked out in the night of 5–6 August, an enraged crowd surged around the Greppi Palace, where Charles Albert was staying. The King had to be extricated by his troops, who were already beginning their evacuation. ‘The city of Milan is ours’, wrote a triumphant Radetzky twenty-four hours later: ‘no enemy remains on Lombard soil’. On 9 August, the Piedmontese General Salasco signed an armistice.

Radetzky’s grit – he had, after all, bullishly refused to follow earlier government orders to negotiate – and his military skills had retrieved Austrian power in Italy. By significantly easing the pressure on the Viennese government, he also contributed immensely to the survival of the Habsburg Empire itself in 1848.

Venice and Custozza


Venice was now completely isolated in an Austrian sea. The news of Custozza and the armistice ‘fell on Venice like a thunderbolt from a serene sky’, as the American consul, Edmund Flagg, put it. The Venetian vote for ‘fusion’ was now redundant, and Daniele Manin emerged from the crisis with great credit. The small, bespectacled republican had refused to be part of the monarchist provisional government that had been appointed on 5 July: ‘I am and will remain a republican. In a monarchist state I can be nothing.’  As if to ram the point home, Manin put on his civic guard uniform and, with the rank of private, took his turns doing sentry duty – a simple citizen doing his best for his city. The monarchist ‘July government’ certainly had its work cut out, for the Austrians, commanded by Marshal Franz von Welden, had isolated the city from the terra firma. His forces, numbering some nine thousand, were now extended in a cordon around the lagoon. Yet many of these troops were shivering with malaria, and there was no immediately obvious way of striking at the city itself, which was defended by no fewer than fifty-four forts, only three of which were on terra firma. Command of the 22,000-strong Venetian forces (of whom 12,000 were Italian volunteers and regular troops who had converged on the city from all over Italy) had been given on 15 June to General Pepe, who had reached the city on a steamer from Chiogga with the remnants of his Neapolitan regiments.

The population’s hostility towards the monarchists was palpable: the provinces of the mainland had voted for fusion, not the great city itself. With news of Custozza, the anger in Venice boiled over. On 3 August, some 150 people, fired up with Mazzinian ideas, gathered in the Casino dei Cento and established the Italian Club, ostensibly to discuss the problems of the day, but in reality as an alternative, republican, centre of power. When the Piedmontese commissioners, who had been sent to Venice to assume authority in Charles Albert’s name, arrived four days later, they were greeted with a storm of hostility. On 10 August, the leading republicans, including Manin and Tommaseo, signed a protest and demanded a meeting of the Venetian assembly. The government made itself remarkably unpopular when it tactlessly cited the old Austrian laws to try to silence its critics in the press and in the Italian Club. The following day, it yielded, agreeing to the creation of a committee of defence to be elected by the assembly. The Piedmontese commissioners resigned their powers, but they were still hounded on Saint Mark’s Square, by a Venetian crowd baying for their blood.

At this dangerous moment, Daniele Manin was busy browsing in a bookshop. This pleasant activity was interrupted when he was summoned to meet with the government and the commissioners. His very appearance on the balcony above the Piazza stilled the turbulence below. Manin promised them that the Venetian assembly would meet on 13 August and that, in the meantime, he would assume power. He called on all Venetians to defend their city. His audience, which moments before had been intent on murder, erupted into ecstatic cheering: ‘Viva Manin! To the forts!’ The mood of the city changed from one of anger and bewilderment to one of hope: the son of a leading republican later recalled ‘with what confidence in saving the motherland we stayed up to watch the dawn breaking over the railway bridge and the battered vessels of our fleet!’ Manin had carried off a coup, and not just against the monarchists: he had also stolen a march on the Mazzinians, who had hoped to seize power themselves. Manin had always feared the dangers of mob rule. To him, Mazzini’s ideas of revolution seemed to pose just such a threat, and one of his tasks, as he saw it, was to prevent ‘anarchy’. He viewed the June days in Paris as precisely the kind of bloody social chaos into which Venice could easily sink unless its leaders made law and order their priority.

Nevertheless, the more urgent problem was the war against Austria, which Venice was now bearing virtually alone. When the assembly met on 13 August, Manin agreed to share power with two military commanders, one from the army, Colonel Giovanni Cavedalis, the other from the navy, Admiral Leone Graziani. In order to ensure that the greatest possible unity would prevail, Manin went so far as to declare that Venice would not, once again, be proclaimed a republic. The government, he said, was provisional ‘in every meaning of the term’. This was another slap in Mazzinian faces, who were capable of mounting a serious challenge to the new triumvirate, since they had a great deal of support among the non- Venetian volunteers and troops. But Manin’s popularity with the wider population was greater still, and he had the backing of the commander-in-chief, Pepe. So it was that, until the autumn, Manin successfully resisted the pressure from the Italian Club (and from Mazzini himself ) to transform Venice into the hard kernel of Italian republicanism, from which the rest of the country could be revolutionised.

The European Political System – 1830 & 1848

Posted: Friday, January 22, 2010
The revolutions of 1830 showed the flexibility of the system. The new French regime was accepted, with Palmerston leading the way. The British doctrine that the territorial status quo, and not the domestic regime, mattered was accepted by the other powers. But the revolt in Belgium in the same year against William I, king of the Netherlands, showed that even the territorial status quo could alter. His appeals to the sanctity of the 1815 treaties went unheeded, an illustration of the primacy of power over law in international relations, and the vulnerability of small states in nineteenth century diplomacy. Belgium’s creation in 1831, bolstered by a guarantee of its neutrality by the great powers, was the destruction of one state (the Netherlands), as much as the formation of a new one. Belgian security was only important to the great powers because they feared that the Belgian revolutionaries might unite with France, damaging the territorial buffers of 1815. If the Concert of Europe was sufficiently flexible to accommodate Belgian independence, the new state proved a model of restraint, eschewing any aspirations towards union with France which would have meant war. Belgian independence was preserved by the constellations of great power politics, rather than the flimsy treaty guarantees of 1831 to which no great power felt bound.

Security concerns rather than ideological principles had dictated the policy of the three eastern and conservative great powers. Austria’s and Russia’s repression of revolts in Italy in 1830 and Poland in 1831 respectively showed that the spheres of influence marked out in 1815 were broadly respected. Prussia also fulfilled its role as guardian of the Rhineland against any possible French invasion in 1830, underlining the geopolitical shift of its priorities towards western Germany, which had taken place in 1815. The German Confederation could not play the defensive role assigned to it by the 1815 settlement. Military mobilization was dependent on the initiative of individual states, most notably Prussia. That state confirmed itself as the leading German power, while Austria had non-German commitments in Italy. The Third Germany looked to Prussia for protection against the potential French menace – the rights enshrined in treaties still depended on military force. It remained a balance of power system, not an equilibrium of rights and interests. Restraint was induced by calculations of power, spheres of influence, and grouping rather than an automatic respect for international treaties.

The 1830 revolutions appeared at first glance to have opened an ideological rift within Europe with three conservative eastern great powers facing liberal France and Britain. In 1833 Austria, Prussia, and Russia concluded a treaty allowing intervention in aid of any legitimate ruler against revolution. In 1834 France, Britain, Spain, and Portugal concluded the Quadruple Alliance.
The 1848 revolutions represented a massive challenge to the territorial settlement of 1815, particularly in Central Europe where the formation of German, Hungarian, and Italian states became possible. The Concert of Europe demonstrated its continued strength in preventing any territorial change and averting a war between the great powers. This was partly due to the monarchical solidarity of the three eastern powers, though calculations of power relations played the decisive role. For the most part, the habits of grouping and restraint informed the foreign policies of the great powers, despite nationalist pressures. Small states, such as Piedmont-Sardinia in Italy, which challenged the territorial order were left to pay the price, while those, like Belgium and Denmark, which sought the maintenance of the status quo were supported. The incentives during the international crisis were for restraint. Yet there was also evidence of flexibility. Statesmen were willing to countenance change – such as the unification of Germany under Prussia – as long as it did not disrupt the balance of power. To this extent, the Concert system survived 1848 in terms of the principles of the behavior of the great powers.

Britain and Russia played a particularly important role in controlling the international consequences of the revolutions in their particular spheres of influence. Britain recognized another new French regime which signaled its conservative foreign policy by assuring Spain and Belgium of its peaceful intentions. Russia played a much more dramatic role in Central Europe where it suppressed a Hungarian revolt which threatened the Habsburg Empire. Austria was active in Italy, defeating Piedmont- Sardinia in 1848 and 1849.

Polish Insurrection 1830

Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2010


The most dramatic surge of resistance to the conservative order came in Poland, where in November 1830 the patience of the patriotic Polish nobility within the Russian partition snapped when the Tsar mobilised the Polish army in response to the revolutions in Western Europe. The insurrection lasted ten months and was crushed – after some bloody and intense fighting – by a 120,000- strong Russian army under General Ivan Paskevich (who would help repress another revolution in 1849). In the retribution that followed, a staggering eighty-thousand Poles were dragged off in chains to Siberia.

Poland sat uneasily under Russian rule. The revolutions of 1830 provided inspiration for Polish revolutionaries, and a ticking clock. Poland would soon be occupied by massive numbers of Russian troops preparing for foreign intervention, meaning revolution had to come quickly or not at all. In November 1830, Polish cadets and junior officers launched a coup in Warsaw. They occupied public buildings, Warsaw crowds seized weapons from a government arsenal, and Russian authority evaporated. Nicholas’s brother Constantine, governor of Poland, escaped capture but begged Nicholas to show restraint. Constantine’s hopes for moderation were dashed. The Polish insurgents grew increasingly radical, formally deposing Nicholas as king of Poland at the beginning of 1831. Nicholas in turn resolved to crush this by force.

As in the two preceding wars, Russia found it difficult to employ its potential strength effectively. Nicholas’s troops invaded Poland in February 1831, and the early clashes were inconclusive enough to give Poles some hope of success. The spring thaw of 1831 turned roads to mud and delayed Russian progress, along with supply problems, a cholera epidemic, and harassment by Polish partisans. Finally, at the end of May, the Poles suffered a major defeat at Ostroleka, and the cohesion of Polish resistance broke down. A Russian army reached Warsaw in September 1831, and resistance collapsed. Thousands of Poles went into exile in western Europe, boosting an already-burgeoning wave of Russophobia. Nicholas was restrained in his reimposition of order in Poland, though the separate Polish army was abolished and its troops integrated into Russian forces.

Book Review: 1848: Year of Revolution.

Posted: Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Mike Rapport. 1848: Year of Revolution. New York: Basic Books, 2009. xvi + 461 pp. $29.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-465-01436-1.
Reviewed by Andreas Fahrmeir (Historisches Seminar, Universität Frankfurt)
Published on H-German (January, 2010)
Commissioned by Susan R. Boettcher

1848--Yet Again?
Mike Rapport is one of the few scholars who write European history not as the history of a few select countries, but of the entire continent. Rapport is at home in the history of the Balkans as well as France, Italy, Germany, Russia, and Scandinavia, and well versed in the historiography published in English, French, and Italian.[1] Rapport's well-rounded viewpoint is one excellent argument for anyone suffering from "1848 fatigue" after the sesquicentennial celebrations and their aftermath in conference volumes and historiographical reviews to put aside any skepticism regarding the possibility of anyone presenting a novel perspective; the book itself is another. In it, Rapport offers a narrative history of the events of 1848 in those European countries and regions affected directly by the revolution--France, Italy, the German states, Denmark, and Rumania--with some remarks on areas where the impact was more indirect (Britain, Russia, the Ottoman Empire, and Scandinavia). This book is less obviously an academic textbook than Jonathan Sperber's excellent survey of the revolutions of 1848,[2] and less encyclopedic than the survey of national events and overarching themes edited by Dieter Dowe and others for the 1998 anniversary.[3]

Rapport divides his book into an introduction and four large chapters. The introduction presents the tensions that erupted into revolution in 1848: constitutional debates and demands for broader participation in government, the "social question," and calls for national unity. Rapport distances himself from interpretations of 1848 as a "bourgeois" revolution. In line with the results of recent research, he emphasizes the limits of the social impact of industrialization even in the more economically advanced European countries. The first extensive chapter describes the collapse of the old order in the spring of 1848. The following three chapters continue the chronological account, but combine it with particular themes. "The Springtime of Peoples" is concerned with various attempts to institutionalize the gains of the revolution's first weeks, which led to various clashes between competing national agendas. "The Red Summer" takes the story forward and highlights the increasing incidence of social conflict that encouraged, if it did not bring about, the split between a radical-socialist Left and a conservative-liberal center. "The Counter-Revolutionary Autumn" focuses on the resurgence of the pillars of the old order: courts, conservative politicians, and the military, partly exemplified by the return of Louis Napoleon to France. "The Indian Summer of Revolution" is devoted to the defeat of the remaining islands of revolutionary republicanism in Germany and Italy and to the war against the Hungarian revolution in the first half of 1849. The book's conclusion describes the conversion of France's Second Republic into a Second Empire, but does not pursue the story in other European countries into 1850 (which witnessed Prussia's attempt to impose a German nation-state from above) or 1851 (when the last remnants of the Hungarian army moved into exile from Ottoman captivity).

Rapport's account is lively and eminently readable. Though it steers clear of presentism, the conclusions of each chapter discuss the legacy of 1848 for the history of Europe (and individual European countries) in the twentieth century: debates and decisions on the emancipation of religious and ethnic minorities; the trials and tribulations of parliamentary and republican government; or the paradox of attempts by parties composed of socially privileged members to ally with the lower orders against the forces of order without affecting the distribution of property.

Confusion and chaos were two of the lasting impressions the revolutions of 1848 left behind. This effect makes organizing any narrative of events difficult. While it is plausible to (re-)construct a typical revolutionary trajectory (liberal-democratic union, social and national tensions, conservative resurgence, and the revolutionaries' defeat), these phases occurred in different countries at very different times. Not all "March ministers" in German states, for example, were actually appointed in spring.[4] In Germany, the "red summer" coincided with the peak of the nation-state debate in autumn. The Indian summer of revolution in some places (notably in Rome, Venice, central Italy, and southwestern Germany) delayed the conservative resurgence until well into 1849, and given Prussia's non-conservative politics, one could argue that it was only fully in place in Germany in 1851. The decision to organize the narrative around broad themes thus involves some (inevitable) back-and-forth, thus requiring the reader to keep the chronology in the different regions in mind.

Rapport's "year of revolution" is clearly centered on France. The revolutionary events that had already begun in 1846 (the Krakow rebellion, the Lola Montez crisis in Bavaria, or the Swiss civil war), which Karl Marx took to be the beginning of the revolutions, do not seem as decisive to Rapport: Paris provided the spark that set Europe ablaze. The organization of his book highlights this implicit thesis: each phase of the revolution, the radical Indian summer excepted, begins with an event in Paris that provides a signal of change, transmitted by modern means of communication (telegraph, railway, steamer) to the rest of Europe and setting events in other countries in motion. Thus the elements of chance, chaos, and contingency, which shaped much of the year everywhere, appear most pronounced in descriptions of French scenes; once the outcome in Paris was decided, it was likely to be repeated elsewhere. This position could be debated at length--I would be inclined to highlight the variation between revolutionary demands and thus the revolutions' relative independence. The model of a central revolution in Paris with complementary revolutions elsewhere also downplays the connections between events: for example, the impact of refugees from crackdowns in Germany (on Marx's Cologne paper, for example) and Italy on developments in France.

To my mind, Rapport's account is at its best when it reconstructs the genesis of individual revolutionary events, blending lively and complex narratives with structural observations. It is somewhat less colorful in its descriptions of individuals. This result, too, stems from a narrative choice: the story begins in early 1848 and ends in the middle of 1849, thus providing little room for describing the political or intellectual experiences of most revolutionaries--or their fate after 1849. It is characteristic that most illustrations are of mass scenes, not portraits--except of conservative generals. Likewise, in contrast to some recent research on the revolutions, Rapport is inclined to treat the military outside France as a fairly homogenous, reliable tool of state power, rather than questioning whether the resurgence of the military might have something to do with the politicization of the armed forces against some of the radicals' demands.[5] This reservation should not be read as a criticism of Rapport's brilliant book, merely as a description of his narrative choices and his implicit interpretation of the revolution. Focusing more on individuals and chronology would have involved different problems, such as the need to submerge common patterns too much. Overall, I do not think a better account of the revolutions could have been written in the space available.

Rapport's account of the outcome is pessimistic. France reverted to a Bonapartist empire, though 1848 may have served as an apprenticeship in democracy. Elsewhere, liberals demonstrated that they preferred national unity to freedom and were unable to even grasp, let alone cope with, the gravity of the social question. While this account rings more true than some celebrations of the impact of 1848 in commemorations did, one could place a bit more emphasis on the introduction of parliaments and the expansion of the franchise in most German states and the further isolation of non-constitutional regimes in post-1848 politics.

Overall, Rapport has provided a standard survey of the revolution of 1848, one that should attract broad interest inside and outside of the classroom.

[1]. Michael Rapport, Nineteenth-Century Europe (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005).
[2]. Jonathan Sperber, The European Revolutions, 1848-1851 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).
[3]. The English translation is Dieter Dowe, ed., Europe in 1848: Revolution and Reform (New York: Berghahn Books, 2000).
[4]. Eva Maria Werner, Die Märzministerien: Regierungen der Revolution von 1848/49 in den Staaten des Deutschen Bundes (Göttingen: V&R Unipress, 2009).
[5]. Sabrina Müller, Soldaten in der deutschen Revolution von 1848/49 (Paderborn: Schöningh, 1999).