Essay for Exam Chapter 18
With the curtains drawn on Napoleon’s conquests, the entire European continent had to be restructured to balance power and collectively suppress revolution in 1815 and so the Concert of Europe was set up to meet from time to time under the leadership of Austrian foreign minister Clemens von Metternich. Britain, Prussia, Austria and Russia who emerged as victorious powers sent delegates to Vienna to organize this reconstitution forming the Congress of Vienna. Count Metternich allowed Prussia and the Kingdom of Netherlands to grow and a large number of small states were grouped to form the German Confederation. At the same time in 1815, the Russian Czar Alexander 1 formed the “Holy Alliance” to restore religious beliefs and institutions to Europe. If these struggles were not enough, there also emerged ideological differences.
Liberalism propagated by Adam Smith believed in equal rights, a constitution and elected assembly. ‘People’ were only males who owned property and only these were vested with voting rights. Liberals regarded religious institutions as a threat and were in support of revolution.
Conservatives held all power and did not believe in debates or the opinions of others. They propagated rights by birth, monarchy and no voting rights. State religion was to be adhered to and there was no room for revolution. Edmund Burke laid down the principles of conservatism in his book Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790).
Socialists advocated equality in income and enough for everyone to eat. Socialist ideas shunned revolution but believed in creating universal harmony by reorganizing the world. Their ideals were often dubbed as ‘utopian’ and taken with caution.
Communism began to take root in 1840 with Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx venturing out with their ideals in a life-long partnership. Communism divides the world into working class and land owners and advocated classless society without religion, states or private property. Romanticism was based on the past with visions for the future. It found its expressions in philosophy, music, art and literature.
An English Pastor Thomas Malthus (1766-134) promoted utilitarian thoughts and claimed that population grew exponentially and so could never be satisfied with food that only increased arithmetically. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) also supported utilitarian principles, was a strong critique on religion and published many pamphlets. Along with his disciple James Mill (1773–1836) he brought together utilitarian ideas and historical analysis.
Nationalism shaped out based on the view that a nation must be more than its king and his advisors. The nation it was envisaged, should include the entire population united by common culture and language.
Reforms and revolutionary movements began to spring across the continent. French liberals and radicals joined hands to compel King Charles X to abdicate in favor of Louis Philippe to bring about political and economic reforms. The French Revolution of July 1830 had strengthened the State at the expense of the Church and aristocracies. The revolution had promoted the declaration of the rights of man and the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity along with the seeds of nationalism began to take root across Europe.
Greece which had been a part of the Ottoman Empire began to express revolutionary ideas which resulted in war. With the aid of Britain, France and Russia, the Ottoman Empire was defeated and a New Greek state was formed in 1832.
The Great Reform Act of 1832 sanctioned voting rights to a large number of male property owners and reformed voting procedures in England. In 1838, the People’s Charter, asking for reforms was drafted out. Those who supported its views came to be known as Chartists. However the Charter was rejected thrice in the House of Commons and eventually fizzled out.
In 1848, major uprisings were witnessed throughout Europe. The agitations began in Italy inspired by Pope Pius IX and caught up across the continent. Revolutions had begun in Paris, Munich, Vienna, Budapest, Milan, Cracow, Venice, and Berlin. The revolution in Germany on whether to create a unified German nation was stalled and the Frankfurt Assembly was unable to settle on the issue of demarcation and size of the new Germany that was envisaged.
The Industrial Revolution began in England and proved to be a revolution in technology, labor and capital. Britain was not the only country affected by the Industrial Revolution. The effects of the Industrial Revolution had altered the social, economic and political scenario in every European country as well as across the globe. Traditional occupational patterns were altered with the introduction of machines which increased production drastically besides creating newer options for employment (Engels, “The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844”).
Engels, Friedrich. The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844. London: Swann
Sonnenschein & Co. 1892. Print.