The Revolutions of 1848

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The Revolutions of 1848

Toward the middle of the 19th century, France was not the only country to have found itself embroiled in uprisings, revolts, and revolutions. The Revolutions of 1848, as they are now remembered, were a series of political upheavals that took place throughout the continent of Europe.

Although they were widespread, many of these revolutions fizzled out and collapsed within a year of when they began. The countries that found themselves in the midst of revolution included France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Denmark, and the Austrian Empire.

The primary cause for these revolutions stemmed from the people's dissatisfaction with the monarchies that ran their countries. The citizens were tired of feeling oppressed and controlled, and there was a widespread demand for democracy over monarchy.

Others were overwhelmingly angry at how neglectful their countryā€™s monarchy could be, as food shortages and economic turmoil spread throughout various areas.

The Revolutions of 1848

A strong sense of nationalism, in this case referring to the support of a countryā€™s own political independence, was growing due to the fact that some countries had leaders belonging to other nations. An example of this was when Napoleon Bonaparte of France made his brother the King of Spain. Finally, the people had a demand for various liberties such as freedom of the press.

Like many revolutions both past and modern, the leaders were groups of reformers and middle-class workers, typically from urban areas as well as from the rural farmlands. These were the groups of people who felt misunderstood and disconnected from their monarchs, and it was a source of tension for them to see their countryā€™s leaders living so lavishly while they endured famines.

Although many consider the revolutions to be failures, there were some positive outcomes that resulted from these uprisings. For instance, serfdom was put to an end in Austria. This is the practice by which an individual, the serf, must work land and render services to the lord who owned the land. Serfs had very few rights and were treated poorly.

Denmark also experienced an end to its monarchy, under which the country had been ruled for almost 200 years.

Since there were divisions within the factions of the people uprising, it was easy for counter-revolutions to quash their efforts mainly to a lack of organization and disagreements among the individuals. By the time the revolutions were finally stopped, thousands of people had lost their lives in these conflicts.

Today, there is widespread debate as to the success of these revolutions, with some historians pointing out that, if nothing else, the revolutions served to inspire reforms which would take place in the latter half of the century.

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