Download IB_2_19_th...tury

yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Document related concepts
no text concepts found
IB-2 19-century package(the most essential incidents)The text is taken from and has
been slightly reconstructed by me.
Conservative Order and National
In 1814, the victors over Napoleon gathered at Vienna to create a
balance of power in Europe to their favor. The gathering was
called the Congress of Vienna. Alexander I, the tsar of Russia, of
the Orthodox faith, also wanted an international order based on
Christianity, and he talked the emperor of Prussia , a Protestant,
and the emperor of Austria, a Roman Catholic, into joining him in
what was called a Holy Alliance. Austria and Prussia did not want
to offend Alexander, so they joined their kingdoms to Alexander's
creation, agreeing with Alexander that the "sublime truths" of
Christianity ought to guide relations between nations and guide
the domestic affairs of nations. Strong religious conviction, they
held, was necessary for maintaining upright and loyal subjects.
The rulers of Russia, Austria and Prussia agreed that challenges to
their authoritarian rule by liberalism and revolution ought to
remain suppressed.
Britain, the most liberal of the powers, did not join the Holy
Alliance. Viscount Castlereagh, foreign minister of Britain -- the
most scientific and liberal of the four powers - dismissed the Holy
Alliance as mystical nonsense and thought Alexander to be
The Congress of Vienna was the response to the Napoleonic wars,
and for conservatives a response to the godless French Revolution.
According to Austria's foreign minister, Prince Metternich, the
people of Europe wanted peace rather than liberty. And peace was
what Metternich wished to provide them, within a context of what
he saw as legitimate rule. Prevailing at the Congress of Vienna
was the conservative view of what was legitimate.
Authoritarian monarchies were legitimate. Metternich wanted to
restore to the continent the old aristocratic and monarchical order,
and empire.(i.e Bourbon and Habsburg)
Asserting what they believed to be their authority, the men at the
Congress of Vienna redrew the map of Europe. Belgium was
taken from Napoleonic France and combined with the United
Netherlands. Austria was given authority in Germany again,
except for areas taken from France and given to Prussia -- a junior
partner in the new coalition at the Congress. Genoa, Sardinia, Piedmont
and Savoy were to be ruled by the House of Savoy, as was the city
of Nice. Lombardy (around Milan) and Venetia, in northern Italy, were
given to Austria. To compensate Austria for its loss of Polish
territory, it was given Slavic territory along the Dalmatian Coast
(along the eastern side of the Adriatic Sea, formerly possessed by
The four powers that met at the Congress of Vienna gave the
defeated power, France, a generous settlement of the war. They
occupied France until 1818 and restored the monarchy in France -in the person of Louis XVIII of the royal Bourbon family. Then, in
1818, France joined the victorious nations over Napoleon, making
the alliance of four an alliance of five.
In 1815, people across Europe were sick of war and longing for
peace. Disdain for upheaval put conservatism in fashion, and
people were reviving their religious devotions.
But conservatism was not extensive enough to eliminate
disturbances. Subversive liberalism remained on the minds of
many. The United States was a nation of liberal repute, and
various peoples -- Italians, Hungarians, Ukrainians, Czechs, Poles,
Romanians and others -- dreamed of independence of their own,
and freedom from rule by foreigners(which led to nationalistic
movements) .
Metternich, the primary architect of the Vienna Accords, realized
the threat to his conservative order, and he believed that repression
was necessary to hold the enemies of his order in check. He
viewed editors, newspapermen and university teachers with
suspicion and students with hostility. "Liberty of the press" he
described as a scourge.
Relatively liberal Britain also felt pressures. In the city of
Manchester people were working fifteen hours a day. There, in
1819, when 60,000 gathered in St. Peter's Fields, listening to a call
for universal suffrage, a local magistrate sent a force to arrest the
main speaker, Henry Hunt. A melee followed in which eleven of
the crowd were killed and others injured. And, in the wake of this,
the movement for reform gathered strength.
Reform and Revolution in Europe to 1850
Revolt and Reaction, to the 1830s
In 1823, Austria, Russia and Prussia authorized French troops to
enter Spain to re-establish conservatism there. France's king,
Louis XVIII, sent an army of 100,000 into Spain and put
Ferdinand VII back on his throne. Britain was concerned because
it was benefiting from the independence movement in Latin
America, and Britain hinted that war would follow if France
invaded Portugal or if it became involved in Latin America.
By 1825, Tsar Alexander's religious sentiments had intensified. He
left his Polish mistress of thirteen years and returned to his wife,
Elizabeth. In August he took Elizabeth to southern Russia for her
health and better weather, with the nation believing that he was
going south to put himself at the head of the Russian forces
gathered at the border of the Ottoman Empire. Elizabeth would die
in 1826, outliving Alexander, who died in December, 1825, at the
age of forty-eight, followed by a persistent rumor that the victor
over Napoleon was just tired of being tsar and was living as a
In Russia, the old problem of succession reappeared. Officers who
had been with the Russian forces occupying France had been
exposed to the Enlightenment, and they had hated what they had
found when returning to Russia:corruption, censorship, rigid
control over higher education, and serfdom. They disliked the
military's resort to gross brutality in attempting to instill military
discipline among soldiers. They asked themselves whether all this
why they had liberated Europe. Around three thousand of them
joined together in St. Petersburg's main square, hoping to replace
authoritarian rule with a representative democracy. They took no
control of anything strategic and were supported by no general
rising. Their naiveté became known as the Decembrist Rising,
and they were crushed by forces loyal to Alexander's twenty-nine
year-old brother, Nicholas.
Fear of contact by Russian officers in contact with the liberal West
was to reappear again with Joseph Stalin. Meanwhile, Nicholas I
was hardened in his conservatism by the Decembrist Rising. He
feared the masses, the nobility and intellectuals. He extended the
use of secret police, and, in Russia, fear of informers, arrest and
arbitrary police procedures increased.
Revolutions of 1848
By the early 1840s, industrialization in Great Britain was almost
three times what it had been in 1800. Industrial production during
this period had doubled in Belgium, while remaining half that of
Britain. France's industrial output had increased 77 percent in this
period, with its per capita industrialization about 35 percent that of
Great Britain. Industry in Germany (still only a geographical
expression) was beginning to grow faster than it was in France,
but per capita production was only one quarter that of Britain and
Ireland combined. The Austrian Empire was growing slower
industrially than Germany, while railways had just begun to
connect a few points within the empire -- Prague, Budapest and
Trieste - and Austria's steamships were plying the Danube River.
And Italy and Russia lagged behind Austria.
Then progress in mechanization was accompanied by a disaster in
agriculture. The faster shipment of potatoes from the Americas,
across the Atlantic to Europe, allowed the survival of mold
arriving with the potatoes. In the mid-forties, drought, bad
harvests and a potato blight in Europe caused food shortages and
higher prices. Ireland was especially hard hit, with typhus coming
on the heels of the potato blight. Ireland had a population of 8.5
million in 1845; six years later its population would be 6.5
million. In 1845, the number of people leaving Europe for the
United States began rising, Germans looking for land to farm,
English artisans looking for work in their crafts and the Irish
running from hunger -- thousands of Irish dying on the ships
taking them to the United States.
People hurt by the harder times rioted in Krakow and the
surrounding countryside. Polish peasants armed with scythes and
flails killed or mutilated nearly 1,500 noblemen before Austria's
troops arrived. In April 1847, people in Berlin were angry over the
price of food, and for four days they rioted, plundering stores and
markets and erecting barricades against attacks by the kings'
In June 1847, Britain's parliament passed the "Ten Hours Bill,"
which limited the hours of work per week for women and children
to sixty-three. Later that year in London, delegates from Britain's
Working Men's Association gathered with delegates of German
workers -- and international conference of workers initiated by
Karl Marx, now twenty-nine, with a Doctorate in Philosophy and
a devotion to radical politics in the interest of those who labored
in workshops. Most of those at the conference advocated
brotherhood. Marx preached class warfare. A "Communist
League" was created, with Marx and his associate, Friedrich
Engels, commissioned to write, as they did from December to
January 1848, what became known as the Communist Manifesto.
Marx called himself a communist to distinguish himself from
socialists whose politics differed from his. He identified
Communists with the interests of working people in general,
claiming:"The Communists do not form a separate party opposed
to the other working-class parties. They have no interests separate
and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole. They do not set
up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and
mold the proletarian movement." He claimed that the aim of
Communists was the "overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy
[and] conquest of power by the proletariat." "The distinguishing
feature of Communism," he wrote, "was not the abolition of
property in general, but the abolition of bourgeois property." In his
manifesto, Marx wrote of communism as a specter haunting
Europe, and "all the powers of old Europe," he wrote, had
"entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter." In reality,
Marx and his communism, were still little known, and the group
for whom he wrote the manifesto was tiny.
The Early Risings of 1848(also known as the crazy
In January 1848, sixty-one people were killed in Milan protesting
against a rise in taxes by their Austrian rulers. And that month in
Palermo, Sicily, people rioted. There, people were interested in a
liberal constitution and an end to the despotic rule of Ferdinand II
(1830-59), king of Naples-Sicily.
The Swiss, in January, were having a civil war. They were divided
by language and religion. Regions of Switzerland (cantons) that
were predominately Catholic were more conservative and opposed
to a politically unified Switzerland. They had joined together into
a military alliance called the Sonderbund, which was supported by
the Foreign Minister Metternich of Austria and other European
conservatives. Others in Switzerland were inspired by the national
unity of France and by the United States, and they were interested
in national unity and more democracy.
In February, people demonstrated in Paris. Until the 1840s, France
had enjoyed a so-called Golden Age under King Louis-Philippe,
but hard times had returned. Government feared radicals and made
political meetings illegal. The government's refusal to allow a
"banquet" to discuss reforms brought workers and students into
the streets. They clashed with police and built their barricades
with roadway pavement blocks. A demonstrator shoved a burning
torch into a soldier's face and violence followed in which
demonstrators were shot, and around forty died. Rather than try to
crush what became a more intense rebellion, Louis-Philippe
abdicated in favor of his nine-year-old grandson and headed for
exile in Britain. Parisians invaded the Chamber of Deputies and
demanded a republic. The Deputies created a provisional
government that was mostly of moderates but with a few radicals,
and they declared a republic -- France's Second Republic.
Rebellion in Germany
It took days for news of the rising in Paris to reach cities outside
of France, and the news inspired copy-cat risings. Thirty-thousand
peasants marched on the seat of the Duchy of Nassau, Wiesbaden,
thirty miles west of Frankfurt. For sometime these peasants had
been upset about others having been freed from serfdom but not
them, and they forced Duke Adolf of Nassau to abolish serfdom. A
rising against serfdom came also in Baden and Wüerttemburg, where
ruling families had been ignoring the growing resentment of their
serfs. The serfs were violent in a way that had not been seen in
Germany since the 1500s. The Grand Duke of Baden fled, and in
Baden a revolutionary government was founded.
In the eastern part of Prussia's Westphalia, violence erupted among
free peasants and the landless, who were angry about the
economy, which seemed to them to favor the well-to-do. The
violence spread into Saxony, Thuringia and Silesia, where more
castle burnings took place. Disturbances erupted also in the cities
of Hamburg, Cologne, Brunswick, Munich, and Mannheim, to name a few.
There were demands for constitutional government. -- and some
admiration for the United States Constitution. There were
demands for a people's army (national guard), trial by jury,
freedom of assembly, freedom of worship and equitable taxation.
In Bavaria, King Ludwig decreed freedom of the press. Tens days
later, to appease his subjects, who were angry over his affair with
Lola Montez, Ludwig (not quite sixty-two) abdicated in favor of
his son Maximilian.
In Prussia's capital city, Berlin, soldiers and demonstrators
clashed, and the emperor, Wilhelm IV, withdrew his soldiers to
avoid more bloodshed. A great crowd gathered at Wilhelm's palace
and demanded that he join them in paying respect to the 303 who
lay dead at the barricades. Wilhelm went, and the crowd shouted
hat's off, and Wilhelm removed his hat. The crowd then sang an
old German hymn, "Jesus is my refuge," after which Wilhelm
withdrew. Pressure from the Berliners continued and Wilhelm was
compelled to order the release of all of the political prisoners in
Berlin jails, and to greet each of those leaving the prison.
One of the hopes among German liberals was a united Germany as
opposed to a lot of states run by dukes or petty kings, and a few
days later Wilhelm proclaimed himself head of the whole of the
German fatherland. By the end of March the desire for unity
among Germans was expressed by 600 delegates from across
Germany gathering in Frankfurt for the purpose of creating a
constitution for a united Germany.
Germany's few industrialists tended to have mixed feelings about
the risings. They distrusted the passions of poor people, but they
had also been unhappy working under a government bureaucracy
that to them seemed out of touch with modern times. They were
looking forward to reforms that worked in their favor, while some
landowning aristocrats, Otto von Bismarck among them, with
their traditional rural values looked down upon the industrialists.
Capitalism, complained Bismarck, was enriching individuals but
creating a lot of poorly nourished proletarians. Bismarck joined
other conservatives around Emperor Wilhelm in urging a counter
Liberal intellectuals were also attacking capitalism, complaining
that machines should be freeing men from animal servitude rather
than fashioning workers "to a terrible bondage." They advocated
government enforced reductions in work hours, the banning of
child labor, subsidizing decent housing for workers, sickness and
disability programs for workers and public education.
Rising in Vienna
In Vienna,10,000 factory workers had recently been laid off.
Students there favored democracy and civil liberties, and they
joined forces with the unemployed workers. On March 12, 1848, a
crowd of demonstrating workers and students was fired upon, and
this unleashed a popular rising. Barricades went up, and the
municipal guard went over to the side of the rebellion. Austria had
been ruled largely a State Council, consisting of Metternich and
four others. It was against Metternich, the State Council and the
police that the rebels voiced their wrath -- not their Habsburg king,
Ferdinand I. Workers and students stormed through the imperial
palace, and a terrified and scornful Metternich, not quite seventyfive, went into exile in England.
King Ferdinand accommodated the rebels. On March 15, his
proclamation read:
We, Ferdinand the First, by the grace of God, Emperor of
Austria, king of Hungary and Bohemia ... have adopted
such measures as we have recognized as necessary to
fulfill the wishes of our loyal people.
King Ferdinand promised to provide his subjects with a
constitution, and people spoke of the coming constitution with joy.
People were delighted by the thought of an end to police
intimidation and censorship. Professors were enthusiastic about an
end to restrictions and police spying. For a few days people
danced, sang, wined and paraded in the streets. It was as if the
Viennese were one happy family, including the city's Jews.
Princess Sophia was outraged at the weakness of her father-in-law,
the king, and outraged at what she called the "liberal stupidities"
of king Wilhelm in Berlin.
Then, a week after the rising, Vienna calmed down. Ferdinand
abolished serfdom and promised more reforms. Liberalism and
reform remained in the air, but with the economy damaged, word
passed through the city that for the sake of everybody it was
necessary to get back to work.
The peasants of Hungary were still largely serfs -- almost slaves.
And Hungary had a small middleclass and intellectuals from
families of the nobility and families of men in civil service and the
professions. These intellectuals had been affected by travel and
reading. They were interested in liberalism, in human rights and
emancipations, including nationhood similar to that possessed by
the French and the United States. The sons of these intellectuals
were students in the city of Budapest. They had rioted in February
-- before the rising in Vienna. They wanted more liberty and the
removal of Habsburg authority.
Already the Hungarians had a degree of autonomy. The Habsburg
monarchy recognized that power to tax the people of Hungary lay
with Hungary's Diet (parliament), with the Habsburg monarchy
dependent on the goodwill of Hungary's Diet for revenue. The
Habsburgs had been allowing local government for the
Hungarians, but with policing authority by the Austrians.
Perhaps inspired by the rising in Vienna on March 13, people
rallied in Budapest on March 15. For the occasion, the words of a
twenty-five year-old poet, Sandor Petofi, were read: "Arise
Hungarians, the Fatherland is calling. The time is here, now or
never." The crowd responded. The Hungarians and their leaders
were inspired to a new fervor for independence, and March 15 was
to be their equivalent to America's Fourth of July. On March 17,
the stunned and overwhelmed Habsburg monarchy in Vienna
granted Hungary's demand for independence -- a completely
voluntary association within the Empire and their own
constitution. In Hungary, freedom of the press was proclaimed,
and a move to abolish serfdom was begun by the Diet.
The Italians, Poles and Ukrainians
In February -- before Metternich's move into exile -- Pope Pius
IX, had published an allocution beginning with the words "God
Bless Italy," which Metternich had questioned, Metternich having
worried about nationalist sentiment opposed to Austria rule. Italy,
he said, was only a geographical expression.
In March, the Pope granted a constitution for his papal states -- where
he was a secular prince. This permitted an elected legislature
while leaving authority with himself and the College of Cardinals.
Already, when becoming Pope in 1846, he had granted amnesty to
thousands of political prisoners and exiles, and in 1847 he had
relaxed press censorship.
In 1848, following news of the rising in Vienna, the Austrian ruled
Italian cities of Venice and Milan erupted in rebellion. Fighting in
Milan raged for five days (from March 18 to 23). On March 22,
Venice declared independence. Austria's troops felt forced to
withdraw from Milan, and Milan called upon the liberal king of
nearby Piedmont-Savoy (and Sardinia), Charles Albert, to put
Milan under his protection. And Charles Albert did so by declaring
war on Austria.
In March, Polish nationalists in Posen also rose in opposition to
foreign rule -- rule from Berlin. They were encouraged by the
rising in Berlin, and they declared home rule. And following the
rising in Vienna, riots occurred in the Polish city of Krakow -under Habsburg rule since 1846. Also, in the Polish areas of Galicia,
people demanded civil liberties, use of the Polish language in
schools, freedom of the press and amnesty for political prisoners.
And people rebelled in the Austrian ruled city of Lemberg (Lviv),
that city creating a people's army (national guard), with
Ukrainians there demanding a Ukrainian nation that extended into
eastern Galicia.
Revolutions Lost: 1848
In Vienna, workers issued demands for universal voting rights, a
ministry of labor, a minimum wage and a ten-hour work day, and
Vienna's bourgeoisie did not like it. Another disturbance to the
bourgeoisie was the newspapers that sprang up with the new press
freedom. These papers were competing with each other for
readership and resorting to sensationalism -- similar to the vitriolic
newspapers that sprang up in France in the 1780s. The most
successful of these Viennese papers was the creation of Leipold
Häfner, which attacked bureaucrats, priests, aristocrats and others,
and Häfner's paper was seen by the bourgeoisie as stirring up
lawlessness. There were in Austria discomforting disturbances
such as physical assaults against monasteries and Church
properties, and leftists were demonstrating their displeasure with
people by mock serenades at night against priests, shopkeepers
they considered to be overcharging customers, tavern keepers not
sufficiently generous in dispensing free drinks, employers and
landlords - landlords the most frequent target. By late April, many
in Vienna were afraid of mob violence and attacks on private
property, and they wanted an end to disorder in the streets.
The liberal nobility and the bourgeoisie who had been enthusiastic
about political change in early March were satisfied with the
constitution that the emperor, Ferdinand, had issued on April 25.
But some who still wanted change complained among other
things, about the emperor's veto power over legislation. And
among the unhappy were university students. In late May they
rebelled against a move to disband their armed units. With their
allies on the left, they built barricades -- a second rising to defend
the first rising. They did not have the support they had had in the
first rising, but they appeared to be more of a threat to the emperor
and his family, who fled to Innsbruck, in Austria's mountainous west.
This troubled the mass of Viennese, many of whom looked upon
their king as a kindly, protecting father, fearing that without their
emperor Vienna would fall into ruin. Those leading this second
rising were surprised by the coldness with which the common
Viennese responded to their impositions. They applied pressure on
the government, and the government began public works projects.
Then, in mid-June, men working on government projects rioted.
They wanted higher pay and threatened to join anti-government
forces if their demands were unmet. The government crushed the
revolt and arrested its leaders.
Emperor Ferdinand remained in Innsbruck, while the second-wave
revolutionaries continued as an out-of-government force -- with no
majority in Vienna supporting the kind of reforms that they
wanted. Meanwhile, both the second-waver revolutionaries and
the liberals in government were ignoring that which was necessary
to insure the success of revolutionary political change:control over
the military. Austria's army was still in the field defending the
Habsburg Empire and not committed to the political change that
had followed the March rising.
Revolutionaries Crushed in France -- June Days,
In March, 1848, France's provisional government had given in to
leftist demands for universal manhood suffrage and the creation of
public works. And the government had also abolished the slavery
that had remained in France's colonies. The government remained
divided between those supporting bourgeois aspirations and those
who favored programs for the urban poor, including reduced
working hours and the total abolition of unemployment. To meet
the need for more money to pay for public works, the government
raised taxes, which upset the majority of France's taxpayers: the
small farmers. Universal manhood suffrage then proved to be
other than helpful for the left. In the April 23, small farmers
swung the elections for representatives to a constituent assembly.
Of the assembly's 880 seats, about 500 went to moderate
republicans, about 300 went to constitutional monarchists and
only 80 went to the radicals representing the interests of urban
France's economy was still depressed, and, in early May, Parisians
were protesting against the new Constituent Assembly's lack of
enthusiasm for reform. In mid-May a mob invaded the assembly
and proclaimed another revolution -- a defiance of the will of the
majority expressed in the recent elections. The National Guard
defended the government and arrested leaders of the disturbance.
In June, the Constituent Assembly moved to disband what it
considered the un-economical public works program. Workers and
their student supporters built barricades again. The government
prepared to do what Louis-Philippe had chosen not to do:to send
the army against the barricades. It empowered a leading general,
Louis Eugene Cavaignac, for this task -- Cavaignac a man with a
past in revolution and republicanism. Those supporting the people
at the barricades saw the government as having turned against
workers. That the government had the support of an overwhelming
majority of the French nation did not matter. The people at the
barricades were trying to make revolution against the will of the
nation as a whole -- not a formula for success. An army man who
had sympathies for those at the barricades, General Bréa, went to
persuade people there that they were making a mistake. He and his
chief of staff were invited inside the barricades and assassinated.
That same day, the Archbishop of Paris, Monsignor Affre, went to
the barricades and he too was murdered. The people at the
barricades were uninterested in discussion. They had rejected the
politics of patience, persuasion, tolerance and reform. They
wanted to fight.
Using its artillery -- as Napoleon had against Parisians in 1795 -and then an advance of riflemen, Cavaignac's army of 40,000
easily crushed the rebellion. Approximately 1,500 were killed at
the barricades. Twelve thousand were arrested, and the streets
were cleared once again. The so-called June Days revolution was
German Radicalism versus Conservatism
In Frankfurt, a self-appointed Vorparlament (preliminary
parliament) had been in session, attended by men who favored a
united Germany and a liberal constitutional monarchy. They
organized elections to nominate delegates to a National Assembly
for all of Germany, and the elections were held across Germany.
The 585 elected delegates to the National Assembly opened their
first meeting in Frankfurt, on May 18, 1848. Most of the delegates
were professors or men with a university education, and the
assembly was dubbed the professors' parliament.
But enthusiasm for reform in Germany was dying. Viewing the
upheaval in Paris, Germans were thinking that if political agitation
and pretty speeches resulted in violence and disorder perhaps
reforms should be slowed.
Karl Marx by now had returned to Cologne, where he was running a
small newspaper. The paper's banner declared itself an advocate of
democracy, and it bore the name of New Rhineland Newspaper
(Neue Rheinisch Zeitung) -- a paper he was able to create because
of contributions from wealthy British liberals. But Marx was for
class struggle and he was not satisfied with liberal reforms. He
was annoyed by what he described as the bourgeoisie tumbling
over each other in a hurry to patch up their differences with those
in power. He described the National Assembly in Frankfurt as
going the way of all bourgeois parliaments: headed for
conciliation and appeasement rather than siding with change in the
interest of the masses.
Reaction and Reform, 1848 to 1850
In his war against the Austrian army, King Charles Albert of
Piedmont-Sardinia was holding back, hoping that British and
French troops might fight in place of his troops -- support that
would never arrive. Meanwhile, the commander of the Habsburg
force in northern Italy, General Joseph Radetzky, was employing
terror against the Italians. In mid-April, in Venetia he burned the
village of Montebelo and slaughtered its men, women and
children, the news of which dampened enthusiasm for rebellion
against Austria. And that month, Pope Pius IX turned against
Italian nationalism and called for peace and an end to Catholics
fighting Catholics. Pius IX was siding with Catholic universalism,
traditionally opposed to nationalism -- a universalism promoted
also by the Catholic Habsburg Empire.
In mid-May, 1848, barricades went up in Naples, accompanied by
demands that armed forces be sent to join the war against Austrian
occupation of Italian lands to the north. In June, with the help of
Swiss mercenaries and pro-monarchist casual laborers, the king of
Naples-Sicily, Ferdinand II, crushed the rebellion.
Czech nationalists were also crushed. The most radical of Czech
nationalists had placed their hopes in a pan-Slav movement, which
met in Prague in June. They were at odds with the Germans in
Prague and elsewhere in Bohemia. And the Czech nationalists
were opposed by democrats, liberals and conservatives in Vienna.
In mid-June, an Austrian army led by Alfred Windeschgätz
clashed with Czechs in Prague who had build barricades.
Militarily, range remained significant, artillery having a greater
range than weapons held by those behind the barricades.
Windeschgätz used artillery against those at the barricades in
Prague, and the Czech nationalists were crushed. Windeschgätz
dissolved the pan-Slav congress and arrested the leaders of the
Czech nationalist uprising.
In July, General Radetzky, routed the troops of Piedmont and other
Italian troops and marched into Milan. The French considered
intervening on the side of the Italians, but the French government
decided against it. On August 5 an armistice was signed, ending
the war between Piedmont and the Austrians. The people of Milan
blamed the return of Austrian troops to their city on Charles
Albert. Disgusted by the armistice, an Italian nationalist leader in
the Italian Alps, Giuseppe Garibaldi, refused to disband his
volunteer militia. The war between the kings was over, he
declared, and now a war of the people would begin.
It was in August that the Habsburg emperor, Ferdinand, returned
to Vienna, and, in September, Austria's National Assembly voted
to abolish serfdom -- with compensation for those landlords who
lost serfs. The Austrians, meanwhile, were maneuvering to regain
control of Hungary, Vienna was upset by the refusal of Hungarians
to serve in military units fighting for Habsburg rule in northern
Italy. Violence had broken out between the Hungarians on one
hand and Croats and Rumanians on the other, the latter two
resisting Hungarian domination. Austria sided against the
Hungarians and for order within the empire. On September 11, an
Austrian army crossed the Drava River, from Croatia into Hungary. It
was not marching rapidly toward Budapest, but people in
Budapest were alarmed. On September 28, when an Austrian
general, Field Marshal Lamberg, arrived in Budapest for
consultations, a crowd inspired by radical activists dragged him
from his carriage, beat and lynched him. The government in
Vienna responded by declaring the government in Budapest
In October, Austria's Minister of War, Count Theodor von Latour,
ordered reinforcements for an army marching against the
Hungarians. Some subject to military orders rebelled against being
sent into Hungary, and an impassioned mob in Vienna seized
Count Latour in the street and hanged him from a lamp post. This
rising in Vienna put the city under the control of the left again, and
Emperor Ferdinand and his court fled again -- to the German town
of Olmütz (Olomouc) in Moravia. The conflict between the radicals
in Vienna and conservative Austrians, including the monarchy, had
come to a head, with the majority of the Viennese opposed to the
From Olmütz orders were sent to the Royal Habsburg army in
Hungary to take control of Vienna. The army reached the outskirts
of Vienna at the end of October. They shelled positions held by the
small and amateurish army formed by the radicals, and once again
artillery put an end to rebellion. Approximately 2000 radicals were
killed in the fighting, and defeated radicals were executed. The
army's commander, Windeschgätz, exercised political power in
behalf of the emperor and replaced Austria's liberal head of
government (the Prime Minister), with his brother-in-law, Prince
Felix Schwarzenberg, who favored a return of monarchical
The turn of events in Vienna encouraged Wilhelm IV in Prussia to
move against leftist disturbances and his kingdom's constitutional
monarchists. On his orders, in early November, 13,000 soldiers
from the nearby town of Potsdam marched into Berlin and put an
end to street demonstrations and the making of noises through the
night at the homes of targeted conservatives. Wilhelm replaced his
prime minister, Ernst Heinrich Adolf von Pfuel, a constitutional
monarchist, with a conservative military commander, Count
Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg. Brandenburg moved 50,000
troops into Berlin and forced retirement of the Constituent
Assembly that Wilhelm had agreed to months before. Gone with
the Constituent Assembly were the proposals of liberals that army
officers take an oath of loyalty to a constitution rather than to the
emperor, that the nobility be denied its titles and privileges and
that the emperor be denied "by the grace of God" from his title.
Opposed to Wilhelm's reaction and the new Brandenburg
government, crowds in a few cities tried to seize government
buildings, but to no avail. Wilhelm's armed forces restored order.
The National Assembly in Frankfurt, however, remained in
session. And liberal constitutions remained in Saxony and
Bavaria, where liberals won election victories.
Developments to 1850
In the summer of 1848, economic recovery began across Europe.
In Switzerland, those favoring liberalism and national unity were
victorious. Switzerland's civil war was over, and Switzerland was
unified into a single federated nation with a constitution modeled
after that of the United States. Democratic rights were guaranteed
to all people of the Christian faith. September 12, 1848, the day
the new constitution was issued, became an annual celebration. (In
1866 democratic rights would be extended to everyone.)
Another state that remained liberal was Belgium, with lowered
requirements for participating in elections.
In France, in December, 1848, a nephew of Napoleon, LouisNapoleon, a member in 1848 of France's Constituent Assembly,
ran for President of the Republic. He was helped by his name, but
he disassociated himself from his uncle, saying "I am moved by
no ambition which dreams one day of empire and war." He ran as
everybody's friend and announced that he would "ever remain
faithful to the duties which your suffrages and the will of the
Assembly impose upon me." He was overwhelmingly elected,
winning by a margin of almost four to one -- supported by some
wealthy bourgeoisie, by peasants, some workers, socialists and by
the Catholic Church.
In December, 1848, in Austria, people around Emperor Ferdinand
convinced him to step aside in favor of his eighteen-year-old
nephew, Franz Joseph, who had been carefully groomed for rule
by his mother, princess Sophia. Ferdinand was only fifty-five, but
he had been subject to periods of mental incapacity and was
childless. He went along with the transfer of power, telling Franz
Joseph "Be good and God will protect you. Franz Joseph had
demonstrated only mediocre intelligence for his tutors, but he had
a love of uniforms and the military, and he was devoted to his
duties and to his Catholic faith. He believed in the sanctity of his
Habsburg inheritance and ignored its mundane origins in property
ownership, opportune marriages, bloodshed and historical
accident. He held a firm and intense belief that Habsburg rule was
ordained by the grace of God.
Franz Joseph taking the throne was the beginning of a harder line
in Austria. Parliament was forced to drop the claim that
sovereignty was derived from the people -- which to Franz Joseph
and his mother was blasphemy. And the position taken by those
around the new emperor was that Franz Joseph was not bound by
any of the agreements or promises that had been made by
Ferdinand, including promises to the Hungarians.
More Trouble in Italy
In January, 1849, troubles were brewing in Rome. Pellegrino
Rossi, who had been chosen by Pope Pius IX as prime minister
had been assassinated. Conservatives in Rome boycotted elections
for the new Constituent Assembly, resulting in mostly left-wingers
being elected as deputies, and on February 8 the new assembly
replaced the Pope's secular monarchy with a republic. Religious
conformity was removed as a qualification for citizenship. Some
resisted these changes by resorting to violence. The Pope
disguised himself as a monk and fled to the conservative have of
In Piedmont, meanwhile, democrats won parliamentary elections.
In March, a new prime minister took office, and on March 20,
1849, he discarded the peace agreement with Austria and moved
troops toward Lombardy. General Radetzky and his army
intercepted the Piedmontese ten miles short of the border with
Lombardy, at Novara, and he defeated them. King Charles Albert
took refuge in a Portuguese monastery and died in July, leaving
his son, Victor Emmanuel, to deal with the victorious Radetzky.
In Florence in February, 1849, an uprising against the authority of
its Grand Duke had resulted in the Grand Duke and his minister
fleeing and revolutionaries taking power. Encouraged by
Radestzky's victory at Novara, the countryside in Tuscany rallied
in favor of the restoration of their Grand Duke and the restoration
of Pope Pius IX in Rome. The government that had taken power in
Florence opposed waging war against their opposition. They
withdrew to the stronghold of radicalism in the port city of
Livorno, where people were determined to resist the conservative
forces. At the end of April, Austrian troops arrived in Tuscany to
secure the rule of the Grand Duke, and an assault on Livorno
suppressed the rebels there.
In April, France's professed friend of the Roman Catholic Church,
Louis-Napoleon, sent French troops on a mission to restore the
power of Pope Pius IX in Rome - while armed bands of
republicans and pro-papal conservatives were still trying to kill
each other. The French troops believed they would be welcomed
as liberators. Austria was also determined to restore the Pope in
Rome, and its troops were advancing through the Papal States. In
Rome, supporting the republic, were the Italian nationalists
Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi and his troops.
In April, the Habsburg monarchy formally withdrew from its 1848
agreement with Hungary and now considered Hungary to be one
of its provinces. Hungary responded on April 14 by declaring
itself independent and a constitutional republic, with Lajos (Louis)
Kossuth its president. International backing did not follow, with
Britain among those who rejected Hungarian independence and
support for the Habsburg monarchy.
In May another rising occurred in Sicily, and the king of NaplesSicily, Ferdinand II, sent an army that crushed it.
In Germany, meanwhile, the National Assembly in Frankfurt had
completed its constitution for a united Germany. The Assembly
offered Wilhelm IV imperial authority over a united Germany, but
Wilhelm turned it down, saying in private that he did not want a
crown given him from the gutter. Wilhelm's rejection of the
assembly's constitution inspired mass meetings and
demonstrations in much of Germany, except where people had
recently been defeated at the barricades - as in Berlin. The mass
meetings and demonstrations developed into armed rebellions,
with armed civil guards and army reservists pledging loyalty to
the National Assembly's constitution. Prominent in the gatherings
were red flags -- symbols of radical republicanism. Speakers
denounced Wilhelm as a blood soaked murderer and a tyrant. In
the city of Dresden, in Saxony, in the Grand Duchy of Baden and
in the Palatinate in the Rhineland, revolutionaries took power. But in
June the risings were overpowered by Prussian or Austrian armies,
in the usual manner of artillery shelling followed by a cleanup
assault by infantry. The National Assembly fled from Frankfurt to
Stuttgart, and there it was scattered by troops from the German
kingdom of Wüerttemburg.
Another armed rising took place also in Paris, and people in Lyons
raised barricades, in opposition to Louis-Napoleon's intervention
against the Roman Republic. These risings were easily
overwhelmed by the military force, followed again by the arrest or
flight of many of the leaders of the political left.
In June, 1849, Karl Marx was in Paris, living under the alias of M.
Ramboz. He had been forced to leave Germany, after having been
jailed for a week and then released. He had not been entirely
displeased by the move, believing that France was ready for a
great revolution. But with the crackdown that followed the rising
in Paris in mid-June and discovery by the police that M. Ramboz
was a radical activist, Karl Marx was ordered out of the city, to the
Morbihan area of Brittany, which he believed to be a pestilent
swamp and death trap. Instead, Marx chose to go to London where
he was to live until his death in 1883.
In June, Franz Joseph's government asked Tsar Nicholas of Russia
for help against the Hungarians -- in the spirit of the Holy Alliance
against ungodly rebellion. Nicholas was eager to crush Hungarian
nationalism to prevent it from spreading to his Polish subjects.
Indeed, some Poles were fighting alongside the Hungarians. The
Russian force was around 370,000 men, against Hungary's
152,000, and the Russians had the advantage in artillery.
In early July, French troops overcame the resistance of Rome's
republican forces -- Garibaldi fleeing to Piedmont, and later to the
United States, to fight another day. Rome's republic was no more.
The French military paved the way for the return of the Pope and
his authority, which was not to come for nine months.
A five-week siege by Austrian troops against Venice ended with
the surrender of Venice in August -- Venice suffering also from
cholera and starvation. And with the surrender came the reprisal
executions of Venetian leaders.
Also in August the Russians overwhelmed the Hungarians at
Világos, near the city of Arad, ending Hungarian resistance. Lajos
Kossuth fled to the United States. The Austrians took control of
Hungary, and they executed thirteen who had been high-ranking
officers in the Hungarian army.
The nationalist movement among Romanians was also crushed,
most of its leaders fleeing to Paris -- Napoleon III, not quite an
ally of Austria, in sympathy with their cause.
Austria was exhausted and satisfied that its wars were over. It left
Savoy-Piedmont independent and a constitutional monarchy under
Victor Emanuel. Austria imposed a repressive regime on Hungary
and ruled Transylvania directly through a military governor. In
Austria itself., the Constituent Assembly had been dissolved and a
constitution created that left no checks on the power of the
monarchy. The monarchy wanted whatever reforms that were
created to be seen as its creation, not a creation from below. The
Church retained all the powers that had been denied it in 1848,
including in schooling. Freedom of the press was nominal, but the
press and publishing of ideas was again subject to restrictions.
Secular teachers were harassed and professors again subject to
governmental scrutiny and harassment.
Tariffs within the Habsburg empire were abolished and a customs
union created, which benefited the empire's economy. And feudal
obligations were terminated, a move to help win the hearts of
peasants and which also had the blessing of those who had been
feudal lords, who were paid compensation for their loss.
Prussia emerged from the turmoil of 1848-49 with government
programs to mollify peasants and others who labored. Prime
Minister Brandenburg was one of those aristocrats who disliked
the way that industrialists were treating their workers. He believed
that the times called for governmental action that provided
common people with some protections -- while preserving
conservative monarchism. Brandenburg created a constitution as
did other German states, and Wilhelm IV eventually (in 1859)
swore allegiance to "a piece of paper." Prussia maintained an
upper and lower chambers of parliament, with powers over taxes
and the budget. A third of its seats went to those who paid the top
third in taxes. Practicing good politics, Brandenburg made some
concessions to the industrialists, seeing industrial and
technological advances as good for the country. Freedom of the
press and expression was nominal under Prussia's new constitution
and subject to government control. The conservatives were
devoted to improving education and science, which they saw as
contributing to the nation's power. New freedoms won by peasants
were maintained, with the same kind of compensation to
aristocrats as in the Austrian Empire. And a decree in Prussia in
March, 1850, moved 640,000 peasants in Prussia to free farming.
In Europe, serfdom remained only within the Russian empire and
Ottoman-ruled territory.
Nationalism and Empire within Europe, 18501900(German+Italian)
Europe and distribution of ethnicities, 1848.
In Europe, two forces were at work each against the
other. One was nationalism: the desire to be free of
rule by foreigners, especially those of a different faith,
such as Eastern Orthodox rather than Roman Catholic;
or Roman Catholic, as were the Irish, rather than
Protestant. The other was imperialism: the belief
among rulers that ruling others was their privilege
regardless of the will of the ruled -- a privilege they
claimed or believed was theirs in accordance with the
will of God.
The Unification of Italy
For ages Italy had been divided politically, and since
1494 it had been a battleground for Europe's great
powers. In the southern half of Italy was the Kingdom of
Naples-Sicily, ruled by the amiable and intelligent but
uncultivated and cynical Bourbon king, Ferdinand II.
Just north of Naples-Sicily were Rome and the Papal
States, ruled by Pope Pius IX, who depended on
French and Austrian soldiers to maintain his position
over his territories, and he believed that to fulfill the
Church's spiritual mission the papacy needed to
continue that rule. In the far north of Italy, in Venetia
(including the city of Venice) and Lombardy (including the
city of Milan), Austria ruled. And in the far northwest
was Piedmont, a part of the Kingdom of Sardinia, a liberal
constitutional monarchy, and a haven for Italian
nationalists who had been involved in 1848-49
Like Walachia and Moldavia, Italy was impacted by
the Crimean War. In that war, Sardinia-Piedmont
fought with France against the Russians. And the ruler
of France, Emperor Napoleon III (President LouisNapoleon until 1853) believed in nationhood for
Italians as well as for the French. In the wake of the
Crimean War, Napoleon supported Piedmont-Sardinia
against an opponent of Italian nationalism: Austria.
The premier of Sardinia-Piedmont, Camillo Benso de
Cavour, goaded Austria into a war, which France
joined, Napoleon hoping to enhance France's position
as a European power by helping to liberate those
Italians ruled by Austria.
Austria's army had suffered from inferior leadership,
from lack of preparation and training and from
insufficient transport, with soldiers arriving for battle
sick, exhausted and hungry. Italians and Hungarians in
Austria's army deserted in large numbers, and in June,
1859, France and Piedmont-Sardinia defeated the
Austrians at Solferino (near the town of Mantua in
eastern Lombardy), the Austrian side losing 14,000
killed and wounded and more than 8,000 missing or
taken as prisoners. France and Sardinia-Piedmont lost
15,000 killed and wounded and lost more than 2,000
as missing or as prisoners. Napoleon III recoiled from
the bloodshed and deserted Piedmont-Sardinia, and to
Piedmont's premier, Cavour, the cause of Italian unity
appeared lost. But the war had given hope to urban
masses down the Italian peninsula, who rose up
against foreign rule, these Italians going into the
streets, chanting "foreigners out of Italy," and chanting
for "Victor Emmanuel," the king of PiedmontSardinia, whom they wanted as their king.
In July 1859 a compromise peace was established at
the Conference of Villafranca. France acquired Savoy
and Nice. Austria gave Lombardy to France, which then
gave it to Piedmont-Sardinia. Then came a prodemocracy uprising across Sicily. A thousand
nationalist volunteers led by Giuseppe Garibaldi
arrived in Sicily on May 11, 1860, and in three
months he and his volunteers were in control of the
whole of Sicily. Then Garibaldi and his men moved
into the southern half of the Italian peninsula, and, in
early September, Garibaldi and his army triumphantly
entered Naples. Plebiscites in the former kingdom of
Naples-Sicily and in the papal states overwhelmingly
favored these regions becoming a part of a united
Italy. The new kingdom of Italy was proclaimed on
March 17, 1861. Italy had become a parliamentary
monarchy under king Victor Emmanuel II. Its capital
was Turin, in Piedmont. That portion of the papal states
outside of Latium were now a part of Italy, while Rome
and Latium remained under papal control, and Venetia
remained under Austrian rule.
A Step toward German unification: the AustroPrussia War
In the 1850s, Prussia and some smaller independent
states in Germany were rapidly industrializing and
growing in population. Rails crisscrossed Germany,
and Germany was the hub of rail traffic on the
European continent, taking trade away from British
merchant ships. Germany was changing from what the
British had thought of as a land of tinkering
clockmakers and forests. It was becoming more urban
and middleclass. It was on a course that by the end of
the century would have it as the third power in
manufacturing output in the world, with a 13.2 percent
share, behind the Untied States with a 23.6 percent
share, Britain with an 18.5 percent share, and almost
twice that of France, which would have a 6.8 percent
Austria had been isolated diplomatically during its
war against France and Sardinia-Piedmont. It wanted
to revive its partnership with Prussia's monarchy
against liberalism and nationalism, and it wished to
lure Prussia into helping in reversing the settlement at
Villafranca and regaining Lombardy -- Austria's
monarch, Franz Joseph, wanting to keep his family's
empire as great as it had been when he had inherited
Prussia was the largest of the German states, a
constitutional monarchy and mostly Protestant.
During a domestic crisis in 1862, a member of
Prussia's landed aristocracy, Otto von Bismarck, took
the office of minister-president. Representing the king,
Bismarck, declared that his government would rule
without parliamentary consideration. He was
concerned with Prussia's position regarding
neighboring German states and Austria's influence in
the Confederation of German States.
The Confederation of German States consisted of 39
states, 35 of which were monarchies and 4 of which
were free city-states. The confederation was a
security arrangement for mutual defense, with
representatives at a parliament at Frankfurt -- one of
the free city-states.
There was also a customs union among the German
states, the Zollverein (pronounced tsôl´ferin´), a
union that facilitated trade and helped bring economic
progress to Germany. The Zollverein was a source of
tension between Prussia and Austria, with Prussia
opposed to admitting Austria to the Zollverein and
several German states insisting upon including
Bismarck was less opposed to nationalism than were
the Austrians representing Emperor Franz Joseph.
Bismarck favored expanding Prussian influence with
Germany's smaller states and removing Austria's
influence within the Confederation of German States,
especially in northern Germany. He believed that
Germany was too small for both Prussia and Austria.,
and he was not opposed to using German nationalism
in the expansion of Prussia's power. Prussia's liberals
had been nationalistic, but Bismarck, although a
landed aristocrat, believed that German nationalism
was compatible with his brand of conservatism.
Bismarck was looking forward to stealing the
nationalist issue from the liberals, who represented
merchants and the middleclass and dominated the
lower house of Prussia's parliament - a powerless
debating society called the Reichstag. The liberals
were speaking against militarism and war, and
Bismarck countered that "the great questions of the
day will not be decided by speeches and resolutions ...
but by blood and iron." The liberals responded by
denouncing Bismarck for believing that "might makes
The question of war came in 1863 following the death
of King Frederick of Denmark. Christian of
Glucksburg ascended the Danish throne, gave the
duchy of Holstein (largely German in population and a
member of the Confederation of German States) its
independence. But he annexed the duchy of Schleswig, a
duchy with a mixed German and Danish population.
The annexation violated the 1852 Treaty of London. A
rival claim to rule both Schleswig and Holstein was
put forward by the Duke of Augustenburg. The
German Confederation's parliament in Frankfurt
supported the duke's claim for both duchies, and
Prussia and Austria went to war against Denmark.
That war ended successfully in 1864 for Prussia and
Austria, the Treaty of Vienna making Austria the
administrator of Holstein and Prussia the
administrator of Schleswig. Austria continued to
support the Duke of Augustenburg's claim for the two
duchies, but Bismarck wanted control over both
duchies and both to be economically integrated with
Prussia. He wanted the military and naval forces of
the two duchies under Prussian command and the
canal that was to be built between the North Sea and
Baltic Sea -- the Kiel Canal -- to be Prussian territory.
Austria feared that it would lose the respect of the
smaller states within the Confederation of German
States. Prussia sent troops into Holstein. Austria could
either accept German domination of Holstein or start a
war. It asked the parliament in Frankfurt to mobilize
the confederation's forces, and on June 14, 1866,
parliament agreed. Within the confederation, Bavaria,
Saxony, Hanover, Baden, and Wüerttemburg sided
with Austria against Prussia. And Prussia declared the
Confederation of German States dissolved.
Austria had a secret treaty with France, Austria
agreeing to cede Venetia to Italy in exchange for
France's neutrality and for compensations in its favor
in Germany. Bismarck was afraid of provoking a
coalition against Prussia, as had been formed against
Prussia's Frederick the Great in the latter half of the
1700s, but Bismarck had gained the gratitude of Tsar
Alexander II by supporting his repression of the
Polish uprising in 1863. To the French Bismarck made
vague promises of more territory along the Rhine.
And Bismarck believed that the recent war against
Denmark showed that it was unlikely that Britain and
Russia would intervene in a war between Prussia and
The war lasted seven weeks, Prussia's railroads and
good organization enabling it to get its troops to battle
quickly. Italy sent troops against the Austrian troops in
Venetia, and Austria's troops stopped the advance. In
early July, 1866, Prussia defeated Austria decisively at
the village of Sadowa, in northeastern Bohemia, also
known as the Battle of Königgrätz. Bismarck wanted
victory before outsiders, especially the French,
intervened, and he made peace with Austria. His terms
were considered by some, including Prussia's king,
Wilhelm I, and some Prussian military officers, to be
too generous. But rather than wishing to punish
Austria, Bismarck was being pragmatic. He wanted a
future ally in Austria, and he wanted Austria to
survive as a healthy state, able to control the peoples
of its empire. He did not want to absorb Austria's
Catholic Germans - which would have made the
Catholics in Germany more numerous than the
Protestants. Austria did not have to pay Prussia
reparations and Austria lost no territory, except
Venetia, which it ceded to France. And, following a
plebiscite in Venetia, France allowed Italy to annex
In the settlement of 1867, the mostly Catholic states in
southern Germany, which had sided with Austria,
were reluctant to unite with Prussia because of
traditional differences in politics and religion, and
they were to remain independent, but they were to
form military alliances with Prussia. What had been
the Confederation of German States was no more, and
other former members, including Mecklenburg, Hanover
and the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg, united with
Prussia, as did the free cities Hamburg, Lübeck,
Bremen and Frankfurt. And Prussia absorbed
Schleswig and Holstein.
A new constitution and federal parliament was created
for Germany, carefully designed by Bismarck to
maintain the power of the crown, the army and the
nobility. The Bundesrat formed the upper house and
represented the princes of various states, and the
Reichstag, elected by direct manhood suffrage,
formed the lower and representing others. The
chancellor was to be appointed by the king.
Parliament could not dismiss the chancellor nor
withhold money from the government, and the king
became president of the federation.
Prussia's middleclass politicians, meanwhile, were
swayed by Bismarck's success. They were delighted
that Bismarck was willing to cooperate with them and
were partaking in a swing toward conservatism and
respect for the authoritarianism of Bismarck and the
German monarchy.
The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, German
Unification, and the Paris Commune
The extension of Prussian power with its victory
against Austria in 1866 appeared ominous to
Napoleon III. Bismarck, on the other hand, was
interested in a showdown against French power. He
wanted to complete the unification of Germany and
calculated that a war against France would arouse a
nationalistic fervor in the independent states of
southern Germany that would swing these states
toward favoring unification with Prussia.
France was opposed to a relative of the king of
Prussia, Wilhelm von Hohenzollern (Wilhelm I)
becoming king of Spain. Bismarck managed to make
the French feel insulted, and on July 19, 1870,
wishing to teach Prussia a lesson, France declared
war. Napoleon III appeared to be the aggressor.
Austria would not join France against Prussia. Britain,
Russia and Italy remained neutral. And believing that
France was the aggressor, the south Germans sided
with their fellow Germans to the north, as Bismarck
had hoped. (Ems telegram)
France entered the war believing it was militarily
superior to Prussia, but at least in organization and
preparedness it was the Prussians who were superior.
On August 4, Prussia's military crossed the border into
French territory -- Alsace. On September 1 the
Germans defeated the French decisively at Sedan (11
kilometers from what today is the Belgian border,
capturing Napoleon III and 100,000 of his troops. By
September 19 a siege of Paris began. There political
unrest resulted in Napoleon III being deposed, and
there famine continued for months, with the Parisians
refusing to consider defeat.
The Germans were in occupation of Versailles, just
outside Paris, and there, on January 28, 1871, the
French signed an armistice with Germany. In May, the
Treaty of Frankfurt was signed, officially ending the
war. The independent German states -- Bavaria, et
cetera -- had supported their fellow Germans against
the French, and they agreed to unification with
Prussia. France accepted Bismarck's harsh terms -- a
$1,000,000,000 indemnity to be paid by France to
Germany within three years. And France ceded most
of Alsace and a large part of Lorraine to Germany.
Bismarck had attracted support for the war among
Germans by promising that he would return German
rule to Alsace and Lorraine, which had been taken by
France during the conquests of Napoleon I. And in
Alsace and Lorraine the Germans gained coal mines,
ire ore deposits and Germany gained some military
advantages: higher ground, a shorter western border
and a greater distance from its western border to its
heartland. But the annexation was not popular among
the people in Alsace and Lorraine.
Germans had been uncertain about who would win the
war, and the German victory was greeted with relief
and exultation and pride. The Franco-Prussian war
would be a source of pride to Germans into the
twentieth century, including a German Austrian born
in 1889 named Adolf Hitler. In this new age of social
Darwinism some Germans thought of Germans as the
fittest of peoples. And for some Germans, Bismarck's
success enhanced their respect for the authoritarianism
of his government, as opposed to his liberal critics
who championed real parliamentary government.
The Papacy Loses Rome and Latium
With the fall of Napoleon III in September 1870, the
Pope lost the protection of French troops for his
territory of Rome and Latium. On September 20,
1870, troops sent by Italy entered Rome. Pope Pius IX
refused to accept Italy's occupation of the city, and he
withdrew to his palace at the Vatican and declared
himself a prisoner. Italy annexed Rome on January 18,
1871, and King Victor Emmanuel saw the unification
of Italy complete. Addressing Italy's parliament he
The work to which we consecrated our life is
accomplished. After long trials of expiation Italy is
restored to herself and to Rome.
On May 13, Italy issued its Law of Guarantees, which
left papacy with the Vatican and other palaces. On
May 15, Pope Pius IX responded with an encyclical,
When We were defeated by Our enemies in
accordance with the mysterious design of God,
We observed the severely bitter fortunes of Our
City and the downfall of the civil rule of the
Apostolic See in the face of military invasion ...
We are suffering to be established and to thrive
to the ruin of all authority and order. May God
unite all rulers in agreement of mind and will.
By removing all discord, claiming the
disturbance of rebellions, and rejecting the
ruinous counsels of the sects, may these rulers
join in a common effort to have the rights of the
Holy See restored. Then tranquility will once
again be restored to civil society.
The Balkans and Major Powers on a Path toward
War in 1914
In August 1875 in Herzegovina (Hercegovina) an attempt
was made to collect taxes from farming people who
had been suffering from poor harvests -- collections
made with force and brutality. A man struck back in
rage at a tax collector. The police came. The man's
neighbors sided with him. A police force came and
attacked the entire village. News of this event inspired
resistance through Herzegovina and neighboring
Bosnia among people who wanted tax relief, and they
wanted relief from other grievances: an end to the
feudalist obligation of laboring for local lords and an
end to the abuse of their women during the women's
obligatory labor in the households of the lords. The
revolt spread to Bulgaria, also under Turkish rule. In
Russia, mass opinion arose in support their fellow
Orthodox Christians and goaded Russia’s tsar,
Alexander II, into going to war against the Ottoman
Turks. Romania, autonomous but not yet officially
independent of Turkish rule, joined the Russians, and
the Russian and Romanian armies pushed toward
Constantinople, with the Russians hoping that they
could recapture Constantinople for Christianity.
British liberals and conservatives debated the war in
the Balkans, the liberals outraged by atrocities
committed by the Turks against the Bulgarians.
Britain's conservative prime minister, Benjamin
Disraeli, who considered himself an expert on the
Balkans, opined that the southern (yugo) Slavs were
unworthy of self-government. He saw Russian troops
moving southward as a threat to Britain's ships
passing through the Eastern Mediterranean and the
Suez Canal. The British threatened Russia with war
and Disraeli sent warships into the Black Sea, warning
Russia that Britain would not tolerate Russia taking
Constantinople. Crowds in Britain loved Disraeli's
boldness, and British hostility toward the Russians
was reborn. In the streets, British people chanted their
support, and a verse arose: "We don't want to fight,
but by Jingo if we do, we've got the ships, we've got
the men, and got the money too." The term jingoism
was born.
In March 1878 the Russians and Turks signed an
agreement - The Treaty of San Stephano. Britain and
Habsburg Austria disliked the treaty - Austria because
they believed that it encouraged Slav nationalism.
Germany's Otto von Bismarck invited representatives
of the European powers to a conference in Berlin -the Berlin Congress -- which began on June 13. The
Turks were invited but ignored, with Bismarck
playing the role among the European powers as the
"honest broker." On July 13, the European powers
signed an agreement that divided territory among
themselves that had belonged to the Turkish
(Ottoman) Empire. Britain acquired Cyprus, which it
was to use as a military base to defend its sea route.
France was given permission to expand in Morocco.
Romania acquired recognition of its complete
independence from Turkish rule. Bulgaria gained
autonomy within the Turkish empire -- and was
displeased. Greece was given territory at the expense
of the Turks. Serbia won full independence from the
Turks. And Austria-Hungary was recognized as having
control over Bosnia and Herzegovina.
During Russia's war with the Turks it had mollified
Habsburg Austria (Austria-Hungary) by giving Austria
permission to invade Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was
taking months of bloody fighting for the Austrians to
conquer the two provinces. The monarch of AustriaHungary, Franz Joseph was pleased by gains that
compensated for his loss of territory in Italy, but for
the sake of appearances he chose to leave Bosnia and
Herzegovina nominally a part of the Ottoman Empire.
The Orthodox Serbs looked upon Bosnia and
Herzegovina as part of a greater Serbia. Its invasion
by Roman Catholic Austria-Hungary angered the
Serbs. A conflict was in place that would spark the
Great War in 1914.
Germany seeks Security in Alliances with other
Following the unification of Germany, Bismarck tried
to allay fears among other European powers by
claiming that Germany was a "satiated" power with no
appetite for additional territory. Germany, he said, had
no quarrel or claims against anyone and desired only
self-defense and peace. But the British remained
disturbed, Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli seeing
Europe's balance of power as having been destroyed.
Interested in peace among Europe's powers, in 1879
Bismarck joined Germany with Austria-Hungary in a
defensive alliance. He maintained friendly relations
with Russia, and he pushed Austria into a diplomatic
partnership with Russia, recreating in 1881 the Three
Emperor's Alliance while hoping that Russia and
Austria-Hungary would manage their rivalry in the
Balkans. France was competing with Britain for
empire and remained isolated diplomatically. Italy was
at odds with France and in 1882 joined the alliance
between Germany and Austria-Hungary, creating the
Triple Alliance.
Bismarck tried to improve Germany's relations with
Britain. In 1887, Britain, wishing to restrain the
French, made an agreement with Italy for maintaining
the status quo in the Eastern Mediterranean, an
agreement that Austria-Hungary also joined. And in
1887 Bismarck concluded another treaty with Russia - the Reinsurance Treaty. This promised Germany's
neutrality should Austria-Hungary attack Russia, and
it promised Germany's support for Russian aims and
interests in Bulgaria and for Russia's concerns
regarding the straits between the Black Sea and the
Mediterranean Sea.
Wilhelm (William) II
In 1888, Wilhelm I died. His son the Crown Prince
was dying of throat cancer and ruled for only ninety
days as Friederich III. Friederich's rule was followed
by that of his 29-year-old son, Wilhelm II. Bismarck
had become too influential for Wilhelm II and he
forced Bismarck to resign.
Wilhelm refused to renew Bismarck's Reinsurance
Treaty with Russia. He believed his own personal
relationship and blood ties with the Russian Royal
family, would be sufficient to ensure further genial
diplomatic ties between the two countries. The
Russians had their own way of looking at their
security. In 1892 the Russians signed a defensive
alliance with France -- a surprise to some because
tsarist Russia was a conservative power and France
was traditionally leftist and a republic. Russia,
however, had been receiving loans from France, and
for France it was an opportunity to overcome its
diplomatic isolation. Moreover, Russia was on the
opposite side of Germany, each country in the best
position to aid the other against German aggression.
Wilhelm II was the son of a liberal English mother
and the grandson of Queen Victoria, for whom he
remained fond. Often he was to visit his relatives in
Britain. But Wilhelm distanced himself from the
liberalism of his mother and he joined the nationalist
patriotism and support for grandeur. It German
interests abroad were to be protected without the good
will of the British navy, Germany needed a great navy
of its own, and Wilhelm supported the creation of
such a navy -- a new great navy that the British were
to see as a threat to its security. A naval arms race was
in the making.
Russia and Empire, 1856-1903
Russia in 1855
Russia fought the Crimean War (1853-56) with the
largest standing army in Europe, and its population
was greater than that of France and Britain combined,
but in that war it failed to defend its territory from
attack mainly by the British and French -- in the Crimea.
This failure shocked the Russians and demonstrated to
them the inadequacy of their weaponry and transport
and their economic backwardness relative to the
British and French.
Being unable to defend one's realm from foreign
attack was a great humiliation for Tsar Nicholas I,
who died in 1855, toward the end of the war. He was
succeeded that year by his eldest son, Alexander II,
who had to be careful not to offend the Russian people
while seeking an inglorious end to the war. The best
he could do was an humiliating treaty, the Treaty of
Paris -- signed on March 30, 1856. The treaty forbade
Russian naval bases or warships on the Black Sea,
leaving the Russians without protection from pirates
or whomever along its 1,000 miles of Black Sea
coastline, and leaving unprotected merchant ships that
had to pass through the Bosporus and Dardanelles
straits. The treaty removed Russia's claim of
protection of Orthodox Christians within the Ottoman
Empire, and it allowed the Turks to make the
Bosporus a naval arsenal and a place where the fleets
of Russia's enemies could assemble to intimidate
In his manifesto announcing the end of the war,
Alexander II promised reform, and it was welcomed
by the people. Those in Russia who read books other
than the Holy Bible were eager for reform, some of
them with a Hegelian confidence in historical
development. These readers were more Russianoriented, from Russia-oriented literature, than Russian
intellectuals had been in the early years of the century.
Russians were less devoted to the French language
and to literature from Britain and Germany. Russians
had been developing their own literature, with authors
such as Aleksandr Pushkin (1799-1837), Nicolai
Gogol (1809-62), Ivan Turgenev (1818-83) and
Feodor Dostoievski. (1821-81). And Russian literature
had been producing a greater recognition of serfs as
human beings.
In addition to a more productive economy, many of
Russia's intellectuals hoped for more of a rule of law
and an advance in rights and obligations for everyone
under the rule of the tsar -- the continuation of
autocracy but less arbitrary. And from among these
intellectuals also came an appeal for freer universities,
colleges and schools and a greater freedom of the
press. "It is not light which is dangerous, but
darkness," wrote Russia's official historian, Mikhail
And on the minds of reformers was the abolition of
serfdom. In Russia were more the 22 million serfs,
compared to 4 million slaves in the United States.
They were around 44 percent of Russia's population,
and described as slaves. They were the property of a
little over 100,000 land owning lords (pomeshchiki).
Some were owned by religious foundations, and some
by the tsar (state peasants). Some labored for people
other than their lords, but they had to make regular
payments to their lord, with some of the more wealthy
lords owning enough serfs to make a living from these
Russia's peasants had become serfs following the
devastation from war with the Tartars in the 1200s,
when homeless peasants settled on the land owned by
the wealthy. By the 1500s these peasants had come
under the complete domination of the landowners, and
in the 1600s, those peasants working the lord's land or
working in the lord's house had become bound to the
lords by law, the landowners having the right to sell
them as individuals or families. Sexual exploitation of
female serfs had become common.
It was the landowner who chose which of his serfs
would serve in Russia's military -- for twenty-five
years. In the first half of the 1800s, serf uprisings in
the hundreds had occurred, and serfs in great number
had been running away from their lords. But, in
contrast to slavery in the United States, virtually no
one in Russia was defending serfdom ideologically.
There was to be no racial divide or Biblical quotation
to argue about. Those who owned serfs defended that
ownership merely as selfish interest. Public opinion
overwhelmingly favored emancipation, many
believing that freeing the serfs would help Russia
advance economically to the level at least of Britain
or France. Those opposed to emancipation were
isolated -- among them the tsar's wife and mother,
who feared freedom for so many would not be good
for Russia.
The Freeing of Serfs -- a Rotten Deal
In 1856, Tsar Alexander II spoke before the gentry of
Moscow and asked them to consider emancipation of
the serfs, adding that it would be better to begin to
abolish serfdom from above rather than wait for a
rising from below. Preparing the way for the more
liberal and self-regulating society that was a part of
the economically advanced societies in the West,
Alexander described his government's new policy of
glasnost (openness), greater freedom of the press and
thought. Censorship was to remain, and Alexander
announced the need to exercise "judicious vigilance,"
but, he said, it ought not "inhibit thinking."
In 1858, committees of gentry gathered in Russia's
various provinces, and, representing the gentry in
general, nine met in what was called a Main
Committee, at St. Petersburg, and agreed to the
abolition of serfdom should the tsar decide to do so. In
March 1861, on the same day that Abraham Lincoln
took his oath office, Alexander issued his
Emancipation Manifesto. In charge of the program of
emancipation was the adjutant-general, Count Panin,
who had owned 20,000 serfs. The lords were to
receive compensation in the form of treasury bonds,
and the freed serfs were to pay for their freedom not
as individuals but collectively. Except in the Ukraine
and a few other areas, lands were distributed to
communities of former serfs, communities called
communes, the government hoping that a commune of
freed serfs would be more responsible than scattered
individuals, and the government hoping to prevent the
creation of numerous isolated persons without
property. It was the commune that was to be
responsible for distributing land to the former serfs,
for collecting taxes, providing recruits for the military
and other obligations.
Payments by freed serfs were to be annual, to the
government, for forty-nine years, while the lords for
the time being were to keep title to their lands,
including that portion -- perhaps half -- given to the
serf commune.
Many freed serfs, especially in the fertile agricultural
regions in the southern provinces, felt that they did not
get all the land that had been promised them. Some
serf communities failed to receive forested areas or
access to a river and were forced to bargain with their
former lords for access to these. According to one
source, the former serfs received 18 percent less land
than they had been promised, and 42 percent of the
former serfs received allotments of land insufficient to
maintain their families.
Some former serfs rioted, including some who
believed that the real emancipation decree was being
kept from them by their former lord. Some of Russia's
intelligencia considered the emancipation reform
inadequate. Many former serfs accepted their situation
with what a Russian prince, Peter Kropotkin,
described as their "inborn good nature." Kropotkin
described their servility toward the lords as
disappearing rapidly and the former serfs talking to
their masters as equals.
Alexander II, meanwhile, had earned the title TsarLiberator.
Other Reforms and Technological Progress
Alexander was preparing to abandon rule of all of vast
Russia form his central bureaucracy by giving the
Russians some local control. In 1864 he created a
district assembly for rural areas called the zemstvo. In
these, both the local gentry and common peasants had
representation, the two forced to work together and
occasionally to compromise. The zemstvo was
responsible for education, medical care, veterinary
service, insurance, local roads and the storage of food
reserves. Medical care was communal -- socialized
medicine. The zemstvo attracted teachers, doctors,
veterinary surgeons, bookkeepers and other
The legal system was also reformed in 1864. The
judiciary became an independent branch of
government and a single unified system. Bureaucratic
secrecy was replaced by a new openness as to what
the courts were doing. Favor under the law for the
wealthy and upper classes was replaced by what was
supposed to be equality before the law. Trial by jury
was created for serious criminal offenses, and for
minor civil and criminal cases justices of the peace
were created.
In 1870, cities and towns were given powers similar to
the zemstvo - power to pursue municipal economic
development and to look after the welfare of its
inhabitants. A limited democracy of sorts was created
in the form of town councils, its members elected by
property owners and taxpayers.
Alexander reformed the military, reducing duty from
twenty-five years to six, with recruits drawn by lot
and people from all classes obliged to serve, with
exemptions for hardship cases. For the military,
corporal punishment was abolished, and an effort was
made to improve the professionalism of the officer
corps. In the military all who lacked an elementary
education were to receive it. And Alexander put his
army into more comfortable uniforms.
Under Alexander, the system for state finances was
improved, laying a foundation for industrial
expansion. That expansion had begun in the same way
that it was in Western Europe and the United States,
with the expansion of rail lines. The growth in rail
lines enabled farmers to send their crops to consumers
farther away, and to sell their crops at a more stable
price. Railway expansion increased Russia's ability to
export grain, providing Russia with money to invest in
more industrialization. Railway expansion allowed for
a growth in the mining of minerals. The coal, iron and
steel industries were growing, as was the railwayequipment industry. There was more demand for rails,
locomotives and other goods, stimulating the
economy. Industrial suburbs appeared around Moscow
and St. Petersburg and industrial workers grew in
number. In the early 1860s the Russian Empire had
about 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) of railroad track.
By 1880 it was to have about 24,000 kilometers
(15,500 miles) of track.
Territorial Expansion and War against the
Ottoman Turks
Traders and settlers in Siberia, said to be around 0.9
million in 1800, had increased to 2.7 million by 1850,
most of them in the western part of Siberia. During
the reign of Alexander II, Russia expanded in the
Siberian Far East. Russia had founded a penal colony
in 1857 in the north of Sakhalin Island. In 1858, the
Russians took advantage of China's weakness and
signed, with the Manchu dynasty ruling China, the
Treaty of Aigun. In this treaty, Russia gained 600,000
square kilometers of territory on left bank of the Amur River
(which now separates China from Russia) -- a gain in
territory almost the size of California and Oregon
combined. In 1860, in the Treaty of Beijing, Russia
gained territory south from the Amur River along the
East Sea (Sea of Japan) to Korea -- territory
approximately the size of California. In the south of
that region, in 1860, the Russians founded the port
city of Vladivostok.
In the Caucasus, Russia had been facing the "holy
wars" of Islamic mountain peoples. In 1857, with the
Crimean War over, the Russians launched a new
offensive there. The mountaineers grew tired of
fighting and the Russians captured the legendary
Shamil, leader of the resistance to Russia. In the
Caucasus, the Christian Armenian and Georgians
looked to the Russians for protection against the threat
from the Turks as well as attacks by Muslim
mountaineers, while some Muslims, rather than be
ruled by the Christian Russians, migrated to Turkey.
And beginning in 1863, Russia sent military
expeditions into Central Asia -- between the Caspian
Sea and China, north of Afghanistan. Here the
population was sparse and largely tribal and Islamic.
Largely they were mobile herders. Resistance to the
Russians was armed with little more than a few
antiquated firearms. The United States was Russia's
primary source of cotton, and when this supply was
curtailed during the U.S. Civil War the growing of
cotton in Central Asia became of greater importance
for Russia. The Russians captured the city of Tashkent
in June 1865, and Tashkent became a Russian
administrative center. Russian settlers began moving
into the conquered areas, with the Russian army
defending the settlers against attacks by local natives,
which led to further Russian expansion.
In 1867, Alexander's government moved toward a
greater consolidation of the frontier of its empire by
selling to the United States all its "territory and
dominion" on the continent of North America, namely
Alaska, and adjacent islands - a continuation of a pull
back from Fort Ross in northern California, in 1841.
In 1875, Russia pulled back from the Kurile Islands
(historically islands that belonged to the Ainu people),
Russia acknowledging Japan's control there, receiving
in exchange from Japan, recognition of its control
over the southern half of Sakhalin Island, giving all of
Sakhalin, for the time being, to Russia.
Meanwhile, Alexander's Russia had regained some of
its standing in the Western world. In 1870, Alexander
repudiated that section of the 1866 Treaty of Paris that
prevented Russia from having a naval force in the
Black Sea. A conference of European powers, held in
1871, sanctioned Russia reestablishing a naval force
in the Black Sea but reaffirmed the right of the
Turkish sultan to close the Dardanelles and the
Bosporus to war vessels.
Concerning the western frontier of Russia's empire, by
now Pan-Slavism among the Russians -- a point-ofview that had risen with the decline of Russia's
international standing from its loss of the Crimean
War. The Pan-Slavists held that if Slavic and
Orthodox Christian peoples other than Russians
associated with Russia's empire, it would give Russia
more power and influence in world affairs. Some PanSlavists believed that the old seat of Eastern Orthodox
Christianity, Constantinople, was or should be
Russian. Some devout Pan-Slavic Orthodox Christians
believed that Russia's empire should include lands
from the Volga River to the Euphrates, from the
Ganges River to the Danube, as, they believed, Daniel
had prophesied. They credited Russia with the highest
achievements: the religion of the Hebrews, the culture
of the Greeks (who were also Eastern Orthodox) and
the political order of ancient Rome. And following
Prussia's unification of Germany's in 1871, PanSlavists saw their point-of-view as a check on German
expansion in Central and Eastern Europe. PanSlavism, they believed, was essential if Russia being a
great power.
Russia created an alliance with Prussia and AustriaHungary, called the Three Emperor's League. Russia
joined other Christian powers in trying to impose on
the Ottoman Empire a program of reforms and to
eliminate grievances among Christians within the
Ottoman Empire in the Balkans. In Russia, public
opinion rose in support of a spontaneous rising against
Turkish rule in the Balkans, the Russians siding with
their fellow Eastern Orthodox Christians, whom they
saw as suffering under Muslim rule. Public opinion
goaded Alexander into going to war against the Turks,
and on April 24, 1877, Russia declared war on the
Ottoman sultan - the Islamic ruler in Turkey.
Alexander appeased Austria, lest Austria oppose his
move against the Turks, and he did so by offering
Austria the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina
(helping to lay the ground for World War in 1914).
Russia's successful armies stopped short of capturing
Constantinople, threatened with war by an aroused
Britain if it did so. Russia made peace with Turkey, at
San Stefano (or San Stephano). But Britain and other
European powers were opposed to any increase in
Russia's influence in the Balkans. At a conference of
the major powers at Berlin in 1878 -- called the
Congress of Berlin -- the map of the Balkans was
redrawn with what appeared to be a diplomatic defeat
for Russia, to which Russian public opinion reacted
with bitterness.
The Russians had to be satisfied with their gains in
Siberia and Central Asia. By 1876 the Russians had
conquered or had made a protectorate of all of what is
today Uzbekistan. Also in 1876 they occupied the
north of present-day Kyrgyzstan. By 1881 present-day
Kyrgyzstan was a part of the Russian Empire. And in
1881 the Russians overcame the fierce resistance of
Turkmen tribes, capturing the Dengil-Tepe fortress,
near Ashgabad, putting present-day Turkmenistan
under Russian control.
In their 19th century conquest of Central Asia, the
Russians had lost perhaps less than a thousand
soldiers. The Russians encouraged local seminomadic peoples to develop agriculture, while not
interfering with local law and other customs of the
conquered Islamic peoples, and Russia was to receive
from Central Asia cotton and other raw materials. In
the conquered territories the Russians sold tobacco,
manufactured goods and, with devastating
consequences, vodka. The Russian spread syphilis.
Merchants bought up land and then leased the land
back to local peoples at extortionate rates. And the
Russians taxed local peoples.
Among the conquered peoples of Siberia, the
Caucasus and Central Asia, only the Yakuts in the
northeast of Siberia managed to adapt well to Russian
dominance, the Yakuts, at least their elite, preserving
their language and, under a Christian veneer, their
shamanist tradition.
Tsarist Authority in Poland, Rebellions and
In 1795, Poland, largely Roman Catholic, had been
divided between Russia, Prussia and Austria and had
ceased to exist as an independent kingdom. With the
international agreement at Vienna in 1815, the
Russian tsar, Alexander I, expanded his hold over
Polish lands, but these lands were given a degree of
self-government. In 1830, a year of upheaval across
Europe, the Poles rebelled against the Russians,
seeking full independence and nationhood, and 1835,
in response, Tsar Nicholas I abrogated the Polish
constitution of 1815 and made Poland an indivisible part
of the Russian Empire. He closed Polish institutions
of higher learning and secularized lands of the
Catholic Church. The Russian language was forced
upon the Poles in secondary schools, and the works of
leading Polish authors were banned. Then in the late
1850s, with Tsar Alexander II in power and moving in
the direction of reforms, amnesty was granted to those
Poles who had resisted the Russians. The Poles were
granted municipal elections and Poles replaced
Russian officials in subordinate governmental offices.
There were demonstrations by the Poles in 1860, on
the anniversary of the Warsaw uprising of 1830, and
another demonstration in 1861 in which Russians
fired into the crowd, killing several demonstrators.
Alexander was hesitant concerning his policy toward
the Poles, but by 1862, he had restored all that
Nicholas I had taken away, including the restoration of
Catholic bishoprics and the right of Poles to elect
provincial and local assemblies -- everything except
the right to convoke a national assembly (diet or
In London and Paris, meanwhile, were Polish exiles
organizing resistance to Russian rule over the Poles.
And landowning Polish nobles were happy about Tsar
Alexander's favoritism toward the common peasants
in land reform. Another uprising against the Russians
began in January 1863, when young Poles protesting
conscription into the Russian army were joined by
various others, including high ranking Polish officers
serving in Russia's army. The rebellion spread to the
Lithuanians (who were mostly Roman Catholics) and
to the Byelorussians (who were mostly Eastern
Orthodox). A lack of military strength forced the
rebels to resort to guerrilla warfare. With hundreds of
thousands of troops, the Russians crushed the
resistance in the summer of 1864. Alexander II ended
Polish autonomy again. There were public executions
of 128 rebels and deportations of 12,000 to Siberia.
Property of the Catholic Church was confiscated. The
Polish language was banned at official places. Poles
were forbidden from acquiring landed estates.
Teachers, Orthodox priests and landlords from Russia
moved in among the Byelorussians. Money
confiscated as penalties from the conquered helped
finance in the conquered territory the construction of
Orthodox churches and to support Orthodox priests.
Rebellion, Students and Assassination
In the early 1860s, Russia had fewer university
students than did France or Britain, but in
considerable number Russia's students believed that
governmental reforms were inadequate, and they were
hostile toward Alexander's authoritarianism regarding
the universities. Disturbances erupted on university
campuses in '61 and '62, coinciding with discontent
over dissatisfaction with the emancipation of serfs.
Numerous fires were set in St. Petersburg in 1862 and
in cities along the Volga River. Leaflets urging
revolution were distributed. The government filled the
jail cells at St. Petersburg's Peter and Paul fortress and
nearby Kronstadt naval base with university students.
The authorities closed the universities, but then
reopened them again in August 1863, under a new
minister of education, bent on placating the students
with a more liberal policy and freer university.
Political activism was prestigious among the students,
as was the activist's way of looking at the world. The
activists were interested in the utilitarianism
positivism and materialism that had been more
common in Britain. They extolled science in what
they believed was the new age of science. They were
in rebellion against the metaphysics, religion and
romantic poetry the parent's generation. They were
hostile toward family control and school discipline.
They were described by the Russian novelist
Alexander Turgenev as nihilists, because of their
rejection of authority and old values, and the label
In 1866, in an individual action a student tried to
assassinate the Tsar Alexander, and the government
became more hostile to all students. A new minister of
education took charge of the universities and applied
stricter controls.
In 1873, students studying in Switzerland were
ordered to return to Russia, and returning students
launched what was called the "To the People"
movement, which they hoped would revolutionize
Russia. They wanted to change Russia by mixing with
and passing along their ideas to the common people in
rural areas - Russia being predominately rural -- and
to serve the common people in various ways, as
teachers, doctors or scribes. They were only a couple
of thousand in a sea of perhaps nearly 100 million
people, and the social change they hoped for did not
appear on the mass scale they hoped for. Some
peasants looked with hostility upon the "nihilist"
views of some within the movement, saw them as
outsiders and as troublemakers and reported them to
the police. Arrests and trials of nearly 250 marked the
end of the "To the People" movement, which was
followed by something more radical.
In 1876 a group called "Land and Liberty" was
founded -- a secret organization to avoid the police,
their purpose being propaganda among "the people"
and political organizing. In early 1878, a non-student
worker-activist but member of "Land and Liberty,
Vera Zasulich, sought revenge for the beating that one
of her activist friends received in prison. She shot and
wounded the military governor of St. Petersburg and
was tried by a jury, which failed to convict her. The
government responded by ending jury trials for people
charged with politically motivated crimes. The
government also stepped up its arrest and exile of
persons suspected of sedition.
In 1879, St. Petersburg had its first significant strike
by industrial workers. And that year, from the "Land
and Liberty" activists emerged an impatient group that
advocated terrorism to accomplish their goals, a group
that called itself the "Will of the People." Their goals
were democracy, worker ownership of mines and
factories, lands to peasants, complete freedom of
speech and association, a classless society and
people's militias replacing the army. Some believed
that if Tsar Alexander II were assassinated he might be
replaced with a new ruler who would create a liberal
constitution -- which they saw as an improvement
although of more benefit to the bourgeoisie than to the
masses. Some others believed that the assassination of
prominent officials and Alexander II could spark a
popular uprising.
In 1879 several attempts were made to kill Alexander.
In 1880 they blew up the dining room at the tsar's
Winter Palace, killing eleven and injuring fifty-six but
missing the tsar, who had been late to dine. The police
were able to track down and arrest many members of
the "Will of the People," almost destroying the
In March, 1881, the police were aware that another
attempt was afoot to assassinate Alexander. The police
warned Alexander to remain secluded, but Alexander
ignored the warning, and, on March 13, a bomb was
thrown beneath his carriage, wounding some in his
entourage. The entourage stopped -- as the assassins
had planned. Alexander emerged from his carriage,
feeling obliged to be with the wounded. A 26-year-old
Polish member of the conspiracy, Ignacy
Hryniewiecki, approached within a few steps of
Alexander and tossed a package that landed at the feet
of Alexander, the package exploding and ripping apart
Alexander's legs. Alexander's entourage fled in panic,
leaving the tsar to bleed alone on the icy ground.
Passers-by found Alexander, but he died a few hour
Alexander III cracks his Whip
Alexander III, thirty-six years-old when he ascended
the throne, the second son of Alexander II, associated
the assassination of his father with liberal reforms -instead of seeing the assassination as a security
failure. He claimed that parliamentary institutions and
the liberalism of Western Europe were inappropriate
for Russia and that Russia could be saved from the
revolutionaries only by the traditional authoritarian
rule of his family -- the Romanov's -- including
adherence to the faith of the Orthodox Christian
Church, of which he was head.
The Russian writer, Count Leo Tolstoy, appealed to
Alexander III to spare his father's murders and "to
meet his enemies on the field of ideas." The terrorists
had ideals, said Tolstoy, and he advised Alexander to
counter their ideals with "another ideal, higher than
theirs, greater and more generous."
Tsar Alexander III was closer to the ideology of his
former tutor, Konstantine Pobedonostsev -- since 1880
lay head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Pobedonostsev argued against parliamentary
government, declaring against "the dexterous
manipulators of votes." They, he claimed, " ... rule the
people as any despot or military dictator might rule
it." He described elected representatives as defending
the interests of narrow constituencies. A monarch
alone, he said, embodies the common interest.
Pobedonostsev saw liberal ideas as a threat to
Romanov authority and claimed that all opposition to
Romanov authority should be ruthlessly crushed.
Pobedonostsev, moreover, viewed Jews as the killers
of Christ -- that somehow the actions of a few Jews
more than eighteen hundred years before were the
responsibility of all Jews then and down through the
ages -- collective guilt. An association was made
between the assassins of Alexander II and "the Jewish
plague," and the assassination of Alexander II was
followed by a string of pogroms against the Jews, by
attacks on Jewish communities, the property of Jews,
including some killing of Jews. To many Russian
peasants, and many who had migrated to the cities, the
Jews were extortionists -- the same bleeding the
peasants with high interest rates with which some
German peasants had characterized Jews.
Jews had already been restricted to towns and smaller
settlements inhabited by merchants and craftsmen,
within what was called the Pale, and not allowed in
the countryside alongside non-Jews. A few Jews had
managed to surmount these restrictions, while only a
small percentage were allowed to study at a university.
At the bottom of his order, in 1887, to restrict the
number of Jews at universities, Alexander III wrote
"Let us never forget that it was the Jews who crucified
Many Jews had been invited to settle in Poland before
the Russians had taken control of Polish lands, and
now many from Russia-controlled Poland and from
western Russia would be among those "Eastern
Europeans" who migrated to the United States.
Between 1881 and 1914 nearly two million Jews
would arrive in the United States, mostly from Eastern
During the rule of Alexander III, the central
government's police (now called the Okhrana), made
no distinction between terrorists and activists of the
non-violent variety. Censorship was tightened, and
publishers and writers with liberal ideas were
harassed. Activists were arrested, imprisoned,
commonly tried by courts-martial and excommunicated. Thousands were exiled to Siberia and
in some cases hanged. But opposition to monarchical
rule was not eliminated. It was merely forced
With new property requirements for voting, the
electorate of St. Petersburg decreased from around
21,000 to around 8,000, and the electorate of Moscow
decreased from around 20,000 to around 7,000. [note]
Only the Orthodox Church was allowed to proselytize,
and the Catholic and Protestant churches in the empire
were subject to surveillance. The involvement of the
Orthodox Church in primary education was increased,
parish schools increasing from 4,500 in 1882 to
around 32,000 by 1894. Higher education for women
became more restricted. University autonomy was
abolished. Students were prohibited from forming
organizations, and teachers were appointed by the
Ministry of Education rather than elected by their
colleagues as before. Universities in Poland and the
Baltic provinces were obliged to use the Russian
language, and this was applied also in Finland, then a
part of the Russian Empire.
Several attempts were made to assassinate Alexander
III, but, in 1894, after months of illness, he died of
disease of the kidneys -- one of which had been
injured in a train derailment. His eldest son, Nicolas
II, at age of twenty-six, became tsar -- the tsar whose
decisions would change the world in the years 1914 to
Russia under Nicholas II
Nicholas complained that he was not ready to be tsar
and, it is said, burst into tears. He had little interest in
ideas, but he began to model his rule after that of his
father and to adhere to ritual and ceremony.
A few days after the coronation of Nicholas, a part of
the continued celebration was the setting out of
presents from the tsar -- trinkets and such -- at a field
on the outskirts of Moscow. As the crowd surged
toward the gifts over a thousand of them were
trampled to death, the beginning of tragedy in the
reign of Nicholas II.
The main interest of Nicholas was devotion to God
and an undisturbed family life. He believed the
Romanov claim that rule by the Romanov family was
from and guided by the will of God. And, like his
father, he too was the head of Russia's Eastern
Orthodox Church. Under Nicholas II, Moscow was
still seen at the new city of Constantine, the "Third
Rome" (since the 15th century). At church services
Nicholas II was described as "'The Most Devout."
Those devoted to the Church and to Nicholas were to
describe the Church as having reached its fullest
development and power under Nicholas.
Nicholas visited churches across his land, venerating
saints, and where he appeared, devout Russians
followed the custom of falling to their knees at the
sight of him and his entourage -- a moment of silence
usually followed by roaring cheers. Those allowed
close enough to him and allowed to address him
would, on their knees, kiss his hand with fervent
expressions of loyalty.
Making More Revolutionaries
Russia's wealthy merchants did not lobby for a voice
in government as had merchants in the West. Many of
them were from the "Old Believer" families, risen
from poverty and frugal, not unlike some successful
entrepreneurs in the United States. Largely they
accepted the policies of their tsar, aiming their
hostilities instead at would-be business competition
from Western Europeans, from Poles and Jews. They
remained actively associated with the Orthodox
Church and supported, or at least did not criticize,
Russia's imperialism.
Dissent was strongest among intellectuals with an
anti-capitalist bent. And, among those wanting the
overthrow of the monarchy, atheism was fervent.
Fervor was a counter force also politically. Despite
tsarist rule's hostility toward revolutionary activity, it
was Russia that was producing the most
revolutionaries - more so, for example, than was
liberal Britain or the United States.
In the Russia of tsar Nicholas II, the word student
became synonymous with revolutionary. Arguments
among the revolutionaries were vociferous, including
exiles, described by one author as follows:
So great was the turmoil and the chatter, so
unearthly the hours kept, so furious the
quarrels, that it became commonplace in
hospitable Geneva and Zurich to see
advertisements reading: "Roomers Wanted, No
Russia's revolutionaries were divided between
anarchists, populists (narodniki) and Marxists. The
narodniks were anti-city, socialist and interested in
organizing Russia's majority rural folks. The Marxists
believed that industrialization and urbanization was in
Russia's future and that socialism would follow more
capitalist development. They saw Russia's village
communes as decaying and peasants increasingly
joining the urban poor.
The most influential Marxist was George Plekhanov,
living in exile in Switzerland. He became one of the
founders of the League for the Emancipation of Labor
-- the beginnings of what became Russia's
organization of Social Democrats. Plekhanov
criticized anarchists, narodniks and Blanquists for not
understanding that socialism could not be
superimposed upon the present but instead would
need to wait for more capitalist and industrial
In 1900, Plekhanov began publishing the Socialist
newspaper Iskra (spark), with a rising star among the
Russian Marxists, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, to be
known to the world as V.I. Lenin. Lenin believed that
a revolutionist party in Russia should be clandestine
and limited to professional revolutionaries who could
take their reasoning to common working folks rather
than waiting for the "working class" to spontaneously
develop an interest in socialist revolution. In 1903 he
led a split among the Social Democrats, his group
called the Bolsheviks.
The End of the Century
Capitalists continued to seek gains and workers to
seek work, and Russia continued to advance
technologically. The industrial sector of Russia's
economy had begun booming in the mid-1880s -similar to the booms taking place in the West,
including the United States. Russia's rail track, around
1,600 kilometers in 1860, was around 53,000
kilometers by the end of the century, when the great
trans-Siberia railway, begun in 1892, was almost
finished. From Moscow, the hub of Russia's rail lines,
track extended to the Far East, westward to Warsaw
and the Baltic Sea, north to St. Petersburg and to
Archangel, south to the Black Sea, and southeast to
the shore of the Caspian Sea and to Samarkand and
the Afghan border.
Food production was keeping pace with population
growth. Since 1860, farm production had been
increasing at an annual rate of 1.5 to 1.9 percent per
year - partly because of the increase in the area
farmed. From the late 1860s to 1914 the number of
horses in Russia rose by 38 percent and the number of
cattle rose by 46 percent.
Russia's population reached 135.6 million at the end
of the century -- compared to 41.1 million for Britain,
56 million for Germany, and 75.9 million for the
United States. Its armed forces had 1,162,000
personnel, compared to Germany's 524,000 and
96,000 for the United States.But Russia remained
predominately rural. Approximately 80 percent of
Russia's working population was associated with
agriculture. Its per capita manufacturing output was
only 15 percent of Britain's - compared to the 65
percent of Britain's per capita output in the United
The century ended with many Russians holding a
romantic notion of the expansion to the Siberian Far
East -- which had become a part of Russia proper. In a
popular book entitled The Conquest of Siberia, the
author, Ermak, described the people migrating into
Siberia as "strong, with a powerful spirit." Life in
Siberia, he wrote, was tough. While people in Western
Europe viewed expansion by Russians as sinister,
Russians commonly viewed their expansion as
glorious and the product of bravery and fortitude.