Sunday, 22 March 2015

German unification

The proclamation of the German Empire,
Hall of Mirrors, Versailles
18 January 1871

As well as the textbooks mentioned in previous posts,  I have used the Britannica CD ROM (2001),  Christopher Clark's excellent Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600-1947 (Allen Lane, 2006), Steinberg Bismarck: A Life (Oxford University Press, 2011) and Hannah Pakula, An Uncommon Woman: The Empress Frederick, Daughter of Queen Victoria, Wife of the Crown Prince of Prussia, Mother of Kaiser Wilhelm II (Phoenix Press, 1997).  Go here for an excellent  discussion on Bismarck in Melvyn Bragg's 'In Our Time'. 

The kings of Prussia

Frederick I of Prussia in his
coronation robes (1701)
Public Domain
From the end of of the 17th century Brandenburg-Prussia, under its Hohenzollern kings was the largest German principality after Austria. The monarchy can be dated from January 1701 when Frederick III, Elector of Brandenburg, was crowned Frederick I ‘King in [not yet 'of] Prussia’.  Under Frederick the Great Prussia had expanded its territory and during the War of Liberation in 1813 it had recovered its self-respect following its defeat by Napoleon.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Italian unification

This post owes a considerable debt to Robert Gildea's textbook, Barricades and Borders: Europe 1800-1914 (Oxford University Press, 2003) and to David Gilmour's very revisionist The Pursuit of Italy: A History of the Land, its Regions and their Peoples (Allen Lane, 2011.) I have also learned a lot from Giuseppe de Lampedusa's famous novel of the Risorgimento, The Leopard. You might be interested to learn more about the wonderfully operatic Italian national anthem, Fratelli d'Italia. Here is its history. You can hear it on youtube.   
Camillo Benso, Count di Cavour
one of the architects of Italian

In 1847 Metternich had famously called Italy 'a geographical expression'. Yet by 1861 the Kingdom of Italy had been created under King Victor Emmanuel II of Piedmont. In 1870 Rome was established as the capital. 

Cavour and Napoleon III

With Austria weakened by the Crimean War, Cavour, the Prime Minister of Piedmont,  aimed at expelling the Austrians from Italy and annexing the northern provinces of Lombardy and Venetia under Victor Emmanuel II. But neither he nor the king wanted a united Italy, which would be harder to control and might fall prey to democrats and nationalists. The man they most feared was Mazzini who commanded a revolutionary corps of conspirators, organizing a National Party in London in 1850. Nationalists increasingly recognized that Austria still remained a great power and could only be removed from Italy by military force, and that this would have to be under Piedmontese leadership with French assistance. In 1857 the veteran nationalists Garibaldi and Manin established the Italian National Society which cut itself off from Mazzini’s doctrinaire republicans.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Napoleon III

This post owes a good deal to James F. McMillan, Napoleon III (Longman, 1991)

Napoleon III

Early life 

Louis Napoleon Bonaparte was born in 1808, the son of Napoleon’s brother, Louis King of Holland, and Hortense de Beauharnais, the daughter of Josephine. After 1815 he was brought up in Switzerland but as a young man he settled in Italy and became involved with Carbonari politics. With the death of Napoleon’s son, the duke of Reichstadt in 1832, he became the heir to the to the Bonaparte dynasty.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Europe after 1848: conservatism and change

This post and the subsequent ones are indebted to two text-books in particular: Robert Gildea, Barricades and Borders: Europe 1800-1914, 3rd edn. (Oxford University Press, 2003) and Michael Rapport, Nineteenth-Century Europe (Palgrave, 2005).

Europe post 1848: the New Conservatism

After 1848 the conservative order re-asserted itself, but it did not simply restore the old order. The growing pace of economic and social change made this impossible. The international scene also grew more threatening. Between 1848 and 1878 a series of wars reshaped Europe and destroyed the Vienna settlement. 

Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Revolutions of 1848

Proclamation of the Roman Republic in the Piazza
del Popolo, 1849
Public Domain
The Frankfurt Parliament, Paulskircke,
with an imposing figure of 'Germania'
prominently displayed.
Public Domain
Much of the information for this post is taken from Jonathan Sperber, Revolutionary Europe, 1780-1850 (Longman, 2000) and Robert Gildea, Barricades and Borders: Europe 1800-1914, 3rd edn (Oxford, 2003). 

The revolutions of 1848 ignited the countries of Europe in a way that would not be repeated until 1989. Violence broke out because legal and parliamentary movements for change were frustrated. The only countries where revolution was avoided were those were adequate concessions were made in time (Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands) of where opposition was negligible and repression total (Russia).

Monday, 9 February 2015

France: the July Monarchy

Louis-Philippe by Winterhalter
Public Domain


On 31 July, following three days of fighting in Paris, the veteran general Lafayette, appeared on the balcony of the Hôtel de Ville with Louis-Philippe, the 57-year-old head of the Orléanist family. Both men were holding a large tricolour flag. When Lafayette embraced Louis-Philippe, the crowd gave both men a prolonged ovation. On 3 August Louis-Philippe opened the new session of the Chamber of Deputes as Lieutenant-General of the Kingdom. On 9 August he accepted the deputies’ invitation to be King of the French. He then mounted the throne, acknowledging that ‘the will of the nation has called me’.  This was the closest he got to a coronation. 

Supporters of the July Revolution compared it to Britain’s Glorious Revolution of 1688-9.  It was not a divine right monarchy and Louis-Philippe was designated king of the French not king of France. According to Lafayette, whose support was crucial, this was
‘a popular monarchy surrounded by republican institutions’.  
The tricolore replaced the white flag of the Bourbons as a sign that Louis-Philippe, who had fought at Jemappes and was the son of the revolutionary Philippe Égalité, was a ‘Citizen King’. He stood between France and a republic.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

France: the restored Bourbons 1814-30

'Charte constitutionnelle du 4 juin 1814'.
Page 1 - Archives Nationales -
Licensed under Public Domain
via Wikimedia Commons 

The monarchy restored 

Lous XVI had two younger brothers, Louis-Stanlslas, count of Provence (b. 1755) and Charles-Philippe, count of Artois (b. 1757), who had been in exile since 1791. Following the death of the little dauphin (‘Louis XVII) in 1795 Provence claimed the title Louis XVIII. At the time of Napoleon’s fall both brothers were living in England.

Because Napoleonic France was a police state, it is difficult to assess the state of opinion. Nevertheless, evidence suggests that there were people of royalist sympathies in all classes. As Napoleon’s troubled mounted, the Bourbons began to hope for a restoration. In February 1813 Louis issued a declaration from his English home, Hartwell in Bucks, promising pardon to those who served Napoleon or the Republic and compensation to the original owners of confiscated lands. On 12 March 1814 Anglo-Portuguese forces entered Bordeaux and the city proclaimed Louis XVIII.  This convinced the Allies that there was genuine support for a Bourbon restoration. On 31 March allied armies entered Paris. A provisional government was set up under Talleyrand and throughout France towns spontaneously proclaimed Louis XVIII. On 24 April Louis, now known as ‘le Desiré’ arrived back in France.