As the Latin American colonies underwent revolutions, Europe also had dramatic changes. Under Prince Metternich of Austria, the newly formed Congress of Vienna attempted to undo the French Revolution. This attempt succeeded on the international level. The European nations maintained an entire century of peace. However, this did not work inside the individual countries as revolutions erupted from 1815 – 1848.

  • Clash of Philosophies

    During the first half of the 1800s, there were 3 schools of thought fighting for supremacy.

    • Conservatives:
      • The conservatives were usually made up of wealthy people and nobility. They wanted to preserve to traditional system of government.
    • Liberals:
      • The liberals were middle-class leaders and merchants who wanted to give more power to elected officials – however, they wanted to limit voters to educated and rich people.
    • Radicals:
      • The radicals were usually from the lower class. These people believed in extending democracy to all people. They also believed in the ideals of the French Revolution – equality, liberty, fraternity.
  • Nationalism Develops

    – These three groups debated over the system of government. Meanwhile, nationalism developed. Nationalism is the new belief that loyalty should not be to the king, but rather the nation of people who have a common culture and history. The nationalist movement combines the three political ideas.

    – Independent governments ruling over nations are called nation-states. A nation-state defends the land and culture, representing the nation to the rest of the world. In 1815, only France, England, and Spain were nation-states as the others did not qualify. However, the nationalist movements led to change.

    – Many believers in nationalism were liberals or radicals. These people wanted constitutional government and other nation-states. In Germany, liberals wanted to join the German states into one nation-state. Other liberals in countries such as the Hungarians in the Austrian Empire wanted to split into a self-ruled nation-state.

  • Nationalists Challenge Conservative Power

    The Greeks were the first to win the right to self-rule. Greece had been part of the Ottoman Empire for many years. However, the Greeks remembered their history and culture. They were encouraged by the nationalist spirit to demand independence from the Ottoman Turks in 1821.

    • Greeks Gain Independence
      • The powerful governments all opposed revolution. However, Greek independence was popular with many people as educated Europeans and Americans respected Greek culture.
      • Eventually, powerful nations began to take the Greek’s side. The French, British, and Russian fleets combined to destroy the Ottoman fleet at the Battle of Navarino in 1827. In 1830, these 3 nations signed a treaty guaranteeing an independent Greece.
    • 1830s Uprising Crushed
      • After the 1830s, the old order at the Congress of Vienna began to break down. As revolutions broke out, liberals and nationalists began to demand change from conservative governments.
      • Nationalist riots break out against the Dutch in the Belgian city of Brussels. In October 1830, the Belgians declared independence from the Dutch. In Italy, nationalists tried to unite separate states on the Italian peninsula. Some were independent, others were riled by Austria or the pope. Soon, Prince Metternich sent Austrian troops to restore order. By the mid-1830s, the old order seemed to be reestablished. However, this stability did not last long.
    • 1848 Revolutions Fail to Unite
      • In 1848, ethnic uprisings erupted. After the unruly mob in Vienna fought with the police, Metternich resigned. In Budapest, nationalist leaders such as Louis Kossuth called for parliament and self-government of Hungary. In Prague, Czech liberals demanded Bohemian independence.
      • European politics continued to seesaw. The revolutionaries failed to unite, allowing the conservatives to regain power. In 1849, Europe had almost completely returned to the conservatism.
  • Radicals Change France

    Radicals were involved in many of the 1848 revolts. In France, democracy was the main goal of revolutions. In 1830, France’s King Charles X tried to return to an absolute monarchy. However, this sparked riots, forcing Charles to flee to Britain. He was replaced by Louis-Phillipe, a longtime supporter of liberal reforms.

    • The Third Republic
      • In 1848, after ruling for 18 years, Louis-Phillepe became unpopular. A Paris mob overturned the monarchy and created a republic. This new republican government fell apart immediately, splitting into factions. One side wanted political reform, others wanted social-economic reform. These differences caused blood battles in French Parisian streets. This violence discouraged French citizens from becoming radicals. Therefore, they drew up a moderate constitution in 1848, calling for a parliament and a strong president to be elected by the people.
    • France Accepts a Strong Ruler
      • In December of 1848, Louis-Napoleon won the election and became president. The nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte became Emperor Napoleon III. Many French voters accepted this without complaint. The French welcomed a strong ruler who would bring peace to France.
      • Louis-Napoleon industrialized France, building railroads and creating public works. Because of these policies, unemployment decrease in France and the country began to experience real prosperity.
  • Reform in Russia

    Unlike France, Russia was still unindustrialized. By Russia’s feudal system, serfs were bound to land and could not leave. In the 1820s, many Russians believed in the end of serfdom. They believed that the system was immoral and prevented the empire from advancing. The czars were reluctant as this would anger the landowners who gave the czar his power.

    • Defeat Brings Change
      • Russia’s weakness was obvious to everyone. In 1853, Czar Nicholas I tried to take over part of the Ottoman Empire. However, Russia’s weak industries and transportation system could not provide supplies for the troops. Therefore, Russia lost against the combined strength of France, Britain, Sardinia, and the Ottoman Empire.
      • After the war, Nicholas’s son, Alexander II, decided to move to modernization. He believed that reforms would help Russia compete with the western European nations for power.
    • Reform and Reaction
      • The bravest of Alexander’s reforms was the freeing of the serfs in 1861. This abolition was not complete as peasants still owed the government money for their newly gained land. Their debts still anchored them to the land.
      • Political and social reforms stopped when Alexander II was assassinated by terrorists. His successor, Alexander III tightened czarist control. However, he also encouraged industrialization. A major force was nationalism, stirring ethnic groups.
      • In the 1800s, these groups united into nations and built industries to compete with other nation-states.