Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ideas Can Never Die

Although major war in Europe didn't break out after the congress of Vienna until 1852 there were many smaller rebellions around 1830 and 1848 that were suppressed throughout the continent. Since they did not lead to continental revolution, and in most cases were shut down by a larger controlling power, they have been written off as complete failures. But, as we discussed in class, there are different levels of failure. The worst possible outcome in a rebellion is that they try to fight, are decimated in battle, and current rule becomes even worse. But it could be only a mostly failure if the attempts at fighting are stopped and the current rule stays the same. It could end neutrally, where both sides lose the same amount in battle and as much is gained as is lost. On the success side there could be a partial success where some demands are heard and a few changes occur to the government. And the best is a total success where all the goals and wants of the rebels are met and there is a brand new government based upon the new ideals.

In 1848 France, Louis Philippe's government was widely hated for corruption and a recent recession which raised food prices and cost many French citizens their jobs. Tensions peaked once the government tried to silence their complaints through controlling the media. Liberals wanted voting for all men and the middle class wanted reform that wasn't as extreme as the poor. The goal of the revolution was a French Republic. The ideas of revolution were so strong that in a poem about the fighting  Alphonse de Lamartine says, "You have no need of
mingling in the contest, and shedding French blood. The genius of the revolution fights for all; the
monarchy is falling; it is only necessary to push it; before the sun sets the republic will have triumphed." In February 1848, riots broke out throughout Paris causing King Louis Philippe to step down from his position of power, leaving no official government set in his place. The wealthy stepped in during this period but with no one leader in charge the conflicting ideas of each group (wealthy liberals, socialists, poor liberals) caused distrust and unrest within France.

 By June the upper class liberals had taken control and shut down workshops set up for the working class to provide jobs and the workers rebelled. 1,500 people were killed before the fights were stopped by the government. To reunite the French people the National Assembly created a new French republic, in their proclamation stating "The provisional government has taken all the measures necessary to render impossible the return of the former
dynasty or the advent of a new dynasty.
The republic is proclaimed.
The people are united." The new government was to have a strong president, one house legislation, and the right for all men to vote; for a little while it seemed the revolution was a success. Louis Napoleon won the first election in 1848 with 90% of the votes and it was great until 1852 when he, with the support of the French citizens, declared himself emperor and turned France back into an empire.
Link to our quiz on the French Revolution of 1848
[answers from class]

Most of the revolutions failed pretty badly. The French Revolution of 1830 was what caused Louis Philippe to become ruler, which clearly didn't work out. And the Decembrists were basically wiped out completely when they tried to fight in Russia. However, the ideas and goals of each rebellion stayed for much longer and even spread to other countries in Europe and the rest of the world. While the actual attempts at change didn't work out during these revolutions the revolutionary ideas didn't die and inspired more uprisings in the future so they weren't complete failures.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Napoleon was a leader of France, both politically and militarily. He greatly affected Europe and how it was run, because he was running it; Napoleon was in control of most of Europe during his rule. He began in France, his original country, gaining power and later conquering nearby countries. He often redesigned how government ran in each nation and transformed the access and rights of  the people. His ideas lead to huge changes for each country he controlled and his accomplishments are easily seen by the world even today.
Napoleon Crossing the Alpsromantic version by Jacques-Louis David in 1805 

At the time Napoleon came to power class greatly influenced a person's freedoms, power, and education. However, he worked to change that, developing a system of meritocracy so people could get what they deserved by valuing each person's skills instead of rewarding them for their class. He also set up the bank of France, determined the country's budget, promoted industry, and created public works programs which built roads and canals for all of France. In other countries he set up education systems such as the institute of Egypt and removed trade barriers while supporting industry. The people of Europe had more rights to education and property than ever before. Yet Madame de Stael described his rule as having "profound contempt for all the intellectual riches of human nature: virtue, dignity, religion, enthusiasm" Which is strange because you'd think widespread access to education was intellectually rich. But it would make sense for her to think this way since she was part of the nobility and related to an advisor of King Louis XVI before Napoleon took over. She probably did not like that he eradicated titles of nobility and nullified the privileges previously held by the church.

Napoleon was widely disliked as well as praised. The former rulers of the countries he took over were not happy with his different ideals and their loss of power. Also, many members of nobility, aristocracy, the wealthy in general, did not like how he was taking away what they considered natural superiority. His control came through military strategy and war has never resulted in friendships so those who lost something in a battle would not be his fans. As well as people who were unwillingly forced to belong to France when they were loyal to their homeland. I don't agree with the way he took over but the improvements he made to social, economic, and political systems were important for the progression of human rights in Europe and the rest of the world.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Congress of Vienna

The Congress of Vienna was held in 1814 as a way for the powers of Europe to reconstruct their nations after the corruption of Napoleon. Representatives from all over the continent gathered together in Vienna, Austria to construct the best possible solution to fix the mess of Europe. Prince Metternich of Austria, Prince Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand of France, Frederick William III of Prussia, Foreign Secretary Robert Steward, Viscount Castlereagh from Great Britain, and Tsar Alexander of Russia represented the most important countries at the grand peace conference. However, when a large amount of the richest, most vain people in the world get together for any reason not much gets done through the all the partying. This goes on until the next year and finally after Napoleon returns once again to attempt conquering the world, they start making some actual decisions.

Most Famous Painting of the Congress of Vienna

In order to stop any one country from becoming a dominating power in the future, the Congress of Vienna made sure to keep in mind a balance of power when redrawing the borders of each country. France was not punished for the actions of its leader, and was given back its original borders from before taking over everything. Great Britain, Prussia, Russia, and Austria were all given more than what they started with making them the five great powers of Europe. With the majors close to equal the only problem was the small countries, who ended up taken over, given away, or generally excluded completely. For the big countries to expand they took land away from others, angering many people from places such as Poland, Germany, Italy, Norway, and Belgium. This may have stopped fighting between the big nations but the little ones ended up fighting for their own freedom or inclusion.

Personally, I believe the Congress of Vienna was not horrible. They didn't make it as peaceful as they had planned to but in the face of the problems they had, the resolutions they came up with were pretty good. It would've been better if the smaller states were listened to by the big ones instead of ignored and disrespected, so they wouldn't end up so bitter about their fate. Also, each country probably could've been able to reconstruct their own government instead of installing the monarchies back to every single country since that worked out so well before. They shouldn't have let other countries storm in with their military and stop rebellions without permission, it just sounds like a bad idea. But the choices made during the peace treaty were pretty good at preventing any future Napoleonic power from wiping out the entire continent, which was one of the most important concerns they were supposed to deal with. They even managed to stop major warfare for like 40 years, which is pretty amazing for Europe.