1848 - 1849: The Revolutions
Following the Congress of Vienna, much of the old order had been restored. The Big Six, as I call them, were the most powerful empires following the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
- Kingdom of Prussia
- Austrian Empire
- Russian Empire
- Kingdom of France
- United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
- Ottoman Empire
Each of them had either gained or lost enough territory following the Congress, so that they would maintain their European dominance. Prussia had gained most of the Rhine, to act as a buffer between France and the new German Confederation. Austria gained most of Northern Italy, and had finalized its Polish borders with Prussia and Russia. The Ottomans regained Egypt, and Russia had secured its holdings. Britain occupied Malta, and its personal union with Hannover continued.
However, Napoleon Bonaparte's radical rewriting had left a mark. It spread the seeds of German and Italian nationalism, following the creation of the Rhine Confederation and Napoleonic Italy. Across the Atlantic, Spain and Portugal's colonies were growing restless, and attempted to take advantage of the opportunity like Haiti.
Also, with the explosion of the Industrial Revolution, factories, railroads, and steam boats began to become common place, and with it, demans for labor laws. The ideas of the Enlightenment were becoming well-known throughout Europe, to the point that a dangerous mixture had been concocted. Even before 1848, Europe had experienced two other revolutions.
By 1835, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands was no more, as Belgium had broken away. And in the Balkans, one of the Ottoman's greatest fears had come to fruitation. Greece, which had long been under their thumb, had declared its independence and had fought a nine-year war against the Ottomans. By 1828, a combined French, British, and Russian fleet intervened on the side of Greece, and their independence was secured by May of 1832.
None of this helped their current situation, and by 1848, when Louis Phillipe of Orleans, King of France had managed to anger enough of his people, they finally rose up against him...
On March 21st, 1848, Friedrich Wilhelm IV walked through the streets of Berlin, with some of his Generals and Ministers. Wearing the revolutionary colors of Black-Red-Gold, he went to the cemetery where hundreds of civilians were buried following a riot a few days earlier. With most of kingdom getting ready to descend into chaos (and over half of his General Staff threatening to mutiny) he agreed to the demands of his people, and agreed to arrange the Frankfurt Parliament for the unification of Germany.
Spearheading this movement, was a Prussian statesman and member of the Landtag, Otto von Bismarck. Recently married to Johanna von Puttkamer, devout sister of a fellow statesman, he was young and ambitious, and many felt as though he would become someone great. At the Parliament, his charisma brought many io his side, including the King himself, who had attended one of the meetings.However, on October 7, a man dashed into St. Paul's Church with two messages for the King (who had been there that day) and the attendees. Everyone was quieted and the man spoke, sending chills down their spines. A declaration of war from the Kingdom of Denmark, and word that Danish soldiers were taking advantage of the chaos and had occupied most of Hannover, and that Hungarian troops had captured Vienna, and that the Austrian Empire had been formally abolished.
With no one else to turn to, the German States all allied with Prussia, and by October 12, Friedrich Wilhelm had accepted the title "German Emperor", or "Deutsch Kaiser" and declared war on both Denmark and the new Hungarian Empire.
The Empire of the German Nation had been born.
Italian Revolution:The first true success of the Italian Revolution can be chronologically traced to the creation of the Roman Republic in early-1848. Even though revolts and rebellions had been ripping through the peninsula for about a few months, Giuseppe Mazzini's Roman Republic signaled the biggest weakness in the old order of Italy. Carlo Alberto, King of Piedmont-Sardinia, took advantage of the situation in Northern Italy as well.
By mid-1848, Sardinian troops took full advantage of the Austrian Empire's collapse, and soldiers began marching into the Hapsburg-controlled regions of Tuscany and Lombardia. Within weeks, both regions overthrew the pro-Austrian governments, and all of the soldiers stationed there are allowed to retreat back into Venetia. However, just as Sardinian troops were about to exploit their resounding success, on July 24, 1848, King Carlo Alberto was killed during the Battle of Custoza, a short distance from Verona.
When word of the King's death reached Turin only a few days later, his son was crowned Vittorio Emmanuele II, King of Piedmont-Sardinia. Taking it upon himself to follow in his father's footsteps, the young King set out for Milan, from which he would direct the Sardinian Army.
However, just as the Invasion of Venetia was being planned, Austrian and German envoys reached the Sardinians. Austria, in an attempt to protect itself from the advancing Hungarian Army, offered the region of Venetia to them, for their support in the German-Hungarian War. His generals automatically pressured the young King to agree to the terms, since having the new German Empire on their side would greatly increase their position on the world stage.
So, on November 15th, 1848, Vittorio Emmanuele II was proclaimed King of Italy, upon the annexation of Venetia and the unification of (Northern) Italy. Within weeks, the German-Hungarian stalemate had been tipped in Germany's favor...
The Hungarian Revolution, which took place at the same time as the German one, can be definitively listed as one of the bloodiest revolutions in 1848. Not because of rioting and mass-hysteria, mind you, but of Hapsburg Austria's absolute refusal of any democratic society within Hungary.From the start of the war, Hungarian forces under Artúr Görgey de Görgő et Toporcz won many resounding successes, pushing Austrian forces under the command Alfred I, Prince of Windisch-Grätz deep into their own territory. With even more successes across the front, Croatian, Serbian, and Romanian groups switched their allegiance to that of Hungary, and by October 1st, the combined Hungarian army had surrounded Vienna. Quickly, Ferdinand I, the Royal Family and many other important people were whisked out of the capitol, to the safety of Olmütz.
Finally in October 7th, Hungarian forces stormed Vienna and raised their flag over the Hofburg Palace. Artúr Görgey (with permission granted to him by Governor-President Lajos Kossuth) declared the dissolution of the Austrian Empire, and the birth of the Democratic Hungarian Empire.
Four days later, news reached Lajos Kossuth and the Hungarian government, who were ecstatic about their hard-won independence.
However, one day later, their reckless blunder of parading through Vienna was shoved back in their faces, as a letter reached Budapest. It was addressed to the "Rebels of Hungary" from the Frankfurt Parliament. It was a declaration of war, signed by every politician, monarch, prince, and important person who attended, including the King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm IV who was now Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm I of a united German Reich.
Second French Revolution: