Conservatism? No Thanks.
Napoleon’s ideas had stayed with the people he conquered, and while some were glad to have their monarchs back in power, others couldn’t go back to living in the status quo. They wanted a strong sense of nationalism back, and some pesky Congress of Vienna wasn’t going to stop them.
Revolutions of 1848
1848 was a crazy year. A wave of revolutions sprung up all over the continent from Italy to France to Germany, and even Austria. There are three main reasons why: general discontent with the government, the rise of liberalism, and nationalism
created by Napoleon.
Bad harvests and an economic depression that led to unemployment had been building up discontent for years. Discontent with the government’s laid-back attitude and desire to maintain the status quo also frustrated the people, especially France, who saw a king on the throne immediately after Napoleon. 👑
Then, the rise of liberalism further encouraged the people to revolt. It didn’t matter whether they were angry at a lack of voting rights, working conditions, quality of life, education, or social stratification. The people believed that their problems were all due to the government and their lack of reform.
Finally, Napoleon’s occupation of numerous countries had created a newfound sense of unity. Known as nationalism, the citizens of a nation began to be extremely proud of their country and desired internal unification. Whatever status quo the Concert of Europe was maintaining, it was destroyed in 1848.
Revolutions of 1848
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Russian Reformers and Reforms
During this time, Russia was also going through a period of reform. They may have been one of the major powers during the Congress of Vienna, but their leader after Tsar Alexander I, and Tsar Nicholas I, was Alexander II. Alexander II was one of the most liberal tsars Russia had ever had, and his attempts at reform would be followed by Pyotr Stolypin and Sergei Witte.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia
Alexander II became the tsar in 1855 and was best known for his great reforms in all areas of Russian life from financial to educational. His program came to be known as the Great Reforms, and the most significant of these was his emancipation of the serfs in 1861. This effectively ended serfdom in Russia. His successor, Alexander III, would create the Trans-Siberian railroad which did wonders for the large and non-industrialized nation.
After Alexander’s assassination, the next reformer was Pyotr Stolypin. He modernized agriculture 🌾 in Russia which was especially helpful for the serfs who were now free, and this modernization sought to lessen peasant radicalism as well.
Sergei Witte was best known for managing the industrialization of Russia which created jobs for the people. He managed railroads, and after the Russian Revolution of 1905, he wrote the October Manifesto to placate discontented citizens. ✊🏽
All of these reforms would end up giving the people more rights and freedoms. This would inspire more desires for reform, but when Tsar Nicholas II comes in power, he’s going to restrict these rights which will anger the people and lead to a massive revolution. ☭☭ Soviet Union coming soon!