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Europe (1815-1848)

Change in the 1830s (1827-1832)


Change in the 1830s (1827-1832), page 2

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Metternich's reactionary Congress System began to fail in the late 1820s and the early 1830s. In Greece, nationalists were pushing for independence from Turkey. Metternich would have liked to suppress this movement, but Czar Nicholas I supported the Greek movement with the hope of increasing Russian influence in the region. Great Britain and France, hoping to stop Russian expansion in the Balkans, decided to join in. The result was an Anglo-French- Russian navy that smashed the Turkish fleet in 1827. By 1829, an independent Greece was internationally recognized. In addition to the Greeks, several Balkan states gained independence and Egypt broke out of Ottoman rule. The stability in Europe that Metternich had worked so had to preserve was starting to crumble.

It would soon get worse. In France, the reactionary Charles X had reigned since assuming the throne in 1824. Charles X's reactionary policies antagonized much of the French population, who were used to liberal and republican reforms. Charles thought of himself as divinely appointed to restore the "old ways", and he accordingly gave more power to the aristocrats and Catholic clergy. When the French Chamber of Deputies moved against these changes, Charles dissolved them, passing the four "July Ordinances" in 1830. First, he dissolved the Chamber of Deputies. Second, he censored the press. Third, he disenfranchised (took voting rights away from) the bourgeoisie. Fourth, he called for a new election, with the bourgeoisie no longer voting. Charles actions sparked the advocates of Republicanism into anger. The bourgeoisie and radical republicans from the lower classes quickly took to the streets of Paris in the July Revolution, rioting and setting up barricades to stop the military and end traffic and commerce. Charles X quickly abdicated, and the bourgeois leaders of the rebellion moved quickly to install a constitutional monarchy. The revolutionary leaders brought in the Duke of Orleans, known as Louis Philippe. He accepted constitutional monarchy and the principle of the July Revolution, and even changed the official flag of France to the Republican tricolor.

The July Revolution rippled through Europe, starting revolutions in Belgium and Poland. Belgium's revolution was essentially successful. The country ended up with self-government as long as it remained a neutral state, and the other powers agreed not to invade it. Polish nationalists, looking to the successful revolutions in Belgium in France, also decided to revolt in 1830. Czar Nicholas quickly crushed the Polish rebellion.

In Britain, the Tory Party demonstrated an increasing sensitivity to the middle class. Foreign Minister George Canning and Robert Peel became more "liberal" Tories, trying to satisfy the middle class, passing Laissez Faire laws, creating a more secular state, and even creating a police force. Problems remained, however. Most critical were the Corn Laws, which remained too high for manufacturers' tastes, and the Rotten Boroughs, which furnished Southern England with far more political representation than it deserved while neglecting populous manufacturing cities like Manchester. In the 1830s, a reform bill came up which would remedy these problems, but it was quashed by Prime Minister Wellington. Wellington's action led to rioting. Parliament realized it had to pass the bill, which it reluctantly did in 1832. The Reform Bill of 1832 simplified voting, although maintaining a property requirement, and abolished the smaller boroughs, giving their seats to the large industrial cities like Manchester.

As a result of the redistribution of British political power created by the Reform Bill of 1832, several reforms took place, beginning in 1833 with a Factory Act that limited child labor. In 1847, a Ten Hours Act passed into law, limiting the number of hours women and children could work per day.


Spurred by the July Revolution in France, 1830 became a year of revolt. For the most part, however, those revolts resulted in little direct change. Though the revolution in France deposed a king, it also installed a new king: the revolution simply prevented the rights of the bourgeoisie from being trampled by Charles X.

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