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Europe (1815-1848)

Study Questions

Germany and Prussia in 1848

Review Test

Why was Britain an ideal place for the Industrial Revolution to begin?

First, it had capitalist property system that allowed the accumulation of wealth, making large-scale investment possible. Second, the Enclosure Movement of the 1700s increased the productivity of the land and created a large, mobile labor force looking for work.

According to David Ricardo, what was the "Iron Law of Wages"?

Ricardo argued that increases in wages would ultimately not benefit workers, because increases in wages would lead to workers having more children, who would then create an oversupply of laborers, competing the level of wages back down. (This was the justification given by Liberal economists of the "classical" bent for not raising wages even though the workers' suffered as a result. It is based on several unreasonable assumptions, and is certainly not accepted by most economists today, except perhaps in the very long run.)

Describe Czar Alexander I's general attitudes about government.

Czar Alexander I was a complex character. He was well-educated and agreed with Liberal ideas in theory, and saw himself as an "enlightened despot", but when it came to actually granting self-government and constitutional rule to the people, he chafed at the idea of having anything out of his control. Ultimately, he allowed himself to be swayed into the Reactionary camp by Metternich.

Why did Great Britain refuse to participate in Alexander I's attempts to create an international, anti-Revolutionary force?

It was not that Britain was pro-Revolution. In fact, Britain's Tory government was extremely conservative. It was simply that Castlereagh and Canning didn't like the idea of committing Britain to intervention in future events prematurely. Instead, Britain preferred to make its decisions on a case- by-case basis.

What were the goals of 19th century Liberalism?

19th century liberalism wanted political representation for the middle class, free trade, free press, free assembly, and constitutions. Above all, it wanted to keep government out of business. 19th century liberals were far from what we consider "liberal" today. In fact, 19th century liberals were more like our conservatives. 19th century liberals would be staunch opponents of the social programs of government intervention in the economy backed by modern liberals.

Define Romanticism.

It was an intellectual movement of the late 17th and early 18th century that reacted against the Rationalism of the French Enlightenment. According to Romanticism, Reason is insufficient in providing answers and is flawed in many respects. An example of Romantic conceptions is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818), in which the good intentions of Reason and Science end up creating a monster.

Briefly describe Hegel's dialectic.

The dialectic is the process through which history and thought create opposites. Progress is made when these opposites are then reconciled into a synthesis. Hegel's thinking influenced German nationalists to construe Germany as France's opposite in a historical dialectic.

What reforms did Chartism demand?

1. Yearly elections for the House of Commons 2. Universal Suffrage for adult males 3. Secret Ballots 4. An end to the Rotten Boroughs 5. No class restrictions on who could hold office 6. The establishment of salaries for members of Parliament (so poor members could afford to serve)

Why was France so revolution-prone and Britain not?

France had a long tradition of revolutions; its governments toppled every 10 to 20 years in this period. British government had been continuous back to the Glorious Revolution in 1688. Also, France in the 1815 to 1848 period was dominated by a strong bourgeoisie with little opposition, and the working class had little avenue for reform other than revolt. In England, the battle for power between the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie meant that workers could establish themselves as a swing bloc, allying with one side and then the other, thereby gaining some concessions. Because there were two powerful competing forces in British government in this period, Parliamentary conflict drove reform without the need for a violent revolution.

Why did the initially enthusiastic 1848 Revolution in Vienna peter out so quickly?

The Vienna revolution was plagued by several key weaknesses. The revolution mostly consisted of intellectuals and university students, who are great at starting revolutions but bad at maintaining them. With neither a powerful Bourgeoisie or a significant urban working class in pre-industrial Austrian society, Revolution along Western European lines proved unsustainable. Furthermore, the Austrian army was mostly made up of illiterate peasants who hadn't yet been exposed to the new ideas of Nationalism. Thus, the Austrian army stayed loyal to Emperor Franz Joseph and crushed the rebellions.

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