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Important Terms, People, and Events


Bourgeoisie  -  Term used to refer to the "middle class." In the 19th century concept of class struggle, the bourgeoisie were those who owned the means of production and the proletariat consisted of their workers.
Bund  -  A confederation of the various fragmented German states in the period after the Congress of Vienna (1815).
Burschenschaft  -  Student political groups that formed at German Universities beginning around 1815. These groups were expressions of German nationalism.
Capitalism  -  Generally middle-class economic ideology emphasizing free markets, the ownership of private property, and the accumulation of wealth by enterprising businesspeople.
Carbonari  -  Liberal, Nationalist secret society in Italy in the first half of the 19th century. They sought a unified Italy under governments different from those the Congress of Vienna had imposed on them.
Cato Street Conspiracy  -  Conspiracy of British Radicalism, plotting to assassinate the Tory cabinet. When the conspiracy was discovered in 1820, several conspirators were executed.
Chartist Movement  -  Reform movement in Britain of the 1830s and 1840s that demanded progressive political reforms like universal adult male suffrage and the right of working- class people to serve in Parliament. Although it failed at the time, the goals of Chartism were eventually reached.
Congress System  -  Term referring to the Reactionary method for maintaining political control; Metternich called a series of congresses between conservative leaders during the years from 1815 and 1848. These congresses included the Congress of Vienna, the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle, the Congress of Troppau, and the Congress of Verona.
Conservatism  -  British reactionary philosophy supporting monarchy and old ways. Championed by Edmund Burke, who had been horrified by the French Revolution, Conservatism argued for prudent and gradual change.
Corn Law  -  First passed in 1815, these laws put high tariffs on grain coming into England. This protected the profits of the land-owning aristocrats, but also increased food prices, hurting both workers and their employers, who had to pay higher wages if the price of bread went up. It is important to realize that in the British usage here, "Corn" refers to grains in general, not the kind of Corn (Maize) of which Americans usually think.
Dialectic  -  Theory of thought and historical progress in which opposites are created, and then reconciled to create a synthesis. This approach was pioneered by Hegel.
Holy Alliance  -  In 1815, Alexander I started the Holy Alliance to uphold Christian values. However, it became a common name by which the reactionary Congress System was referred to as a whole.
Laissez Faire  -  In French, it means "allow to do". This economic philosophy suggests that if government interferes in the economy as little as possible (takes a "hands off" approach) markets will equilibrate and the economy will run as smoothly as possible.
Liberalism  -  19th century ideology that sought self-government, increased male suffrage, and legal equality for all and free-market economic policies. 19th century "liberalism" is a far cry from what "liberalism" means today. Because 19th century "liberalism" ultimately triumphed in Western Europe and the United States, 19th century "liberalism" is actually closer to what is "conservative" in our own time.
Manchester  -  Industrial city in Northern England, which greatly increased in population during the Industrial Revolution. Because of the Rotten Boroughs, its interests were underrepresented in Parliament during the early 19th century.
Monroe Doctrine  -  American policy announced in 1823 in which President Monroe demanded that Europe not interfere with goings-on in the Western Hemisphere. Monroe's warning was initially followed not because of fear of the United States, but because the other European powers knew Britain's Navy would stop any further colonial adventurism in the New World.
Nationalism  -  Modern movement in which countries engineer a sense of unity and common purpose among a large nation. The people in these nationalist countries develop a strong sense of loyalty to their nation. Though it seems automatoc to most people in the modern world, nationalism really developed throughout Europe only in the early 19th century.
Pan-Slavism  -  Movement that seeks to unify the Slavs, an ethnic classification in Eastern Europe that includes Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, and Macedonians.
Proletariat  -  In the 19th century, a term developed to refer to the working class. Proletariats were employed by, and involved in class struggle with, the bourgeoisie.
Radicalism  -  Anti-Church, anti-Monarchy reform group in 19th century England, largely based on the ideas of Jeremy Bentham. Unconcerned by tradition, the British radicals challenged the old ways.
Reactionary  -  Having to do with what is opposed to change and progress. In 19th century Europe, the Reactionary cause was championed by Metternich, who wanted the old regimes of Europe to stay in power.
Republicanism  -  French equivalent of British Radicalism, Republicanism glorified the social leveling accomplished by the French Revolution.
Romanticism  -  Intellectual movement begun in reaction to the dominance of Enlightenment Reason. Romanticism criticized Reason, suggesting that it could not answer all questions. Leading Romantic artists and writers included Hegel, Schiller, Schinckel, Keats, Wordsworth, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, and Delacroix.
Rotten Boroughs  -  In England in the 19th century, voting districts were so poorly drawn that a city with half-a-million people like Manchester received only as much representation in Parliament as a small village. Though the Industrial Revolution rapidly changed the population distribution in England, the voting districts lagged behind, giving advantage in Parliament to wealthy landowners while under representing the new manufacturing cities.
Socialism  -  Economic ideology, opposed to Capitalism and Laissez Faire, that holds that key industry and the means of production should be centrally controlled by the government, so that workers will not be abused by bourgeoisie factory owners.
Textile  -  Threads, cloth and clothing. Early in the Industrial Revolution, textiles were the mainstay of British factory production.
Tory  -  18th and early 19th century British political party, opposed to the Whigs. Although the Tories comprised various factions, the party was opposed to Parliamentary reforms.
Utility  -  Utility is the measure of good or usefulness of something. It is often held that something should be done if it will maximize the overall utility of society. This belief is formulated as "Utilitarianism," and is described in John Stuart Mill's book Utilitarianism.
Volksgeist  -  German Romantic idea, suggested by Herder, that each nation has its own particular "special genius". Thus, what is right for one nation may not be right for another nation, and, according to German Romantics and Nationalists, each "nation" should strive to express its individual Volksgeist.


Alexander I  -  Russian Czar from 1801 to 1825. He briefly allied with Napoleon before turning against him. Though Alexander envisioned himself as an "enlightened despot", Metternich managed to move him towards becoming a Reactionary after the Congress of Vienna in 1815.
Jeremy Bentham  -  English philosopher, a father of Radicalism and Utilitarianism. One example of his unconventional nature: when he died in 1832, he had his body preserved and placed on display in a cabinet in University College, London, where it remains to this day.
Simon Bolivar  -  South American freedom fighter who led the liberation of several Spanish colonies around 1820. He subsequently became a South American dictator, with hopes of uniting a South American empire.
Louis Napoleon Bonaparte  -  After the February Revolution in Paris in 1848, Louis Napoleon was elected President in France simply on the basis of name recognition among the newly enfranchised voters. He soon declared himself Emperor Napoleon III. France prospered under him for two decades.
Bourbon  -  European royal family, which had kings on the thrones of France, Spain, and Naples at various times during the early 19th century.
Edmund Burke  -  18th century thinker, statesman, and writer, whose 1790 work, Reflections on the Revolution in France, became the classic text of British Conservatism.
George Canning  -  British foreign secretary and champion of Liberalism in foreign affairs form 1822 to 1827. Canning briefly served as Prime Minister in 1827.
Castlereagh  -  British foreign secretary from 1812-1822. Castlereagh was a major architect of the new European balance of power established at the Congress of Vienna in 1815.
Charles X  -  Successor to Louis XVIII, Bourbon king of France from 1824 to his overthrow in the July Revolution of 1830. He believed in the divine-right of kings, and was unable to cope with the new, post-revolutionary realities of France.
Eugene Delacroix  -  French Romantic painter, who painted exotic scenes, and whose use of color over line inspired the Impressionists.
Ferdinand  -  Austrian Hapsburg Emperor who abdicated during the revolution of 1848, turning the throne over to Franz Joseph.
Charles Fourier  -  French theorist of Socialism who wanted to reorganize society into cooperative "phalanxes".
Franz Joseph  -  Hapsburg Emperor of Austria from 1848 to 1916. In 1867 he divided the Empire into Austria and Hungary, creating the "Dual Monarchy".
Goethe  -  18th and 19th century German writer, who worked in nearly every imaginable field, from science to drama. Considered one of the greatest German writers, Goethe was essential in the Nationalist construction of a German Volksgeist.
Hapsburg  -  Perhaps the greatest royal family of modern European history, the Hapsburg dynasty once controlled Spain, Austria, the Netherlands, and the Holy Roman Empire under one man. By the 19th century, they only really controlled the Austrian Empire. Emperors Ferdinand and Franz Joseph were both Hapsburgs.
Hegel  -  G.W.F. Hegel was a 19th century Romantic German philosopher who held that progress is made through conflicting opposites being resolved, via the dialectic, in a synthesis. See Introductory Lectures on History.
Louis Kossuth  -  Magyar (Hungarian) Nationalist who briefly controlled Hungary in 1848 and 1849, but was crushed by the Russian army.
Louis Philippe  -  Also called the Duke of Orleans, Louis Philippe ruled France as King from 1830 to 1848, when his government toppled in the February Revolution. Louis Philippe drew most of his support from the Bourgeoisie; he alienated and marginalized the growing French working class, leading to his overthrow in 1848.
Louis XVIII  -  Bourbon king of France from 1815 to his death in 1824, during which time he proved moderately Liberal, allowing an advisory Parliament to meet.
Magyars  -  Dominant linguistic and ethnic group in Hungary.
Robert Malthus  -  Early British economist. His most famous idea was that increasing the food supply would always increase the population, meaning that eradicating the suffering of the lower classes was impossible.
Karl Marx  -  German economist and philosopher who, along with Friedrich Engels, wrote The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital while in living in England. The ideology of Communism draws its inspiration from Marx and Engels' work, which was influenced by the social environment in Western Europe during the first half of the 19th century.
Joseph Mazzini  -  Italian Nationalist from Genoa who founded Young Italy in 1832, a movement that would inspire nationalist groups throughout Europe.
Metternich  -  Austrian foreign minister, Metternich was Europe's arch-Reactionary. He was a leading architect of the balance of power developed at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, and he called the great powers to various Congresses throughout the coming decade to put down European rebellions wherever they started. In 1848, during a revolution in Vienna, Metternich fled the city.
Nicholas I  -  Succeeded Alexander I, serving as Russian Czar from 1825 to 1855. Nicholas' more liberal brother Constantine was favored as successor by Russian revolutionaries, but Nicholas used the army to destroy this rebellion.
Robert Owen  -  Manchester manufacturer who grew upset by the conditions endured by workers in Industrial Revolution Britain, and became a reformer.
Robert Peel  -  Britain's conservative prime minister from 1834 to 1835, and from 1841 to 1846. Peel oversaw the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, partially due to the ongoing Irish Famine.
David Ricardo  -  Early British economist who helped develop "Classical" economics. He was responsible for formulating the "Iron Law" of wages, which stated that any attempt to improve workers' lots would lead to such a population increase that the increased competition for labor would ultimately bring workers' wages back down. This argument held that no improvement in workers' lives was possible, so the government should not bother legislating wage increases.
Saint-Simon  -  French theorist of Socialism, he developed a concept of "Christian Socialism" emphasizing the brotherhood of all men. His conception included the centralization of industry and equal sharing of its profits.
Jose de San Martin  -  Much like Simon Bolivar, Jose de San Martin was a South American military leader involved in the liberation of several South American countries from Spanish colonial rule.
Friedrich Schiller  -  German Romantic dramatist of the late 18th and early 19th century.
Karl Friedrich Schinkel  -  German Romantic architect who worked both in classical forms; a leader in the Gothic Revival.
Percy Bysshe Shelley  -  Influential British Romantic poet, married to Mary Shelley. Read the SparkNote on Shelley's Poetry.
Mary Shelley  -  British Romantic writer, wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley, and author of Frankenstein (1818), a classic allegory of the flaws of Reason and Science.
Slavs  -  An ethnic and linguistic classification in Eastern Europe and Western Asia that includes Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, and Macedonians.


Carlsbad Decrees  -  1819 regulation in Germany that outlawed the Burschenschaft student groups, pushing them underground. It also established censorship, and government control of universities. Metternich, from his position of influence in Austria, helped get this measure passed in the German Bund.
Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle  -  1818 Congress in which the European powers agreed to withdraw their armies occupying France. Alexander I tried to convince the other powers to form an international military coalition to suppress Revolution, but Castlereagh refused British participation.
Congress of Troppau  -  1820 Congress, dealing with collapse of the government in Naples. At the Congress, Metternich received permission to restore the old government using the Austrian army.
Congress of Verona  -  Congress called by Metternich to deal with revolutionary stirrings in Spain and Greece. France sent an army into Spain to quell the rebellion there. Although Alexander I expressed an interest in putting down the South American revolutions of Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin, Castlereagh promised British naval opposition. Verona was the last international Congress held in the period from 1815-1848.
Congress of Vienna  -  1814-1815 meeting of the Great powers that led to the reorganization of Europe in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars.
Decembrist Revolt  -  The 1825 death of Czar Alexander I of Russian sparked a succession dispute between Alexander's two sons. Constantine, the younger brother of Nicholas, received some support because he was known to be the more Liberal of the two brothers. The revolt in favor of Constantine was put down by the rightful heir, Nicholas I, and the army.
Enclosure Movement  -  18th century movement among wealthy British landed aristocrats to rationalize their farms. Using new farming technology and systems of crop rotation, they forced the agrarian poor off the old "village commons" that now became "enclosed" as private property. The jobless poor ended up constituting the proletariat working class in the upcoming Industrial Revolution.
February Revolution  -  1848 Revolution in Paris, primarily by lower-class workers, who overthrew Louis Philippe, established universal adult male suffrage, and elected Louis Napoleon Bonaparte president. Along with overthrowing Louis Philippe's regime, the February Revolution sparked other revolutions throughout Europe.
Frankfurt Assembly  -  From 1848 to 1849, a group of German bourgeoisie intellectuals and professionals who attempted (and failed) to create a unified German state.
Gothic Revival  -  1830s movement in architecture when buildings in the Gothic (high medieval) style became popular. It was in this period that the British Parliament building was built. This was the architectural manifestation of Romanticism. Where the Enlightenment had looked down on the Middle Ages as a "dark" period of ignorance, the Romantics celebrated the Medieval period for its spiritualism, depth, and sense of adventure.
Industrial Revolution  -  18th and 19th century development, beginning in Britain, in which manufacturing was increasingly done in factories by machines, rather than in small workshops by hand labor. The Industrial Revolution, in combination with the earlier the Enclosure Movement, radically reshaped the world economy and social and political development.
July Revolution  -  1830 overthrow of Charles X's oppressive regime; ultimately, Louis Philippe became the new French king.
Peterloo Massacre  -  In 1819, manufacturers organized around 80,000 workers to protest the Corn Laws. When some of the peaceful protesters were shot, the event was dubbed the "Peterloo Massacre", likening the British government's shameful use of violence on a peaceful crowd to the recent defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo.
Reform Bill of 1832  -  This British bill simplified voting requirements, though it actually didn't enfranchise many new people. Most importantly, it partially corrected the problem of Rotten Boroughs, giving a much larger amount of Parliamentary power to previously under-represented manufacturers like those Manchester.

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