The Frankfurt Assembly consisted of a fairly bland group of liberal German professionals. They were not particularly fiery revolutionaries, and were essentially unwilling to consider violent revolution. The German bourgeoisie involved in the Frankfurt Assembly failed to unite broad lower-class support in Germany. Instead of harnessing the power of lower-class discontent, the Frankfurt Assembly made the mistake of alienating the lower classes, and this anti-proletariat attitude doomed the Frankfurt Assembly from the start. When lower-class riots did break out in Germany, the Frankfurt Assembly did its best to stop them. Furthermore, the Frankfurt Assembly was plagued by difficult questions that it could not resolve. Its members debated whether Germany should contain only the Bund, or also include parts of Austria or Prussia. The ownership of Schleswig-Holstein, officially the property of Denmark, was another contentious issue. Roughly split between a German and a Danish population, the Frankfurt Assembly wanted to annex Schleswig-Holstein, hoping to call on Prussia for help. However, they also knew that Russia and Great Britain would team up against Prussia if it tried to take over Schleswig-Holstein.

In many ways, the Frankfurt Assembly can be seen as indicative of the larger context of 1848. Just as the Frankfurt Assembly was dominated by various minor squabbles, the 1848 revolutions were filled with many nationalist groups, all of whom had different visions of the future of Europe. Further, just as the Frankfurt Assembly disappeared with a whimper, turned down by the man it had selected as ruler of a unified Germany, so too did the revolutions of 1848 generally lead to little change: France was ruled by an Emperor, Austria was more autocratic than ever, and Germany remained a patchwork of minor states. But the ideas animating the revolutions did not die with the revolutions themselves. Though the Frankfurt assembly ended in a sort of wounded embarrassment, the desire to unify Germany remained strong, as did nationalism everywhere. The year of revolutions yielded little result, but in the following years the nationalist impulse to unify would take on greater proportions, and the years between 1848 and 1871 could easily be termed an age of unification.

Further, in 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published the Communist Manifesto. Although the work did not greatly influence the revolutions of the time, its authors were themselves influenced by the events of that year and the context of that period. Future revolutions would begin to incorporate the ideology Marx and Engels developed, an ideology tempered by battle between reactionaries and revolutionaries in the years from 1815 to 1848.

Popular pages: Europe (1815-1848)