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6 THE SPRING UPRISING THE year I 848 opened amid widespread portents that all was not well with the Europe of the Restoration. In Switzerland the victorious federal army was forcing liberal measures and Protestant prejudices on the conservative and Catholic Sonderbund. Across the Continent in Copenhagen the new king Frederick VII was promising his people a written constitution, while the party of the Eider Danes prepared for the incorporation of Schleswig into Denmark and a conflict with fellow liberals on the other side of the border in Germany . And south of the Alps Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies first provoked his subjects into one of their periodic uprisings, and then sought to save himself by promulgating a constitution and agreeing to act the parliamentary ruler. No insurrection, however, was complete without France. It was the course of events in Paris which transformed sporadic violence into a revolutionary movement involving all of Europe. In the last week of February the Orleanist Monarchy fell, and the old order realized at last that it faced a terrible danger. Not only had Louis Philippe been forced to abdicate, but his government had collapsed suddenly, ignominiously . For almost twenty years he had been the bourgeois king, an astute ruler teaching the world how to combine regal dignity with business acumen. And then one day there were riots in the streets of his capital. The next day Guizot, the symbol of the juste-milieu, resigned, while the populace howled for his life. One day more, and the monarch himself was slipping out of the Tuileries through the back entrance, making his way in disguise to the coast, being smuggled out of France by the British consul in Le Havre. He and his queen arrived in England as Mr. and Mrs. Smith, without [ 97 ] PART TWO: REVOLUTION honor, without dignity, and perhaps worst of all, without money. The news that Louis Philippe had been driven from his throne by an enraged mob thoroughly frightened the rulers of the Continent. If the king who had prided himself on his successful adjustment to the demands of the new age could suffer such a humiliating fate, who dared consider himself safe? The only thing to do was to come to terms with the opposition, before it grew impatient and seized by force what it had been denied by negotiation. In France it had taken only three days to replace a moderate monarchy with a radical republic. A less stable throne might topple in a matter of hours. The weaker the government, the quicker its head to surrender before the enemy. The petty princes of Europe, afraid of their subjects and unsure of their armies, were therefore the first to desert the sinking ship of the old order. Nowhere were they more numerous than in Germany, nowhere were they more anxious to appease the Revolution. Frightened by reports of peasant insurrections in the provinces and artisan riots in the cities, they hastened to make peace with the liberals whom they had been imprisoning or exiling for thirty years. In Baden, the most progressive of the secondary states, the grand duke appointed Karl Mathy as his prime minister and sent Karl Welcker to Frankfurt to represent him at the Diet of the Confederation. Paul Pfizer and Friedrich Romer entered the reformed government of Wiirttemberg. Heinrich von Gagern became head of the cabinet in Darmstadt, putting an end to the long despotic rule of Baron Karl du Thil. Gottlieb von Thon-Dittmer took office in Bavaria, Ludwig von der Pfordten was named to the ministry in Saxony, and in Hanover Johann StUve accepted the secretaryship of the interior. As the uprising spread eastward and northward, one ruler after another capitulated to the opposition, and by the middle of March most of them had already dismissed their conservative advisers, issued their [ 98 ] THE SPRING UPRISING pledges of constitutional rule, and embraced with more or less genuine fervor the cause of freedom. The old order was not dead, however, as long as Metternich was in power. The Austrian chancellor had weathered many a political storm in his long career, and now, while the timid and unscrupulous were trimming their sails, he continued to rally the dispirited conservatives. Yet his days were also numbered. In Hungary the magic eloquence of Louis Kossuth was turned against the "charnel house of the Vienna system," the provincial diet of Lower Austria joined in the growing demand for reform, and the Viennese populace led by university students clamored...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400882755
Related ISBN
9780691007557
MARC Record
OCLC
966782625
Pages
360
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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