Q1. Describe the conditions in European Society in the 19th century that led to conflict between the working and the middle classes on one side, and the aristocracy and the monarchy on the other.
In 1814, Europe’s ambassadors met at a Congress in Vienna where they decided to reestablish monarchies and abolish republican governments after Emperor Napoleon’s defeat. Aristocrats and monarchs suppressed lower and middle-class hopes for democracy. Consequently, citizens lacked fundamental rights like food, employment and freedom of expression, especially for the press and voting. Property owners could vote and were exempted from taxation while poor citizens toiled to pay taxes and deal with aristocratic landlords.
Q2. Why did moderate revolutionaries and radical revolutionaries clash with each other?
In 1848, after years of oppression, radical working class members led a protest that resulted in the death of two students. Henceforth, revolts were rife across Europe as radical revolutionaries demanded constitutional, political, social and democratic changes. Notably, the moderate middle class advocated for laissez-faire leadership. Also, the government was displeased by public employment of radicals, so it shut down industrial workshops. These conflicting interests influenced the moderates’ attack on rebels during a protest in response to the government’s harsh decision. The moderates joined by individuals like conservatives and royalties from monarchies who shared similar views attacked the rebels during their revolt.
Q3. Despite the failure of the revolutions of 1848, what changes did they bring about in Europe?
Unfortunately, the popular revolutions that characterized Europe’s 18th Century failed to liberate the oppressed. Nevertheless, Napoleon’s nephew, Louis, who led several coups, successfully created a republic in France. Aristocratic policies that restricted peasants were abolished across Europe and by 1875; Italy and Germany became one nation. Political conflicts continually persisted throughout the remaining period of the century.
In my opinion, historian Hobsbawm’s view, that the 1848 revolution was one to get away from fast is accurate because it gradually deviated from the norm and its intended purpose. Classes that should ideally fight for democratic rights together turned against each other. It stirred many subsequent revolutions that failed to achieve any feasible changes in Europe’s governance. Interestingly, political conflicts persisted as revolutionaries also fought amongst themselves as well to achieve individual goals.