A History of Modern Europe: From the Renaissance to the Present Essay
Europe, like many other continents, has undergone a lot of transformations in different fronts. In regard to the buildup of history of the continent, it was characterized by many uprisings from countries including France and Germany.
Italy and others followed suit in pursuit of economic change and governance. 1848 is particularly known as ‘the year of barricades’ as it was characterized by revolutionary activities across the continent. This paper seeks to explain the intrigues that led to the historical uprisings in Europe and the outcome thereof.
By 1848, Europe experienced a major shift from agriculture to industrialization. With the advancement in industrialization, merchant ships started docking at the French coast with food imports such as potatoes. France experienced a boom in its economic power as its output increased by 77%.
This effect was felt across the continent as countries such as Belgium doubled their output and others like Great Britain had more than double. However, this came with its own share of problems. For example, the potatoes imported were infested with moulds that caused crop diseases like potato blight and potato typhus. This affected the French agriculture and greatly reduced their population from 8.5 million to 6.5 million. This foresaw a great dynamism in the European history and the world at large (Merriman, 437).
There were pre-1848 tensions across the continent such as economic challenges amongst leaders, urbanization, challenges amongst artisans, food insecurity and conflicting ideologies amongst different countries. France had these problems during this period. It then increased its taxes to 45% and this was a heavy burden for peasants.
It also experienced a downturn in its stock exchange market with a 55% decline. The French populace had an interest in a liberal charter and to impede the authoritarian leadership of Ferdinand II. The liberals and working citizens were utterly discontented with the actions of King Louis Philippe. They were disgusted by the King’s minister Francois Guizot who opposed electoral reforms.
General Louis Cavaignac’s dictatorship crushed the revolution of the time and left more than 10,000 dead. When Louis Napoleon Bonaparte ousted Cavaignac from power, he instilled law and order. Politics in France then shifted to the right. He replaced all radical government representatives with ultra-conservatives and monarchists. He went ahead and dissolved the national assembly and a new election was held. The revolution had finally paid off (Merriman, 576).
The German unity materialized as a result of political maneuvering by Prussia. The National assembly drafted a charter to unite Germany under a ruler. The charter was then offered to Fredrick William IV although he rejected it. With a united north, Prussia opted for the southern region. France then declared war on Prussia which was later able to convince the southern states to join in repulsing the French. In the end, Germany became unified. Italy on the other hand was made up of small autonomous kingdoms.
They had a high potential for change in the Italian peninsula that was under the Austrians. The French assisted the Italians to defeat the Austrians and later France made an unsuspected peace deal with Austrians. By 1871, virtually the entire isthmus had been engrossed by Sardinia with the exception of Rome and Venice. The Italian kingdom was born and the unity continued up to 1871 when Rome and Venice were finally absorbed (Merriman, 254).
Merriman, John. A History of Modern Europe; From the Renaissance to the Present (3rd edition), New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010. Print.
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