In 1848 the continent of Europe was rocked by revolutions - only Great Britain and Russia of the European Great Powers kept their heads and their thrones. Louis Philippe was toppled in France, and governments went down, constitutions were accepted, and alien regimes ousted all over Italy. Most spectacularly, the Revolutions swept across the German-speaking lands of central Europe, with the newly-released forces of nationalism and mass popular protest smashing the reactionary regimes that had held sway since the defeat of Napolean. This text traces the revolutions from their origins in Switzerland and France to Baden and their spread across German-speaking lands. The author examines ideological positions as well as socio-economic developments and makes apparent the extent to which the events of 1848/49 helped shape Germany's political culture and national awareness, and had a significant impact on the shaping of modern Germany.
Hans-Joachim Hahn is Professor and Head of the Department of German, Oxford Brookes University.