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Culture Of Celts.

The Culture Of The Celts

There are very few clues as to the lifestyle and culture of the people who inhabited Ireland at the end of the Stone Age. Far away in central Europe at the north of the Alps, at around 1000 BCE there lived a warlike people, named by their enemies as Keltoi tribes, a name they also adopted for themselves. Linguistics research relates this word to “warriors”. These peoples, according to evidence found, were uniquely horse riders which had given them an advantage in warfare and travel.

They journeyed across Europe and fortified and conquered large areas which they made their own. One of these areas was Hallstatt in Austria where large-scale salt mining took place which made the location a most important trading area. Those who lived and worked in Hallstatt were an enormously prosperous people who made great ceremony of displaying wealth and opulence in their attire, jewellery, tools, customs and burial ceremonies. The power base of these warlords extended along the valley of the upper Danube progressively, over a century, moving east to west to create an area known as the country of the Keltoi. The development of trade routes meant further prosperity for these tribes of metalworking, cattle, slave and gold trading entrepreneurs.

Lust for land was the primary motive of the aggressive Celts clearly satisfied to eliminate all in their path to accumulate land, wealth and power. However, around the ninth century BCE, with the arrival of iron and its use in weapon manufacturing, came the true source of power for Celtic expansion. Large iron working centres were established, around the 6th century BCE to manufacture weapons, tools and jewellery all adorned with gold and silver. These aesthetic but functional items were uniquely Celtic in design, shape and appearance. This is known as the ‘La Tene’ period when the Celts were renowned for power, wealth, brutality and desire for artistic beauty in clothing, jewellery, armoury and transport.

It was perhaps inevitable that Celtic tribes conquering Europe were not only at war with their common enemies but also at war with each other. The great migrations from the 6th century BCE meant that many of these tribes crossed paths and went to war to secure territory. A rapid increase in populations meant that ambitious younger male tribal warriors had desires to form their own tribes and acquire their own lands. This, in fact, means that as these tribes slowly but surely crossed Europe they also segmented as parts of the tribe move forward while others stayed behind. Some tribes headed north to now modern day Paris while others went east re-crossing the Rhine. Burial customs along these routes suggest the interconnection between these tribes. The northern tribes sought new territories and moved westward and as they spread their settlements they would have encountered indigenous peoples who had been descendants of the original Celtic tribes of some six centuries earlier.

The Romans tended to call the Celts by the name “Gauls” which was a corruption or slang form of “gal” meaning one of ability or valour. Those tribes that remained in France were known as Gauls. Meanwhile the new tribe known as ‘Belgae’ or ‘furious ones ‘ emerged from central Germany and quickly gained a reputation of being barbaric, brutal and bloodthirsty land grabbers. All across Europe new tribes were increasing in strength and influence at such a pace that the Romans saw them as a single Celtic culture even though many of these tribes where independent of each other were independent of each other. The Celtic influence soon spread in all directions but mostly West and South Europe as the tribes established themselves in strong hill forts scattered in thousands of locations across mainland Europe. These populations grew so rapidly that a 5th century BCE population explosion meant tribes were rapidly advancing toward European coastlines.

The first written reports of the geography of Europe concerns a voyage around part of the Atlantic Coast sometime around the year 530 B.C.E. which was later reported upon in Greek and this text gives a few insights into prehistory. It’s accuracy in relation to the size of Europe and the islands beyond is far from correct. In relation to Britain and Ireland the text is extremely vague and difficult to decipher boss, interestingly, some historians argue that there are references within the text to the Cliffs of Dover. Ireland, which they referred to as ‘Hierni’; a word derived from an old Celtic language meaning land or soil. The Greeks called the island ‘Hivera’ meaning “sacred isle”; an island rich in green pastures amid the  waves. Britain was heavily populated with tribes who had arrived earlier from northern France in the fourth century B.C.E. and these migrants became known in time as Brigantes or ‘high ones’ naming themselves after the Celtic mother goddess Briganti. These tribes brought with them iron weapons and tools similar to those later found across the sea in Ireland. Archaeological evidence suggests that warriors used such weapons in the fifth century B.C.E. but it is most likely that these weapons came from displaced peoples from Britain who were pushed forward by the arriving Celts. The full impact of Celtic culture was not felt in Ireland for another century or so.

The social structure of Celtic society was tribal which most Celts considering themselves to be descended from the same divine ancestor which was their common bond and right to be members of their tribe. The social structures varied from tribe to tribe boss each tribe had three distinct classes; the nobility, commoners and slaves or bondmen who were captives taken in war. Economic pursuits were mostly agricultural but also there appears to have been a significant amount of trading between tribes who met at places of public assembly used for seasonal religious ceremony and bartering. To the Greeks the Celts were a bewildering race who were unprejudiced and vegetarians. The Greeks wrote that the Celts were ‘fat conscious’ people who punished and a young man with a big belly. However, such tall tales were perhaps the propaganda of enemy tribes. Aristotle praised the Celts for their courage but added that they were rash to the point of madness. Aristotle also questioned the sexual mores of the Celts, claiming that they openly approve of physical connection with their fellow males. Celts were often portrayed as uncivilized, Plato saw then as drunkards and Ephorus castigated them for going to war with the sea to prove that they are unafraid of any enemy. However, the ferocity of the Celts in battle can not be doubted and this late to great demand for their warriors.

From most accounts it seems that the Celts were tall in stature with moist white skin. They had golden hair and cultivated beards and used gold for personal ornamentation. They wore tunics dyed in various colours, striped cloaks, trousers and straps, buckles, belts and chains. The dining habits of the Celts are also well documented and it seems feasting was a common occurrence. While some accounts claim that the Celts were vegetarians other accounts are emphatic that they were ardent meat eaters. They were also very heavy drinkers and aggressive drunks who went into duals to the death rather than prolonged verbal argument. They considered it a glory to die and a disgrace to survive without victory. In the event of a battle they would lay down their weapons and retire if their leader was defeated. They were generous by disposition and every man’s house was open to all comers and food would be shared as if the stranger were a member of the family. The writer Strabo thought them naïve but subservient and loyal to their leaders. Pytheas, a mariner and explorer,  thought them as exotic and from a sacred place where the sun sleeps. The ancient Greeks, from Homer spoke of them coming from Elysian, a heavenly place, and the Greeks themselves were influenced by this thinking and from this came the characterisation of Ireland as a sacred island. Reports such as this lead to the imaginations of classical writers who depicted a ‘strange island’ inhabited by strange people in the Celtic mist. The Celts were primarily sun worshipers but they also talk of rivers as being a principal fertilizing aspect of life and were worshiped by naming them after their goddesses. There was also widespread tendency to associate wells and springs with goddesses, paired with male deities and the importance of this appears to be the coupling of the male sky with female or so as to ensure fruitfulness. Each deity had a specific function such as the production of rain, sun, crops, fertility and the guaranteeing of social and commercial contracts. The sound was the ultimate father and ear was the ultimate mother and this doctrine was protected by the wise men of the Celts. These wise men were the singers and poets known Bards, Vates who acted as communicators with the Gods to determine sacrifice and Druids who were experts in the science of nature. The most prestigious of these were the Druids. They were divinely inherited ‘mediators’ with the spirit world and held in supreme esteem. A King functioned as a substitute for a deity and was the ‘husband’ of the earth goddess but the elevated position of King was very much controlled and dictated by the Druids. If the King was doing his job properly then the tribe would be happy and the reverse could result in the removal of the King by the Druid. It is clear from this that the Celts were a very superstitious people vulnerable to the mercy of the Druids which placed them at the centre of the social order an in control of the space between the King and the Gods. The Druids had, according to some accounts, magical powers and could cast spells over warrior tribes that prevented warfare. However, such power is invested in the Druids by the commoners terrified of offending or provoking the Gods by ignoring the Druids. One has no way of tracing how these Druids became so powerful within their tribes or what is the chronology of the Celtic religion, myths and practises. The Druids assembled at locations such as forest clearings known as Nemeton (sky-place) where the trees climbed upwards and connected the sky to the earth. It is also interesting that the Druids thought (according to Caesar) that all people are descended from one divine ancestor and for this reason they count periods of time not by number of days but by the number of nights. The night is followed by the day and not the other way around. This implies a connection between the darkness of night and the ancestral lord. It also implies that time is absent with the sun as it sunk to abide with the dead. The Celts, according to some Greek writers, spent their nights near the tombs of their dead where they awaited inspiration which emanated from darkness and thus reconciled the living with the dead. There were separate deities for daylight and night-time hours and the latter seemed to have dark powers while the former had powers of fertility and life giving influences. The Druids taught that life is eternal, even after death, and thus disposed of the earthly possessions of their dead. They even allowed tribesmen to defer debt or completion of business until their arrival in the next world. The afterlife was not perceived as sad and dreary but happy and a new and valuable place of existence. Such beliefs may account for the valour of the Celts who have a disregard for life and will fight to the death just to make passage to the next world. According to Diodorus Siculus , the Celts were wont to resort to fighting on the least provocation, regard their lives as nothing.

Primary Source

The Celts – A Chronological History

Dáithí Ó Hógáin.


Medium As Message.

Herbert Marshall McLuhan

Herbert Marshall McLuhan, CC (July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980) was a Canadian educator, philosopher, and scholar—a professor of English literature, a literary critic, a rhetorician, and a communication theorist. McLuhan’s work is viewed as one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory, as well as having practical applications in the advertising and television industries.McLuhan is known for coining the expressions “the medium is the message” and “the global village” and predicted the World Wide Web almost thirty years before it was invented.

Although he was a fixture in media discourse in the late 1960s, his influence started to wane in the early seventies.In the years after his death, he would continue to be a controversial figure in academic circles.With the arrival of the internet, however, there was renewed interest in his work and  perspective.

The personal and social consequences of any medium result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs or by any new technology. For example, automation eliminates jobs but it also creates roles for people so it can be said that it is not the machine but one did with the machine that is the message. The electric light, for example, is pure information. It is a medium without a message so that the content of any medium is always another medium.

The content of writing is speech; written word is content of print and print the content of telegraph. So then, the message of any medium is the change it introduces into human affairs. In the Industrial Revolution the train itself was not the message but, in fact, the change it brought about in the lives of the people from that age to this. The ‘light bulb’, regardless of how it is used, is the medium and how it is used is its message. These facts underline the point that the medium is the message because it shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action. The products of technological invention are by no means the cause of sins but how they are applied.

It was the printed word that homogenised the French nation. Frenchmen were the same type of people all over France so it can be argued that while the peasants held the guns it was the literati and lawyers who were the true revolutionists.

Even the most perfect reproduction is flawed in that it did not exist in the place where it happened to be (todays reproduced Greek Urn was never in Ancient Greece). The presence of the original is important in authenticity. The whole sphere of authenticity is therefore outside technical reproduction. The reason is twofold; mechanical reproduction relies on the original; technical reproduction can put the copy of the original into situations, which would be out of reach for the original. Seeing ‘Mona Lisa’ on a TV screen inevitably depreciates it’s and is by no means as good as being in the presence of it. Reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition.

The manner in which human perception comprehends art can be defined as the ‘aura’ in which that piece of art can influence the viewer. This aura is determined by the historical circumstance and the nature of the piece. The original has a unique aura that cannot be recreated. Mechanical reproduction of art emancipates the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual.


Dominant Paradigm.

This is a reanalysis of ‘Personal Influence’ by Lazarsfeld et. al. a study on the effects of media content and its conclusion that media are not important. ‘Personal Influence’ is also known as the Multistep Flow Model is a theory based on a 1940’s study on social influence that states that media effects are indirectly established through the personal influence of opinion leaders. The majority of people receive much of their information and are influenced by the media second hand, through the personal influence of opinion leaders.

The ‘Multistep Flow Model says that most people form their opinions based on opinion leaders that influence the media. Opinion leaders are those initially exposed to specific media content, interpret based on their own opinion and then begin to infiltrate these opinions through the general public who then become “opinion followers.” These “opinion leaders” gain their influence through more elite media as opposed to mainstream mass media. In this process, social influence is created and adjusted by the ideals and opinions of each specific “elite media” group and by these media group’s opposing ideals and opinions and in combination with popular mass media sources. Therefore, the leading influence in these opinions is primarily a social persuasion.

The two-step flow of communication model hypothesizes that ideas flow from mass media to opinion leaders and from them to a wider population. It was first introduced by sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld et al. in 1944 and elaborated by Elihu Katz and Lazarsfeld in 1955 and subsequent publications. Lowery and DeFleur argue the book was much more than a simple research report: it was an effort to interpret the authors’ research within a framework of conceptual schemes, theoretical issues, and research findings drawn broadly from the scientific study of small groups. Unlike the hypodermic needle model, which considers mass media effects to be direct, the two-step flow model stresses human agency. According to Lazarsfeld and Katz, mass media information is channelled to the “masses” through opinion leadership. The people with most access to media, and having a more literate understanding of media content, explain and diffuse the content to others. Based on the two-step flow hypothesis, the term “personal influence” came to illustrate the process intervening between the media’s direct message and the audience’s reaction to that message. Opinion leaders tend to be similar to those they influence—based on personality, interests, demographics, or socio-economic factors. These leaders tend to influence others to change their attitudes and behaviours. The two-step theory refined the ability to predict how media messages influence audience behaviour and explains why certain media campaigns do not alter audiences’ attitudes. This hypothesis provided a basis for the multi-step flow theory of mass communication.

Paul Lazarsfeld and Elihu Katz are considered to be the founders of functional theory and their book Personal Influence (1955) is considered to be the handbook to the theory. One of the first to embark on Communications research was the first to introduce the difference between ‘administrative research’ and ‘critical research’ in regards to the media. Critical research he believed, criticizes the media institutions themselves for the perspective ways they serve dominant social groups. Critical research favours interperspective and inductive methods of inquiry. Lazarsfeld’s study of the 1940 presidential election was published as The People’s Choice (1944). During the research revealed information about the psychological and social processes that influence voting decisions. The study also uncovered an influence process that Lazarsfeld called “opinion leadership.” He concluded that there is a multistep flow of information from the mass media to persons who serve as opinion leaders, which then is passed on to the general public. He called this communication process the “two-step flow of communication.” Elihu Katz isa  professor in the School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania collaborated in 1955 with Lazarsfeld, in research to observe the flow of influence at the intersections of mass and interpersonal communication and wrote their book Personal Influence. Katz pursued Lazarfeld’s research in a study of the flow of information. This is the basis of Personal Influence. Katz and Lazarsfeld concluded that: … the traditional image of the mass persuasion process must make room for ‘people’ as intervening factors between the stimuli of the media and resultant opinions, decisions, and actions.”

The presidential election 1940 questioned as to whether President Franklin Roosevelt would seek his third term in office. Funded by grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, Life magazine, and the pollster Elmo Roper, Columbia’s Office of Radio Research conducted a new kind of study of voting. It was based on a panel study of 2,400 voters in Erie County, Ohio. Paul Lazarsfeld, Bernard Berelson, and Hazel Gaudet supervised 15 interviewers, who from May-October interviewed the strategically selected 2,400 members of the community several different times in order to document their decision making process during the campaign. They focused on what factors would influence their decisions as the campaign progressed. The People’s Choice, a book based on this study presented the theory of “the two-step flow of communications,” which later came to be associated with the so-called “limited effects model” of mass media: the idea that ideas often flow from radio and print to local “opinion leaders” who in turn pass them on to those with more limited political knowledge “opinion followers.” The conclusion of the research explained that sometimes person-to-person communication can be more effective than traditional media mediums such as newspaper, TV, radio etc. This idea developed further in the book Personal Influence.

In 1944, Paul Lazarsfeld contacted McFadden Publications in regards to his first book, The People’s Choice. The two collaborated forming a mutually beneficial partnership in which McFadden saw a way to financially profit from advertising to the female population and Lazarsfeld saw a way to gain more information on social influence . Out of this came the study conducted by the Bureau of Applied Social Research in which 800 female residents of Decatur, Illinois, where interviewed through panel interviews to discover what and who primarily influenced their decision making. Lazarsfeld worked with Robert Merton and thus hired C. Wright Mills to head the study. Another part of the research team, Thelma Ehrlich Anderson, trained local Decatur women to administer surveys to targeted women in town. By 1955. the Decatur study was published as part of Elihu Katz and Lazarsfeld’s book Personal Influence. The book concluded that ultimately, face-to-face interaction is more influential than traditional media influence and thus confirmed the two-step flow model of communication.

The two-step flow of communication hypothesis was first introduced by Paul Lazarsfeld, Bernard Berelson, and Hazel Gaudet in The People’s Choice, a 1944 study focused on the process of decision-making during a Presidential election campaign. These researchers expected to find empirical support for the direct influence of media messages on voting intentions. They were surprised to discover, however, that informal, personal contacts were mentioned far more frequently than exposure to radio or newspaper as sources of influence on voting behaviour. Armed with this data, Katz and Lazarsfeld developed the two-step flow theory of mass communication. This theory asserts that information from the media moves in two distinct stages. First, individuals (opinion leaders) who pay close attention to the mass media and its messages receive the information. Opinion leaders pass on their own interpretations in addition to the actual media content. The term ‘personal influence’ was coined to refer to the process intervening between the media’s direct message and the audience’s ultimate reaction to that message. Opinion leaders are quite influential in getting people to change their attitudes and behaviours and are quite similar to those they influence. The two-step flow theory has improved our understanding of how the mass media influence decision-making. The theory refined the ability to predict the influence of media messages on audience behaviour, and it helped explain why certain media campaigns may have failed to alter audience attitudes an behaviour. The two-step flow theory gave way to the multi-step flow theory of mass communication or diffusion of innovation theory.

The original two-step flow hypothesis—that ideas flow from the media to opinion leaders and then to less active sections of the population—has been criticized and negated by myriad consequent studies. Findings from Deutschmann and Danielson assert, “we would urge that the Katz-Lazarsfeld two-stage flow hypothesis, as a description of the initial information process, be applied to mass communication with caution”. They find substantial evidence that initial mass media information flows directly to people on the whole and is not relayed by opinion leaders. Furthermore, the two-step hypothesis does not adequately describe the flow of learning. Everett Rogers’ “Diffusion of Innovations” cites one study in which two-thirds of respondents accredited their awareness to the mass media rather than face-to-face communication. Similarly, critics argue that most of Lazarsfeld’s findings pertain to learning factors involved with general media habits rather than the learning of particular information. Both findings suggest a greater prevalence of a one-step flow of communication.

However, Lazarsfeld’s two-step hypothesis is an adequate description to understand the media’s influence on belief and behaviour. Troldahl finds that media exposure is a first step to introduce discussion, at which point opinion leaders initiate the second-step flow. These findings also realize opinion leader’s decisive role in the balance theory, which suggests that people are motivated to keep consistency among their current beliefs and opinions. If a person is exposed to new observations that are inconsistent with present beliefs, he or she is thrown into imbalance. This person will then seek advice from their opinion leader, to provide them with additional cognitions to bring them back into balance.

In recent times sociological study of the media has been dominated by the theme of the relative powerlessness of the broadcasters. This strange conjunction of events is logical. Sociologists have failed to ask the critical questions that behind the idea of unimportance of mass media there is a faulty concept of ‘importance’ similar to the faulty concept of ‘power’. The dominant sociology of mass communication has been unable to grasp certain fundamental features of its subject and by doing so it has had the effect of justifying mass media ownership, control, and purpose.

The ‘Dominant Paradigm’  has been called the ‘received knowledge’ of ‘personal influence’ and has taken attention from the power of the media to perform its role as mediator between two conflicting sources. Media sociology has highlighted the recalcitrant audience and their resistance to media messages and not their dependency. It has studied media effects so narrowly that the results are flimsy. It defines short-term effects as important only because these effects are measurable and thus deflected more significant meanings of mass media production. Hard data is sought to satisfy anyone and no one when it would be better to seek hard questions. By studying only measurable effects experimentally or in surveys it has put the methodological cart before the theoretical horse. Thus, many years of research on ‘effects’ of mass media has produced little theory and few findings.

The field of ‘mass media research’ has been certifying as ‘normal’ what it should have been investigating as ‘problematic’, namely the vast reach and scope of the instruments of mass broadcasting, especially television. By emphasising effects on ‘attitudes’ and loosely defined ‘behaviour’ it has ignored the reality that mass broadcasting exists in corporate housing under state supervision. The important questions are ‘who wants media?’ and ‘for what purpose’? Has ‘mass broadcasting’ created institutional configurations and has existing institutions such as schools, politics, family or sport been altered in structure, goals or social meaning and how have these institutions used the media to shape its products? Further questions should be; has the prevalence of broadcasting changed the conduct of politics, how does it effect social structure? How does the wide reach of TV into millions of living rooms affect social structure? These questions have been skirted, by accepting the existing institutional order; the field has inadvertently avoided the question of valuation: does TV fulfil or frustrate social interest? By ignoring such questions the field has made itself useful to the obvious beneficiaries of mass media broadcasting.

In reference to The Dominant Paradigm and Its Defects Lazarsfeld’s contention that the effects of media are not important in the formation of public opinion which he demonstrates by the ‘two step flow of communications’ (the idea that messages reach people not directly but indirectly as ‘media messages’ are interpreted by leaders for audiences.) This paradigm pays close attention to the variables (especially ‘relations’) between signifier and signified. The audience are defined as interrelated individuals rather than isolated targets in a mass society. Effects are measured as changes over time. Lazarsfeld developed a methodology or paradigm but in what sense does is this methodology or paradigm dominant? A dominant paradigm should have three major tendencies of thought a) identifies important areas of investigation in a field; b) exploits certain methodology; c) produces results. The two-step-flow of communication, the idea that opinion leaders mediate between mass media and audience. The paradigm is worthy of closer re-examination. The paradigm implies that structural (institutional) impact is lost in the process and subsequently the media impact is reinterpreted by ‘leaders’ who then distribute their impressions.

The course of mass media theory has to be understood as a historical process. All theories have three metatheoretical condition; the nature of the theory, the normal worldview and actual social, political, and technological conditions. The dominant paradigm has to be understood as an intersection of all these factors.

The Hypodermic Theory is a theory of society and the mass media within it. In the hypodermic model mass communicators ‘inject’ ideas into vulnerable individuals.  The “hypodermic needle theory” implied mass media had a direct, immediate, and powerful effect on its audiences. The mass media in the 1940s and 1950s were perceived as a powerful influence on behaviour change. Several factors contributed to this “strong effects” theory of communication, including: the fast rise and popularization of radio and television, the emergence of the persuasion industries, such as advertising and propaganda, the Payne Fund studies of the 1930s, which focused on the impact of motion pictures on children, and Hitler’s monopolization of the mass media during WWII to unify the German public behind the Nazi party The theory suggests that the mass media could influence a very large group of people directly and uniformly by ‘shooting’ or ‘injecting’ them with appropriate messages designed to trigger a desired response. Both images used to express this theory (a bullet and a needle) suggest a powerful and direct flow of information from the sender to the receiver. The bullet theory graphically suggests that the message is a bullet, fired from the “media gun” into the viewer’s “head.” With similarly emotive imagery the hypodermic needle model suggests that media messages are injected straight into a passive audience, which is immediately influenced by the message. They express the view that the media is a dangerous means of communicating an idea because the receiver or audience is powerless to resist the impact of the message. There is no escape from the effect of the message in these models. The population is seen as a sitting duck. People are seen as passive and are seen as having a lot media material “shot” at them. People end up thinking what they are told because there is no other source of information.

New assessments that the Magic Bullet Theory was not accurate came out of election studies in “The People’s Choice,” (Lazarsfeld, Berelson and Gaudet, 1944/1968). The project was conducted during the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940 to determine voting patterns and the relationship between the media and political behaviour. The majority of people remained untouched by the propaganda; interpersonal outlets brought more influence than the media. The effects of the campaign were not all-powerful to where they persuaded helpless audiences uniformly and directly, which is the very definition of what the magic bullet theory does. As focus group testing, questionnaires, and other methods of marketing effectiveness testing came into widespread use; and as more interactive forms of media (e.g.: internet, radio call-in shows, etc.) became available, the magic bullet theory was replaced by a variety of other, more instrumental models, like the two step of flow theory and diffusion of innovations theory.

Magic bullet theory model (Source: Katz & Lazarsfeld (1955)) Scope and Application: Mass media: The classic example of the application of the Magic Bullet Theory was illustrated on October 30, 1938 when Orson Welles and the newly formed Mercury Theatre group broadcasted their radio edition of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds.” On the eve of Halloween, radio programming was interrupted with a “news bulletin” for the first time. What the audience heard was that Martians had begun an invasion of Earth in a place called Grover’s Mill, New Jersey. It became known as the “Panic Broadcast” and changed broadcast history, social psychology, civil defence and set a standard for provocative entertainment. Approximately 12 million people in the United States heard the broadcast and about one million of those actually believed that a serious alien invasion was underway. A wave of mass hysteria disrupted households, interrupted religious services, caused traffic jams, and clogged communication systems. People fled their city homes to seek shelter in more rural areas, raided grocery stores and began to ration food. The nation was in a state of chaos, and this broadcast was the cause of it. Media theorists have classified the “War of the Worlds” broadcast as the archetypal example of the Magic Bullet Theory. This is exactly how the theory worked, by injecting the message directly into the “bloodstream” of the public, attempting to create a uniform thinking. The effects of the broadcast suggested that the media could manipulate a passive and gullible public, leading theorists to believe this was one of the primary ways media authors shaped audience perception.

It is important to remember that ‘effects’ of mass media, according to media theorists, are arguably short lived and so any findings in their research have little long term consequences. These effects are fourfold; immediate, short term, long term and institutional. The method of ‘personal influence’ study (two step flow and hypodermic) demands their own critique beginning with their ‘taken for granted assumptions’:

(1) the exercise of power through mass media is presumed to be comparable to the exercise of power in face-to-face situations. The assumption can be challenged in that audiences may be influenced by mass media but it is reciprocal. Media too can be influenced by audience. Media are part of the ‘great chain of being’ in which everyone, indeed everything, is in its duly and divinely appointed place.

(2) Power is to be assessed in case studies of discrete incidents. The occasion of influence was the face-to-face encounter in which individual A commended attitude A to individual B thus A is an opinion leader. Power may be a free flowing marketplace commodity.

(3) The unit of influence is short term, which can be attributed to media intervention.

(4) Attitude change: If the respondent had ‘changed mind’ as a result of influence then it is necessary to ascertain was it a fresh change or a return to an old attitude? Reinforcement of opinion is as crucial as change or introduction to a specific ideology but these can only occur where there is an opinion to reinforce or oppose. It cannot occur in the absence of opinion. The media appear to be extremely effective in creating opinions.

(5) Followers as opinion leaders. (Opinion leading is, in itself) an act of following (one follows an opinion).

We now need to confront the specific theory of ‘personal influence’ and how it fails its intended purpose. The general theoretical conclusion that ‘ideas often flow from radio and print to opinion leaders and from them to the less active sections of the population’ is seen to be more wrong than right. Not every opinion will change and many of the changes (not the changers) were made without any personal contact and thus dependent on mass media.

The findings of ‘personal influence’ are distorted in that they were applicable prior to the arrival of television. It says nothing about the force of television in the domain of political consciousness and political conduct. A larger question arises here too; the confusion of synchronic and diachronic dimensions. The snapshot taken in 1945 was assumed to be general and valid across boundaries of time. This transposition is not justifiable. The theory of mass media can only be studied in terms of ‘full exposure’ and not ‘more’ or ‘less’ exposure between individuals. The long-term purpose of such research is fruitless when considered outside of the historical context. Today’s mass media is different to the past and thus, in terms of relevance, the past no longer applies.

In linguistics, a synchronic analysis is one that views linguistic phenomena only at one point in time, usually the present, though a synchronic analysis of a historical language form is also possible. This may be distinguished from diachronic, which regards a phenomenon in terms of developments through time. Diachronic analysis is the main concern of historical linguistics; most other branches of linguistics are concerned with some form of synchronic analysis.

Synchronic and diachronic approaches can reach quite different conclusions. For example, a Germanic strong verb like English sing-sang-sung is irregular when viewed synchronically: the native speaker’s brain processes these as learned forms, whereas the derived forms of regular verbs are processed quite differently, by the application of productive rules (for example, walk-walked). This is an insight of psycholinguistics, relevant also for language didactics, both of which are synchronic disciplines. However a diachronic analysis will show that the strong verb is the remnant of a fully regular system of internal vowel changes; historical linguistics seldom uses the category “irregular verb.”

Personal Influence started by assuming that mass media influence is comparable to face-to-face influence and that power exists as discrete occasions of short-term attitude changes or behavioural choice? To answer such questions as this one we need to investigate and understand a number of ideological predispositions and orientations; administrative point of view, marketing orientation and social democratic ideology.

Questions are posed from high administrative positions within institutions. The sociologists will explore the problems associated with such powers and their control over audiences. The search is always on for predictive research and from the administrators viewpoint this is the most favourable premise of any inquiry. Lazarsfeld, himself with a long-term background in Administration, recognised the problem of relationship between media and academics when he once stated; “At what point will the commercial partners find some necessary conclusion too hard to take and at what point will they shut us off from the indispensable sources of funds and data?” Lazarsfeld clearly acknowledges his indebtedness to the media and sacrifices his independence. The administrative point of view is clearly considered.

Mass communications research developed very largely in response to market requirements. In the 1930s when Lazarsfeld arrived in America most national brands were multiplying and resorting to national advertising campaigns. They needed to know what to say, how often, over which channels and to whom. The consumer society was exploding and by 1945 it was in full swing. As radio progressed on popularity audience research (on the marketing of commodities) would be equally as important as hardware research (on the production of commodities). For this they needed demographical figures, audience figures, and research data and Lazarsfeld was in the right place at the right time to cater to this need. However, regardless of background and location Lazarsfeld and his equals operating under the command of those who needed such research had to create satisfactory techniques were inevitably conditioned by the practicality of their financers’ interests. Can such condition create unquestionable tactics? Much of the work of marketing orientation remains undone and has become media sociology.

Theorists do not live by theory alone. Facts do not stand by themselves; they have to be justified by an ideological position. Such a position can be conscious or unconscious and, if the former, more or less public. Social democracy and the work of Lazarsfeld are linked by biographically and theoretically. The marketing orientation and at least one important variant of European social democracy share a common conception of ‘the people’ and it is at first appearance paradoxical; they are both sovereign and passive. High consumption capitalism justifies itself in terms of mass satisfaction, and insists that the market is the true measure of democratic expression. The people are consumers and choose from the possibilities available and when they choose they confirm the legitimacy of the supplier. Put another way, social democracy requires marketing orientation, a rigorous procedure for giving people what they want. However, as is the case with young students seeking career guidance advice, it is not only expected but appreciated when guidance is proffered.

Over the course of the 20th century capitalism would work to present consumer sovereignty as the equivalent of freedom, in the common view and the common parlance. (If you don’t like one thing, choose another). The assumption that choice among the givens amounts to freedom becomes the root of the worldwide rationale of the global corporations (the global shopping centre). A society develops and continues to develop by freedom of choice but such choices are manipulative and promise much but deliver little. By ignoring these choice processes Sociologists have done their share to consolidate and legitimise the regime of capitalism. That the dominant paradigm is now proving vulnerable to critique is a measure of decline of capitalist legitimacy, commercial values and the political self-confidence of the rulers.

Mass Communication.

Weapons Of Mass Communication?


The purpose of this is to give some examples of the work of sociologists in media analysis. It takes a number of surveys conducted in the past and analyses them from the sociological point of view and determines their significance. The route between sociology and mass communication seems to be a one-way street. This is surprising because the exercise of social power, the mediation of social relations, the reproduction of society and culture, and the organisation of social experience are significant in sociology and media studies. (Sociology has a lot to say about the media and the media very little to say about Sociology.) 

The sociological study of communication is an attempt to answer the simple question of ‘who says what, in which channel, to whom and with what effect?’ This definition implies overt intention, avowed purpose, and communicative efficiency. However, some sociologists take the view that a greater emphasis on the role of society and external social forces in defining the roles of ‘sender’ and receiver’ is more appropriate. The former view further assumes that messages are as much received as sent and that motives for receiving are as significant as motives for sending. Thirdly, it further assumes the media are not neutral but complex social institutions with motives. Fourthly, messages are sent by media that have encoded purposes with many possible interpretations of origin and function.

Developments Of Theory: Directions of change are occurring in media theory summarised as; radical subjective (based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.), radical objective (not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.), subjective functionalist (Belief in or stress on the practical application of a thing, in particular.), and; objective functionalist (Not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.), all of these are characterised by critical thinking, qualitative methods and attention to knowledge and culture rather than to society and behaviour.  The objective functionalist view is that Communication can be seen as an integral part of a culture and consciousness, as well as a tool of human activity. The primary question in sociological analysis of communication is ‘does culture (including mass media) influence social structure or does social structure influence culture?’

Media as Organisation and Institution: Viewing the media as a social institution where formally organised work takes place directed toward the production of knowledge and culture, the media share features with other complex institutions. Since most media work is part of show business it is not surprising that ‘illusions’ have to be protected. News is a manufactured version of reality with influences, for example, generated by public or private status. Journalists can be moved by professionalism alone and report the world as they believe it is with the hope of communicating the message that the world is improvable by ‘middle class’ ideals which are perceived as anti-working class and thus tainted. What pleases the public and finally sell newspapers may very well be the primary influence in news reporting.

Media Content and Culture: Systematic analysis of content and media output is subject to statistical research and manipulation. The primary of such research tends to be to shed light on aims of originators and to interpret cause and affect. The tradition of comparing media reality with social reality remains strong. For example, media reportage on legitimate social welfare recipients as being somehow a danger to society is often obvious. The middle class ethos appears under threat by such activity and media will protect such interests while risking weak and disadvantaged people.

The Media Audience: Sociologists are always fascinated by media audiences. Topics looked at include structure and variance and social-demographic factors which relates to cultural background and time availability. Another question for sociologists is whether the audience are ‘passive’ or ‘active’ in assimilating media messages. There are inconsistent answers to this question. The main product of the media is audience and this can be sold to advertisers. Developing audiences by not patronising them is a financial transaction imperative to the success of media outlets. Thus, catering to the demands of the audience is necessary.

Media Effect and influence: this too is an area significant and widely researched field for sociologists. Some research concludes that the media is powerful but homogenised (standardised) in its objective to change long-term public opinion. The media will construct their own definition of reality and sell it to the audience and thus the media plays a part in the unfolding of major social events, especially at times of critical events. Research suggests that the public view is influenced by the creation of this Hyperreality, which can be adapted by audiences as absolute reality.

Conclusion: The sociology of mass communication has always been stimulated by and concerned with issues of wider social relevance and we can see some extension of the range of issues that are raised in relation to mass media. These issues include, for example, the position of women, international media flow, and its consequences; the consequences for society of media change. Technology is moving at a rapid pace but these changes too are worthy of closer sociological analysis. Local community may or may not benefit from rapid change in interactive media and the heralded information society is being greeted at its dawn by social analysts with a mixture of optimism and pessimism comparable to that, which greeted the first age of mass media.

Primary Source.

Denis McQuail.

Mass Communication Theory (An Introduction)

Media And Culture.

Mass Media And Popular Culture

The history of humanity is a study of the influence of the media, a study of the influence of print, television, games, computers, and telephones. Most human beings are now consumers of popular culture, part of a global community of willing participants in the exchange of text dispersed by mass communication. Our opinions can be formed by media influences as our attitudes become affected by this relentless exposure.

Early Mass Media: The News Papers: newspapers derive from pamphlets printed and circulated in the 1700s. They are important in the history of modern media because they ‘packaged’ ideas and information in an easily dispersible way and as such had deeper impact on public opinion. The cheap daily press was pioneered in the US and soon copied across the globe. By the early 1900s most countries had ‘national’ newspapers relatively quickly and took The New York Times and The Times of London as their template. Since 1960 with the arrival of popular radio and television newspaper popularity and sales has been in decline.

Newspaper Publishing: Newspapers are normally (not inaccurately) associated with media tycoons. Newspapers are often owned and controlled by large companies and firms or families who also, in modern times, have control in other media outlets. Even local newspapers are now part of a chain owned and run by distant companies with little or no knowledge of ‘local’ issues. This concentration of ownership is a source of great concern to governments but they have achieved little or nothing worthwhile to change the situation. Advancing technology has made newspaper production and distribution much cheaper but electronic media also further threatens the continued success of the newspaper industry. Newspapers as a whole play less of a role in society than once was the case. They have been challenged by the spread of other media, first by television and now by internet.

The Impact of Television: The increasing impact of television is the most important development of the media in modern times. Virtually every household possesses a TV, which is switched on for many hours in the day with the average adult watching for three hours per day.

Public Broadcasting: TV is big business with the state involved in the administration of at least one major television network. These ‘Public’ television services are paid for by License fees and, in many cases combined with advertising revenue. The frequency of advertising on public (and private TV) is controlled by governments and viewing figures (ratings) monitored by TV companies can dictate whether or not a series continues. The arrival of satellite and cable TV has diminished the power and influence of major TV networks by dismantling audiences which is further effected by ‘self programming’ by people opting to watch what they want to watch and when they want to watch it by using recorders and DVDs. They can now construct their own viewing schedules. Public networks are under strain and the proliferation of new channels keeps adding to the problem.

The Effect of Television on Behaviour: Much research ahs been carried on the matter of TVs effect on audiences. Three commonly researched areas are effects on crime, nature of news and the role of TV on social and cultural life. Sociologists have carried on extensive research on TV and violence. Violence is defined as the threat or use of force, directed against the self or others, in which physical harm or death is involved. TV drama is high in violence; children’s programmes (especially cartoons) were also violent. However, does this violence effect audiences and, if so, how? There is no real evidence to suggest that audiences are affected by TV violence other than actually decreasing aggression. Themes of justice and retribution are enforced on TV (if you do the crime you do the time) demonstrates to viewers that violence is not really an option. More miscreants are brought to justice on TV then there are in real life and thus viewers are more likely to be influenced by moral themes rather than aggressive behaviour. In general audiences, children and adults, are passive and undiscriminating in their reactions to what they see. The same can be said of Gaming, which can act to develop skills that may be relevant in life and to wider participation in a society that depends more and more on electronic communications.

Sociologists Study TV News: Sociologists tend to study news more than anything else on television. TV news is a main source for news for the population. The ‘Bad News’ (1976) research project concluded that news about industrial relations typically was presented in a selective and slanted fashion. Using terms that were ‘anti-union’ in relation to the Miners Strike, this was on going during the research project. Strikes were depicted as disruptive to the public and film used depicted strikers as irrational or aggressive whereas in reality this was not the case at all. Bad News pointed out that those who constructed the news were acting as ‘gatekeepers’ for what gets on the agenda – what the public hears about at all. The views of the journalists reflect the outlook of dominant groups in society. These results were challenged; one argument is that millions of people were affected by the strike than took part in it and therefor the dominant group were the ‘innocent victims’ of the strikers and their side should be taken. Sometimes millions of people’s lives are disrupted by the actions of a handful of people and the majority deserve to know exactly why.

Television and Genre: television today operates on a continuous flow. TV is unending and most channels never go off air at all and apologise even if disrupted for a few seconds. However, while TV is a flow, programming is a jumble. A schedule consists of a number of genres such as game shows, comedies, dramas, soaps and so on. Each genre has its own rules and conventions, which mark it out and separate it from others. These are partly rules about content; soaps happen in domestic settings while westerns in 19th Century America. Characters and contexts also come into play with genre, which sets up different expectations for the viewers. TV producers know what TV viewers expect and so will operate with these boundaries. Cross-genres also occur sometimes for comedic effect and sometimes in Docudramas (re-enactments) for entertainment value.

Soap Operas: Soap is the most popular type of genre and has its own subgenres. Gritty soaps (Coronation Street and Eastenders) differ from American soaps like Dallas, which depict more glamorous lives, and Middle class soaps like Neighbours. Soaps are like TV in that they are never-ending and demands regular viewing and are more of interest to women, sensitive domestic creatures, than men. Sociologists contend that soaps are a means of escape for women who find their own lives dull and oppressive but the more plausible idea is that soaps address universal problems of a personal and emotional nature.

Theories of Media: Communication refers to the transfer of information from one individual or group to another, whether in speech or through another medium. The more efficient the mode of transportation the greater the flow of information. (Stone age society could not communicate on rocks so information did not flow from one community to another). Papyrus (a form of paper) in ancient Rome allowed communications to occur by allowing messages to be carried across society. ‘The medium is the message’ means that the nature of the media in a society influences its structure much more than the content. For example TV is different from a printed book and thus the ‘immediacy’ of TV will inevitably create a global society because it gives more people access to global information.

Jürgen Habermas: The Public Sphere: He updated Marx’s thinking on the basis that he believed Marx had not given enough credence to the influence of culture in society. The ‘culture industry’ (film, print, TV, music and radio) with its undemanding products undermines the individuals capacity for independent thought. The media has all but eliminated the ‘public sphere’ where issues of general concern can be discussed. We only watch debates on TV but we rarely participate in them. The absence of such debate, according to Habermas, has led to the demise of public opinion, which is now formed, by manipulation and control.

Baudrillard: The World of Hyperreality: The impact of modern mass media is more profound than any other technology. The media has transformed the nature of our lives. TV does not represent the world but defines it. Hyperreality occurs when the ‘reality’ is a string of images rather than the ‘real’ world. TV presents the world in a hyperrealistic way and our perception is not of reality but of Hyperreality. For example, the Gulf War became a TV event and not really a war as history has taught us. We witnessed it in living colour and were enthralled by the events that kept us guessing what would happen next. A very long but always interesting TV event. The question is now, did it happen at all? In the real world the events that took place are not what we saw on the screen so it can be argued that we saw a war but not the war. The same can be said about an election candidate that we choose to vote for without ever meeting them. We vote for the ‘hyper-real’ person but not the real one.

John Thompson: The Media and Modern Society: Thompson analysed the relation between the media and the development of industrial societies. He argues that the media have always played a central role in the development of modern institutions. He felt that early sociologists paid too little attention to the media in the development of industrial societies. He felt the modern mass media do not deny us the possibility of critical thought; in fact, it provides us with many forms of information we never had before. Media messages are the source of a lot of discussion, telling and retelling, interpretation and reinterpretation, commentary, laughter and criticism. This will constantly shape and reshape our knowledge and understanding. His theory of the media has three distinctions; face to face interaction (Dialogical), mediated interaction (using technology) (Dialogical), and mediated quasi-interaction (one-way form) (monological). The third type tends to dominate the other two but all three intermingle.

Thompson Ideology and The Media: Ideology refers to the influence of ideas on people’s beliefs and actions. Ideology is about the exercise of symbolic power – how ideas become used to hide, justify, or legitimate the interests of dominant groups in social order. In short Thompson sees the media as a monological organ of society that reaches mass audiences and based and used to advance dominant social thinking.

The Globalisation of Media: World News is a daily, and sometimes, hourly occurrence on many TV networks. They have contributed to the globalisation of the media. We can watch events actually happening ‘live’ from distant countries and because we are absent witnesses we perceive these events in a hyperrealistic way. TV shows and films, with few exceptions, are for global audiences. This new world information order has developed unevenly and reflects divisions between developed and underdeveloped societies. – News: Flows of news are often dominated by small numbers of continentally based ‘news agencies’ which, in turn, interact with each other in news distribution. Between them the main agencies send out millions of words every day to television, radio, and print. – Cinema, Television, Advertising and Electronic Media: American sources are dominant in TV production and distribution of cinema, TV, advertising and electronic media.

Media Imperialism: A cultural Empire has been established across the developed world and control of the world’s news distribution systems is dominated by American interests. Media entrepreneurs  such as Rupert Murdoch with his ‘News Corporation’ dominates developed society as does Silvio Berlusconi and his ‘Mondadore’ corporation and Ted Turner with CNN. This media imperialism is of deep concern to governments across the world; ‘too much power in too little hands’.

The Issue Of Media Regulation: Large imperial organisations can not only make money but also influence public thinking. Owners of such corporations are usually right wing and anti-Liberal. With advancing globalisation independent governments have little control of these ever-expanding media Empires thus the issue of media regulation becomes a more difficult task. To dictate who should own what is wrong and can effect a free economy and job creation and a further problem is who should do the regulating and who will regulate the regulators? Media owners are unelected and are a threat to democracy but they too may be under threat with the impact of multimedia and the internet, which they cannot seem to harness. Individuals are free to set up blogs and websites to discuss their points of view and with expanding followers can have freedom of expression to a global audience.

Multimedia: New communications technologies are behind profound changes in the global market. There are four main reasons for this; advancing capabilities, declining costs, digitisation, and satellite communication combined with fibre optics. The transformation of data into ‘bits’ converted by receivers back into data has allowed computers to send and receive all forms of media messages, audio, visual, written. Advancing speed of computers has made this machine the central point of reference for all forms of communication. Participants now have control over what they see or hear and the digital revolution has annihilated distance and created organised chaos.

The Internet: This is a global network of PC users all using an ‘un-owned’ resource that is only in its infancy. Fibre optics means that people can communicate, watch, hear, read, and write on one single device and if they deem it necessary can publish their work. No one can be sure what the future holds but developments are so rapid that they are at the heart of the future of communications. In cyberspace we are not longer people but ‘messages’ on computer screens. No one knows who anyone else really is and as such we may be losing our identities (Hyperreality).

Primary Source.

Anthony Giddens

Sociology (6th Edition)

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Giddens On Sociology.

Sociology is the study of human social life, groups, and societies and its subject is our own behaviour as social beings. The Scope of Sociology: Everybody these days wants to be ‘in love’ but the reality is that ‘love’ is a relatively new concept to modern society and non-existent in some cultures. Up until recently love and marriage were not really connected. In some cultures, marriage is for property or wealth accumulation and love may or may not follow for such ‘relationships’ in time to follow. Marriage (if at all.) Modern society is seen in terms of familiar features of our own lives but there is a much broader view as to who we are and what or why we do as we do and thus is the essence of sociology.

Learning to think sociologically means cultivating the imagination. A sociologist is somebody who can break free from the immediacy of personal circumstances and put things in a wider context. The sociological imagination requires us to think away from familiar routines and look at them anew. The simple act of having a cup of coffee becomes more than routine when viewed from a sociological point of view. Rituals associated with drinking coffee, it is a drug, the chat that goes with it, and where we go and so on are all of sociological significance.

Sociological imagination allows us to consider something as an individual as Divorce as reflective of larger issues. Unemployment also has significant sociological consequences even though it is an individual problem. Ones private position may be reflective of a wider position in wider society. It is the business of sociology to investigate the connections between what society makes of us and what we make of ourselves. Out activities give shape to the social world and are also structured by that social world. Thus, the concept of social structure is important in sociology. There are regularities in the way we behave and our behaviour is not only structured by society but we as ‘building blocks’ of this structure can and will reconstruct as we go along.

This process of construction and reconstruction brings about actions with different results than we desire. Sociologists refer to this as intended and unintended consequences. It is sociology’s task to study the resulting balance between social reproduction, the continuity of society, and social transformation, and the changes that occur.

Sociology finds its beginnings in the early 1800s with the emergence of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. A key development was the enlightenments struggle to apply science instead of religion to understand the world. No individual founded sociology and there were many contributors to sociological thinking and some were more significant than others.

Auguste Comte invented the word ‘sociology’ and believed that this new field could produce knowledge of society based on scientific evidence. Sociology, he argued, should contribute to the welfare of humanity by understanding, predicting and controlling behaviour.

Emile Durkheim saw his peers as too speculative and vague and sought to establish sociology on a scientific basis. He argued that sociology should study social facts, aspects of social life such as economic and religious influences; ‘study social facts as things’ and thus they can be studied more rigorously. He believed that what held society together was shared values and customs. In his theory on the ‘division of labor’ he argued that people became more and more dependent on each other because they needed goods and services supplied by others. In the analysis of suicide he showed that it was not a ‘selfish act’ but social factors exert a fundamental influence on suicidal behaviour.

Karl Marx in his view social change is prompted by economic influences. Conflicts between classes, the rich versus the poor, provide the motivation for historical development. The class struggle was the key element of social change. He envisioned a forthcoming society where there would be no division of class (Communism) and thus equality in society would eliminate conflict.

Max Weber in his interpretation (contradictory to Marx) economic factors are important but ideas and values have just as much impact on social change. He argued that Christian influences contributed to the rise of capitalism and thus cultural values help shape society and individual actions. The development of science, technology, and bureaucracy (rationalisation) was in fact the organisation of social and economic life according to principles of efficiency and knowledge.

Later thinkers, Foucault & Habermas works concerned bureaucracy (hospitals, prisons, institutions) and sexuality all of which had not existed by created by social change and development and ‘sexuality’ is a property of the self (something we have). The study of knowledge as a source of power was a means of keeping tabs on people and controlling them. Habermas argues that capitalist societies destroy moral order on which it depends.

But is sociology a science? Science is a means of using evidence to develop a body of knowledge about a subject matter. Therefor sociology, by these standards is a science. However, human beings are not objects and all behave differently and when they are under scrutiny they may behave differently.

How Can Sociology Help Us In Our Lives? It allows us to see the social world from a different perspective? If we understand how people live we can acquire a better knowledge of what their problems are. Sociological research helps us assess the results of policy initiatives. Sociology can provide us with self-enlightenment and thus influence our own future and finally, sociologists can find themselves in practical situations such as urban planning, industrial consultancy, social workers and personnel managers.

Primary Source.

Anthony Giddens

Sociology (6th Edition)

American Culture.

The Birth Of The Great American Dream.


In 1850 Isaac Singer improved the design of a sewing machine similar to one patented by Elias Howe Jnr and within ten years he was a wealthy man. This was a machine everyone wanted as the textile industry was on the rise and the sewing machine meant many people could work from home. The factories farmed out work to private homes and those with sewing machines could finish this work much faster than any people using older techniques. This optimistic response to technological change was typical of the 1850s, technology was seen as a gift from God to advance mankind, the telegraph, cotton gin, steam engine and mechanical reaper prompted utopian hopes for a greater future. But technology also had its critics and active enemies. The newly invented revolver was useless for all but one purpose, to settle private scores. The farm women who had made a successful living sewing by hand at home were replaced in the inner cities by working women with sewing machines or in sweatshops. Philosophers and artists were worried about the changing landscape while conservationists made efforts to preserve enclaves as retreats from the ‘evils’ of progress.

Technology drew praise from all sides. Machines were doing the work of people without food or clothing and it was improving society for the betterment of all. In antebellum America the sweeping changes brought about by steam engines, cotton gin, the reaper and the telegraph, mostly European inventions, but Americans had a knack for improving them, was transforming society. But technology did not benefit all. The cotton gin created a greater demand for slaves in the south, machines did the work of artisans who lost their livelihoods and women who had a chance to make a living from home soon lost that chance. Meanwhile, improving transportation, increasing productivity and advancing technology lowered commodity prices and raised living standards for many Americans.

In 1830 the movement west had advanced to Ohio and Kentucky where land alternated with forest and prairie soil, though fertile, was tough. John Deere identified this problem and invented a steel tipped plow that cut the work in half. Settlers saw this plow as a means to open up new lands and found themselves moving into new areas near woodlands and forests where timber could be found to build new homes and fencing. Wheat became to the west what cotton was to the south and gave great purpose to farming. Technology enhanced the working of wheat to quicker and bigger harvests and in 1834 the horse drawn mechanical reaper harvested grain seven times faster than by hand. The mechanical reaper guaranteed that wheat would dominate the Midwestern prairies.

Industrial advancement owed a great debt  to effective use of machine tools, power machines that cut and shaped metal to precise requirements. Americans were importing machine tools technology from Britain and very quickly the hand filing of parts became obsolete. After mid century this system of interchanging parts was known as ‘the American system of manufacturing’ and demonstrated that Americans were willing to resort to machines as a substitute for manual labor. Interchangeable parts made replacement parts possible and improved machine tools enabled entrepreneurs to push for greater product and profit. Worker specialization meant faster productivity. After the transmission of the first telegraph in 1844 Americans seized the technology to eliminate the constraints of time and space. By 1852 thousands of miles of telegraph lines connected cities far apart and the era of intercity communication was established.

The railroad  had the most dramatic effect on antebellum America. By 1850 ordinary Americans could travel three times faster than by horse. Americans loved railroads but they had hurdles to overcome to perfect the system of rail and railway travel. But the railroad was unstoppable because it had become the great agent of civilization and progress. Between 1840 and 1860 American society had transformed with the railway systems which had become powerful and convenient. By 1860 the Americans had more track than the rest of the world combined. Canals too were n the rise but railways overtook them . Major cities expanded into thriving hubs and linked the east to the west. The dramatic growth of Chicago illustrates the impact of expanding railway lines. In 1849 Chicago was just a village but by 1860 it had become a major city. Rail lines also stimulated the settlement of the mid west and increased the value of farmland and promoted additional settlement. Industrial development prospered and even small towns along routes made money from traffic and estate speculation. Hotels, lumberyards, grain elevators and mills sprang up ins mall towns and by the Civil War the concept of ‘frontiers’ were all but forgotten. Railways were the nations first big business and they transformed the way business was done. Railroad expansion turned New York City into the center of modern investment firms as New York Stock Exchange became the home of investment for those wanting to make money buying and selling shares, not only in the railroad system, but, in time other commodities too.

Technological advances reduced prices for consumers and the widening use of steam power led to longer working hours and better wages. The growth of towns and cities also contributed to incomes. Thriving cities gave extra work to out of season farmers and their families so cash could be earned all year round instead of just for a few months of the year. Women and children too went to work and earned money as opposed to working for no cash on their farms. Many families lived close to the margin and such families needed as much income as could be earned. The quality of life in urban communities was not necessarily superior to rural life but because of economic conditions rural dwellers were financially better off. The comforts and conveniences of city life explain the mass movement of people during the mid 19th century into cities.

As technology progressed its benefits seemed a little uneven. The middle classes were the biggest winners. Domestic life was improving rapidly as new inventions such as stoves enhanced the lifestyles of those who could afford them. Clothing of fine quality was widely available, and the shops were filling up with new inventions, new household utensils, new products imported from far and wide for those who prospered and had the finances to avail of them. The patent office was saturated with new ideas for domestic tools and equipment including new flytraps, household appliances, cleaning products and foodstuffs. While the middle classes enjoyed luxurious lives the poorer lived in squalid tenements. However, all seemed to welcome the age of technological change and all it’s gifts to mankind.

Timber houses that had flourished in the early 19th century began to give way to more orderly rows of brick homes which were a response to rising land prices. Middle class homes were luxurious and elegant while working class housing, usually occupied by Irish Catholics and Free Blacks, were very rudimentary and designed for multiple families. These were known as tenements and mostly owned by ruthless Landlords charging exorbitant rents that could only be afforded by families sharing small rooms. Furnishings also elevated the class divide with the wealthier spending money on high class furnishings and ornaments usually placed in public areas of the home (like the parlor) where they could be seen by visitors while other parts of the home were furnished more sparsely. Rural living was a bit more comfortable as new styles and techniques of building enhanced comfort. Advancing transport systems gave rise to new materials and furnishings becoming widely available at friendly prices and thus middle class rural dwellers could live comfortable quite lives in relative luxury and tranquility which is what most people strived for.

Although life in the 19th century was somewhat primitive by today’s standards it was still one of impressive quality to those who enjoyed the daily spoils and advantages of an ever growing economy. Stoves had arrived into most homes and the quality and variety of diets became more versatile. The new railways systems brought food and vegetables into towns and villages that locals had not seen or heard of in the past. Even foodstuffs grown thousands of miles away could still be found in stores at friendly prices and thus the diet of most Americans became very varied. New water systems such as aqueducts were being constructed all over civilized America and families started to live healthier lives with the availability of free flowing water. Despite improvements home comforts were somewhat limited. Coal fires lasted longer than wood but caused pollution. Carbon monoxide emissions created health risks, even though most people were oblivious to its existence, food stuffs could not be preserved so had to be consumed as quickly as possible. Ice boxes did not exist so meat could only be preserved using salt which accounts for the popularity of pork which tasted more pleasant than salted beef. Public waterworks were impressive but not yet widespread. It was usually a very upper class areas that had access to water hydrants and bats and showers could only happen by boiling water pot by pot. Most working class people only bathed once a year and thus urban life consisted of many pungent smells, rat infestation was common as a result of poor sanitary conditions, wild animals such a s hogs roamed the streets (often captured and eaten in poorer areas) and piles of horse manure and human waste gathered on the streets and created, in intense heat, a dangerous environment that would create health problems for many who were ignorant of the source of their ill health.

Primary Source

Boyer, Clark & Halttunen

The Enduring Vision

American Politics.


Dorothea Dix was a 19th century reformer who launched  her career in March 1841 when she became infuriated at the mistreatment of patients in a mental institution in Massachusetts. She successfully petitioned to have heating for patients in such institutions and by doing so she launched her career as an advocate for humanitarian treatment of the mentally ill. Like so many women and men of her era she was motivated primarily by a deep religious conviction and she was only one of many such people living throught the ‘second great awakening’ that was to shape a host of reforms that swept the United States after 1820.

The Republican Party of 1824 was under increasing pressure brought about by westward expansion, industrialization and cotton cultivation in the south. These forces would eventually split republicans into two groups – those who thought state control was the way forward became Democrats and those who sought national control became National Republicans or Whigs.

Political democratization took several forms. States started to abolish exclusivity of voting rights to landowners. Formerly appointive offices became elective and as the voting landscape changed so did control of power. It was now necessary to court voters and this meant grand parties, hosting of community leaders to political affairs and enamoring the voters with charm and diplomacy to ensure office was secured. Transportation and communications system were changing and thus the electorate became more politically astute and well informed. Women a free blacks were disenfranchised but opposition to ‘common people’ (meaning adult white males) was becoming a formula for political suicide.

In 1824 sectional tensions brought the ‘era of good feeling’ to an abrupt end. Five candidates ran for office of President and John Quincy Adams was favorite whose only real opposition was Andrew Jackson. He went on to win more popular votes than any candidate but failed to gain a majority as demanded by the constitution. It had to go to the House Of Representatives for a final decision but another candidate, third in the running, Henry Clay of Kentucky aligned himself to Adams in a trade for a high office deal and so Jackson’s hopes were immediately dashed. The so called ‘corrupt bargain’ was to cast a long dark shadow over Adams term of office.  Adams sought ‘improvement’ in education, communication, transport but his ambitions met with growing political opposition and his views only guaranteed him one term of office.

As Adams’ popularity declined Jackson’s rose. Jackson was a war hero and a link to the glorious past and Jackson’s widespread support created a modern political machine that would create a new political system; Adams men or National Republicans and Jackson’s men Democratic Republicans. The only one to truly recognize this fact was Martin Van Buren who saw that the two-party system of politics where the splintered political system could be naturally divided into two opposing groups. Then the parties could compete and a winner would emerge. Jackson ran for the newly renamed Democratic Party and was successful while Adams ran for the National Republicans thereby giving shape to the American two party system. The mudslinging began almost immediately with allegations of murder, debauchery and extravagance being thrown from both sides but Jackson’s team had better aim after Adams men accused Jackson of being an illiterate backwoods man and thereby characterizing him as a ‘common man’ which was exactly what the people seemed to want in office. Jackson won the election with more than twice the electoral vote of Adams. The popular vote was much closer which highlighted the reality of the sectional bases of both parties and the accuracy of Van Burens astuteness in observing that the American political landscape was changed forever.

As an opponent of corruption and privilege Jackson made the civil service his first target. He enforced the ‘rotation’ system and made sweeping changes to staff holding high office. But his motives were questioned by his enemies as ‘the spoils system’ and those selected for high office seemed to be more friends than enemies. This was a start of a new Presidency that would be rife with problems and the first major one was the Nullification Crisis.?

Jackson and his vice president John C. Calhoun, an ardent nationalist, had presidential notions and wanted to succeed Jackson after only one term. To do this he had to maintain the support of the South which was growing opposed to Tariffs which they blamed for migration of cotton cultivation, dramatic increases in cotton and reduction in British demand for their products. However, opposition was not just economic. Southerners believed that if the Federal government could interfere with one law it could interfere with another and thus ‘slavery’ could arrive on the table for abolition. Moods were changing in relation to slavery across the nation and newspapers such as The Liberator had come into being and they wanted slavery abolished as quickly as possible. The big issue between Jackson and Calhoun was the question of the Tariff of 1828.

The Tariff of 1828 was a protective tariff passed by the Congress of the United States on May 19, 1828, designed to protect industry in the northern United States. It was labeled the Tariff of Abominations by its southern detractors because of the effects it had on the antebellum Southern economy. The major goal of the tariff was to protect industries in the northern United States which were being driven out of business by low-priced imported goods by putting a tax on them. The South, however, was harmed directly by having to pay higher prices on goods the region did not produce, and indirectly because reducing the exportation of British goods to the US made it difficult for the British to pay for the cotton they imported from the South. The reaction in the South, particularly in South Carolina, would lead to the Nullification Crisis that began in late 1832. The Tariff marked the high point of US tariffs. It was approached, but not exceeded, by the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act of 1830. Calhoun opposed the tariff on constitutional grounds and embraced the view that the Union was a compact by which the states had conferred limited and specified powers on the federal government. The imposition of tariffs to raise funds for common purpose, such as defense, were constitutional to Calhoun and the enforcement of any tariff for any other purpose that could be deemed detrimental to State economic growth and prosperity could only be imposed with state co-operation and agreement. In 1828 Calhoun campaigned, against his President, arguing that aggrieved states had the right to nullify the law within its borders. Jackson responded by devising two policies; one to appease the South and one for all others. The first was to pay out surplus money to all states to balance the distribution of wealth and thus appease dissent. Secondly, Jackson wanted to reduce tariffs from sky high levels of 1828 and thus appeased Calhoun who did not want to be seen to be at loggerheads with Jackson but Southerners remained dissatisfied. Calhoun and Jackson had other personal problems with each other and these were added to when Jackson discovered that Calhoun had been a long time enemy of his and had advocated punishment for him in the past for his unauthorized raid into Spanish Florida. Jackson wanted to eliminate Calhoun from public life at all costs. The stage was now set for the Nullification Crisis. In 1831 Calhoun  admitted to his opposition to Jackson  and some months lat in 1832 a South Carolina convention nullified the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 and so Jackson went to war with Calhoun. He sent weapons to loyal Unionists in Carolina and in December 1832 he issued a proclamation that, while promising South Carolinians further tariff reductions, condemned nullification as unconstitutional which he emphasized had established a ‘single nation’ not a league of states. The crisis eased when Jackson signed into law two measures (the olive branch and the sword) namely, a Compromise Tariff Bill of 1833 which provided for a gradual reduction  of duties between 1833 and 1842. The sword was the Force Bill which allowed the president to use arms to collect customs duties in South Carolina which nullified it immediately but accepted the Compromise Tariff Bill. The nullifies defiantly toasted their success and commended ‘the great compromiser’ Kentuckian Henry Clay who had negotiated the peace deal and, according to Southerners, ‘saved the country’ by his efforts.

The gap between rich and poor was widening in the 1830s and Jackson blamed this on Banking. He was not a successful businessman in the past and despised banks. He had no issue with individual wealth accumulation but wanted to obliterate wealth accumulation through corruption and privileges. The Second Bank of the United States had a monopoly over funding to state banks and also had the right to demand repayments in specie (gold or silver). The government had little or no control over the banks and Jackson wanted to end this situation. Henry Clay courted the banks in a bid to help him win the White House and managed to fast track a Bill that would secure banks from government control. Jackson vetoed the Bill and denounced the banks as a private and privileged monopoly that drained the west of specie, eluded state taxation and made the rich richer and the potent more powerful. Clay failed to persuade congress to override Jackson’s veto and pinned his hopes on gaining the presidency himself. Jackson had made his position clear on many issues. He was a staunch defender of Unionist philosophy but he believed that the states were too diverse to take instruction from Washington. The safest way was to allow state freedom so that they would remain content and reject dangerous doctrines like nullification.  Breaking his promise to retire he ran again and was successful and now ready to dismantle the Bank of the United States.

Jackson’s veto of the re-charter ignited controversy. The opposition were not happy about his efforts to destroy the Bank and this created greater public interest in politics and the economy. By 1840 the Whigs and the Democrats were fundamentally divided over the bank. Money took the form of IOUs (promises to redeem in specie) and they fuelled economic development by making business easier. But when notes depreciated because of public doubts about a banks solvency, wage earners suffered because they were paid in paper rather than specie. Paper money also encouraged economic speculation. Farmers who had bought land on credit were left in debt when prices dropped. Would the US embrace swift economic development at the price of speculators languishing while others got rich or would the nation opt for modest growth based on honest hard work and frugality? Between 1833 and 1840 these questions were dominant.

Jackson could have let the Bank to die in 1836 but he feared its power and decided to act fast. The Bank anticipated the move and started to call in loans and credit. Jackson reacted by removing federal deposits and place them in state banks but the move backfired. The state banks got cash rich and started to loan out large sums of cash for land purchase and thus Jackson’s policy was producing the very kind of economy he wanted to suppress.

During Jackson’s second term the opposition gave way to the new Whig Party and his opponents promptly aligned themselves to this new political entity. Southerners saw it as a chance to punish Jackson for his stance on nullification and his war on the Banks created similar results.  Southerners also feared the lack of wealth distribution on internal improvements and that it was unfairly balanced between north and south. This would mean that Southerners would lag behind the wealthier north and so much money was tied up in slavery that it made the situation more volatile as a mood of anti-slavery was creeping in outside the southern states.

Northern reformers were also working against Jackson and wanted slavery and liquor abolished, education improved and the general elevation of public morality. Reformers found the Whigs more attractive than the Democrats. The Whigs wanted more involvement in society and the economy while the Democrats believed that it was not good to impose uniform ds on a diverse society. The reformers, mostly Protestant, despised Irish Catholics and saw them as drunken lazy slobs and the Irish went into the Democratic Party. By 1836 the Whigs had become a national party with broad appeal in both North and South.

Jackson’s popularity was a tough act to follow and the Whigs could not succeed, in this short time, in taking the White House. However, even though Martin Van Buren won for the Democrats it was obvious that trouble lay ahead because of the loss of Democratic votes to the Whigs who came close to victory.

After Jackson’s departure the Panic of 1837 began. In 1835 and 1836 the banking credit and loans business was booming and commodity and land prices soared. But in May 1837 prices began to tumble  and bank after bank began to suspend specie payments. After a short rally by 1839 the banks began to collapse and The Bank Of The United States failed and banks throughout the nation began to collapse. The ensuing recession was severe as wages fell, prices soared and the population saw this as punishment from God and the end of the world was imminent.

Van Buren ran again for the Democrats while the Whigs opted for a single candidate (not to make the same mistakes of 1836), William Harrison, a farmer with few enemies. The Democrats made a fatal mistake and tagged him “Old Granny” a man who loved sipping cider in his old Log Cabin but the tag backfired because the image of an ordinary man being victimized by an aristocratic Van Buren who lived in regal splendor drinking fine wines while people were hungry on the streets. The Whigs used Democratic tactics against the Democratic candidate. Harrison had a clear victory because of economic depression and the ‘log cabin’ campaign but there was also another factor. The social and moral reform movements that emerged in the 1830s were gaining momentum and they originated not in politics, but in religion.

Historians contend that in 19th Century America religion was the foremost of the political institutions. In other states religion and politics were at odds with each other but in America they were intimately united. However, this is not to say that religion ruled but that it was compatible with politics rather than antagonistic.  Just as Americans expected politicians to address the common man they also insisted that ministers preach to ordinary people. Ministers had to speak the language of the heart and not theological complexities. They also insisted on doctrines that put individuals in charge of their own destiny and that anyone could attain heaven. In short, Americans wanted a ‘democratic’ heaven over which they could have some control. The harmony between religion and politics gave rise to the religious revivals known as The Second Great Awakening.

The Second Great Awakening: This ignited in the 1790s and swept across America during the half century that followed. But as the revivals progressed they also transformed. The second coming of Jesus was proclaimed and repentance was necessary in order to reap the rewards of eternal life. The most famous gathering took place in Kentucky in 1801 when a huge congregation of mixed religions assembled to hear sermons, sing hymns and be saved. The frenzy had some extreme features as men and women rolled around like logs, jerked their heads furiously and barked like dogs. The whole affair, critics claimed, was mo lustful than spiritual with “more souls begot rather than saved”. Of all the religious movements it was the Methodists that proved the most dominant. They argues that religion was about the heart and not the head. They travelled from place to place on horseback bringing with them the word of God. They went to remote areas and set up weekly classes before departing. These classes formed a Methodist code of behavior known as ‘Discipline’  which reinforced family and community values.

In the 1820s the Second Great Awakening had begun to move Eastward. The man who spearheaded the revival of New York was Charles Finney who had experienced a powerful religious conversion. He became a Presbyterian Minister and started to conduct revival camps from New York to Boston. His experience and spiritual wisdom made him ‘the father of modern revivalism’. He used techniques such as a conversion chair where people sat and were surrounded by the congregation who prayed over them to cleanse their souls for the re-entry of Jesus. Finney’s congregation would leave meetings with a cleansed soul with all guilt washed away and were ‘Born again’. Finney had a large middle class following and was also a favorite of most women whom he converted before converting their family.

The Unitarians: Revivals drew criticism. It was doubted by some that revivalists had any sacred power to change anybody and they were condemned as fakers and charlatans for trying. The influential ‘Unitarians’ who believed that Jesus was not divine but no more than a human model for moral life had some considerable support in wealthy circles. They contended that moral goodness is cultivated over time and not instantly by barking like dogs. The Unitarians, who influenced Dorothea Dix, claimed that all Christianity had one purpose: “the perfection of human nature, the elevation of men into nobler beings.”

The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons founded by Joseph Smith, a New York confused boy who grew up to create a religion founded on a discovered book of revelation pointed out to him by an Angel named Moroni. In short, Mormonism contends that an ancient Hebrew prophet came to America and created a prosperous nation  to await Jesus. Some dark sin was caused during the wait and as punishment God created the Indians who, by the time Columbus got to America, had forgotten the entire affair. Mormonism had placed America as the center of religious history. Smith revealed his ideas to doubtful Protestants and was persecuted as a heretic and he absconds to live with the Indians whom he wanted to convert. They built a city called Nauvoo in Illinois but in 1844 a group of dissident members, vexed on the plural marriage issue, had him thrown into jail and later murdered him and his brother.

Mother Ann Lee, the founder of ‘The Shakers’ had a following who believed she was the Daughter of God just as Jesus was the son of God. The Shakers had convulsive like fits while worshipping and pursued religious perfection. They produced furniture noted for it’s beauty but also strived for complete celibacy. Children would be adopted or fostered to prevent sexual activity. The practiced christian socialism and shared land and implements to create remarkably prosperous villages.

The relentless struggle for divine perfection, spiritual independence was compatible with social requirements of all individuals. Saved souls could unite in the purpose of elimination of all evil in society. To achieve this, a wide range of social services began to spring up in civilized America. Abolition of slavery, rights of women, temperance, humane treatment of criminals and the insane and public eduction were all on the reformers agenda. All conflict was perceived as the clash of good and evil and they had God on their side so could not lose. Those churches that refused to condemn any evil, mostly slavery, we’re themselves condemned. The age of Reform drew its fuel from the evangelical revivalists and they had the power of God to help them convince a spiritually malnourished society.

Early 19th century Americans were heavy drinkers. One reason for this was the state of agriculture. Prior to the transport revolution, farmers who could not transport their corn and rye began to manufacture whiskey. Drunkenness pervaded which resulted in many social problems such as domestic violence, disease and economic failure. The American Temperance Society was formed in 1826 and rapidly increased its membership nationwide. Even women and children, as victims of violence and poverty, we’re becoming members. The main targets of the temperance reformers were the working classes but the workers showed little interest until the argument that society would collapse if drinking were to take hold was floated. In dread of losing their jobs or businesses and temperance spread farther and faster as the movement won new support and now began to demand prohibition. The campaigners fought a hard but successful battle and by the 1840s consumption had dropped to less than half  it’s peak rate in the 1820s.

The typical American school in the early 19th century was rural. Reading and counting were the main activities for the classroom of mixed ages from three to twenty. Parents were satisfied with these arrangements but reformers wanted a better system to equip children for a growing economy. Reformers wanted state support for education, extending school time, standards textbooks, a grade system and compulsory attendance. The purpose of school was to spread industrial values and combat ignorance. Industry, honesty, sobriety and patriotism were the values to be instilled in all students. School reformers prevailed after a struggle because their opponents failed to unify. Women wanted reform because it would improve opportunities and they were right. By 1900 over 70% of teachers were women. The school system was soon seen as a way  for creating a common American culture out of a diverse society. However, black children did not enter public school, reformers did not include them in their plans, black children encountered hostility and violence.

Anti slavery sentiment flourished in the Revolutionary era. The northern states had emancipation schemes in place but the South had a growing dependence on slavery and that was unlikely to change for the foreseeable future. Colonization in Liberia, West Africa was a northern proposal for a solution to the problem but most African Americans did not want to be transported to a new continent. They saw themselves as African American and demanded the right to be treated as citizens of America. Black activist David Walker, born a free man, led an anti-white campaign and he urged slaves to rise up and murder their masters if slavery were not abolished. In the 1830s Black leaders began holding conventions devoted to abolishing slavery in the South and repealing discriminatory black codes in the North. White abolitionists launched campaigns to stop new slaves from being transported into the Union. William Lloyd Garrison of New England launched a newspaper ‘The Liberator’ which established him as  the most prominent and provocative of all white abolitionists. He filled his paper with stories of slave mistreatment and thereby appealed to the humanity of his vast readership to abolish slavery. He wanted immediate emancipation without compensation to slaveholders. He also wanted full equality with whites and formed the American Antislavery Society to achieve this end.

Fugitive slaves also had a role to play in abolition and the foremost of these was Frederick Douglas who wrote his autobiography which sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Relations between black and white abolitionists were not always harmonious but racial prejudices were mild by comparision to anti-abolition whites who transferred their hatred to white abolitionists. Abolitionists drew on the language of revivalists and condemned slavery as a sin but issues of strategy and tactics divided those who desired an end to slavery. Garrison advocated non resistance in which the doctrine held that the fundamental evil of slavery was its reliance on force, the opposite of Christian love. Government also rested on cohersion and any person who voted or participated in politics was not a true Christian. The second issue dividing abolitionists was the role of women in the movement. Women participating in this crusade were seen as ‘indelicate’, women should obey men, not lecture them. In 1840 Abolitionists were split on these issues and the break up of the American Antislavery Society that followed did not damage the larger movement.

When the Grimke sisters took up the cause of women’s rights in 1838 they were not just defending their right to participate in the Antislavery movement. They were responding to perceived similarities between women and slaves. Women under slavery were degradated and sexually vulnerable. In the early 19th century women were not allowed to vote, hold public office, educated  or allowed into the professions. Married women had no legal identity, could not own property, control their own earning, sue or be sued or enter a contract. Divorced women could not get custody of their children and domestic violence went unchallenged. Women’s place was in the home and they had no legal rights. However, reform movements gave women a chance to work in public as volunteers and they could claim that their objectives were to clean up society to enhance the quality of home life for all women. Feminism first emerged in abolitionism and it gave its female participants thee courage and inspiration they needed to fight the fight for their own rights. In 1848 New York the first true feminist convention took place at Seneca Falls. It declared that all women were equal and modeled itself on the Declaration of Independence. It passed twelve resolutions that were to be the code of all feminist activities to follow. By 1860 changes started to occur, a New York law allowed married women to vote but it took until 1920 for women to secure a national right, fifty five years after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery.

In the 1820s reformers had started their war on poverty, crime and abuse of mentally or physically challenged people. Secular and religious reformers believed that human nature could be improved  through placement in the proper moral environment. Teh reformers model for this proper environment for paupers, criminals and the insane was an asylum which would remove deviants from corrupting influences by placing them in a controlled environment under moral supervision and disciplined work. Up until the early 19th century the way to deal with such people was through public flogging or execution rather than extended prison terms. Two different types of penitentiary care emerged in antebellum America. The Auburn system forbade inmates any communication with each other and the Pennsylvania System confined prisoners to isolation in a single cell and deprived of human contact with no news or visits from the outside for the duration of the sentence. The poor and mentally ill were inmates in less rigorous institutions where they could be taught (if possible) to work at being virtuous and productive citizens. Insane asylums were set up for the mentally ill but they too had the optimistic believe that insanity was curable through proper moral environments. These institutions, prisons, almshouses and asylums were forms of social control but inmates were not protected from the punishments of incarceration and regimentation.

The reformists belief in the possibility of human perfection found its greatest expression in utopian communities. They began in the 1820s and expanded over the next few decades. These communities were experiments in unification of like-minded people aiming for social and economic harmony and the eradication of evil and the advancement of religious ideals. Scottish mill owner Robert Owen founded New Harmony in Indiana where he improved the home and work life of his community members with the aim of elimination of vice and misery. He believed human character was the fruit of its environment so if the latter is perfect then so will be the former. His community failed because it was too attractive to idlers and fanatics but his ideas inspired more Utopians to follow. Experimental communities multiplied in the 1830s and 1840s many f which had the common belief that modern life in large urban environments was not natural and not helpful to the development of the mind and spirit. The most controversial utopian experiment was the Oneida Community established in 1848 in New York. It advocated Christian communism and renounced private property but, most controversially, in place of conventional marriage it had ‘complex marriage’ in which every male was married to every female. Critics of the community saw it as a free sex for all club and a sex haven designed by its founder, John Humphrey Noyes, but the prosperous Oneida outlived other less radical utopian societies. Utopian communities, despite ridicule, exemplified the idealism and hopefulness of all reform movements in antebellum America.

In conclusion, in the early decades of the 19th Century politics became an activity of the common people. Voting barriers changed, party machines began to expand and religion and revivalism spearheaded the campaign for a better society for all through improving moral behavior. Revivalists challenged the idea of man nor being in control of his own destiny and advocated that all humans, men and women, had the ability to perfect themselves. The election of Andrew Jackson was the will of the people but his dictatorial manner contributed to the emergence of the second party system. Religion gave rise to new reform movements, some seeking legal equality for slaves and women, others wanting temperance, better education, institutional reform and utopian communitarianism. While complaining about the corruptness of politics the reformers made their demands using the same techniques they admonished in the politicians.

Primary Source

Boyer, Clark & Halttunen

The Enduring Vision

American Transformation.


By 1840, most migrants desired and expected a better version of life they had known in the East, more land, and more crops. Several factors nurtured this expectation, the growing power of the federal Government, its often-ruthless removal of the Indians from the path of white settlement and a boom in the prices of agricultural commodities after the war of 1812. Americans began to move West from 1791 onwards seeking security and a new life. Pioneers moved as families rather than individuals and settled near navigable waters especially near the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. It was not until the spread of canals in the 1820s and 1830s, and later of railroads did Westerners feel free to venture far from rivers. Migrants carried with them the values and customs learned in the East regardless of origins. Most Westerners craved sociability. Rural families joined with their neighbours for sports, markets, and festivals. These activities brought communities and families together and the West began to develop a character of its own and community spirit was high. The far West was also being explored and exploited by fur traders, trappers and frontiersmen (explorers and hunters) who were mostly notorious as survivors of harsh surroundings.

To facilitate Westward Expansion the Government invested in new roads, giving free land to men who enlisted (Military Bounties) and also invested in canals and railroads to keep the Westward movement vibrant. The same government that aided the whites were brutal to the Indians. Westward settlers found sizable numbers of Indians in their paths, especially in the south, home to the five civilised tribes, Cherokees, Choctaws, Creeks, Chickasaws and Seminoles. Trading and interbreeding with whites had turned the tribes into ‘mixed bloods’ who shared civilised traditions with the new immigrants. Forced to give up its lands and migrate, the Cherokee people suffered disease, hunger, and exhaustion on what they remember as ‘the trail of tears’. The Indian removal act of 1830 demanded the removal of Indian nations from their homelands to Indian Territory in Oklahoma and many Native Americans suffered from exposure, disease, and starvation en route. Many died on the trail and the five civilised tribes were decimated.

Rising prices of agricultural product created new demands for land. American farmers found brisk trade in wheat and corn in the US and in Europe. Industrialisation and urbanisation in the US shifted workers from agricultural to non-agricultural employment. The wests splendid rivers system made it possible for farmers to ship wheat and corn around the country. Mostly to New Orleans from where it was forwarded to other beckoning markets. Government policies made west farming possible and high prices made it attractive. Along with this, the demand for cotton was also on the increase as cotton clothing came into fashion. The south was gripped in ‘cotton fever’ as the climate was perfect for cotton cultivation leading to the establishment of large plantations.

The Growth of The Market Economy: Traditional farmers were primarily subsistent (catered for themselves only) but with wheat and cotton, demanding high prices a growing number of farmers added cash crops to meet the demands. In the south, slaves became a valuable commodity and the sale of slaves grew into a huge business as other states transferred their slaves to the south. Virginia became a ‘negro growing’ state to cater for this demand. Virginia exported up to six thousand slaves to other states in the US every year.

Most of the public domain found its way into the hands of small farmers because speculators gained nothing from holding on to land for long periods of time. The existence of squatters, people who had helped themselves to land, was a persistent problem. They saw themselves as somehow ‘sacred’ people who had earned their land by discovering it and working it prior to the arrival of immigrants. They were eventually given exemption from having to purchase their land. Small farmers who rented land from wealthy speculators began to drown in debt and were forced to keep moving forward west and this the ‘moving frontier’ refers not only to the obvious fact that the line of settlement shifted farther west with each passing decade, but also to the fact that the same people kept moving.

The land boom collapsed in 1819 as the states banks loose practises caused complete panic. A combination of bumper crops in Europe, a recession in Britain and American farmers over-borrowing from the banks and depending on exports to repay debts led to a state of economic chaos. Land speculators, financed by banks, were the biggest losers as land prices plummeted and the credit squeeze drove down prices of wheat, corn, cotton, and tobacco. Farmers were left cash strapped, landowners left unpaid, and banks blamed for causing hard times. It was clear that farmers needed to look elsewhere for markets. They realised that they had relied too much on exports and thus came the need for new forms of nationwide transport systems.

Western and eastern farmers needed to connect, roads were expensive and slow, horse drawn carriages were limited and so the waterways seemed to be the best option. Steamboats, canals, and railroads lured private investment. The Mississippi river hosted hundreds of steamboats used in summer for tourism and as commercial transport systems for the rest of the year. Transport charges dropped dramatically and inter-state trading prospered. The canal boom was hit by a recession in 1830 when government withdrew investment and turned to less expensive railroad systems. Cities lacking inland waterways found rail systems far more attractive. Cheaper to build and maintain and much faster than canal ways. However, the system of railways were not built by state governments but by private investment and this resulted in railroads demanding constant repairs. Secondly, it was cheaper to transport bulk by canal. These two factors meant that the arrival of railway systems was a slow process. The transportation system speeded the growth of towns and cities. Small towns turned into cities and cities into thriving metropolises. This growth occurred with dramatic suddenness all over America, but especially in the west.

Industrialisation gave an added boost to the growth of cities and towns. Industrialisation changed lives; former agricultural workers only familiar with working at their own pace now went to factories operating machines from sunrise to sunset and changing their daily routines to accommodate the clock instead of themselves. Industrialisation was caused by demand for shoes, clothes, and food and by the transportation revolution that created greater connections between south and the west. Tensions ran high in rural economies, too many people and too little land, so mass migration into cities to work in the factories was a very viable option. The gap between the rich and the poor continued to widen and in the big cities, a small fraction of the people owned a huge share of the wealth. Splendid social clubs and residences set the rich apart. Few of these wealthy people had earned it. Most of them were born into wealth. The usual way to wealth was to inherit it, marry into it, or invest very wisely. The myth of hard-earned wealth was only a myth. There were few exceptions to this rule. On the other end of the scale were paupers. Circumstantial paupers, such as the disabled or elderly, and self-inflicted paupers such as alcoholics and those unwilling to work. In the lowest orders were the Irish who were notorious paupers and Catholics who became a nation of wanderers and scroungers who were perceived as a burden on the state. The protestant majority of America had little or no time for Irish Catholics who had been forced from their homeland by the British to the new world in search of a better life. Just below the Irish in terms of prejudice were the blacks. Although slavery had almost disappeared by 1820, laws continued to restrict blacks. Laws against blacks prevented voting, migration between states, banishment from some states, segregated schools, alms-houses and hospitals. Blacks were forced into the least paying jobs and rarely owned real estate. The blacks started to establish their own churches, which then led to the education of black children in black schools. The reality of life for the vast majority of black Americans was that they were less than human.

Many factors influenced industrialisation. Along with economic factors such as the fallout of the Embargo Act of 1807 whereby merchants had to redirect capital into factories, the era of good feelings proved tariffs were needed to protect the American economy from foreign competition and america possessed an environmental advantage. In the late 18th century the population was expanding with little land to support it. Small farmers began to expand their incomes by starting small workshops in their homes to produce items for sale at markets. High wages spurred the search for new machinery that would replace workers and, if possible, Americans would copy foreign designs.

Primary Source

Boyer, Clark & Halttunen

The Enduring Vision

Revolutions In Europe.

Revolutions In 1848.

The crystal palace in London housed the exposition of 1851, the first worlds fair. Gaslight provided illumination and public toilets were installed. The machinery on exhibit captured the attention and imagination of observers and the exhibition represented the ascendancy of the British constitution, free trade and manufacturing. Britain was a model liberal state with a constitutional monarchy and the success of this form of government was reflected in its prosperity.

France too was now entering the industrial age and so too was Russia. France was a highly centralized empire with Napoleon III determined to bring economic progress through the strong involvement of the state. Following a disastrous war against Prussia the empire fell and was replaced by the third republic, a liberal regime with weak authority.

Russia remained an autocracy; the Tsar had absolute power but a bad bureaucratic system and the impossibility of reaching across the empire. Russian nobles dominated the peasants and Russia had no representative political system and only a tiny middle class. Tsar Alexander II emancipated the peasants in 1861 but this move failed to have any significant impact on the autocratic nature of the Russian empire. However, Russia was transformed by new ideas and opponents of autocratic authority and, like France, the unification of Germany had serious consequences for Russia.

Queen Victoria married German Prince Albert and had a maternal image in Britain and its colonies. Albert was a bit of a scatterbrain who relentlessly interfered with national and international affairs and thus irritated the government but Victoria’s dedication to him sparked some anti-German feeling in Britain. Albert organized the great exposition of 1851 in London and the massive affair offered hope for continued peace and prosperity in Europe through innovation and technological advancement. It was a celebration of the industrial age but also a demonstration of English ‘God given’ primacy in manufacturing and innovation.

Albert died of typhoid in 1861 and Victoria was devastated. She retreated for some years but re-emerged to provide a focal point for a nation in the midst of transformation. She knew little about the lives of her subjects and showed little support for workers or for education of working classes. She was the personification of respectability.

The Victorian Consensus formed around the capitalist entrepreneurial ethic emphasizing self-reliance and faith in progress. The individual demonstrated his moral worth by hard work and competition would determine those who were fit to rule, not aristocratic monopoly or unearned privilege. Darwin’s newly published ‘survival of the fittest theory’  in The Origin Of The Species implied that the natural order of things would eliminate the unfit and this was good news for confident Victorians but not for religion. The theory suggests that the state should stand back and let individuals alone to compete on the playing field of life.

Religious images and references permeated Victorian social and political discourse. Entrepreneurs believed they were doing Gods work. Many middle class Victorians wanted to make the lower classes more moral, temperance movements proliferated and charitable movements such as the Salvation Army began its work, offering assistance to those who would participate in religious revival services.

In 1854 Britain found itself involved in a major war that ended the long peace since 1815. Britain entered the Crimean war to support the Turks against Russia. The Russians wanted control over the Straits of Constantinople, which divide Europe from Asia and could provide the Russian navy with access to the Aegean and Mediterranean seas. In the Ottoman Empire, rulers had undertaken a series of major reforms of the empire in a period known as ‘Reorganization’ that lasted from 1839 to 1878. The life and property of all subjects of the empire and their equality before the law started the process of change. Establishment of penal and commercial codes, reform of justice, implementation of more central governments thus reducing the powers of governors through the action of a more efficient bureaucracy, followed these. These reforms pleased Britain and France because Ottoman markets were now open to foreign trade and furthermore the stability of the Ottoman Empire tempered Russian dreams of further expansion. With interests in Afghanistan, Britain was not disposed to Russian expansion and increased British trade with the Turks was another factor for British involvement in the Crimean war.

The Ottoman Empire declared war on Russia in October 1853 and Russian Tsar Nicholas I’s fleet defeated the Ottoman fleet in the Black Sea and in response France and Britain sent warships in 1854 and declared war on Russia. The first correspondents sent dispatches by telegraph to eager readers in Britain and France, where interest in the distant siege dramatically increased newspaper circulation. Into this maelstrom ventured Florence Nightingale, a nurse who volunteered for service in a Constantinople hospital. She had heard of the appalling conditions endured by the wounded and sick. The Crimean war ground to a halt after Sebastopol finally capitulated in September 1855. The Crimean war left little doubt that Victorian Britain remained Europe’s strongest power.

Britain entered a period of social harmony. The repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 convinced workers that they could trust political reform and middle class rulers broadened their appeal to include the most prosperous segments of the working class. Victorians felt themselves part of a nation with which they could identify. The formation of friendship societies and self-help associations gave citizens an enhanced feeling of association with the nation. They gave a sense of respectability, which discouraged militancy. Unions also had a big part to play in daily life. Strikes were tolerated but there was always a willingness to arbitrate but never any threat to national security. The Whigs governed for most of the 1850s and 1860s and was led by Henry John Temple who held together a government determined to uphold laissez faire economic policies. Gradually these Whigs began to be referred to as The Liberal Party. William Gladstone led the Liberal Party but was loathed by Queen Victoria who blamed him for every national and international problem. She resented his campaign to limit the role of the monarchy in government.

On-going reform was a certainty in Victorian Britain. Gladstone wanted limited reform of male suffrage and sought voting rights for the ‘elite of labor’ but not all males. The Conservatives feared that such enfranchisement would add to the ranks of Liberals, which would weaken the strength of landowners, and after some negotiation, the Reform Bill of 1867 was passed and doubled the ranks of voters but still left Britain short of universal male suffrage. However, Britain was leading the way in the gradual emergence of democratic politics. In Britain, the consensus was that the invisible hand of the economy would generate economic growth. However, in the midst of rampant poverty Parliament passed laws to gather information about economic and social conditions. The age of statistics had arrived. In 1848, the General Board of Health was formed but there was some opposition about interfering with the work of the invisible hand. Nevertheless, the right of the state to intervene in the matter of health was established and working conditions, homes, and general health issues became the focus of major concern. Health Boards were established, water supplies cleaned, workplaces inspected, and the age of optimism became the age of improvement. Civil service expanded as thousands of new jobs were created to administer the will of national and local governments. The age of laissez faire ended as politics expanded its role in economic and social affairs.

Under Liberal expansion threat, the Conservatives leader Benjamin Disraeli made British nationalism and imperialism party of the party platform. The Conservative Party was reflecting an important change in British society. The split between city and country had disappeared as more and more ‘elite’ prospered due to a thriving economy. This new elite abandoned Liberalism and transferred allegiance to Conservatism to emulate the aristocrats they admired. The party became a party of great landed wealthy supporters.

Liberals continued to be faced with the problems of Ireland. It seemed to Irish people that the only way to prosperity was by owning land and the Irish Land Act Of 1870 provided tenants with compensation for improvements they had undertaken and protected them from eviction. English Landlords were not willing to turn over land to peasants and the fall in prices for agricultural commodities made it harder for tenant farmers to meet rent payments. In 1879, the Irish Land League began to pressure Parliament for land reform. Charles Stewart Parnell, a liberal Irish Protestant, began to campaign for Irish Home Rule which meant a separate Irish Parliament but not independence. The Irish Catholic Church supported Home Rule but the Irish Land League wanted absolute independence and nothing short of it. Parnell was sent to prison for his violent anti British speeches and the British response to the Irish question was repression and aggression. Irish Republicans had become violent by 1882 and in the wake of numerous British deaths; a Coercion Act facilitated the British Governments repression of republicans by eliminating their rights. Numerous Home Rules Bills were either defeated or failed up to 1893 and the question seemed unanswerable.

Victoria’s dignified reign symbolized social and political stability. When King Edward VII, her son, inherited the throne, his reign could not have been more different. Edward ‘the Caresser’ indulged his extravagant tastes in beautiful women, horses, food, wine and gambling. The Conservatives returned to power in 1895 and were aggressively nationalistic, imperialistic and anti socialist. British trade unionism entered a more aggressive phase and a new militant ‘new unionism’ led workers onto the streets to protest against unemployment and the high cost of living. Hundreds of thousands of militant workers were on the march all over Britain and the growing influence of the unions was immediately apparent. The state went on the offensive and started to penalize unions for losses during strikes. This move led to the creation of the Labour Party in 1893 that vowed to represent workers in Parliament. In 1905, the Labour Party had 25 seats and subsequently picketing was legalized and unions were relieved of responsibility for financial losses caused by strikes. David Lloyd George was a rising Liberal who had come to public attention due to his opposition to the Boer War. He wanted to counteract the movement of workers to the Labour Party by bringing workers into an alliance that would support Liberal social and political reforms. He proposed super taxes on the wealthy but the bill was vetoed in 1909 and an election was called and the Liberals returned to power.

Irish Home Rule was becoming inevitable as national sentiment led to more Gaelic speakers, more attention to Irish culture and music and less attention to British influences. Romantic writes such as Yeats and Joyce wrote about Ireland’s freedom and instilled in the nation’s people a sense of patriotism that inspired a relentless campaign for liberation from British rule. Irish Protestants living in Ulster did not want Home Rule, which they identified with Catholic ‘Rome Rule’, and in 1913, they formed a paramilitary army of volunteers to fight the cause. At the same time, an Irish Republican Army was formed and old wounds were reopened. Ireland appeared to be on the verge of Civil War. Nevertheless, there were greater European problems than Ireland for the British Government.

Autocratic Russia was now an absolutist state based on the alliance of the Tsar and nobles. The large Russian empire was multinational and ethnic Russians represented only half of the population. Ethnic resistance to the empire and to the Orthodox Church increasingly challenged Russian domination. Since the ill-fated Decembrist uprising of 1825 Russia had seen no major reforms with the exception of emancipation of serfs in the 1840s. The structure of the state remained the same but liberal ideas from the west had begun to filter into Russia via intellectuals. Peasants remained bound to the land by property owners and were alienated from society as no more than the mules that carried the burden of nobility. Revolution was perceived as inevitable as serfdom, not only inhumane, but also inefficient and thus the Tsar realized that Russia could only compete with the west if reform were to take place.

Serfs lived under threat of harsh punishment if they failed to obey the ruling classes. The intelligentsia believed that revolution was the only way to change the social structure. Nicholas I was obsessed with isolating Russia from western thinking, which he blamed for revolutionary ideas. The revolutions of 1848 increased his determination to stifle dissent. Political police ‘The Third Section’ enforced stringent laws against rebellion but they found it impossible to patrol the colossal empire. The empire became saturated with revolutionary books and journals and the small intelligentsia started to advocate change and its inevitability. Even Russian literature advocated change and writers like Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy were composing thinly disguised books declaring the necessity for change from the old regime. Cultural backwardness was perceived by many writers as the reason why Russia was held back in terms of progress from the modern age of industrial and political progress. Socialism was a lady in existence in Russia because the rural communities, the small towns and villages, we’re already socialist in nature in that the people were a community of equals in the face of autocratic and noble exploitation.

In 1861, the serfs were emancipated and this was the most ambitious reform in Russia in the 19th Century. Alexander II was shocked at Russian defeat in the Crimean War and decided that emancipation of the peasants would mean Russia could compete with the West. Serfs had joined the Russian army in the run up to the Crimean War believing they would be freed when they came home and peasant rebellions became widespread as intellectuals denounced serfdom and demand freedom for serfs before they rose up to attain it themselves; an action that would have violent consequences for the Tsar. In 1861, Russia became the last state in Europe to denounce serfdom and serfs received land through the commune and nobles were compensated and the serfs were disappointed by the arrangement because it meant that while they owned the land they remained owned by the property owners because the serfs had to pay high taxes. Former serfs were like hostages to their own communities who in turn had to pay the high taxes. Peasants needed permission to work elsewhere and flocked to the cities, which grew rapidly.

In Russia, the serfs were freed without bloodshed while in America (1861-1865) it took civil war to free the slaves. Unlike the American southern landed elite who went to war in defence of slavery the Russian nobility capitulated without resistance to emancipation. Americans considered private property more of an absolute right than did even Russian nobles who just wanted to extract services from peasants. More reforms followed the elimination of corrupt politicians, the setting up of regional assemblies (Zemstvos) and Dumas (Councils) with authority to access taxes and organize public services and education. The Tsar also introduced regional and lower courts as well as public trial by jury. In all this reform, the Tsar did not intend to create any kind of national representative institution that would undercut his authority. Russian reform had its limits.

Revolts in Poland in 1863 where a national government was proclaimed and then crushed by Russian troops demonstrated that the Tsar would crack down by punishing severely any dissident states. Poland was turned into a province with an illusion of autonomy ended. Poland felt the effect of the repression even in Prussia where the government forbade sale of lands to clergy and Catholics. In the Balkan states, Pan-Slavism (a movement aimed at promoting the interests and unity of all Slavs) was an ideology that was gaining momentum. It proclaimed that all Slavs were in the same family and thus had nationalistic ideals. All across the Ottoman Empire pan-Slavism was on the increase and peasants were rebelling against high taxes and military presence and these insurgencies ultimately led to Wars in which the Ottoman Empire were defeated and forced to sign

The Treaty of San Stefano (1878) with Russia, which led to European wide concern at the expansion of Russian territory. Bismarck presided at the Congress of Berlin (1878) in which a new map of Europe was drawn. Russian expansion was starting to impinge on British interests near India, the gem of its empire. The Russian empire now included one-seventh of the worlds land mass and the movement east caused some concern and eventual conflict with China. However, the Chinese were powerless against Russian might but this was not the case with Japan.

Revolutionaries replaced the conscience stricken gentry of Russian autocracy. They were convinced that one spark would ignite a full-blown revolution and thus many small groups revolted. Nihilists (sceptics) rejected materialist doctrines of the West and considered the Orthodox Church as a tool of oppression. They saw in Russian masses an untapped revolutionary force that should be provoked to rise up against oppression. Nihilists believed in the power of literature and that violence was an acceptable way to achieve their goals.

Anarchists rejected the very existence of the state and quarrelled with socialists who wanted not to destroy the state but take it over. The Populists developed the doctrines of enlightened thinkers and drew their support from circles of intellectuals and upper class Russians, former conscience stricken gentry and wanted to cause revolution by teaching the peasants. A wave of strikes had hit Russia and most believed that revolution was no longer in question and it was only a matter of when?

Numerous assassination attempts on Alexander II managed to placate him and he disbanded the Third Section, dismissed unpopular politicians, and announced the formation of a new consultative assembly. Nevertheless, it was too late and assassins managed to eliminate him in 1881. However, it was not to be the spark that would ignite any disturbance least of all a revolution. Millions of his supporters had mourned him. Following his father’s assassination Alexander III was in no mood to contemplate liberalization of imperial institutions. Liberals were closely scrutinized and stricter controls were put into place. The police could arrest and imprison anyone without reason but the ensuing trials of such prisoners brought about open discussion on the unfairness of the system towards the commoners. Meanwhile the empire was expanding and now comprised of 200 nationalities who spoke 146 languages. Alexander ordered the ‘Russification’ of the states and demanded that Russian be taught in all schools. The Orthodox churchman he had campaigns against non-orthodox religions and new laws enforced restrictions against Jews. Russification was nationalism under a new name.

The population of Russia were mostly poor. They were also badly educated yet literacy was not a major problem and most people found comfort in books and literature. The Industrialization of Europe was beginning to have an impact in Russia and business people started to rethink the older ways and saw the prospect of international trade as a means of progress instead of through violence and revolution. New revolutionary groups still believed the autocracy incapable of reformation and only revolution would bring reform. Marxists held the view that peasants had no true revolutionary potential in view of the fact that they seemed oblivious to their impossible living conditions and apparently accepting them as unavoidable for so many centuries. By 1900, the police had quashed most revolutionary groups and deported leaders into exile in Siberia and so, at the turn of the 20th Century it was commonly believed that revolution would never come to Russia.

Lenin was a political activist and academic who was banished to Siberia and returned in 1900 and by 1902 he published his work ‘What Is To Be Done?’ which was to become the basic tenets of a new revolutionary party. He rejected all compromise with liberals and believed that only a small few workers, alongside intellectuals, could succeed in directing the masses toward revolution. Lenin and his followers were known as Bolsheviks (Majority) and their rivals known as Mensheviks (Minority). The Menshevik believed that given sufficient time the bourgeois would revolt and the proletarians would enjoy the spoils in time to come and all that was needed now was to teach the lower orders through propaganda that this was how things were going to be.

The Russian Empire lurched toward war with Japan. Russia viewed the expansion of Japanese interests in the Far East with concern. In 1904, Japanese torpedo boats launched on attack on a Russian fleet at Port Arthur and in 1905 Japanese troops defeated the Russians in the bloody battle of Mukden where, for the first time ever, two armies faced each other across trenches dug for protection. Two months later, the Japanese pounced again and sunk nineteen Russian ships. Clearly, from these events it was obvious that the Russian army was poorly commanded and fought with outdated artillery and rifles. American President Theodore Roosevelt arranged a treaty and Japan took control of Korea and a new world imperial power was born.

A murderous famine in 1891-1892 was blamed on government inaction and had captured the world’s attention. The peasants revolted and attacked the nobility and a wave of industrial strike followed. The shocking defeats of the Russo-Japanese war increased calls for liberal reform. For the first time liberals and socialists neither Bolsheviks nor Mensheviks, came together n common opposition to autocracy. In January 1905, a strike by 100,000 workers brought St. Petersburg to a halt while in Warsaw a general strike brought violence and reprisals by troops. On January 22nd, troops blocked protestors marching to the Tsar’s Winter Palace and after gunfire over 300 protestors had lost their lives. The actions reinforced the view that the Tsar was unholy and willing to murder and maim dissidents. Socialist Revolutionaries commenced a campaign of terror and all over Russia; the peasants went on the attack. Orders organized unions and newspapers appeared in open defiance to censorship laws. Nicholas relented and appointed a new prime minister to quell the disorder and Sergei Witte was eager to make Russia a modern state and this could only be achieved through reforms. He persuaded Nicholas to rescind redemption payments, to allow use of all native tongues regardless of geographical location, to allow religious tolerance, to return trials to courts and to abolish some restrictions on Jews. Most importantly, the Duma assembly chosen by universal male suffrage was formed and the press were given freedom of expression.

These new reforms came as a big surprise to many but also bad news to state officials and nobles who deemed them unacceptable. However, The Soviets still felt that these changes were not enough and in a violent uprising in Moscow in 1905 many workers were arrested and the leaders were removed to exile and Soviets condemned and denied rights of congregation. A new organization of fanatical Russian nationalists known as The Black Hundreds went to rage war against the reformation and murdered hundreds of Jews, injured 5000 and left twice that number homeless. The protestors earned the praise of the Tsar who praised the ‘mass of loyal people’ who had struck out against ‘troublemakers’. Jews could be conveniently blamed for agitating against autocratic rule.

Meanwhile, the Duma debated land reform and Nicholas II demanded complete cooperating with his desires of an independent State Council with members drawn from loyal subjects willing to carry out his bidding. Witte would not agree and he was removed and the Duma dissolved. The revolution of 1905 ended in failure but heightened the divisions among exiled Russian socialists. It was clear that revolution was possible but next time around, it should be as Marxist demanded; workers and peasants unite.

A second Duma was elected and soon dissolved by Nicholas II and he then changed the rules of election by giving nobles a greater power of vote and the third Duma was more to his liking because his supporters had control and endorsed repression and Russification. New lands became available in Siberia (just as in the American West) and peasants moved there with the promise of free land. A new surge of industrial strikes and peasant violence demonstrated continued popular dissatisfaction.

France remained Europe’s most revolutionary country. Louis Napoleon Bonaparte completed his destruction of the Second Republic in 1851, three years after the revolting of 1848. He then proclaims himself Napoleon III with the support of the upper classes and many peasants. During the second republic, wealthy businesspersons became a form of aristocracy and money was the equivalent of blue blood. France was the only country with universal male suffrage and the emperor promoted economic growth, encouraged urban development, created banking institutions, and constructed more railways. Napoleon III initiated the ‘liberal empire’ and encouraged and endorsed a series of liberal reforms.

Ministers were responsible to the Emperor who alone could propose legislation. The state clamped down on political opposition, suppressed press freedom, and sponsored ‘official’ candidates for election. The clergy remained grateful that during the second republic Napoleon III had returned education to them. French economic growth was rapid. The state had taken a direct role in stimulating the economy through encouragement and investment. Napoleon III encouraged the creation of state banks, which provided loans to businesspersons. French industries were also prospering and underwent unprecedented growth. France became a major exporter of capital and French investors financed railway systems across Europe. State encouragement of economic development was most obvious in its railway systems. Banks backed railway projects and these, in turn, stimulated the countries commercial and manufacturing boom. French railroads became one of the largest employers in Europe.

France and Britain signed a liberal trade agreement n 1860 lowering tariff barriers between both nations. The treaty provided a sliding scale on import duties, which aided wine producers selling n Britain. In time Press controls were relaxed and the National Assembly given the right to approve budgets. Napoleon III aligned France to Piedmont-Sardinia in a war with Austria and the French army defeated the Austrians and France gained Savoy and Nice, both long coveted. Further wars in Senegal, Lebanon, and Indochina were fought but in Mexico, a disaster struck. Napoleon believed that Mexico could be profitable for French exports and sent troops there and order was restored. In 1864 Napoleon proclaimed Austrian Archduke Maximilian as emperor of Mexico and the United States objected on the basis that it was a violation of the Monroe Doctrine which declared the western hemisphere off limits to European powers. The Mexicans did not want an Austrian ruler and patriots defeated French troops and Maximilian was executed. To the end, Napoleon III manifested a bizarre combination of perceptive foresight and bad judgement.

Through the first half of 1870, a confrontational fever with Germany spread throughout France. On July 15, Emperor Napoleon III led his nation into one of the most disastrous wars in her history. The Franco-Prussian conflict did not officially commence until July 19, 1870. In the course of its first weeks, it produced a series of demoralizing defeats for the French. The army of Napoleon III “went to war ill-equipped, badly led, trained, and organized, and with inferior numbers.” On August 19, one French army was trapped in the fortress of Metz and on September 1, the Empire of Napoleon III came crushing down when a second army was captured at Sedan with the Emperor himself. Three days later the news reached Paris and the fall of the Empire was proclaimed. The Empress left for England and a provisional government took power.

For the next five months, the “city of lights,” as Parisians had proudly proclaimed “the centre of the universe,” was transformed. It became an army camp. French soldiers, National Guardsmen and volunteers on the inside, Prussian forces on the outside. Luxuries and then basic necessities slowly disappeared. Food became scarce, and the inhabitants resorted to edibles normally associated with other species. The government under General Trochu and leaders like Victor Hugo, Jules Favre, and Adolphe Thiers, tried to govern internal as well as external pressures. Finally, on January 27, an armistice was signed. It brought temporary calm to the capital, before the storm of the Paris commune and the second siege arrived.

The new government in Paris, after the defeat at Sedan, was composed in part by publicists, politicians, lawyers, and teachers who had opposed Louis Napoleon’s coup d’état in 1851. “The Government of National Defence” was the official title, and nearly all kinds of political opinions were included, with the exception of the Bonapartists. The actual power rested with the Legitimists, Orleanists, and other conservatives. General Trochu, military governor of Paris and an Orleanist, held the presidency. Others included Leon Gambetta-minister of the Interior, General Le Flo- Minister for War, Jules Favre-Minister of Foreign Affairs and vice-president, Victor Hugo, Count Henri Rochefort-journalist and political enemy of Napoleon III who spent many years in prison, and Adolphe Thiers-the old minister of Louis Phillipe who went on diplomatic missions for the new republic.

Besides the day-to-day operation of the government, the three main objectives of the Government of National Defence were the procurement of a favourable peace treaty, enlistment of the aid of foreign powers, and the military preparation of Paris. The first objective got off to a bad start on September 6 when Jules Favre announced, “France would not give up an inch of her territory or a stone of her fortresses”. This attitude went counter to that of Otto Von Bismarck, Chancellor of Germany, who saw the cession of territory as being as indispensable to the Prussians as it was inadmissible to the French. Bismarck demanded the immediate turnover of Alsace-Lorraine as well as Metz, Strasbourg, and Mont-Valerien (the fortress commanding Paris). Bismarck’s proposals were rejected and the government was forced to defend the city and continue the war. Negotiations continued; however, nothing concrete came out of them until the end of January when Jules Favre was sent to Versailles to discuss the terms of armistice. By this time Paris had been bombarded, food and other essential stores were nearly exhausted, and Prussian victories throughout the rest of France were a daily occurrence. The armistice was to set up the preliminary conditions for a peace treaty to be signed. Its terms included the surrender of all French fortifications, except those serving as prisons; laying down their weapons with the exception of the Army, which was to act independently for the maintenance of order, the immediate exchange of prisoners, and Paris was to pay 200,000,000 francs for war reparations within a fortnight. In addition, anyone leaving the city needed a French military pass.

Back in September, the French government began pursuing the second objective, acquiring foreign aid, when Thiers was sent to England, Austria, and Russia to enlist help. He was sympathetically welcomed, but was unable to shore up any support. Only America showed enthusiasm for the new French Republic; however, they were not yet ready to intervene on their behalf. Thiers tried again in October with the same results. From this point on, he was used solely as the representative of the French government in the on-going negotiations with Bismarck. Prior to the investment of Paris, the provisional government made efforts to prepare the military forces of the city. These efforts included labor allocations, defensive fortification, and supplies. Troops were brought back from the surrounding provinces. General Vinoy’s forces, which escaped capture at Sedan, were later consolidated with those of the provinces. Together they became the Provincial Mobile Guard. Meanwhile the National Guard furnished sufficient labor to increase its size from 90,000 to more than 300,000 men.

Another aspect of the military preparation was the establishment of strong defensive fortifications. The forts near Paris were abandoned because it would have required too much work and time to get them ready, and the decision was made to move the defensive lines closer to the city’s environs. All forests and wooded areas deemed favourable to enemy advantage were cut. Thus, the forests of Montmorency, Bundy, Boulogne, and Vincennes were treated. The allocation of supplies was vital to the defence of Paris. Barracks, hospitals, and factories for the manufacture of military hardware were established all over the city. Railway shops became cannon foundries, while tobacco factories became arsenals. The Louvre was transformed into an armament shop after the art gallery was moved for safekeeping. Balloons were constructed at the Orleans railway stations. Hotels, department stores, theatres, and public buildings served as hospitals. The Tuileries and the Napoleon and Empress Circuses became barracks. When in action, all the forces were under the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and subject to military law. Most of these actions centered on small sorties, unassumingly called “reconnaissance.” In late September 1870, the objects of the sorties were to test the tenacity of the troops and probe the Prussian circle to determine its vulnerability.

As for the Prussians, once the city was surrounded and more troops made available for the siege, the question was whether to bombard the capital or starve it into surrender. In his diary entry for October 8, Crown Prince Frederick states, “we shall certainly have to make up our minds to a bombardment of Paris… but to postpone as long as possible their actual accomplishment, for I count definitely on starving out the city.” The bombardment did not begin until January 4. The arrival of the shelling did not panic the Parisians. They had been expecting it since October. Precautions were taken to protect all works of art. Sandbags were placed in the windows of the Louvre, the School of Fine Arts and other important buildings, while outside monuments were taken underground. The bombardment lasted twenty-three days, usually from two to five hours each night. In the end, the Parisians refused to be intimidated and the psychological advantage of this tactic was lost.

The siege of Paris slowly made its impact in an area critical to survival: the economy. According to a correspondent for The Times of London, “Business for France is everywhere broken up, and one-third of the country is devastated and ruined.” The first segment to feel the enclosure was the import and export activity. In order to survive, Paris needed a self-supporting economy, while also channelling most of its resources for the defence. Factories were now employed in making military necessities, instead of consumer goods. When the siege dragged on, the prospects for a speedy recovery evaporated and finally gave out completely when the bombardment began as some of those factories, in conjunction with other businesses, were damaged. The Prussians might not have been purposely inclined to destroy the French economy, except in one particular area: food consumption.

The government’s failure to establish a census system early during the siege caused it to miscalculate on its supply of comestibles, playing into the hands of the invaders. The census did not take place until December 30 and it was discovered that Paris contained a population of 2,005,709 residents excluding the armed forces. The government however, did ask foreigners to leave, but the number who did was offset by the arrival of refugees from the provinces. This number of inhabitants and the Prussian encirclement had disastrous consequences.

Early in 1870, the price of food had increased and by the start of the Franco-Prussian conflict was 25 per cent higher. Prices did not go much higher because the government announced the number of cattle, sheep, and hogs within Paris to be adequate. However, everyone, even the government, believed the siege would last a very short time, perhaps a maximum of two months. The situation did not change until the early days of October.

A few days before October 15, butchers suddenly refused to sell more than a day’s ration. On October 15, the official rationing of meat began and continued throughout the entire siege, each portion becoming smaller and smaller. Eventually, nothing was left and Parisians resorted to other types of meat. The first substitute for the regular meat diet was horse. Parisians disdained it, at first, and it took the Horse-Eating Society to inform the public of the advantages to eating horse. When it finally came down to eating them, all breeds were included, from thoroughbred to mules. With time, even this type of nourishment became rare, so other meats were introduced into the diet. Dogs, cats, and rats were frequently eaten. The animals of the zoo were added to this diet, including Castor and Pollux, the two elephants that were the pride of Paris. Only the lions, tigers, and monkeys were spared, the big cats for the difficulty of approaching them, the monkeys because of “some vague Darwinian notion that they were the relatives of the people of Paris and eating them would be tantamount to cannibalism.”

During the middle of January, the government placed bread on the ration list, setting the daily quota at 300 grams for adults and half that amount for children. Parisians then realized that they were on the verge of starvation. As for the Prussians, this meant a quick solution to the conflict as Frederick III writes on his diary entry for January 7, “There is news from Bordeaux that provisions in Paris would be exhausted about the end of January, and at best could only last until early in February. I trust this may be true.” The terrible ordeal suffered by Paris during the period 1870-1871 and was not their first, according to a German newspaper story reprinted in The Times. In 1590, Henry IV stood before Paris much like Bismarck was doing, and the city knew nothing worse. According to the story, the people of Paris forgot what meat was and they had to subsist on leaves or roots dug up from under stones. Terrible diseases broke out and in three months, 12,000 people died. Bread no longer existed while all the dogs were captured and eaten. The maledictions associated with siege warfare were no strangers to Parisians; however, the peace treaty with Germany brought needed relief before the arrival of the Paris Commune with its own set of trials and tribulations.

The Paris Commune, the first successful worker’s revolution, existed from March 26 to May 30, 1871. Following the defeat of France (ruled at the time by Louis Bonaparte) in the Franco-Prussian war in 1871, the Government of National Defence concluded the war with the Germans on harsh terms – namely the occupation of Paris, which had heroically withstood a six months siege by the German armies. Paris workers reacted angrily to German occupation, and refused to cooperate with the German soldiers; being so bold as to limit the area of German occupation to only a few parks in a small corner of the city, and keeping a very watchful eye over the German soldiers to ensure that they not cross those boundaries. On March 18, the new French government, led by Thiers, having gained the permission of Germany, sent its army into Paris to capture the military arms within the city to insure that the Paris workers would not be armed and resist the Germans. The Paris workers peacefully refused to allow the French Army to capture the weapons, and as a result, the French Government of “National Defence” declared War on the city of Paris. On March 26, 1871, in a wave of popular support, a municipal council composed of workers and soldiers – the Paris Commune – was elected. Throughout France support rapidly spread to the workers of Paris, a wildfire that was quickly and brutally stamped out by the government. The workers of Paris, however, would be another problem. Within Paris, the first workers government was being created.

On March 26, the Paris Commune was elected and on March 28, it was proclaimed. The Central Committee of the National Guard, which up to then had carried on the government, handed in its resignation to the National Guard, after it had first decreed the abolition of the scandalous Paris “Morality Police.” On March 30, the Commune abolished conscription and the standing army, and declared that the National Guard, in which all citizens capable of bearing arms were to be enrolled, was to be the sole armed force. It remitted all payments of rent for dwelling houses from October 1870 until April; the amounts already paid to be reckoned to a future rental period, and stopped all sales of article pledged in the municipal pawnshops. On the same day, the foreigners elected to the Commune were confirmed in office, because “the flag of the Commune is the flag of the World Republic.”

On April 1, it was decided that the highest salary received by any employee of the Commune, and therefore also by its members themselves, might not exceed 6,000 francs. On the following day the Commune decreed the separation of the Church from the State, and the abolition of all state payments for religious purposes as well as the transformation of all Church property into national property. As a result of this, on April 8, a decree excluding from the schools all religious symbols, pictures, dogmas, prayers – in a word, “all that belongs to the sphere of the individual’s conscience” – was ordered to be excluded from the schools, and this decree was gradually applied. Soon in reply to the shooting of the Commune’s fighters captured by the Versailles troops, a decree was issued for imprisonment of hostages, but it was never carried into effect. Soon the guillotine was brought out by the 137th battalion of the National Guard, and publicly burnt, amid great popular rejoicing. On the 12th, the Commune decided that the Victory Column on the Place Vendôme, which had been cast from guns captured by napoleon after the war of 1809, should be demolished as a symbol of chauvinism and incitement to national hatred. This decree was carried out on May 16. On April 16, the Commune ordered a statistical tabulation of factories, which had been closed down by the manufacturers, and the working out of plans for the carrying on of these factories by workers formerly employed in them, who were to be organized in co-operative societies, and also plans for the organization of these co-operatives in one great union. On the 20th the Commune abolished night work for bakers, and also the workers’ registration cards, which since the Second Empire had been run as a monopoly by police nominees – exploiters of the first rank; the issuing of these registration cards was transferred to the mayors of the 20 arrondissements of Paris. On April 30, the Commune ordered the closing of the pawnshops, on the ground that they were a private exploitation of labor, and were in contradiction with the right of the workers to their instruments of labor and to credit. On May 5, it ordered the demolition of the Chapel of Atonement, which had been built in expiation of the execution of Louis XVI.

Less than three months after the Commune was elected, the city of Paris was attacked by the strongest army the French government could muster. Thirty thousand unarmed workers were massacred, shot by the thousands in the streets of Paris. Thousands more were arrested and 7,000 were exiled forever from France. On April 7, the Versailles troops had captured the Seine crossing at Neuilly, on the western front of Paris; on the other hand, in an attack on the southern front on the 11th they were repulsed with heavy losses by General Eudes. Paris was continually bombarded and, moreover, by the very people who had stigmatized as a sacrilege the bombardment of the same city by the Prussians. These same people now begged the Prussian government for the hasty return of the French soldiers taken prisoner at Sedan and Metz, in order that they might recapture Paris for them. From the beginning of May, the gradual arrival of these troops gave the Versailles forces a decided ascendancy. This already became evident when, on April 23, Thiers broke off the negotiations for the exchange, proposed by Commune, of the Archbishop of Paris (Georges Darboy) and a whole number of other priests held hostages in Paris, for only one man, Blanqui, who had twice been elected to the Commune but was a prisoner in Clairvaux. In addition, even more in the changed language of Thiers; previously procrastinating and equivocal, he now suddenly became insolent, threatening, and brutal. The Versailles forces took the redoubt of Moulin Saquet on the southern front, on May 3; on May 9th, Fort Issy, which had been completely reduced to ruins by gunfire; and on the 14th, Fort Vanves. On the western front they advanced gradually, capturing the numerous villages and buildings, which extended up to the city wall, until they reached the main wall itself; on the 21st, thanks to treachery and the carelessness of the National Guards stationed there, they succeeded in forcing their way into the city. The Prussians who held the northern and eastern forts allowed the Versailles troops to advance across the land north of the city, which was forbidden ground to them under the armistice, and thus to march forward and attack on a long front, which the Parisians naturally thought covered by the armistice, and therefore held only with weak forces. As a result of this, only a weak resistance was put up in the western half of Paris, in the luxury city proper; it grew stronger and more tenacious the nearer the incoming troops approached the eastern half, the real working class city.

It was only after eight days’ fighting that the last defender of the Commune were overwhelmed on the heights of Belleville and Menilmontant; and then the massacre of defenceless men, women, and children, which had been raging all through the week on an increasing scale, reached its zenith. The breech-loaders could no longer kill fast enough; the vanquished workers were shot down in hundred by Mitrailleuse fire (over 30,000 citizens of Paris were massacred). The “Wall of the Federals” (aka Wall of the Communards) at the Pere Lachaise cemetery, where the final mass murder was consummated, is still standing today, a mute but eloquent testimony to the savagery of which the ruling class is capable as soon as the working class dares to come out for its rights. Then came the mass arrests (38,000 workers arrested); when the slaughter of them all proved to be impossible, the shooting of victims arbitrarily selected from the prisoners’ ranks, and the removal of the rest to great camps where they awaited trial by courts-martial. The Prussian troops surrounding the northern half of Paris had orders not to allow any fugitives to pass. However, the officers often shut their eyes when the soldiers paid more obedience to the dictates of humanity than to those of the General Staff. Particular honour is due to the Saxon army corps, which behaved very humanely and let through many workers who were obviously fighters for the Commune.

The national assembly elected in 1871 had a monarchist majority but the people of France wanted a republic. Gradually the third republic took hold and by 1899, it was radical. The Bourbon pretender to the throne of France was the Count of Chambord and his was the old Bourbon royal line. The close association between monarchism and the Catholic Church and Leon Gambetta, a radical republican, opposed the political dominion of the ‘notables’, the wealthiest men in France. Thiers had resigned under monarchist pressure in 1873 and Prussian troops marched out of France after the French government paid off its war debts. The monarchists seeing their majority eroding in the National Assembly elected as President Marshal MacMahon, a Crimean war hero, who favoured monarchist restoration. The new government of ‘moral order’ was closely tied to the church, suppressed freedom of press, closed hundreds of cafes (meeting places for radicals and liberals), and banned public celebration of the French Revolution on July 14th. For the moment, the government was a republic with monarchist political institutions. French voters returned republican candidates in two elections and MacMahon relented and resigned with his monarchist ideals left in tatters.

The French Third Republic was the governing body of France between the Second Empire and the Fourth Republic. It was a republican parliamentary democracy that was created on September 4, 1870 following the collapse of the Empire of Napoleon III in the Franco-Prussian War. It survived until the invasion of France by the German Third Reich in 1940. In many ways, an accidental and unloved republic stumbled from crisis to crisis before its final collapse. It was never intended to be a long-term republic at all. Napoleon III had become the second Emperor of France in 1852, following in the footsteps of his uncle Napoleon I. However, the French Second Empire lasted only eighteen years because of the emergence of another world power, one that was to transform the balance of power in Europe – the German Empire. Chancellor Bismarck of Prussia, who sought to bring his state to ascendancy in Germany, realized that if a German Empire was to be created, the French Empire, which would never tolerate a powerful neighbour at its borders, must fall. Through clever manipulation of the Ems Dispatch, Bismarck goaded France into the Franco-Prussian War, which led to the French emperor’s defeat and overthrow. After Napoleon’s capture by the Prussians at Sedan, France became a de facto conservative republic, although the revolutionary Paris Commune held out until its bloody suppression in May 1871.

In the aftermath of the collapse of the regime of Napoleon III, the clear majority of French people and the overwhelming majority of the French National Assembly wished to return to a constitutional monarchy. In 1871, the throne was offered to the Comte de Chambord, alias Henry V, the Legitimist pretender to the French throne since the abdication of Charles X, who had abdicated in favour of him, in 1830. Chambord, then a child, had had the throne snatched from his grasp in 1830.

In 1871, Chambord had no wish to be a constitutional monarch but a semi-absolutist one like his grandfather Charles X. Moreover – and this became the ultimate reason the restoration never occurred – he refused to reign over a state that used the Tricolour that was associated with the Revolution of 1789 and the July Monarchy of the man who seized the throne from him in 1830, the citizen-king, Louis Philippe, King of the French. However much France wanted a restored monarchy, it was unwilling to surrender its popular tricolour. Instead, a “temporary” republic was established, pending the death of the elderly childless Chambord and the succession of his more liberal heir, the Comte de Paris. In February 1875, a series of parliamentary Acts established the organic or constitutional laws of the new republic. At its apex was a President of the Republic. A two-chamber parliament was created, along with a ministry under a prime minister (named “President of the Council”) who was nominally answerable to both the President of the Republic and parliament. Throughout the 1870s, the issue of monarchy versus republic dominated public debate.

On May 16, 1877, with public opinion swinging heavily in favour of a republic, the President of the Republic, Patrice MacMahon, Duc de Magenta, himself a monarchist, made one last desperate attempt to salvage the monarchical cause by dismissing the republic-minded prime minister and appointing a monarchist duke to office. He then dissolved parliament and called a general election (October 1877). If his hope had been to halt the move towards republicanism, it backfired spectacularly, with the President being accused of having staged a constitutional coup d’état, known as le seize Mai after the date on which it happened.

Republicans returned triumphant, finally killing off the prospect of a restored French monarchy. MacMahon himself resigned on January 28, 1879, leaving a seriously weakened presidency, so weakened indeed that not until Charles de Gaulle eighty years later did another President of France unilaterally dissolve parliament. To mark the final end of French monarchism as a serious political force, in 1885 the French Crown Jewels were broken up and sold. Only a few crowns, their precious gems replaced by coloured glass, were kept.

Though France was clearly republican, it was not in love with its Third Republic. Governments collapsed with regularity, rarely lasting more than a couple of months, as radicals, socialists, liberals, conservatives, republicans and monarchists all fought for control. The Republic was also rocked by a series of crises, none more notorious that the Dreyfus Affair in 1894, when a Jewish officer in the French Army was wrongly jailed on charges of spying for Germany. This claim played on all the fears and perspectives of all sides. Monarchists and right-wing Roman Catholics, many of which were anti-Semitic, and in some cases blaming a “Jewish plot” for the triumph of republicanism, immediately attacked Dreyfus and refused to consider the possibility that he was innocent. Others on the left, still fighting the ‘monarchy versus republic’ battle, championed his cause, irrespective of his guilt or innocence. When it became clear that he was indeed innocent and the victim of a conspiracy, the state itself failed to accept his innocence straight away, and even when he was released from his exile, whispering campaigns still suggested he was actually guilty. In the aftermath of the affair, when the truth finally did come out, the reputations of monarchists and conservative Catholics, who had expressed unbridled anti-Semitism, were severely damaged. So too was the state by its unwillingness to right what had clearly been a major wrong visited on an innocent and loyal officer. Despite this turmoil, the midpoint of the Third Republic was known as the belle époque in France, a golden time of beauty, innovation, and peace with its European neighbours. New inventions made life easier at all social levels, the cultural scene thrived, cabaret, cancan, and the cinema were born, and art took new forms with Impressionism and Art Nouveau. However, the glory of this turn-of-the-century time period ended with the outbreak of World War 1.

Throughout its seventy-year history, the Third Republic stumbled from crisis to crisis, from collapsing governments to the appointment of a mentally ill president. It struggled through the German invasion of World War 1 and the inter-war years. When the Nazi invasion occurred in 1940, the Republic was so disliked by enemies on the right – who sought a powerful bulwark against Communism – and on the far left – where Communists initially followed their movement’s international line of refusing to defend “bourgeois” regimes – that few had the stomach to fight for its survival, even if they disapproved of German occupation of northern France and the collaborationist Vichy regime established in the south.

When France was finally liberated, few called for the restoration of the Third Republic, and a Constituent Assembly was established in 1946 to draft a constitution for a successor, established as the Fourth Republic that December. Adolphe Thiers, the first president of the Third Republic, called republicanism in the 1870s “the form of government that divides France least.” France might have agreed about being a republic, but it never fully agreed with the Third Republic. France’s longest lasting regime since before the 1789 revolution, the Third Republic was consigned to the history books, as unloved at the end as it had been when first created seventy years earlier. However, its longevity showed that it was capable of weathering many a storm.

On September 30, 1891 a distraught Frenchman, Georges Boulanger, a former general in the French army and a fugitive from French justice, committed suicide at the gravesite of his late mistress in the cemetery in Ixelles, Belgium. With this act the epic of Boulangism, the movement inspired by Boulanger that had quickly grown and quickly died, which had swept France and had nearly resulted in the death of the Third Republic and the establishment of a dictatorship, had come to an end. The movement that had grown around Boulanger’s name was perhaps the first of its kind, a combination of royalists, Bonapartists, Republicans, socialists, and Blanquists. If it resembles any movement in this strange mix of followers, it is Peronism, which was also able to attract followers from all ends of the political spectrum around the figure of a general. In addition, like Peronism, Boulangism was able to do this because it can justly be said of the man at the heart of it that, like Gertrude Stein’s Oakland, there was no there. It was able to do this, people of all political stripes were able to see Boulanger as one of their own, because the program of General Boulanger, published as a broadsheet in 1888 was full of empty phrases: “Boulanger is work,” “Boulanger is honesty,” “Boulanger is the people” … He called for a revision of the constitution, yet never said in what that revision would consist. His slogan of “dissolution, revision, a constituent assembly” repeated slogans that had been in the air for years. Yet, the vast movement that rallied around him and attracted followers from all classes, all professions, and all political beliefs nearly put an end to the republic. However, more significantly, in the words of the historian Zeev Sternhell in his “La Droite Révolutionnaire” (The Revolutionary Right), “Boulangism… was, in France, the place where and a certain form of non-Marxist, anti-Marxist, or already even a post-Marxist socialism were stitched together.” However, for Sternhell Boulangism goes even farther: The synthesis of the various currents that united behind the general included Blanquism, “which rose up against the bourgeois order [and] the nationalists [who rose up] against the political order that is its expression.” This amalgamation was to result in something far graver: “After the war this synthesis would bear the name fascism.” Therefore, we must ask who Georges Boulanger was and what precisely was Boulangism?

Georges Boulanger himself was a career military man who, in 1870, participated in the defence of Paris against the Prussians and who fought against the Commune. However, he was wounded in the fighting and did not participate in the massacres of ten of thousands of workers during the Bloody Week that ended the Commune. This fortuitous wound would allow him to obtain working class support that otherwise would have been denied him. In January 1886, at the recommendation of his high school classmate (and future political foe) Georges Clemenceau, Boulanger was named Minister of War in the Freycinet government, quickly moving to implement laws and regulations that earned him popular support. Forestalling any possibility of a coup, he transferred a group of royalist officers to posts distant from each other, and members of royal houses were expelled from the army. He also implemented seemingly minor reforms that earned him even greater popularity, authorizing the wearing of beards, modifying uniforms, and replacing straw mattresses with spring mattresses. In a presage of what was to come, and in what was to serve as a stage on his road to power, he re-established the Bastille Day review, and of greater importance still, he refused to send troops to crush a strike in the town of Decazeville.

At the first of the reviews, that of July 14, 1886, Boulanger received more applause than the president, Jules Grévy, and in another foreshadowing of what was to come, his presence at the review inspired the writing of a popular tune: “En r’venant d’la r’vue” (“While Goin’ Home From the Review”) At the height of his popularity the writing of songs about the man and the mass production of his image were hugely profitable industries. Boulanger firmed up his nationalist credentials by his role in the Schnaebelé Affair, in which French spy, Gustave Schnaebelé was seized by German authorities on French soil. The spy had been put to work by Boulanger as Minister of War without consulting with his colleagues, which caused disquiet in government circles. However, the spy ring had been established with an eye to recapturing the provinces lost in the Franco-Prussian war, which earned Boulanger the admiration of the revanchist right. Populism, nationalism, defence of the rights of workers; everything was in place for the birth of the movement that would bear the general’s name.

Boulanger’s popularity had become so bothersome to those in power that he was not only removed from his ministry in May 1887, but the Rouvier government decided that the time had come to send him far from the Parisian crowds that so adored him. But when on July 8, 1887 he climbed aboard the train that was to take him to his new posting in Clermont-Ferrand, a crowd assaulted the train and tried to prevent the general’s departure. In addition, already, without having formally presented himself as a candidate, at the call of the propagandist Henri Rochefort, Boulanger had received 100,000 votes in partial elections in the district of the Seine. Early in 1888, Boulanger’s political base widened when he met in secret with Prince Bonaparte, because of which he was officially presented as the Bonapartists candidate in seven departments. The ironies and contradictions already abound Boulanger the Bonapartists candidate is loudly supported by Rochefort, whose opposition to Louis Bonaparte had led to his exile. The contradictions and ironies were to increase when Boulanger had his military functions lifted because of his electoral activities and he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1888 after running in two departments. Boulanger, with his growing support, was now viewed by all those who opposed the republic as the man of the hour. Monarchists gave him their support as the person most likely to destroy the bourgeois republic they so hated; the extreme left gave him their support as the man most likely to bring down the bourgeois republic they so hated. The most vocal of nationalists, Paul Déroulède and his League of Patriots, and Maurice Barrès, the literary voice of the right, were active supporters. The Boulanger machine was in full motion.

From 1888-1889 Boulanger went from victory to victory, winning elections in seven different districts. Blanquists, the most intransigent of revolutionaries (but who were not immune to the temptations of nationalism and anti-Semitism), were to say that with Boulanger “the revolution has begun,” and that Boulangism is “a labor of clearing away, of disorganizing the bourgeois parties.” So close were the ties between the extreme left and Boulangism that the police were convinced that secret accords had been drawn up between the two forces? Though the official Blanquist bodies were split as to how far they would go in following Boulanger, it is a fact that the Boulangist movement’s strongest electoral showing was in the Blanquist strongholds in Paris. Indeed, throughout France, it was in working class centres that Boulanger garnered his greatest successes.

We can multiply the number of quotations from those on the left who either supported Boulangism or refused to oppose it. Paul Lafargue, the great socialist leader and theoretician, who in 1887 wrote a bitingly mocking article on Boulangism, also wrote to Engels “Boulangism is a popular movement that is in many ways justifiable.” The followers of the other great Marxist if the generation, Jules Guesde, wrote “the Ferryist danger being as much to be feared as the Boulangist peril, revolutionaries should favour neither the one nor the other, and shouldn’t play the bourgeoisie’s game by helping it combat the man who at present is its most redoubtable adversary.” However, not everyone on the left was willing to go along with or refuse to block the Boulangist juggernaut. Jean Jaurès wrote that Boulangism is “a great movement of socialism gone astray,” and the Communard and historian of the Commune P-O Lissagaray was a motive force behind the Société des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen, which was formed to combat Boulangism and defend democracy, uniting in the group socialists, republicans, students and Freemasons. It was only later, with the publications of works by members of the Boulangist inner circle that the close ties between Boulanger and monarchists and bankers were to be confirmed and become widely known. Yet, the moment and movement were to end quickly and ignominiously. Standing as a candidate in Paris in January 1889, Boulanger won the election by 80,000 votes of the 400,000 cast. A huge crowd gathered to acclaim him as he celebrated his victory at the Café Durand and pressed him to seize power. He refused to do so, and the government launched a legal attack on the man and the movement. Warned he would be arrested, accompanied by his mistress, Mme Bonnemains, Boulanger fled to Belgium. The movement immediately collapsed, and Boulanger and two of his closest lieutenants, Rochefort and Count Dillon, were tired and condemned in absentia for plotting against internal security. In July 1891, Boulanger’s mistress died, and on September 30 of the same year the defeated, disconsolate Boulanger, ended his own life. Within a few years the toxic Boulangist mix of nationalism and socialism, now leavened with overt anti-Semitism (Boulanger’s propagandist and co-defendant Henri Rochefort led the way in this regard) was to find its cause in anti-Dreyfusism; decades later variants of Boulangist national socialism were to make an even more sombre appearance.

The Dreyfus affair was a political scandal that divided France in the 1890s and the early 1900s. It involved the conviction for treason in November 1894 of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Alsatian Jewish descent. Sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly having communicated French military secrets to the German Embassy in Paris, Dreyfus was sent to the penal colony at Devil’s Island in French Guiana and placed in solitary confinement, where he was to spend almost 5 years under the most inhumane conditions. Two years later, in 1896, evidence became known identifying a French Army major named Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy as the real culprit. After high-ranking military officials suppressed the new evidence, a military court unanimously acquitted Esterhazy after the second day of his trial. The Army accused Dreyfus of additional charges based on false documents fabricated by a French counter-intelligence officer, Hubert-Joseph Henry, who was seeking to re-confirm Dreyfus’s conviction. Henry’s superiors accepted his documents without full examination. Word of the military court’s framing of Alfred Dreyfus and of an attendant cover-up began to spread, chiefly due to J’accuse, a vehement public open letter published in a Paris newspaper in January 1898 by the notable writer Émile Zola. Progressive activists put pressure on the government to reopen the case. In 1899, Dreyfus was brought back to Paris from Guiana for another trial. The intense political and judicial scandal that ensued divided French society between those who supported Dreyfus (the Dreyfusards), such as Anatole France, Henri Poincaré and Georges Clémenceau, and those who condemned him (the anti-Dreyfusards), and such as Hubert-Joseph Henry and Edouard Drumont, the director and publisher of the anti-Semitic newspaper La Libre Parole. Eventually, all the accusations against Alfred Dreyfus were demonstrated to be baseless. In 1906, Dreyfus was exonerated and reinstated as a major in the French Army. He served during the whole of World War I, ending his service with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

The second half of the 19th century brought about significant change to three European powers that had been at the strongest at mid century. In Britain, the second Reform Bill of 1867 expanded the electoral franchise and another law in 1884 followed suit. After the collapse of the second empire in 1870 and the Paris Commune, the following year France emerged as a republic. In Russia, reforms in the lead up to the revolution of 1905 challenged the foundations of autocracy. In the meantime, Britain could dominate international affairs because of its economic strength and its great navy. Having defeated Austria and France, Prussia emerged as the leader of a unified and powerful Germany, dominant in central Europe. At the same time, the second industrial revolution brought about remarkable technological advances, increased mass production and large cities bathed in electric light.

Primary Source.

John Merriman

A History Of Modern Europe.

European Unification.

European Unification.

By 1850 Great Britain, France and Russia were the three major powers in Europe. However, the forthcoming unification of Germany and Italy was to change the face of Europe dramatically. In the last three decades of the 19th Century Europe entered a period of major economic, social, political and cultural change. The second Industrial Revolution brought about scientific and technological advances and the arrival of steel and electricity transformed manufacturing.

Cities grew rapidly, political parties developed and the age of mass politics came into being. The creation of socialist parties and socialists were being elected across Europe. Unions put forth demands and engaged in strikes. In the three decades after 1848 Liberalism prevailed and without the Liberal’s male suffrage, political democracy and other significant changes would not have occurred. Liberal democracy emerged as the dominant form of European politics from the second half of the 19th Century to present day.

In the first half of the 19th Century Germans and Italians were agitating for political unification. (A political union is a type of state, which is composed of or created out of smaller states. Unlike a personal union, the individual states share a common government and the union is recognized internationally as a single political entity. A political union may also be called a legislative union or state union.) After 1848 Germany and Italy were not unified and revolutionaries remained angry about this. Italian unification came as a result of the expansion of Piedmont-Piedmont-Sardinia (the peninsulas strongest most Liberal state) and its monarchy, the House of Savoy.

The case of Germany was somewhat different. German unification was affected by autocratic manipulation of diplomacy and war. The German Empire was reactionary and flying in the face of European Liberalism. German and Italian unification created two new great powers in Europe and the impact of these changes were to be widely felt for decades to come.

Many forces were working against Italian unification, the state was very much fragmented, questions of who rules after unification were toxic, the notion of papal rule was feared in certain influential quarters and the Habsburg monarchy presented a formidable obstacle. However, some factors promoted the ‘Risorgimento’ (Resurgence) of Italy. Nationalism was increasing in the middle and upper class circles. Professionals and academics also sought it and there was, as always had been, a hatred for Austrian rule over certain parts of Italy. Most people wanted resurgence independent of the pope and the Catholic Church.

The Two sources of possible leadership  for Italian unification were firstly; King Victor Emmanuel II (House of Savoy) was the King of Piedmont-Sardinia and he aimed to exert his control over the entire peninsula. He was King of Italy’s most prosperous region and in 1852 he made the wise decision to appoint the brilliant politician Count Camillo di Cavour to be his Prime Minister. Cavour was an aristocratic Liberal and wanted Italian unification by expanding Piedmont-Sardinia. The second was Giuseppe Mazzini, a political activist, revolutionary, nationalist and democrat who wanted Italian unification but not by the expansion of Piedmont-Sardinia. He was an enemy of monarchical control and saw unification as a ‘common faith and purpose’ that would make Italy a democracy. He claimed that unification was the work of all the people of Italy and not just a royal desire. He wanted to mobilise the people and was involved in setting up numerous political organisations to achieve not just Italian unification but European unification. His very existence and propaganda in Italy kept the concept of unification alive.

Austria’s domination of Italy was making unification very difficult. Cavour formed an alliance with Britain and France against Austria in the Crimean War. In 1854 France and Britain joined the Ottoman empire against Russia and Cavour saw by pledging Piedmont-Sardinia’s allegiance to the allies as an opportunity for future Italian unification. The war succeeded and at the signing of the ‘Peace Of Paris’ (1856) Cavour expressed his desire to the allies for Italian unification and the threat of war with Austria. Napoleon III wanted more influence in Italy and to set up an alliance he proposed a royal union between his nephew and the daughter of King Victor Emmanuel II and that would cement relations between Piedmont-Sardinia and France. Following this, France agreed to cooperate with Piedmont-Sardinia in war against Austria. The Austrians gave the excuse when they proposed recruiting Italian troops to fight for Austrian interests and thus they became the aggressors and forced Prussia and other German states to distance themselves from Austrian aggression.

Austria then invaded Piedmont-Sardinia and France mobilised it troops. However, French allegiance to Piedmont-Sardinia was called into question when Napoleon III forged a peace settlement with Austria. He believed that if Italian unification were to happen it would threaten the balance of power in Europe and that would result in damage to France. However, in the Treaty of Turin (1860), Napoleon III agreed to Piedmont-Sardinia’s annexation of most of central and northern Italy and Piedmont-Sardinia ceded Savoy and Nice and so all of northern and central Italy was unified.

Giuseppe Garibaldi was an Italian military and political figure who had a long career of struggle for Italian unification. A member of Mazzini’s ‘Young Italy’, a political movement aiming for Italian unification, he dedicated himself to the lifelong cause from an early age. After a long exile in Brazil garibaldi returned to Rome during the revolutions of 1848 and offered his services to Piedmont-Sardinia but was rebuffed. He went to Lombardy and assisted the provisional government of Milan against the Austrian occupation. The unsuccessful ‘First Italian war of Independence’ he led his legion to two minor victories. He next went to Rome and defended it against French occupation, which led to the siege of Rome.

The French prevailed but a truce was negotiated and Garibaldi withdrew from Rome. After some travel bringing him to America he returned to Italy in 1854 and participated in the Austro-Sardinian War and won victories for Piedmont-Sardinia. Garibaldi took up arms again in 1866 with the full support of the Italian government in the Austro-Prussian war in which Italy had allied with Prussia against Austria and Hungary in the hope of taking Venetia from Austrian rule. He defeated the Austrians and Venetia was ceded. After the war Garibaldi led a political party seeking the capture of Rome, the ancient capital. He led a march into Rome but the papal army with the help of the French were a good match for his badly armed volunteers and after an injury had to withdraw from the papal territory. He was sent to prison and on his release he returned to his island Caprera. He sought the abolition of the papacy as ‘the most harmful of all secret societies’. When the Franco-Prussian war broke out in 1870 the Italians favoured Prussia and the French troops were withdrawn from Rome and the Italian army captured the Papal States without Garibaldi. The newly declared French Third Republic won Garibaldi support, regardless of former French hostilities, and Garibaldi went to France and led an army of volunteers that was never defeated by Prussians. After his return to Italy he retired to Caprera but remained active and even set up the ‘league Of Democracy’ (1879) which advocated universal suffrage, abolition of ecclesiastical property, emancipation of women and maintenance of a standing army. He remained active until his death in 1882.

Garibaldi’s involvement in two major conflicts during his life, namely the Austro-Prussian war (1866) in which the Austrians were defeated and Venetia became part of Italy, and the French withdrawal from Rome (1870) making it the nations capital and isolating papal control, at the start of the Franco-Prussian war (1870) led to the final, but somewhat limited, unification of Italy.

The limits to Italian unification became apparent in the following decades. Most Italians remained loyal to their family, local towns and church as well as to powerful local leaders. The majority of the population were illiterate and most spoke local dialects rather than Italian. Mass emigration to the United States and Argentina only resolved some of the problems of over-population and the Catholic Church was anti-unification condemning it to its loyal supporters as anti-religious and not to be encouraged by participation with its political leaders. This meant, to the predominantly catholic population that to vote would be an act of evil.

 The king of Italy ruled through a corrupt and aggressive premier, Francesco Crispi, and his mafia style parliament. He was replaced by Giovanni Giolitti in 1903 and brought stability to Italian political life. In 1904 the non-voting stance of the Catholic church allowed corruption to prosper and they relaxed their rule in the hope that voters would shun the corrupt politicians and mostly defeat any Socialist candidates.

Aggressive nationalism, forceful colonisation in Africa and Libya and Crispi was forced to resign after his army was crushed in the latter country. He was replaced with Giolitti whose reforms frightened employers and conservatives. Right wing activists objected that Libya was being mismanaged while left wing activists demanded withdrawal and the split was so intense that to get support Giolitti had to strike a deal with Catholic leaders but the deal collapsed and in 1914 he was forced from office. The Italian Liberal state had survived many challenges, but greater ones lay ahead.

The unification of Germany, like Italy, had many formidable obstacles. Firstly, in the wake of 1848, the upper classes were wary of change and feared strong nationalistic tendencies which would lead to equalisation of all citizens and thus damaging the status quo. Secondly, which power, Austria or Prussia, could help Germany in the pursuit of unification? Some wanted Austrians excluded from a unified Germany and some wanted Prussians excluded. Thirdly, in both Austria and Prussia repression was rampant and that German unification would not be achieved through liberalism. Prussia had some advantages in territorial possessions, a strong economy and the population was homogenous (German speakers). It was a successful Protestant state and thus was in a strong position to spearhead and advance ‘natural unification’.

On the other hand ‘Catholic’ Austria dominated a multinational population. The Habsburg monarchy had a lot to lose by encouraging nationalism that would catch fire within all imperial boundaries. German nationalists were not agreed on the Austria Prussia question and liberals wanted a unified Germany with a parliament independent of Austrian or Prussian aristocracy or autocratic influence.

The first step in the process was to ensure the monarchy was equal to the task. The Liberal William I took control and made it clear from the outset that he was anxious to serve moderate conservatives but also wanted to rule constitutionally. Liberals won a clear victory and those who favoured German unification now had a public forum in the Prussian parliament of 1858. Businesspersons believed that unification would be good for trade and so the stage was set.


Meanwhile the Austrian war against Piedmont-Sardinia and France had divided Prussians; there was contempt for Austria for engineering the war on one side, on the other there were those who were impressed by Italy’s successful bid for unification and the strategy they employed. Thus proving that unification was not as elusive as it seemed. In 1858 pan-German associations formed as unification pressure groups started to appear. The largest of these was Nationalverein (National Union) seeking a constitutional and parliamentary German state. The Prussian government were very suspicious of the National Union because its members favoured political freedom. Members were mostly middle class and had already rebuffed membership of workers unions. Army reform was an issue that would contribute significantly to German unification. The minister of war wanted expensive reforms to the army budget but liberals demanded a draft for all citizens. Government, despite its Liberal majority, sanctioned funds for military reformation and this event was significant tin that it provided parliamentary sanction to the unchallenged power of the Prussian army. The Liberal opposition formed a new party ‘The German Progressive Party’ and declined to vote and the government had to be dismissed. A second Liberal government was then elected but they too rejected army reform and the king was forced to appoint ultra-conservative Count Otto Von Bismarck as the new prime Minister.

As prime Minister, Bismarck was convinced he could create a new German state that would not be too large, or too democratic, for Prussia to dominate. Bismarck spent three decades holding power and shrewdly manipulating domestic and international politics. His politics became known as ‘Realpolitik’ – the pursuit of a nation’s self interest based on costs and consequences of action. It lacked moral and ethical consideration and was primarily about Prussian domination of Europe and therefore German domination of Europe.

Bismarck announced that the government would operate without constitutional authorisation and did so for four years. He struck against liberalism by suppressing press freedoms and public congregations of a political nature.

Realpolitik refers to politics or diplomacy based primarily on power and on practical and material factors and considerations, rather than ideological notions or moralistic or ethical premises. In this respect, it shares aspects of its philosophical approach with those of realism and pragmatism. The term realpolitik is sometimes used pejoratively to imply politics that are coercive, amoral, or Machiavellian. Balancing power to keep the European pentarchy was the means for keeping the peace, and careful Realpolitikers tried to avoid arms races.

‘Realpolitik’ was coined by Ludwig von Rochau, a German writer and politician in the 19th century. In his writings he describes the meaning of the term: “The political organism of human society, the state, originates and subsists in virtue of a natural law which man, with or without consciousness or will, carries out… The imperative of Nature on which the existence of states depends is fulfilled in the historically given state through the antagonism of various forces; its condition, extent and achievements varying infinitely according to space and time. The study of the forces that shape, sustain and transform the state is the starting-point of all political knowledge. The first step towards understanding leads to the conclusion that the law of the strong over political life performs a function similar to the law of gravity over the material world. As used in the U.S., the term is often similar to power politics, while in Germany, Realpolitik is used to describe modest (realistic) politics in opposition to overzealous (unrealistic) politics, though it is associated with the nationalism of the 19th century.

Realpolitik policies were created after the revolutions of 1848 as a tool to strengthen states and tighten social order. The most famous German advocate of “Realpolitik” was Otto von Bismarck, the First Chancellor (1862–1890) to Wilhelm I of the Kingdom of Prussia. Bismarck used Realpolitik to achieve Prussian dominance in Germany, as he manipulated political issues such as the Schleswig-Holstein Question and the Hohenzollern candidature to antagonize other countries, possibly with the intention of war. Characteristic of Bismarck’s political action was an almost Machiavellian policy, demonstrating a pragmatic view of the real political world. One example of this is his willingness to adopt some of the “liberal” social policies of employee insurance, for example; realistically, by doing so, he could manipulate small changes from the top down, rather than face the possibility of major change, from the bottom up. Another example, Prussia’s seemingly illogical move of not demanding territory from a defeated Austria, a move that later led to the unification of Germany, is one of the often-cited examples of Realpolitik. Similarly, in the German Green Party, people willing to compromise are referred to as Realos (realists), and opponents as Fundis (fundamentalists or ideologues).

Another example of Realpolitik in use is Adolf Hitler’s attempt to obtain a predominantly German region of Czechoslovakia called Sudetenland in 1938. At first, Hitler demanded then President Edvard Beneš hand over that region of the country, but Beneš refused. Subsequently, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain gave Sudetenland to Hitler in the (ultimately vain) hope of preventing a war, as codified in the Munich Agreement. Chamberlain was able to do this because Great Britain wielded power over Czechoslovakia, therefore it was able to overrule Beneš’ refusal.

E. H. Carr (Edward Hallett Carr) was a liberal realist and later left-wing British historian and international relations theorist who argued for realistic international policies versus utopian ones. Carr described realism as the acceptance that what exists is right, and the belief that there is no reality or forces outside history such as God. He argued that in realism there is no moral dimension, and that what is successful is right, and what is unsuccessful is wrong. Carr was convinced that the Bolsheviks were destined to win the Russian Civil War, and approved of the Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s opposition to the anti-Bolshevik ideas of the War Secretary Winston Churchill under the grounds of realpolitik. In Carr’s opinion, Churchill’s support of the White Russian movement was folly as Russia was likely to be a great power once more under the leadership of the Bolsheviks.

Realpolitik is related to the philosophy of political realism, and both suggest working from the hypothesis that it is chiefly based on the pursuit, possession, and application of power. Realpolitik, however, is a prescriptive guideline limited to policy-making (like foreign policy), while realism is a descriptive paradigm, a wider theoretical and methodological framework, aimed at describing, explaining and, eventually, predicting events in the international relations domain.

Russia and France had the most to lose if Germany became unified. The 1863 Polish revolt against Russian domination gave Bismarck a great chance to befriend the Russians. Other nations were sympathetic with the Polish while Bismarck took the side of the Russians and signed an agreement to side with the Russians against the Poles. Prussian-Austrian relations were soured. Bismarck’s first war was in Denmark over the Schleswig-Holstein question. The Schleswig-Holstein Question was a complex of diplomatic and other issues arising in the 19th century from the relations of two duchies, Schleswig and Holstein to the Danish crown and to the German Confederation.

Schleswig was a part of Denmark during the Viking Age, and became a Danish duchy in the 12th century. Denmark repeatedly tried to reintegrate the Duchy of Schleswig into the Danish kingdom. On March 27, 1848 Frederick VII of Denmark announced to the people of Schleswig the promulgation of a liberal constitution under which the duchy, while preserving its local autonomy, would become an integral part of Denmark. This led to an open uprising by Schleswig-Holstein’s large German majority in support of independence from Denmark and of close association with the German Confederation. The military intervention of the Kingdom of Prussia supported the uprising: the Prussian army drove Denmark’s troops from Schleswig and Holstein in the First Schleswig War of 1848–1851. The second attempt to integrate the Duchy of Schleswig into the Danish kingdom due to the signing of the November Constitution by King Christian IX of Denmark was seen as a violation of the London Protocol, leading to the Second Schleswig War of 1864.


Though Schleswig, Holstein and Denmark all had had the same hereditary ruler for some centuries, the inheritance rules were not quite the same. The Dukedoms of Schleswig and Holstein were inherited under the Salic law, which ignored females: the Kingdom of Denmark had a slightly different inheritance law, which included male heirs inheriting through the female line. In the 19th century this slight difference in inheritance law meant that when the childless King Frederick VII of Denmark died the Kingdom of Denmark would be separated from the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein because two different people would inherit the Kingship and Dukedoms. This finally happened on the death of Frederick in 1863.

The central question was whether the duchy of Schleswig was or was not an integral part of the dominions of the Danish crown, with which it had been associated in the Danish monarchy for centuries or whether Schleswig should, together with Holstein, become an independent part of the German Confederation. Schleswig itself was a fiefdom of Denmark, as the duchy of Holstein was a German fief and therefore part of the German Confederation with the Danish king as duke.This involved the question, raised by the death of the last common male heir to both Denmark and the two duchies, as to the proper succession in the duchies, and the constitutional questions arising out of the relations of the duchies to the Danish crown, to each other, and of Holstein to the German Confederation.

Much of the history of Schleswig-Holstein has a bearing on this question. Following the defeat of Germany in World War I, the Danish majority area of Northern Schleswig was finally unified with Denmark after two plebiscites organised by the Allied powers. A small minority of ethnic Germans still lives in Northern Schleswig.

The North German Confederation 1866–71, was a federation of 22 independent states of northern Germany. It was formed by a constitution accepted by the member states in 1867 and controlled military and foreign policy. It included the new Reichstag, a parliament elected by universal manhood suffrage and a secret ballot. The Reichstag could debate and deal with budgets, but it had limited power compared to the Federal Council, which represented the member states. The Confederation was dominated by its designer and first and only Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, who was also the prime minister of the Kingdom of Prussia, which had 80% of the population. After defeating Austria in war, Prussia had just annexed the previously independent nations of Hanover, Hesse-Kassel, Nassau and Frankfurt. In 1871 it became the basis of a new nation, the German Empire, which adopted most parts of the federation’s constitution and its flag. It succeeded the German Confederation. Its territory comprised the parts of the German Confederation north of the river Main (with the exception of Luxembourg), plus Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Prussia’s eastern territories and the Duchy of Schleswig, but excluded Austria, Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden, Luxembourg, Limburg, Liechtenstein and the southern parts of the Grand Duchy of Hesse. It cemented Prussian control over northern Germany in economic matters, especially through the Zollverein (Customs Union), which included the states of southern Germany that were not in the Confederation. The most important work of the new federation was to promote industrial freedom, as demanded by the liberal elements of the business community. For example, economic tolls and restrictions were ended and a federal postal and telegraph system was set up. The result was faster economic growth, and an increase in personal freedom.

The Confederation was replaced by the new German Empire in 1871. Its constitution was largely adopted by the Empire and remained in effect until 1918. This constitution granted immense powers to the new chancellor, Bismarck who was appointed by the President of the Bundesrat (Prussia). This was because the constitution made the chancellor ‘responsible’, though not accountable, to the Reichstag. This therefore allowed him the benefit of being the link between the emperor and the people. The Chancellor retained powers over the military budget, after the constitutional crisis that engulfed Wilhelm I in 1862. Laws also prevented certain civil servants becoming members of the Reichstag, those who were Bismarck’s main opposition in the 1860s.

The Confederation came into being after Prussia defeated Austria and the other remaining states of the German Confederation in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. Its constitution, which came into force on 1 July 1867, was written by Bismarck, with major changes made by the delegates to the North German Reichstag. Executive power was vested in a president, a hereditary office of the King of Prussia. He was assisted by a chancellor responsible only to him. Legislative power was vested in a two-house parliament. The states were represented in the Bundesrat (Federal Council) with 43 seats. The people were represented by the Reichstag (Diet), elected by male universal suffrage. The Bundesrat membership was extended before 1871 with the creation of the Zollverein Parliament in 1867, an attempt to create closer unity with the southern states by permitting representatives to be sent to the Bundesrat.

For all intents and purposes, Prussia exercised effective control over the confederation. With four-fifths of the states its territory and population, the Hohenzollern kingdom was larger than the other 21 states combined. It had 17 votes in the Bundesrat, and could easily control the proceedings by making deals with the smaller states. Additionally, Bismarck served as Prussia’s foreign minister as well, and thus had the right to instruct the Prussian representatives to the Bundesrat.


Following the Confederation’s quick, decisive victory over the Second French Empire and the subsequently formed Third Republic in the Franco-Prussian War of 1871, Bavaria, Württemberg, and Baden (together with parts of the Grand Duchy of Hesse which had not originally joined the confederation), unified with the states of the Confederation to form the German Empire, with William I taking the new title of German Emperor (rather than Emperor of Germany as Austria was not included).

Prussia’s victory over Austria increased tensions with France. The French Emperor, Napoleon III, feared that a powerful Germany would change the balance of power in Europe (the French opposition politician Adolphe Thiers had correctly observed that it had really been France who had been defeated at Sadowa). Bismarck, at the same time, did not avoid war with France. He believed that if the German states perceived France as the aggressor, they would unite behind the King of Prussia. In order to achieve this Bismarck kept Napoleon III involved in various intrigues whereby France might gain territory from Luxembourg or Belgium – France never achieved any such gain, but was made to look greedy and untrustworthy.

A suitable premise for war arose in 1870, when the German Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was offered the Spanish throne, which had been vacant since a revolution in 1868. France blocked the candidacy and demanded assurances that no member of the House of Hohenzollern becomes King of Spain. To provoke France into declaring war with Prussia, Bismarck published the Ems Dispatch, a carefully edited version of a conversation between King Wilhelm and the French ambassador to Prussia, Count Benedetti. This conversation had been edited so that each nation felt that its ambassador had been disrespected and ridiculed, thus inflaming popular sentiment on both sides in favour of war.

France mobilized and declared war on 19 July, five days after the dispatch was published in Paris. It was seen as the aggressor and German states, swept up by nationalism and patriotic zeal, rallied to Prussia’s side and provided troops. After all, it came as a sort of déjà vu: current French public musings of the river Rhine as “the natural French border” and the memory of the French revolutionary/Napoleonic wars 1790/1815 (many German territories were devastated serving as theatres of war and the sacking the old German empire by Napoleon) was still alive.

Russia remained aloof and used the opportunity to remilitarise the Black Sea, demilitarised after the Crimean War of the 1850s. Both of Bismarck’s sons served as officers in the Prussian cavalry. The Franco-Prussian War (1870) was a great success for Prussia. The German army, under nominal command of the King but controlled by Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, won victory after victory. The major battles were all fought in one month (7 August till 1 September), and both French armies were captured at Sedan and Metz, the latter after a siege of some weeks. (Napoleon III was taken prisoner at Sedan and kept in Germany for a while in case Bismarck had need of him to head a puppet regime; he later died in exile in England in 1873.)

The remainder of the war featured a siege of Paris, the city was “ineffectually bombarded”; the new French republican regime then tried, without success, to relieve Paris with various hastily assembled armies and increasingly bitter partisan warfare.

Bismarck acted immediately to secure the unification of Germany. He negotiated with representatives of the southern German states, offering special concessions if they agreed to unification. The negotiations succeeded; while the war was in its final phase King Wilhelm of Prussia was proclaimed German Emperor on 18 January 1871 in the Hall of Mirrors in the Château de Versailles. The new German Empire was a federation: each of its 25 constituent states (kingdoms, grand duchies, duchies, principalities, and free cities) retained some autonomy.

The King of Prussia, as German Emperor, was not sovereign over the entirety of Germany; he was only primus inter pares, or first among equals. However, he held the presidency of the Bundesrat, which met to discuss policy presented from the Chancellor (whom the president appointed). At the end, France had to surrender Alsace and part of Lorraine, because Moltke and his generals insisted that it was needed as a defensive barrier. Bismarck opposed the annexation because he did not wish to make a permanent enemy of France. France was also required to pay an indemnity.

Bismarck did not trust the Catholic Centre Party and the Social Democratic party and doubted their loyalty to him. In 1870 the pope asserted the doctrine of ‘papal infallibility’ and to Bismarck this meant that Catholics could be ordered not to obey his rule. He launched his ‘Kulturkampf’ (“cultural struggle”) and priests had to complete a secular curriculum in order to be ordained and the state would only recognise civil marriages. Gradually Bismarck began to realise that the Catholic party might be useful to him against the Social Democrats and he relaxed his laws and abandoned Kulturkampf. However Catholics and Jews were forbidden high posts in the civil service. The state helped German Protestants to prosper in Poland and buy up properties that would otherwise fall into the hands of Catholics who made up most of the population there. Bismarck became obsessed with destroying the Social Democrats who were proving popular at elections but still only held a handful of seats in the Reichstag (the main legislature of the German state under the Second and Third Reichs.) Two attempts to kill Emperor William II gave Bismarck, who claimed it was a social plot, the ammunition he needed to convince the Reichstag to pass antisocialist legislation that denied socialists the freedom of assembly, association and press. The police acted and suppressed socialist activities and forced workers to quit unions.

In 1888 William II became emperor and Bismarck lasted only two years as his chancellor. He was in favour of improving conditions for workers while Bismarck wanted more suppression and, after many bitter arguments, Bismarck resigned. His replacements could do little or nothing to control William II who wanted popularity with the people and defined himself as an agent of God. German conservatism was transforming and becoming more nationalistic and anti-Semitic. The economic crash of 1873 was blamed on Jewish greed. Some Germans identified Jews with liberalism and socialism and in 1892 the German Conservative Party made anti-Semitism part of its party platform. Jews were second class citizens and nothing they could say or do could change that. The social democrats were still gaining in popularity and were engulfed by the mood of aggressive nationalism that was sweeping across Germany. The German Empire embodied the decline of liberalism and the rise of aggressive nationalism in late 19th century Europe.

Germany and Italy were politically unified when leaders mobilised nationalist feeling in upper class circles and carried out aggressive foreign policies and nationalism threatened the existence of the Hapsburg monarchy. The unification of Germany and Italy altered the balance of power in Europe. Unified Germany (not Austria) was the strongest state in central Europe. The provinces that formed the Hapsburg domains represented a wide diversity of linguistic, cultural and historical diversity. However the largest group was the Germans who accounted for 35% of the population. The question here is how did the empire stay together with such a diversity of ethnic rivalries and demands? The answer to this is the process of state making and the discouragement of nationalism. The tradition of the Hapsburg monarchy was drenched in history and in these revolutionary times this represented tradition, which a concept was embraced by a population reliant on custom as security in the face of change. Secondly, the Hapsburgs relied on the middle classes and they reciprocated by investing in grand design and architecture which created a culture of fine art and this was a unification of all ethnic tastes and desires. Thirdly, there was widespread support by other European nobles for the Hapsburgs and some of these even depended on them for continued survival. Fourthly, Catholicism, the religion of the majority of the peoples of the Hapsburg domains was another factor for unity in Austria. Fifthly, the imperial army retained considerable prestige and they helped hold the monarchy together. German speakers held the bigger offices in the army and they rarely interfered (as in France) with social affairs such as strikes by workers. Nationalism was somewhat limited in the Hapsburg domains and the monarchy feared demands for autonomy or independence would pull the empire apart. Nationalism could also challenge the empires structure and the success of German and Italian nationalism also threatened the empires territorial integrity by raising the possibility that the very small Italian and, above all, the German speaking parts of the empire might prefer inclusion in Italy or Germany, respectively. Hungarians were the second largest ethnic group within the empire and they demanded political influence commensurate with the size of the Magyar territorial domains. Baron Alexander von Bach was an Austrian politician and his most notable achievement was instituting a system of centralised control at the beginning of the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. He served as Minister of Justice in 1848 and 1849 and then Minister of the Interior from 1849 to 1859. A well-known liberal lawyer, he was first called a “minister of barricades.” However, he gradually accepted conservative views, endorsing the centralizing constitutional program of Prince Schwarzenberg in March 1849 and thus further inflaming Hungarian sentiments.

After the death of Schwarzenberg in 1852, he largely dictated policy in Austria and Hungary. Bach centralised administrative authority for the Austrian Empire, but he also endorsed reactionary policies that reduced freedom of the press and abandoned public trials. He represented later the Absolutist (or Klerikalabsolutist) direction, which culminated in the concordat of August 1855 that gave the Roman Catholic Church control over education and family life. On the other hand the economic freedom rose greatly in 1850s. The internal customs duties were abolished. Bach was created Baron (Freiherr) in 1854. He was also the guardian of Science Academy in 1849 – 1859. Prisons were full of political prisoners; during his administration, Czech nationalist Karel Havlíček Borovský was expatriated to Brixen (1851 – 1855). The pillars of so-called Bach system (Bachsches System) were, in the words of Adolf Fischhof, four “armies”: a standing army of soldiers, a sitting army of office holders, a kneeling army of priests and a fawning army of sneaks. His fall in 1859 was highly caused by the failure in Italian war against Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia and Napoleon III. Bach served as Ambassador to the Holy See in 1859-1867. He died secluded, in 1893.

In the wake of the Austrian defeat in Italy and mounting German hostility and the rise of neoabsolutism Francis Joseph dismissed Bach as head of government and promulgated a new constitution. The October Diploma (1860) re-established a form of conservative federalism. The October Diploma was a constitution adopted by Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph on October 20, 1860. The Diploma attempted to increase the power of the conservative nobles by giving them more power over their own lands through a program of aristocratic federalism. This policy was a failure almost from the start, and Franz Josef was forced to make further concessions in the February Patent of 1861. Even so, Historians have argued that the October Diploma began the “constitutional” period of the Habsburg Empire


In 1860, Franz Josef and the Habsburg Empire were “threatened with a crisis of existence.” 1856 had begun a period of diplomatic isolation following the defeat of Russia, a key Austrian ally, in the Crimean War. The second war of Italian Independence had ended in 1859 with an Austrian defeat at the hands of Napoleon III, and Franz Josef was forced to cede Lombardy to the French. These losses worsened the already weak state of the Austrian economy and exposed the weaknesses of the empire’s bureaucracy. Both liberals and conservatives were anxious for reform after a decade of near absolutist rule, while Hungarians and Czechs wanted greater autonomy over their own affairs. In March 1860, Franz Josef asked the Imperial Parliament, or Reichstag, to advise the emperor on matters of reform. The Reichstag, composed almost entirely of conservative aristocrats, naturally recommended a reconstruction of the empire based on the principles of aristocratic federalism. Their report was ignored by Franz Josef, but by the end of the year, he would adopt the principles of aristocratic federalism in his own document. It was the realities of foreign policy that led the emperor to adopt the conservatives’ ideas. He hoped to establish a Holy Alliance with Czar Alexander II of Russia and King William I of Prussia and believed that a strongly conservative domestic policy would be an advantage in the upcoming negotiations. He demanded that a constitution be written within a week and settled the general principles of the document during a train stop en route to the conference.

Historian A.J.P Taylor called the Diploma a victory for the Old Conservative nobility. The Habsburg government was reorganized on a federal basis, and the provincial diets were given the power to pass laws with the Emperor and the Reichstag. In a concession to the liberals, the membership of the Reichstag was increased by over a hundred new members. However, the Diploma called for the Reichstag to meet very infrequently, and its jurisdiction covered only part of the empire. The provincial diets were packed with the landed aristocracy, thus giving them more direct power over their own lands. Hungary was given special status in the Reichstag through a provision that called for non-Hungarian delegates to meet separately from the whole body to discuss non-Hungarian matters. This, however, fell far short of the Hungarian leaders’ desire for greater autonomy and recognition.

Almost immediately after the Diploma was passed, it became clear that it would not last long. The empire’s finances continued to fail, further showing the weaknesses of the current administration. Prussia and the German Confederation began to sense a weakness in the monarchy that could be exploited; while Hungarians were furious with the few reforms they had been given. In the end, it was the German liberals who were eventually able to effect change. These liberals made up a substantial number of the most powerful bureaucrats and, while they often opposed the emperor, they were supporters of a strong centralized state instead of a weak, federalized one. Through their influence, the emperor was pressured into appointing the liberal Anton von Schmerling as Secretary of State in December. Von Schmerling took to rewriting the October Diploma, and in February 1861, the emperor adopted the February Patent.

The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 (German: Ausgleich, Hungarian: Kiegyezés) established the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. The Compromise re-established the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Hungary, separate from and no longer subject to the Austrian Empire. Under the Compromise, the Cisleithanian (Austrian) and Transleithanian (Hungarian) regions of the state were governed by separate Parliaments and Prime Ministers. Unity was maintained through rule of a single head of state of both territories and governments. The armed forces were combined with the Emperor-King as commander-in-chief. Certain key ministries were under the direct authority of the Crown, and served the whole Empire and Kingdom.

In the Middle Ages Austria was a quasi-independent state within the Holy Roman Empire, ruled by the House of Habsburg, while the Kingdom of Hungary was a sovereign state outside the Empire. In 1526 at the Battle of Mohács, Hungary was defeated and largely conquered by the Ottoman Empire. The crown of Hungary was inherited by the Habsburgs, with part of the Kingdom preserved from the Ottomans, who were subsequently driven out of Hungary in 1699. From 1526 to 1806, Austria and Hungary were in a “union of crowns,” having the same ruler but remaining two countries. In the 18th century, Hungary was legally subordinated to Austria, though remaining nominally sovereign. In 1804–6, the Holy Roman Empire was abolished, and the Austrian Empire was created. The Austrian Empire included Hungary as a constituent state, no longer sovereign. This was resented by the Hungarian people, or Magyars. Nationalist sentiment among the Magyars and other peoples of the region threatened the stability of the state and the power of the Austrian elite.

In the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Magyars tried to regain independence, and were defeated by the Austrian Empire only with the aid of the Russian Empire. After 1848, the Empire instituted several constitutional reforms, trying to resolve the problem, but without success. In 1866, Austria was completely defeated in the Austro-Prussian War and its position as the leading state of Germany ended forever, as the remaining German minor states were soon absorbed into the German Empire created by Prussia. Austria also lost almost all of her remaining claims and influence in Italy, which had been her chief foreign policy interest. The state needed to redefine itself to maintain unity in the face of nationalism.


Adoption: In the wake of the defeat by Prussia, there were renewed calls in Hungary for complete separation from Austria. To avoid this, Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria and his court floated the suggestion of a dual monarchy.

Hungarian diplomat Ferenc Deák is considered the intellectual force behind the Compromise. Deák initially wanted independence for Hungary and supported the 1848 Revolution, but he broke with the outright nationalists and advocated a modified union under the Habsburgs. Deák took the line that while Hungary had the right to full internal independence, questions of defence and foreign affairs were “common” to both Austria and Hungary under the Pragmatic Sanction. He also felt that Hungary benefited through continued unity with wealthier, more industrialized Austria, and that the Compromise would end the pressures on Austria of continually choosing between the Magyar and Slav populations of the Kingdom of Hungary. Imperial Chancellor Beust quickly negotiated the Compromise with the Hungarian leaders. Beust was particularly eager to renew the conflict with Prussia, and thought a quick settlement with Hungary would make that possible. Franz Joseph and Deák signed the Compromise, and it was ratified by the restored Diet of Hungary on 30 March 1867. Beust’s desired revenge against Prussia did not materialize. When in 1870, Beust wanted Austria-Hungary to support France against Prussia, Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Andrássy was “vigorously opposed,” effectively vetoing Austrian intervention.

Under the Compromise, Austria and Hungary each had separate parliaments that met in Vienna and Buda (later Budapest), respectively, that passed and maintained separate laws. Each region had its own government, headed by its own prime minister. The “common monarchy” consisted of the emperor-king, and the common ministers of foreign affairs, defence, and finance in Vienna. The terms of the Compromise were renegotiated every ten years.

The Compromise of 1867 was meant to be a temporary solution to the problems the state faced, but the resulting system was maintained until the forced dissolution of the state following World War I. The favouritism shown to the Magyars—the second largest ethnic group in the state after the Germans—caused discontent on the part of other ethnic groups like the Czechs and Romanians. Although a “Nationalities Law” was enacted to preserve the rights of ethnic minorities, the two parliaments took very different approaches to this issue. The basic problem in the later years was that the Compromise with Hungary only whetted the appetites of non-Hungarian minorities and regions in Hungary that were historically within the boundaries of the previous Hungarian Empire. In these, the majority of Hungarians felt they had unwillingly—and only under coercion—accepted the Compromise. The Austrian Archduke—whom was separately crowned King of Hungary—had to swear in his coronation oath not to revise or diminish the historic Imperial (Hungarian) domains to the Hungarian Nobility, Magnates, and Upper Classes. These Hungarian groups never acquiesced to granting “their” minorities the recognition and local autonomy, which the Germans had given of the Magyars themselves in the self-same Compromise. As such, several ethnic minorities faced increased pressures of Magyarization. Furthermore, the renegotiations that occurred every ten years often led to constitutional crises. Ultimately the Compromise—intended to fix the problems faced by a multi-national state—failed to sublet the internal pressures the old unitary state had felt. As to which extent the Dual Monarchy stabilized the country in the face of rising nationalism is debated even today—particularly by those ethnic groups thus disenfranchised.

The unification of Italy and Germany had both largely been affected by the expansion of the most powerful states that would become part of the unified state that resulted. Cavour transformed Piedmont-Sardinia into a liberal monarchy through reforms before achieving the unification of Italy. In Germany Bismarck had harnessed economic liberalism to the goals of conservative political nationalism in achieving the unification of Germany. In the wake of the 1848 revolutions nationalism had proven itself a major force for unification in Italy and Germany. In the Hapsburg lands nationalism was a force that came to challenge the existence of the empire. In the age of militant nationalism, ethnic tensions within the Austro-Hungarian Empire would become those of Europe. Each of Europe’s three other powers, Britain, Russia and France had political unification for centuries and had had no revolution in 1848. France emerged from this period with an authoritarian empire.

Primary Source.

John Merriman

A History Of Modern Europe.

Revolutions (1848)


1848 : Year Of Revolutions.


1848 was the year of Revolutions in Europe. In Sicily, France, London, Brussels, Zürich and other major European countries those who were exiled, through poverty or war, from their homelands began to return to their, by now, more prosperous and peaceful Native places. The new republic in France was the catalyst for Revolutionary central Europe. Clumsy attempts at suppression led to forced acceptance of a Liberal agenda. Only Britain and Russia were to escape the Revolutionary wave. In Many countries the Monarchy gave in to Liberal demands and new Governments were appointed. A common process was present in many of the European Revolutions. Mobilisation of Liberalism, republicans and nationalists unifying to anti-regime units combined with harvest and business failure had increased dissatisfaction with Conservatism. Essentially, middle class movements with the support of artisans believed that political change would inevitably change trade and profits but such victory would only come at a heavy price.

The late 1840s brought food shortages to Europe. Unemployment plagued Manufacturing towns. Economic discontent was not the cause of a wave of Revolutions across Europe. Hard times provided the impetus to political opponents of existing regimes. Liberal reformers pursuing change were ready to push for male suffrage, press freedom, radical reforms to improve the conditions of the labouring poor. When a spark ignited the fires of protest, moderates and radicals joined forces in Revolution. The sudden overthrow of the ‘July Monarchy’ in France was that spark.

The Monarchy in France had more enemies than friends. Nobles doubted its legitimacy while others demanded a more popular sovereignty. A disastrous harvest in 1846, which led to a severe recession in 1848 as workers, demanded voting rights and state assistance for their trades. A giant banquet on February 22nd 1848 in Paris was banned and in protest Demonstrators paraded the streets and the National Guard refused to disperse the crowd. However, as the day wore on violence broke out and forty people were shot dead. Protesters barricaded the streets and after the King was forced to abdicate the victorious crowd proclaimed the Second French republic at the town hall. Universal male suffrage and abolition of slavery in the French colonies were proclaimed. Soon the Revolution spread in the provinces of France and liberty trees were planted all across the country. The euphoric Revolutionary wave had begun in the new republic. Political clubs began to crop up and new newspapers began to appear and political awareness was on the increase.

German liberals and radicals had some fundamental differences. Liberals bided their time as radicals were more restive. The ‘hungry forties’ in Germany meant frustrated citizens started to cause riots and the formation of so called ‘craftsmen clubs’ meant political ideology began to spread. Demands for an end to feudalism, repression, unconstitutional states and voting expansion were proliferating. The outbreak of the 1848 Revolution in France forced the German states to start making concessions. One of the most significant of these was the ‘march Government’ of 1848 which was formed out of fear of Revolution. Barricades were erected at Altenburg and the military executed 250 people. The shootings led to further riots and soon the King of Prussia relented and announced unification with Germany. Industrialisation was also a source of civil unrest as artisans struggled to compete with mechanisation and mass production. Clubs and unions started to form in other German states that saw Prussian success. In a short few months Germany was unified and the political landscape had changed in favour of Liberalism.

In Habsburg the liberals wanted constitutional reform, emancipation of peasantry, freedom of press and voting rights. Rebels in Hungary also had similar demands and so had Austria. Poland and Italy sought freedom from Habsburg rule. Liberals and radicals in central Europe followed the lead of France and students and artisans demanded reforms. The Habsburg dynasty hopes for holding its Empire together was collapsing and fading into oblivion. Revolution soon came to Bohemia with demands for independence. The fire of Revolution was widespread.

Italians revolted against Austrian rule. Italian demands for political reform, Italian unification, radicals wanted a republic and workers wanted improved benefits. Street riots echoing Paris, Berlin and Vienna were organised. The Revolutions of 1848 generated resistance from the political and social forces that had most to lose. In Prussia it was Kings and Nobles, in Habsburg the Emperor and his army, in France the upper classes. The split between liberals and radicals worked to the advantage of the oppositions.

In France the political crisis intensified by May 15th 1848. Up to this point all Revolutions in France were caused by the fact that rulers that came to power were Conservative. That was the case up to Louis Philippe. He extended voting rights among other privileges to middle classes but also retained some of the qualities of previous rulers. The lower classes remained ignored and eventually Louis Philippe abdicated to England after civil unrest by the lower classes and the French second republic was formed. This Government got off to a good start. It introduced universal adult suffrage (everyone over 21 could now vote) and also made dramatic changes, for the better, to the streets of Paris and started to ‘national workshops’ scheme of Government supported employment for skilled and unskilled workers. However, these workshops were never financially viable and in a short period of time the system collapsed due to oversubscription.

The Government had no choice but to terminate the service which left thousands of men unemployed and infuriated and the so called ‘June Days’ began. More barricades were erected and fighting broke out. After three days of bloodshed the insurgents were defeated and departed and the Revolution abandoned. New laws were introduced to restrict freedom of press and public assembly while political clubs were closed down and women banned from political involvement. By November the new elections introduced Louis Napoleon Bonaparte as best candidate and he won with an overwhelming majority and became President of the second republic.

The Frankfurt assembly of 1848 was the first freely elected Parliament for all of Germany and it owed its existence to the March Revolution in the states of the German confederation. In the German states liberals and radicals split as Conservatives gained momentum. Liberals wanted unification under a constitutional Monarchy while radicals wanted a republic. In May 1848 over eight hundred elected delegates met at Frankfurt’s St. Paul’s Church   intending to share the future of the German states. Delegates had many different views as to how Germany should be unified and after months of deliberation the solution of a ‘smaller Germany’ came about. The Parliament voted that any state could join the Union but only if it had German speaking Natives.

Using the ‘American Declaration of Independence’ as a template the Frankfurt parliament declared the equality of every citizen. However, before the parliament could approve the constitution proposed by the Frankfurt liberals the King dissolved it in April 1849 and declared a state of emergency. Liberal abstentions and popular indifference gave Conservative domination and they created a new system of Nobles, officials and churchmen and others selected by King. The Frankfurt Parliament was an abject failure for liberals and nationalists. Germany would not be unified by liberals.

A lack of consensus among the Revolutionaries led to counter Revolutions in the Habsburg Empire and in German and Italian states. Ethic conflicts broke out across Europe and landowners and peasants went to war. The complexity of central Europe was far from being resolved by the 1848 Revolutions.

The confusion of competing national claims and rivalries within the Habsburg Empire made counter Revolution an easy task. To all states, freedom meant many things to many people. The only real agreement was on the contempt held for the Habsburg policies. This contempt for Austrian control was rampant. One by one in the German states the March Ministries of 1848 fell from power as rulers counter revolted against parliaments and assemblies that were quickly rendered powerless. Scattered radical insurrections failed. The German Revolution of 1848 was over and in August 1851 the German confederation annulled the basic rights of the German people. The major work of the Frankfurt parliament had been undone.

Now that the German Revolution had been swept away by counter Revolution the Prussian Monarchy proposed the creation of a Prussian union. It would consist of two unions. The German confederation and all German speaking nations. However, the proposal had a short life span because both Prussia and Austria wanted European domination. In 1848 Revolutionaries challenged the authority of the Pope in the Papal States. An insurrection against Pope Pius IX was suppressed but yet another outbreak came in Rome. In Rome, after Pope Pius fled a new cabinet met workers demands and confiscated church property. In elections, the radicals won an overwhelming victory and the Roman Republic was proclaimed. French troops were summonsed by Pope Pius but they had to retreat when met by resistance. Pro Papal forces were sent in by Naples and Spain and the French shelled Rome in 1849. The constitutional assembly capitulated under force and soon the lack of strong popular support for unification restored old powers.

The French Second Republic (or simply the Second Republic) was the republican government of France between the 1848 Revolution and the coup by Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, which initiated the Second Empire. It officially adopted the motto Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité. The Second Republic witnessed the tension between the “Social and Democratic Republic” (French: la République démocratique et sociale) and a Liberal form of Republic, which exploded during the June Days Uprising of 1848. In France, the democratic socialist movement was gaining momentum winning major support among peasants. The ‘Montagnards’ called for progressive taxation, higher wages, no tax on wine, credit facilities for peasants and free primary schools. The left lost some credibility in the aftermath of a failed insurrection in 1849 when the French army were sent to support the Pope in Rome, which the left claimed, was a violation of the new constitution. The insurrection did not draw enough support to defeat the French army and the insurrection was quelled. However, Louis Napoleon was given the necessary motivation to act against the left wing liberals and ordered suppression of the left and curtailed freedom of association and assembly. For now, at least, the left were silenced.

The so called ‘springtime of the people’ of Europe led to a wave of repression that dashed the hopes of the Liberal movement in 1848. European history reached a turning point, in the words of some historians, and failed to turn. States became stronger and more unified in the common cause of Liberal suppression; more professional armies enforced the counter-revolutions and restored order. 1848 was the first time that European workers put forward demands for political rights and although they failed on this occasion they did leave some very crucial legacies.

Primary Source.

John Merriman

A History Of Modern Europe.

Challenges To Restoration.


Challenges To Restoration Europe.


The Congress of Vienna came together to re-establish peace in Europe. By creating the concert of Europe they could prevent any further Revolutions on the continent. Conservatives were blaming Liberalistic ideologies for uprisings and reforms were necessary.  In the wake of troubles in France the representatives at the Congress redrew the map of Europe and put old rulers back on their thrones. Liberalism implied the absence of Government constraints that could interfere with individuality. It was a philosophy applicable to the middle classes and rapid population growth was producing more middle class citizens. Individual freedom was finding expression in politics and in the arts. Liberal movements were tied to nationalism, which was defined, by language and cultural tradition. Nationalism threatened Europe and its Monarchies and was therefore unacceptable to the Congress of Vienna. The rise of Liberalism was clearly co-existent with the rise of nationalism and calls for independence were loud all over Europe.

The Congress wanted to ensure that France could never again dominate Europe. Even prior to napoleons first defeat Prussia, Austria, Russia and Britain had formed the ‘Quadruple alliance’ to stop France and other states from threatening the Monarchies of Europe. The Treaty of Paris (1814) was signed one year prior to the Congress of Vienna. The victorious powers agreed to restore the Bourbons in France. The allies forced the French to sign a draconian treaty but they were not dealing with the then defeated Napoleon but with the Bourbons themselves whose only desire was to regain the throne and solidify themselves against Liberal challenge.

The goals of the Congress were threefold; to redistribute territory, to achieve balance of power and to make future Revolutions impossible. Russia insisted on European rulers based on ‘holy Religion’ and all but Britain agreed and thus the ‘holy alliance was formed between Russia, Prussia and Austria. The ‘Congress of Vienna’ drew a map of Europe that lasted for many generations. They restored the principal of dynastic legitimacy and the balance of international power in Europe. Most territorial settlements were made without neither consultation nor public opinion considered. The allies emphasised the principle of legitimacy but they never hesitated to dispense with smaller legitimate princes whose claims were not of benefit to the ‘Congress of Vienna’. Britain, Russia, Austria, Prussia and France formed the concert of Europe, which was an extended ‘Congress of Vienna’ of Vienna. Their primary objective was to ‘put down’ any movement that threatened the status quo. The Monarchs, diplomats and nobles at the ‘Congress Of Vienna’ of Vienna were guided by Conservative principles of Monarchical legitimacy, with the rights to the thrones of Europe to be determined by hereditary succession, and by close ties to the prerogatives of the established churches.

Monarchs, nobles and clergy returned to power, prestige and influence. The French Revolution had by no means eliminated noble influence in the states of Europe. Indeed, noble style and distinction retained great influence. In much of Europe public buildings and statues affirmed aristocratic values and moral claims that had characterised the old regimes. European nobles retained close ties to the established churches, which still deferred to aristocratic status. During the Revolutionary era churches, especially catholic, had suffered but now Europe witnessed a marked religious revival. In France, the old religious confraternities were revived, families contributed money to rebuild churches and in Britain ‘Anglicans’ rejected divine right Monarchy and opposed all dissenters, especially Catholics.

This ideology drew on several sources. Conservatives believed that states emerged organically and Monarchs were legitimate through birth right. A combination of Religion and Monarchy could maintain order. This alliance of throne and altar dictated the King’s power as divine and therefor untouchable by Man. Most Conservatives saw no difference between reform and Revolution and believed that reform led to Revolution and Revolution led to social change. Conservatives were opposed to political freedom and nationalism. The Industrial Revolution meant change was happening at a rapid rate and this meant a narrowing support.

Liberals shared a confidence that human progress was inevitable, but only gradual. Faith in science was the uncontrollable motor of progress. Liberalism reflected middle class confidence and economic aspirations. In short, Liberalism was about progress, which led to freedom. Liberalism was a middle class condition entrepreneurs and capitalists used to describe their status of exclusion from politics in Europe. They believed that all individuals were equal before the law because all are born good, free and capable of improvement. They believed in ‘Laissez Faire’ (Let it be) economics and Government by Constitution and elected parliaments. They also wanted freedom of the press and education for all. These took ‘enlightenment’ of ‘rights of Man’ to ‘rights of citizens’. Monarchical control over the affairs of the nation was unwelcome and they further wanted extended voting systems for all people to vote. However, by ‘all’ they actually meant the landed gentry and only men should have voting rights.

Laissez Faire was defined as “The Government is best when it governs least.” Liberals sought to restrict Government control especially in the economy. The ‘invisible hand’ of supply and demand would bring about change without Government interference. Adam Smith (1723-1790) author of ‘Wealth of Nations’ argued that the unrestricted functioning of the free economy would ensure the pursuit of private interests. This would create more wealth and a new social hierarchy would emerge. Utilitarianism was an entrepreneurs ideal and one accepted by Liberals. This dictates that ‘laws’ should be judged by their utility and if or not such laws provided ‘the greatest good for the greatest number of people’. In short, does it work?

Romantics defined freedom as the unleashing of the senses and passion of the soul. Romantic writers and artists were literary and academic outsiders. Romantic painters sought to convey feelings through the depiction of the helplessness of the individual confronted by the powers of nature. Romantic artists and musicians believed that music was poetry capable of releasing torrents of emotion. Romanticism emphasised individuality and freedom of expression.

During the first half of the 19th Century almost every country in Europe experienced a confrontation between the old political order, represented by the ‘Congress of Vienna’ of Vienna, and nascent Liberalism. The middle classes clamoured for constitutions and elimination of ‘old corruptions’. Liberalism was closely associated with emerging groups of Nationalists. Intellectuals, professionals, artisans and students called for independence. Demands for new nationalistic states as opposed to Monarchical states would threaten the major European Empires.

The first test for the ‘Congress of Vienna’ came from Spain. King Ferdinand VII returned to power at the behest of the ‘Congress of Vienna’ and refused to recognise the Liberal Constitution. It guaranteed the right of property, freedom of the press and freedom from arbitrary arrest. In 1820 a military revolt broke out in Spain and the army were soon joined by merchants and lawyers. The King soon agreed to abide by the Liberal Constitution of 1812 but the ‘Congress of Vienna’ failed to secure the backing of Britain as an allied force to help quell the Revolution.

Meanwhile, the fires of Revolution also burned in Portugal in the absence of King John VI who had fled to Brazil during the Napoleonic wars. The Portuguese drafted a Liberal Constitution that guaranteed religious toleration, civic rights and sanctity of property. In 1820 an insurrection had also broken out in Italy as army officers and merchants in Naples and Sicily revolted against the rule of King Ferdinand I who had been restored by the ‘Congress of Vienna’. A secret society known as the ‘Carbonari’ directed their contempt for the King placed on the throne, by Austrians, without Italian consent. However, the Austrian army put down the revolt. The ‘Congress of Vienna’ invoked their right under the ‘Holy Alliance’ to intervene but, yet again, Britain distanced itself from the intervention and their withdrawal cleared the way for military action, not only in Italy but also in Spain. In the US President James Monroe issued a proclamation (Monroe Doctrine) warning against European intervention on United States soil.

Liberalists and Nationalists were often one and the same in Italian and German states. Mostly students and academics in these states were considered the most radical citizens and for this reason the Concert of Vienna imposed the Karlsbad Decrees. These muzzled the press and dissolved student fraternities. Metternich convinced Fredrick William to renounce any form of universal representation in his Kingdom. By this act alone, Metternich’s victory over Constitutionalism was clinched.

The congress system was shattered by the Greek revolt against ottoman Turks in 1821. Christian Europeans considered the Turks as savages and infidels. The congress powers condemned the insurrection but the revolt caught the imagination of European scholars and intellectuals who saw it as a ‘modern crusade’ for Christianity. They saw Turkish influence in Greece, the birthplace of Western civilisation, as a form of oppression and thus supported any cause to further Greek independence. Thousands of Turks were massacred but it was the brutal Turkish repression that caught the attention of Western Conservatives and liberals. In 1832 the Greeks gained independence and a young Bavarian prince was made King of Greece (Otto I) and he ruled from 1833 to 1862.

The Decembrist revolt (or uprising) took place in Russia in 1825. The Russian army officers led soldiers in a protest against Nicholas I assumption of throne after his elder brother Constantine removed himself from the line of succession. The uprising was quickly suppressed by Nicholas 1st loyal troops and the ‘traitors’ were executed.

The concert of Europe restored by arms the Monarchy to the heirs of the house of Bourbon who, once gain, possessors of the Kingdom of France. There is little evidence, judging from their behaviour, that the Bourbon regime had learned any lessons during their exile and quickly became increasingly annoying to the Parisian populace and around France in general. The pre-Revolution problems soon returned with the Bourbon Court’s behaviour driving home new hatreds and resurrecting old ones between upper and lower classes. However, this time around it was a constitutional Monarchy so had some limits on its abilities to repress the population at large. Many merchants, Manufacturers and entrepreneurs believed that the restoration Monarchy paid insufficient attention to commerce and industry, listening only to rural nobles. The opposition received major boosts from a new generation of ‘romantic writers’ declaring the righteousness of Liberalism. Victor Hugo wrote, “Romanticism is nothing less than Liberalism in literature.” The vociferous opposition was to go out of control when Charles X decided on a move that was hoped would end the crisis but instead caused Revolution. He dissolved the newly elected ‘Chamber of Deputies’ changed voting entitlements and muzzled the press. This led to fierce public unrest and his soldiers were soon demoralised by public abuse. Public calls for a new King ‘Louis Philippe’ were loud. He was a known Liberal and he became ‘King of the French’ (as opposed to ‘King of France’ which title carried a divine rather than human responsibility) as Charles X abdicated. The new Liberal Monarchy quickly won acceptance from other European powers and continued to rule in relative peace and popularity.

The 1830 French Revolution encouraged pan-European liberality and nationalism. In Belgium, French speaking Catholics in the South and Flemish speaking Catholics in the North were discontented with protestant suppression especially in Brussels. After some street insurgencies a provisional Government declared Belgium’s independence and the state soon became a constitutional Monarchy. All across Europe nationalism quickly emerged as a force for change. It was tied to Liberalism and intellectuals demanded that national boundaries correspond to linguistic frontiers. The ‘November Uprisings (1830-1831) also known as the Polish Russian War or cadet Revolution in Poland  was an armed rebellion in the heartland of partitioned Poland against the Russian Empire. Young Polish officers revolted and they were joined by large segments of Polish society. Despite some local successes, the uprising was eventually crushed by a numerically superior imperial Russian army. Further uprisings were also taking place in Italy and Spain. In Italy they began as protests against inefficient and corrupt rule. Several cities that declared themselves independent from the Papal States proclaimed ‘The United Provinces of Italy’. However the Italian insurrections collapsed due to lack of popular support. However, a popular Revolutionist named Giuseppe Mazzini motivated by bringing peace to Europe by liberating all peoples. He was one of the first to suggest that the states of Europe might evolve into a federation of Democratic states based on the principle of nationality (A Federation of European Democratic Republics). In Spain, the arrival through accession of a female Monarch, Isabella, was not acceptable to the nobles and churchmen on the basis that she was a woman. Civil war broke out between liberals and Conservatives.

In the German states, liberals faced an uphill battle. However, the wave of Liberal and nationalist movements had reached central Europe and was starting to take hold in Germany. Students organised rallies and politicians responded by placing universities under surveillance, repression, prohibition of public meetings and threatened attack on any state threatening Germanic peace. However, Liberalism gained momentum with students, intellectuals and professionals forming new societies such as ‘Young Germans’. Liberal economic theory attracted German merchants and Manufacturers who objected to the complexity of tariffs along roads and rivers that prevented economically viable trading. To Liberal nationalists the notion of less expensive imports and exports was appealing.

Demands for political reform including the expansion of the electoral franchise to include more middle class voters would be the true test of the ability of the British to compromise in the interest of social and political reform. Soldiers now Demobilised after Waterloo depended on poor relief. Furthermore, poor harvests in 1818 and 1819 brought riots but the Combination Acts made strikes illegal. Riots in Manchester (Peterloo Riots) were quelled by use of armed forces. By the 1820s crime was increasing and workers continued to suffer as they tried to form unions. ‘Friendly Societies’ began to appear and these offered help and assistance to the unemployed or paid for funerals to avoid the indignity of a pauper’s grave.

There was no Revolution in 19th Century Britain. Instead the Government enacted reforms that defused political and social tensions by bowing to middle class demands. The fear of Revolution led them to compromise. Religion played a part in that the Government financed construction of Anglican churches in Working class areas and new forms of Religion (such as Methodism) won converts and reduced social tensions. In 1828 Parliament repealed the ‘test and Corporation’ Acts which, up until then, forced anyone taking public office to be Anglican. Catholic emancipation had become a major issue, which led to Catholic emancipation act of 1829, and Catholics could now hold office or serve in Parliament. Political Liberalism was still gaining popularity and the French Revolution of 1830 instilled fear in upper class circles that workers were on the rise.

The reform bill of 1832 was an act of Parliament that introduced wide ranging changes to the electoral system of England and Wales. The act was designed to take measures for correcting abuses in selecting members to serve in Parliament. The act granted seats in the House of Commons to large cities that had sprung up during the Industrial Revolution and took away seats from so called ‘rotten boroughs’; those with very small populations. The act also increased the number of individuals entitled to vote. Separate reform acts were passed in the same year for Scotland and Ireland.

The ‘Chartist’ movement were a political and social reform group and was possibly the first mass working class Labour movement. In the UK, Chartists felt ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ while elsewhere in Europe it was the other way around. The founder members prepared the Great Charter, which called for Democracy, male suffrage, annual elections, equal electoral districts, secret ballots and salaries for Parliament members. The movement had little success and quickly disappeared off the European map. The peal of the Corn (Wheat) Law had a very significant impact. Up until then a tariff had been imposed on domestic wheat if ‘non-imported wheat’ were in short supply. This tariff kept imported wheat and domestic wheat at equal price at normal times but if harvests were poor then bread prices ran high. Thus, in 1839, 1840 and 1841 when harvests were poor the resulting high cost of bread created extreme deprivation and starvation. The Government believed only repeal would prevent insurrection and in 1846 Parliament repealed the law.

From 1800 to 1850 Liberals and Nationals challenged Conservatism. Revolutions brought about much change across Europe. Political momentum was with those seeking to break down the bastions of old traditional Europe. The Revolutions created a new fear amongst the old powerful elite that their day of reckoning had come and change was inevitable if they were to maintain power.

Prior to 1815 Europe had already begun to face inevitable change that would see the rise of Liberalism, nationalism and a new Revolutionary continent. The ideas of liberty and equality did not appeal to the old law mongers who believed that the quadruple alliance could stop French aggression and could therefore stop all aggression. In Italy a new concert emerged that was to change European politics forever.

Italy had adopted a system known as ‘balance of power’ and the warring subsided. By creating a system of alliances and agreements that kept the small states in check by the big states and the system seemed to work. The European leaders decided that this was a good idea and further agreed that along with keeping France from misbehaving again it would also ensure that no other European states would step out of line. The on-going Industrial Revolution, by now in full swing, meant peace and wealth and no power wanted to contend with war so all agreed on the new deal.

The alliance of Austria, Prussia and Russia, Great Britain and eventually France decided that the restoration of Monarchs in France (which suited other European Monarchies) was the best way forward. The Quadruple Alliance met again and renamed the alliance as the Congress of Vienna where the future of Europe would be decided. They agreed on meeting every few years as was necessary to monitor progress and these meetings were known as the Concert of Europe.

Europe was shared out between the superpowers and  all agreed that, after Napoleon and his notorious wars and reign that it was best to take steps to ensure that other states would not ‘bully’ other countries and that the superpowers would unite against any such action if it were to threaten Europe’s peace and prosperity in any way. The key point here is that the lands of Europe were ‘reallocated’ and protected by the bigger states.

The congress were criticised as attempting to repress the new sense of Liberalism that was creeping across Europe and because Metternich was an arch Conservative it was possible that these allegations were not without foundation. Historians agree that Metternich fathered the concept of the United Nations.

Meanwhile the intellectuals of Europe were intrigued by ideas of Liberalism, nationalism, a sense of belonging or duty to a nation and are fostered by a sense of common culture, language, history, Religion, customs and values. Nationalists were also liberalists expounding ideas of liberty, equality and freedom. Ideas they adapted from the ‘enlightenment’. Liberals wanted little Government intervention in the lives of the people and those who were opposed to Liberalism were Conservatives.

Liberals wanted change while Conservatives wanted a status quo. Conservatives were the real power mongers of the period and Liberalism was the ‘kiss of death’ to Conservative rule. One of the main concerns was that liberals and nationalists were perceived as Revolutionists and Revolutions had already exercised extreme brutality to achieve their ends in other countries, including France, where they even beheaded Monarchs. Metternich openly blamed nationalists and liberalists for Revolutionary ideas and so suppression of such ideals was also a life preserving motive and justification for suppression.

By introducing the Karlsbad Decrees gave Revolutionists no safe place to hide and tried to suppress Revolutionary philosophies and preserved Conservatism 9as it was then) for a little longer. However, a wave of Revolutions in 1848 across Europe meant that the age of Metternich was coming to an end. The Industrial Revolution was spreading from Britain across Europe and it was an inevitable follow on to the agricultural and Demographic Revolutions. More population because of less war meant more need for food and clothing, which was to herald in the age of Industrial Revolution. Necessity was the mother of invention and as the need arose so did the inventor or invention.

Although the Industrial Revolution began in small country homes, in a short period of time it had been placed in the hearts of the big cities that sprawled around big factories expanding to rise to the demands of the growing population. In the midst of all this European wide industrialisation, politics and progress a rapidly expanding community of enlightened thinkers was growing and developing romantic notions as to how the world should be. Romanticism was a Manifestation of enlightenment combined with Liberalism and nationalism. Ideas of radicalism were severely depressed but found their way into opera, literature, art, poetry and music. This nonconformist school of thinking emphasised individuality, emotions, passions and beauty, the expressions of the human spirit being free from suppression, repression and aggression.

This was an age of change. A Revolutionary period that had another kind of Revolution, invisible to the human eye, taking places in the minds, hearts, souls and spirits of the people of the 19th Century. This was the age of suppressed Liberalism and nationalism that was like a menacing volcano that would eventually erupt. Liberalism and all of its Manifestations from the workplace to the theatre, poetry, music and art was about to explode in the faces of the Conservatives and that explosion would not happen until 1848. This was the so called ‘final leap’ to human freedom. However, before we explore this significant year it is necessary to look at what was happening on the streets of Europe in the run up to that explosive year.

Primary Source.

John Merriman

A History Of Modern Europe.

Industrial Revolution.

The Industrial Revolution.

Although the Industrial Revolution had been on-going since the middle of the 18th century with every economy depending on production of clothes, tools and utensils, most of this work was done on a small scale in rural homes or small workshops. By the early 19th Century the banks system became sophisticated, transport systems elaborate and roads opened up to expand markets. Urbanisation was on the increase and as the population expanded so did the demand for manufactured goods. The number of people working in cities continued to rise and mechanised production meant faster and more efficient delivery to market of demanded goods.

Slowly but surely factory production transformed the way Europeans lived. Factory workers had to endure appalling hardships and abuse and they saw themselves as a class with interests defined by shared work experience. Workers demanded social and Political reform and proclaimed the equality of all people, the dignity of Labour and the evils of Capitalism. The first socials began to emerge and challenged the existing economy and the social and Political order. The transformation of the European economy is known as the Industrial Revolution.

The reality of the Revolution is a little different than the name suggests. The Revolution began, not in factories, but in small rural towns and villages around Europe. Increased agricultural productivity in rural areas helped sustain a larger population. In turn, an increase in population generated greater consumer demand for manufactured goods now transported with relative ease to Man places by trains and steamships across the Western continent. The rise in populations of all countries across Europe also contributed in a significant way to the Industrial Revolution. Agricultural production continued to sustain this rise in population and permitted the accumulation of wealth. More land came under cultivation and farm yields increased in most of Europe.

Remarkable improvements in Transportation also contributed to the transformations of the Industrial Revolution. In Britain Railway, construction and operation brought other benefits to the expanding British economy. It spurred the metallurgical industry, reduced shipping costs, increased tourism, and the hotel and hospitality business. The Industrial Revolution affected most of Western Europe, more than it did the countries of Southern and Eastern Europe. Countries that were densely populated and urbanised faired best.

The Revolution began in Britain when capital-intensive farming began to transform English agriculture. Britain was blessed with coal and iron ore deposits located near water transportation, which meant that raw materials could be transported with relative ease. Former rich colonial trade provided capital investment. British entrepreneurs were self-financed and it was easier to begin a company because Government ensured fewer social barriers by adopting a general policy of non-interference. Government also continued to invest in full transportation systems, which aided traders, Manufacturers, and merchants. Mechanisation led the Industrial Revolution and carried along other industries in its wake. Cotton clothing was in fashion and it accounted for a major part of Britain’s exports in the first half of the 19th Century.

France was the second leading economy in the world. Deprived of natural resources like coal and iron ore it was more expensive to transport goods. Population increases were not as big as in the United Kingdom so demand was not on the increase. The Banking system was rudimentary and the primary function of the French bank was to loan money to the state. Textiles were the catalyst for Industrial development with high fashion goods and fine furniture being in great demand by the middle classes.

Rural industry spurred by a modest level of urban growth remained essential to French economic growth. Taxes on commerce and industry remained low and Government provided a decisive push in the launching of railways in France, purchasing lands in which tracks were to pass. Bankruptcy laws became lenient eliminating the humiliation of incarceration as a penalty. ‘Anonymous Societies’ where investors could legally create investment partnerships with strangers were encouraged by new legislation and the Government also pleased the businessmen by crushing insurrections by republicans and strikes were kept illegal.

Germany had lagged behind Britain and France during the years of the Industrial Revolution. There were three main reasons for this; the multiplicity of independent states, the amounts of tolls and customs that had to be paid by wagons or boats carrying merchandise had to pay monopolies held over production of and distribution of goods. Yet, in the mid 1830s textile Manufacturing started to develop and berlin started to emerge as a centre of machine production. Coal mining and iron production developed and Prussia began to take a more active role in private enterprise. The bank of Prussia began extending credit, other German banks followed this move with sweeping changes to taxes, and tariffs that would encourage entrepreneurship and thus the Industrial Revolution in the German states came into being.

Elsewhere in Europe the Revolution was slow to arrive because most countries remained rural based small communities with undeveloped resources and insignificant Political attention. Entrepreneurs had great difficulty raising finance and there was little or no investment in these economies. There were some exceptions but none very significant. Spain was slow to industrialise itself because of inadequate transportation and laws that discouraged investment. There were few navigable rivers and an absent railway system prevented the Industrial Revolution from having any major impact on the Spanish economy.

Russia had a tiny middle class population and being that the majority of citizens were serfs bounded for life on land owned by others there was little enthusiasm for development. Their bondage made it impossible to develop as entrepreneurs and for the few entrepreneurs that did exist there was only a small workforce to choose from. The transport system was rudimentary and Government had issues with freedom of movement for citizens so little money was spent on transportation. Serviceable roads were designed and built for military purposes and boats were not steam driven. Hostility toward Industrialisation remained entrenched in Russia and this was mostly orchestrated by the Orthodox Church.

Most European middle class people were very much influenced by the Industrial Revolution. They were, for the most part, Liberals with the family as the basis for social order. Men and women had clear and distinct separate spheres. Frugality had little place in middle class life. They lived in a culture of comfort by comparison to the lower classes. Outside of Russia most middle class people across Europe had comfortable lives and held a great range of positions, occupations, educational levels and expectations.

Entrepreneurs were revered and emulated while the nobles were denounced for making money (from the land they owned) while sleeping. Hard work was seen as virtuous and the middle classes struggled to avoid shame of bankruptcy and so mostly prospered and created employment. The ‘self made Man’ was  a noble ideal but it remained difficult to be upwardly mobile and only a few elevated beyond upper middle class. Recession or ill health could mean overnight poverty for the self made Man and his family so they were perceived as ‘men of straw’ whose wealth and power could vanish in an instant. Crisis and disaster was a permanent threat to their position on the social ladder.

Urban growth led to an increase in demand for professionals who were held in high esteem but in reality earned very little money. Lawyers (Notary publics) charged fees up to ten per cent the value of property and estates and were very up to date with client’s financial circumstances. Doctors were limited in the treatments at their disposal, which also contributed to the professions lack of prestige. In Western Europe Doctors began to form professional associations to encourage standardised training and professional identity. Other professions such as Accountants and solicitors gradually commanded respect. As the growing reach of the state required more officials and bureaucrats the middle classes were provided with careers of prestige.

The middle classes believed that families offered the best guarantee of social order. Marriages of common class were desirable because they enhanced family wealth and position within Society. To ensure the future of the children parents began to practise contraception. Domesticity of women for 19th Century middle classes was standard. Women only worked outside of the house in their husbands businesses. Men provided for and assured the future for all the family. A woman’s status was tied to that of her father and husband. Middle class women cared for their children, planned and oversaw the preparation of meals, supervised the servants and attended to family social responsibilities. Middle class feminists began to challenge female legal and Political subordination and demanded the right to vote. Opponents of women’s rights identified the feminist movement with French Revolutionaries and militants and therefore unrespectable.

European middle classes gradually shaped a culture based on comfort. Homes were usually decorated elegantly with ornaments and furniture passed down from one generation to the next. Men were dressed in black suits and cashmere scarfs and women dressed simply but jewellery Demonstrated family wealth. Expanding readership encouraged a proliferation of novels, newspapers and journals. Travel for pleasure became more common for the middle classes and was seen as a means of self improvement.

Secondary education provided a common cultural background for the middle classes in Britain. The victory of the entrepreneurial ideal was reflected in school curriculums. However, many believed that the ‘college of life’ was the best education of all. In France some parents took their children from school at an early age (11 or 12) and considered academic education as being irrelevant to the common tasks of life. Private schools operated by the Clergy were strong in catholic countries and the middle classes sent their daughters to learn about the arts and domestic skills while boys went to learn about sport and Manual skills. France was opposed to religious influence in education and legislation demanded that schools taught secular, nationalistic values. Churches had greater control in Germany, Spain and Italy. Educational systems did teach reading and writing and literacy was consequently on the increase across Europe.

Religious ideals played an important part in the middle class view of the world. There was some strong disenchantment with organised Religion but Christianity and morality were permanently linked throughout Europe, middle class women manifested a much higher rate of religious observance than did men. Many men and women deplored the materialism that lured people away from the church. Religion was also perceived as a way of moralising workers by teaching them self respect. Charitable activities were also an important part of middle class life. Charities were often closely tied to Religion. Impressive efforts to aid the suppressed paupers suffering appalling conditions were common. Such charitable work, mostly aimed at children, also offered a chance at indoctrination.

While the Industrial Revolution changed the way people lived these changes were by no means fast to occur. Most rural people in Europe were not landowners and only had occasional work on farms. Rural protest increased as farm machinery took over jobs and rendered local workers obsolete. Rural poverty weighed heavily across the continent. Property owners were murdered to avoid payment of taxes and duties. Rural people were hungry and angry as they lost their land, livelihoods and families.

The first half of the 19th Century brought about a marked urbanisation of the European populations. The percentage of people who lived in towns and cities rose rapidly as work in rural areas lessened a mass exodus to the cities and employment took place. Smaller towns started to grow too and Industrial towns grew rapidly but commercial and administrative centres too gained population. The poorer districts quickly became over crowded as cheaper properties were constructed to house workers in the inner city where they can be put to work nearby. The middle class elite lived away from the inner city and densely populated suburbs and opted for country life on the outskirts of the cities and alienated themselves from the common workforce. To these upper classes urban growth seemed threatening. Social segregation intensified within cities. Industrial pollution altered residential patterns and the wealthy moved away from the city to enjoy vast country gardens.

Death outnumbered birth in most large European cities and immigration of peasants and unskilled workers meant that Native residents were a minority. Immigrants lived in areas sharing with others from their own countries. Between 1916 and 1850 at least Five million Europeans travelled across seas, particularly during ‘the hungry Forties’ which hit Europe hard and Ireland even harder. One and a half million people left Ireland from 1835 to 1850 while over two million people died during the Potato famine. Following the Irish were the Germans, Norwegians and Russians. Improvements in transportation meant further distances could be travelled and consequently the phenomenon of ‘seasonal migration took men even further while leaving families at home.

Domestic service was the largest category of female employment in Western Europe. Country women spun and wove wool, linen and cotton and worked in fields or gardens while taking care of their children. Urban women tended to work in fabric mills using skills they learned in their rural homes. Women worked for half of what their male counterparts earned and that was a major reason for their employment, in short, if a woman could do the job then a Man would not be hired. Wage Labour changed the dynamics of Society and broke down the old rules of sphere and traditional views of a woman’s place being in the home. Women with families who could not work or could only work part time had to supplement their income by becoming prostitutes. They could earn more money for sexual favours and many women were therefore attracted to the profession.

Children had always worked in agriculture and from a young age they were sent to work in factories too. Factory work often employed entire families with the adult male supervising other family members. Long days of labor were perceived by many as instilling discipline instead of idleness, which encouraged sin and criminality. There were numerous attempts to impose new laws to protect children but these were difficult to enforce as employers and willing cash-strapped parents flouted the laws without fear of chastisement.

The ‘happy’ view of the Industrial Revolution was that it improved life for everybody by increasing employment and lowering prices. The ‘unhappy’ view is that Industrial Capitalism was making life miserable for workers and their families as the number of people needing jobs and wages grew faster than jobs and pay. Mechanisation all but terminated artisanship and work was so seasonal that many suffered for extended periods throughout the year. The gap between rich and poor widened as upper class people earned quadruple the amounts of their lower class counterparts. For immigrants from rural societies the sense of community spirit that helped them through lean periods was now gone. Inexpensive housing for workers was constructed to maximise profits for capitalists. Families lived in vile environments with smells of raw sewage, garbage and, in many cases, Industrial sewage. Seasonal climate changes caused serious ailments and many people died of contagious diseases.

Workers began to think of themselves as ‘working classes’ with different interests to other classes. They had a sense of community based on a belief in the dignity of Labour. Artisans and specialists started to form Guilds that restricted entry into certain trades without apprenticeships. Gradual mechanisation of trades brought protest. The response was a number of illegal secret societies determined to destroy the machinery that deprived them of their livelihood. The so-called ‘Luddies’ wanted a return to the old ways and thought obliteration of machinery was the way to achieve this. Machinery was ‘the Devil’s invention’ and the committed secret societies were oblivious to the pointlessness of their moral campaign against evil. However, the existence of such secret societies across Europe suggests that artisans and workers were becoming united in a common cause.

Workers associations helped shape working class consciousness and militancy. They also became the foundations of fledgling trade unions. Members sought to protect wages and improve conditions. Most unions found membership in skilled workers because unskilled could not afford dues. Skilled workers were also more anxious to protect their trades. Liberty, fraternity and equality was the battle cry of the Unions, which was a heritage from the French Revolution. In Britain, as a result of the pressures on Government placed by the Unions, the ‘Reform Bill’ (1832) which expanded the number of those eligible to vote (but not common workers) was introduced. The exclusion of workers from voting only served to unite them even more in their struggle for equality. Soon, many people accepted the inevitability of Capitalism and were now demanding their fair share of the profit pie.

Advancing Industrialisation transformed economy and Society along with transformations in thoughts and attitudes. One of the most salient results of this was the emergence of the movement known as Socialism. Essentially there were two distinct types of socialist; Utopian and Practical. Utopian Socialism was a consequence of economic Liberalism, according to some analysts of the Industrial Revolution. Utopian socialists were critical over the living conditions of the poor. Egotistic individualism of acquisition, say the Utopians, is wrong because it lacked cooperation. They championed the power of science and technology to construct new social and Political institutions.

One French theorist, Henry De Saint Simon, suggested, “If all nobles and elite were wiped out in a ship wreck the consequences for France would be inconsiderable. However, if France lost its artisans, learned men and productive farmers the consequences for France would be disastrous. He further postulated that Mankind could anticipate a better future where science would solve material problems in harmony with an era of moral improvement. For this to occur; people of talent should be freed from the shackles of restraints placed upon them by nobles. De saint Simon contemporary, Charles Fourier (1772-1837) argued that the art of selling was the practise of lies and deception. He claimed that history moves in cycles toward a more perfect future. He proposed a commune (Phalanx) type of lifestyle where people could live and work together in one unit to survive and live life to its best. British Utopian, Robert Owen, believed that Education and environment could share a spirit of cooperation. He built a mill in Scotland, provided decent housing and established schools for children.

The most popular Utopian socialist was Frenchman Etienne Cabet who sought to apply the principles of Christianity to problems of the day. His imaginary city and vision of economic and social organisation that would covert to principles of cooperation and association. He moved to America with some of his supporters and set up colonies in Texas and Iowa. Cabet was a Communist and had been involved in Communistic publications prior to his departure and thus saw Communism as the Utopian ideal.

Practical Socialists saw the bourgeois as ‘non-producers and workers as producers. Feminists believed that emancipation of women could only come with the emancipation of their ‘kindred spirits’ the workers. One feminist socialist, Flora Tristan (1801-1844) campaigned against women’s inequality in marriage and in law. She linked feminism and socialism and campaigned for female emancipation. Louis Blance (1812-1882) wanted Governments to give scientists a free hand in applying their talents to the betterment of the human condition. The state should also guarantee workers the ‘right to work’, employment in times of stress and a decent wage in the face of unchecked competition. Pierre Joseph Prouduor (1804-1865) wanted the state abolished. The existence of the state was the reason why Capitalism exploited workers. “Property is theft” he declared. Property to him was unearned (by Manual Labour) profit. He wanted workers to organise themselves into small autonomous groups Governing themselves.

Karl Marx (1818-1883) and the Origins of Scientific Socialism: Marx studied the Utopian Socialists but thought them naïve. He thought of Capitalism as no more than a stage in History. Ideas and institutions were opposing forces to the progression of world history. His theory that proletariat struggle against bourgeois was only the latest round in an on-going war. When the proletariat achieved power then socialism would prosper. The end of private property and pure communism would follow. This victory for proletariats would come in time. He argued that a workers Revolution would come if the proletariat organised themselves. “Workers unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains.”

Europeans were impressed with the rapid pace of change. Trains brought places closer together. Cities grew and prospered and more and more people worked in industry while the upper classes were worried about urban chaos. The Industrial Revolution generated material progress, opulence abounded but so did wrenching poverty. The European powers (Britain, Prussia, Austria and Russia) tried to restore old ways with new rules but Liberalism was for the rich at the cost of the growing poor. The year of reckoning came for the Conservatives in 1848.

Primary Source:

John Merriman

History Of Modern Europe.

Protestant Ireland.

The English conquest of Ireland began in 1169 and was completed under the late Tudors with an intense colonisation dedicated to converting Ireland to England and Catholicism to Protestantism. The process was primarily destructive and coercive and concluded with military victory and a united Ireland under the crown became a reality.

Territorial control was easy the rest remained impossible. Cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious conversion never happened. Ireland in the context of a completely conquered and controlled colony remained elusive throughout sixteenth and seventeenth century and remains so to present times.

Ireland After Kildare.

Following the destruction of the house of Kildare the reliance on Anglo-Irish magnate control in Ireland had changed. Henry VIII had little or no time for powerful subjects in his empire and the heads of those who thought themselves powerful ended in baskets. The so called house of Kildare had to be replaced and this was a problem for English rulers for over a century.

Ireland was perceived as having two populations, loyal subjects and rebels. The 1541 kingship act was of little help in resolving these problems.  The act committed the English government to reform in Ireland but how could these reforms take place without loyalist control on Irish soil? A chief governor was appointed but he question remained if he could successful administer control.

There were three complicating factors to be considered and the first was finance.  Ireland proffered little revenue to the Tudors and the cost of the suppression of rebellion was phenomenal. Any English governor needed the backing of an army because without the sword, persuasion was impossible. Where was this money to come from, who pays and why?

Another complication was Ireland’s geopolitical location in relation to the ‘new world’. What was once a remote European outpost had now become the gateway to America and its riches. There had always been European interest in Ireland. Irish had fought in France and Spain in the middle ages and had earned a reputation for ruthlessness.  There had been for ages religious and commercial intercourse between European countries and Ireland but, perhaps one its greatest assets of appeal to France and Spain, was its aggressive male population who made excellent soldiers.

The efforts of Gerald FitzGerald in raising French and Spanish sympathy at the plight of Ireland at the hands of merciless Tudors were a source of concern for England.  Such a coalition of Spain, France and Ireland could overwhelm the British Empire and so, British withdrawal from Ireland was impossible because it was tantamount to handing the land over to France and Spain. Both countries were aggressively catholic and any such alliance could herald the end of Protestantism in its infancy.

Henry VIII marital problems in the 1530s led him to repudiate the pope and to establish himself as supreme head of the Church of England and in 1536, church of Ireland.  There was little impact in Ireland to the changes as Irish monasteries had become secularised and their loss was perceived as ‘good riddance’.  Monastery properties were sold off to ‘old English’ settlers while Gaelic Irish were excluded.

It was not until the arrival of Elizabeth as queen (1558) and soon after as supreme governor of Church of England (1560) that hostilities towards Protestantism in Ireland began. By the 1570s ‘loyal’ and ‘disloyal’ had become equated with catholic (the former) and protestant (the latter), a division that would persist for five centuries. The dispensation of church and state was resolutely resisted and the cause of this remains a source of historical discussion. Catholics wanted innate fidelity to Rome while Protestants saw Catholicism as superstition. Pre Christian attitudes still prevailed and catholic teachings were profound and widespread while Protestantism lacked influence for many reasons but mostly because of its lack of interest in Ireland and consequently little action in educational endeavours.

In short, Ireland posed a huge problem to Catholics and Protestants reformers whether Calvinists or Jesuits and the eventual outcome of catholic people in a protestant state could never have been foreseen.

As Catholicism prospered in protestant Ireland in the 1490s it was unhindered by Protestantism, because the Tudor apparatus was weak on Irish soil, the reformation , religious and secular, was seen as an English import and that was why both were firmly resisted.

Primary Source.

Chapter 3 – Bartlett, T.  Ireland – A History.

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