Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Italian unification

This post owed a considerable debt to Robert Gildea's textbook, Barricades and Borders: Europe 1800-1914 (Oxford University Press, 2003) and to David Gilmour's very revisionist The Pursuit of Italy: A History of the Land, its Regions and their Peoples (Allen Lane, 2011.)

You might be interested to learn more about the wonderfully operatic Italian national anthem, Fratelli d'Italia. Here is its history. You can hear it on youtube.
Cavour and Napoleon III
Count Camillo Benso di Cavour  (1810-61)
Giuseppe Mazzini
With Austria weakened by the Crimean War, Cavour, the Prime Minister of Piedmont (above), aimed at expelling the Austrians from Italy and annexing the northern provinces of Lombardy and Venetia under Victor Emmanuel II. But neither he nor the king wanted a united Italy, which would be harder to control and might fall prey to democrats and nationalists. The man they most feared was Mazzini (left) who commanded a revolutionary corps of conspirators, organizing a National Party in London in 1850.

Nationalists increasingly recognized that Austria still remained a great power and could only be removed from Italy by military force, and that this would have to be under Piedmontese leadership with French assistance. In 1857 the veteran nationalists Garibaldi and Manin established the Italian National Society which cut itself off from Mazzini’s doctrinaire republicans.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Austrian coronations

On Wednesday 10 December the Society for Court Studies will be hosting a presentation by Dr William Godsey of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. His subject is Coronations and Royal Inaugurations in the Austrian Monarchy 1790-1848, a topic that is clearly of interest to our course. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at New York University, 6 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3RA, room 102.

The website can be found here.

Thanks to Audrey Heard for drawing this to my attention.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Napoleon III

This post owes a good deal to James F. McMillan, Napoleon III (Longman, 1991)

Early Life
Louis Napoleon Bonaparte was born in 1808, the son of Napoleon’s brother, Louis King of Holland, and Hortense de Beauharnais, the daughter of Josephine. After 1815 he was brought up in Switzerland but as a young man he settled in Italy and became involved with Carbonari politics. With the death of Napoleon’s son, the duke of Reichstadt in 1832, he became the heir to the to the Bonaparte dynasty.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Europe post 1848: conservatism and change

This post and the subsequent ones are indebted to two text-books in particular: Robert Gildea, Barricades and Borders: Europe 1800-1914, 3rd edn. (Oxford University Press, 2003) and Michael Rapport, Nineteenth-Century Europe (Palgrave, 2005).

Europe post 1848: the New Conservatism
After 1848 the conservative order re-asserted itself, but it did not simply restore the old order. The growing pace of economic and social change made this impossible. The international scene also grew more threatening. Between 1848 and 1878 a series of wars reshaped Europe and destroyed the Vienna settlement.

For Napoleon III, see subsequent post.

The Second Republic

The group of moderates who formed the provisional government was acclaimed by the crowd at the Hôtel de Ville on 24 February. Alphonese de Lamartine became the Foreign Minister, Alexandre Ledru-Rollin Minister of the Interior. As a gesture to radicals, Louis Blanc was included. By midnight the two factions were able to produce the statement: ‘The Provisional Government gives its vote to the Republic, subject to ratification by the People, who will be consulted forthwith’.

The Second Republic had come into being almost by accident and at a time of collapsing businesses and food shortages. Under pressure from the radicals inside the government and from the Parisian crowds, the government introduced some hasty reforms: it reduced the daily working hours to ten in Paris and eleven in the provinces, recognized the ‘right to work’ and set up ‘National Workshops’ to provide work and poor relief. This was an expensive measure, and to fund it, taxes had to be raised by 45%.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

The French Franc and the German Mark

Austrian vereinsthaler of 1866
In answer to questions raised in class about the currencies of France and Germany I have found the following very informative websites.

See here for the franc and here for the mark. See here and here for the older currencies, the thaler and the vereinsthaler.

Monday, 12 November 2012

The Revolutions of 1848

Much of the information for this post is taken from Jonathan Sperber, Revolutionary Europe, 1780-1850 (Longman, 2000) and Robert Gildea, Barricades and Borders: Europe 1800-1914, 3rd edn (Oxford, 2003). The pictures above are of the proclamation of the Roman Republic in the Piazza deo Popolo and the Frankfurt Parliament (see below).

The revolutions of 1848 ignited the countries of Europe in a way that would not be repeated until 1989. Violence broke out because legal and parliamentary movements for change were frustrated. The only countries were revolution was avoided were those were adequate concessions were made in time (Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands) of where opposition was negligible and repression total (Russia).

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Melvyn Bragg: In Our Time

Here are two programmes that are very relevant to the course.

Click here for a discussion of Delacroix' Liberty Leading the People

And here for '1848: The Year of Revolutions'.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The July Monarchy (1830-48)

On 31 July, following three days of fighting in Paris, the veteran general Lafayette, appeared on the balcony of the Hôtel de Ville with Louis-Philippe, the 57-year-old head of the Orléanist family. Both men were holding a large tricolour flag. When Lafayette embraced Louis-Philippe, the crowd gave both men a prolonged ovation. On 3 August Louis-Philippe opened the new session of the Chamber of Deputes as Lieutenant-General of the Kingdom. On 9 August he accepted the deputies’ invitation to be King of the French. He then mounted the throne, acknowledging that ‘the will of the nation has called me’.  This was the closest he got to a coronation. Supporters of the July Revolution compared it to Britain’s Glorious Revolution of 1688-9.  It was not a divine right monarchy and Louis-Philippe was designated king of the French not king of France. According to Lafayette, whose support was crucial, this was
‘a popular monarchy surrounded by republican institutions’.  
The tricolore replaced the white flag of the Bourbons as a sign that Louis-Philippe, who had fought at Jemappes and was the son of the revolutionary Philippe Égalité, was a ‘Citizen King’. He stood between France and a republic.

The Bourbons (1814-300

The Monarchy restored
Lous XVI had two younger brothers, Louis-Stanlslas, count of Provence (b. 1755) and Charles-Philippe, count of Artois (b. 1757), who had been in exile since 1791. Following the death of the little dauphin (‘Louis XVII) in 1795 Provence claimed the title Louis XVIII. At the time of Napoleon’s fall both brothers were living in England.

Because Napoleonic France was a police state, it is difficult to assess the state of opinion. Nevertheless, evidence suggests that there were people of royalist sympathies in all classes. As Napoleon’s troubled mounted, the Bourbons began to hope for a restoration. In February 1813 Louis issued a declaration from his English home, Hartwell in Bucks, promising pardon to those who served Napoleon or the Republic and compensation to the original owners of confiscated lands.

On 12 March 1814 Anglo-Portuguese forces entered Bordeaux and the city proclaimed Louis XVIII.  This convinced the Allies that there was genuine support for a Bourbon restoration. On 31 March allied armies entered Paris. A provisional government was set up under Talleyrand and throughout France towns spontaneously proclaimed Louis XVIII. On 24 April Louis, now known as ‘le Desiré’ arrived back in France.

The Charter

On 4 June 1814 he introduced a constitution, the Charter, which recognized the fundamental principles of equality before the law, and a reasonable liberty of the press. Trial by jury and an independent judiciary were established. All senior officers and officials were to be appointed by the King. There were to be two chambers on the British model: the Chamber of Peers (appointed by the King, who could be either hereditary or life peers) and the Chamber of Deputies of 268 members, who had to pay more than 1,000 francs in taxes; a fifth were to be elected every year by every man who paid more than 300 francs a year in direct taxes . Catholicism was recognized as the state religion, but Protestant ministers were to be paid a salary.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Europe after the Congress of Vienna

The two pictures above demonstrate the contradictory aspects of the period: the crushing of the Decembrist revolt in Russia in 1825 and the July Revolution in Paris in 1830.

The post-Napoleonic rulers committed themselves in practice to an attempt to turn the clock back or at least to preserve the status quo: an aristocratic society, supported by a middle class (enriched in France by the French Revolution and in Britain by the Industrial Revolution).
But could the clock be turned back? New ideas were striking at the roots of the traditional order. ‘Conservatism’ and ‘conservative’ were new words from France. ‘Liberal’ from Spain acquired a new currency as a noun. ‘Democrat’ and ‘democracy’ began for the first time to be used by some in a favourable way. ‘Left’ and ‘right’ acquired political meanings.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Congress of Vienna

‘The reconstruction of Europe at the Congress of Vienna is probably the most seminal episode in modern history. Not only did the congress redraw the map entirely. It determined which nations were to have a political existence over the next hundred years and which were not…It entirely transformed the conduct of international affairs.’ Adam Zamoyski, Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna (HarperPress, 2007), p. xiii.

The Congress System

In September 1815 Tsar Alexander (who was still under the influence of Julie von Krüdener), Francis I and Frederick William III (and all European rulers except the pope, the sultan and the Prince Regent) signed a Holy Alliance (the countries depicted right) to deal with each other and other peoples on the basis of Christianity. The pragmatic Castlereagh described it as
‘a piece of sublime mysticism and nonsense’.
A more realistic treaty was signed in November – the Quadruple Alliance Treaty. This set up the ‘Concert of Europe’ by which Britain, Russia, Austria, Prussia attempted to control events by regular consultation (summit conferences) among themselves. This is known as the Congress System.

He had to fall

[Above: Napoleon's tomb at Les Invalides, Paris.]

'Napoleon was bound to fail because his appetite for gloire was insatiable. Like the French Revolution, from whose culture he sprang, he never had any war aims beyond victory.'
From Tim Blanning, The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1815 (Penguin, 2008), p. 669.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Napoleon: rise and fall

This very schematic diagram istaken from my O Level text book, Denis Richards' An Illustrated History of Modern Europe (Longmans, 1950) and is a wonderful summary of the main events of Napoleon's career. Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Napoleon: the downfall

[The above picture is Goya's, The Second of May, 1808: The Charge of the Mamelukes, depicting the brutal suppression of the Spanish revolt.]

The first major test of Napoleon’s rule was the Spanish crisis of 1808, when he placed his brother Joseph on the throne. The military presence of the French in Madrid led to a revolt  on 2 May. Its brutal suppression triggered off the Spanish War of Independence, known in British history as the Peninsular War, a popular counter-revolution which was exploited by the British. In August British troops under Sir Arthur Wellesley landed in Portugal, and the ensuing war forced Napoleon to commit 300,000 troops to the country to fight the British and Portuguese armies and the Spanish insurgents.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Napoleon as administrator

Above, Jacques-Louis David, The Emperor Napoleon in his Study (1812).

Here are some thoughts about Napoleon's achievements in France.

Centralization: Napoleon created the agencies of centralized administration and the administrators to run them. These included the gendarmerie, the state-controlled paramilitary police force; the prefect, the head of departmental administration, appointed by the central government and accountable exclusively to it; a cadre of trained experts for the state, products of the École Polytechnique, founded in 1794; new state-run secondary schools, the lycées, whose curriculum centred on Latin and Mathematics.

Spin-doctoring à la français

Antoine-Jean Gros, The Bridge at Arcole (1801)
If you would like more on how painters acted as Napoleon's propagandists, then you should find this site interesting.

 The battle of Arcola, 17 November 1796: a case study in propaganda
This is what happened as described in Philip Dwyer, Napoleon: The Path to Power, 1769-1799 (Bloomsbury, 2007), 1-3, 248-58.

Arcola is a village in northern Italy, 32 kilometres east of Verona. French and imperial forces confronted each other there, separated by the river Alpone and a small wooden bridge. The countryside around was marshy and crossed by dykes as a defence against flooding. Napoleon believed he had to cross this bridge in order to take Arcola.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Napoleon on the web

There's loads of material on Napoleon on the web.

Here, for example.

Napoleon: the rise to power

The posts on Napoleon are based on a wide range of reading. I have found Jonathan Sperber's Revolutionary Europe, 1780-1850 (Longman, 2000) especially helpful.

Napoleon institutionalized the changes brought about by the French Revolution and spread them throughout Europe. This makes him easily the most influential figure of the period. He was the heir both of the Revolution and the Enlightenment and the changes he brought about outlasted his military defeat.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Melvyn on the Reign of Terror

 Click here for the In Our Time discussion of the Reign of Terror.

Guillotined ancestors

Thanks to a fairly recent website, French people can now discover whether any of their ancestors were guillotined between 1792 and 1795.

The creator of the site, Raymond Combes, a computer programmer and amateur genealogist, believes that his work will force historians to reappraise the period. According to the official figure 17,500 people were guillotined in this period but M. Combes already has more than 18,000 names on his site, which is based on lists compiled for the bicentenary of the Revolution in 1789 and from documents sent in by users. He says:
'A lot of these guillotined were never registered in official records. I'm adding names all the time. But I don't put anyone down unless they are accompanied by documentary evidence.'
Nor has he included the tens of thousands of people massacred during the Revolution.
'It was an important part of out history. But I'm not sure all that violence really served a purpose.'

The Ideology of the Terror

Louis Antoine St Just, ideologue of the Terror
The Terror was about establishing purity, patriotism and virtue. In September 1792 at the time of the first meeting of the Convention, Robespierre wrote:
‘It is not enough to have overturned the throne: our concern is to erect upon his remains holy equality and the imprescriptible Rights of Man. It is not in the empty word itself that a republic consists, but in the character of the citizens. The soul of a republic is vertu – that is love of la patrie, and the high-minded devotion that resolves all private interests into the general interest. The enemies of the republic are those dastardly egoists, those ambitious and corrupt men. You have hunted down kings, but have you hunted out the vices that their deadly domination has engendered among you? Taken together, you are the most generous, the most moral of all peoples…but a people that nurtures within itself a multitude of adroit rogues and political charlatans, skilled at usurpation and the betrayal of trust.’ [quoted Ruth Scurr,  Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution (Vintage, 2007, 219-10]
‘The point was to ensure the triumph of the good, pure, general will of the people – what the people would want in ideal circumstances – and this needed to be intuited on their own behalf until they received sufficient education to understand their own good.’ [Scurr, 211]

Louis Antoine de St Just, February 1794:
‘The republic is built on the ruins of everything anti-republican. There are three sins against the republic: one is to be sorry for State prisoners; another is to be opposed to the rule of virtue; and the third is to be opposed to the Terror.’

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Melvyn on the French Revolution

You can hear the 'In Our Time' discussion of the French Revolution's Reign of Terror here.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

La Marseillaise on You Tube

If you want to join in the singing of La Marseillaise this is your chance!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The French Revolution: I

For an overview, see a fantastic site here.  There is also lots of information here.

The death of the Ancien Régime
The ‘ancien régime’ is the name given to the French government before the Revolution. It was marked by privilege, inequality, injustice and economic inefficiency. With its population of 28 million (compared with 13 million in Britain) the country ought to have been prosperous, yet many of its inhabitants lived in terrible poverty,

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The French Revolution: II

The guillotine
In line with humanitarian Enlightenment thought, the French revolutionaries wished to reform the system of punishment. In 1791 by a narrow majority, the Legislative Assembly voted to retain the death penalty but to replace the penalty of breaking on the wheel wit a new humane method of execution, the guillotine. Named after Dr Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, a professor of anatomy and a member of the Constituent Assembly, it operated on the Newtonian law of gravity and, it was argued, would avoid the botched decapitations of the past.