The Outbreak of the February 1848 revolts in France it was the trigger for the third liberal revolutionary wave that swept across Europe. It was a movement of such magnitude that it even reached Austria, the great defender of absolutism in Europe. Before seeing how and in what way it was produced, we must understand the context in which the Central European country was.
The Austrian Empire was made up of a group of diverse peoples, grouped into various political entities. The one in charge of maintaining the balance between all of them was the Chancellor Metternich. His main task was to prevent any of the peoples from having nationalist aspirations, since if these feelings were aroused among the population, the essence of the empire would end. The administration of the entire territory was in the hands of the Austrians, with the exception of Hungary, which had a particular status due to its historical tradition.
In 1830, there were already some threats, but it was not until 1848 that they reappeared. The Magyars, the Slavs and the Romanians were becoming more and more aware of their individuality and wanted it to be recognized by the emperor and the chancellor. Always receiving letters and a harsh repression in response, they opted for the alternative plan: unite and form a powerful bloc.
That is how On March 13, 1848, the 1848 Revolution began in Vienna. The city was filled with barricades and dead when students, bourgeoisie and workers demanded a constitution for Austria and the resignation of Chancellor Metternich. The president was unable to control the situation, so he fled in disguise while the Baron Pillersdorf, a moderate liberal aristocrat, formed a provisional government.
In May, a Constituent Assembly was convened that would have to draft a constitution, but not everything went as expected, as there was a firm reaction from the imperial government. After the death of the Minister of War, Emperor Ferdinand I ordered the bombing of Vienna, which ended up surrendering in October 1848. The result was the dissolution of the Assembly and the repeal of the constitution. Furthermore, the Austrian emperor abdicated in favor of his nephew, Francisco José I.
But as we have already mentioned, the Empire was very diverse, so the fire of the revolution reached other places, such as Bohemia. The Czechs wanted to constitute a completely independent Bohemia with the Slavs from the north and south. They demanded the promulgation of a “Bohemian Letter”In which the creation of an Imperial Diet or a parliament is guaranteed and in which political freedoms are respected. On June 12, 1848, the top Slavic leaders met in Prague, forming a Pan-Slavic congress. They discussed the present and the future of the Slavs and especially highlighted the figure of the Czech nationalist Frantisek Palacky. The problem is that the aspirations were short-lived due to the great repression carried out by the Austrian crown against the territory of Bohemia.
Another of the territories that was raised was Hungary. On March 3, 1848, they claimed full autonomy and began a movement much stronger than the previous ones. They managed to get a special status on April 11, as well as an Imperial Diet and a government of their own.
At the forefront of Hungarian nationalism was Kossuth, founder of the Democratic Party, who was a supporter of independence and who presented a motion on April 14 to dethrone the Habsburgs. However, like the rest of the riots, this one had an unfortunate end. Emperor Franz Joseph I, with the help of Tsar Nicholas I, assembled an army that reduced all Hungarian demands and aspirations to ashes.
It was the end of the first revolutionary wave suffered by the Austrian Empire and that revealed the weakness of the Restoration. The beginning of the end had come for Europe.
Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was a child he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.