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Why did the Revolutions of 1848/9 Breakout?

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Why did the Revolutions of 1848/9 Breakout? There were a number of reasons for the breakout of the 1848/9 revolutions, based upon many short and long term tensions, and yet, in spite of the optimistic rhetoric of the 1840s, the political theorists failed to devise practical ways of achieving their goals. Mazzini's attempts to stimulate popular insurrection in 1833 and 1834 ended in complete failure. In 1836 he was forced to disband 'Young Italy'. In 1837 Mazzini left for England where he pursued his dream in exile. Mazzini continued to influence the Italian Nationalist movement but his impact was as a classic romantic revolutionary, symbolic yet ultimately of no practical account. The proposals outlined by men such as Mazzini, Gioberti and Balbo were significant because they contained clarity of purpose absent from the vague intentions of the Carbonari. However, the appeal of such ideas was strictly limited, with the majority of the Italian people yet to be moved by the same nationalist impulses. In 1848 revolutions once again swept over Italy. However, unlike the other outbreaks of 1820-21 and 1831, there seemed to be real hope that these revolts might succeed. Three developments in the years 1846-48 provided the basis for this optimism. One of the most important elements in the general development of Europe during the first half of the Nineteenth Century was sustained population growth. ...read more.


However, the settlement was more than a simple territorial reshuffle. Bound up in the settlement was a commitment to the power of monarchy and the Church, and the recognition of aristocratic privilege. Increasingly after 1815, these ideas, which predated the French Revolution, came to be challenged by groups representing new forces. For example, the development of a European middle class during the first half of the Nineteenth Century produced an articulate challenge to the values of 1815. Educated professionals, such as lawyers, teachers, doctors, journalists and public officials, were openly critical of a system which denied them appropriate recognition and status in society. They were largely excluded from participation in politics, were discriminated against when in competition with the privileged nobility and were restrained from the free expression of their grievances b the censor and the secret police. Such people became attracted to the ideals of liberalism. Those who supported the liberal programme were not democrats. They were to invest political power not in the people but in a parliament composed of an educated and responsible elite. Neither were they revolutionaries, wishing to achieve political change by force of argument not force of arms. Yet as the Nineteenth Century progressed, middle-class liberals made little progress against the entrenched opposition of men like Metternich. ...read more.


In 1847 the iron industry was forced to cut production by 30 per cent; coal was reduced by 20 per cent. The result was unemployment and a loss of confidence in the government. Dramatic falls in the value of share prices shattered confidence still further. The middle class and working class now constituted a huge body of discontent in Europe. A temporary alliance followed which in 1848 shook European society to its foundation. Also, Puis IX was elected to the Papacy in 1846. His reputation as a liberal was widely known and he quickly won popular acclaim by granting amnesty to all political prisoners in the Papal States. Reforms followed in the administration, the law and education; and in 1847 Press censorship was curtailed. In the same year he introduced a new advisory body, the Consulta to assist him in the task of government. Significantly, members of his council were elected and included representatives from outside the ranks of the clergy. Reform in the Papal States was imitated in other areas, notably Piedmont and Tuscany. The actions of the new Pope appeared to signal the commencement of Gioberti's plans for Italy. Throughout he country interest in reform and the Risogrimento became acute; the Italian people seemed to have found a leader through whom they could articulate their discontent. Name: Alexis Cormano Form: 12CSYC Mr. Edwards Unification of Italy ...read more.

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