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Why Did The Revolutions of 1848 / 1849 Fail?

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Why Did The Revolutions of 1848 / 1849 Fail? The Revolutions of 1848 were a series of political and economic revolts that took place in Italy because of a recession and abuse of political power. From January 1848, when revolts began in Sicily; the Italian peninsula was in the grip of revolutionary turmoil. The old established order, the Pope and the other autocratic rulers of the individual states, and the domination of the peninsula by Austria all faced serious challenges. Yet, when Pope Pius IX returned to Rome in April 1850, the flames of revolution had been extinguished and the hopes and dreams of the nationalists and the liberals had mostly been crushed. Why did the revolutions of 1848/49 fail? Revolutions had previously failed in 1820 and 1831. In 1849 they were to fail for similar reasons. There was a pattern, or cycle that was constant throughout these revolutions. First, the workers, university students, and other revolutionaries agitated for change. Next, the revolutionaries revolted and brought about change and established what they thought was the ideal government, sometimes forcing the king and other leaders to leave the country. Revolutionaries began to quarrel among themselves, disputing over the fine points of their ideas and actions Popular interest was low and support was lacking, and then when the old government was given the opportunity to take back control, or a new government that was even more repressive than the former took control by brutally crushing and repressing the revolution. ...read more.


In March 1849 Charles Albert restarted the war against Austria but was again defeated at Novara. In April he abdicated in favour of his son Victor Emmanuel. When it comes to Italian unification history seemed to be repeating and the re occurring theme of the failure was Austria. Austria's victories over the Piedmontese forces in Lombardy were mirrored elsewhere in the peninsula. It was by Austrian military intervention that the old regimes were restored in 1849. After Novara, the Austrian army moved south into Tuscany where they crushed the revolution and restored the Grand Duke. In Modena and Parma the rulers, who had fled their duchies in March 1848, were also restored by Austrian military power. By August 1849 the Venetian Republic was starved into surrender following a siege by the Austrian navy, heavy shelling and a severe outbreak of cholera Stiles is convinced that Austrian military superiority was the 'single most important factor in the failure of the revolutions'. The Austrian armies were better equipped, better led and vastly superior in numbers. In any conflict they were bound to win even if the revolutionary forces had been combined. As Stiles has stated, 'the lesson of the 1848/49 revolutions was that Austria held the key to Italian unity and had no intention of unlocking the door'. However, such mono-causal explanations in history are rarely the 'full story' and the 1848/49 revolutions are no exception. ...read more.


This turning point was vital as it was the first real break through in Italian unification. If Italy was ever going to gain independence they needed to stop Austria and to do this they needed foreign intervention. In conclusion the 1948 revolution was no different to 1820 or 1831 but I do not believe that these three revolutions were total failures. These revolutions all did one thing together; that the people did have the power to overtake the government and establish what they thought as the ideal government that was run by their constitution. And even though the Italian revolts did not last, they too showed their strength in their national feeling. Eventually, the revolts led to reform and ultimate success under different leaders and different years. Italian revolutions of 1848 ended in many of the failures of the previous revolutions such as the divided aims and tactics of the revolutionary groups were certainly an important factor as was the failure of the provisional governments to gain popular support. Italy also did not have one overall leader, which would always make it weak, but once more as had been for previous years he main failure had been the superiority r to Austrian military strength. The Italian forces were weak and divided and while the military power of Austria remained supreme in the peninsula there was no way for Italy to gain independence or unity without outside help. Mark Strachan 12.6 ...read more.

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