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  • Hi I'm John Green and this is Crash Course European History.

  • So, there are many candidates for most important year in European history--1492, when permanent

  • links between Afroeurasia and the Americas first formed; 1688, when the Glorious Revolution

  • gave Europe an example of constitutional governments; 1789, when the French Revolution directly

  • challenged monarchy; 1992, when the European Union was founded.

  • But you can sure make a case for 1848, when revolutions swept across Europe in the wake

  • of the upheavals and protest we saw in the last episode.

  • People in cities were suffering from economic dislocation, many having come from farms where

  • new machinery had made their labor unnecessary.

  • And urban artisans were also under threat because industrialization was automating some

  • of their jobs, Systems of government that had functioned

  • effectively for agrarian, subsistence economies were proving ineffective for this brave new

  • world.

  • In short, automation was changing work and governments weren't functioning particularly

  • well.

  • The more things change . . . INTRO

  • By the end of 1848, France, the Austrian Empire, Denmark, Hungary, the Italian States, and

  • even Poland would be enmeshed in the greatest wave of revolutions Europe has ever seen.

  • Many Europeans were experiencing theHungry Forties,” caused once again by bad harvests

  • and especially in Ireland the potato blight, a mold that devastated potato crops in Ireland

  • and elsewhere in Europe.

  • The problem was made worse by several aspects of what might be called economic modernitythat

  • is, standardization, one-crop agriculture, and more efficient wholesaling of food.

  • In terms of standardization and one-crop agriculture, traditionally Peru had at least 4-5,000 types

  • of potatoes.

  • So if one type contracted a specific blight, there were still several thousand other varieties

  • that might be safe.

  • But Europe, followed by the United States, was gradually turning toward farms that focused

  • on a single crop, and often a single strain of a crop, for efficiency.

  • Increasingly, imperialists forced this standardization and single crop farming on other parts of

  • the world, raising the chances for disaster.

  • Because of the single strain of potato, blight devastated entire crops.

  • And this resulted in death from starvation and diseases that invaded the weakened bodies

  • of at least a million Irish farmers and their families.

  • Another million or more emigrated, some to England and others to the United States and

  • Canada (where in both cases, by the way, there were no laws creating a distinction between

  • legal and illegal immigration.

  • People simply moved in.).

  • And as scarcity deepened in 1846 and 1847, Britain's liberal Whig government stuck

  • to its belief in laissez-faire, meaning that the government should let events play themselves

  • out, and therefore offered the Irish no help at all.

  • The system of usually English landlords requiring payment from Irish peasants to work farmland

  • also worsened the crisis--like, throughout the Irish famine, huge amounts of food were

  • exported from Ireland to England.

  • Even today, the population of Ireland has not recovered from the famine--some eight

  • million people lived on the island in 1840; today, around 6.6 million do.

  • Meanwhile, on the continent, food riots became common and threats to merchants, and storekeepers,

  • and bakers, and government officials became more menacing and direct.

  • One warning read: “If the grain merchants do not cease to take away grains.

  • . . we will go to your homes and cut your throats and those of the three bakers. . . and

  • burn the whole place down.”

  • So, yeah, it was pretty tense--as things tend to be when people are starving.

  • Also, amid all this deprivation and death, anti-slavery and pro-freedom ideas were circulating.

  • Between 1833-1838, Britain freed slaves across the empire, except in India.

  • A system of slave-like indentured labor did spring up, but the rhetoric in Europe at least,

  • was one of emancipation.

  • In eastern Europe, Moldavia and Wallachia began freeing several hundred thousand enslaved

  • Roma in 1843.

  • Later, in 1848, France also re-emancipated slaves after their re-enslavement under Napoleon.

  • These events were accompanied by popular abolitionism, and uprisings, and the development of a language

  • of freedom, especially freedom from governmental and structural oppression.

  • And that's really important, because in some ways, its only when we have language

  • for ideas that we're able to share them and talk about them.

  • And so, developing a language around freedoms, and ideas about human rights allowed us to

  • share those ideas.

  • On the cultural front, women such as French novelist George Sand (which was a pseudonym)

  • and the English Bronte sisters --pictured behind me, looking translucent as always--published

  • best-selling novels that addressed the persecution of women.

  • Sand dressed in men's clothes to get cheaper seats at the theater and for a while led a

  • scandal-ridden life.

  • The Brontes did quite the opposite, but they still shocked people with their portrayal

  • of women as mad or crazed in domestic confinement.

  • Across Europe, women reformers actively addressed the disproportionate poverty of women, which

  • intensified as price inflation for food made it harder to feed families in the Hungry Forties.

  • Many working women also became more politically active, demonstrating in front of city halls

  • because their meager salaries no longer sufficed to buy high-priced bread.

  • Hey, so quick question about the Bronte sisters painting behind me.

  • Who is this spectral figure in the middle who has been erased from the painting?

  • Is that their weird brother who was an opiate addict?

  • What was his name?

  • Bromwell?

  • Stan says his name was Branwell.

  • which might be even worse.

  • Update!

  • We just found out that Branwell Bronte painted that painting, and he painted himself in with

  • his sisters, but then he painted himself out, which is so sad!

  • Oh!

  • The self-hatred!

  • Now I feel really bad making fun of you, person who's been dead for 150 years.

  • OK, let's move on.

  • So, when we last visited Italy, there was no such thing as Italy.

  • Its territory was parceled out among the Spanish Bourbons to the south, the Austrian Habsburgs

  • to the north, and the papacy in the center, among several other stakeholders.

  • But when audiences at the operas of composer Giuseppe Verdi heard his rousing choruses

  • celebrating freedom and triumph over adversity, they rose to their feet cheering, and made

  • Verdi a symbol of a unified Italy free from foreign domination.

  • And in the fall of 1847, women in Messina Sicily did more than cheer; they tore down

  • royal insignia and in January 1848 they took to the streets, beginning a brief revolution

  • that took place in many parts of the peninsula.

  • These women supported Giuseppe Mazzini, who wanted national unification and a republican

  • form of government.

  • Others favored a government headed by the pope, and still others wanted a monarchy.

  • In the end, this disunity allowed for the revolutions to be defeated as Austrians, French,

  • and other military forces were sent in to stop it.

  • In fact, disunity of revolutions leading to failure will become something of a theme.

  • Let's go to the Thought Bubble.

  • 1.

  • In February 1848, myriad interests came together to spark revolution in Paris and then in other

  • French cities.

  • 2.

  • Upper-class reformers objected to the cronyism, limited voting rights, and censorship.

  • 3.

  • But in contrast, the prime minister, historian François Guizot, thought Louis-Philippe's

  • government was just right.

  • 4.

  • The crowds sent him and the king into exile.

  • 5.

  • Those crowds were backed by the upper-class reformers, but they were fueled by discontented

  • workers, the unemployed, and struggling artisans

  • 6. —all affected by rising food prices as well as uncertain conditions of employment.

  • 7.

  • A socialist different from the ones we've already talked about, Louis Blanc, was attuned

  • to the needs of workers and the poor in Paris.

  • 8.

  • He convinced the new provisional government to set up national workshops to create jobs

  • for unemployed men.

  • 9.

  • Women successfully demanded that workshops be established for them too and unsuccessfully

  • nominated George Sand—“male by virtue of virility, female by divine intuition”--as

  • a representative to the National Assembly.”

  • 10.

  • As spring progressed, a new national assembly, composed of less than ten percent workers,

  • 11.

  • shut down the workshops and formed a new national police force composed of men from the countryside,

  • 12. who had little patience for city people and their city problems.

  • 13.

  • In June, tens of thousands of workers rose up and fought the national police for several

  • days,

  • 14. until the bodies were piled high and the workers defeated.

  • 15.

  • Now a republic, France held elections based on universal male suffrage,

  • 16. which the nephew of Napoleon, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, won handily,

  • 17.

  • due to the support of peasants in the countryside.

  • 18.

  • Lest you think the rural-urban divide is anything new.

  • Thanks Thought Bubble.

  • So, just as these revolutions started, a new socialist duo, German lawyer and journalist

  • Karl Marx and Manchester textile mill owner Friedrich Engels, issued The Communist Manifesto.

  • Its famous opening—"A spectre is haunting Europethe spectre of communismused

  • the word communism instead of socialism based on the idea that society would soon revert

  • to a traditionalcommunityof like-minded people.

  • Marx and Engels believed that class struggle was going to erupt and wash away upper-class

  • oppression, and that the proletariat would seize the means of production--that is, factories

  • and land and everything else would be shared by everyone, rather than owned by the few.

  • And for the moment, that was pretty much it forMarxistsocialism.

  • But over the next half century, however, it would, of course, take a firmer theoretical

  • shape and infuse workers' programs for change across the globe, and become tremendously

  • influential.

  • And while initially, few people paid attention to the Marxist ideas of class struggle, but

  • some kind of struggle was certainly happening: The revolutions erupting across central and

  • eastern Europe featured--depending on who you were--calls for the creation of constitutionally

  • directed government structures, an end to serf-like oppression and censorship, restoration

  • of aristocratic privileges, and yes, even democracy.

  • In short, people wanted more power, and also greater rights and protection of those rights.

  • And of course, then as now, ideas were not limited by borders.

  • Like, news of the revolution in France sent Berlin's activists into the streets, pushing

  • for an array of changes but mostly for the unification of the German states.

  • King Frederick William IV, who was forced to witness the carnage on Berlin's streets,

  • summoned a congress to meet at Frankfurt to plan for reform and unification.

  • The meeting was dominated by the princes of the several dozen individual states, and it

  • progressed slowly as the princes debated whether to include Austria in this unification project

  • until the Prussian king, on being offered the crown of a constitutional monarchy refused

  • to accept “a crown from the gutter.”

  • So instead, he would get no crown at all, and the German states would remain disunited.

  • Did the Center of the World just open?

  • Is there a gutter crown in there?

  • I don't know if this gutter crown is for children, or if I just have an exceptionally

  • large head, but regardless, if there is one lesson from 19th century Europe, it's that

  • royals should take a gutter crown and be grateful for it.

  • You know what's fun?

  • Being the Queen of England, or of the Netherlands.

  • You know what's not fun?

  • Being the king of Germany.

  • Because there is no king.

  • OK.

  • Let's turn our attention to Poland.

  • So, already in 1846, Polish nationalists from the upper-classes in the Galician city of

  • Cracow, hoped to lead a revolt against Austrian rule.

  • but, peasants in the region refused to join them because Austrian rule was the peasants'

  • only hope for gaining freedom from the payments and service that they owed aristocratic landowners.

  • What's that?

  • Stan says I have to take off the gutter crown.

  • So, we like to think of revolutions as being neatly for freedoms or against them, but here

  • we have an example of it being much more complicated.

  • Because if you're in like, the upper classes in Poland, or a working person in a city,

  • freedom might look like freedom from Austrian oppression.

  • But if your a peasant, freedom looks like freedom from feudalism.

  • So during that revolution, peasants rose up and slaughtered several thousand from the

  • land-holding Polish nobility.

  • You can see how Marx came to believe class struggle was inevitable.

  • The same fragmentation appeared in March 1848 when an uprising broke out in cities across

  • the Austrian empire.

  • Remember Prince Metternich, architect of conservative reforms in Central Europe?

  • By 1848 he was so unpopular that disliking him managed to unite the disparate interests

  • of various classes and ethnic identities in the empire.

  • Middle-class reformers wanted constitutional rule; aristocrats wanted more power than they

  • had with Metternich's imperial bureaucracy running things, workers wanted both political

  • and economic reforms, and peasants, of course, wanted an end to the last oppressive vestiges

  • of feudalism.

  • And in the face of temporary enthusiasm on all sides, Metternich fled the country in

  • disguise.

  • Later Emperor Ferdinand stepped down in favor of his nephew, Francis Joseph, whose nephew

  • Francis--or Franz--Ferdinand would go on to be a rather famous assasination victim.

  • Good God was there a rich person in central Europe not named Frederick or Francis or William

  • or Louis or William-Louis or Frederick-William-Louis or Francis-Frederick-William-Louis?

  • At any rate, with the common enemy of Metternich gone, the common purpose soon disappeared

  • as well.

  • Peasants across the empire were, as they had been in 1846, not terribly interested in the

  • push for noble and middle-class rights.

  • They retreated from the fight once the imperial government abolished all traditional dues

  • and obligations to the nobility.

  • And as for the liberals and aristocratsin Austria and across most of Europethey weren't

  • thrilled with the idea of giving workers the right to vote.

  • They believed that workers did not have a big picture perspective and instead were concerned

  • with food, shelter, and taxes.

  • As one privileged Austrian deputy put it: “we should prevent only those individuals

  • from voting who live from a daily wage or who enjoy contributions from a charitable

  • institutionin short, those who are not independent.”