Power to the People: The Effects of the French Revolution on European Politics The French Revolution was an event that altered the course of politics in Europe forever. From 1789 to 1799, the French people battled for their rights and freedom against the French government and monarchy. A few decades before, the Americans successfully declared their secession from Britain after years of discontent. France played a big part in this revolution by aiding the American colonists to gain their independence.
The people of France were unhappy with their monarchy, just as the American colonists were unhappy with their English King, and wanted a change. The French people fought towards a just government, and this set the tone throughout Europe. Though the French Revolution was known for its brutality, the major influence of the French Revolution was its patriotism and its success. Because of this uprising in France, many countries in Europe followed France’s lead and had revolutions of their own. Spain was greatly influenced and inspired by France’s Revolution. Fearful that revolutionary ideas might spread to the peninsula, Spain’s Bourbon monarchy introduced repressive policies, revived the Inquisition, and ended plans for new domestic reforms. ” (Decline of Spanish Power, Effects of the French Revolution Paragraph 2) In 1796, once France’s revolution started coming to an end, Manuel de Godoy, an advisor to the Spanish king, formed an alliance with France against Britain and Portugal. Spain and France invaded and occupied Portugal in hopes of taking control of the Iberian Peninsula in 1807.
This all changed when France turned on Spain and occupied them in 1808. “The localized, collective actions of 1808 stamped the war as a national conflict” (Eastman 68). Spain was occupied by Napoleon from 1808 to 1814, when the Peninsula War ended. The Spanish Constitution of 1812 was established by the Cadiz Cortes, Spain’s first national sovereign assembly and Cortes Generales, the legislature of Spain. This constitution supported many liberal ideas such as freedom of the press, land reform, and constitutional monarchy. The Constitution of 1812 was considered one of the most liberal of its time.
The king at the time, King Ferdinand VII was not in favor of this constitution. Though it was groundbreaking, the constitution never came into full implementation and it continued to be an issue in Spain many decades after this. The Spanish people reacted similarly to the French people towards their government for the same reasons. The Spanish people proposed a new form of government that gave the people more voice in their country. The king was not pleased and did not accept this. The French people were not happy with their government and wanted to change it to their advantage.
The king didn’t want to give up his throne and he vetoed the idea of a democracy rather than a monarchy. Like Spain, France also influenced Austria with their revolution. “To realize, within the necessary limitations, the imperial unity without which Austria cannot be a great power” (Trencsenyi et. al 462). This was the philosophy of the Austrian monarchy, saying that without Imperial unity, Austria cannot be a powerful country. Austria controlled Germany for centuries,” first through the Holy Roman Empire, and later the German Confederation. This loose federation was dominated by Austria. (Silva Paragraph 3)
Along with Germany, the Austrian Empire ruled over Hungary, Slovakia, and numerous other smaller countries in Europe. When the Austrian people heard of successful uprisings in Paris, they started to develop a revolution of their own. The Austrian government were not fond of these revolutionary ideas. “The scenes of horror which accompanied the first phases of the French Revolution prevented the rapid propagation of its subversive principles beyond the frontiers of France, and the wars of conquest which succeeded them gave to the public mind a direction little favourable to revolutionary principles” ( Metternich 8).
Much as they had in France, the Austrian people started rioting against the government in hopes of changing some aspect of its rule. Since there was no real army to protect the government from riots and revolutionary zeal, Ferdinand I, the king of Austria, resigned on March 13, 1848. The Austrian revolution a movement against imperialist Austria from the people that it ruled. The occupied countries wanted to secede from the Austrian government and create their own national identities, separate from the others.
This reflected France’s revolutionary ideas because of the people’s need to be free from the Imperialism and determine their own path. The Austrian people acted similar to the French people because both of the countries people shared the determination to separate themselves from the ruler and make their own government. Russia was also inspired to revolt by the French along with other European countries. Russia had two separate uprisings against its government in 1905 and 1917. In 1904, the Russian people were unhappy with many things about their society.
Specifically, they did not like their working conditions. “… that the laborer is robbed of the most necessary objects, not only to maintain his own life, but even objects with which to labor” (Marx 1). They worked 11 hours a day (10 on Saturdays) in unsafe and grueling conditions. The Russian revolution included things like worker strikes, peasant unrest, and military mutinies. In December of 1904, a strike occurred in St. Petersburg. In January of 1905, George Gapon, who headed a police-sponsored workers’ association, led a huge workers’ procession to the Winter Palace to deliver a petition to the Tsar.
Troops guarding the Tsar were told not to let protesters go past a certain point. They openly fired on the protesters which resulted in over 200 deaths. This day was renamed Bloody Sunday, and marked the beginning of the Russian Revolution of 1905. A little more than a decade later, the Russian revolution of 1917 started up. This revolution “destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union” (Russian Revolution 1). This revolution was also referred to as the February Revolution and it only lasted 4 days.
The February Revolution was right in the middle of World War 1, which Russia was heavily involved with. Eventually, this war ended Tsarist rule and led to the formation of the Soviet Union. These Russian revolutions reflected the French revolution by the way the lower class acted. The Russian lower class and co people were unhappy because they suffered deprivations and conditions that the upper classes did not. The working classes were laborers with unfair pay and unhealthy environments. The upper classes did not live with these conditions.
This reflected French actions because the French third estate reacted very similarly to how they were being treated by the higher classes and the government. The French revolution inspired Germany to rebel against its government as well. This rebellion was part of a series of rebellions in Europe during this time period. Germany’s rebellion was aimed towards Austria and their government. At the time, Austria was in control of multiple different countries including Germany. This revolution had another name called the March revolution. The establishment of a French republic by workers and bourgeoisie in February of 1848 encouraged German students, peasants, craftsmen, and workers to take to the streets and revolt against their governments in early March. ” (Flynn Paragraph 2). Germany desired political freedom, democracy, and freedom from censorship among many different ideas.
The German uprising was like the French revolution because of their shared need of freedom and singularity and separation from the government. They needed to be separate from Austria to be able to thrive and become an conomically and politically powerful country. Austria did not want to let go of Germany but the German people had enough, so they led a revolutionary uprising. The French were similar because they also did not want to be citizens under an absolute monarchy. They wanted the a type of government that a democracy would give them. The French monarchy did not want this, so the French people revolted until they got a more democratic government. These countries were not the only countries to feel the effects of the French revolution. Prussia was an influential country as well.
Prussia had a heavy influence on the Russian and Austrian revolutions, and also influenced Germany. The French revolution was a changing point in history. The French common people spread hope to the people throughout Europe with their success and their determination to change their country. The French revolution inspired European countries to move towards a determination of their own path, much like the French had done. The effects the French Revolution had across Europe and the world forever changed the way people think about their Government.
If the French revolution did not happen, things would be much different today. Revolutions are scattered all throughout history. There were revolutions not just in Europe, but all over the world. People are always finding ways to try and better the country they’re living in. Sometimes these ideas are peacefully, but sometimes they can end up starting wars and revolts that alter the course. History always repeats itself, so the question is, what kinds of revolutions will happen in the future to try and make the world a better place? Eastman, Scott.
Preaching Spanish Nationalism Across the Hispanic Atlantic, 1759-1823. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2012. Web. 2 Nov. 2014. The origin of this source is from the Sierra College Library Database. The purpose of this book is to give readers primary information on Spanish Nationalism and the Spanish Government. The value in this source is that it is a primary source. The information in here was written at the time, not afterwards. A limitation with using this source is that it is only about Spain and for my essay, I need information about more than just Spain.
Silva, Brett N. “Silvapages. ” 1848 Revolutions in Austria. N. p. , n. d. Web. 01 Nov. 2014. The origin of this source is an online source. The purpose is to explain the Austrian revolution and how it effected Germany. A value with this source is that it is very straight forward and easy to get information from it. A limitation is that it was written by an IB teacher from Chico so the source could be somewhat unreliable. Even though the information sounds accurate, it might not be the best source to use