History of the Status of Europe in 1815!
The view of Dr. David Thomson is that the Continent of Europe in 1815 was not a mere geographical expression.
It was also not a community of peoples with enough in common to justify our regarding Europe as an organic entity, sharing a culture, an economy, a complex of traditions which made it in a real sense one.
Neither of the two views is accurate. Each view is flat and distorted. Just as nineteenth century diplomats thought of a balance of power in Europe which, by holding certain equilibrium between the largest states, allowed all states to co-exist peacefully, similarly we may picture the cohesion of Europe as being compatible with its great diversities by a sort of internal balance of forces.
In some important respects, it was one. In other equally important respects, it was many things. From the tensions between these two contrary qualities came much of that inherent impetus to development, change and greatness which made Europe the most important and dynamic Continent in the world during the nineteenth century. There existed within Europe tension between the forces of continuity and forces of change.
The former included the institutions of monarchy, church, land-owning aristocracy and a widespread desire for peace and stability. The latter included the rapid growth of population, spread of industrialism and urban life, the ferment of nationalism and political ideas disseminated throughout Europe by the French Revolution and the conquests of Napoleon.
- The Roman Catholic Church in 1818
- Forces of Continuity: Monarchy
- The Church
- The Landed Aristocracy
- Popularity of Peace
- Forces of Change: Growth of Population:
- Industrialism and Urbanism
1. The Roman Catholic Church in 1818:
The Roman Catholic Church emerged in 1815 as a militant and powerful force transcending state frontiers. The Pope claimed the loyalty of millions of men and women in every European state. The landed aristocracy cherished their feudal rights of administering justice and exacting dues from their vassals in Austria and Russia. They clamoured for the restoration of those rights in France and Germany.
The economy of every European country still rested on the labours of peasants in the fields. The peasantry was the mass of the population. Except in parts of North-Western Europe, they worked the land using methods and tools not different from those used by their medieval ancestors.
Much of the political history of the nineteenth century is concerned with the activities of the non-peasant section of the population. In Western Europe, some peasants were now rapidly improving their social and legal status. They were improving their economic status by new methods of farming. Peasants in Eastern Europe made very little advance during the nineteenth century.
Behind the patchwork political map, there existed a general monarchical dynastic system which reduced conflicts between states to simple categories of rivalries between a few large families. The Bourbons of France and the Habsburgs of Austria provided most of the states of Europe with their ruling monarchs.
This “cousinhood of kings” remained an important factor in European diplomacy even in 1815. There were no dynastic wars, but there were dynastic alliances, marriages, disputes and wars. In Eastern Europe were the Habsburg Empire, the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire.
The United Kingdom had her link with Hanover till 1837. It is said that when Queen Victoria celebrated the fiftieth year of her reign, most of the rulers of Europe who attended the Golden Jubilee were related to her.
From the time of Louis XIV, French had replaced Latin as the normal language of diplomacy. Likewise, the rationalism of French thought conquered the minds of Europe. Englishmen such as Gibbon, the great historian and Bentham wrote and spoke in French as readily as in English.
The enlightened despots of eighteenth century Europe like Frederick the Great of Prussia and Catherine the Great of Russia, adopted French writers and artists. Members of the aristocracy all over the Continent were familiar with the writings and ideas of the French. Europe was united in its Frenchness. During the days of Napoleon, French laws, institutions, administrative methods and systems of weights and measures spread throughout Western and Central Europe. Much of the material and cultural unity of Europe fame from France.
The degree of cohesion and unity in Europe can be measured not only in terms of internal conditions but also in terms of the relations between European states as whole and other parts of the world. In 1815, no Western European power held any part of North Africa. The Mediterranean was the frontier between Europe and Islam. Overseas connections were restricted to Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands. Great Britain lost her control over the American colonies but consolidated her position in Canada. She had her Empire in India. The Netherlands had an overseas Empire in the Dutch East Indies.
Geography has broken up the Continent of Europe into many regions. The regional differences were profound on account of the absence of railways, good roads and old-fashioned means of transport and communication.
2. Forces of Continuity: Monarchy:
In 1815, there were certain forces of continuity and among them the most important was the institution of monarchy. It is pointed out that even the French revolutionaries of 1789 had no intention of overthrowing monarchy but they took the daring step only in 1792 when they decided to set up a Republic in France. The only Republics in Europe were Switzerland, Venice and Genoa.
They seemed to be exceptions that proved the rule. The traditions of dynastic absolutism were deep-rooted and well-tested. It is not correct to think that the Ancien regime was totally destroyed by the French Revolution and the conquests of Napoleon. Not only the ideas and institutions of old monarchies survived throughout the upheavals of the period from 1789 to 1815, they enjoyed a new popularity and struck fresh roots in the generation after Waterloo.
The basic idea of monarchy was the hereditary title to political power. The functions of the Government in those days were very much restricted. They were mainly the functions of organising security for the whole of the kingdom at home and abroad. The people were to be saved from foreign invasions or subjection to foreign powers. Law and order were to be maintained within the kingdom. These were big responsibilities in those days. Monarchy at that time was the most natural form of Government in the world.
The rulers of Europe believed in absolutism. The pattern of absolute monarchy was set by Louis XIV of France (1660-1715). He inherited a throne that was strong because the nobles were quarrelling among themselves and there were religious factions in France. Louis XIV made the nobles weak by living at the costly court of Versailles. He subordinated the church to his control.
He took away from the Huguenots the rights and liberties formerly enjoyed by them. Many of the monarchs all over Europe tried to imitate his methods during the eighteenth century. They adopted French culture and even French language. They also claimed for themselves absolute powers. This applied to Frederick the Great of Prussia, Catherine the Great of Russia and Maria Theresa of Austria.
They centralised Government in their own hands as against local and feudal privileges and thus acquired absolute authority in the state. The rulers who wanted to be absolute, had to be more efficient. They had to seek popular support against nobles and church. That support they tried to get by experiments in popular reform and enlightened Government. Hence, absolute monarchy became “enlightened” monarchy or “benevolent despotism”.
Those rulers justified their existence by fostering material progress and adopting more enlightened methods of Government. During the French Revolution, the king was executed and a republic was established in France. The property of the Church was taken away. The revolutionaries of France threatened to spread revolution throughout Europe. Absolutism was bound to react violently against it.
The traditions of dynastic monarchy were so strong that even Napoleon got himself married in the royal family of Austria-Hungary. He was not opposed to the institution of monarchy. He himself aimed at becoming the head of a new dynasty. He made Joseph, his elder brother, the King of Spain.
He made Louis, his younger brother, the King of Holland. He appointed Jerome, his youngest brother, the King of Westphalia. Even after the overthrow of Napoleon, the principle of legitimism was adopted for claiming political authority.
The statesmen, who assembled at the Vienna Congress in 1815, accepted the principle of legitimism. The result was that the Vienna Settlement gave a new lease of life throughout Europe to the ideas and institutions of hereditary monarchy. The scene was dominated by the rulers of the Governments that were not overthrown by the French Revolution or Napoleon and had weathered the storm.
Among them the prominent were Tsar Alexander I of Russia, Frederick William III of Prussia and Francis I, the Emperor of Austria. The King of England was represented first by Lord Castlereagh and later on by George Canning. The triumph of monarchy and all that it stood for seemed complete. The defeat of Napoleon was a victory for the allied monarchical Governments acting in a grand alliance. The Battle of Waterloo was not won by popular uprising or guerrilla fighters, but by the tough soldiers of the British and Prussian armies.
In addition to the above monarchs, there were many smaller kings in Europe at that time. It is true that the Holy Roman Empire which was abolished in 1806, was not revived in Germany However, 39 states emerged in Germany in 1815. Those states were formed into a loose confederation. Each state had its own monarch or prince. Those monarchs came out of the old aristocracy.
They were assertive of their social privileges and political rights. Ferdinand VII was restored to the throne of Spain. He annulled the Spanish Constitution of 1812 and resumed all the prerogatives of absolute monarchy. A similar thing happened in Italy. Lombardy and Venetia were ruled by the Emperor of Austria directly from Vienna.
The King of Sardinia was his cousin. Francis IV, the Duke of Modena, was also his cousin. Archduke Ferdinand III, his brother, became the Duke of Tuscany His aunt became the Queen of Naples. Ferdinand I, king of Naples and Sicily behaved in a reactionary manner. The administration of the Papal States was among the worst in Italy. The kingdom of Piedmont was ruled by Victor Emmanuel I. This state was destined to play the same role in Italy which was played by Prussia in Germany.
It is true that there was almost universal restoration of monarchy, but the fact remains that the tradition of kingship had been badly shaken. Most of the magic of monarchy had gone. The rulers of Europe were defeated by the revolutionary armies of France. Many of the kings, who were restored m 1814, suffered from the disadvantage that they were put on their thrones by the allied armies.
The manner in which Louis XVIII of France was restored in 1814 and then turned out by Napoleon during the Hundred Days, shows that royal authority had become fragile. Legitimism alone was not a sufficient basis for Government. However, there were other factors which helped the monarchs of Europe.
3. The Church:
There was not only the restoration of monarchy in 1815, but also of the Church. A close alliance between the throne and altar was traditional in Europe. The Roman Catholic Church in France suffered from the excesses of the French Revolution. The Civil Constitution of the Clergy of 1790 reduced the Church in France to the position of a department of state.
Many high clergymen joined the aristocratic and royal emigres in exile abroad. Things did not improve even after the Concordat between Napoleon and Pope in 1802. Napoleon still enjoyed considerable control over the clergy in France. With the growth of state universities and schools, the Roman Catholic Church lost most of its former grip over education.
The Roman Catholic Church gained from the violence and extremism of the French Revolution. There was a strong reaction in favour of the Church on account of its sufferings. In 18! 5, the Roman Catholic Church in France regained a highly privileged position.
However, it was not possible to restore to it all the lands and property which had been taken away from the Church during the French Revolution. However, the Government gave generous grants to the Church which resumed its control over education. Even the Protestant Powers of Prussia and Britain were willing to support the revival of Papal power in Europe.
They were backed by Russia in this matter. Pope Pius VII enjoyed personal sympathy on account of his humiliation by Napoleon. He entered Rome in 1814 as if he was a victor. The Jesuit Order got official favour at the Vatican. The Pope re-established the Index and the Inquisition. However, there was opposition to the Jesuit Order. The Jesuits organised societies of Catholic laymen, particularly in France, Spain and Italy. Laws were passed in France also to restrict the activities of the Jesuits. The Tsar of Russia expelled the Jesuits.
The Anglican Church in England enjoyed a highly privileged position. However, its influence was predominantly conservative. Until 1828, Protestant dissenters remained subject to many disabilities. They were excluded from all important civil and military offices and also from teaching in the universities.
Churchmen did not support the movements for reform. They did not advocate such humanitarian reforms as the reform of prisons and the penal code. They belonged to the forces of established order. Sydney Smith suffered on account of his liberal views.
There was also the revival of religious faith. Rationalist ideas of natural rights and secularist doctrines of state power were not favoured. Many of the greatest intellects of Europe supported the dogmas of Christianity and old religious beliefs. The case for traditionalism and reverence for established institutions as advocated by Burke in “Reflections on the Revolution in France” was accepted. Joseph de Maistre and Vicomte de Bonald supported legitimist monarchy and power of the Pope.
They seemed to demolish the ideas and arguments of liberalism and their influence spread outside France to Italy and Germany. Their ideas were further popularised by Lamennais. Before 1800, most of the intellectuals stood for rationalism, democratic ideas and anti-clericalism. At least for a decade after 1815 forces of conservatism enjoyed more positive prestige and power than before.
4. The Landed Aristocracy:
Land was still the most important form of property and it carried with it the right to social importance and political power. The events in France between 1789 and 1815 brought an unprecedented transference of landed property from the great landowners and corporations (particularly the church), to a number of small property owners. Large estates, alongwith those of the Church, were declared national property and were either put up for sale or exchange for the paper bonds like Assignats.
Many people such as lawyers, financiers, millers and brewers, made fortunes by speculating in the Assignats. When Napoleon came to power, there were still large stocks of land which had neither been sold nor granted to anybody. Napoleon created a new aristocracy which was given those lands.
As land was possessed by a few, political rights were also enjoyed by a few. The equation between land and political power remained intact. It was only the old aristocracy, the wealthy bourgeoisie and the peasant proprietors who gained from the redistribution of land. The bulk of land in France was still owned by a small number of persons. Political power was in the hands of these persons.
The right to vote for the Chamber of Deputies in France was given only to those citizens who were 30 years of age or more and paid at least 300 francs a year in direct taxation. To be a Deputy, a man had to be over 40 and pay at least 1,000 francs a year in direct taxation. The rights of landed wealth were deeply entrenched in the new monarchy. This was a guarantee that its whole policy would be conservative.
The ministers of the king were drawn mainly from the aristocracy. Due de Richelieu and the Comte Decazes were the Chief Ministers of France and they were reactionaries. Between 1814 and 1830, the restored monarchy rested on a balance between the powers of the old aristocracy and the power of the new business oligarchy which was rapidly growing in power.
The aristocracy became more an office-holding class than a land-owning class. It shared power with the wealthy bourgeoisie who possessed landed property. There was a balance and a compromise between aristocracy and oligarchy. The Chamber of Deputies had a permanent majority on the right and a permanent minority on the left. There was no party system. There was occasional criticism. The Government remained exclusively the job of the king and his ministers.
In England of the eighteenth century, the landed aristocracy virtually monopolised state power. The House of Lords reserved its control over legislation. The electorate was a small one. There were property qualifications for the voters and Members of Parliament. The right of vote was enjoyed by about 400,000 men. On account of the system of patronage, corruption and intimidation, the sons of the nobility were returned to Parliament.
The Landed Property Qualifications Acts provided that the Members of Parliament for the counties must have a landed estate of at least £ 600 a year and for the boroughs, a landed estate of £ 300 a year. The predominance of the landed and agricultural interests in 1815 is proved by the passing of the Com Law in 1815.
It gave farmers protection by prohibiting the import of com from abroad until the prices at home had reached the level of 80 shillings a quarter. The Game Laws made it illegal for anyone who was not a squire or a squire’s eldest son to kill the game and for anyone to buy and sell game.
Great Britain and France were among the most advanced and liberal countries in Europe, both politically and economically. In Germany, Italy, Spain and Austria, the landed aristocracy enjoyed their landed property. The Prussian Junkers were enterprising and progressive in their methods. They tended to expropriate the peasants and build up larger estates. Unlike English landowners, the Junkers did not let out the land to be cultivated by tenants but organised its use under their own supervision.
The peasantry was emancipated in Prussia from heavy feudal obligations but the work of emancipation proceeded slowly. It often resulted in the economic subjection of peasants and surrender of large portions of their land to the junkers as compensation. There was a concentration of landed wealth in the hands of the Junkers who provided Prussia with money, administrators and officers.
The power of the land-owning aristocracy remained intact in Poland and Russia in 1815. They were not opposed to the emancipation of serfs who provided labour on their lands. The peasants were opposed to personal emancipation from serfdom at the cost of losing land. The common saying was. “We are yours, but the land is ours.” The peasants were willing to adopt progressive methods of cultivation and husbandry.
5. Popularity of Peace:
Another force of conservatism in Europe in I8I5 was a longing for peace and weariness of war. Almost every country had known more than two decades of recurrent war. The French wars had imposed unusual strains on all the combatants. The Continental system had affected the standards of living throughout Europe. Britain also had endured heavy burdens and strains. France was exhausted after the invasion of Russia in 1812.
The war had done a lot of distraction in Prussia, Austria and Russia. People wanted peace and freedom to live their own lives and that was possible only if there was peace in Europe. People welcomed monarchy because that gave them hopes of peace. The prevailing mood in Europe favoured the forces of conservatism.
That is why the conservative Governments were able to get measures of repression passed by their Parliaments which would not have been possible before 1789. The Tory Government of Britain suspended the Habeas Corpus Act in 1817. In 1819, it passed Sidmouth’s Six Acts which were designed to prevent large public meetings, undermine the whole movement for radical reform and kill or at least control the radical press.
It is true that there were protests against those measures but those were passed through Parliament without much difficulty. Likewise, in France the Chamber of Deputies passed a series of Acts in 1815 which gave the King of France the power to suspend liberties of the individual and freedom of the press guaranteed by the Charter of 1814 granted by Louis XVIII at the time of his restoration to the throne of France.
It authorised laws of proscription which sent many eminent Frenchmen into exile. Metternich, the Chancellor of Austria, established his system which was designed to keep public order by a network of spies and secret police. The Carlsbad Decrees of 1819 applied to the whole of Germany and let loose a reign of repression. In every country, Governments relied on informers and agents provocateurs, on secret police and military repression.
In Naples and Sicily, the poor were mobilised against the middle class liberals. In other places, the fears of the propertied classes were exploited to justify repression of popular disturbances.
The years between 1815 and 1854 were an era of revolutions but they were not an era of wars. As compared with the period after 1854, there was no large-scale fighting in Europe between 1815 and 1854. Between 1854 and 1878, there were six important wars in which the major powers took part.
Those wars were the Crimean War (1854-56) which involved Turkey, Britain, France and Russia, the War of 1859 which involved France and Austria, the War waged by Prussia and Austria against Denmark in 1864, the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and the Russo-Turkish War of 1877 which turned into a general European conflict. It is suggested that revolutions before 1854 served as a kind of substitute for war.
In other words, international peace after 1815 was an endemic civil war that produced the revolutions of 1830 and 1848 and a host of intermediate revolts. Peace was popular because Governments were aware of their own weaknesses and were also exhausted by the wars of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic period. Another reason was that enemies at home seemed to be a more important challenge than enemies abroad. Civil war absorbed belligerent spirits which were diverted into the cause of militant nationalism.
6. Forces of Change: Growth of Population:
If the years after Waterloo were marked by the forces of continuity, order and resistance to change, Europe entered upon an era of rapid and fundamental changes. One of those forces was the growth of population in Europe. It is pointed that the population of Europe as a whole began to increase since about the middle of the eighteenth century.
If the population was 140 millions in 1750, it was 180 millions in 1800, 266 millions in 1850, 401 millions in 1900 and 540 millions in 1950. This shows that there was nearly four-fold increase in population in about two centuries. The speed of this growth was completely a new phenomenon. No social and political orders could remain unaffected by this abnormal increase of population.
The events of the nineteenth century cannot be understood intelligently without keeping this growth of population in mind. This enormous growth of population changed the course of world history. Between 1815 and 1914, about 40 million Europeans migrated to other Continents.
The United States, Canada, Australia and many other parts of the globe were populated mainly from the overflow of Europe. In 1815, the whole of the population of Europe was only 200 millions. By 1914, that number of people of European birth or stock existed outside Europe, while the population of Europe itself rose to 460 millions. European civilisation was spread throughout the world.
Many reasons have been put forward for the abnormal growth of population. It was certainly due more to a decrease in death rates than to an increase in birth rates. Populations grew not because more people were born but because more people survived and more people stayed alive longer.
The causes of lower death rates were improvements in public order and security, ending of civil and religious wars, destruction of brigandage and violence and also relief from famine, plague and destitution. Another cause was the progress made by medical science in the eighteenth century. Infant death rates fell. Fewer mothers died at the time of child birth and more people lived to an advanced age.
Diseases which affected cattle and crops were conquered. Food supplies were improved. Better transport, first by road and canal and then by railway and steamship made it possible to end localised famine and shortages. There took place agricultural revolution which increased food production and made possible the feeding of an increasing number of mouths.
Where all the best land available was already under cultivation, greater supplies of food could be obtained by more intensive cultivation or importation of foodstuffs. Both of these methods were adopted by Europeans. By the use of winter root crops such as turnips and beetroot and green crops like clover and alfalfa, the old three-field rotation system was replaced by four-course rotation.
The result was that all the land could be used every year for cultivation. It also gave enough cattle food to keep larger stocks of cattle alive during winter. The increase in the number of cattle gave more meat and milk for human consumption and also manures to keep land fertile. The improvement in the methods of transport helped the import of food from the United States and Canada to Europe.
The pace of growth of population varied from country to country according to the circumstances. The pace was set by the United Kingdom. Its population was about I8I/2 millions in 1811 and more than double that figure in 1891. France had a population of more than 29 millions in 1806 and 38½ millions in 1896.
Germany increased her population from 25 million in 1815 to about 50 million in 1890. Belgium had a population of 3½ millions in 1831 and 7’/2 millions in 1910. Italy and Spain grew less rapidly though in the end they also doubled their population between 1815 and 1920. Russia nearly doubled her population during the first half of the nineteenth century and again doubled it during the second half. This explains why there was great Russian expansion towards Asia.
7. Industrialism and Urbanism:
It was during the nineteenth century that Industrial Revolution made progress in various states of Europe. Industrial Revolution changed the very face of Europe. Large factories employing thousands of workers came into existence. As big machines were set up at certain places, they led to urbanism.
Factories were required for coal, iron and steel production. The concentration of large population at the industrial centres created many problems like that of sanitation, regulation of hours of work, safety and recreation of workers, payment of adequate wages and limitation of hours of work, etc.
Industrialism and urbanism revolutionized the whole meaning and function of Government and politics. Instead of being concerned only with general matters of public health and national unity. Governments had to deal with the problems of social and economic life.
The old dynastic conception of ruler and ruled, was replaced by the conception of a state and its citizens. This notion of Government and society is mutually inter-dependent. It was incompatible with the old order and the sharp dynastic distinctions between ruler and subjects. It was the common basis of all the great movements of the nineteenth century such as nationalism, liberalism, democracy and socialism.
European nationalism in its modem sense is mainly a product of the nineteenth century. It was launched by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Empire. The Jacobin doctrine of sovereignty of the people asserted the claims of the nation as a whole against its monarch and the right of a people to determine its own form of government and to control the conduct of that government.
Government should be the voice of the people and not merely of a people. Nationalism proclaimed the rights of all citizens to have an equal voice in the decisions of politics. The conquests of Napoleon in Europe strengthened the ideas and sentiments of nationalism. By 1815, nationalism was a great force in Europe. Germany and Italy were the two countries where the nationalist feelings were very strong, although the imperialism of Napoleon had similar effects in Spain, Poland, Russia and Belgium.
To begin with, nationalism was a spirit of resistance against domination of foreigners and was therefore anti-French. New value was attached to local institutions, native customs, traditional culture and national language. Germany at that time was having a great cultural Renaissance. It was famous for her musicians, men of letters and philosophers. It was the age of Beethoven, Goethe, Schiller, Kant and Hegel. This helped Germany to oust France from the cultural domination which she had in the eighteenth century.
Herder and Fichte taught the Germans to cherish and reverence the Volksgeist or peculiar national character which they presented as the foundation of all good culture and civilisation. After her defeat by Napoleon in the Battle of Jena in 1806, Prussia drastically reorganised her army under the guidance of Gneisenau and Schamhorst. Her machinery of Government was overhauled by Stein and Hardenberg. After 1815, Prussia emerged as the chief focus of German nationalist hopes.
The chief intellectual support for the regeneration of Prussia and growth of nationalism of Germany came from the new University of Berlin where Hegel expounded a new philosophy of authority and state power which captivated many German, Italian and even English thinkers during the nineteenth century. Much of the reorganisation of the Prussian state was an imitation of French revolutionary reforms.
Hardenberg wrote to the Prussian King in 1807, “We must do from above what the French have done from below”. He praised the success of Carnot’s Levee En Masse, the conscription of the whole of French manhood and its inspiration with a sense of national mission. The reforms of Prussia were struck by “what endless forces not developed and not utilised slumber in the bosom of a nation”.
They valued most the creative and irresistible energy which could be generated by a people in arms. They set about building a strong central authority, a truly national army and a system of national education designed to infuse a common spirit into the whole people, a patriotic reverence for the German heritage and a devotion to the cause of German nationalism.
Napoleon paved the way for the unification of Germany by his destruction of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, by his assembling Bavaria, Wurthemberg, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, Saxony and 12 other German states into the Confederation of the Rhine and by his introduction into all Western Germany the Code Napoleon to replace the old laws and judicial procedures. German nationalism was further aroused by the Prussian victory at Leipzig in 1813.
It was interpreted as the fruit and justification of all that the nationalists had been preaching and reformers doing to regenerate Prussia. It became a patriotic legend. It forced Napoleon out of most of Germany and even freed the left bank of the Rhine. The victory gave consolation to German national pride. It heartened German patriots. It gave a total fillip to the ideas of total liberation.
Napoleon aroused the nationalist spirit in Italy also. His regime in Italy lasted from 1796 to 1814. Italian sentiment was less anti-French than was German or Spanish. The middle classes in towns welcomed the greater efficiency and weakening of the clerical influence which came with the demolition of the power of petty princes and of the Pope.
The reduction of the states to three in Italy by Napoleon encouraged the ideas of ultimate unification of Italy. While he was the ruler of Naples, Murat conceived the idea of uniting the whole of Italy in his own hands and proclaimed the union of Italy in 1815. It is true that he was defeated and shot but his action was not forgotten by Italian patriots. Both in Germany and Italy, the effect of French rule was to stimulate directly a new spirit of nationalist pride and hope. The unification of these two countries loomed large in European affairs between 1850 and 1870.
As regards Spain, two French divisions surrendered to Spanish forces at the Battle of Baylen in July 1808. Spanish guerrilla bands played an important part in French defeats in the Peninsular War. These achievements were glorified as expressions of Spanish national spirit. As a matter of fact, the forces in Spain which were most actively hostile to Napoleon were the royalist and clerical elements in the country.
The rebellious juntas which were organised for local resistance were mostly run by nobles and priests who were enraged by the treatment of monarchy by Napoleon and the efforts of the French to secularise church property. Popular resistance was led by lower clergy and the monks. It was not at all typical of nationalist uprisings. Without the military genius of Wellington and efficiency of the British infantry, the Spanish guerrillas would have collapsed before the French forces. The strongest stimulus to a real nationalist spirit was the savagery of the fighting in the Peninsular War.
Poland was the centre of aggrieved nationalism in Eastern Europe. Her territory was partitioned among the Empires of Russia, Prussia and Austria between 1772 and 1795. When Napoleon set up the Grand Duchy of Warsaw in 1807 with a new constitution, it was welcomed by the Poles as a step towards restoration and independence. However, Napoleon kept Poland subservient to himself. It became clear that Napoleon was interested in Poland only as a pawn in his relations with Russia.
When Napoleon started his Russian campaign in 1812, he gave the Poles vague promises of future independence. The victory of 1814 again obliterated Poland as a state. However, the Code Napoleon and the ideas of the French Revolution were introduced into Poland by Napoleon. The result was that even disappointment added fuel to the burning resolve of Polish patriots to regain national unity and independence which was achieved in 1919.
As regards Russia, the heroic resistance that led to the burning of Smolensk and Moscow and the retreat of the Grand Army of Napoleon through the snows of Russia made a national legend. The pillaging and devastations of the French troops consolidated the resistance of all classes in Russia against Napoleon and the Tsar could not dare to negotiate with Napoleon as there was great hatred against Napoleon among nobles and peasants alike. Just as Germany made a patriotic legend out of the Bathe of Leipzig, the same was done by the Russian patriots from the Moscow campaign. However, these events had little immediate effect on nationalism in Russia.
It is pointed out that in his relations with Europe, Napoleon had no coherent policy. His only desire was to make the conquered countries the satellites of France and adjuncts of his own dynastic ambitions. He followed no consistent policy of arousing nationalities against their Governments. He worked out no principles for organising his Empire. Whatever he did was done in view of the military needs of the moment.
The results of his conquests varied according to the conditions of each country. He did not bring about any uniformity among the European states. During the interlude of the Hundred Days in 1815 he declared that he had liberal and constitutional aims and he stated in the Bonapartist legend that he had interests of national independence at heart. That was not correct. His greatest contributions to the growth of nationalism were unwitting. They were more the outcome of revolt against his Empire than the deliberate intention of it.
Another force of change was liberalism. The view of the Liberals was that there should be a more organic and complete relationship between the government and the community and between state and society than it existed during the eighteenth century. European Liberals believed that Governments existed to secure individual rights and derived their just powers from the consent of the governed.
The obstacles to these ideas were the privileges of the aristocracy and the church and lack of privileges of merchants, businessmen and manufacturing classes. The spearhead of the liberal attack against feudal rights and the rights of the church was the middle and professional classes. These classes were the central driving force of the French Revolution.
The European Liberals stood for rule of law, parliamentary government, social reform and safeguards against absolutist governments. Liberalism differed from democracy as it stood for the sovereignty of Parliament and not the sovereignty of the people. It advocated the grant of the right of vote to all men of property but not to those who were without property. Liberalism put more emphasis on liberty than equality. To Liberals, the French Revolution had condemned itself by its excesses such as the Reign of Terror, mob democracy and military dictatorship.
The Liberals stood for a constitutional monarchy which guaranteed certain rights equally to all citizens or a parliamentary republic which upheld the equality of all before law but a restricted franchise. The Liberals criticised the Vienna Settlement of 1815 on the ground that it had restored absolutism and threatened to restore the privileges of the aristocracy and the church.
Another force of change was democracy. Democracy was like liberalism but it was more radical. It stood for the sovereignty of the people and not of a representative parliamentary assembly. It favoured male suffrage. It subordinated the Parliament to the will of the people as a whole. It even advocated the devices of direct democracy such as plebiscite or referendum.
It stood for equality of political and civil rights. In extreme forms, it demanded greater social and economic equality. It not only demanded equality of all before law but also equality of opportunity for all. The liberals wanted to secure these rights even at the cost of greater economic levelling. That is why democracy was considered more revolutionary than liberalism.
The conservative Governments between 1815 and 1848 were afraid of radical democracy. To meet this danger, Liberals joined hands with conservatives to crush popular movements and uprisings that favoured democratic ideals. More than liberalism, democracy was a central cause of change and revolution after Waterloo.
Another force of change was socialism. Until after 1848 socialism was connected in the minds of the people with harmless cranks or with the multitude of pietist Christian communities which fled to the United States in order to lead a simple community life which was free from the complexities of European life. Robert Owen (1771 -1858) put into practice many of his Utopian theories in his new Lanark Mills.
He also set up his cooperative colony of “New Harmony” in North America. He also helped in the growth of cooperative societies and the trade unions. He stood for legislation in the interests of the working classes. Charles Fourier (1772-1837) supported the cooperative movement in France and denounced the economic, social, political and moral disorders from which the society suffered.
Those disorders were concerned with poverty, social inequality, war and failure of family life. He stood for the reorganization of society into independent groups called Phalanx. Each person was to do the work he could enjoy best. There was to be no government at all. He had a tendency towards anarchism. Proudhon (1809-65) is generally known as the father of anarchism.
According to him, all property is theft. Saint Simon (1760-1825) was not a systematic thinker, but his speculations stimulated the minds of others. He stood for an industrialist state directed by science. In that state, the right of inheritance was to be abolished because it transmitted social privileges from one generation to another without consideration of merit. He did not believe in the natural equality of man.
According to him, each man was to be employed according to his ability and rewarded according to his capacity. Louis Blanc (1811-1882) published his famous book “The Organization of Labour” in 1840 in which he denounced the existing competitive system and proposed measures for getting rid of it. He advocated a political reform which would establish the state on a thoroughly democratic basis. The state was to provide farms for agriculturists, factories for workmen and shops for tradesmen. His experiment was tried during the Revolution of 1848 in France.
Socialist ideas were derived from the doctrines of Rousseau and the ideals of the French Revolution. Just as liberals put great emphasis on the ideals of liberty and democrats on the ideals of equality, the socialists put emphasis on the ideal of fraternity. Their contention was that men were good by nature and if they were not influenced by social inequality and poverty, they would behave as brothers towards others. The socialists put emphasis on cooperation rather than competition. They protested against industrialism as a new cause of poverty and inequality.
It is contended that there was enough common ground among liberals, democrats and socialists and they joined hands on the barricades in 1848 and 1871. All of them had the common desire to make Government an organ and agency of society. However, none of the three could depend upon a reliable alliance with the forces of nationalism. Upto 1848, the liberals and nationalists worked together.
In order to achieve national unity and independence, patriots felt that they needed the support of all classes which liberalism and democracy would secure. Things changed after 1848. After some time, the socialists felt that they had more to gain from an alliance with authoritarian nationalist governments and undemocratic regimes.
Ferdinand Lassalle, the socialist leader of Germany, was prepared to come to terms with Bismarck. When the World War I started in 1914, the socialists in all countries supported their national governments. There was a combination of nationalism and communism in Russia in the form of Bolshevism.