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2. Extract from the memoirs of Juliusz Falkowski titled Wspomnienia z roku 1848 i 1849 published in Poznan in 1879

(...) a storm came from the west, which overturned the throne of Louis Philippe and shook the whole Germany. At the beginning of March riots in Cologne, Munich, Hamburg announced that the revolutionary fever crossed the Rhine. It broke out on March 13 in Vienna. Benevo-lent Emperor Ferdinand sacrificed Metternich - the support of Austrian absolutism and made all the concessions, which were demanded from him from both banks of Leitha. By power of his regulations within three days (14, 15 and 16 March) the people in Cisleithania got the freedom of press (censorship was abolished), the institution of the National Guard and the fundamentals of a constitutional government were formed, and to complete the work, the im-perial decree convened the national assembl , based on elections in all provinces of this part of the monarchy. At the same time Hungarians, who already had all these freedoms and institutions, obtained a ministry in charge, headed by count Bathyanim, thus achieving duality - the purpose of the efforts of the Hungarian patriots - but only for a moment. Poles were the last of whom the Austrian government thought. It was not until 20th March that an amnesty for the citizens discredited in former movements in Galicia and Cracow was declared. At that time the whole of Germany was stormy. On 16th March the people of Dresden won the free-dom of the press and the Constitution, while on 18th March a bloody battle between the people and the army was fought in the streets of Berlin, and although the people were defeated, King Frederick William got scared of the overall trend in Germany and issued a proclamation to "his beloved Berliners” in very conciliatory words, changed the ministry, abolished censor-ship, summoned the constitutional national assembly for 2nd April and on 21st March he ap-peared solemnly as a defender of the idea of German unification on constitutional grounds, under the rule of the German emperor, which of course he wanted to be. That same day he announced an amnesty for all political prisoners, which the people of Berlin took as the op-portunity to call attention to the fate of Poland.

Source: J. Falkowski, Memories of 1848 and 1849, Poznan 1879, p. 2 - 3, quoted by G. Chomicki, L. Śliwa, Nineteenth century. Source texts. Topics lessons and issues to the history in high school, Cracow 2001, p. 65 – 66.


Juliusz Falkowski (1815 - 1892) - participant of the November Uprising, took part, among others in the Iganie battle and the defense of Warsaw. In 1848 he was in Lviv, where he witnessed the outbreak of the Spring of Nations. He made a failed attempt to establish a Pol-ish legion in the service of the Hungarians. He took part in the uprising in Baden.

Louis Philippe I (1773 - 1850) - French king in the years 1830 to 1848.

Ferdinand I (1793 - 1875) - Austrian Emperor from 1835 to 1848.

Klemens Lothar von Metternich (1773 - 1859) – an Austrian politician and diplomat. He was a leading figure in the Congress of Vienna (September 18, 1814 - June 9, 1815) and a great promoter of the restoration. He contributed to the establishment of the Holy Alliance. In 1821, he received the title of Chancellor of the House, the Court and the Austrian Empire. After accession to the throne of Ferdinand I in 1835, influence of Metternich decreased considera-bly, especially in domestic politics. The period from 1821 to 1848 is called the "era of Met-ternich." On March 13, 1848 during the Spring of Nations, he was forced to resign and escape (reportedly in female guise) to London. There Benjamin Disraeli and Otto von Bismarck vis-ited him in order to learn some political science from him.

Leitha - a river in Austria and Hungary, a tributary of the Danube. Since the establishment of Austria - Hungary in 1867 Leitha was the border between Austria and the Kingdom of Hun-gary, united with it. The name of the river was used to name two parts of the monarchy: Transleithanien was used for Hungary (officially: The Lands of the Crown of St. Stephen), situated behind the Leitha from the point of view of Vienna, and Cisleithanien – used for the rest of the monarchy, which did not have its official name (officially it was "the Kingdoms and Lands represented in the Imperial Council").

Frederick William IV (1795 - 1861) - in the years 1840 - 1861 the King of Prussia from the Hohenzollern dynasty.


  1. What events in Europe were the inspiration for the outbreak of revolution in the German states?
  2. What concessions did the Emperor Ferdinand I decide to make?
  3. Why did King Frederick William IV decide to make concessions?
  4. To what changes did the King of Prussia agree under the impact of revolutionary events?

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Description and Analysis

  1. The inspiration for the outbreak of revolution in the German states was the February Revolution in Paris.
  2. Emperor Ferdinand I dismissed Chancellor Metternich, abolished censorship, adopted the constitution, established the National Guards and a liberal government and convened the parliament.
  3. King of Prussia, Frederick William IV, decided to make concessions because he was afraid of the revolutionary wave, which covered the entire German Confederation, and especially of fierce street fighting of 18th March 1848 in Berlin.
  4. Frederick William IV abolished censorship, convened the National Constitutional Assembly on 2nd April in order to develop a liberal constitution, called for the first time in the history of absolutist Prussia a liberal government, introduced the fundamental civil liberties: freedom of press, association and religion, he also announced an amnesty for all political prisoners.

Geographical/Historical Context

Austria's strong position in the German Confederation was achieved due to its leadership in Bundestag. It enabled chancellor Metternich to influence domestic politics in Prussia and other German states. He feared that the creation of a single German state will eliminate the multinational Austrian Empire from the German political scene, weakening its position in Europe. Thus he combated against German nationalist movements and liberal opposition associated with them. The role he played in politics decided about the period of 1815 - 1848 being called the "era of Metternich." Still existing anachronistic feudal legislation, exclusion from the political life of the bourgeoisie, feudal relations in the countryside, the unresolved problems of peasants and excessive rights of the clergy raised objections of liberal bourgeoisie and nobility. The national movements of Poles, Italians, Czechs also became more active. After 1830 also in Hungary mational and liberal opposition began to develop seeking autonomy within the monarchy and constitutional reforms.

In 1840 Friedrich Wilhelm IV ascended the throne of Prussia, but contrary to expectations of national and liberal opposition he failed to attempt at unification of Prussia. The king refused to convene a meeting of representatives of states and introduce liberal constitution, thus contributing to the deepening crisis.

In addition to national and political conflicts, the Revolution of 1848 in German states and Austria was caused by the deteriorating economic and social situation of the population. In 1845, the potato blight destroyed potato crop in German countries. The grain harvest also dropped. Crop failure and famine affected the rural population, which moved to cities looking for ways to earn their living, meeting the starving proletariat there. Due to unemployment, there were workers’ uprisings (uprising of the Silesian weavers in 1844). National and liberal movements and then economic and social crisis were so strong that the wave of uprisings could no longer be restrained as they began to break out in the beginning of 1848 in German states and the Habsburg monarchy. Echoes of the Paris Revolution of February could be heard first in the southern German states, where the Liberals demanded that the rulers respect constitutional obligations and extend political rights of the bourgeoisie, as well as liquidation of the remnants of feudalism in the countryside. In pursuit of the political unification of Germany it was also demanded that a nationwide parliament is convened. Accordingly, the Bundestag convened the interim parliament in Frankfurt am Main on 18th May 1848, which was supposed to develop rules for selection and program of the future German Constituent Assembly (Legislative Assembly). On 18-19 March 1848 in Berlin there were numerous street demonstrations, as a result of which on 20th March 1848 the crowd released many prisoners from Moabit Prison. After fierce street fighting, Frederick William IV called the national assembly in order to develop a liberal constitution. On July 20, 1848 a liberal government was appointed for first time in the history of the Prussian absolutist monarchy. The fundamental civil liberties were introduced: freedom of press, association and religion. Rebellions in the Kingdom of Prussia and other German states were suppressed. The parliament established a project of German unification under Prussian leadership. Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, asked by the parliament to accept the imperial crown, replied that he wiould not ”accept a crown from a gutter". He wanted to emphasize that he can accept the rules over the whole of Germany only from the hands of his equals: German kings and princes, and not the hands of the representation of the people. Soon afterwards Württemberg army broke up the parliament in Stuttgart, where it was held at the time. Revolutionary events also took place in the Austrian Empire. On March 13, 1848, in Vienna there were street incidents. As a result, Emperor Ferdinand I dismissed the much hated chancellor Klemens Metternich, established the National Guards, lifted the censorship, adopted the constitution, established a liberal government and convened parliament, which in turn abolished serfdom and gave land to peasants. A consequence of the Spring of Nations events in the Austrian Empire was also the abdication of Emperor Ferdinand I and the accession to the throne of Francis Joseph I, whose reign lasted until 1916. The new ruler, unburdened by any obligations, began to restore order in his monarchy.


http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plik:Maerz1848_berlin.jpg painting depicting the March revolution of 1848 in Berlin.