The revolutions of 1848
In what Germans know as ‘the crazy year’, western Europe exploded spontaneously into a wave of revolutions. There were uprisings in fifteen capital cities. Despite all of the efforts of Metternich the forces of reaction were uncoordinated, and all of the revolutions were fought out internally. The coincidence is to be explained largely by the common underlying causes (see Section 4) and by a sort of ‘domino theory’. However, the course of the revolutions also displays great similarities in pattern, again partly because of some interaction. There was bound to be some difference in ‘colouring’, though, because of variations in historical backgrounds, the extent of economic development and the depth of social and ethnic divisions. Broadly speaking, the nearer central and eastern Europe the state was, the greater was the role of nationalism and the less important the role of liberalism.
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