How the Revolution of 1848 affected Austria?

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The empire of Austria was considerably affected by the revolution of 1848. Although the July Revolution of 1830 had also made an impact on Austria, the revolutionary tide was checked by Metternich.

Austria was called a melting pot in which the people belonging to different races and cultures lived. As soon as the news of the fall of Louis Philippe of France reached Vienna, the people, who were highly disappointed and dissatisfied with that autocracy, conservatism and reactions of Prince Metternich were highly excited.

At that time, Louis Kossuth of Hungary had become very popular amongst the people of Austria. He was the very personification of the great democratic ideas of the age. He demanded reforms in every department of the national life.

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On March 3, 1848, he delivered a speech in which he voiced the feelings of the time and bitterly denounced the whole system of Austrian government. His speech added fuel to the fire.

Ten days later, i.e., on March 13, 1848, the people revolted in Vienna against the system of Metternich. The students, working men, teachers, artisans and others took out a procession.

The crowd surrounded the palace of Metternich shouting “Down with Metternich!” Metternich was a great diplomat and an experienced politician of Europe. He was greatly terrified at the happenings in Vienna.

He at once resigned from the chancellorship of Austria and fled to England. Thus, the revolution of 1848 had a great impact on the politics of Austria. C.D. Hazen remarks:

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“Metternich, who for thirty-nine years had stood at the head of the Austrian states, who was the very source and fount of reaction, imperturbable, pitiless, masterful, was now forced to resign, to flee in disguise from Austria to England, to witness his whole system crash completely beneath the onslaught of the very forces for which he had for a generation shown contempt.”

The downfall of Metternich sounded an alarm of danger for the reactionary powers of Europe. Ferdinand I, the Emperor of Austria, was greatly alarmed at the traumatic news. In order to make his position safe, he decided to pacify the revolutionaries. He accepted all their demands.

The special rights and privileges of the nobles were ended and the restrictions of all kinds were removed which were imposed by Metternich on the press, speech, meetings, writings etc.

He promised to introduce some necessary and important reforms in the administration of the country. He contemplated a new constitution for the establishment of liberal rule in the country.

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In spite of the above efforts of Ferdinand I, the patriots of Austria were over-enthusiastic and they could not be satisfied with the above- stated reforms. As a matter of fact, they wanted to establish the democratic government.

Seeing that the people of Austria were resolved to establish the republican form of government, Ferdinand I left Vienna, because he was too much terrified at the turn of events.

In order to frame a democratic constitution, the revolutionaries summoned a convention of the national assembly. There was a majority of the supporters of the constitutional monarchy in the assembly.

When the resolution came before the national assembly on July 22, 1848, for the establishment of a democratic government, it could not be passed due to the severe opposition of the supporters of the constitutional monarchy.

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In this way, the republicans failed to achieve their objective and it was decided after a good deal of discussion that the constitutional monarchy should be established in the country and Ferdinand I should be called back to take over the charge as Head of the Government. According to this decision, Ferdinand I was again made the king of Austria.

But the republicans did not remain silent. They propagated the ideas of revolution among the people. After some time revolutions erupted in Hungary, Bohemia and the northern provinces of Italy.

The people of Austria were greatly excited on hearing of these revolutions. They started collecting arms and prepared themselves for the showdown. Not only this, they also murdered the War Minister of Austria.

The king was unable to face this awful situation and he again fled Vienna. But his army was still loyal to him. The soldiers gave him notable cooperation at the critical moment. Before leaving Vienna, the king gave instructions to his army to crush the rebellion.

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According to the instructions the army attacked Vienna. A terrible battle was fought between the army and the revolutionaries. Although the revolutionaries were fully prepared for armed struggle, they could not face the army.

They were badly defeated. The army crushed the power of the revolutionaries. Hundreds of them were shot dead. In this way, the revolutionaries failed to attain their objective. Bang Ferdinand I came back to Vienna and the autocracy was again established in Austria.

Thus it may be said that the Revolution of 1848 failed in Austria. The only achievement was the downfall of Metternich; otherwise the entire setup remained as before.

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