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Revolutions of Liberals and Women

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Revolutions of Liberals and Women - Lesson Summary

The history of Europe between 1830 and 1848 is lined with many revolts and uprisings. An ideology is a system of ideas reflecting a particular social and political vision. In Germany, Italy, Poland and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, men and women of the liberal middle class began demanding a constitution, and national unification.

In Germany, many political associations from the middle and working class came together in Frankfurt to vote for an All-German National Assembly. On 18 th May, 1948, the Frankfurt Parliament was convened in the Church of Saint Paul by members elected from various political associations.

The members drafted a constitution based on the idea of a monarchy subject to parliament. When the members requested Friedrich Wilhelm IV, King of Prussia, to accept the crown, he declined. The middle class dominated the parliament and did not accept the demands of artisans and peasants. The aristocracy, powered by the army, got the Frankfurt Parliament disbanded.

Though the conservatives managed to suppress liberal movements, they could not establish the old order. The monarchs realised that the demands of liberals could no longer be ignored. After 1848, the autocratic monarchies of central and eastern Europe began to incorporate changes that had already taken place in western Europe.

Serfdom and bonded labour were abolished in the Habsburg Empire and Russia. The liberal revolutionaries exhibited narrow mindedness in their attitude towards women. Since the French Revolution, women played an active role in revolts and popular movements but they never got their due. They founded newspapers and political associations, but suffrage and political rights still eluded them.

In the Frankfurt Parliament women merely acted as spectators in the upper left gallery. Famous political activist Louise Otto-Peters wrote in the first editorial of her newspaper that liberty, without the liberty of women, benefited only one half of humanity, which was men. Carl Welcker, a member of the Frankfurt Parliament, had tremendous reservation against equal rights for women, and he ridiculed their demands as being against nature.

This awareness of women’s rights based on political and social equality of genders is also known as feminism. 

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