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Rise of Conservatism and Revolutionaries

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Rise of Conservatism and Revolutionaries - Lesson Summary

The middle class believed in freedom and equality of all individuals before law. Liberalism was used by to end aristocracy and clerical privileges. After the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815, the European government adopted the idea of conservatism.

Conservatism was a political philosophy that stressed the importance of tradition, established institutions and customs, and preferred gradual development than quick change.

Conservatives firmly believed that the aristocratic monarchies of Europe could gain a lot from a modern army, an efficient bureaucracy, a dynamic economy, and the abolition of feudalism and serfdom. In 1815, after the defeat of Napoleon, the representatives of European powers, namely Austria, Britain, Prussia and Russia, met at Vienna. This meeting is also known as the Treaty or Congress of Vienna. The chief architect and host of this treaty was the Austrian Chancellor, Duke Metternich.

The purpose of this treaty was to undo all the territorial changes taken place during the Napoleonic wars and create a new conservative order in Europe.
  • The Bourbon dynasty was restored to power.
  • France lost most of the territories it had gained during Napoleon’s time.  To prevent the expansion of France in the future, certain states were set up along the boundaries of France.
  • The German confederation of 39 states set up by Napoleon was not touched at all during this division.
  • The kingdom of the Netherlands, including Belgium, was set up in the north of France.
  • Genoa was added to Piedmont in the south of France.
  • Russia was given a part of Poland, while Prussia was given a portion of Saxony.

The conservative regimes set up through the treaty of Vienna in 1815 were autocratic in nature. They tried to curb the freedom of expression and imposed censorship laws on newspapers, books, plays and songs as they championed freedom. The liberals were not happy with the autocratic ways of the conservatives and raised their voice against the censorship of the press and the autocratic monarchical structures.

After 1815, several liberals began working in secret societies all over Europe to propagate their views and train revolutionaries. Revolutionaries were seen as a threat to the restored monarchies, and hence, were repressed.

Giuseppe Mazzini, a famous Italian revolutionary was born in 1807 in Genoa. He was part of a secret society called Carbonari and founded two underground societies called Young Italy in Marseilles, and Young Europe in Berne.

In 1831, Mazzini was sent into exile for attempting a revolution in Liguria. Mazzini believed in the unification of the small kingdoms and principalities in Italy. These societies were joined by like-minded young men from Poland, France, Italy, and the German states


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