Reform and Revolution 1815-1848: Crash Course European History #25

Reform and Revolution 1815-1848: Crash Course European History #25


Hi I’m John Green and this is Crash Course
European History so today we’re looking at early 19th century Europe, which is to
say everything from 1815 to 1848, when various forms of excrement hit various fans. You’ll recall that at the Congress of Vienna,
Prince Metternich and his allies tried to extinguish the fires of social ferment and
prevent another French Revolution—or indeed any hint of revolution. But despite the Congress of Vienna’s determined
efforts to prevent them, reform and activism heated up after 1815 alongside industrialization. [Intro] In the 19th century, people were looking inward
at the domestic policies of each kingdom or state, which was a sharp difference from the
early modern period when kingdoms were constantly fighting one another with domestic issues
being much less of a concern. But much of what was happening outside of
Europe did affect Europe, of course. In the 1810s and 1820s, for instance, North,
Central, and South American people gained their independence from Portugal and Spain. Simón Bolívar, one upper-class leader of
the independence movement, took his inspiration, and to some extent his aesthetic, from Napoleon,
who, he believed, had freed people from the old regime of absolutism. Which is an interesting take on Napoleon. Oppressed by the heavy taxation inflicted
by “enlightened” administration on the colonies, native peoples, African slaves,
and other poor people backed elite, locally-born leaders like Bolívar. And they were all united in their resentment
of Spanish domination. By 1830, colonists’ victories put mainland
Spain at its weakest in three centuries. So, while distant ferment liberated much of
the Spanish and Portuguese empires, within post-Napoleonic Europe, citizens’ groups
of all sorts blossomed across the continent and reformist uprisings against rulers flourished,
often having developed in secret given the operation of censorship and not-so-secret
police. Literacy grew following the Enlightenment’s
emphasis on education, technology, and rational thought. Constitutions and the rule of law were increasingly
longed for and valued. Even many aristocrats were themselves surprisingly
restless and ready for change. Russian aristocrats feared that, despite their
own centrality in defeating Napoleon, the czar would exercise his dictatorial inclinations. Because, you know. Czars. And many in the Russian nobility were now
acquainted with the possibilities for a different kind of political system—especially one
guided by the rule of law and constitutions. In December 1825, some of the aristocratic
elite challenged the new Tsar Nicholas I in order to make his supposedly more liberal
older brother Constantin tsar instead. But these “Decembrists” were mowed down
or captured by loyal units of the army. Some were executed and many were sent into
exile in Siberia, where they made new towns and cities into cultural centers. Albeit, cold ones. By this time, a large contingent in the Russian
aristocracy were more deeply cultured and polylingual than the upper classes in any
other European kingdom, but the possibility for a non-autocratic Russia seemed to end
with the Decembrist defeat. Nicholas and his successors upheld the monarchy,
relentlessly clamping down on any threats to it, including a Polish uprising in 1830-31,
continuing Poland’s run of poor fortune that would remain essentially the only constant
in European history for another 160 years. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. 1. In 1830, another revolution broke out in France, 2. bringing about a quick but consequential change
in government. 3. It began after Charles X ushered in strict
censorship, 4. compensation for aristocratic losses in the
revolution of 1789, 5. and similarly regressive measures such
as imposing the death penalty for any pilfering of church objects. 6. Opponents, many from the well-educated and
land-owning upper class 7. and others from the religious object pilfering
class, 8. took these moves as harbingers of a return
to absolutism, 9. which to be fair, they were. 10. As street protests erupted, these opponents
also worried that commoners would demand that France become a republic once again. And they didn’t want that. 11. In what is known as the “Three Glorious
Days” of July 1830, 12. they installed Charles’s cousin Louis-Philippe
as king and created a constitutional monarchy 13. —that is, they returned the country to the
situation of the early 1790s with a government based on a form of popular sovereignty instead
of divine right. 14. The new king Louis-Philippe expanded voting
rights, known as suffrage, to around 170,000 men, 15. but that was still a tiny fraction of the
30 million French citizens. 16. Social unrest remained high as France became
a more industrialized economy with more people living in cities. 17. Both living and working conditions for common
people were often terrible. 18. The silk workers of Lyon, for instance, went
on strike in 1831 over poor pay, 19. and even briefly seized the city’s arsenal 20. before the revolt was eventually put down. 21. In short, the entrenched system of power wasn’t
going to allow another fully populist revolution. Thanks Thought Bubble. So, Prince Metternich’s ambitions for a
tranquil citizenry had clearly failed to materialize. Across the Austrian lands there was the kind
of discussion and agitation that came from reading books, meeting in cafés, and having
a better education: More people wanted a say in their governance, and expected rights that
would be protected by the state. But this agitation percolated mostly in secret,
thanks to Metternich’s censors and secret police. In Italy, the Carbonari, a secret society
aiming for constitutional government in parts of Italy, directed uprisings in 1820 and 1830. But the forces of the Holy Alliance of Austria,
Prussia and Russia put down both revolts. Also during these decades, Hungarian nobility,
also operating in Metternich’s orbit, lobbied for separation from the Austrian empire, but
without much luck. Serbia and Greece had more success in pulling
away from the Ottomans. The Serbs became an independent principality
under the Ottomans in 1817 after an uprising in 1815. And the Greeks won complete independence from
the Ottomans in 1831. For romantics such as the English poet Lord
Byron, these were the struggles of heroes seeking revolutionary freedoms. Did the Center of the World just open? Is my Norton Anthology of Poetry in there? Ah Lord Byron. He wrote a poem from Greece in 1824 called,
“On this Day I Complete My 36th Year.” In that poem he writes, “Awake! Not Greece, She is awake.” In fact, Byron went to Greece in the 1820s
to aide in the independence movement. He also died there. Just a few months after this poem was written,
actually, in which he says, “my days are in the yellow leaf. The flowers and fruits of love are gone. The worm, the chancre, and the grief are mine
alone.” That’s what it was like to be 36 in 1824. Ah god, I hope my days aren’t in yellow
leaf. OK, let’s talk about Peterloo. Struggles in Britain during these decades
were tinged with the rebellions of Irish Catholics against official religious discrimination. Simultaneously, in the difficult years immediately
following Waterloo when harvests failed and the cost of living rose, crowds of working
people by the tens of thousands gathered in cities across Great Britain to listen to calls
for change. Parliament wanted to protect aristocratic
agricultural interests, which tells you a lot about the British Parliament at the time,
and so they raised the price of grain by passing the Corn Laws. Orators demanded their repeal. And the upper classes were on edge. Then in 1819, during a protest in St. Peter’s
Field, Manchester, police shot into the crowd and killed some 15 people and wounded 500. The so-called “Peterloo Massacre”–a term
created by pundits to invoke Waterloo–was followed by the draconian Six Acts that allowed
government searches, prohibited large assemblies, and punished anti-government publications. But outrage and activism continued in Great
Britain and Ireland. The Irish were especially hard hit by the
economic downturn, which resulted in the confiscation of peasant lands by Great Britain. And in 1801 a series of laws joined Ireland
to the rest of Great Britain (together, the laws are referred to as The Act of Union). And despite this purported unity, discrimination
among Catholics remained powerful allowing almost unchecked confiscation of Catholic
property and other assets. In 1823, Irish activist and lawyer Daniel
O’Connell formed the Catholic Association which lobbied for allowing Catholics to have
high positions, including membership in the British Parliament. And the Catholic Association’s activism
plus the accumulation of middle- and working-class grievances eventually led to the Great Reform
Act of 1832. This act eliminated “rotten boroughs”—that
is, districts where aristocrats would become members of parliament almost by birthright,
even in some “districts” that had no actual residents. The Great Reform Act also gave representation
to new industrial cities—like Manchester—that had no parliamentary representation at all. And more men got the right to vote, including
middle-class property owners and those paying an established minimum rent. But of course the definition of that minimum
rent was kept high enough to keep lots of other people, including most ordinary workers,
and all women, were still left out. OK, so we saw in our episodes on industrialization
that in France a group of aristocrats, calling themselves socialists, wanted to better society
due to a belief that the late eighteenth century revolutionary era had focused too much on
the individual and should focus more on the health of the whole. Their socialism entailed philanthropy. And by the 1820s a new group of socialists,
especially prominent in England and France, had a different take on the issues of the
day. In Britain, Robert Owen, who had made his
fortune in textiles, inspired the creation of utopian communities. In these communities, factory hands would
work a limited number of hours and have benefits including education. And profit was to take a back seat to the
overall well-being of the community and all of its individual members. Owen’s ideas gained traction among reform-minded
industrialists, and officials, and workers, and thinkers, especially since industrialization
with its child labor and incredibly high rates of maiming and workplace death was rather
dystopian. Similarly in France during the post-Napoleonic
period, Claude Henri Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, and Auguste Comte devised ideas for
well-run communities that emphasized harmony and efficient management. One common idea was belief in the rational
organization of human societies. Engineers and planners featured prominently
in utopian ideas as their skills would make society operate without tensions and uprisings—that
is, like a well-designed machine. These thinkers’ “socialism” contributed
to the formation of modern social sciences: sociology, economics, anthropology, and government. And around the world, people set up phalansteries–the
name of communities based on Fourier’s writings–organized around the personality characteristics he
outlined. Although German lawyer and theorist Karl Marx
scorned these ideas and the communities based on them, they also helped pave the way for
the socialism to come. Now God knows that we’re going to talk more
about Marx.. what’s that Stan? Oh, Stan informs me that I can’t talk about
Marx and God knowing anything, because to Marx religion was the opiate of the masses. We’ll talk more about Marx, and his use
of the term “socialism,” in the next episode. Then and now socialism had many meanings,
and its definition was ever evolving. The same could be said of the word “liberal,”
which was also evolving from a seventeenth-century belief in basic liberties at birth to the
idea of free trade in the eighteenth century to the concern with accessibility to suffrage
in the nineteenth and twentieth. But for now, I just want to note that as people
became better-educated and were exposed to ideas of individual rights and popular participation
in government, it became very difficult for the powerful to hold onto that power without
popular support. Your education, and mine, is similarly an
opportunity to be exposed to many different ideas, so that we might be productive, critical,
and thoughtful contributors to the political and social lives of our communities, as well
as the economic life of our community. And just as the people of early 19th century
Europe were shaped by the voices they listened to and the ideas they encountered, we are
also shaped by those voices. So listen carefully, and as my friend Amy
Krouse Rosenthal once wrote, Pay attention to what you pay attention to. Thanks for being here. We’ll see you next time.

100 comments on “Reform and Revolution 1815-1848: Crash Course European History #25

  1. It’s sort of sad that they have to walk on eggshells when introducing Socialism. People are so dogmatic that they hear something and automatically think “bad!”

  2. Oh no. You keep telling me that some things going on now have causes from earlier times. It's almost like history matters or something. How am I going to maintain my one-page list of bullet points to cover all of history?

  3. Last week you refered to the low countries while the industrial revolution was mainly in Belgium (first rail line on the continent and other inventions including the dynamo) while the Netherlands joined rather late.

    And now you didn't even mention Belgian independence.

    Should I worry?

  4. That felt much more like an older crash course and I really liked it. Funny bits, sarcasm, a whats that to Stan, really well done. I know that this is European history and John has always talked about how bored he is of European history but this episode was really good.

  5. You completely ignored Proudhon's place in Socialist thought. Proudhon was a major French thinker who corresponded with both Comte and Marx and is considered the father of anarchism.

  6. we shouldn't have to call Britain "great". I feel like every time someone does that, the ghost of Winston Churchill smiles whilst ashing a cigar and the ghost of all the Indians he starved to death shed a tear.

  7. "Capitalism" is also a word with so many meanings that it means nothing. The US is supposedly the most capitalistic country on earth, while also having the largest tax payer funded institutions on earth. Virtually every major industrialized power has decided that the flexibility of the MIXED ECONOMY is the only sane path to take. America will never be a socialist country, but it will never be a capitalist one, either. Market economy =/= capitalism. Get over yourselves.

  8. I guess we're not the only ones, but you forgot the low countries! 🙂
    The Austrian (Southern) Netherlands and Northern Netherlands (United Provinces) were conquered as the first nations by the French in 1795. After their defeat 20 years later, they were united only to fall apart again 15 years later into modern day Belgium and the Netherlands. And it all started with inspiration by the French revolts of 1830.

  9. “At the time”? (7:50) As a Brit (and as a Mancunian – resident of Manchester – with a huge passion for the history of my city), I can tell you that we are still dealing with both the hold of large landowners on our parliament today.
    Why do you think the House of Lords still exists as an unelected house, and how even the commons is dominated by aristocratic or pro-aristocratic forces.

    And as a minor point, it wasn’t the police who fired.
    The police didn’t exist yet at the time of Peterloo.
    It was the troops.

    Also, the reason it was called “The Peterloo Massacre” is to do with Waterloo, but it’s because the Prime Minister at the time was the duke of Wellington – the self same hero of Waterloo.
    I really think that should have been mentioned quickly to give context to what went on.

    But also, yeah as always great vid. Got most of it across both succinctly and in an entertaining way ❤️

  10. Just a little disappointed that the Belgian independence was not mentioned. Especially it’s super modern and state of the art constitution (for its time)

  11. And just to say, my critiques to this video aren’t meant maliciously.
    I love your videos.
    I often binge watch them, even when I’ve already seen them.

    I’m pointing out some things you either didn’t get fully right, or things you omitted which I think you probably could have made a better video if you didn’t.
    But nobody is perfect, and your videos – including this one – do a great job of getting ideas and history across in a manner that is accessible to people.

    I’m sure after every video you review what could have gone better in order to inform the next video, and comments help you see what you missed in order to make the next video better.

  12. TIL Latin America gained independence in this period. Good to know. Not many textbooks talk about the history of that region. Are they less important, or are they more peaceful so there is nothing to talk about?

  13. The Communists made sure lots of people could read and right, but clearly they werent authoritarian regimes? The last statement is pretty dumb.

  14. I don't think anyone cares enough about stuff these days to try and defend their freedom before it's lost to authoritarianism because meh

  15. Though part of me concern with certain YouTubers’s definition of “classical liberalism” despite little to no consistency to its meaning besides touting “Free Speech”.

  16. As Indonesian, European history is matter. Because my nation face colonisation and humiliation from some part of Europe.
    Thanks, I love this series…

  17. Economics is NOT a social science. certainly it is a study of people and choices, but it exclusively deals with the allocation of resources that can be used in more than one way. without that factor, there is no Economics.

  18. It's always good when John Green hosts/teaches a history course on Crash Course, but thanks a ton for your message at the end about the importance of education and critical thinking.

  19. Marx' quote about religion being the opiate of the masses is often taken out of context. He meant that religion provides comfort to people, regardless of whether it's true or not.

  20. Watching these reminds me of History class (obviously one of my favorite classes) when I was in high school, thanks so much John.

  21. Education for exposure to a wide range of differing ideas
    How terribly 20th-century, or for that matter, how inexcusably 18th-century

  22. To anyone who enjoyed this video, I highly recommend the Revolutions podcast by Mike Duncan. He covers many of the revolutions, in painstaking detail, that this video was only able to gloss over in the most frustratingly incomplete way. Honestly, in a lot of ways this video feels like joined summaries of several dozen Revolutions episodes.

    The guy is on spotify, and again, HIGHLY recommended!

    That said, the video is also great, and I understand it serves a different purpose than Mike's in-depth analysis.

  23. Proof conservatives will always complain about intellectuals and "librul colleges". They recognize that an educated populace is a threat to their carefully constructed social heirarchies, and will demonize alternative social systems to the point of outright violence.

  24. @CrashCourse Jon, are you listening to the Revolutions podcast? I ask bc the language of the last couple episodes reminds me of that podcast!

  25. 12:05 I think that quote gets really misconstrued. Obviously Marx was not a fan of religion or of repressive religious institutions but I think that quiq doesn't do his thoughts on the matter. The entire quote comes from an introduction to a manuscript he wrote on Hegel's Philosophy of Right and it is as follows "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the Opium of the people." Which is a lot more nuanced of a take than just the last sentence. Also I can't say this definitively but people also viewed opium differently then. It was used as a medicine. Heck opiates still are. Lots of people back then got addicted to opium and it ruined their lives too but I think that adds another layer to it all.

  26. I know that the "zar" pronunciatino of "tsar" is entrenched in English, but I'm Russian and so I hate it. Would love it if you switch to "tsar" – you know with an actual /ts/ sound, which is why it's romanized with a <ts> (when not romanized in the more confusing "czar" way).

  27. I am looking forward to Crash Course : Canadian History. It would be important to have an English, French and First Nation versions of our history.

  28. I always wondered if 1848 with a small amount of s*** hitting a very large fan or a large amount of s*** hitting a very small fan

  29. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, many of the western countries, in both Europe and the Americas, saw wealthy landowners with the main goal of replacing 'rule by birth' with 'rule by wealth', despite their rhetoric. In case anyone was wondering how we got to where we are today…

  30. Totalitarian governments restrict access to information, yes John, including one totalitarian government which you defended in a previous video, which is still up and has not been edited despite being up for years now.

  31. "Peterloo." So -loo was kinda like the 19th century's version of the whole -gate cliché, huh?

    And they're both replacing the word "water"! Could it be a coincedence?

    Yup.

  32. 8:45 you mean discrimination AGAINST Catholics right? Discrimination among Catholics would mean they discriminated against each other.

  33. 08:00 I know its pedantic but rather than police shooting into the crowd Peterloo was local Yeomanry (19th century equivalent of the National Guard on horses, the officers were land owners who could vote with their tenants and other dependents filling the ranks) charging the crowd with swords

  34. "Pay attention to what u pay attention to."

    At least a quarter of those viewing the video: "What? I wasn't paying attention."

  35. It was Engels who differentiated between the utopian socialism of Owen, Saint-Simon, and Fourier and their scientific socialism based on Hegel and Feuerbach; the chief difference of which was the application of Hegel's idea of dialectics with Feuerbach's materialism to Marx's analysis of political economy, thus leading to what we understand as core to Marxism – the idea of class struggle shaping all societies.

    As for Marx and religion, Marx did say religion was the opium of the masses. But he also said that it was the "sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions." Literally right before he said it was the opium of the masses. Marx didn't hate religion. He understood it as necessary relief to an oppressed proletariat, while at the same time noting it as a tool of the bourgeoisie to maintain the superstructure.

  36. Wow, first "let them eat brioche" and then using the common misunderstanding of "religion is the opiate of the people"? I'm starting to lose faith in y'all.

  37. Greeks after getting free from Ottoman rule, were now paying far higher taxes.
    As they were now heavily in debt to the banks in Europe.

    They have yet to recover from that debt train that continues till today into the foreseeable future.

    Out of the frying pan, into the fire.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *