The Smallest Possible Difference

The irresistible ideals of liberalism, nationalism, democracy, and equality were created, and exported, across the European continent and elsewhere originally by the 1789 French Revolution and the subsequent Napoleonic Wars. However the Congress of Vienna saw the Great Powers attempting to hold back these notions and buttress the floodgates against future deluges. It was not to be.

In 1848, Europe was engulfed in a revolutionary wave larger and more profound than any seen before or after until the end of the 20th century. The 1848 Revolutions have been variously described as the Spring of Nations, a European convulsion, reconciliation, a series of republican revolts, and the emergence of populist human aspirations. The end of the revolutionary period has likewise been described in numerous ways; as a failure, a restoration to dictatorship or conservative rule, as the establishment of widespread disillusionment among liberals. However it can always be agreed upon that while the immediate political effects of the revolutions were largely reversed, the long-term reverberations of the events were far-reaching.

The 1848-49 period saw an immense outpouring of populist movements across Europe. From the French struggle for la République to the German Question, from the Hungarian scramble for independence to Italy's endeavors for unification, and beyond. Often these populist revolts were either put down by force, or twisted to religious, nationalist or dynastic imperial monarchists’ aims. As liberal, nationalist, absolutists, constitutionalists, monarchists, republicans, imperialists and even the first visages of socialists fought back and forth across the continent, the foundations of the modern world as we know were laid down. It need not have happened the way it did.

This TL will attempt to explore an alternative history in which the 1848 revolutions happen in a very different way, for very different reasons. This will be my first attempt at writing a fully-fledged timeline for these forums, and while I do not claim to be an expert in the area or a good writer, I have spent the last six months doing research for this project, and I hope my hard work will show. I'd like to thank MRig for his early help in developing my ideas for this project, specifically for Germany. His input has been sorely missed these last few months he has been away from these forums. I'd also like to thank Falecius for his review of my early drafts, and a thank you to subversivepanda and tormsen regarding developments further down the line. Finally, I also want to give a very special thank you to both Geekhis Khan and to Shurik for their encouragement, support, and critiques throughout the entire process. I only hope the rest of you receive my finished work half as well as they did my early drafts.
Ein Verschieden Sonderbundkrieg

Chisholm, Hugh. "Switzerland." Encyclopædia Britannica. 1911 Ed.

The Construction of an Independent State

... When the influence of the July revolution (1830) in Paris and the sweeping changes in Zurich led the Diet to declare (Dec. 27) that it would not interfere with any reforms of cantonal constitutions provided they were in agreement with the pact of 1815. Hence for the next few years great activity in this direction was displayed, and most of the cantons reformed themselves, save the most conservative (e.g. Uri, Glarus) and the advanced who needed no changes (e g. Geneva, Graubunden)...

... In Zurich the extreme pretensions of the Radicals and freethinkers (1) (illustrated by offering a chair of Theology in the university to D. F. Strauss of Tubingen because of his Life of Jesus, then recently published) brought about a great reaction in 1839, when Zürich was the "Vorort." (2) In Aargau the parties were very evenly balanced, and, when in 1840, on occasion of the revision of the constitution, the Radicals had a popular majority the aggrieved clerics stirred up a revolt (1840), which was put down, but which gave their opponents, headed by Augustine Keller, an excuse for carrying a vote in the great council to suppress the eight monasteries in the canton (Jan. 1841). This was flatly opposed to the pact of 1815, which the Diet by a small majority decided must be upheld (April 1841), though after many discussions it determined (Aug. 31, 1843) to accept the compromise by which the men's convents only were to be suppressed, and declared that the matter was now settled. On this the seven Romanist cantons — Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Lucerne, Zug, Fribourg and the Valais — formed (Sept. 13, 1843) a " Sonderbund " or separate league, which (February 1844) issued a manifesto demanding the reopening of the, question and the restoration of all the monasteries. Like the Radicals in former years the Romanists went too far and too fast, for in October 1844 the clerical party in Lucerne (in the majority since 1841, and favouring the reaction in the Valais) officially invited in the Jesuits and gave them high posts, an act which created all the more sensation because Lucerne was the " Vorort." Twice (December 1844 and March 1845) parties of free lances tried to capture the city. In December 1845 the Sonderbund turned itself into an armed confederation, ready to appeal to war in defence of the rights of each canton. The Radicals carried Zurich in April 1845 and Bern in February 1846, but a majority could not be secured in the Diet till Geneva (Oct. 1846) and St Gall (May 1847) were won by the same party. On the 20th of July 1847, the Diet, by a small majority, declared that the Sonderbund was contrary to the Federal pact, (3) which on the 16th of August it was resolved to revise, while on the 3rd of September it was decided to invite each canton to expel the Jesuits. Most of the Great Powers favoured the Sonderbund...

Swiss Civil War (1847)


Preparations for war

... On 26 January Constantin Siegwart-Müller of Lucerne argued before members of the Sonderbund that the league should appoint a foreigner as commander of the allied forces, suggesting Friedrich von Schwarzenberg of Austria. However the council insisted on a Swiss man, and ultimately elected Guillaume de Kalbermatten of Valais. Kalbermatten, who was present at the meeting, declined the appointment, and the council next selected Jean-Ulrich de Salis-Soglio of Grisons. Salis-Soglio immediately appointed Franz von Elgger as chief of staff. Although a Protestant himself, Salis-Soglio was a staunch conservative and an opponent of the radicals who now almost controlled the Federal Diet...

... The Sonderbund cantons, with the exceptions of Lucerne and Fribourg, sought and obtained permission from their respective Landsgemeindes (cantonal assemblies) for general conscription between the end of September and the opening of October; troop mobilization was complete by 19 October. Two days later, the radical majority in the Tagsatzung voted to dissolve the Sonderbund by military force. The same day, the Diet elected General Guillaume-Henri Dufour of Geneva (4) as commander in chief of the federal army, despite his reluctance and the efforts of the Bernese government to appoint Ulrich Ochsenbein (5) to this post. In his letter of acceptance to the Diet of 22 October, Dufour emphasized that he would "do everything in order to alleviate the inevitable evils of war."

On 24 October, immediately prior to taking the oath of office, Dufour requested explanations concerning his orders (which were written in German) and, after an impolitic remark by the representative of Vaud, Jules Eytel, declined the office and left the meeting of the Diet. (6) After two days, Ochsenbein was sworn in as the Swiss General in his stead on 26 October. Two days later he appointed his division commanders, four representing the radicals, and three for the conservatives, reflecting his somewhat liberal reputation within the Diet. Among his most controversial appointments were Louis Rilliet de Constant of Vaud, Giacomo Luvini-Perseghini of Ticino for the radicals, and conservative Peter Ludwig von Donatz of Grisons.

Three cantons, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Basel-Stadt, (7) and Neuchâtel, had a strong Catholic minority population, and officially declared their neutrality in the conflict and refused to provide troops for the Diet. However the government of Vaud strongly suspected that of Neuchâtel of secretly supporting the Sonderbund. Several incidents ensued, notably the capture of a lake steamship of Neuchâtel by troops from Vaud. On 29 October, Colonel Rillet-Constant of Vaud asked Ochsenbein's permission to march on Neuchâtel. While Ochsenbein was still contemplating this decision, on 30 October Neuchâtel formally refused the Diet’s second request to supply its contingent of troops, once again declaring its neutrality in the rapidly growing quarrel...

... By the 30th the Diet ordered general mobilization of the army, while Sonderbund forces amassed between Saint-Maurice and Saint-Gingolph with a view of invading the Chablais region of Vaud. The following day the Diet issued its official military command to dissolve the Sonderbund. Ochsenbein ordered Rillet-Constant to march on Neuchâtel. Unfortunately, two days later Ochsenbein received word from outside of Switzerland; Prussian King Frederick William IV, as Prince of Neuchâtel, attempted to settle the issue by declaring the Principality "neutral and inviolate" during the hostilities. By the time Ochsenbein was able to recall Rillet-Constant, the Colonel had already lead his brigade into Neuchâtel, and after a quick siege captured the Château de Neuchâtel, effectively conquering the canton. As word spread the city council of Basel-Stadt once again refused to provide troops for the federal cause; however they also begin a closed-door debate regarding whether or not to join the Sonderbund, 'for the city's own protection.' On 9 November word reached Berlin of Neuchâtel's fall; infuriated by this 'insult' to His Majesty, King Frederick William ordered a full corps to march for Switzerland. He also sent word to his cousins, the Princes Constantine of Hohenzollern-Hechingen and Charles of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, as the senior member of the House of Hohenzollern, ordering them to provide troops and supplies for the campaign...

Sonderbund actions in Ticino and Aargau

... Sonderbund Troops from Uri under Salis-Soglio easily captured the unguarded Gotthard Pass on 3 Nov, thereby keeping open the connection between central Switzerland and Valais. Capitalizing on his success the next day Salis-Soglio captured the San Bernardino Pass, effectively blocking the Ticinesi out of the war. (8) One week later Luvini-Perseghini lead a brigade against the Sonderbund forces holding the San Bernardino Pass; they were handily defeated, and forced to retreat to Bellinzona after losing nearly half their number. However by 15 Nov a joint Urseren-Nidwalder force advanced into Ticino, capturing Airolo. The Sonderbund forces surprise the three thousand Ticinese encamped there, driving them back to the Moesa Bridge where they are forced to surrender. Three days later the Sonderbund troops captured Faido without a fight. Luvini-Perseghini rallied his remaining Ticinese forces and was able to turn back the Sonderbund invasion at Biasca (9); however the battle was a pyrrhic victory for the confederates. The Sonderbunders are forced to retreat, but Ticino is completely cut off from the rest of the confederation and low on men, material and morale. Unknown to the Ticinese the same day, Graubünden federal forces under Peter Ludwig von Donatz captured the San Bernardino Pass from the Sonderbund; however his Third Army division was badly mauled by the assault and had to fall back into Grisons, leaving only a token force to hold the pass. By 23 Nov the Ticinese government capitulated to the Sonderbund forces marauding through her northern counties.

After closing the Ticinese out of the war, Salis-Soglio lead half his forces across the Sonderbund cantons, gathering reinforces as he went. Amassing his army just outside of Freiamt, in Aargau, Salis-Soglio's forces destroyed the Reussbrücke Bridge across the Reuss River before capturing Aargau on 14 Nov. They encounter only limited resistance, notably mostly led by conservative colonel Paul Ziegler. (10) Two days later, leaving von Elgger to hold Aargau, Salis-Soglio personally lead half his division into Zürich; however in a three-day battle his forces were routed by Zürcher and Aargauer federal forces led by Ziegler near Dietikon...

The Fribourg campaign

... On 7 Nov Ochsenbein covertly began to discuss the war with Dufour via messenger. They agreed that a Fribourg-first strategy...

... In a two-day battle federal troops seized Estavayer-le-Lac, the enclaves of Fribourg within Vaud, and most of Murten without resistance, while Fribourgeois troops under Colonel Philippe de Maillardoz retreated to defend the capital on 12 Nov. The next day de Maillardoz was fooled into believing the final attack on Fribourg would come from Bern, with the Bernese advanced reserve division approaching under orders to create the maximum amount of noise. However the true attack began on the morning of 13 Nov. by the Vaudois, who brought 60 guns into position around the citadel and began to hammer the city. (11) The next morning the government of Valais decided to launch an offensive against Vaud in order in response to Fribourg's call for help. Against both the Sonderbund council and Salis-Soglio's express orders the Valais government conscripted the massive Sonderbund forces gathered at the Vaudois border, capturing the Chablais region after a two-battle that left both sides decimated following the mountain-pass fighting. (12) By the next day, under increasing pressure and lack of time, Ochsenbein gave the order to capture Fribourg. Over twelve hour of street-to-street fighting later the city was largely leveled by artillery fire and musketry; a fire broke out in the town center, and raged out of control throughout much of the battle, burning many buildings down to the foundations. When the city council finally surrenderd, the federal forces, against the strict orders of commanding officer Colonel Rillet-Constant, pillaged and sacked the rest of the city. (13) de Maillardoz and most of the canton's civil government are killed in the rampage; de Maillardoz himself was hung before his body was used as target practice and ultimately burned when the tree caught flame in the ongoing fire.

Central Switzerland

With western Switzerland secured, Ochsenbein's forces double-marched through Bern and into Aargau, reaching the outskirts of the Sonderbund city in the evening of the 18th. Leaving the western theater to Rillet-Constant with orders to block the Sonderbund forces from expanding beyond the Chablais, the following day Ochsenbein launched his principle assault; splitting his forces in two he personally took command of the federal division to capture Lucerne, while appointing Ziegler, who had joined the federal army at Langenthal, to recapture Aargau from the Sonderbund forces. Ochsenbein's forces traveled along the Suhr River, capturing Sursee with minimal resistance in the late afternoon. Aargau was more of a challenge; von Elgger and Salis-Soglio have fortified the city, riling the urban population into joining them they have erected barricades throughout the city's streets. It took four days of brutal street-to-street close-quarter-combat under a hail of artillery fire with every cannon piece Zeigler was able to bring into play to finally capture the city, including the capture of the Sonderbund's top military leaders. At the same time Ochsenbein continued his march on Lucerne, smashing a Lucerne army at Gislikon on 20 Nov. As the Sondernbund army, leaderless and ready to break any moment, attempted to dig in across the Reuss River Ochsenbein opened fire with his artillery pieces, and Congreve rockets supplied to him by the arsenal of Langenthal.

To the surprise of both the confederates and the Sonderbund, on 21 Nov the parliament of the canton of Zug voted for surrender by a large majority. Zug was a reluctant member of the Sonderbund to begin with, and when federal forces from Zürich marched into Zug the next day they were unopposed, to the acclimation of the city's population. However, the following day troops from Schwyz captured Meierskappel (14) after a brief fire-fight with outlaying patrols of the federal forces occupying Zug. Thus the Sonderbund secured passage between Lucerne, and Zug and Schwyz; central Switzerland remained under the control of the Sonderbund...

Hohenzollern intervention and the end of the war

... on 23 Nov Hohenzollern forces, led by Charles of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, led a sortie into Basel-Country in advance of the approaching main Prussian force. Finding the capital of Liestal lightly defended his forces laid siege; by the following morning the city surrendered, prompting Basel-City to join the Sonderbund. The following day when word reached Aargau of the Hohenzollern capture of Liestal and Basel-City's defecation to the Sondernbund, working entirely outside of his jurisdiction, Ziegler offered von Elgger and Salis-Soglio amnesty if they agreed to lead their remaining forces in joining him to push the German invasion out of Switzerland. von Elgger accepted immediately, however Salis-Soglio only agreed by mid-day, and only after extracting a promise from Ziegler that he petition Ochsenbein to open negotiations. Leaving behind half the Sonderbund troops, mostly wounded, and a quarter of his own federal force under the command of his first officer Ziegler lead the joint federal-Sonderbund force to the outskirts of Liestal; where he and Salis-Soglio entered the city under a white flag of truce to open negotiations with Prince Charles (15). By 25 Nov, while preparing for the final assault on Lucerne, Ochsenbein received word of the Hohenzollern invasion. Immediately he sent delegates under flags of truce to Lucerne, while also sending runners to his field commanders; notably to Ziegler commanding him to stay in Aargau. Four days later a general truce was declared between federal and Sonderbund forces; the Swiss Civil War was effectively over...


... On 7 Dec the main Prussian army arrives; joining Prince Charles' forces in Liestal is a 40,000-strong host led by Prince William Frederick...

... by 12 Dec a peace treaty was worked out, largely by the great powers led by Austrian Minister of State Metternich and agreed to by Prussian King Frederick William IV and French King Louis Philippe. As the Sonderbund was illegal under the Swiss Federal Treaty it was abolished; however in the name of 'preventing further anarchy' the Free Democratic Party was not allowed to make any further changes to the Swiss constitution - effectively making the the 1815 Federal Treaty last major change to the Swiss constitution in the century. As well, in order to ensure 'continued stability,' the Prussian forces in Basel-Country would remain 'until such a time that the Swiss people ask them to leave.' By this it is of course meant until the Prussian king choose to withdraw from Swiss affairs. Within days Dufour returned from his reclusion, starting a campaign to have Ochsenbein tried for 'crimes against humanity' for his militancy during the civil war; Ochsenbein was forced to flee Switzerland, first going to France. He was just the first of many thousands of Swiss that would emigrate from Switzerland immediately following the civil war as conservative freischärler hunted down members of the Free Democratic Party and other radical leaders. (16)

WI Swiss Civil War never happens? said:
Tallgeese7 said:
What it says on the tin. What if the Swiss, somehow, are able to make it through the 1847-49 period just as well off as their neighbors. Or are the Swiss doomed to be history's greatest (and most notorious) mercenaries?
Leonerdius said:
Hmm, well it really depends on the POD. Maybe if Ochsenbein isn't such a hard-ass and goes easier on his fellow Swiss, especially at Fribourg, but that doesn't seem like him.

Perhaps he falls from his horse and the Diet picks a new general? :p
Yambassa Pudding said:
I just don't see it; the 1847-49 period was when the workers of Europe rose up for their collective rights and began the process of transiting from feudalism to capitalism. The Swiss simply weren't ready for that; according to Engels the war was about whether the Swiss nation would develop into a modern capitalist nation with banking and trade or remain pre-dominantly a loose confederation of cantons, each based on subsistence agriculture.
Mussard said:
Hmmm, did a quick search on Wikipedia. It seems like the war was a tie until the Germans intervened. So maybe if you keep them out you have at least a 50/50 chance for the liberals to win.

(1) Free Democratic Party (Freisinnig-Demokratische Partei), which IOTL continues to be a major player in Swiss politics.

(2) Under the 1815 Federal Treaty (Bundesvertrag) the presiding canton was known as the Vorort, usually the canton which had called the Tagsatzung. The Tagsatzung was the executive council of the Federal Treaty, composed of a meeting of delegates of the individual cantons. Generally its power was very limited, since the cantons were essentially sovereign micro-states.

(3) Article 6, which explicitly forbids "separate alliances."

(4) A Genevese army officer, bridge engineer and topographer, Dufour had served under Napoleon and was awarded the Croix de la Légion d'Honneur for his work repairing fortifications at Lyons in 1814. In 1817 he returned to Geneva to become commander of that canton’s military engineers, as well as a professor of mathematics at the University of Geneva. IOTL after the war he was the President of the Swiss Federal Office of Topography until 1865, which he helped found. Later in life Dufour presided over the first Geneva Convention in 1863 which established the International Red Cross.

(5) Ochsenbein was a prominent politician and member of the Federal Diet representing Bern, and co-President/co-founder of the Free Democratic Party who took part in both of the Freischarenzüge movements to overthrow conservative government in Vaud between 1845-6. IOTL after the war he was one of the drafters of the new Swiss Constitution of 1848, which is still in use today. He was elected to the newly created Federal Council in November 1848, holding the post of Minister of the Military. In 1854 he was elected out of office, one of the few Swiss ministers to lose his position in this way, after losing the trust of both the radicals and the conservatives by attempting to follow a moderate, centrist path.

(6) This is the POD. IOTL it took two emergency closed sessions, and a delegation of the representatives of Geneva, to convince Dufour to reconsider and to be sworn in on 25 October. ITTL he remained unconvinced and returned to Geneva.

(7) IOTL Basel-Stadt resisted only for a short time, but ultimately provided its contingent of troops by 6 November, two days after the opening of hostilities. ITTL the opposite happens due the events of Neuchâtel.

(8) IOTL, lulled in a false sense of security by Dufour's slow approach, Salis-Soglio completely ignored the lightly guarded San Bernardino Pass, choosing instead to leave a light guard on the Gotthard while maneuvering the bulk of his forces for an offense against Aargau hoping to cut the confederate forces in two. ITTL against Ochsenbein's faster and more aggressive style Salis-Soglio instead will take the San Bernardino Pass, hoping to block the Italian-speaking Ticinese from joining the Franco-German speaking civil war.

(9) IOTL the Ticinese won a decisive victory here, and this battle marked the end of Sonderbund operations in eastern Switzerland. ITTL cut off from the rest of the federal forces Ticino just barely managed to scrap by.

(10) Ziegler, a native of Zürich, IOTL is able to defeat the Sonderbund forces here; ITTL without the federal forces under his command all he can manage is a running retreat that slows Salis-Soglio's advance.

(11) Here we see the first substantial butterfly ITTL. IOTL Dufour sent a Vaudois lieutenant to Fribourg under a flag of truce, revealing his forces and plan of attack to the Fribourgeois government, and called on them to surrender in order to prevent a murderous battle. The besieged Fribourgeois asked for an armistice for the day, which Dufour accepted. On the morning of 14 November, two delegates of the governing Council of State of Fribourg brought Dufour the news of the canton's surrender, decided by majority vote. While Confederate Switzerland rejoiced at the news, the surrender was a bitter disappointment to the Fribourgeouis troops. Many accusations of treason were raised, notably against their commander, Colonel de Maillardoz, who had to flee into exile to Neuchâtel. While it was eventually shown that the surrender had been a decision of the civil government about which de Maillardoz had not even been consulted, he remained disgraced. ITTL Ochsenbein, as a former freischärler, follows a more directly military route, while de Maillardo becomes a martyr of the conservative cause. To be fair though ITTL Ochsenbein was also racing against the clock attempting to smash the Sonderbund before Hohenzollern forces could reach Switzerland.

(12) IOTL the Sonderbund forces sat in Saint-Maurice and Saint-Gingolph throughout the war, leaving the Chablais but blocking any attempt for the federal forces to move into Valais. ITTL with the pass captured the shoe is on the other foot.

(13) IOTL this almost happened, and Rillet-Constant was forced to declare a state of siege and largely remove his troops from the city proper to prevent it. ITTL the street-to-street fighting and artillery barrage incites the federal troops even more so, while the devastation to the city proper and ongoing Fribourgeois resistance requires a federal presence in the city. The two are a recipe for disaster.

(14) IOTL Meierskappel was critical victory for the federal forces, which completely isolated Schwyz from the rest of the Sonderbund. ITTL Ochsenbein's forces are nowhere near being in a position to bottle the Lucerne-Schwyz corridor.

(15) Although a patriotic Swiss man, Ziegler was also a dedicated conservative, and would hope to use the Hohenzollern invasion to bring the fighting to a close on terms favorable to his cause. ITTL his legacy will be a controversial one; a hero to some, to others he opened Switzerland to outside forces for the first time since Napoleon's Helvetic Republic and subsequent Act of Mediation.

(16) IOTL following the war there was a massive conservative out-flowing from Switzerland, while Switzerland itself became a liberal bastion and haven for radical movements throughout Europe. ITTL basically the opposite happens.


Thoughts, critiques, torches and pitchforks?
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Interesting. So Hohenzollern intervention saves the skins of the Sonderbund and continues the conservatism of the Age of Metternich.
Interesting. . .

I barely knew that the Swiss had a civil war over . . . political reform? Something like the British Reform Act that got rid of the rotten boroughs?
il Risorgimento, Act I

"I have been asked to do the impossible. All that I have done and all that you will do here are like sword blows on water."
- Count Karl Ludwig von Ficquelmont, speaking to Count Joseph von Hübner in Milan, regarding Italian nationalism
5 March 1848​

Italian unification

Italian unification (Italian: il Risorgimento, or "The Resurgence") was the political and social movement that agglomerated different states of the Italian peninsula into the single state of Italy in the 19th century. Despite a lack of consensus on the exact dates for the beginning and end of this period, many scholars agree that the process began in 1815 with the Congress of Vienna and the end of Napoleonic rule, and ended sometime around 1863 with the War of Polish Restoration. The last città irredente however, did not join the Italian Confederation until...

Grab, Alexander. "The Five Days of Milan." Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions. 2005 Ed.

... Tension between the Austrian administration and the Milanese citizens was mounting for several months prior to the insurrection. In September 1847 the police shot at a crowd that was honoring the new archbishop of Milan, Romilli, and singing hymns on behalf of Pope Pius IX, leaving one dead and sixty wounded. In January 1848 the Milanese stopped using tobacco, an important source of revenue for the state. Radetzky ordered his soldiers to smoke large cigars in the street, a provocative move that led to clashes with the local population and left six dead and fifty injured... (1)

Rossi, Alberto. Letter. Il Politecnico. Dec. 1887. A7. Print.

... that Prof. Conti actually believes and writes that the great patriota Cattaneo's political philosophy could be influenced by refuges of the Swiss Civil War is insulting enough, however that these beliefs are published in the same paper that Cataneo himself founded is repulsive and... (2)


Milan Tobacco Riots January 1848
Note the cigars in the soldiers' mouths

Rapport, Mike. 1848: Year of Revolution. New York: Basic Books, 2008.

... the year’s first full-blown revolution took place, in Sicily. The fiercely independent islanders had long been convinced that their 'tyrannical' government, the autocratic Bourbon monarchy in Naples, was willfully ignoring their interests. This impression was reinforced by the state’s feeble response to the desperate poverty that became entrenched in a dreadful winter. On 12 January, a crowd in Palermo 'celebrated' the Neapolitan King Ferdinand II’s birthday by building barricades high across the streets and unfurling the Italian tricolour, crying, 'Long live Italy, the Sicilian Constitution and Pius IX!' (3) They were soon joined by shady people with less lofty motives. Peasant bandits from the impoverished countryside and the squadre, an early form of mafia who lived by running protection rackets against hapless villagers, slipped into the city. They bristled with a grisly array of home-made weapons, hooks and blades of all kinds, and proceeded to terrorize the Neapolitan garrison in the street fighting. The government forces bombarded Palermo from the grim Bourbon fortress of Castellamare, while gunners scattered their lethal charges of grapeshot into the crowd in front of the royal palace and cathedral before they were overwhelmed by the insurgents. The police headquarters was invaded and its records incinerated. Some thirty-six people were killed before the army withdrew from the city. Within days, the Sicilian countryside was literally in flames as peasants joined the revolution, torching the tax records and land registers in village halls. Eventually, the only royal troops left on the island were those besieged in the citadel of Messina. A General Committee assumed the powers of a provisional government in Palermo under the liberal nobleman Ruggero Settimo, Prince of Fitalìa, who was a veteran of the British-inspired parliament of 1812 and the revolution of 1820. The General Committee included both moderate liberals and more radical democrats...

... When news of the Sicilian revolution reached Naples by steamship, the populace took to the streets. Meanwhile, King Ferdinand had embarked some five thousand troops on steamers bound for Sicily to crush the uprising. He thus denuded the mainland of forces just as the revolution took hold there. Swelling the crowd in Naples were the notorious lazzaroni – the poverty-stricken slum masses (4). Normally, government-sponsored charity kept them in a state of uneasy quiescence, but the disastrous economic crisis had bit exceptionally hard and, in a pattern that would be repeated elsewhere in the coming months, the government proved unable to help the people out of the depths of their distress. The lazzaroni therefore turned against the authorities and, meanwhile, the peasants of the Cilento rose up against their landlords. This, and the rumor that some ten thousand of them were marching on the city, provoked the uncomprehending fear of townspeople for the scythe-bearing rural mob. It was enough to push the Neapolitan nobility and bourgeoisie into demanding some political changes in order to meet the crisis. The panic infected the court itself and, learning that his own troops were at best reluctant to fight, Ferdinand sprang the liberal leader Carlo Poerio (5) from prison. This at last gave the liberals a figure around whom they could rally. On 27 January they organized a 25,000-strong demonstration on the great piazza in front of the royal palace. When cavalry trotted out to disperse them, the crowd surged around the horsemen and persuaded them to stand down. Afraid of losing his entire kingdom, Ferdinand promised a constitution, which was published on 10 February. It was based heavily on the French Charter of 1814, so it was a long way from enfranchising the masses. The Sicilians, who demanded the restoration of the constitution of 1812 and political autonomy with merely a dynastic link to Naples, remained implacable. Some Neapolitan liberals, however, hoped that Naples was at last joining an inexorable current rolling towards Italian unification. The onetime republican but now moderate liberal Luigi Settembrini returned to the city from exile in Malta on 7 February to find the port efflorescent with the Italian tricolour...

...Throughout the peninsula, the movement for unification itself proved to be fragile, and it began to fragment as different states pursued their own interests rather than the goal of national unity. Moreover, not all revolutionaries envisaged an Italy forged into a single, unitary state along the lines imagined by Mazzini. Cattaneo fought above all for a republic in Lombardy, while even the Piedmontese, who stood to gain most from the war, worried that their capital, Turin, would lose its pre-eminence to Milan. Venice was accused of putting its local republicanism above the Italian cause...

... The Sicilians, too, were more concerned for their local autonomy than for the national struggle. The parliament that opened in Palermo on 25 March proclaimed that the ancient rights of the island were restored, but that it would be willing to form part of an Italian federation. In the end the islanders had to devote more energy to their struggle to defend their independence from Naples than to the wider fight for unification. Italian patriots later accused Sicily of waging a separatist 'civil war' while the cause of Italian unity floundered... (6)


Sicilian Revolution, Palermo 12 January 1848

... The collapse of the absolute monarchy in the south reverberated up the mountainous spine of Italy. In the Papal States, public pressure on Pius IX, who now wanted to slow the pace of reform (7), became more intense. When he tried to placate the Roman masses by declaring a day of prayer for peace in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, he merely provoked a night-time demonstration that filled the Corso on 3 February. The avenue blazed with torches as the people of Rome cheered, 'Viva Pio Nono,' but now added, 'e la costituzione e la libertà'. The civic guard – formed in the summer of 1847 as a concession to liberal demands – defiantly tore off the white-and-yellow papal cockades and pinned tricolours to their hats instead. A few days later, rumours that the Austrians were preparing to restore order in Italy by sending their army southwards brought out another massive protest, which filled the Piazza del Popolo. The demonstrators called on the Pope to raise an army to defend the frontiers. With little means of coercion at his disposal, the chastened Pope promised to summon a new government in which laymen as well as ecclesiastics would serve as ministers...


Pope Pius IX in 1846 after his election

... further north Leopold of Tuscany saved his grand-ducal throne by granting a constitution on 11 February, while King Charles Albert of Piedmont had promised one three days before and produced the definitive document on 4 March. This was a seismic shift in Italian politics, for the country’s most powerful monarchy, the Savoyard dynasty, had abandoned its age-old absolutist tradition. This would carry heavy weight in the future development of Italy. The proclamation prompted a flamboyant reaction from the people of Turin: patriotic women took to wearing black riding habits, with the skirts lifted up to reveal red-white-and green petticoats. Church bells pealed so exuberantly that the peasants in the surrounding countryside took up arms in the belief that the ringing was a warning of an Austrian invasion. The Dukes of Modena and Parma (8) stood firm for now, but only because they were under the immediate protection of Austrian troops, while Lombardy and Venetia simmered resentfully. It would take wider European events to make those two provinces boil over and, when they did, Italian nationalists were gifted the long-awaited opportunity to fight for Italian unity...


Left, Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany. Right, King Charles Albert of Sardinia.

Miller, Marion S. "The League of Italian States." Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions. 2005 Ed.

... efforts to pursue a defensive league in February and early March 1848 received support from Ferdinand II and, at first, from Pius IX (9) who, after the revolutions began in March 1848 and the war against Austria, perceived the league as a cover for military support against Austria. When Piedmont troops entered Lombardy in support of the revolution against Austria, Charles Albert wanted an offensive league with immediate military aid and the postponement of political considerations until the completion of the war. While Cardinal Antonelli supported by Ferdinand II pushed for a congress in Rome, Charles Albert insisted on a meeting of the states in Turin or his military headquarters. Regional particularism thwarted the league as the Tuscan government feared both the threat of republicanism and especially Piedmont's expansion, and so also did the papal government and Naples, the latter faced with a separatist movement in Sicily...

(1) The Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia had been established as a vassal of the Austrian Empire during the 1815 Congress of Vienna, largely out of the former Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy. The Kingdom was one of the hot-beds of Italian nationalism, and the Austrians often reacted in the most heavy-handed way possible. Ordering your troops to provocatively smoke cigars 'with gusto' was not the wisest decision when dealing with an entire population going through nicotine withdraws.

(2) IOTL Carlo Cattaneo was an early advocate of Italian federalism, based in part upon the Swiss model. IOTL Cattaneo's philosophy was obviously influenced by several Swiss politicians whom he was in contact with such as Stefano Franscini, as well as Giacomo Luvini-Perseghini via the Freemasons. Both Franscini and Luvini-Perseghini were frequent travelers to and from Milan and throughout Northern Italy, often visiting Cattaneo and other prominent Lombards throughout the 1820s, 30s and 40s, who in turn often visited Switzerland. ITTL following the Swiss Civil War these prominent federalist leaders, among other Italian-speaking Swiss, will flock to the ancient North Italian cities, dramatically changing the political atmosphere in the region.

(3) Raised to the Papacy in 1846, Pius IX (born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti), was considering a moderate liberal and a reformist; immediately perceived as the patriotic pope prophesied by Gioberti; he confirmed this opinion by appointing Cardinal Gizzi, considered a leading liberal, as his Secretary of State, and by his July 16 amnesty of political prisoners. A new press law in 1846 permitted the publication of liberal and national sentiments, and in 1847 Pius announced the formation of a consultative chamber to advise him on administrative and political matters. Later that same year he instituted a council of ministers that was permitted to discuss the most important questions of state. Under mounting public pressure he also created a civic guard late in 1847, leading Cardinal Gizzi to resign.

(4) No precise census of the lazzaroni in Naples was ever conducted, but conservative estimates place the numbers within the capital at least 50,000. During the Napoleonic Wars the lazzaroni were fiercely loyal to the Neapolitan royalty, fighting against the French invaders often to the last man, as the then-monarch, Ferdinand I, mingled among his kingdom's peasantry. However by the time of 1848 King Ferdinand II had lost the loyalty of these street beggars.

(5) A poet and liberal politician, Carlo Poerio had fled Naples to Tuscany as a child with his father Joseph and his brother Alexander after the downfall of Joachim Murat, whom Joseph had supported. Carlo himself returned to Naples in 1837 to practice law, however he subsequently spent most of the next decade in-and-out of prison for his political positions. IOTL he served in the new Neapolitan parliament until April 1849, when he resigned after Ferdinand II's refusal to cut diplomatic ties with the Austrian empire; three months later he was imprisoned for another decade, and was then exiled to London where he stayed until returning to Italy to be elected to the new Italian parliament in Turin following the Savoyard conquest of the peninsula.

(6) Even OTL there is a considerate amount of resentment towards and separatist feelings from the Sicilians in regards to the rest of Italy.

(7) The Papal reformist movement was largely embodied by Pius' own dichotomy on the issue; he support liberal reforms, but only to the extent that it made his theocratic state more efficient. Any adjustment that weakened Papal power was soundly rejected by Pius.

(8) IOTL Parma and Modena were the most conservative of the Italian states, and did not join the Italian unification movement until the aftermath of the Franco-Sardinia victory in the Second Italian War of Independence. ITTL...

(9) Almost from the day of his election Pius was inundated with requests from Italian patriots to head a pan-Italian organization of some-sort due to his liberal reputation.


I'm updated earlier than I had planed to, but I will be out for the rest of the weekend camping so next update will be either Sunday night when I get back or sometime Monday.

I barely knew that the Swiss had a civil war over . . . political reform? Something like the British Reform Act that got rid of the rotten boroughs?

Its a fairly unknown piece of European history, which as this TL will hopefully show is an unfortunate oversight. IOTL the Sonderbund War was one of the shortest and most civil ever fought, lasting less than a month and with less than five hundred dead, due to Dufour's slow and pacifist nature. The war resulted in the 1848 Swiss Constitution which is still in use today and changed the country from a loose collection of sovereign, agrarian states that often exported their arms to other nations' conflicts into a unified, neutral country well known as the banking capital of Europe. ITTL of course things have gone very differently..
Its a fairly unknown piece of European history, which as this TL will hopefully show is an unfortunate oversight. IOTL the Sonderbund War was one of the shortest and most civil ever fought, lasting less than a month and with less than five hundred dead, due to Dufour's slow and pacifist nature. The war resulted in the 1848 Swiss Constitution which is still in use today and changed the country from a loose collection of sovereign, agrarian states that often exported their arms to other nations' conflicts into a unified, neutral country well known as the banking capital of Europe. ITTL of course things have gone very differently..

So the Swiss Civil War was a civil war?
So the Swiss Civil War was a civil war?

It was. And because of their Vienna-mandated neutrality, it was the last conflict fought on Swiss soil.

And the events in Italy are interesting. Would Piedmont unify Italy here as in OTL, or will the butterflies mean a different unification?
The Revolutionary Tradition

"I believe that right now we are sleeping on a volcano. Can you not sense, by a sort of instinctive intuition
that the earth is trembling again in Europe? Can you not feel the wind of revolution in the air
- Alexis de Tocqueville, before the French Chamber of Deputies
29 January 1848​

Bonin, Hubert. "France, Financial Crisis and the 1848 Revolutions." Trans. James Chastain. Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions. 2005 Ed.

The results of the agricultural and cyclical crisis between 1845 and 1848 were immediate on the Parisian and provincial markets. During the boom of the 1840s, industries had increased debt and their working capital. With the recession, these firms, which were over stocked and greedy for liquid assets, increased the demands for credit, especially as their customers delayed payments while dictating terms to their suppliers. The classical crisis in credit meant a decline in payments on the debt to the banks, then, up the line, to the regional issuing banks to the Bank of France.

The Bank of France's regents supervised the deterioration of its bullion reserves. The gold stockpile was reduced by outflow to Switzerland and Germany due to the trading in the big fairs and to Russia and Spain to purchase grain to off set famine brought on by the agricultural crisis. The Bank of France was supported by a loan from the English bank firm of Baring, but, as its commitments mounted, it preferred to restrain the rediscount and to move the bank rate from 4 to 5 percent in January 1847.

Banks were collapsing, torn between the burden of debt and the rise in price of credit: some bankers from Lyon, such as Bontoux and Delhante, suspended payments in 1847-1848, especially as anxious depositors rushed to withdraw their funds. A crisis of confidence spread among banks and the stock exchange, where share prices slumped, particularly for railway companies hit hard by deflation of the "railway mania"...

French Revolution of 1848

... By 1848 only about one per cent of the population held the franchise. Even though France had a free press and trial by jury, only landholders were permitted to vote, which alienated the petty bourgeoisie from the high bourgeoisie. Louis-Philippe was viewed as generally indifferent to the needs of society, especially to those members of the middle class who were excluded from the political arena. Early in 1848, some Orleanist liberals, such as Adolphe Thiers, had turned against him, disappointed by Louis-Philippe's opposition to parliamentarism...

... Because political gatherings and demonstrations were outlawed in France, activists began to hold a series of fund-raising banquets, the Campagne des banquets, to circumvent this restriction and provide a legal outlet for popular criticism of the regime. The campaign began in July 1847, and lasted until February 1848, when the French government under Louis-Philippe forbade such banquets...

Rapport, Mike. 1848: Year of Revolution. New York: Basic Books, 2008.

... One such gathering provided the unexpected flashpoint for the revolution in France, and thereby sparked the explosions that would erupt across Europe. The banquet was to be held in the 12th Arrondissement in Paris – which then covered the area around the Panthéon and included one of the heartlands of Parisian republicanism, with radical traditions reaching back to the days of the 1789 revolution. The choice of location left the moderates fretting that the banquet might provide an occasion for a more strident, popular demonstration. The leader of the dynastic opposition, Odilon Barrot (1), who did not lack physical courage, but who was politically cautious, therefore had the banquet moved to the well-heeled Champs-Elysées, scheduling it for 22 February, which prompted the republicans to call for a protest march that day. The moderates reacted by cancelling the event altogether. They achieved this at a hastily arranged meeting of all opposition deputies and journalists in Barrot’s home in the evening of 21 February; even Marrast, editor of the republican National, agreed. They were all scrambling back from a collision with the authorities and from the radical forces that such violence might unleash. But it was too late: Marrast’s own paper had advertised the order of march for the demonstration and the radical republicans insisted that it must go ahead. At a crisis meeting of republicans of the left-wing Réforme tendency, held that same night, the radicals agreed that the protest would take place as planned, but it would disperse at the first show of strength by the authorities: even they were eager to avoid an uncontrollable, unpredictable clash with the government. No one envisaged a revolution...

The events of February

... Despite heavy rains by nine o'clock demonstrators gathered on the Place de la Madeleine, the starting point for the march. The authorities had called out the National Guard, by the crowd's resolve was steeled by the arrival of some seven hundred students who crossed the River Seine singing 'The Marseillaise.' Instead of retreating as expected the crowd surged across the Place de la Concorde towards the Chamber of Deputies to demand reforms, only to be pushed back by the National Guards and royal dragoons without bloodshed. However as the two groups scuffled back and forth across the space, stones thrown by the crowd prompted a reaction by the Municipal Guards (2), who forced their way into the crowd with their sabers drawn; within hours fighting broke out across the city. While the authorities managed to protect the public buildings, the crowds could evade them by simply retreating into the labyrinthine streets of the artisan districts. Overnight the narrow streets of central and eastern Paris were filled with barricades...

... Since the rioting was spontaneous and unexpected the republican leadership was uncertain what to do. Meeting throughout the night they discussed their next move; however no one strategy was agreed upon, and while some decided to wait out events, others returned to their districts and began mobilizing the rank-and-file of the party...

...Barrot attempted to have conservative Prime Minister François Guizot impeached for corruption and treason; however the motion garnered only 53 out of 459 votes as even most opposition deputies were disinclined to weaken authority even further...

Vandervort, Bruce. "National Guard (France)." Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions. 2005 Ed.

... Under the July Monarchy, the guard was a small socially elite force, its membership being drawn largely from the ranks of the pays légal, i.e. those who paid enough tax to qualify to vote. Although an 1837 law opened the ranks to petty bourgeois who did not qualify to vote, this did not dilute the generally conservative politics of the force. Guardsmen still had to pay dues and supply their own uniforms and equipment, and this sufficed to keep out the awkward sorts. Elite companies also existed, such as those who had decked themselves out in tall bearskin buskins (bonnets à poil) reminiscent of Napoleon's old guard. This emphasis on social status, plus general inattention to the requirements of discipline and readiness during the years of the July Monarchy, meant that when revolution erupted in Paris in February 1848, the guard was poorly prepared to undertake its peacekeeping duties. In addition, some units, especially those from the traditional artisan quartiers in the capital, had lately been infected by anti-establishment or even democratic ideas that predisposed them to fraternization with the rebels.

In February 1848, the Paris National Guard's some 50,000 members were divided into twelve legions, one for each of the city's arrondissements. The legions, in turn, were broken down into battalions, recruited at the level of the quartiers of each arrondissment. The legions were commanded by colonels or lieutenant-colonels, the battalions by majors, captains, and sometimes lieutenants. Of the city's twelve National Guard legions, only one, the first, from the notoriously haute bourgeois Champs Elysée-Place Vendôme district, would prove loyal to the monarchy at the onset of the February revolution. The mass defection of the guard has been seen by many historians as the crucial event in the collapse of the Orleanist regime. Georges Duveau contended that "the insurrection [of the February 1848] could have been brought under control if the National Guard had remained loyal to the system." He added that the morale of the regular army plummeted when the troops "realized that [they] were liable to be struck in the back by the National Guard."

La Révolution

... throughout the next day National Guards played a pivotal role in negotiating between insurgents and Municipals, ending the fighting in several parts of the city. Étienne Arago, one of the founders of La Réforme, also proved to be an important player in negotiations, single-handily working to disarm no less than half-a-dozen insurgent barricades throughout the city. However, with his military position weaker than expected, Louis-Philippe, the 'Citizen King,' was forced to dismiss Guizot. The French parliament received the announcement with thunderous applause. Within hours as National Guard deputies ran from barricade to barricade spreading the news fighting died down and the riots turn to celebrations.


Étienne Arago negotiating with insurgents

However that evening into this festive crowd marched an orderly phalanx of nearly a thousand workers from the radical eastern districts, notably among them two hundred Swiss exiles led by Ulrich Ochsenbein (3). Quickly the revelers joined this march, singing patriotic songs and chanting 'Vive la Réforme! A bas Guizot!' Stopping outside of the offices of Le National to listen to Armand Marrast (4) who urged reform under the existing monarchy, the marchers’ intent was mistaken by two hundred men of the 14th Line, the regiment assigned to protect Guizot's lodgings in the Foreign Ministry just down the street. The guards blocked the boulevard, and when the marchers began to press against them the 14th's officer ordered his men to present bayonets. However, as the marchers began to retreat a shot was fired out from an unknown source, and reflexively the soldiers let off a volley, killing fifty people instantly. Within hours the barricades were once again manned, the bourgeois insurgents now joined by the republican-leaning workers. As news spread of the massacre Parisians took it as the onset of a government effort to crush the reform movement. Upon hearing of the massacre Louis-Philippe yielded yet more power, appointing Barrot and Adolphe Thiers (5) to form a new government. However, he also appointed Marshal Thomas Bugeaud (6) to command the military units stationed in Paris, ordering him reassert order. Even as Barrot and Thiers rode from barricade to barricade urging calm and a ceasefire, the journalists of La Réforme did the same, demanding a 'République.'

In the early morning hours of the 24th Bugeaud unleashed his forces, sending four columns of troops through the city in an attempt to clear the barricades. Yet Louis-Philippe, wanting to avoid further bloodshed, ordered the officers leading the columns to negotiate before firing on any insurgents; this lead to stand-offs across the city as officers were unable to talk the insurgents out of their barricades, but were unwilling to open fire upon them. By mid-afternoon royalist moral was low, and Bugeaud ordered all his forces to fall back on the Tuileries to consolidate the defense of the royal palace.

Alexis de Tocqueville, writing later, describes what he witnessed;

"... it looked like a rout. The ranks were broken, the soldiers marched in disorder, heads down, exuding both shame and fear; as soon as one of them briefly fell out with the mass, he was quickly surrounded, seized, embraced, disarmed and sent on his way; all that was done within the blink of an eye."​

With the insurgents closing in on the palace, Thiers urged the King to withdraw from the city, bring up regular troops and smash the revolution with overwhelming force from outside. (7) However he was rebuffed by his horrified colleagues, including Barrot, and in power for less than a day, Thiers resigned and left Paris...

Rapport, Mike. 1848: Year of Revolution. New York: Basic Books, 2008.

... The last stand took place at the Château d’Eau, which guarded one of the main access routes to the Tuileries. The Château d’Eau was a two-storey guard post with barred windows, centred on the fountain from which it drew its name. It was defended by some hundred men of the now despised 14th Line and ten Municipal Guards. In bitter fighting vividly described by Gustave Flaubert, the air buzzed with bullets, was torn by the cries of the wounded and rattled to the beating of drums. In the carnage the masonry of the fountain itself was torn apart by the musketry, and the water spilled out over the square, mingling with the blood of the slain and wounded. The insurgents took the awful decision to end the murderous fighting by crashing carriages, laden with burning straw and spirits, into the guard post. As the fire caught, an officer, choking on the smoke, opened the door to escape, only to be shot down. His men piled out behind, throwing their weapons on the ground in a frantic gesture of surrender. The victorious assailants surged forward and then struggled to put out the fire, tripping over blackened corpses and charred debris. While the Château d’Eau burned, the King collapsed in a chair in his study, watched by his hapless courtiers. Politicians offered him conflicting advice, but it was the slippery newspaperman Émile Girardin, editor of La Presse, who at midday strode forward and brusquely urged Louis-Philippe: 'Abdicate, Sire!' On being told that no further defence was possible, the exhausted King sat down at Napoleon’s old maple desk and formally vacated his throne, leaving it to his grandson, the ten-year-old Count of Paris, with the boy’s mother, Hélène, Duchess of Orléans, acting as regent. Louis-Philippe, dressed (as he liked to do) in plain, bourgeois clothes, walked briskly with his wife Marie-Amélie through the Tuileries Gardens and boarded a carriage waiting on the Place de la Con corde, from where, escorted by loyal cavalrymen, they drove off, reaching Honfleur on 26 February. There, the British vice-consul (showing either a profound lack of imagination or a wry sense of humour) gave the royal couple the alias of 'Mr and Mrs Smith'. On 3 March they landed in Britain, where Louis-Philippe would die in August 1850.


The 1848 French Revolution

The Second Republic

... As the royal couple fled Paris, the revolutionaries broke into the now all-but deserted palace. Taking turns sitting on the throne, they carve into the royal seat; 'The People of Paris to All Europe: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. 24 February 1848.' The following day the throne was taken to the Place de la Bastille, where it was ceremoniously burned. From their refuge in the Chamber of Deputies the Duchess of Orléans and her son witnessed the demise of France's monarchy, as the crowds drowned out Barrot with heckles and chants as the great orator attempted to secure the regency. Lamartine (8) then rose before the Chamber and read out a list of members of a provisional government, arranged by prior agreement between the Deputies and the offices of the two leading republican newspaper, Le National and La Réforme, to thunderous applause. The moderate majority included Lamartine as Foreign Minister, the astronomer and member of the Institut de France François Arago as Minister of War, and Louis-Antoine Garnier-Pagès as Finance Minister. The republican minority included Ledru-Rollin as Minister of the Interior and two ministers without portfolio - the socialist Louis Blanc and a worker named Alexandre Martin, known as 'Albert,' who had won his republican and socialist reputation in the revolutionary underground. A living link to the First Republic was found in the symbolic appoint of the aged veteran republic Jacques-Charles Dupont de l’Eure as another minister without portfolio…

... On the morning of the 25th Lamartine was approached by a crowd of Parisian radicals, clamoring for the provisional government to adopt the red flag (9) as standard of France. Standing before the Hôtel de Ville Lamartine instead persuaded the radicals to adopt the French tricolor, arguing; "The red flag has been dragged in blood around the Champe de Mars; the tricolour flag has gone around the world carrying freedom in its folds."


Lamartine refusing the red flag

Later that same day a petition was issued to the provisional government by the republican left - which was rapidly taking on the label 'democratic socialist,' or démoc-socs - demanding 'a guaranteed right to work,' 'an assured minimum for the worker and his family in case of sickness,' and the 'organization of labor,' which was vague enough to mean almost anything but by which was generally meant state-sponsored reform of working conditions, wages, and industrial relations, and the creation of workshops run by the workers themselves. The provisional government gave in to only one demands; creating the National Workshops, the government promised to 'guarantee work for all citizens' by providing employment in (often tedious) public works for the poor. However by the 28th the provisional government established a labor commission in the old Chamber of Peers at the Luxembourg Palace, presided over by Blanc and Albert. Consisting of delegates from the various trades, the 'Luxembourg Commission,' was meant to address the concerns of the workers and artisans during the continued economic, financial and agricultural crisis. In its first meeting the Commission banned marchandage, or subcontracting, for being exploitative by allowing the subcontractor to maximize profits by paying lower salaries to unskilled workers. The Commission also reduced the legal working day from fifteen to ten hours in Paris, and eleven in the provinces. As well the Commission formed an arbitration committee of ten workers and ten employers to deal with industrial disputes...

... The provisional government also declared freedom of speech, association, assembly and the press. As well most political prisoners held under the July Monarchy were released. On 5 March the government announced elections would be held on 9 April, which would return delegates who would more fully decide the future direction of France...

... The Second Republic also initiated reforms in the military. Taking the initiative the republican minority pushed for a democratization of the National Guards, an effort that had been on their agenda throughout the July Monarchy...

Vandervort, Bruce. "National Guard (France)." Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions. 2005 Ed.

... Called for an end to the taxpaying requirements for membership in the guard, the incorporation into its ranks of all able-bodied males between the ages of twenty and fifty-five, and the election of all officers and non-commissioned officers of the force...

... Predictably, the "democratization" of the guard quickly became a major bone of contention between the provisional government and its critics of both right and left. All parties to the dispute saw the elections of guard officers, originally set for March 13-16, as crucial to their political fortunes. They recognized the "democratization" would remain a largely meaningless slogan unless the guard acquired new leaders and a new esprit. Just as they urged postponement of the general elections in order to gain time to "republicanize" the provinces, so the left, led within the government by Louis Blanc, demanded that the guard elections be postponed to give the new petty bourgeois and working class guardsmen a breathing space to organize themselves and prepare slates of candidates. The right, correctly ascertaining that speedy elections would favor the status quo, fought the call for postponement. The moderates within the provisional government, caught in the middle, offered a compromise. They would not postpone the elections, but they would agree to the disbanding of the elite Guard units, whose continued existence was perceived by some as an affront to the "democratization" process.

Already upset at the measure taken to "democratize" the guard, the legions in the better-off arrondissements greeted the announcement of the disbanding of the elite companies with an uproar of protest. This led to the bonnet à poil demonstration of March 16, 1848, in which the elite companies paraded not only their anger at losing their privileged status, but the belief that their dissolution was part of a scheme by government radicals (principally Ledru-Rollin) to impose a socialist dictatorship upon France. As such, it provoked a massive working class counter-march the following day. The upshot was confirmation of the ideological fissure introduced into the guard by "democratization," between the old-line units that continued to see themselves as pillars of order, and the new elements, at least some of which saw the guard as an instrument for the construction of a "democratic and social republic"...

... So divided was the National Guard by the time insurrection broke out in June 1848...

Foreign Relations

... using his network of diplomats abroad, Lamartine issued his 'Manifesto to Europe' which instructed the French representatives as to the ways in which they were to present the French revolutionary developments to foreign, reactionary governments, who might fear that a France of 1848 would emulate the expansionist France of 1789. In this manifesto Lamartine denies the justice of the peace treaties of 1815, but states that France accepts them as "facts to be modified by general agreement." However, he also declares that if attacked France would be a formidable enemy; "Her martial genius, her impatience of action, and her force would render her invincible at home, dreaded, perhaps, beyond her frontiers." Lamartine also states that France would not hesitate to protect her neighbors - Belgium, Switzerland, and the Italian states - in their own attempts to democratize and unite, if they were attacked by conservative, reactionary, powers. Lamaratine's manifesto concluded with the following;

"The republic pronounced at its birth, and in the midst of a conflict not provoked by the people, three words, which have revealed its soul, and which will call down on its cradle the blessing of God and man: liberty, equality, fraternity. It gave on the following day, in the abolition of the punishment of death for political offences, the true commentary on those three words, as far as regards the domestic policy of France; it is for you to give them their true commentary abroad. The meaning of these three words, as applied to our foreign policy, is this: the emancipation of France from the chains which have fettered her principles and her dignity; her reinstatement in the rank she is entitled to occupy among the great powers of Europe; in short, the declaration of alliance and friendship to all nations. If France be conscious of the part she has to perform in the liberal and civilising mission of the age, there is not one of those words which signifies war. If Europe be prudent and just, there is not one of those words which does not signify peace. "

... However even as Lamartine promised peace between nations, radical republican elements with France herself took it upon themselves to export the revolutionary spirit throughout Europe. The day after Lamartine's manifesto was published, peasants in upper Alsaca ransacked and burned Jewish homes and synagogues, forcing their occupants to flee to Switzerland. A cluster of refugees in Porrentuy appealed to new Minister of Justice and Religions, Adolphe Crémieux, who promised material help to the refugees, and to pursue the authors of 'those savage assaults.' To that end he wrote to the provisional government's commissioner in Colmar, stating; "I am stupefied to learn that in France, in old Alsace, in a country full of patriotism, that there should be enough miserable people who can attack citizens whose only crime is to be Jewish." To the Jews he promised they would find justice in the courts, and under his influence the provisional government also sent a column of troops led by Louis Eugène Cavaignac to repress the anti-Semitic violence. However, Cavaignar's forces were joined by a legion of Swiss exiles and radical republicans led by Ulrich Ochsenbein. (10) Arriving in Alsaca mere hours after Cavaignar's troops, Ochsenbein went further, marching his troops into the Swiss canton of Bern, his former home. After briefly capturing Porrentuy the Legion escorted the refugees back into France just hours ahead of the cantonal forces, doubling in size to nearly four hundred men by the end of the day as Jewish refugees and Swiss radicals flocked to Ochsenbein's banner...

... Later on 15 March (11) a massive demonstration was held in Paris by the démoc-socs, in which some one hundred thousand members of the left-wing Parisian clubs participated, demanding the government sent its forces abroad to aid (and perhaps form) republican uprisings throughout Europe. Lamaratine was able to persuade the démoc-socs leaders to stand-down, but only at the cost of allowing the republicans to form their own volunteer legions, modeled upon Ochsenbein's example. By the end of the month a 12,000-strong volunteer Belgian Legion, organized by the radical republicans but made up of unemployed Belgian workers in Paris, acquired weapons in Lille and marched into Belgium to topple the monarchy in Brussels. However, Lamaratine secretly warned the Belgium government, and the Legion was met at the village Risquons-tout and defeated in an hour-long battle with Belgian royalist forces. Against intense diplomatic pressure, mostly led by the British, Lamaratine avowed that the provisional government was not secure enough to use force against radical elements within France; however he accepted that other governments are perfectly entitled to receive them 'with gunshot.'

April Elections

... On 23 April the French general election for delegates to the new National Assembly in Paris was held. The election was the first election in France since 1792 held under universal male suffrage; many peasants in the countryside simply supported their local worthies, mostly conservative lower nobles, bourgeois, and priests. In same provinces the peasantry was told by their local churches who to vote for and threatened with excommunication and an eternity in hell if they voted otherwise. Thus of the 900 seats open, 150 went to the Left (of which, however, only 80 were démoc-socs) and 250 to the Right (mostly Legitimist, with only 50 Orléanists), with a central block of some five hundred moderate republicans. Many contemporary writers cited not only the conservative hold on the rural countryside for the sharp turn against the Left, but also anxiety over the changing social order and resentment towards the urban National Workshops; one rural newspaper declared that the hard-pressed rural folk were 'tired of nourishing lazy men who make a trade of avoiding work.' Elsewhere however, the urban workers were anxious themselves. In Limoges, the mostly unemployed workers, fearful for the continued existence of the National Workshops under a moderate government, stormed the polling prefecture armed with picks, pikes and staffs, swept aside the National Guard unit and destroyed the records of the electoral count. The workers controlled the city for the next two weeks, before handing over power to the authorities (sent from Paris) in a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.

McKnight, William. Lecture. HIST 404: Revolutionary France. University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.

Simultaneously revolutions bring fundamental change while still being chained to the past. As the legitimate heir of the Great Revolution, the French in 1848 spoke its language, used its symbols, idealized its heroes and even copied its institutions.

Slide 1
"When France has a cold, all Europe sneezes."
- Count Klemens von Metternich​

The 1848 Revolution was the product of a revolutionary tradition dating back to the French Revolution of 1789; however this living tradition was modified even as it was codified by the changes happening outside of the revolutionaries' grasp. To alter French society the revolutionaries of 1848 chose as models inherited symbols, words, imagery, associations and practices that had come down to them as a revolutionary tradition. Thus those who took on the name of the "Mountain" (12) hailed each other with the epithet of "citizen," demonstrated at the Place de la Bastille and sang the Marseillaise. They would proclaim the republic, abolish slavery and elect a constituent assembly, all in the name of liberty, equality and fraternity. It would be too easy to misconstrue this as merely passive and sterile imitation. To confuse the "Mountain" of 1792 with that of 1848 mistakes the names of institutions of disparate republics arising at different times and assumes that they are the result of similar forces. Between the 1789 and 1849 revolutions the early stages of industrial capitalism arose on continental Europe, particularly in France.

Transforming society and economics, early capitalism fundamentally altered class-power relations; therefore the aspirations of different groups mutated the meaning of the previously shared revolutionary tradition. Not merely molding itself to a changing reality, it also selected from the sum of the revolutionary events and ideas; picking-and-choosing what each group wanted and expected. The 1830 revolution contributed to this process, as a majority consensus quickly emerged in February 1848 in favor of a republic and universal manhood suffrage, thereby setting aside the early choices of the restoration of a monarchy and limited suffrage. Depending on its practical tendencies, or its links with the old or the new republicans, each group took sustenance from its own sources, whether they were Jacobin, sans-culotte or Babouvist. The process of selection led each to choose from the past the elements that would strengthen its identity and reinforce its unity. Thus the démoc-socs believed in an expansionist, populist, republican France that would export its beliefs across Europe, while conservative forces favored a constitutional monarchy with checks-and-balances to limit the powers of the mob and keep France out of foreign entanglements.

In the face of such complexities, it might be more appropriate to talk about revolutionary traditions rather than a single set of customs. Thus reshaped according to current needs by contemporary political practice and mind sets, revolutionary traditions in 1848 are not "a shop of ready-made truths". They are rather agents of major change. Take for example the principle of equality. A staple of the revolutionary experience since 1789, through the new lens of capitalism it took on a new meaning, less judicial and more socio-economic. The will to address the social question, previously lacking in French society, led to a new paradigm of the revolutionary tradition, and those willing to fight to the death defending it. Regardless of the actual events of the 1848 revolutions, the right to work and form associations was now apart of the new social order...

(1) A liberal lawyer, he entered politics in the late 1820s joining Adolphe Thiers' Aide-toi, le ciel t'aidera. During the July Revolution of 1830 he joined the National Guard, and became a part of the provisional government where he argued for a constitutional monarchy. Thereafter he served in the Chamber of Deputies, where he persistently urged the "broadening of the bases of the monarchy," i.e. democratic reforms while maintaining the monarchy.

(2) An elite force, composed of veterans of the conquest of Algeria, the Municipal Guards were originally a creation of Napoléon I but were retained under the Bourbon Restoration and the July Monarchy. The Municipal Guards were the most loyal, and most despised, units in 1848, thanks to their high pay, which aroused the jealousy of the other troops. The Municipals were also detested by the people because of its policing duties, something the Municipals carried out with vigor and severe discipline.

(3) Forced to flee Switzerland following the Sonderbund victory in the Swiss Civil War; see Chapter #1 for details. IOTL the workers only numbered some seven hundred.

(4) Marrast began his career as a professor of rhetoric at Saint-Sever, entering in politics in 1827 by joining Thier's Aide-toi, le ciel t'aidera, for which he was dismissed from his academic position. Afterward he became an editor for La Tribune, and was exiled in 1836 for his criticism of Louis-Philippe, though he was amnestied and returned in 1837, at which time he became the director of the republican paper Le National, and was later an organizer of the 1847-48 banquet movement.

(5) A historian by trade, Thiers was a well-known liberal politician, serving as the Prime Minister under Louis-Philippe twice (in 1836 and in 1840). Thiers was the closest thing to a leader the liberal opposition ever had. IOTL he was arrested during the 1851 coup d'état; imprisoned, exiled, and then amnestied he played a small role in French politics during the Second Empire until 1870.

(6) The former Governor-General of Algeria, Bugeaud had a hardliner reputation as the 'butcher' of the rue Transnonain. At the same time though his military genius was hailed for his use of 'flying columns,' small, independent units, capable of rapid mobility and usually composed entirely of small arms, during the conquest of Algeria. IOTL he died in 1849 commanding the French Army of the Alps to 'observe' events in Italy, after declining to run as the conservative opposition to Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte.

(7) Which is of course the very strategy Thiers adopted IOTL in response to the 1871 Paris Commune.

(8) A writer, poet, historian and historian, Alphonse de Lamartine was of a minor provincial noble family in Burgundy. Entering politics in 1825 he worked for the French embassy in Rome before being elected as a member of the Académie française in 1829, and a député in 1833. No republican, Lamartine was however a well-versed historian who knew regencies had been disastrous in France's past. IOTL he was instrumental in forming the Second Republic, including abolishing slavery and the death penalty; he retired from politics after coming in 5th in the French Presidential election of 1848.

(9) At this point in time the red flag has yet to become associated with Marxism, and wouldn't' do so IOTL until the 1871 Paris Commune. Previously the red flag stood for defiance, and furthermore a fight to the death. A red flag was raised over the Champ-de-Mars in Paris on July 17, 1791 by Lafayette, commander of the National Guard, as a symbol of martial law, warning rioters to disperse. As many as fifty anti-royalist protesters were killed in the fighting that followed. Oddly inverting the original symbolism, the Jacobins protested this action by flying a red flag to honor the "martyrs' blood" of those who had been killed. The Jacobin Club ruled France during the Reign of Terror (1793-1794) and made the red flag an unofficial national emblem. However, the earlier Tricolor never lost its official status and regained popularity under Napoleon.

(10) IOTL of course no such 'Swiss Legion' existed.

(11) Two days earlier than IOTL, due to Ochsenbein and the Swiss diaspora.

(12) Another name for the démoc-socs, referring to the earlier Montagnards (La Montagne; the mountain), the radical republicans during the 1792-95 la Terreur. However there are fundamental differences between the 1792 and the 1848 Montagnards, and to confuse or equate the two would be a grave mistake.
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So the Swiss Civil War was a civil war?

Yes. Remember Dufour IOTL helped form the International Red Cross; he was very much a pacifist general and took the most 'humane' approach to warfare. ITTL though without his influence..

It was. And because of their Vienna-mandated neutrality, it was the last conflict fought on Swiss soil.

And the events in Italy are interesting. Would Piedmont unify Italy here as in OTL, or will the butterflies mean a different unification?

I don't want to say too much for fear of revealing where things will go, but Piedmont will play an important role in Italian unification ITTL.


Next update should be sometime later today, possibly tomorrow; focusing on the Austrian Empire.
The End of the Concert

To make up for my lateness, a slightly larger update. Sorry for the delay, I realized there were some important points in the vast Austrian empire I needed to cover before publishing.

"A united Germany now became the watch-word of the day and every House in Vienna was surmounted by a German national flag.
The students not only marched under German banners, but paraded the streets decorated with German cockades and ribbons.
It was remarkable how all, with one consent, gave up at once their own national standard
- William Stiles, the US chargé d'affaires to Austria,
remarking to a friend about German nationalism
3 April 1848​

Dawles, Richard. Trans. William McKnight. The Victorian Era. Brussels: Writer's Guild, 2007.

If the February revolution in Paris toppled the first pillar of the Concert of Europe, the second, equally fundamental blow for the old regime was the fall of Metternich. The aging Chancellor, himself the mastermind behind the congress system, received news of the French revolution days before many other Austrian notables - including the imperial family itself - via telegram on 29 February. Though never one to play-down the risk of 'subversion', the Viennese chief of Police, Count Josef von Sedlnitzky, assured Metternich that there was nothing to fear in Vienna. However, on the same night the news of Paris also reached Bohemia. The Prague intelligentsias, already holding a masquerade ball, meet in clusters of two or three to avoid the ever-present notice of the imperial police. Whispering the word amongst the revelers, they quietly toasted the revolution...

... News of Pairs disseminated rapidly throughout Europe by the ubiquitous new technologies; rail, steamboat and the telegraph. By the next day word reached Pozsony, where the Hungarian Diet had been meeting since November debating the issue of serfdom; by the end of the day the parliament agreed to open a new debate - reform...

Rapport, Mike. 1848: Year of Revolution New York: Basic Books, 2008.

... On 3 March the fiery Lajos Kossuth (1) rose in the lower house and gave the speech that would prove to be 'the inaugural address of the revolution.' Habsburg absolutism, he declared, was 'the pestilential air which dulls our nerves and paralyses our spirit.' Hungary should be 'independent, national and free from foreign interference,' tied to Austria only through the dynastic link of having the Emperor continue as King of Hungary. Kossuth went further and remarked that a political overhaul which benefited Hungary would not be safe for as long as the rest of the empire remained unreformed, so fundamental change was needed for all the subjects of the Emperor. 'The dynasty,' he thundered, 'must choose between its own welfare and the preservation of a rotten system.'

... The hopes and expectations grew when word of Kossuth’s speech reached Prague. On 8 March the liberal organisation Repeal posted up placards calling a public meeting at the Saint Václav’s Baths on 11 March. The venue was perilously close to the working-class quarter of Podskalí, and the time of 6 p.m. on a Saturday gave the district’s workers ample opportunity to draw their wages and down some alcohol before attending. The destructive power of the workers had been brutally demonstrated (and then equally brutally repressed) only four years previously, and the social fear among the propertied classes was now reignited. Even the leading liberal lights of Bohemia, the historian František Palacký (2) and journalist Karel Havlíček, stood aloof from the political activities, because they were reluctant to stray from the path of 'legality.' The mayor (or burgermeister) Josef Müller called out the respectably bourgeois civic guard, but he turned down the request of Prague’s wealthiest citizens, who were mostly Germanspeaking industrialists, to allow all burghers to bear arms. The manufacturers also demanded that the authorities ban the meeting altogether. This the governor of Bohemia, Rudolf Stadion, would not do, for fear of sparking a confrontation; but he put the garrison on alert.

Several thousand people turned out on the appointed day. Eight hundred of the more 'respectable' demonstrators – young intellectuals, officials, burghers, artisans, almost all of them Czech – were allowed into the baths by Repeal’s ushers. The excluded workers huddled together in the street, battered by a heavy rain. The almost complete absence of Germans at the meeting suggested that it attracted those who had been aroused by the Czech national movement and felt frozen out of Bohemian political structures. A petition was read out, demanding a constitution, press freedom and trial by jury, and, more radically, the 'organisation of work and wages' for the workers and the abolition of both labour obligations (the robot) and manorial courts for the peasants. Nationalism was expressed in the demand for a union of all the lands of the ancient Czech crown: Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia, collectively represented by a single assembly of the Estates, the official equality of Czech with the German language, the reduction of the standing army and a bar on 'foreigners' – the meaning was ambiguous – from holding office. The meeting ended with the election of a committee of twenty to prepare the petition for signature. It was only now that Palacký lent his considerable intellectual weight to the demands...

Dissolution of the Hapsburg Empire

... on 12 March at an early morning Mass service at the University of Vienna popular liberal theologian Anton Füster galvanized the reform movement, declaring that Lent was a time of hope (for Germany). After service the students occupied the Aula, the university's great hall, and soon a petition circled demanding freedom of press, speech, religion and teaching, improvements in education, popular representation in government and the participation of all German-speaking parts of the empire (3) in a new Germany. By the end of the night the petition was covered by thousands of signatures; conservative’s estimates place almost the entire student body and a significant among of the staff in ultimately signed the document. The students further agreed to march the following day. Learning from the Parisian Revolution, radical-leaning students filtered through the city gates throughout the night into the poorer suburbs, rousing Viennese workers to join the cause.

The next day four thousand students walked out of their lectures and marched on the Landhaus, which happened to be just around the corner from Metternich's Chancellery on the Ballhauspltaz. Soon middle-class Viennese - doctors, lawyers, artisans and bourgeoisie business-owners - joined the throng in expectation of the Estates opening. Under such pressure the Lower Austrian Estates, led by liberal reformist Alexander Bach, gathered several thousand signatures of their own on a petition demanding parliamentary government and Austrian participation in the restoration of the German empire. However, as the day wore on the protest started to run out of steam, with many students and middle-class Austrians returning to their average routine, until a young Jewish doctor named Adolf Fischhof silenced the crowd and, standing on the shoulders of four compatriots, urged the people to present the Estates with their liberal demands. Soon speaker after speaker - 'pale with terror at their own daring,' Stiles noted - climbed onto the railings and balconies to harangue those within, to the cheers of those without. Count Albert Mountecuccoli tried to pacify the crowd by allowing a delegation to present the petition to the Landhaus. However, just as the delegates entered the building Tyrolean journalist Franz Putz arrived on the square, carrying copies of Kossuth's speech (translated into German), which he read aloud from the central fountain. As Putz worked the crowd into a frenzy with his quoted cries of 'liberty,' 'rights,' and 'constitution' a window of the Landhaus opened to admit copies of the Estates' own petition as they were thrown out to the crowd. However the Estates' plan is disappointingly meek by comparison, and is openly mocked by the mob. Soon cries of 'Constitution!' rippled through the aggregated masses...

Rapport, Mike. 1848: Year of Revolution New York: Basic Books, 2008.

... The mood was beginning to turn ugly, but a minor blunder now tipped it into violence. With commendable but, in the circumstances, tactless efficiency, the porter performed his noonday duty of locking the side door of the Landhaus. For the people unaware of the routine, this was a sign that their twelve delegates were being arrested. A crowd of students and, as Baron Carl von Hügel put it curiously, 'intruders of the better class' battered down the doors and invaded the meeting chamber. To calm tempers, Montecuccoli agreed to adopt the liberal programme and to proceed to the royal residence in the Hofburg to present the demands to the Emperor...

Viennese upheaval and provincial repercussions

... Finally the Staatskonferenz - the inner circle of family and ministers that acted as a regency council on behalf of Emperor Ferdinand (4) - made its move. Paralyzed until now between those that advocated some (highly limited) reforms to appease the crowds and conservatives (such as Metternich) who urged no concessions, the authorities attempted to stem the ever-growing flow of the crowds by closing all of Vienna's gates. The industrial workers locked outside in the suburbs, prevented from joining the middle-class revolution within, took their frustration out by smashing up factory machinery, attacking landlord's property and plundering bakeries and groceries. (5) Independent of the events within the imperial capital, these working-class riots would continue for weeks...

... Imperial soldiers were ordered into the streets under the command of Archduke Albert; although his commands were to disperse the crowds he was also ordered to avoid loss of life. However, the Staatskonferenz had acted too late; the massive crowds now steamed from the Landhaus through the Ballhausplatz and spilled towards the Hofburg where they were confronted by Albert's forces. Faced with cannon and fixed bayonets the crowds rained a hail of stones upon the soldiers; Albert was struck by one, and a regimental commander whose name was lost to history ordered the troops to advance and fire. Dozens died within minutes, and soon fighting broke out across the city, with the workers breaking through the Schottentor gate using ripped-up lamp posts as battering rams. By mid-afternoon imperial troops controlled the main thoroughfare and squares but the insurgents hold the side-streets behind barricades.

At five o'clock a truce was negotiated in which the military withdrew from the city, while in return the bourgeois militia, the Bürgergarde, maintained order. As well the students were allowed to form their own militia (the 'Academic Legion'). Bridging the gap between liberals and radicals in the Legion, Bürgergarde and the National Guard a Central Committee was formed, led by leaders within each group. By the night's end on the committee’s orders some forty thousand arms had been cleared from the royal armories...

... Under increasing pressure, by nine o'clock Metternich was dismissed by the imperial government, and the authorities gave in to all demands. Metternich's last act as Chancellor was to persuade the Staatskonferenz to give Prince Alfred Windischgrätz (6) full civil and military powers to restore imperial authority in Vienna. Leaving Vienna with his wife, Melanie that very night by a series of carriages, Metternich spent nearly two weeks in The Hague before arriving in London via steamer...

... Receiving word of Metternich's fall the next day Archduke Stephen, the Palatine of Hungary summoned an emergency meeting of the Upper House of the Hungarian Diet. Capitalizing on the upheaval in the imperial capital the meeting unanimously agreed the Diet must demand a separate Hungarian government, with reform of the counties, wider representation of the people, and full union of Transylvania with Hungary. (7) The upper house also agreed that delegates from both houses would travel to Vienna to present this petition personally to Emperor Ferdinand...

... hailed as a national hero by a procession of students in Budapest, in a widely publicized move, Kossuth nominates his liberal ally and personal friend Count Lajos Batthyány as (the first) Hungarian Prime Minister...

... on 15 March, arriving in the early afternoon, the 150-member Hungarian delegation, including Kossuth and the moderate Count Istvan Széchenyi, emerged from steamers on the Danube to cheering crowds. Just hours later the imperial government sent heralds throughout Vienna reading an imperial proclamation that all of Austria would send delegates to an assembly that would discuss an imperial constitution to be granted by Emperor Ferdinand. Celebrations throughout the city, first erupting following Metternich's fall, now double in scope...

... However the same day further north news of the imperial promise of a constitution reached Prague via train. As in Vienna a National Guard and an Academic Legion were swiftly arranged in Bohemia and Moravia to keep order. These organizations recruited from both Germans and Czechs, but in Prague the Saint Václav committee also established the Svornost, an exclusively Czech militia. (8) As well students, both within and without of the new Legion, form a political society, the Slavie, or Slavic Linden...

Rapport, Mike. 1848: Year of Revolution New York: Basic Books, 2008.

... On the morning of 16 March Kossuth was carried to the Hofburg on the shoulders of cheering Austrians. At the palace the Hungarians found that the Emperor – drained, pale, and his head lolling – had already been persuaded by the Staatskonferenz to concede all that the Magyars asked. Overnight, in fact, Széchenyi and Batthyány had quietly persuaded Archduke Stephen to stand up to the arch-conservatives at court by arguing that it was better to yield than to provoke a rebellion for full Hungarian independence. Now the Hungarians pushed even further, also demanding that Batthyány be called to form a government and that all legislation passed by the Hungarian Diet be automatically ratified. This was going too far for the Emperor’s inner circle, which rejected these new demands outright. Stephen rushed straight to the Emperor himself – bypassing the Staatskonferenz altogether – and extracted the feeble-minded Ferdinand’s personal agreement that Batthyány be made Hungarian Prime Minister. The Imperial Rescript that emerged on 17 March therefore gave Hungary its own government, responsible to the Diet, and appointed Stephen as the Emperor’s plenipotentiary, with full powers to implement the reforms. Stephen immediately officially appointed Batthyány as his premier. The new cabinet included a kaleidoscope of views from the gradual reformist Széchenyi to the radical Kossuth. The former bristled at the thought of serving alongside the latter: 'I have just signed my death sentence!' he wrote, adding later that 'I shall be hanged with Kossuth.'

The Staatskonferenz had been so pliable because Habsburg authority appeared to be collapsing in every corner of the empire – in Budapest, Prague, Milan and Venice. Concessions were made out of the grim necessity for survival...

Hungarian radicalization

... following his famous speech, Kossuth, anticipating conservation opposition, urged the radicals of Budapest - including students and journalists - to back his speech with the weight of a popular petition. The unenviable task of writing such a document fell to the Society of Ten, a circle of 'Young Hungarian' democratic writers led by the poet Sándor Petőfi; however the petition itself was penned by the young journalist József Irinyi, who’s Twelve Points became Hungary's revolutionary program. The list included free speech, 'responsible government' (meaning a ministry answerable to parliament), regular parliaments, civic equality and religious freedom, a national guard, equality of taxes, trial by jury and a release of all political prisoners, and an end to all feudal burdens for peasants. As well all non-Hungarian troops were to be evacuated from Hungarian soil, and Transylvania was to become part of Hungary.

On the same day Kossuth was carried through the Viennese streets to meet Emperor Ferdinand, the Budapest radicals gathered at the Café Pilvax, where Kossuth's petition was read aloud to great applause. Following the petition, Petőfi then recited a poem, written only two days previously, the 'National Song,' the refrain of which brought a roar of approval: "We swear by the God of the Magyars, we swear, we shall not be slaves any more!" (9) Later that afternoon Petőfi addressed a 10,000-man crowd in front of the National Museum; reciting his poem once again, he then led them into Budapest's city chambers where, with little alternative, the council president signed the Twelve Points and a new municipal government - the Committee of Public Safety - was appointed. The Committee's membership included such radicals as Petőfi himself, pro-Kossuth nobles, and liberals from the old Council. Petőfi's Committee also formed a National Guard. The revolutionizes then marched across the Danube via pontoon bridge (since Széchenyi’s now-famous chain bridge was still under construction) to Buda Castle, where the Vice Regal Council met. Confronted with a crowd now over 20,000 strong and with no direction from Vienna, Stephen's councilors yielded within minutes of being presented the Twelve Points.

However, not all was well within young revolutionary Hungary. On 18 March a petition circled through Budapest, garnishing nearly as many votes as the Twelve Points, demanding that the city's Jews be expelled from the city militia. Though the Committee of Public Safety rejected the bill, anti-Semitism would remain high throughout the revolution. On 21 March, in response to a proposal put forward in the Diet granting the franchise in municipal elections to anyone of sufficient self-independence (wealth), anti-Semitic violence erupts once again in Budapest and in Pozsony, with the cities' Jews beaten and their businesses smashed. Within days the violence spread across the Hungarian countryside as the new government was slow to react; these protests and pogroms would continue throughout Hungary until early April. Anti-Semitic violence broke once again however on 19 April, when a mob of proletariat workers of Budapest fell upon the city's Jews. Armed with knives, axes and poles the mob lynched ten people, and another forty were beaten, before the municipal guards were able to disperse the crowds. As such six days later, trying to stem the tide of anti-Semitic violence the Diet 'excused' Jews from military service, disallowing them from serving National Guard duty. However the next day, led by Petőfi, the radicals formed a special battalion for Jewish Hungarian patriots. (10) Petőfi himself accused the Germans ('the blind tools of the over-thrown regime') and the 'dregs' of the working class embarrassing the national revolution by 'throwing mud at the virgin flag of 15 March.' Consequently the enfranchisement of the Jews was delayed until...

... As well, there was stiff resistance to the Magyar ideal of reunited the Crown lands of Saint Stephen. In Transylvania on 24 March radical lawyer Simion Bărnuøiu called for a Romanian national program - including representation of the peasantry - and to reject union with Hungary. Scarcely a month later Bărnuøiu convened a 'preliminary' assembly of six thousand people on Blaj. The meeting was attended by ethnic-Romanian students, teachers, priests, peasants - and notably, delegates from Moldavia and Wallachia, across the Romanian border. Arguing for slow and deliberate constitutional reform, while rejecting union with Hungary, Bărnuøiu called for a committee to draft a Romanian 'National Petition,' urging those who would attend not to trust Hungarian promises and to reject transforming Romanians into simply citizens of a 'Greater Hungary.' Just days after the assembly, Daniel Roth, a Banat priest, published a tract that envisioned a new Romanian kingdom based on Dacia, a province of the Roman Empire. By 15 May the Romanian Congress was held on the Field of Liberty outside of Blaj. Lasting for two days, it was attended by over 40,000 people, mostly peasants. The National Petition that was drafted there demanded the abolition of serfdom, civil rights, Romanian representation in the imperial diet, a separate Romanian parliament, militia, and an education system for Romanians. A permanent committee, led by Bărnuøiu, was also formed, which then went on to form a National Guard. The Petition was intended for both the aristocratic Transylvanian Diet and Emperor Ferdinand, but pointedly not for the Hungarian government. However the Magyar governor of Transylvania, József Teleki, charged the committee with subversion and disbanded it...

... in the northern Hungarian lands on 28 March the nascent Slovak national movement held its first meeting, led by writer L’udovít Štúr, who had previously worked throughout his lifetime to promote Slovak as a literary language in its own right. The meeting created a list of modest demands; that Slovak be taught in schools and used as an official language alongside Magyar in Slovakia, and that the Slovak colors be displayed alongside the Hungarian within Slovak lands. However the petition was rejected out of hand by the Hungarian government as a 'manifestation of pan-Slavic unity.' In response, at the beginning of May Štúr organized a larger meeting at Liptovský Svätý Mikuláš, in which a more comprehensive program, the 'Requirements of the Slovak Nation' was drafted, including the right for peasants to own land and greater political autonomy within the Kingdom of Hungary. In response on 12 May the Hungarian government issued arrest warrants for prominent Slovak leaders, particularly Štúr...

... attempting to further their revolutionary goals, the Circle of Ten scheduled an enormous 'French-style' banquet beginning on the 19th, consigning with a large, traditional, trade fair at which Kossuth's petition may be signed by thousands. Throughout the day the lack of paper and pen became a real threat as a significant portion of the city and surrounding countryside poured out for the petition. As events continued to advance beyond Hungarian or Austrian control, a crowd of 20,000 protested in Budapest on 27 March, led by the city's Committee of Public Safety. The crowds soon were out of the committee's control however, and began to chant 'We don't want a German government,' and even the more radical, 'Long live the republic.' However by 11 April Emperor Ferdinand signed the April Laws. Four days later the Committee of Public Safety voluntarily disbanded; many members immediately began to work on campaigns for the upcoming Hungarian parliamentary election...

Urban, Aladar. "April Laws, Hungarian." Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions. 2005 Ed.

... With the consent of the court and the state conference the April Laws were worked out by the diet and approved by the king at Pozsony on April 11. The April Laws abolished the feudal dependence of peasants and emancipated serfs and the general sharing of taxation. They created the first Hungarian constitutional government and sanctioned Batthyany's government, whose ministers of finances and defence, called into question the concept that the Habsburg lands constituted a single (Gesamtmonarchie). The April Laws reformed suffrage laws and allowed the election of the Hungarian national assembly in Budapest in the summer of 1848. The April Laws called for liberty of press and regulated the administration of counties and cities. It defined the national colors of the red-white-green tricolor and re-established the usage of the old Hungarian arms of nation. The April Laws enacted the legal existence of the national guard, which the Budapest revolution spontaneously organized. The thirty-one articles of the April Laws were the constitutional basis of a modern Hungarian state, calling for a government responsible to the parliament, independent in internal affairs within the Habsburg monarchy, including a separate civil administration, armed forces and judiciary. But the famous Law III, establishing the sphere of authority of the new Hungarian government and abolishing the vice-regal council, the Viennese direction of the Hungarian treasury and the royal Hungarian court chancellery, was silent about the unity of the imperial royal army, although allowing the Hungarian government control over "all military affairs."

Bohemia within revolutionary Austria

... On 22 March the Staatskonferenz received a Czech delegation that presented the Saint Václav Petition; however the Viennese court could sense the reluctance among both Moravian and Bohemian Germans to submit to a Czech state and the Emperor only made vague promises of concessions. Returning to Prague by 28 March the delegation immediately scheduled an emergency meeting. Planned celebrations had been canceled, and popular anger at the committee was high. At the meeting delegates struggled to make themselves heard over cries of 'Republic!' and chants against the Bohemia nobility. In response the committee drafted a more strident petition, demanding the unity of all Czech lands, represented in a single parliament elected on a wide franchise; the Estates were effectively jettisoned as an archaic institution. The committee also demanded a separate, unified kingdom retaining only a dynastic link with the Hapsburg crown. Finally, the committee abolished the robot - the forced labor obligation of the peasantry. An armed militia carried the petition to the Governor's office, where Stadion was forced (some reports say at musket-point) to sign the document. However shortly after he resigned; his last act to write a warning to Baron Pillersdorf, the Minister of the Interior, that he 'could not answer for nothing if it was all not granted.' Four days later he appointed his own commission as an alternative, conservative, seat of power to the Saint Václav Committee. The Stadion Commission was made up of the great conservative worthies of Prague, both Czech and German, including Palacký and some dissatisfied members of the Saint Václav Committee. As well, with Stadion's encouragement, German minorities throughout the Czech lands formed a German League 'for the Preservation of Their Nationality.'

By 8 April an imperial reply to the second Saint Václav Petition was issued, which promised only Bohemian and Moravian Estates, elected on a franchise limited to property owners, salaries employees and taxpayers, but excluding the urban workers, domestic servants and rural laborers. The Czech language was to be taught in all schools and used in every level of administration in the Czech lands - alongside German. The government response leads to outraged protests across the Czech lands, and within two days conservative opposition in Prague crumbled, and Stadion's Commission was subsumed by the resurgent Saint Václav Committee. On the following day Palacký stunned the Frankfurt Committee of Fifty when he rejected their invitation in a published letter. Insulting the German parliament, the letter began with a statement of Czech national identity; "I am a Czech of Slavonic blood... that nation is a small one, it is true, but from time immemorial been a nation of itself and based upon its own strength." However Palacký did not seek Czech independence, explaining that the unity of the entire German people would tear apart the Hapsburg Empire, leaving the small nations of Eastern and Central Europe vulnerable to the 'leviathan to the east' - Russia - which "has become, and has for a long time been, a menace to its neighbors," adding "Assuredly, if the Austrian State had not existed for ages, it would have been in the interests of Europe and indeed humanity to endeavor to create it as soon as possible." With the conservative counter-movement in Bohemia in full-swing by 13 April Stadion was made chair of the new National Committee, which was effectively the new government as both Czechs and Germans prepared for the elections of the Bohemian Diet.

However, much like elsewhere in the Austrian empire, the lifting of censorship had led to a flood of anti-Semitic propaganda, stirring two days of rioting starting in May in Prague, in which Jewish shopkeepers were charged of over-pricing their wares, beaten or killed, and their stores destroyed...

... on 6 May the continued slow pace of reforms, and the lack of a united parliament, lead to both worker strikes and protest demonstrations in Prague, Ostrava and Brno...

Himka, John-Paul. "Non-historic peoples." Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions. 2005 Ed.

This term frequently appeared in the German revolutionary Friedrich Engels' discussions of the nationality problem in the Habsburg monarchy during the revolution of 1848-49. Writing in the newspaper he co-edited with Karl Marx, the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, Engels divided the nationalities of the empire into "historic" (Germans, Poles, Magyars) and "non-historic" (Czechs, South Slavs, Ukrainians, Slovaks, Transylvanian Romanians and Saxons). He considered the historic nations to be supporters of the all-European revolution, while the non-historic peoples were counter-revolutionary by their very nature and doomed to national extinction.

Engels borrowed the concept of non-historical peoples from Hegel, who had identified nationhood with a tradition of statehood: "A nation with no state formation... has, strictly speaking, no history - like the nations which existed before the rise of states and others with still exist in a condition of savagery" (Philosophy of Mind). As a sociological distinction, the concept had some validity, since the nations Engels characterized as historical did have a strong tradition of statehood and active participation in politics relative to the non-historic peoples; more to the point, the historic nations had preserved a traditional elite (particularly the Polish and Magyar gentry) into the mid-nineteenth century, while the non-historic peoples were predominantly peasant peoples. Engels' distinction was also, in the main, descriptively accurate, since the German, Polish and Hungarian national movements were ranged on the side of revolution, while the national movements of the non-historic peoples tended to support the emperor against the revolutionaries (the most notable case may be that of the Croatian political and military leader, Josip Jelacic)...

Illyrian Developments

... On 23 March Baron Josip Jelačić (11), a Croat who had attended the Zagreb Congress but also a loyal monarchist, was appointed the Ban (Viceroy) over the provinces of Dalmatia, Croatia and Slavonia. Jelačić had been spotted as a shrewd and determined operator by an Austrian military commissioner in Zagreb during the Congress. Immediately Jelačić sent out orders declaring that until the Croatian parliament reconvened, all districts should accept orders from no one except himself, as the Emperor's representative. Two days later this meeting was commenced amidst peasant uprisings against the Magyar gentry throughout the Military Frontier region. The parliament abolished serfdom and wrote a petition, demanding the same rights the Hungarians were demanding; specifically full autonomy within the Hapsburg monarchy. However, the Croatian gentry declared that only the Sabor (Croatian Diet) could abolish serfdom in Croatia, rejecting both the Hungarian National Assembly's and the Croatian National Congress' abolishment of such...

... On 8 April Kossuth admonished a Serb delegation that petitioned for Serbian autonomy within the new Hungary. The delegation returned to the Serbian Vojvodina, and made contact with Jelačić...

... by 4 May, Jelačić, claiming a Turkish threat, put most of the military units under his command on war footing, while refusing to recognize the legality of the Hungarian government in Budapest (specifically, its power over the Military Frontier). Writing to the new conservative Austrian War Minister, Count Theodor von Latour, Jelačić requests the transfer of key supplies from Austria to Croatia; Latour willingly obliges. However a scant three days later the Austrian government yields to Hungarian demands once again, placing all troops in Hungary, including the Military Frontier, under the command of the new War Ministry in Budapest. The Hungarian government swiftly appointed Baron János Hrabovszky to lead the imperial forces in 'restoring order' along the southern border.

On 13 May, with the backing of the independent Serbian principality centered in Belgrade, 8,000 Hungarian Serbs met at Sremski Karlovci (Karlóca in Hungarian) and proclaimed an autonomous province (Voivodina) under an elected executive committee, the Glavni Odbor, and a prince (voivoda) Stevan Šupljikac, a colonel from the border regiments. The Voivodina recognized the ultimate sovereignty of the Hapsburg Emperor, but not the authority of the Hungarian government. Further, the Glavni Odbor incited Serbian peasants to rise up against their Magyar landlords, leading to low-level guerilla warfare between Voivodina Serbs and Hungarians, with both sides claiming loyalty to the Hapsburg Emperor. However, when the Serbs also restored the Orthodox See of Karlovci and proclaimed Metropolitan Josip Rajačić to be its Patriarch, the imperial government refused to recognize both.


Proclamation of Serbian Vojvodina in Sremski Karlovci

Austrian Constitution

... As early as 25 April the promised imperial constitution was issued. The document featured a system of indirect elections for a parliament due to meet on 26 June. The emperor kept most of his powers, including an absolute veto, control over war & peace and the power to make official appointments. Moreover the constitution lacked universal male suffrage, and left the manner of the elections to parliament vague. While liberals were happy with the new constitution, it was rejected by both conservatives for going too far and radicals for not going far enough; including the Academic Legion. Student protests once again sprang up across Vienna. On 2 May the Emperor's new Prime Minister, Count Ficquelmont, the former Foreign Minister, was 'serenaded' by a crowd of Academic Legionaries, National Guards and workers who 'sang' loudly outside of his home, demanding his resignation. By the next morning the crowds had in fact invaded the Foreign Ministry building where Ficquelmont had retreated to, forcing him to promise to resign within twenty-four hours, a promise he kept within twelve by handing over the office to Baron Franz Pillersdorf.

The conservative regime did not back down this time however, and on 11 May new decrees were issued, which denied the vote to servants and those who earned a daily or weekly wage - effectively all workers. The Central Committee quickly organized a 'Storm Petition,' demanding a single-body chamber legislature elected by universal male suffrage, backed by threat of force. The government responded by banning the National Guard from participating in the Central Committee. Thinking themselves prepared for a second round of violence, the Staatskonferenz closed the city gates, and a strong guard of regular military was stationed in every direction around the palace, with cannons loaded with grape-shot and torches ready lighted. However by the 15th the government once again yielded to the protestor’s demands as National Guardsman and Academic Legionaries took positions on all sides around the royal palace, while workers in the thousands attempted to break through the locked and reinforced city gates. Only the feeble pleading of Emperor Ferdinand prevented his ministry from resigning en masse. During the night, for his continued work and dedication 'to the cause,' Adolf Fischhof was elected President of the Central Committee. However, even as the radicals celebrated, the royal family retreated from the city in the dead of the night, fleeing to Innsbruck. (12) Further echoing the earlier flight of Louis XVI during the 1789 French Revolution, the imperial families left a proclamation of their passing to be read aloud the next morning.


1848 Vienna Upheaval

(1) A Hungarian nationalist lawyer, journalist and politician, Kossuth entered politics in 1825 after being appointed as deputy to Count Hunyady at the National Diet. However only the upper aristocracy could vote, and Kossuth took little part in the debates. It was only in 1840, following five years of arrest for liberal publications, that Kossuth became a national icon following the Diet's demand of his release, among other political prisoners, and refusal to pass government measures until Metternich caved. Immediately Kossuth become editor of Pesti Hírlap, the liberals newspaper, a post which he lost in 1844; however in late 1847 he was elected to the new Diet due to the support of Lajos Batthyány. IOTL and ITTL he played a critical role in 1848 Hungary...

(2) A patriotic Slav and historian by trade, Palacký mastered eleven Slavonic languages as a child under Pavel Šafárik while attending the lyceum in Pozsony. Settling in Prague in 1823 he was shielded from imperial hostility against his open enthusiasm for Slavic history by his friendship with the brothers Count Sternberg and Francis, the latter of which founded the Society of the Bohemian Museum in 1825 under Palacký, who then spent the years until 1848 writing his capital work, "The History of the Czech Nation in Bohemia and Moravia". OTL an (the) early advocate of 'austroslavism,' Palacký toed a dangerous line during the 1848 period as a supporter of both the Hapsburgs and of Slavic nationalism.

(3) I.e., the forty-two year defunct Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. German nationalism was still alive and strong n the post-Napoleonic period.

(4) Depicted as feeble-minded and incapable of ruling from a young age, Ferdinand, although an epileptic and not very intelligent (historians generally are charitable when describing him as 'mentally retarded'), kept a coherent and legible diary and was said to have a sharp wit. However his condition (sometimes as many as twenty seizures a day) prevented him from ruling in anything but name.

(5) A scene that would repeat elsewhere throughout the 1848 period. By-and-large skilled artisans, fearful of losing their livelihood to the new industrial processes and unskilled proletariat workers, worked to limit or destroy any industrial development.

(6) Alfred I, Prince of Windisch-Grätz, a Styrian noble who had distinguished himself in the imperial army during the Napoleonic period. Named a Field Marshal in 1833, he was made military commander of Bohemia in 1840. A notorious reactionary, he was both widely feared and admired by segments of the Austrian aristocracy.

(7) Formally apart of the medieval Hungarian Kingdom, however ethnically Romanian, Transylvania was captured by the Austrian Hapsburgs shortly after the Battle of Vienna in 1683 from the Ottoman Turks. The Hapsburgs originally recognized Hungarian sovereignty over Transylvania, however the Transylvanians themselves recognized the suzerainty of the Hapsburg Emperor Leopold I, and the region was officially attached to the Austrian Empire as a separate administrative unit in the 1699 Treaty of Karlowitz. From 1711 on the territory as ruled as an imperial governorship, and following 1765 declared a Grand Principality.

(8) An OTL occurrence, however ITTL historians will largely attribute it to Ochsenbein's Swiss Legion.

(9) Lyrics can be found here.

(10) See citation #8.

(11) A regimental colonel for seven years along the Croatian Military Frontier, described by his contemporaries as poetic and humane, Jelačić was a consummate professional military office. Though a Croatian nationalist favoring the early Illyrian movement, he was a fierce supporter of the Hapsburg monarchy. IOTL after leading Hapsburg armies to defeat the Hungarian revolution his office was largely made a ceremonial one, with all meaningful power in Croatia centralized in Vienna; he died in 1859 after maintaining his neutered role in Croatian politics.

(12) This is exactly one day earlier than IOTL due to butterflies from the slightly larger Jewish and Czech Legions in Hungary and Bohemia, respectively, thanks to Ochsenbein's instigation, resulting in more imperial troops required in those regions.

Comments and criticisms would be much appreciated ;)

"We were dominated by a vague feeling as if a great outbreak of elemental forces had begun, as if
an earthquake was impending of which we had felt the first shock, and we instinctively crowded together
- Carl Schurz (1), speaking of the news of the February Revolution
27 February 1848​

Hachtmann, Rüdiger. Trans. James Chastain. "Economic Crisis in Germany." Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions. 2005 Ed.

During the years 1846-1849 several economic crises overlapped: an agrarian crisis of the years 1846-47; against the background the early industrialization since the second half of the 1830s a structural crisis of the urban trades; a cyclical business crisis that became noticeable in the German states in late 1847; and a resultant credit and financial crisis.

The harvests of 1845 and 1846 were very poor. In addition a potato blight raged. As a result of grain and potato scarcity the cost of basic commodities dramatically increased, especially in the spring of 1847. Besides village and urban poverty which already had turned to public or private charity, artisans were especially hard hit. Formerly prosperous masters were impoverished; journeymen and the autonomous mass artisans suffered chronic undernourishment and particularly in the spring of 1847 often had to go hungry on a regular basis. In the first half of 1847, inflation and pauperization in numerous Prussian and south German states led in turn to bread riots and hunger revolts, directed against usurers and grain speculators and often could only be brought under control by massive deployment of troops. The bumper harvest of the fall of 1847 ended the last preindustrial variety of economic crisis. Most contemporaries were conscious of the agrarian crisis far more clearly than the consequential business crisis, which began at the end of 1847 in England and spread to the continent, partially occasioned by the reduced demand for textiles against a background of a reduction in real wages.

Although the onset of the cyclical business crisis was already unquestionably discernible at the beginning of 1848, the German states were only aware of the economic crisis when the Parisian February revolution made the general public cognizant. The first news of happenings in Paris brought a panic among the middle class and the economic bourgeoisie which almost caused a collapse of banks by the run on hard currency, which in turn dramatically acceleration and deepened the crisis in the following months. Indicators of this development were the growing number of bankruptcies and a decline in railway stocks, state bonds, and bank shares; by early summer 1848 many had lost over a half of their value...

Rapport, Mike. 1848: Year of Revolution New York: Basic Books, 2008.

... Word of the February days in Paris spread like a dynamic pulse and electrified Europe, hastened by the wonders of the modern world: railway, steamboat and telegraph. The black–red–gold of German unity, formerly banned as revolutionary, now fluttered openly, and even the good, cautious burghers of the city wore the colours in their hats. The enthusiasm among German liberals and radicals was infectious. In Mannheim in the Grand Duchy of Baden on 27 February, the republican lawyer Gustav Struve organised a political rally, drafting a petition demanding freedom of the press, trial by jury, a popular militia with elected officers, constitutions for every German state and the election of an all-German parliament. Grand Duke Leopold, faced with a massive demonstration in his capital Karlsruhe, yielded two days later, appointed a liberal ministry and permitted work on a new constitution. Struve’s petition was printed and circulated all over Germany and thrust before German rulers during the dizzying days of March. This is why the Mannheim programme became known as the 'March demands.'

The rulers of Württemberg and Nassau gave in. In Hesse-Darmstadt Grand Duke Ludwig II abdicated in favour of his son, Ludwig III, on 5 March rather than yield himself. On the 4th, the royal armoury of Bavaria was stormed, and two days later King Ludwig acceded to the March demands. Ludwig's controversial relationship with his mistress, the dancer and femme fatale Lola Montez, who had fled the country on 12 February, weakened the King's position further by shocking conservatives at the court, who abondoned him. The situation was salvaged by the sage, moderate Prince Karl von Leiningen, who persuaded Ludwig to stand aside and allow his son, Maxmilian, to take the helm of the liberalised state. Leiningen was calmly performing this service to the Bavarian monarchy as his own estates in Amorbach were being invaded and ransacked by peasants. Further east, demonstrations organised in Dresden by the radical Robert Blum and the moderate liberal journalist Karl Biedermann on 6 March forced King Frederick Augustus II of Saxony to summon the Estates to enact reform and to dismiss Falkenstein, his unpopular conservative minister.

While individual states were being reformed, liberals and radicals sensed the opportunity to recast all of Germany into a new, more unified shape. In Heidelberg on 5 March an assembly of fifty-one delegates from the freshly liberalised states brushed aside the weakly protesting Diet of the old German Confederation and cut its own path towards the future. Working with a feverish sense of urgency, the meeting convoked 'a more complete assembly of trusted men from all German peoples’, a 'pre-parliament', which would gather in Frankfurt to arrange elections for a German national assembly, which in turn would draft an all-German constitution. So far the German revolution had swept up only the 'Third Germany' – the smaller states lying between the two great power blocs of Prussia and Austria, which at first refused to buckle before the storm. In the west the Prussian Rhineland was swept along by the torrent – and it sent delegates to the Heidelberg Assembly. There was a demonstration of workers in Cologne on 3 March, led by the radical socialist Andreas Gottschalk, demanding, among other things, the right to work, free education and welfare measures to protect the poor. The army moved in and dispersed the three thousand-strong protest, arresting its ringleaders. Prussia, therefore, had not as yet lost its footing. Nor had the other great German power, Austria, where the absolute monarchy, though its grip was weakening, still had a hold on its European empire. The uprising in the great Habsburg capital of Vienna of 13 March therefore gave fresh impetus to the revolution not only in Germany but throughout Europe...

… German liberals would dub 1848 the Völkerfrühling – the 'Springtime of Peoples' – a name pregnant with the liberating hopes of the early weeks of the revolutions, when national aspirations suddenly seemed possible. On 5 March the Heidelberg Assembly proclaimed that Germany must not intervene in the affairs of other states and that 'Germany must not be caused to diminish or rob from other nations the freedom and independence which they themselves ask as their right.' Yet there was a dark side to the liberal nationalism of 1848...

Donald, Mattheisen. "Popular Culture (Germany)." Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions. 2005 Ed.

... One striking feature of the revolutionary years was the obvious upsurge for spontaneous association. Large open gatherings (Volksversammlungen), though illegal, appeared in many places in Germany as the news of the French February revolution arrived. With the formal introduction of freedom of assembly shortly thereafter these gatherings became a characteristic feature of public life, in small towns as well as in big cities. They were often ebullient but, surprisingly, seldom disorderly. They typically observed basic parliamentary procedure, electing a presiding officer who would supervise debate and conduct votes on proposed resolutions. These assemblies supplied a sort of popular sanction for the liberal "March demands" of 1848, and they continued to be a source of visible political support at crucial moments thereafter. The meetings also provided a sporadic democratic forum for political discussion, fulfilling a sort of public educational function as well. The orderly procedure observed at these gatherings suggests that many German citizens already had experience in managing large meetings. That experience had been furnished by participation in the social clubs or associations (Vereine) that had been developing since the late 18th century. There were reading, choral, gymnastic and marksmen's clubs, associations for promoting education or business or social welfare -- every sort of social activity was conducted through a club of some sort, the number of which had increased rapidly in the 1830s and 1840s. Only political clubs were lacking, because they were forbidden under the old regime. But when political activity was legalized in 1848 nearly every locality quickly acquired both a democratic and a liberal club, at least. For a nation immersed in club activities it was the most natural form for a political action to take...

Unification of Germany

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... The revolutions, which stressed pan-Germanism, emphasized popular discontent with the traditional, largely autocratic political structure of the thirty-nine independent states of the Confederation that inherited the German territory of the Holy Roman Empire. Furthermore, they demonstrated the popular desire for increased political and social freedom, democracy, and national unity within liberal principles of socioeconomic structure...

... In France the revolution of 1848 became known as the February Revolution. The revolution soon spread across Europe and started in Germany with the large demonstrations on March 13, 1848, in Vienna, Austria, which resulted in the resignation of Prince von Metternich as chief adviser to Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria and his departure from Austria. Because of the date of these demonstrations, the revolutions in Germany are usually called the March Revolution. Fearing the fate of Louis-Philippe of France, some monarchs in Germany accepted some of the demands of the revolutionaries. Large popular assemblies and mass demonstrations took place. They primarily demanded freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, arming of the people and a national German parliament...

Frankfurt Assembly

... The first meeting of the 574-man 'pre-parliament' convened on 31 March. Consisting of members invited from the existing German state assemblies, members summoned for their progressive reputation, and a handful who had been spontaneously elected by popular meetings in their home states, the meeting was also attended by some 2,000 spectators that squeezed into St. Paul's Church, where the assembly took place. The radicals, among all of the groups present, were the most prepared to seize any opportunity for change and were able to use their well-established networks to send a respectable number of delegates. Led by the Badensian Gustav Struve, who had written the March Demands, as well as fellow Badensian Friedrich Hecker, the Prussian Johann Jacoby, and the Saxon Robert Blum, the radicals opened the first debate after the opening ceremonies by pressing for a program of a single, unitary and democratic German state...

... The next day, Heinrich von Gagern, a moderate liberal from Heese, argued strongly against the republican program, and laid out the liberal response; Germany as a federation of constitutional monarchies, with an emperor chosen by the German parliament, which respected the individual German states. That the liberal program was almost a foregone conclusion was not lost on those at the Assembly, as some 425 of the attending deputies were liberal monarchists by conviction...


The Opening of the Frankfurt Assembly

... two days later the pre-parliament separated, and the liberals pressed their advantage by electing the Committee of Fifty to act as a provisional German government until the actual German parliament would convene in May. Dominated by liberals, many republican orators were shut out of the Committee, including Hecker and Struve; this led Hecker to storm out of the assembly, taking with several republican deputies. Blum and other more moderate democrats stayed though, hoping to work towards a federal Germany within the constitutional framework that would allow for the coexistence of liberal monarchists and republicans...

... Hecker organized his republican deputies in his home state of Baden. Taking the early defeats as signs of a 'conservative reaction' gathering, Carl Schurz declared that "there is no safety for popular liberty except in a republic." Agreeing with his fellow orator, Hecker fumed before a gathering crowd; "Nothing can be done in Frankfurt. We have to strike in Baden."

... On 6 March the Committee invited the great Czech historian František Palacký to join them, to which he wrote his infamous reply...


... Palacký's letter drove German Bohemians to join the German League by the thousands. Within the first day after its publication the League's membership swelled in size from less than a hundred to nearly one thousand. Acting swiftly the League began to distribute propaganda in favor of Frankfurt and German unification, and urged Germans throughout Bohemia to reject the National Committee...


... King Frederick William IV dismissed the United Landtag on 6 March, on that grounds that at a time of crisis he needed unity rather than 'party quarrels.' In response the next day a crowd gathered in the Zelten (literally, tents) which had stood in the central park before permanent buildings, which were still under construction in 1848, were completed. There journalists, academics and even members of the Landtag gave speeches, decrying William for breaking his promise, given earlier in his reign, that the Landtag would meet continuously once every four years. A petition was drafted, and signed by thousands on the spot, asking for immediate recall of the Landtag, as well as press freedom; Frederick William rejected it. In response the crowds, still gathered in the Zelten, began a movement to flood Berlin's postal service with the petition; Frederick William would receive thousands of copies of the petition throughout the day. As crowds once again gathered the next day, the Berlin Chief of Police warned the King that he did not feel confident in his ability to control the situation, and suggested the use of the 12,000-man garrison in support of his police, to which Frederick William agreed. (2) Commentators of the period have remarked that, until this decision, the crowds had been well-behaved, even carnivalesque; however the appearance of army patrols in the streets, many of whom were drawn from rural areas and were distrustful of urban Berliners, lead to several violent confrontations over the next several days that had to be bloodily put down by the Prussian army.

However, on 16 March news of Austrian Chancellor Metternich's dismissal reached Berlin. Trying to defuse the situation as the crowds once again swelled throughout Berlin, Frederick William was persuaded to make concessions to avoid revolution, but only after ferocious debate among his ministers. Conservative stalwarts such as Ernst von Gerlach argued against such concessions, while Prince William (3) went as far to suggest 'shooting them will make an impression.'

Two days later Frederick William let it be known through his capitol that a proclamation was imminent, leading to crowds forming rapidly outside of the royal castle. At approximately two o'clock heralds announced two proclamations; the first of which abolished censorship, while the second promised to recall the Prussian Estates on 2 April. Further, it declared that Frederick William would consider the reform of the German Confederation, including a general German law code, flag, and the creation of a German navy. Soon thereafter the King himself appeared at the window, to the joyful cheers of the crowd, while inside Gerlach fumed; "I had rather have chopped off my hand than have signed these edicts." Outside however the mood soon turned sour as well. Aware of the large military presence still within the city the crowds soon began to chant at their King 'Away with the military!' This revolutionary challenge, a thrust to the very heart of any Prussian monarch, stiffened Frederick William's resolve and strengthened the arguments of the court's conservatives. The dithering General Ernst von Pfeul was soon replaced with the reactionary martinent General von Prittwitz as Governor of Berlin.

Prittwitz's first was to order the square in front of the Schloss cleared, a task to which he personally led the dragoons. Drawing his saber to make his order clear over the crowd’s noise, his horsemen mistook his intent and advance into the horde with their own weapons drawn. Fearing a charge the crowds surged forward, attempting to seize the bridles of the horses, chanting 'Soldiers, back!' At this point two infantry companies joined the dragoons, and two shots were fired out one after another. Though no one was injured the sound of musketry scattered the crowd, who ran through the streets of Berlin shouting 'Betrayal!' and 'They're killing people!' Newly appointed Prime Minister Count von Arnim-Boitzenburg tried to ease the situation by appearing on the square waving a white flag, but was ignored by solders and civilians alike.

Within hours barricades were built throughout the city, many topped with the black-red-gold German colors. The square in front of the Rosenthal Gate was turned into a fortress, with barricades blocking every entrance. Some Berliners climbed church towers throughout the capitol and rang the heavy bronze bells; hearing the call middle-class property owners - journalists, professionals, the 'petty bourgeoisie' of shopkeepers, low-ranking officials, teachers, and skilled artisans - as well as students and workers joined the barricades. Notably, some nine hundred Borsig locomotive workers joined the fighting using their iron bars and hammers both as tools creating the barricades, and as weapons defending them. Woman and children also participated in the insurgency, acting as runners and dispatching food and supplies between insurgent-held streets...

... Prittwitz ordered his forces to smash the barricades using artillery, making the Battle for Berlin one of the most ferocious anywhere in Europe in 1848. Gerlach, commanding one of the Prussian columns, stated that the cannonballs ricocheted along the streets as his men advanced. However as fierce as the royalist forces were, the Berlin insurgents were fiercer. Aping the Rosenthal Gate every street was turned into a barricaded fortress. Gerlach, writing later, stated that; 'One could discern three, maybe four barricades, one behind the other, on which construction had taken place continually in our presence. At the artillery fire everybody ran from the first and also from the second barricade, but when the troops advanced towards the following barricade, they were met with violent rifle fire and with many stones from the houses, particularly from those at the corner.' On the other side an anonymous witness wrote:

"The thunder of cannons resounded in increasingly quick succession. Individual barricades already began to collapse into the street, and the more and more embittered and enraged advancing soldiers began a frightful hand-to-hand fighting. The whole street swam with blood. The houses were overcrowded with dead and wounded. At the corner of the Spandauerstrasse cannons were driven up whose shots were intended to clear the streets completely. The houses themselves were hit again and again and damaged by rifle shots. Throughout the city there began this time a frightful sounding of the alarm bells which was kept up through the whole night by armed artisans who had climbed the church towers."

Even experienced Prussian officers and soldiers, previously noted throughout Europe for their stoic militarism, were unaccustomed to the horrors of urban combat, and increasingly frustrated they fired into houses indiscriminately through doors and windows, killing dozens of innocent civilians. As the fighting continued unabated they attempted to break into the insurgent-held buildings through the walls of adjoining ones, but once inside they were stabbed or shot at point-blank range. By evening the army and police controlled the main thoroughfares, however much of Berlin was burning. That night Prittwitz advised Frederick William that unless the uprising was put down within the next few days he would be forced to abandon the capitol and besiege the city using artillery to bombard it into submission. However into this pronouncement strode George von Vincke, a moderate Westphalian aristocrat who led the liberals in the United Landtag. von Vincke argued that the fighting would continue unabated as long as the people had no confidence in their King, and suggested withdrawing the army and police, and entrusting the government to the Berlin citizenry, whose 'natural sense of loyalty' would be reawakened. His pronunciation mocked by conservatives in the court, led by Gerlach, von Vincke snapped back that they may well laugh now, but 'tomorrow you will not.' After much consideration, in the early morning hours Frederick William ordered Prittwitz to cease operations in Berlin, and drafted a proclamation which was hastily printed and disrupted across the city in which the King promised that once his subjects returned to 'their peaceful ways' - and dismantled the barricades - he would withdraw his troops to defend the Schloss, the armory and several other government buildings. In one day's fighting over 1,200 Prussians had died.

Berliners were, naturally, skeptical, however in as the sun rose the next morning, a Sunday, as per the truce the insurgents allowed churchgoers to cross the barricades. A crowd gathered outside of the royal palace; bearing the bodies of the dead they demanded the King give his respects. Appearing on the balcony with his wife, Elisabeth, Frederick William respectfully doffed his hat while unrestrained tears rolled down his face; (5) the Queen fainted after only the first dozen bodies. As the last bodies were carted away the crowd serenaded the royal couple with the Lutheran hymn 'Jesus, my Refuge' before withdrawing...

... with the police and army moved, the insurgents took it upon themselves to maintain order throughout the city, and to that end a Bürgerwehr, or civic guard, was organized. Two days later, wearing the black-red-gold Frederick William met with the commanders of the Bürgerwehr, and to his surprise, was saluted with cries of 'Long live the German Emperor!' Moved by this, the King later the day issued a proclamation declaring "I have taken the old German colors and have put Myself and My people under the venerable banner of the German Reich. Prussia henchforth merges into Germany." By 22 March Frederick William issued a proclamation announcing his plans to grant a constitution...


Celebrating Germans following the Battle for Berlin

... however on 25 March the royal family abandoned Berlin for the fortress of Potsdam and the royal palace of Sans-Sooci, protected by elite guard regiments. They were joined by conservative forces throughout Prussia, including a young Otto von Bismarck...
... Into this political vacuum marched the radicals. On 14 April Stephan Born, a moderate socialist (6) printer, organized the Berlin Central Committee to act as a 'worker's parliament,' echoing the German parliament happening in Frankfurt. The Committee issued a list of demands, notably including free education for all citizens, and a commission modeled upon the French Luxembourg Commission of both workers and employers to prevent labor disputes...


... during the March Revolution King Frederick Augustus II, in an effort to appease the tide of populist liberalism sweeping across his country, appointed liberal ministers, lifted censorship, and remitted a liberal electoral law. However by 28 April Frederick Augustus once again felt comfortable in his position of power, and he dissolved the parliament after only a month...


... Possibly the king therefore underestimated the strength of the movement. William I's attempt to master the crisis by appointing not liberals but conservatives to the new government was immediately thwarted by the negative reaction of the public and the refusal of some of the upper ministerial administrators to cooperate with their new minister. Thus the King of Wurtemberg had to appoint oppositional leaders to a "March ministry", whose actual chief was Friedrich Römer. The new ministry resolutely set out on a double mission to carry out reforms and simultaneously to resist "anarchy." It called in the military against peasants who in some areas had swept away remnants of the feudal system with their own means, and it promised to enact the most important liberal and democratic reforms, above all by creating German unity assisting in calling together a German national constituent assembly. Römer was actively engaged in this from the beginning: he belonged to the small group who first proposed and prepared its organization...


... However after the government bowed to popular pressure in early March, stirred by this easy victory radical agitators continued to foment disorder throughout the country. The territory was ripe for republicanism; though politically liberal since 1815, Baden also included large landed estates of princes of the former Holy Roman Empire who had lost their political power during the territorial reshuffling of the Napoleonic era, but still retained the burdensome rights of seigneurialism on the local peasantry. The first stirrings of all-out revolution foreshadowed the violence to happen later; protesting peasants in the Black Forest seize their landlord’s property, leading to a dozen deaths. Over the Swiss border a German 'National Committee' recruited a freischärler (7) force from among the 20,000 expatriates (8), while Franz Sigel organized his own republican legion at Mannheim, and in nearby Paris George Herwegh, leader of the 800-strong German Democratic Society, worked to levy a 5,000-man force to march into Germany. The Prussian ambassador to Baden wrote to Berlin in late march, warning that "with a word - that may have already been spoken - an army of more than twenty thousand desperate and fanatic proletarians could unite under his [Hecker's] command."

On 4 April Grand Duke Leopold formally asked the still extent German Confederation for military assistance against the insurgents; the Confederate Diet, wishing to exercise its rapidly-diminishing power in face of Frankfurt, granted his request immediately. On the same day radical-turned moderate republican Karl Mathy and democrat Adam von Itzstein - both Badensian members of the Committee of Fifty - traveled to Baden to dissuade Hecker from his rebellion. However they inevitably sparked what they sought to avoid, when Mathy, spotting the republican propagandist Joseph Fickler at the Karlsruke railway station, reported him to the authorities leading to his arrest...

... By 12 April Hecker had made contact with Struve in Konstanz, where he declared the first deutschrepublik and called on all able-bodied men to join him in marching on the capitol of Karlsrhe. Within hours Hecker's small group of barely sixty had swollen to nearly a thousand men; however most were armed with scythes. Further south the National Committee's German Legion marched across the border (9) into Baden. News also reached Hecker from France, where Ochsenbein's Swiss Legion, numbering just under one thousand (10), joined with Herwegh's Legion. The French provisional government still felt that it was not strong enough to prevent Ochsenbein or Herwegh from marching; however French Foreign Minister Lamartine warned the governments of Baden, Prussia and Bavaria of the Twin-Legion’s movements...

... Herwegh sent his wife, Emma, a revolutionary in her own right, to contact Hecker's forces, asking to him allow time for the two Legions to join forces with his own, and then further join with the Swiss freischärlers. However Hecker was distrustful of all three forces, regarding them to be full of foreigners, and, correctly, believing that to accept such forces in his rebellion would lose his credibility with the native Germans in Baden...

... Meanwhile Grand Duke Leopold assembled an army of 30,000, under the commander of Friedrick von Gagern, brother of the liberal politician at Frankfurt. The two forces clashed on 20 April near the village of Kandern. Fortunately for the revolutionaries, von Gagern, leading from the front, was among the firs to fall. However the professionalism and sheer numbers of the royalist troops still won out. Hecker's forces scattered; most joined Sigel's Legion just a few miles to the south who had been attempting to rally to Hecker's aid. Scant hours later though Sigel's forces were crushed at Freiburg, when attacked on three sides, they ran out of ammunition. However, both Hecker and Sigel were able to escape alive despite their respective defeats, and soon joined the approaching Swiss German force.


Battle of Kandern

Two days later Herwegh and Ochsenbein's Legion crossed into Baden from France. Hearing of the double defeats of Hecker and Sigel, Emma and Georg Herwegh argued to abandon the insurrection and march their Legion back into France (11), however Ochsenbein was able to convince them to move to join his fellow Swiss men marching to join the German revolutionaries, which happened by 26 March. Unknown to the Swiss forces though, their force had been followed out of Switzerland by Prince Charles of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. Prince Charles had longed to return to his principality upon hearing word of the March Revolution, and receiving further news of the Battle for Berlin he took the movement of the Swiss German Legion as an excuse to disregard his cousin's, Prussian King Fredrick William, orders to stay in Neuchâtel. Ambushed in a pincer near the village of Bad Krozingen, the Swiss German-Herwegh-Ochsenbein Triple Legion was crushed between the Hohenzollern-Badensian forces, which took no prisoners...

Hohenzollern Principalities

... on 16 May under mounting political pressure Prince Friderich Wilhelm was forced to accept the establishment of a constitution, a parliament, and liberal political liberties. However, mere miles away from his capitol in Sigmaringen, his cousin Prince Charles was able to crush the revolutionary movement in his own country using the 25,000 remaining Prussian troops still under his command...

German Parliament

... On 18 May the German Parliament met for the first time. Because the precise mode of election had been left up to the separate states by the Frankfurt Assembly and the Committee of Fifty aside from a vague guideline regarding 'independence,' most states restricted the franchise, and made elections indirect, disproportionally leading the first parliament to be made up of local worthies. Notably though, states without broader franchises at the time, such as Prussia, sent more constitutional monarchist liberals elected by rural peasants, who were notoriously conservative in this period, while states with a more confined, urban, bourgeois electorate, such as Baden and Saxony, sent mostly democratic and even republican delegates. Of the 585 delegates convening in Frankfurt though, only some eighty were radicals, while a clear majority made up of liberals who were in favor of a federated empire of constitutional monarchies...

Helmut, Reinalter. Trans. James Chastain "Liberalism (Germany)." Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions. 2005 Ed.

... In the 1848-49 revolution the liberals for the most part remained characterized by the Deutsche Zeitung and "Heppenheimer Program," a political line true to: unity of the German nation; the principle of constitutional monarchy, only with the participation of the people; social measures; anti-feudal, and anti-aristocratic. Liberalism prevailed in the early stage of the revolution, basically following a policy of limiting the revolution's scope. The attempts at reform by liberal-constitutionalists of the "March Cabinets" in April-May 1848 to transform the Greater German confederation with the consent of reigning dynasties into a federal national state with a liberal constitution failed in any case as did the further offensive to create a fait accompli before the election of the German constituent national assembly. In the discussion of the Preparliament the basic problem of the revolution arose clearly, since the bourgeois revolutionary movement again split into two camps: the liberals and democrats. The alternative ways were "creation of a national constitutional order" built on the power of the revolutionary right or "coalition with the representatives of the traditional dynastic-federative rulers." The liberals decisively favored an early restriction of the revolution's reform movement and proposed basic changes while maintaining legitimacy and legal continuity, the principles which determined the liberal's parliamentary course in 1848...

... The constitutional work of the Frankfurt St. Paul's Church, which closed with the election of emperor in 1849, was a compromise between liberal and democratic concepts...

(1) The son of a schoolteacher, Schurz was forced to leave school early in life due to his family's financial struggles. Later he returned, graduating from the Jesuit Gymnasium of Cologne with full honors and entered the University of Bonn. IOTL Schurz played a pivotal role in the 1848 period in the German states alongside his close friend and former professor Gottfried Kinkel.

(2) IOTL Frederick William further reinforced these by drawing into the capitol garrisons from the surrounding provinces, bolstering the number to 30,000. ITTL though with a full Prussian corps still stationed in Switzerland under his cousin Prince Charles (see Chapter #1 for details), Frederick William only has at his immediate disposal the Berlin garrison.

(3) Who would IOTL go on to become William I, the first German Emperor.

(4) IOTL the number of victims was only 900, with only a ninth of them soldiers. However with a much smaller force ITTL, the fighting continues for several hours longer, and more insurgent victories throughout the process.

(5) Although a militant authoritarian, Frederick William also had a deep sense of loyalty towards his subjects, and prior to the 1848 period was generally regarded as a moderate figure in European, and German, aristocratic circles. Frederick William is normally characterized by historians as a 'Romantic on the throne.'

(6) Originally born of a poor Jewish family in Switzerland, Born converted and changed his name at an early age before moving to Berlin and learning the printing trade, of which he became very successful. Only moderately involved in the early labor movement, Born toured Europe in 1846, meeting Robert Blum, Frederick Engels, and Karl Marx. Returning to Germany after hearing news of the March Revolution, Born returned to Berlin. Although by this time an ardent socialist, Born was for the most part uninfluenced by Marxism, who disowned him from the fledgling communist movement in 1850.

(7) Freischärler, or free company, remains the German-equivalent term for the French partisan, Spanish guerrilla, or the English volunteer ITTL.

(8) ITTL joined by a further 10,000 Swiss German radicals wishing to take part in the March Revolution, resentful of the Sonderbund, and hopeful that a strong, united, Germany might once again intervene in Switzerland..

(9) IOTL the Legion was stopped by the Swiss Army.

(10) 1848 Revolutionary France had no shortage of radicals willing to export the revolution across Europe once again. Ochsenbein would have had an easy time recruiting in Paris, and following his actions shadowing Cavaignar's forces it is logical that he would join with Herwegh ITTL.

(11) IOTL they marched to gather the scattered republican movement in Switzerland, however they were ambushed by Badensian forces in the Black Forest and routed, with the Legionaries that didn't escape being summarily shot and hung on site.
This is truly fantastic! I have wanted someone to do an 1848 timeline with a beginning longer than "the Revolution of 1848 were successful and now there is a united liberal Germany" for so long, and this is it. Things are really beginning to pick up speed, and I look forward to more awesome updates. This is moving in a very interesting direction for sure! If I may ask, how much research and planning did you do to write out such a well thought out timeline, as I want to start my own soon (set in the middle ages) and I want it to be ....good.
Great work,
First off, thanks! :D I was starting to worry no one was interested...

The answer to your question is long and drawn out, but essentially I spent six months of steady work researching this topic both online and in my local university library. I've seen other members of these forums state that to write a good timeline one should write about what you're interested, but to that I would add that to that one should understand the topic they wish to write about. And the best way to understand how a POD and its butterflies would affect a given timeline would be to first understand why things happened IOTL as they did.

Valdemar II

This is truly fantastic! I have wanted someone to do an 1848 timeline with a beginning longer than "the Revolution of 1848 were successful and now there is a united liberal Germany" for so long, and this is it. Things are really beginning to pick up speed, and I look forward to more awesome updates. This is moving in a very interesting direction for sure! If I may ask, how much research and planning did you do to write out such a well thought out timeline, as I want to start my own soon (set in the middle ages) and I want it to be ....good.
Great work,

I agree, this timeline show great detailed knowledge about the 1848 revolution. Of c ourse it's also why so few comments, few know all these details.


I agree, this timeline show great detailed knowledge about the 1848 revolution. Of c ourse it's also why so few comments, few know all these details.

Honestly? I didn't read it before now because I didn't think it was about 1848 based on the thread title. But it looks really good so far; I'm digesting the Swiss Civil War ATM.
Umm, when the shit will hit the fan(remember i the 19th century the liberals were the greaters support of Imperialism... as a way to keep the Empire united and to used as a politicial bargain tool), Any Grossdeutchland is a declare enemy of france..... and IIRC some of the 'liberals'(ie who want the union in frakfurt) threat Lombardy-Veneto as 'South Germany'(ie for them the Italians them can still speak and being Italian.. who must learn german too and be part of the Federation)

I'm Still Digesting this(I'm need to read Mr Hobswan book and your long post... are amazing incredible and well research description... even if I never belive besided france, The nationals unification were always doomed in that date.. and still belive that..)

Excellent Post wolf_Brother(Hermano Lobo) even if still passing some about pausability... is timeline is excellent, maybe can win a turtledove in the future..

Nivek von Baldo

P.S. when the Timeline is more advance... I was wondering if would you mine share the link of all your reference material(the Bibliography, webpage,etc)
Holy Shit man have you done your research! I am beyond impressed. This is fantastic. So many chain-reactions surrounding within such a short period of time. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant characterization you have here.
Great too see the TL made! I know you've been working really hard to get the research all together. Thanks so much for the shout out, and sorry for disappearing.

I'm quite enjoying this so far, and very much looking forward to where it goes.