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Greece and 1848: Direct responses and underlying connectivities



Greece and 1848: Direct responses and underlying connectivities

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12 March 2021


In their combination of intensity and geographical extent, the 1848 Revolutions were unique – at least in European history. In 1848 parallel political tumults broke out across the entire continent. The revolutions involved a panorama of charismatic actors. For politically sentient Europeans, 1848 was an all-encompassing moment of shared experience. It turned everyone into contemporaries, branding them with memories that would last as long as life itself. These revolutions were experienced as European upheavals but, as Axel Körner pointed out, they were nationalised in retrospect. The historians and memory managers of the European nations absorbed them into specific national teleologies and path dependencies. For instance, the supposed failure of the German revolutions was sucked into the national narrative known as the Sonderweg. There were three phases to the events of 1848. In February and March, upheaval spread like a bushfire across the continent, leaping from city to city and starting numerous spot fires in towns and villages in between. In May, radical demonstrators were attempting to storm and overthrow the National Assembly created by the February Revolution in Paris, while in Vienna Austrian democrats protested against the slow pace of liberal reform and established a Committee of Public Safety. In June there were violent clashes between liberal leaders and radical crowds on the streets of the larger cities in Prussia and France. In Paris, this culminated in the brutality and bloodshed of the June Days. The autumn offered a more complex picture: counter-revolution unfolded in Berlin, Prague, the Kingdom of Naples and Vienna. Parliaments were shut down, troops returned en masse to the streets, insurgents were arrested and sentenced. But at the same time a second phase, radical revolt dominated by democrats and socialists of various kinds broke out in the southern German states, in western and southern France, and in Rome. Soon however Prussian, French, Austrian, and Russian troops put down the uprisings. By the end of summer 1849, the revolutions were largely over. The radicals and liberals were impressively successful in creating transnational networks, but these networks were horizontal: they lacked the vertical structures and resources required to wield decisive force. The counter-revolution, by contrast, drew on the combined resources of armies whose loyalty to the traditional powers had never been seriously in question.

(Edited abstract from organiser’s website)

From the book of abstracts, as it was published on NKUA's website.

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