March 16, 2022


Ques-1848 revolution was a revolution of the liberals. Do you agree with the statement? 

Answer: Although it is true that the revolts of 1848 were led by the middle class who mixed their demand of constitutionalism with national unification, its support based was formed by toiling masses. Therefore, it can’t be called the revolution of liberals alone.

The revolts of 1848 started in France over the issue of food shortages and widespread unemployment. It brought the population of Paris out on the roads. Barricades were erected and Louis Philippe was forced to flee. A National Assembly proclaimed a Republic and guaranteed the right to work. National workshops to provide employment were set up.

Parallel to the revolts of the poor, unemployed, and starving peasants and workers in many European countries in the year 1848, a revolution led by the educated middle classes was also underway.

In those parts of Europe where independent nation-states did not yet exist – such as Germany, Italy, Poland, the Austro-Hungarian Empire – the liberal middle classes combined their demands for constitutionalism with national unification.

They took advantage of the growing popular unrest to push their demands for the creation of a nation-state on parliamentary principles – a constitution, freedom of the press, and freedom of association. E.g. Frankfurt Parliament presented a constitution based on the constitutional monarchy. 

But, the parliament was dominated by the middle classes who resisted the demands of workers and artisans and consequently lost their support. Eventually, the social basis of parliament eroded. So, it was quashed by the aristocracy.

Therefore, the demands of revolts of 1848 may be liberal-nationalist, but it acquired the shape of a mass movement due to the large-scale participation of the industrial and agricultural working class.