V. The Modern Period, 1789–1914 > B. The French Revolution and Europe, 1789–1914 > 4. Western and Central Europe, 1815–1848 > i. Central Europe
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1790–92)
i. Central Europe
1. Germany
The “Metternich System” dominated Germany and Austria during the first half of the century. Metternich and Austria were challenged for control in Germany by Prussia, though this challenge would become especially apparent in the second half of the century. The Germanic Confederation created by the Congress of Vienna had as its object the continued internal and external peace of Germany and the independence of the 38 member states. A Diet sat at Frankfurt-on-the-Main, organized into two assemblies and presided over by Austrian representatives. It was a diplomatic Diet, and as such the representatives were instructed by their respective countries.  1
Prussia, the major hope for liberals and potential counter to conservative Austrian control of central Europe, suffered from financial difficulties and the continued strength of the Junkers (Prussian landowners who controlled large amounts of the eastern territories).  2
Land reforms. The gradual emancipation of the serfs, which began in Prussia during the Napoleonic era, continued, but it benefited the large landholders (Junkers) far more than it did the serfs.  3
Agricultural change. The development of a number of societies devoted to agricultural progress and the expansion of the amount of land under cultivation resulted in the production of a larger number of vegetables and other products to balance out grain production. Unlike grain, which required heavy cultivation in the spring and fall but little work during the summer, the vegetables demanded constant attention. As a result, women became engaged in farming year round.  4
Bourgeois and working women. Bourgeois women's lives focused on their homes and social causes often associated with church. These women employed servants, many of whom were single women, from farm laborers' or poor artisans' families. These poorer women had few choices; although they could attend mandatory schools in Prussia, they had no formalized instruction preparing them for a trade. They worked as servants, farm laborers, and occasionally as factory help, until they married; then they might work in home industries such as clothing production and cigar making.  5
Economic development began to accelerate in the 1830s and 1840s with the creation of railroads. Major firms in heavy industry and machine building were established by innovative manufacturers like Alfred Krupp (factory built in Essen, 1826). The demand for metals transformed the metal-making and coal industries and encouraged their concentration in a few especially rich fields. Despite such development, urbanization and industrialization moved at a slow pace before midcentury.  6
Artisans continued to maintain some guild practices such as insurance and burial benefits despite the gradual elimination of guilds in much of Germany. Since guild membership was no longer required to produce crafts, many journeymen set up their own shops. Artisans and other members of the working class remained unorganized for the most part because of repressive legislation.  7
The Burschenschaften. Universities became the centers of the liberal movements as students organized in liberal societies. One such society, the Blacks, followed the lead of Karl Follen and advocated a unified Germany and liberal government but supported violence, if necessary, to reach these ends.  8
An edict qualified the right of ownership of land. All those eligible to own land had to have the resources to support a team of animals to work the land. The gradual outcome of land reforms and demographic growth was the continued fragmentation of peasant landholdings and the impoverishment of German agricultural workers who then became involved in cottage industry.  9
1817, Oct. 18
Wartburg Festival. Students burned papers listing reactionary leaders. Growing concern among conservatives mounted when Karl Sand, an unstable follower of Karl Follen, stabbed to death August von Kotzebue, a reactionary journalist and lecturer. Some liberals supported Sand's actions, but Metternich and Frederick William of Prussia agreed to the Carlsbad Decrees.  10
Tariff reforms by Prussia abolished internal tariffs but maintained external tariffs. They were followed by the introduction of a class tax (1820), which established different rates of taxes for four classes of individuals. These two acts helped restore the finances of the Prussian government.  11
Carlsbad Decrees, sanctioned by the Diet of the Germanic Confederation on Sept. 20, established strict censorship, demanded sovereign control of the universities, and organized an inquisition into secret societies.  12
Prussia also reinforced the legal position of the Junkers through a number of governmental reforms in the 1820s, which secured the Junkers' control of local and Prussian elections.  13
The July Revolution in Paris (See 1830) led to several outbreaks in Germany directed largely against the bureaucracy. Rulers were forced to abdicate in Brunswick, Saxony, and Hesse-Cassel, and new constitutions were adopted in all of these states and in Hanover. In 1832, 25,000 attended the Hambach Festival and toasted Lafayette. They demanded a republic and German unity and resolved to adopt both peaceful methods and armed revolt.  14
A cholera epidemic, spreading west from Russia, struck Germany.  15
Amalie Sieveking founded the Women's Association for the Care of the Poor and the Sick. This organization sent bourgeois women into the homes of workers and lower-middle-class families to instill their own values of cleanliness and virtue on the lower classes. Bourgeois women became especially concerned about the conditions of the poor through such associations and through church organizations such as the Rhenish-Westphalian Association of Deaconesses, which, in 1836, began training Protestant nurses.  16
June 28
Metternich, disturbed by renewed liberal and radical activity, orchestrated the Germanic Confederation's adoption of the Six Articles, which reasserted absolute sovereign authority and the sovereign's obligation to defend that right. In July the Diet also enacted additional repressive measures, including the prohibition of all public meetings and surveillance of suspicious political characters.  17
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.