V. The Modern Period, 1789–1914 > B. The French Revolution and Europe, 1789–1914 > 5. Revolutions in Europe, 1848–1852 > f. Germany
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1847, Feb. 13)
f. Germany
Germany faced many of the same problems that Austria and France did. Economic hardship and rising prices had hurt the urban poor and working classes while manorial dues continued to hamper economic growth in the east. Political disunity came under repeated attack with the growing wave of German nationalism, which focused on the German-speaking peoples and sought to unify them in a single country.  1
Industrial and agrarian unrest. In March and April 1848, artisans and workers employed on the railroads and waterways began to resort to violence in an effort to gain their demands. Workers and crowds in cities broke machines, refused to allow steamships to take on cargo once carried by local boatmen, and attacked and destroyed the Taunus Railroad (April 5). Artisans such as printers organized strikes and demanded higher pay. Especially in the south, the peasantry rose against manorial dues by looting and burning, which especially targeted ownership records.  2
Southern Germany. Spurred by the rising in Paris, demonstrations and assemblies in Baden, from late February onward, drew up liberal demands, to which the duke conceded. In Bavaria, the liberals forced the king to abdicate in favor of Maximilian II. Baden, Württemberg, and Saxony all included liberal ministers in their governments in an effort to appease the rising tide of revolution. The southern constitutional governments met in Heidelberg and decided to call a national meeting of liberal notables. This decision laid the groundwork for the Frankfurt Parliament.  3
1848, March 6
In an effort to avoid revolution, Frederick William IV promised to call the Prussian Landtag at intervals and revised the press law (March 8).  4
March 10
Street demonstrations began in Berlin, which led to a skirmish between the demonstrators and the army in an effort to drive the crowd from the palace square. The artisans and students who made up the crowd erected barricades. Following the street fighting, the king decided to grant concessions.  5
March 17–21
Frederick William declared in favor of a federal Reich. The army, patrolling the palace gardens in anticipation of the announcement, fired on the crowd, which forced Frederick William to withdraw the troops. On March 19, the Civic Guard, instead of the army, began policing Berlin, and the government made an effort to restore order in Prussia. Prussian municipalities were authorized to substitute direct taxation, from which the workers were exempt, for duties on cereals, and the city governments established work projects. Censorship was abolished and a United Landtag called (Vorparlament).  6
March 31
A preliminary parliament opened at Frankfurt-on-the-Main. This parliament, faced with the difficulty of deciding between the radical and liberal programs, chose the latter by refusing to place the radical program on the agenda. The parliament then laid the groundwork for the election of a national assembly. Although the preliminary parliament claimed to support universal male suffrage, the final resolution gave the vote to every “independent” male over age 30. The inclusion of the criterion of independence gave the states a means of excluding the working class.  7
April 7
The Diet of the Confederation sanctioned the resolutions of the preliminary parliament.  8
April 15
Prussia, in an effort to encourage economic recovery, passed a bank law, which created issuing banks backed by the public treasury.  9
May 18
Frankfurt Parliament convened. Its delegates, selected under limited suffrage, largely represented the German middle classes.  10
May 22
Prussian National Assembly convened. The assembly was supposed to cooperate with the government in creating a constitution, but the majority of the delegates took their task to be that of a constituent assembly. The Prussian National Assembly had a stronger left than did the Frankfurt Parliament. The government under Rudolf Camphausen fashioned its own draft of the constitution along the Belgian model. The assembly countered with its own draft, with democratic leanings.  11
June 2–4
The Assembly of Delegates of the North German Handicraft and Industrial Class meeting in Hamburg called for an artisans' conference to meet in Frankfurt. A committee met to prepare the address that declared the workers' disagreement with industrial freedom and their ability to attempt to solve the social problems.  12
June 11–14
Printers convened in Mainz and drafted a petition for presentation to the Frankfurt Parliament. The petition demanded regulations of economic concerns such as wages, use of machinery, and employment.  13
June 28
Archduke John of Austria was appointed provisional executive head, but no real government was set up. Long debates ensued over a rising against Denmark in Schleswig (March 24).  14
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.