Saturday, January 29, 2011

Italian unification

Perhaps you would like to learn more about the wonderfully operatic Italian national anthem, Fratelli d'Italia. Here is its history. You can hear it on youtube.
Cavour and Napoleon III

With Austria weakened by the Crimean War, Cavour, the Prime Minister of Piedmont (above), aimed at expelling the Austrians from Italy and annexing the northern provinces of Lombardy and Venetia under Victor Emmanuel II. But neither he nor the king wanted a united Italy, which would be harder to control and might fall prey to democrats and nationalists. The man they most feared was Mazzini (left) who commanded a revolutionary corps of conspirators, organizing a National Party in London in 1850.

Nationalists increasingly recognized that Austria still remained a great power and could only be removed from Italy by military force, and that this would have to be under Piedmontese leadership with French assistance. In 1857 the veteran nationalists Garibaldi and Manin established the Italian National Society which cut itself off from Mazzini’s doctrinaire republicans.
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Revolutions of 1848

Much of the information for this post is taken from Jonathan Sperber, Revolutionary Europe, 1780-1850 (Longman, 2000) and Robert Gildea, Barricades and Borders: Europe 1800-1914, 3rd edn (Oxford, 2003). The pictures above are of the proclamation of the Roman Republic in the Piazza deo Popolo and the Frankfurt Parliament (see below).

The revolutions of 1848 ignited the countries of Europe in a way that would not be repeated until 1989. Violence broke out because legal and parliamentary movements for change were frustrated. The only countries were revolution was avoided were those were adequate concessions were made in time (Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands) of where opposition was negligible and repression total (Russia).
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Britain: the first railway nation

See here for a good site.

The first lines
The opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway (Locomotion 1 depicted right) on 25 September 1825 is usually regarded as the symbolic start of the railway era. This was the first public railway worked by steam and it set the pattern for the development of railway systems across the world. The prime mover was George Stephenson (1781- 1848). He had developed the Locomotion, a pioneering mobile steam engine and it was the Locomotion 1 which pulled the freight train from Darlington to Stockton Quay.
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Saturday, January 15, 2011

The process of industrialization

'Coalbrookedale by Night', Philipp Jacob de Loutherbourg (1801)

Go here to listen to the discussion on the Industrial Revolution on Melvyn Bragg's 'In Our Time' programme on Radio 4. The debate gets quite heated (Melvyn thumps the table at one point!), which shows how contentious and contested the subject is.
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Europe after the Congress of Vienna

The two pictures above demonstrate the contradictory aspects of the period: the crushing of the Decembrist revolt in Russia in 1825 and the July Revolution in Paris in 1830.
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Monday, January 10, 2011

The Congress of Vienna

‘The reconstruction of Europe at the Congress of Vienna is probably the most seminal episode in modern history. Not only did the congress redraw the map entirely. It determined which nations were to have a political existence over the next hundred years and which were not…It entirely transformed the conduct of international affairs.’ Adam Zamoyski, Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna (HarperPress, 2007), p. xiii.
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The Congress System

In September 1815 Tsar Alexander (who was still under the influence of Julie von Krüdener), Francis I and Frederick William III (and all European rulers except the pope, the sultan and the Prince Regent) signed a Holy Alliance (the countries depicted right) to deal with each other and other peoples on the basis of Christianity. The pragmatic Castlereagh described it as
‘a piece of sublime mysticism and nonsense’.
A more realistic treaty was signed in November – the Quadruple Alliance Treaty. This set up the ‘Concert of Europe’ by which Britain, Russia, Austria, Prussia attempted to control events by regular consultation (summit conferences) among themselves. This is known as the Congress System.

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