Factors of the Revolutions of 1848
In the years leading up to 1848 there were many factors that triggered revolts throughout Europe. The countries involved include France, Italy, Prussia/Germany, and Austria. Tension grew throughout these countries because of industrialization, population increases, agricultural and financial crises, repressive measures and lack of reform, and ideological challenges. High unemployment, especially among the artisan classes, ignited liberal revolt. The Industrial Revolution, which introduced mechanization and the trade cycle, greatly contributed to this uprising. It made business men rich because they now had machines that did the work rather than people doing it by hand. The poor became aware that these business men owned capital and made the most profit, so they became more open to political ideas. This led to the popular crowd activity of machine-breaking. Such revolts would be the Silesian weavers’ revolt in 1844 and in 1846 when Metternich called upon Galician peasantry to put down the revolt of the Polish masters. The population of Europe doubled from 1748-1848 partly because of the advances introduced from the Industrial Revolution. In 1846, famine struck Europe. Lack of grain drove up food and other prices, 60% in one year, while wages remained the same which reduced demand for manufactured goods resulting in factory layoffs. The urban poor spent 50% of their income on food, so there was nothing to spare to cope with these price increases. Another bad condition suffered by the urban poor was disease. Typhoid and cholera added to the death toll in 1847 especially in children, making the life expectancy to be only 32 years old which gave the peasants a feeling of discomfort with the state of affairs. Financial crises caused an investment bubble bust in railways, coal and iron. People buying less made profits plummet causing industrial workers to lose their jobs. The middle class became upset with the lack...
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