Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
From Pariah to Patriot

From Pariah to Patriot: The Changing Image of the German Peasant 1770--1840

John G. Gagliardo
Copyright Date: 1969
Pages: 352
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    From Pariah to Patriot
    Book Description:

    Until late in the eighteenth century, the peasantry of the German states had been dismissed contemptuously by the aristocracy and middle classes as brutish and virtually subhuman. With the advent of organized movements for peasant emancipation and agrarian reform, however, many German writers and publicists began also to reassess the role of the peasant in society. Within less than a century, the public image of the German peasant had been completely changed. Where formerly he had been scorned asuntermenschlich, by 1840 he was firmly established in the public mind as an embodiment of the highest national virtues -- a patriotic citizen with special qualities of singular importance to the fatherland. Mr. Gagliardo's study is a suggestive inquiry into the origins and development of a modern rural ideology and its relationship to German doctrines of nationality.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6286-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    John G. Gagliardo

    • 1 The German Agrarian Scene, 1770-1840
      (pp. 3-23)

      Throughout the period covered by this study, the various states and territories of Germany were predominantly oriented towards the land. The agricultural character of the German scene was reflected in virtually every aspect of collective activity, and in that sense the years from 1770 to 1840 represent a relatively static period. Within this time considerable progress within the agriculturally oriented society was made and developments which in a later period were to turn many Germans away from the soil were proceeding apace, but the overwhelming importance of agriculture in Germany was not appreciably attenuated in this interval. Agriculture produced more...

    • 2 The Beginnings of Reform Sentiment
      (pp. 24-58)

      The appearance of the peasant or concern for him in German public literature did not by any means have its origin in the last decades of the eighteenth century. He had a place of sorts in the literature of the German Middle Ages, although in that age it is difficult to assign to his appearance any significance beyond the unexciting fact that he and his class were made to form the great and scarcely differentiated matrix in which the deeds of kings and nobles and important events in state and church were supposed to stand out as gems. Medieval chroniclers...


    • 3 The Origins of the Moral Image
      (pp. 61-90)

      The creation of positive and favorable characteristics for the peasant, or, as contemporaries might rather have put it, the “discovery” of them, was a process inseparable from the major intellectual currents and changes of eighteenth-century Germany. Political theories, whether absolutist or corporative-representative, the religious reawakening known as Pietism, the antirationalistic moralism of the reaction to the Enlightenment, and, of course, the Enlightenment itself—all these and other less clear and distinguishable thought lines crossed the peasant issue time and time again, weaving a complex pattern of mutual intersections. As an example, it has already been demonstrated that the peasant first...

    • 4 Pedagogical Reformism
      (pp. 91-118)

      Apart from the almost innumerable proposals for the technical improvement of agriculture and the improvement of material living conditions, no facet of the peasant’s life appears to have awakened more interest in this period than his education. A surprisingly large proportion of the book and periodical literature in which peasant problems were discussed before 1800 was devoted to the question of rural education. As will subsequently emerge, it was to some considerable extent the practical limitations under which agrarian reformers worked—the apparent impossibility of basic social change—which created the astounding quantity of writings on peasant education in this...


    • [Part Three Introduction]
      (pp. 119-122)

      By the 1780s, there had begun to occur in much German public literature a slow transformation of attitude towards the peasant and the nature of the role he played in society. As previous chapters have suggested, part of this transformation consisted of an enlargement of the picture of the peasant from that of a purely economic unit to that of a certain moral type which preserved universally praiseworthy ethical norms. And it was from some combination of these two fundamental views of the nature of the peasant as a social being that contemporary attitudes towards the social role of the...

    • 5 Adam Smith in Germany
      (pp. 123-135)

      Much of the importance of the introduction and spread of the works of the great Scottish economist Adam Smith (d. 1790) into Germany lay not in the economic principles of the “wealth of nations,” but in the philosophical framework within which those works were conceived and written. Free trade, the concept of the market, the “invisible hand”—all of these were in one sense but specific economic (and therefore, from a contemporary point of view, practical) applications of a more general world-view which also contained certain assumptions about the nature of man, the role and purpose of the state, and...

    • 6 The Awakening of National Consciousness
      (pp. 136-150)

      The influence of Smithian economic doctrine in Germany powerfully reinforced earlier economic arguments for the liberation and proprietorship of the German peasant. It laid down in a systematic fashion the apparently undeniable principles of a natural economic order in which virtually unrestricted freedom of competition occupied a central position. The implications of the Smithian system were revolutionary insofar as they pointed to freedom as an absolutely necessary part of the natural economic world, without which other wealth increasing mechanisms would not function with maximum efficiency. But in spite of the rationality ascribed to the peasant, the role and picture of...

    • 7 The Revolutionary Period to 1806
      (pp. 151-173)

      “If the folk feels itself really unhappy under a ruler and a state administration; if it has hope with an altered governmental constitution, and with another course of state affairs, to be happier or even less unhappy; if it even knows with conviction, that the subjects of other states live in a greater well-being under a state administration quite different from its own; then it will naturally lose confidence and love for its ruler, detest the previous leadership of state affairs, and await with longing opportunities to be able to bring about a revolution in the constitution of the state.”¹...

    • 8 Prussian Collapse and National Regeneration
      (pp. 174-210)

      The defeat of Prussian armies at Jena and Auerstädt and the subsequent occupation and partition of the kingdom by Napoleon’s armies were events much too serious and shocking to be explained away as mere military failures on the part of an army which had lamentably deteriorated since the great days of Frederick II. Not that there would have been no truth in such a charge: the military organization was certainly not the high spirited and well-disciplined creature it had once been. But a torpor, a strange lassitude, had settled over all of Prussia in the twenty years since the death...

    • 9 Restoration Constitutionalism and Liberalism
      (pp. 211-250)

      The experience of the Wars of Liberation proved to the triumphant Prussian reformers that the emancipation of the peasant was a political success. With Arndt, most of them rightly or wrongly believed the surge of popular support for the expulsion of French armies from Prussian soil to have arisen in large measure from the connections established between peasant and fatherland through the machinery of freedom and proprietorship, and in this sense fully to have justified the principles which underlay the reforms.¹ But the insights which led the Prussians to make associations between the moral freedom of the individual, guaranteed by...


    • 10 The Contribution of Historians and Littérateurs
      (pp. 253-283)

      There is some justification for surveying historiography and belles-lettres as categories distinct from the more direct and purposeful publicistic literature of politics and economics because of the importance of both in giving some permanence to the image of the peasant as it was built up in other types of literature. After 1848, especially, the agrarian problem diminished fairly rapidly as a social issue of first-rate importance in Germany, and, while it continued to provoke discussion in many circles on particular occasions, the progress of social legislation, the growth of agricultural markets, and the emergence of national political problems of a...

    • 11 Summary and Conclusion
      (pp. 284-306)

      One of the most striking characteristics of German publicistic literature of the years 1770-1840 is the steadiness of the concern it showed for the agrarian problem and the extent to which those problems dominated a central place on the stage among the discussions of social issues of all kinds throughout these years. No other group of problems was more consistently discussed, and no other reforms more earnestly solicited than those which pertained to the peasant and his life and work; and no other concern found its way into more diverse types of literature. From one viewpoint, one is almost tempted...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 307-326)
  10. Index
    (pp. 327-338)