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German History 1789-1871

German History 1789-1871: From the Holy Roman Empire to the Bismarckian Reich

Eric Dorn Brose
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 388
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    German History 1789-1871
    Book Description:

    During recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in interest in the nineteenth century, resulting in many fine monographs. However, these studies often gravitate toward Prussia or treat Germany's southern and northern regions as separate entities or else are thematically compartmentalized. This book overcomes these divisions, offering a wide-ranging account of this revolutionary century and skillfully combining narrative with analysis. Its lively style makes it very accessible and ideal for all students of nineteenth-century Germany.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-044-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations and Maps
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface to Revised Edition
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Eric Dorn Brose

    • [Part I Introduction]
      (pp. 1-3)

      The brightly colored houses, steeply angled roofs, and imposing stone ramparts of the Imperial City of Aachen sparkled in the sunlight as the travelers ascended a bumpy road which led westward. Near the Austrian territory of Limburg the coaches turned onto a more comfortable paved highway traversing a ridge. Occasionally, the discussion of the gentlemen inside yielded to silence as they peered reverently through the hedges that lined their way. Below them a collage of red and white farmhouse walls, blue slate roofs, golden meadows, and shady copses stretched southeast to the dark green of the Ardennes and the gray...

    • Chapter One Germany Before the French Revolution
      (pp. 4-21)

      Campe and the others began their journey that historic summer in Brunswick, capital of the Duchy of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, a small but prominent territory located in the north-central portion of the Holy Roman Empire (Reich) of the German Nation. In the Reich of 1789 there were 350 of these “secular” states—that is, territories not ruled by the church—ranging in size from the tiny County of Lippe to large dynastic powers like Prussia, Saxony, Bavaria, and the imperial heartland of Austria. The first week of their trip took them through the Bishoprics of Hildesheim, Paderborn, and Cologne, three of sixty-one...

    • Chapter Two The Decline and Fall of the Holy Roman Empire
      (pp. 22-40)

      German interest in French developments approached monomaniac proportions during the summer of 1789.¹ Thus Johann Wilhem Archenholtz, a historian and journalist in Berlin, lamented that “the tremendous interest aroused by the French Revolution crowds out all other concerns; the best poems remain unread, men are interested only in newspapers and in writings which satisfy their voracious political appetite.”² Within a year Archenholtz himself became so caught up in the excitement that he moved his family to Paris. Like Campe, Archenholtz had gone west to report on events firsthand. Not surprisingly, he too greeted the toppling of the old regime and...

    • Chapter Three Napoleonic Conquests and the Era of Reform
      (pp. 41-61)

      Mikhail Kutuzov, commander of the Tsar’s forces in Austria, squinted through the frosty window of Olmütz Castle at the spectacle below. As the cheers and hurrahs of the regular troops rose up and around the cold walls, the aged veteran gently rubbed his left eye, strained from an old wound that had left his right eye nearly permanently shut. For almost an hour now Alexander had kept the hideous-looking Field Marshall waiting in the hall. Inside, the young, handsome sovereign and his entourage stood nobly on the balcony above the arriving columns of the Russian Imperial Guard. Ten battalions of...

    • Chapter Four Patriotism, Nationalism, and the Liberation of Germany
      (pp. 62-78)

      The paintings of Caspar David Friedrich evoked an emotional response in like-minded contemporaries. Born in the Pomeranian town of Greifswald in 1774, Friedrich grew up near the sea, the countryside, and the Protestant world of thrift, hard work, and religious devotion. The sensitive young artist studied at the Copenhagen Academy of Art before moving permanently to Dresden in 1798, but the early impressions of Greifswald stayed with him, shaping the visual images and spiritual messages of his life’s work. Nature dominated all of his paintings and served a variety of purposes. Friedrich’s nature motifs are a fitting introduction to this...

  6. Part II THE VIEW FROM VIENNA, 1815–1830

    • [Part II Introduction]
      (pp. 79-81)

      The bright autumn morning had already reduced the mountain fog to a silvery ring which clung reverently to the parapets and outer buildings of the castle. To the hundreds of university students assembling below in the market square of Eisenach, the famous Wartburg, towering above them in its historic majesty, seemed to be rising from the fragrant incense of a religious ceremony. Indeed the political mission that had brought them to the heart of Saxe-Weimar on 18 October 1817 reverberated with religious overtones. Almost three hundred years earlier, Martin Luther had translated the Bible from Greek into German on this...

    • Chapter Five The German Confederation and Conservatism Triumphant
      (pp. 82-95)

      The unsatisfactory resolution of the German question that so upset the students, professors, and dissidents who assembled on the Wartburg began at Paris in 1814. The victorious allies pledged themselves in the Treaty of Chaumont to a “Germany composed of sovereign princes unified by a federal bond that shall assure and guarantee the independence of Germany.”¹ The agreement reflected joint anxieties about security in the event of a resurgent France as well as the particular goal of Austrian chancellor Clemens von Metternich that a German league controlled by Austria check Prussian expansionism. In fact, Prussian policy discussions prior to the...

    • Chapter Six Political Life in the Era of Carlsbad
      (pp. 96-110)

      Repression characterized politics in the decades after Metternich’s triumph. To the fraternity brothers, inspired professors, and agitators pressing for freedom and German unity, life became a difficult and dreary descent into political oblivion. Sand, the unstable assassin, failed to kill himself. He was nursed to health, tried, and hanged. Sand’s mentor, Karl Follen, eventually made his way into exile in the United States. Jahn, the father of the gymnasts, was arrested and locked away in the Fortress of Kolberg for six years. Arndt buried his correspondence under the floorboards, but could not outsmart the police. His professorial career was cut...

    • Chapter Seven Society and Economy on the Eve of Early Industrialization
      (pp. 111-130)

      Students of history can gain a deeper appreciation of political life in the era of Carlsbad by analyzing the class contours of German Europe. At the apex of society stood thirty-four ruling families like the Habsburgs, Hohenzollerns, and Wittelsbachs, whose heads wielded sovereign power. One rung lower came scores of grand seigneurs like the Schwarzenbergs and Liechtensteins who owned huge latifundia, supported bloated house-hold establishments fit for royalty, and often possessed great influence at court. Almost as well off, eighty former ruling families (Standesherren) like the Hohenlohes and Sayn-Wittgensteins, whose principalities had been expropriated after 1789, received extensive rights and...

    • Chapter Eight Art and the Spirit of the Times
      (pp. 131-150)

      The Congress of Vienna ushered in a time of turbulence and transition in central Europe. Radical demonstrations, demanding petitions, and unsettling political strife led to repression, censorship, and manipulation by triumphant conservatives as well as a delicate balancing and juggling act by power-conscious monarchs. Simultaneously ,the beginning of peasant emancipation, free enterprise laws, reactionary guild politics, free trade treaties, transportation improvements, and on top of these, an unchecked population growth, further unraveled the social and economic fabric of an old regime that years of war and revolution had left still partially intact. Moreover, city and country folk, men and women,...

    • Chapter Nine The Revolutions of 1830
      (pp. 151-160)

      It was nearly midnight in the early spring of 1830. The new gas lamps on Berlin’s Mauerstrasse cast a cold, incongruous glow onto a candelabra-lit bust of Prince Louis Ferdinand displayed lovingly in the front room of the home of Rahel and Karl August Varnhagen von Ense. Most of their guests had already departed—the singers, theaprèstheater visitors, the usual smattering of foreign personalities and out-of-town liberals, even the famous scientist, Alexander von Humboldt, usually the last to leave. Rahel’s brother, Ludwig Robert, suppressed a yawn as the typically more lively and intimate portion of the evening began.¹...

  7. Part III Opening Pandora’s Box, 1830–1848

    • [Part III Introduction]
      (pp. 161-163)

      The town of Lindau was connected to the shore of Lake Constance by an old wooden bridge. For two wandering journeymen tanners in early March 1837, it represented the gateway from Württemberg to Bavaria.

      The first proud handicraftsman, Johann Dewald, approached the guard-house.¹ “Your papers!” barked the officer on watch. Lindau, like all towns in Germany, had been wary of newcomers without means for as long as anyone could remember. Dewald and his companion promptly obeyed, only to be marched off to the town hall, stripped, searched, and forced to show their travel money. When his mate failed to produce...

    • Chapter Ten The Politics of Industrialization
      (pp. 164-185)

      There were indeed powerful forces driving the changes Dewald observed on his journeys through Europe. The wheels of this new technological order began to revolve in England during the late eighteenth century as fossil fuels, reciprocating steam engines, coke blast furnaces, puddled bar iron, spinning mules, and lead chambers for mass-producing sulfuric acid revolutionized the means of production. Economies of scale pushed unit costs progressively lower in the 1810s and 1820s as the novel machines and materials spread to every sector of the British economy.¹ After the Napoleonic Wars, cheap British iron, textiles, and chemical products spilled into European markets....

    • Chapter Eleven The Bourgeois Challenge
      (pp. 186-205)

      The competent, pragmatic First Minister of Hesse-Darmstadt, Baron Du Thil, had many reasons for looking askance at modern industry. Among them was the obvious fact that more mines, railroads, and industrial ventures meant more industrialists pressing the duke and his bureaucracy for political concessions. With easy access to the statistics, he knew that the industrial orpropertiedbourgeoisie (Besitzbürgertum) of Hesse-Darmstadt had tripled in size in recent decades, numbering about 850 in the 1840. In Baden, Friedrich von Blittersdorf, a conservative official, made similar observations. “In the smaller German states,” he wrote in 1839,“the civil servants and their families comprised...

    • Chapter Twelve The Threat of the Dangerous Classes
      (pp. 206-218)

      The ascent of the middle classes to social and political prominence was accompanied by changes in German society of an even more radical nature. Indeed for every new factory, mine, or railroad of the early industrial revolution, Germany’s enterprising businessmen had to recruit, train, and discipline a labor force. The Egells machine factory in Berlin employed 500 workers in 1847, for instance, while 1,200 wore the blue collar in Borsig’s locomotive works. These two operations were exceptionally large, of course, most others typically employed no more than twenty or thirty hands. By the late 1840s around 170,000 factory workers toiled...

    • Chapter Thirteen The Politics of Culture
      (pp. 219-236)

      It had been almost twenty years since the Frederick William University of Berlin opened its doors. By 1830 Wilhelm von Humboldt’s creation had attracted many of Germany’s best minds: legal scholar Karl von Savigny, historian Leopold von Ranke, and professor of philosophy and current rector of the university, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. On a late June day hundreds of students, professors, government officials, and well-wishers crowded into the Great Aula to hear Hegel present a Latin oration in commemoration of the tercentennial of the Augsburg Confession, the lengthy summary statement of the Lutheran faith laid by Protestant rulers before the...


    • [Part IV Introduction]
      (pp. 237-238)

      Fair weather seemed to grace the Fortress of Rastatt on 20 July 1849. Carl Schurz, a young officer in the rebellious nationalist army holding the town, hurried to his post atop the highest tower of the citadel. Raising a telescope in one quick movement to his eye, Schurz began a routine observation of the surrounding country. To the east he saw the valley of the Rhine with its fertile fields and vineyards. An occasional church tower jutted upwards against the backdrop of the high hills and ridges that hid Baden-Baden from view. To the south he surveyed a flowering valley...

    • Chapter Fourteen The Revolutions of 1848–1849 and Their Aftermath
      (pp. 239-257)

      The French people overthrew their king and established a republic in the last week of February 1848. Within days, travelers, teamsters, and speeding diplomatic couriers spread the word across France’s eastern borders. The news ignited revolts in southwestern Germany where peasants, still smarting from a succession of lean years, seemed to know instinctively that victory hung in the air.¹ The trouble developed first in small states that had ignored feudal emancipation. On 2 March, for instance, a throng of 30,000 irate peasants marched on Wiesbaden and forced Duke Adolf of Nassau to abolish serfdom. Trouble also erupted on the huge...

    • Chapter Fifteen A New Realism for a New Era
      (pp. 258-280)

      The conservative establishment had survived revolutionary shocks in 1848–1849. While some advisers at the top urged their sovereigns to turn the clock back to Metternichian times, repressing pressures for change with soldiers, sermons, sentimental religious art, others advised against this. “The old times are gone and cannot return,” said one of the Prussian ministers. “To return to the decaying conditions of the past is like scooping water with a sieve.”¹ Better to make some concessions to the spirit of the times while preserving healthy measures of royal authority and bureaucratic control than to hold fast to absolutism and provoke...

    • Chapter Sixteen Social Change in Town and Country
      (pp. 281-294)

      Prenzlau, a town northeast of Berlin in the Ückermark, had a population of around 6,000 in the mid 1860s. Soldiers from its army base participated in the successful war against Denmark in 1864. A host of small industries, shops, and stores serviced the army, the townspeople, the surrounding lake country, and nearby farm lands. Among these small businessmen, producers, and artisans, three brothers of the Brose family worked leather: two made shoes, while the third crafted gloves and boots. Together they lived a marginally secure petty-bourgeois existence in the encroaching shadow of the leather goods factories.

      Prenzlau and the nearby...

    • Chapter Seventeen The View from the Atelier
      (pp. 295-319)

      The revolutionary social and economic changes transforming Germany tore asunder the Düsseldorf Academy of Art. While its zealous, archconservative director, Wilhelm von Schadow, promoted religion through art, younger talents broke with him and seceded. Exiting this side of the school, socially concerned artists like Carl Wilhelm Hübner made powerful appeals for meaningful action by depicting struggling handicraftsmen and emigrants. Hübner’s political friend, Johann Peter Hasenclever, also lamented the ongoing social transformation, but unlike Hübner he directed his attention away from the artisans and peasants toward the struggling industrial proletariat discussed in Chapter 16.

      Hasenclever’sWorkers Stand Before the Magistratesbrings...

    • Chapter Eighteen The Division of German Europe and the Bismarckian Synthesis
      (pp. 320-355)

      Berlin’s Hotel Royal provided posh accommodations for the upper classes of Europe. Serviced by their own teams of chamber maids, waiters, porters, and butlers, its spacious luxury suites offered court-like surroundings for visiting dignitaries who could entertain, lobby, or merely enjoy a splendid view of the governmental quarter. In July 1859, the curtains of one room were pulled back to let in fresh air and light for a bed-ridden guest. The wrinkled furrow of his brow revealed obvious discomfort.

      “His Excellency, the Ambassador, will see you now,” said a butler, providing entrée for a visitor. His voice, coming from the...

  9. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 356-367)
  10. Index
    (pp. 368-376)