Revolutions of 1848: Crash Course European History #26

Revolutions of 1848: Crash Course European History #26


Hi I’m John Green and this is Crash Course
European History. So, there are many candidates for most important
year in European history–1492, when permanent links between Afroeurasia and the Americas
first formed; 1688, when the Glorious Revolution gave Europe an example of constitutional governments;
1789, when the French Revolution directly challenged monarchy; 1992, when the European
Union was founded. But you can sure make a case for 1848, when
revolutions swept across Europe in the wake of the upheavals and protest we saw in the
last episode. People in cities were suffering from economic
dislocation, many having come from farms where new machinery had made their labor unnecessary. And urban artisans were also under threat
because industrialization was automating some of their jobs,
Systems of government that had functioned effectively for agrarian, subsistence economies
were proving ineffective for this brave new world. In short, automation was changing work and
governments weren’t functioning particularly well. The more things change . . .
INTRO By the end of 1848, France, the Austrian Empire,
Denmark, Hungary, the Italian States, and even Poland would be enmeshed in the greatest
wave of revolutions Europe has ever seen. Many Europeans were experiencing the “Hungry
Forties,” caused once again by bad harvests and especially in Ireland the potato blight,
a mold that devastated potato crops in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe. The problem was made worse by several aspects
of what might be called economic modernity—that is, standardization, one-crop agriculture,
and more efficient wholesaling of food. In terms of standardization and one-crop agriculture,
traditionally Peru had at least 4-5,000 types of potatoes. So if one type contracted a specific blight,
there were still several thousand other varieties that might be safe. But Europe, followed by the United States,
was gradually turning toward farms that focused on a single crop, and often a single strain
of a crop, for efficiency. Increasingly, imperialists forced this standardization
and single crop farming on other parts of the world, raising the chances for disaster. Because of the single strain of potato, blight
devastated entire crops. And this resulted in death from starvation
and diseases that invaded the weakened bodies of at least a million Irish farmers and their
families. Another million or more emigrated, some to
England and others to the United States and Canada (where in both cases, by the way, there
were no laws creating a distinction between legal and illegal immigration. People simply moved in.). And as scarcity deepened in 1846 and 1847,
Britain’s liberal Whig government stuck to its belief in laissez-faire, meaning that
the government should let events play themselves out, and therefore offered the Irish no help
at all. The system of usually English landlords requiring
payment from Irish peasants to work farmland also worsened the crisis–like, throughout
the Irish famine, huge amounts of food were exported from Ireland to England. Even today, the population of Ireland has
not recovered from the famine–some eight million people lived on the island in 1840;
today, around 6.6 million do. Meanwhile, on the continent, food riots became
common and threats to merchants, and storekeepers, and bakers, and government officials became
more menacing and direct. One warning read: “If the grain merchants
do not cease to take away grains. . . we will go to your homes and cut your
throats and those of the three bakers. . . and burn the whole place down.” So, yeah, it was pretty tense–as things tend
to be when people are starving. Also, amid all this deprivation and death,
anti-slavery and pro-freedom ideas were circulating. Between 1833-1838, Britain freed slaves across
the empire, except in India. A system of slave-like indentured labor did
spring up, but the rhetoric in Europe at least, was one of emancipation. In eastern Europe, Moldavia and Wallachia
began freeing several hundred thousand enslaved Roma in 1843. Later, in 1848, France also re-emancipated
slaves after their re-enslavement under Napoleon. These events were accompanied by popular abolitionism,
and uprisings, and the development of a language of freedom, especially freedom from governmental
and structural oppression. And that’s really important, because in
some ways, its only when we have language for ideas that we’re able to share them
and talk about them. And so, developing a language around freedoms,
and ideas about human rights allowed us to share those ideas. On the cultural front, women such as French
novelist George Sand (which was a pseudonym) and the English Bronte sisters –pictured
behind me, looking translucent as always–published best-selling novels that addressed the persecution
of women. Sand dressed in men’s clothes to get cheaper
seats at the theater and for a while led a scandal-ridden life. The Brontes did quite the opposite, but they
still shocked people with their portrayal of women as mad or crazed in domestic confinement. Across Europe, women reformers actively addressed
the disproportionate poverty of women, which intensified as price inflation for food made
it harder to feed families in the Hungry Forties. Many working women also became more politically
active, demonstrating in front of city halls because their meager salaries no longer sufficed
to buy high-priced bread. Hey, so quick question about the Bronte sisters
painting behind me. Who is this spectral figure in the middle
who has been erased from the painting? Is that their weird brother who was an opiate
addict? What was his name? Bromwell? Stan says his name was Branwell. which might be even worse. Update! We just found out that Branwell Bronte painted
that painting, and he painted himself in with his sisters, but then he painted himself out,
which is so sad! Oh! The self-hatred! Now I feel really bad making fun of you, person
who’s been dead for 150 years. OK, let’s move on. So, when we last visited Italy, there was
no such thing as Italy. Its territory was parceled out among the Spanish
Bourbons to the south, the Austrian Habsburgs to the north, and the papacy in the center,
among several other stakeholders. But when audiences at the operas of composer
Giuseppe Verdi heard his rousing choruses celebrating freedom and triumph over adversity,
they rose to their feet cheering, and made Verdi a symbol of a unified Italy free from
foreign domination. And in the fall of 1847, women in Messina
Sicily did more than cheer; they tore down royal insignia and in January 1848 they took
to the streets, beginning a brief revolution that took place in many parts of the peninsula. These women supported Giuseppe Mazzini, who
wanted national unification and a republican form of government. Others favored a government headed by the
pope, and still others wanted a monarchy. In the end, this disunity allowed for the
revolutions to be defeated as Austrians, French, and other military forces were sent in to
stop it. In fact, disunity of revolutions leading to
failure will become something of a theme. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. 1. In February 1848, myriad interests came together
to spark revolution in Paris and then in other French cities. 2. Upper-class reformers objected to the cronyism,
limited voting rights, and censorship. 3. But in contrast, the prime minister, historian
François Guizot, thought Louis-Philippe’s government was just right. 4. The crowds sent him and the king into exile. 5. Those crowds were backed by the upper-class
reformers, but they were fueled by discontented workers, the unemployed, and struggling artisans 6. —all affected by rising food prices as
well as uncertain conditions of employment. 7. A socialist different from the ones we’ve
already talked about, Louis Blanc, was attuned to the needs of workers and the poor in Paris. 8. He convinced the new provisional government
to set up national workshops to create jobs for unemployed men. 9. Women successfully demanded that workshops
be established for them too and unsuccessfully nominated George Sand—“male by virtue
of virility, female by divine intuition”–as a representative to the National Assembly.” 10. As spring progressed, a new national assembly,
composed of less than ten percent workers, 11. shut down the workshops and formed a new national
police force composed of men from the countryside, 12. who had little patience for city people
and their city problems. 13. In June, tens of thousands of workers rose
up and fought the national police for several days, 14. until the bodies were piled high and the
workers defeated. 15. Now a republic, France held elections based
on universal male suffrage, 16. which the nephew of Napoleon, Louis-Napoleon
Bonaparte, won handily, 17. due to the support of peasants in the countryside. 18. Lest you think the rural-urban divide is anything
new. Thanks Thought Bubble. So, just as these revolutions started, a new
socialist duo, German lawyer and journalist Karl Marx and Manchester textile mill owner
Friedrich Engels, issued The Communist Manifesto. Its famous opening—”A spectre is haunting
Europe—the spectre of communism” used the word communism instead of socialism based
on the idea that society would soon revert to a traditional “community” of like-minded
people. Marx and Engels believed that class struggle
was going to erupt and wash away upper-class oppression, and that the proletariat would
seize the means of production–that is, factories and land and everything else would be shared
by everyone, rather than owned by the few. And for the moment, that was pretty much it
for “Marxist” socialism. But over the next half century, however, it
would, of course, take a firmer theoretical shape and infuse workers’ programs for change
across the globe, and become tremendously influential. And while initially, few people paid attention
to the Marxist ideas of class struggle, but some kind of struggle was certainly happening:
The revolutions erupting across central and eastern Europe featured–depending on who
you were–calls for the creation of constitutionally directed government structures, an end to
serf-like oppression and censorship, restoration of aristocratic privileges, and yes, even
democracy. In short, people wanted more power, and also
greater rights and protection of those rights. And of course, then as now, ideas were not
limited by borders. Like, news of the revolution in France sent
Berlin’s activists into the streets, pushing for an array of changes but mostly for the
unification of the German states. King Frederick William IV, who was forced
to witness the carnage on Berlin’s streets, summoned a congress to meet at Frankfurt to
plan for reform and unification. The meeting was dominated by the princes of
the several dozen individual states, and it progressed slowly as the princes debated whether
to include Austria in this unification project until the Prussian king, on being offered
the crown of a constitutional monarchy refused to accept “a crown from the gutter.” So instead, he would get no crown at all,
and the German states would remain disunited. Did the Center of the World just open? Is there a gutter crown in there? I don’t know if this gutter crown is for
children, or if I just have an exceptionally large head, but regardless, if there is one
lesson from 19th century Europe, it’s that royals should take a gutter crown and be grateful
for it. You know what’s fun? Being the Queen of England, or of the Netherlands. You know what’s not fun? Being the king of Germany. Because there is no king. OK. Let’s turn our attention to Poland. So, already in 1846, Polish nationalists from
the upper-classes in the Galician city of Cracow, hoped to lead a revolt against Austrian
rule. but, peasants in the region refused to join
them because Austrian rule was the peasants’ only hope for gaining freedom from the payments
and service that they owed aristocratic landowners. What’s that? Stan says I have to take off the gutter crown. So, we like to think of revolutions as being
neatly for freedoms or against them, but here we have an example of it being much more complicated. Because if you’re in like, the upper classes
in Poland, or a working person in a city, freedom might look like freedom from Austrian
oppression. But if your a peasant, freedom looks like
freedom from feudalism. So during that revolution, peasants rose up
and slaughtered several thousand from the land-holding Polish nobility. You can see how Marx came to believe class
struggle was inevitable. The same fragmentation appeared in March 1848
when an uprising broke out in cities across the Austrian empire. Remember Prince Metternich, architect of conservative
reforms in Central Europe? By 1848 he was so unpopular that disliking
him managed to unite the disparate interests of various classes and ethnic identities in
the empire. Middle-class reformers wanted constitutional
rule; aristocrats wanted more power than they had with Metternich’s imperial bureaucracy
running things, workers wanted both political and economic reforms, and peasants, of course,
wanted an end to the last oppressive vestiges of feudalism. And in the face of temporary enthusiasm on
all sides, Metternich fled the country in disguise. Later Emperor Ferdinand stepped down in favor
of his nephew, Francis Joseph, whose nephew Francis–or Franz–Ferdinand would go on to
be a rather famous assasination victim. Good God was there a rich person in central
Europe not named Frederick or Francis or William or Louis or William-Louis or Frederick-William-Louis
or Francis-Frederick-William-Louis? At any rate, with the common enemy of Metternich
gone, the common purpose soon disappeared as well. Peasants across the empire were, as they had
been in 1846, not terribly interested in the push for noble and middle-class rights. They retreated from the fight once the imperial
government abolished all traditional dues and obligations to the nobility. And as for the liberals and aristocrats—in
Austria and across most of Europe—they weren’t thrilled with the idea of giving workers the
right to vote. They believed that workers did not have a
big picture perspective and instead were concerned with food, shelter, and taxes. As one privileged Austrian deputy put it:
“we should prevent only those individuals from voting who live from a daily wage or
who enjoy contributions from a charitable institution—in short, those who are not
independent.” And many singled out Jewish people as being
especially unworthy of rights. And just as the revolutions of 1848 paved
the way for both reforms and conflicts in the 20th century, this exclusion of Jewish
people from political participation and legal protection of rights was a harbinger of what
was to come. Much of that anti-Semitism was focused in
Eastern and Central Europe, but really it was everywhere. Ultimately, in Austria, as elsewhere, once
the rebels were disunited, they were easier to defeat, and they were crushed in Vienna,
Prague and other cities, and then in 1849, Tsar Nicholas I sent 300,000 troops to finish
off the Hungarians for his Austrian ally. Around a hundred thousand people were killed
across the Austrian empire in the revolutions of 1848 and thousands were killed elsewhere,
not to mention the destruction of property that accompanied what were often massacres. Guarantees of rights were also rolled back
and some participants were executed, or imprisoned, or sent into exile. And it’s normal to wonder whether history
is only the story of death and destruction and whether the outcomes were worth it. But consider the Austrian peasants who demanded
and ultimately received an end to centuries of serfdom. Imagine knowing that you and your children
and your children’s children will be forced to live on and work the same land, owing an
endless debt to the same aristocratic family that you’ll never be able to repay. Now imagine the end of that cycle. Imagine being part of the first generation
of people in living memory who could leave. Was the revolution worth it? Perhaps for those families, it was. Thanks
for watching. I’ll see you next time.

100 Comments on "Revolutions of 1848: Crash Course European History #26"


  1. John the Frankfurt Parliament was very importantly and very significantly not a parliament of princes and King of Prussia had nothing to do with it he rejected it when they offered him the crown of Germany it was the parliament of professors for God's sake

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  2. Sorry, but that part about the German national assembly at Frankfurt (10:40 onwards) was wrong to an astonishing degree.

    No, it was not Frederick William who "summoned" the assembly. The national assembly was a true parliament, with delegates from all over the German states (including Austria and Prussia), voted for by the people. It was not the princes who debated there about the borders of a future united German state but those delegates of the people. And it was exactly for that reason – that it was the people and not the princes who offered FW the crown – that he rejected it.

    I'm not sure how a fuckup like that made it into the video, but it's really bewildering.

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  3. I have to mention that the area of Hungary was way bigger at the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Practically you have to take out of that map at 1:18 the current Austria and you get the real size of 19th century Hungary (up to the WW1 peace treaty where the country got it's current size, witch is about 1/3 of the size of historical Hungary) . On the other hand sovereign Hungarian state did not existed for hundreds of years before the revolution of '48 and after the end of the freedom fight in 1849.

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  4. 1848…so much failed potential for what could have been real, radical revolutions…. Still the pale in comparison to the Paris Commune of 1870

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  5. Thanks for covering this topic! Nobody every talks about the (failed) revolutions of 1848. Or practically nobody, anyway.

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  6. Revolutionaries: Down with monarchy! We want a government for the people!

    French peasants: Vive L’Empreur!
    Spanish peasants: Dios, Patria, Rey!

    Most of these revolutionary movements were sparked by the upper middle class more than anything. Most peasants and the commoners genuinely supported the monarchy. They saw the King as protector from the nobles and the urban elites. Heck Charles X even had significant support in the French countryside. Carlism supported regional autonomy and a return for the absolute monarchy in Spain. This was a mass movement that drew in support from all classes. They were a major force in Spain up until the Spanish Civil War. The Spanish liberals were mostly made of the upper middle class.

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  7. Man oh man, so glad I live in America where there isn't a history of reactionary conservatives fighting the enfranchisement of the common people, commiting acts of violence to put specific groups back into a state of slavery/ serfdom, and fighting to maintain their grip on economic power in the face of industrialization and the inherent systemic changes it brings.

    What's that, Stan? Oh… oh no.

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  8. Two things,
    What on earth happend to Prussia and Hungary 1:21?
    It mentions the rise of antisemitism, eventhough it existed allready, but it doesn't mention the emancipation of the jews in this time period. It's falsely to link the antisemitism of this time to that of a century later, because over all the rights of jews were strengthened.

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  9. That’s crazy. I was recently looking into Tarnów (my birthplace) and found out it was one of the most effected town ,in terms of death, during the Galician Slaughter.(even the leader of the massacre was from tarnow) I hope my ancestors weren’t involved 😅

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  10. Next episode better cover the emancipation of Russian serfs and the crippling debts the aristocracy tried to impose to keep them subjugated. currently listening to the Revolutions podcast, and it is cathartic to see how my country's many struggles for civil, political, and economic freedoms were mirrored around the world.

    Its the kind of knowledge that makes you feel solidarity with the workers of the world…

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  11. 7:45 Were there many black people in France in 1848? Only number I could find is around a thousand in the beginning of the 19th century

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  12. "Until the bodies piled high and the workers defeated". That sound somewhat familar cough Hong Kong cough

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  13. Wow. Who researched the Frankfurt Parliament?
    But sadly they will never do a do-over. Spreading misinformation indefinitely.

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  14. The first edition was called "The manifesto of the communist party", to serve as a guideline for the previous league. Later on became the Communist manifesto, acknowledging Marx and Engels as the authors.
    As pointed out by Marx, the manifesto didn't really impacted the revolutions of the 1840s, but was itself a fruit of its time.

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  15. What's that you say… History more complicated … defies easy narrative you say… I'm sure that by the time we get to the C21st it'll be clear who the "good guys" ™ are.

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  16. Due to that bloody debacle in 1846 and the failure of the 1830-31 November Uprising mentioned in the previous episode, in 1848 there was "only" a Polish uprising in the Prussian Partition. Additionally there were random Polish volunteers, inspired by the motto "For our freedom and yours" showing up all over Europe wherever something like an uprising was going on. Especially numerous in Hungary. For significant individual examples look up Ludwik Mierosławski and Józef Bem.

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  17. I continue to support this channel. Please make this channel be known by more. Grasp the benefits of learning!!

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  18. my college class is learning about this and just thank you because without this video i would be so lost

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  19. Austria from great empire to now just tiny spot on the map, by far biggest loser of recent history and world war 1, but they deserved it considering they started it

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  20. I'm not very happy of Bohemia being under "German states"… If anything, at least put it to Austria-Hungary, where it was back then

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  21. I wasn't aware of the revolutions in 1848, at least not that many. The potato famine and Communist Manifesto, yes but I didn't realize there was so much upheaval in Europe that year. I was taught about the Mexican-American war and it's end in that year but high school and college history failed to lead me to the events in Europe. I like how John noted the similarities between then and now such as the rise of automation and global discontent. It seems that everyone but the U.S. and New Zealand are protesting or rioting these days.

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  22. Great point about Irish immigration during the potato famine. Got into an argument with someone recently that insisted immigrants go through the same process his ancestors did, refused to accept that his ancestors didn’t go through any process to immigrate to the US, they just got on a boat and came here.

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  23. "Was it worth it?"

    That's not a question we can answer from here. We don't have the ability to really know how the people then felt – only what they might have written down, and not many peasants were big on journaling. And we can't even answer this question for ourselves, right now, since we are by no means at an end to suffering and death and destruction.

    Maybe we can never know, really, and can only guess, each of us for our own selves, whether or not a given end justifies the means required to achieve it. Maybe it is only possible for us to judge our deeds in our hearts as we fumble our way through life. How harshly can we really judge anybody in history, when we ourselves are also making many of the same decisions as our ancestors?

    The revolutions were part of the changes, but I don't think it's really accurate to say that they really brought about any specific change. I feel like these were more like growing pains – a natural result of the changes already taking place. And painful as they were, maybe they were unavoidable. It's a depressing thought, because we're in a time of change right now, in 2019, and if this kind of chaos and suffering is a natural and unavoidable symptom of change…

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  24. You can tell the passage of time by counting the increase in John's grey hairs with each episode. Amazing, actually, since these are probably all filmed on the same day.

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  25. Strictly speaking it is not the case that there were no migration laws or laws distinguishing between immigrants or naturalized citizens and natural citizens, in the United States at least. There is for instance the Constitutional distinction. And yes, this was even true then. Of course these laws bear very little semblance to the current status quo. Still, laws they were.

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  26. i realize there is an episode callex 18xx-1848 revolutions, and then another episode callled 1848 revolutions.

    haha

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  27. It should be noted that just because immigration was largely unregulated due to the infeasibility of border enforcement at the time, naturalization (the ability to become a citizen) was more highly regulated. The US did not allow non-whites to become citizens until the 1860s, and excluded natives and some asians into the 20th century.

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  28. Recapping on the original before we see 1848 Part 2: Rouhani Boogaloo…

    (My heart goes out to the protesters in Iran, Hong Kong, Chile, Bolivia, Lebanon, Venezuela, and the Kurds in Syria. Keep up the fight for democratic government. ~ An American)

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  29. And In 60yrs later world war 1. 60yrs from this just gives you a sense of how fast things started to move

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  30. Using google translate, the crown was called "a crown of filth and latvians".

    Either Latvian was a german synonym for filth at the time, or someone should tell them that "letten" is a type of clay.

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  31. Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men?
    It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again!
    When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums,
    There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!

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  32. Correction. Karl Marx studied law, but never practiced law, therefore he cannot truly be described as a lawyer. It has been said that Marx never held a proper job apart from a brief stint as a railroad clerk, though he did make money as a writer of fiction, non-fiction, and philosophy.

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  33. You forgot Switzerland: In september 1848 it gave itself a new constitution and became the federal republic it is still today. That revolution was successfull.

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  34. 1848 is a huge subject to tackle, and even though I think this video had its flaws I'm impressed at how well it summarized the overarching trends

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  35. The EU, im pretty sure was founded in 1993 and even so, the foto related to that event, im almost sure is a lot older.

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  36. 1848 represents for the Swiss people the creation of the modern federal state that we know today as Switzerland (before it was just a loose federation of independant states). It was created after a brief civil war (the last war that happened on Swiss territory, if we do not count the few bombings of cities by the Allies during WW2) that pitted the mainly catholic, countryside, poor and uneducated cantons, that were fighting for the status quo, against the mainly protestant, liberal and rich cantons fighting for reform and democracy.

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  37. on the subject of authors, as science opened up new horizons, please mention verne and wells in future episodes.

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  38. Well, that was very… superficial. Maybe next time you spend less time talking about Ireland and potatoes when your goal is to make a video about the revolution of 1848.

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  39. Instead of this hyperactive confused explaination, it may be easier to look at those territories (almost) not hit by the revolutionary wave.

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  40. Regarding the Irish potato famine. Help was given in the early days, but a change of government brought a change in policy. Ironically the man who decided that help be restricted was a famous philanthropist (whose name I forget). Part of the problem was the potato blight was dealt with quite well in northern England and Scotland. People wondered why it wasn’t in Ireland.
    The consequences were even greater than the terrible mass starvation.
    Changes in policy towards agriculture, opening up markets to foreign countries etc., brought Britain to within weeks of losing the First World War.

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