Europe 1848: March Revolutions
The success of the French and Italian revolutions helped inspire uprisings across the German Confederation, with nationalists calling for a united German Empire. In mid-March, Vienna went into revolt, forcing the elderly Chancellor Metternich—a pillar of the conservative order in Europe since 1815—to resign and flee the city. With Metternich gone, revolution spread through the Austrian Empire with Hungary declaring its autonomy. On the 17th, Prussia was shaken by revolt in Berlin. After days of street fighting, King Frederick William backed down, declaring his support for the people and the German Empire.
27 Feb–16 Mar 1848 March Revolution in Germany▲
Starting with the Mannheim Rally in the Grand Duchy of Baden in late February 1848, protesters and revolutionaries across the German Confederation pressed for constitutional reform and a unified German parliament. In response, the Grand Duke of Baden, the Duke of Nassau, the King of Württemberg and the King of Saxony all granted reforms, while the Grand Duke of Hesse and the King of Bavaria both abdicated in favor of their sons.
2 Mar 1848 Republic of Neuchâtel▲
Excluding its occupation by Napoleon, the Principality of Neuchâtel, in Switzerland, had been under the Prussian crown since 1707. In 1848 the principality revolted against Prussian rule and declared itself a republic within the Swiss Confederation. The Prussians, preoccupied with the revolutions in Germany, were unable to respond at the time.
13 Mar 1848 Fall of Metternich▲
News of the February 1848 revolution in Paris inspired uprisings across Europe. In March students and Social Revolutionaries took to the streets of Vienna, attacking shops and factories. In response to their demands, the Diet (parliament) of Lower Austria demanded the resignation of the 74-year-old prominent conservative Prince Klemens von Metternich as Chancellor on 13 March. Complying, Metternich fled the city that night, eventually finding refuge in England.
15 Mar 1848 Hungarian Revolution of 1848▲
On 15 March 1848, following the arrival of news of the French and Austrian revolutions in the Kingdom of Hungary, then part of the Austrian Empire, thousands gathered in the streets of Pest, where they were roused by intellectuals, including the young poet Sándor Petőfi, who promoted a list of Twelve Points on Hungarian autonomy and called for the formation of a new municipal government. After securing control in Pest, the revolutionaries marched on to nearby Buda, where the Imperial Governing Council, representing Emperor Ferdinand, yielded to their demands that same day. Austria, preoccupied with its own problems in Vienna, initially accepted the outcome of this bloodless revolution.
17–19 Mar 1848 Berlin Uprising▲
In mid-March 1848, following unrest across the German states and increasing tensions in the Prussian provinces, demonstrators took to the streets in Berlin, capital of the Kingdom of Prussia. Attempts by Prince William and fellow reactionaries to deploy the Prussian army to violently crush the protests only exacerbated the situation, with 230 revolutionaries losing their lives in the ensuing two-day battle. Finally King Frederick William IV agreed to withdraw the troops from the city and grant a constitution in return for peace with his subjects.
18–22 Mar 1848 Five days of Milan▲
On 18 March 1848, learning of the Vienna Uprising, revolutionaries took to the streets in Milan, capital of the Austrian-ruled Kingdom of Lombardy. The well-equipped Austrian garrison, commanded by the still energetic 81-year-old general Joseph Radetzky, fought back for five days, but eventually faced encirclement in the city. Realizing he had lost control, Radetzky withdraw east to the Quadrilatero—the fortified zone around Verona and Mantua—leaving Milan and Lombardy in the hands of the rebels.
21 Mar 1848 Frederick William IV adopts German colors▲
King Frederick William IV of Prussia rejected any responsibility for the deaths in the Berlin uprising and instead blamed the affair on a foreign conspiracy. In a visible show of support for German nationalism, he rode through Berlin wearing a German black, red, and gold armband to attend the mass funeral of the civilian victims. Accompanied by a plain-clothes officer carrying a black, red, and gold flag, the king openly proclaimed to the crowds that he would back German unity and the formation of an all-German parliament.