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Chapter 9

The Search for New Structures

In spite of their apparent defeat by the forces of counter-revolution, the revolutions of 1848-49 profoundly affected the peoples of Eastern Europe, even those who were only indirectly involved in the events themselves. Governments were also affected: the revolutions had demonstrated the importance of nationalism, and while some deplored or even directly opposed it, others sought to use it to their expansionist ends. Nationalism became an important element in the foreign policy of the major powers.


Perhaps the first nation to feel the full force of nationalism was the weakened Ottoman Empire, which by 1850 was considered "the sick man of Europe." The awakening of the Balkan nations had already led to independence in Greece and autonomy in Serbia, and the vacuum developing in southeastern Europe soon became a great concern for the major powers. Diplomatic opinions regarding what should be done ranged from simply propping up the Empire to a solution suggested by the Russian ambassador to his British colleague in January 1853: complete dismemberment. Due in part to conflicting national interests, the major powers remained in disagreement. While European nations were aware of the oppressed Christian peoples in the Ottoman Empire who were eager to be free of the Turks, concern for their own interests caused them to remain inactive.

The Russians had long supported dismemberment. Not only did Czar Nicholas I see himself as the protector of the Orthodox Christians in the

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Balkans, but was also eager to break the Turkish "lock" that closed the Straits of Bosporus to the Russian fleet, and that prevented all direct access to the Mediterranean. For internal political reasons, Napoleon III also demonstrated concern for the Christian communities of the Ottoman Empire from the beginning of his reign. One of the main tenets of his foreign policy was the principal of nationalities, and in its name Napoleon supported the emancipation of the Balkan peoples, albeit with the full consent of the British; another tenet of the Second Empire's foreign policy rested upon cooperation with Britain. Unfortunately, the British wanted the Ottoman Empire to remain intact in order to serve as an obstacle to a Russian presence in the eastern Mediterranean. The Austrian Empire, however, considered the Balkans its natural outlet to the sea, and accordingly favored maintaining the status quo. It was also alarmed that its Serbian and Rumanian subjects might be attracted to the new states that would rise from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.

The first serious international crisis linked to the Ottoman question broke out in 1853, and rapidly developed into the conflict known as the Crimean War. The dispute began in Jerusalem over the use of the Holy Places. Roman Catholic churchmen, mostly French, had progressively extended their influence in Jerusalem at the expense of Orthodox monks. The Russian government felt that the ousting of the Orthodox clergy was unjust, and decided to take the matter to the Sultan of Turkey, who had jurisdiction of Palestine. In February 1853, Czar Nicholas I sent a mission under Prince Menchikov to Constantinople, with the intention of obtaining permission to protect the Orthodox Christians of the Ottoman Empire. Backed by the knowledge that he was supported by the British, the sultan refused the request. The refusal culminated in the departure of Menchikov and his mission in May and in a clear break in relations between Russia and the Empire. The Russians responded by sending troops into Moldavia and Wallachia, and in November 1853, the sultan declared war on Russia.

The Crimean War lasted nearly two years and saw the participation of virtually all major powers. France and Great Britain entered on the side of the sultan in March of 1854, and Austria, while ostensibly neutral, clearly favored the allies. The war ended in a Russian defeat. The Treaty of Paris of March 1856 attempted to reconcile the principle of keeping Ottoman territory intact with the interests of the Balkan peoples as supported by France, and was considered a diplomatic success. The independence and integrity of the Ottoman Empire, a principle firmly supported by the British, was solemnly confirmed and guaranteed by the powers, while Serbian autonomy was ratified and "an independent and national administration" was also extended to Moldavia and Wallachia. The Treaty of Paris was the result of a number of compromises. Napoleon III suggested uniting the

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principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia into a single Rumanian state to increase their power: an idea to which the sultan, the British, and especially the Austrians were firmly opposed. The compromise settled upon declared Moldavia and Wallachia to be the United Principalities, possessing the same legal and judicial systems but remaining two distinct states, each with a Hospodar elected for life. The main victim of the treaty was Russia; not only was the Ottoman Empire strengthened at its expense, but the Black Sea was also neutralized. In closing, the peace conference also succeeded in agreeing on the internationalization of the Danube.



"The government of the Empire has always been characterized by a

dichotomy of thought regarding the Balkans. While it has tried to assure

the independence and maintenance of the Ottoman Empire in

accordance with the political interests of France and Europe, it has also

had as a constant concern the improvement of the conditions of the

Christian peoples living under the sovereignty and suzerainty of the

sultan. It considers one of the more fortunate results of its policy and the

efforts of its armies to be a contribution to the easing of conditions for

these numerous populations by obtaining for them the rights and

advantages of religious freedom..."

Official statement of the French government published in the Monieur

of February 5, 1857.

In the years following the Treaty of Paris, Napoleon III quietly continued with his policy of promoting a united Rumania. The French consuls assigned to Bucharest and Jassy (Messrs. Blondel and Place) advised the Moldavian and Wallachian assemblies to circumvent the intentions of the treaty by electing a common Hospodar. On January 24, 1859, the two assemblies elected Alexander Ion Couza, who took the title of Prince of Rumania. This went unchallenged by the European nations, and the sultan himself recognized it two years later. The Rumanian state was born.

The state suffered its first interior crisis on the night of February 10, 1866, when a military conspiracy led by conservative Boyars forced Prince Couza to resign. The Boyars accused him of taking excessively dictatorial powers, but in reality the plot was motivated by resistance to Couza's social policy, which clearly benefited the lower classes. In his brief reign Prince Couza pursued a number of major reforms. In 1863, monasterial properties were secularized, and shortly thereafter he abolished the corvee system of serf labor, restoring in the process full property rights for peasants -- a measure

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that affected nearly 400,000 families. Couza also supervised the lowering of the property qualification for the ability to vote, as well as the creation of free and compulsory primary education. In this light, the reasons for Couza's fall are much more clear. Napoleon III was concerned with who would succeed Couza to the throne, favoring Prince Charles of Hohenzollern-Signaringen, who was a cousin of King William I of Prussia through his father, and of Napoleon III himself through his mother. Prince Charles entered Bucharest in May, 1866, and, through the efficiency of the French ambassador to Constantinople, was quickly recognized by the sultan as hereditary prince of Rumania. His descendants reigned until the communist takeover in 1947.

Polish Illusions

Russian-controlled Poland remained calm throughout the revolutions of 1848. It remained calm not because national sentiment had disappeared, as both the clergy and nobility made clear, but because of the Russian repression imposed after the uprising of 1830-31, which made any revolutionary action impossible. The first hint of a thaw appeared in 1855 with the death of Czar Nicholas I, symbol of the most intransigent absolutism. His death was greeted with relief by the Poles, who saw in his son, Czar Alexander II, someone more open to progressive ideas. However, when the new Czar received the deputies from the Polish nobility in 1856, he informed them that he intended to continue the policies of his father and that there was no question of restoring the Constitution of 1815. Nevertheless, he appointed Prince Gorchakov as viceroy of Poland in place of his authori- tarian predecessor, Paskievitch. Upon his arrival in Warsaw, the new viceroy published a degree of general amnesty and restored confiscated properties to the rightful recipients, thereby raising Polish hopes of a more permissive political atmosphere.

In the climate of relative freedom that began to settle over Poland, a hesitant and cautious political life was reborn. The Agronomic Society was founded in 1855 by Count Zamoyski, and included several thousand landowners, most of them nobles. It quickly became the rallying point of the liberal and national opposition to support an independent Poland linked to Russia only by a common sovereign. These relatively moderate liberals that formed the White Party were flanked on the left by members of the radical Red Party composed of students, the lower classes of Warsaw, and some members of the gentry. The Red Party demanded the total independence of Poland within its historic borders.

The success of the united Italian movement of 1859-60 was greeted with enthusiasm by Polish patriots. They noted with joy that Napoleon III had supported the Italians in their fight for independence, and were convinced

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that he would do the same for Poland. As his minister of foreign affairs was none other than Count Walewski, son of Marie Walewska and Napoleon I, their hopes were further encouraged. The Poles also knew that Napoleon III was an enthusiastic supporter of the principle of nationalities; a fact which he had just reiterated by supporting the Moldavian and Wallachian Rumanians in their fight for independence.

By early 1860, Poles were confident about their future. Hadn't Czar Alexander instituted liberal reforms, abolishing serfdom on lands owned by the crown in 1858? And wasn't he about to extend them to all of Russian territory? The time seemed ripe for action. The first demonstrations in Poland began on November 29, 1860, the anniversary of the uprising in Warsaw of 1830, and flared up again on February 25 and 27, 1861. While the demonstration of November 29 was peaceful, those of 1861 were marred by brutality, as Russian troops fired into the crowd killing several demonstrators. The Agronomic Society was anxious to avoid the repression and bloodshed that a new revolution would bring, and thought it best to present a petition demanding freedom from Russian occupation to the viceroy. The viceroy responded by dissolving the Society and exiling Count Zamoyski, only to be himself removed by Alexander II. The czar was clearly uncertain about what policy to pursue regarding Poland, and his hesitancy was reflected by his exchange of viceroys several times.

In Poland the Reds and Whites quickly renewed their conflict. The liberal leader, Wielopolski, attempted to work out an agreement with the czar, but was immediately accused of treason by the Reds. To prevent further disturbances, Wielopolski advised the authorities to call the young men of Warsaw up for active duty, but no one answered the call for mobilization. Instead, the situation deteriorated further, and on January 22, 1863, the Revolutionary Central Committee directed by the leaders of the Red Party called for a general insurrection. A similar committee was formed at Vilna, and on March 31, declared Lithuania an integral part of Poland. By the end of April, all of Poland was in a state of insurrection, including the provinces directly administered by Russia. The Central Committee was now recognized as the provisional government, and began to appeal to foreign powers for assistance. Napoleon III, to whom the provisional government had delegated General Mieroslawski, wrote the czar personally to ask him for the restoration of the Constitution of 1815 and for the appointment of his brother, the Grand-duke Constantine as viceroy. The czar's answer was negative, and requests to the British produced no better results. Austria pursued the neutral position it had taken during the Crimean War, but again favored the insurgents. Prussia, however, gave its full support to the czar, and Bismarck closed the Polish-Prussian border to prevent Polish insurgents from using Prussian territory as a refuge.

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Polish troops were quickly recruited and assembled, and led by commanders such as generals Wysocki and Poradovski, attempted to paralyze Russian troop movement. The fight, however, was unequal and the size of the Russian armies was quickly felt. In May 1863 General Mouraviev reoccupied Lithuania, which was immediately put under military rule: Russian was made the official language and most of the Catholic clergy was deported to Siberia. In the parts of Bielorussia where the disturbances took place, the Uniate Church was severely repressed and reinstated under the control of the Orthodox Church. In Poland, Warsaw was surrounded by General Berg's army and was forced into surrender. Members of the provisional government were arrested, condemned to death by a court martial, and hanged in August 1864. Tens of thousands of insurgents were deported to Siberia and their properties confiscated. All surviving Polish institutions were abolished, and Russian became the compulsory language of the government and the university. The Polish nobility, which as a rule had supported the insurrection, was heavily fined. And in order to pit the peasants against the nobles, the Russian government decided in March 1864 that the peasants on lands of the crown, church, or nobility would become full owners of the land they worked, and that all traditional rents and obligations would be abolished. This pro-peasant measure did not succeed, however, in winning them over to the side of the Russian occupants as it had been designed to do. Finally, the Catholic Church, which had always been the guardian of national traditions as well as a new focus of nationalism, suffered dearly under the repression. All bishops, without exception, were arrested and departed to Siberia (in 1870 all the episcopal seats were still vacant). Most of the convents were closed in 1864, and church property was secularized the following year.

Poland paid a heavy price for its bid for freedom. Despite the repression, the Poles succeeded to a great extent in passively resisting the policy of "Russianization" imposed on them, particularly in the local schools and administration. The force of the Russian repression and the inaction of the European powers demonstrated, once and for all, that the era of romantic resurrection was over.

From Austria to Austria-Hungary

The failure of the 1848-49 revolutions in Austria as well as the subsequent repression did nothing to resolve the problems the Empire faced. The escalation of liberal ambitions and of national movements continued. Emperor Franz Joseph, true to his words upon his ascention to the throne, attempted to find a workable solution which would take both into account without either weakening the privileges of the crown or jeopardizing the interests of the Empire.

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In the years immediately following the revolution, Franz Joseph appeared to heed the advice of his conservative entourage, and in particular to that of his mother, the Archduchess Sophia. He first entrusted the position of minister of the Interior to a general, Prince Schwarzenberg, and after the prince's death in 1852 to Alexander Bach, who also performed many of the duties of prime minister. The "Bach years" as the ten-year period was later called, were characterized by a return to an authoritarian regime in the tradition of Metternich, with several distinguishing characteristics. The government resumed the old Habsburg tradition of close alliance with the Catholic Church that had been undermined by the reforms of Joseph II; the concordat signed with Pope Pius IX in 1855 gave the Catholic Church a privileged position in the state, and far more responsibility for education. The Bach government also brought back the Germanizing policies of Joseph II, in which the different provinces of the Empire were provided mainly with German-speaking civil servants and administrators who enforced the imposition of German in the schools and local governments. This policy was backed by an underlying theme of idealism. In the minds of the leadership, the most effective way to promote peaceful coexistence between all the nationalities was to impose a common language on them. But at the same time, to gain the goodwill of the peasants, Bach left the social reforms of the revolution in place: feudalism, along with feudal rights and labor taxes were definitively abolished, and the equality of all subjects reaffirmed.

Bach's policies met with mixed results, and its failures, as demonstrated in Italy in 1859 and in the passive resistance of non-German subjects -- in particular the Hungarians -- led Franz Joseph to take control of public affairs personally in order to reorganize the monarchy along a new set of principles. In March 1860, the emperor called together a Great Council of the Empire, composed of both elected members and citizens appointed by the emperor. Two major political currents were represented. One group of delegates favored unity, and wanted the Empire to become a liberal state with a constitution and a central government responsible to the parliament. Others, including the Croatian, Hungarian, and Czech delegates, favored a form of federalism which would reestablish the former historic states and expand their national governments.

The federalistic October Diploma proclaimed on October 20, 1860, was a result of Franz Joseph's concern for reconciling the unity of the Empire with the diversity of its peoples. In each province of the Empire, an elected diet was to have major legislative powers, and would send delegates to the imperial council (Reichsrat), which was responsible for matters that the provinces had in common. All of the nationalities were put on an equal footing, and all citizens were eligible for all occupations. Furthermore, in each state, the local language was to be the official language -- a matter of no

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small importance to the provinces. Proclamation of the October Diploma was followed by the election of deputies to the various national diets everywhere. Due to opposition from liberals and conservatives alike, only a few months later, on February 26, 1861, Franz Joseph revoked the October Diploma, replacing it with the February Patent. The February Patent was centralist in nature, and constituted a reversal of Franz Joseph's position. It left the local diets intact, but some of their functions were transferred to the Reichsrat, which essentially became a parliament to which the ministers were responsible. It was made up of two houses, the House of Lords appointed by the sovereign, and the House of Deputies which included 340 deputies elected by the diets.

As the Hungarians had been the most demanding of the nationalities in 1848-49 and were very supportive of the October Diploma, it is not surprising that they were very dissatisfied with the February Patent of 1861. Ferenc Deak, leader of the opposition since Kossuth's exile, demanded a return to a strict adherence to the original constitution, while the Magyar deputies flatly refused to attend the Reichsrat. Their actions led to the dissolution of the diet. In Bohemia, the February Patent was no better received, but the Czech deputies did agree to attend the Reichsrat at which they presented demands for reform. The situation remained at an impasse for four years. In 1865, however,

Franz Joseph began to negotiate with the Magyar opposition, and at the opening of the diet, he announced that the old constitution be restored, but with the interests of the Empire safeguarded. With the support of Count Gyula Andrassy, who was exiled in 1848 and later granted amnesty, Deak agreed to negotiate. While it is possible that an agreement would never have been reached, Austria's defeat at Koniggratz against the Prussians and the personal intervention of Empress Elizabeth in favor of the Hungarians facilitated an agreement between the emperor and his Hungarian subjects.

Signed on February 18, 1867, the agreement was called the Austro-Hungarian Compromise (Ausgleich), and was actually two docu- ments. The first was a constitutional statute which redefined the relationship between Austria and its dependencies, while the other was a constitutional pact between Franz Joseph and the Hungarian nation. The Habsburg possessions became a dual monarchy consisting of the Austrian Empire (Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, Slovenia, Carniole, Istria, and Galicia), and of the Kingdom of Hungary (Hungary proper, Transylvania, Croatia-Slavonia, and Fiume). Each state had its own institutions, its own administration and its own laws, but the two parts were united under the scepter of a common monarch -- Franz Joseph, emperor in Austria and king in Hungary. The coronation of Franz Joseph as King of Hungary on June 8, 1867, symbolized the reconciliation of Hungary and the dynasty.

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In Austria, legislative power stemmed from an Imperial Council (Reichsrat) made up of two houses. The House of Lords consisted of princes, prelates, 53 hereditary peers, and 100 members appointed for life by the emperor. The House of Deputies consisted of members elected for six-year terms by voters from several different social groups. 85 of the 353 deputies represented the large landowners, 137 the commercial elite and the cities, and 131 rural communities. This system was weighted in favor of the Germans and the Poles. The government, however, was not answerable to these assemblies.

In Hungary, the Parliament also included two assemblies. The composition of the High House resembled that of the House of Lords in Austria, and the Lower House the House of Deputies. The lower house was made up of 447 deputies, 337 for Hungary proper, 75 for Transylvania, 34 for Croatia-Slavonia, and one for Fiume, all elected by voters meeting property requirements. But unlike Vienna, the government in Hungary was answerable to the assemblies.

For what was declared the "common interests of Hungary and the other countries of His Majesty" three joint ministries were created -- those of

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Foreign Affairs, War, and Finance. Their ministers were under the supervisory authority of two delegations of 60 deputies, each elected by the parliaments of Vienna and Budapest. Expenses linked to joint affairs were paid for by a financial arrangement that assessed Hungary for 30 percent of the expenses and Austria for the rest. The Imperial and Royal Army belonged to both partners in the Empire, with German as the language of authority. But Austria and Hungary each still possessed their own territorial armies -- the Flandsturm in Austria, and the Honved in Hungary, which were locally recruited and which used their national languages as the language of command. The Austro-Hungarian Compromise was completed in Novem- ber 1868 by a Hungaro-Croatian compromise negotiated between the government at Budapest and the Diet at Zagreb. The agreement redefined the status of Croatia-Slavonia, making it an autonomous kingdom within Hungary with its own diet and local administration. The Budapest government was represented by the ban.

The reorganization of the Habsburg monarchy entrusted the development of the Empire to the two largest national groups, the Germans in Austria and the Magyars in Hungary. The question remained whether the other minorities would be content with this compromise, which did guarantee them equal rights, use of their own languages, and religious freedom, but which kept them out of certain high positions and discriminated against them in varying degrees.

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