Domestic Policy
Domestic Policy

Austria, 1848-1849 : Domestic Events

In March 1848, revolution broke out, in Vienna as elsewhere in Europe, and democrats took control of the town. The Habsburg dynasty was paralysed.
For Austrian democrats of German nationality a problem arose - should they represent Austria in Frankfurt's Paulskirche parliament, or should they call for a democratic parliament representing Austria's territorial complex ? A heated debate arose, the pro Frankfurt faction being called traitors.

Austria was represented in Paulskirche Versammlung by ROBERT BLUM and others; yet since Oct. 30th 1848 they were in a difficult position as the Habsburg dynasty again was in control of Vienna, and on April 5th 1849 the Austrian delegates were ordered to withdraw from the assembly. Nonetheless, the assembly left the door open for Austro-German representatives. It offered the Imperial crown of a new democratic Germany first to the Austrian Emperor (who nevertheless rejected it, claiming to be Emperor by the grace of God) and in the constitution of March 1849 reserved a significant number of seats in the projected Staatenhaus (upper chamber of parliament) for Austro-German delegates.
The same constitution, however, stipulated that non-German territories should be administratively separated from German territories and were not to be included in the future Empire.
An Austrian REICHSTAG was held in Vienna; the Austro-German delegates were sympathetic to the Hungarian cause; the demands of other nationalities were, however, underestimated.

At that time, nationalist revolutions were also going on in Prague, where the first Pan-Slavic Congress was held, in Hungary and in Milan. In October 1848 the Austrian Army was ordered to move against the revolutionaries in Hungary; they refused, causing the October Revolution in Vienna.
This event triggered the polarisation of Austro-German society; while among the democrats the radicals gained power, the Austrian Army leadership, embarrassed by the soldiers' disobedience, rallied to the Habsburg cause, determined to suppress the revolution and to restore Habsburg power. With the support of Croats, the army laid siege to Vienna (Oct.23rd-30th); an approaching Hungarian force, coming to the relief of Vienna, was defeated at Schwechat (Oct. 30th). Many revolutionaries, among them Robert Blum, were executed.
Now Vienna being secured, the Austrian Army proceeded to take on the Hungarians (with Russian assistance) and the Piemontese invaders & Milanese revolutionaries, which were defeated in the Battle of Novara in 1849. During that year, Habsburg rule was restored, the revolution an event of the past.

During the heated months of the revolution, the most significant reform passed was the ABOLITION OF SERFDOM, for which delegate HANS KUDLICH was credited.

Encyclopedia of the 1848 Revolutions, articles : March Revolution in Vienna, Austrian Reichstag July-Nov. 1848; Austrian Constitution of the Reich, March 7th 1849; Austrian Reichstag - Peasant Deputies; Robert Blum; Bukovina; Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach; Johann Baptist Johann Fabian Sebastian von Habsburg; Hans Kudlich; October Revolution in Vienna; Johann Bernhard, Count von Rechberg und Rothenloewen; Sophie Friederike Dorothea von Habsburg
Der Bauernbefreier Hans Kudlich, a true libertarian and 1848er, from German Heritage
Turning Points in the Development of Parliamentarism in Austria : From Revolution to Neoabsolutism, from Austria's Parliament
Pillersdorf Constitution of April 25th 1848; Robert Blum; Revolution of 1848; March Revolution of 1848; October Revolution of 1848; Reichstag of Kremsier; Hans Kudlich, from aeiou
DOCUMENTS Der Abgeordnete Heinrich Reitter über &Oyml;sterreichs Zukunft, 1848, from PSM Data - Geschichte, in German
Images from Chronik 2000 Bilddatenbank : Vienna : Robert Blum defends the Sophienbruecke, 1848; Barricade in Vienna, May 26th 1848 Convention Relative to Disposal of Property and Consular Jurisdiction Between Austria-Hungary and the United States; May 8, 1848, from Avalon Project at Yale Law School
REFERENCE Revolution in Central Europe, pp.725-728; Counter-Revolution in Central Europe, pp.737-741, in : John Merriman, A History of Modern Europe, NY : W.W. Norton 1996
Pre-March (pp.47-56), Radical Outbreak : the Revolutions of 1848 (pp.57-70), Liberal Episode : the Constituent Assembly, July 1848 - March 1849 (pp.71-82), from A.J.P. Taylor, The Habsburg Monarchy, 1809-1918 , from Chicago : UP (1948) 1976
Priscilla Robertson, Revolutions of 1848, A Social History, Princeton : UP (1952) 1967 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on May 18th 2007

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