The Revolutions of 1848 by Roger Price (auth.)

By Roger Price (auth.)

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Together with measures reducing the length of the working-day by one hour, abolishing the system of labour sub-contracting known as marchandage, and the establishment of the Luxembourg Commission, under Blanc's chairmanship, to enquire into working and living conditions, and to propose reforms, it created a sense of expectancy which it would prove dangerous to disappoint. It rapidly became clear that it was easier to agree on opposition to the monarchy than on positive measures of reform [40, 55].

Its suppliant, loyalist text entreated the ruler to introduce liberal measures[141]. Far more radical were developments in Italy, where the rulers of the independent states were forced to concede constitutions modelled on the French Charter of 1830. Here events were largely independent of those in France and Austria. The first of the European revolts had in fact taken place in Sicily, in Palermo, as early as 12January. It had spread to the mainland of the Kingdom of Naples and forced Ferdinand II to gran t a constitution on 29 January.

There was also widespread, if sporadic, disorder. Workers protested about unemployment and low wages[32 , 42, 47]. Peasants complained about taxation and restrictions on access to common land and forests and other features of the growth of capitalistic farming. In Alsace and south-west Germany they denounced Jewish 'usurers', and in other parts of Germany and Austria surviving feudal restrictions. The era of 'freedom' appeared to have dawned. Abstract and universalistic political principles were reinterpreted by various groups in terms of their own immediate interests, and in a fashion which frequently revealed a deep, and hitherto normally concealed, aversion for the social order.

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