19th Century European Revolutions: From Restoration to Reform

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The Congress of Vienna and the Restoration

The Congress of Vienna, convened after Napoleon's defeat in 1815, marked a return to the Ancien Régime. European powers—Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Great Britain—sought to restore the pre-revolutionary political order.

Two key alliances emerged during this period:

  • The Holy Alliance: Comprising Russia, Prussia, and Austria.
  • The Quadruple Alliance: Including Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Great Britain.

Revolutions and Ideologies

The 19th century witnessed numerous revolutions across Europe, fueled by discontent with the restored order. These uprisings were driven by powerful ideologies:


Liberalism championed individual liberties and resonated with the burgeoning bourgeoisie. Its core principles included:

  • Establishment of a constitution
  • Constitutional monarchy
  • Separation of powers

Within liberalism, two main factions emerged:

  • Moderate Liberals: Advocated for limited suffrage based on property ownership, shared sovereignty between the monarch and the courts, and restricted freedom of expression.
  • Progressive Liberals: Supported broader suffrage with lower property requirements, popular sovereignty, and unrestricted freedom of expression.


Nationalism emphasized the right to self-determination and the formation of independent nation-states based on shared heritage. It manifested in two primary forms:

  • Unification Nationalism: Aiming to unite fragmented regions with shared cultural or ethnic identities.
  • Separatist Nationalism: Seeking independence for regions seeking to break away from existing states.


Democracy advocated for universal political participation to address social and economic inequalities perpetuated by bourgeois liberalism. Its key tenets included:

  • Universal manhood suffrage
  • Republicanism as the preferred form of government

Key Revolutions of the 19th Century


  • Liberal Revolutions in Portugal and Spain: These revolutions sought to establish constitutional monarchies.
  • Greek War of Independence (1821-1829): Greece gained independence from the Ottoman Empire with the Treaty of Adrianopolis in 1829.


  • Belgian Revolution: Belgium achieved independence from the Netherlands and established a constitutional monarchy.


the revolutions became more radical, as the petite bourgeoisie and workers advocated democratic principles to access political power and The revolution failed in all the countries except in France. In France thanks to the petit bourgeoisie and the workers achieved a triumphal revolution, Second republic was established.

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