European Revolutions and Revolts from 1815-1832

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  • 0:07 Congress of Vienna
  • 1:01 Spain
  • 1:35 Italy & Russia
  • 2:10 France
  • 3:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has a master's degree in education.

This lesson will explain the European revolutions occurring in the first half of the 19th century. It will discuss the common classes' response to the Congress of Vienna, the Concert of Europe, and the old aristocracies' grasping for power.

Congress of Vienna

Having barely survived the force known as Napoleon, the aristocracies of Europe wanted to make sure their positions of power were secure. In order to do this, they met at the 1815 Congress of Vienna. Here, they sought to stabilize European boundaries, while also restoring their own legitimacy as rulers.

In other words, they wanted to get back to the good ol' days when they were the head honchos of their respective countries. Unfortunately for them, the disenfranchised of Europe weren't so keen on this idea. Ignoring this, the aristocracies went ahead with their plans.

In 1815, Prussia, Russia, Austria, and Britain joined together in the Quadruple Alliance, which has come to be known as the Concert of Europe. They sought to return a stable balance of power to Europe. Again, this is not what the middle and working class people had in mind.


For instance, in Spain, the common people desired a return to their constitution of 1812. Lucky for them, they were backed by some military officials who knew what they were doing, and eventually King Ferdinand VII was forced to give them their constitution. Seeing a monarchy in jeopardy, France, supported by the Concert of Europe, sent about 100,000 troops into Spain. Occurring in the early 1820s, the rebels of Spain were no match for the French force. In the end, the constitution was revoked, and the Spanish monarchy reigned supreme.

Italy and Russia

Similar revolts dotted the map of Europe during the 1820s. Unfortunately for the revolutionaries, most of them failed. For example, when the Italian areas of Piedmont and Sicily fought for freedom against their Austrian rulers, they were put down. Like the Spanish rebels, they were no match for the forces of Metternich, the uber-conservative, powerful ruler of the Austrian Empire. The same scene played out it Russia, as military leaders desired reform in their country. Sadly for the revolutionary minded, they too were crushed by their Tsar.


In France, the spirit of revolution took a different turn as Louis XVIII ruled from 1814 to 1824. Under Louis, the various social classes were given some civil rights. However, a group of extremely conservative aristocrats, known as Ultras, wanted to do away with the constitutional monarchy. To them, an absolute monarchy, in which a sovereign is unrestrained by a constitution or law, was the only way to go!

Although Louis XVIII smartly refused to give into the Ultras wishes, his successor, Charles X, agreed with their philosophy. Under his rule, parliament was dissolved, and the civil rights of the common class were limited. Known to history as the July Ordinances, this proved to be Charles X's undoing. Not ones to take their rights being trampled on lightly, the common classes of France rose up in rebellion and Charles X was ousted from power.

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