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Karl Marx

In 1848, a great wave of revolutions, fueled largely by the resentment felt by the ever-growing lower classes toward those who held power, swept across Europe. The Communist Manifesto, which was written by Karl Marx on the eve of the Revolutions of 1848, is representative of the ideas of many of Marx's contemporaries, including the viewpoint that history is determined by class conflict.

Uprisings took place in Paris, Sicily, Milan, Naples, Berlin, Parma, Venice, Rome, Warsaw, Prague, and Budapest. In France, an economic crisis followed by a proletarian revolution led to the abdication of King Louis Phillipe and the abolition of the French monarchy. Hungary declared its independence from Austria in a revolutionary movement led by Kossuth and Deak, and it won a measure of self government and liberated the peasantry. German revolutionaries deposed the conservative Metternich government and established the Frankfurt Parliament. Liberal uprisings rocked Italy. Pope Pius IX was forced to flee Rome, which was declared a republic by Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Nevertheless, the Revolutions of 1848 were largely unsuccessful and most were quickly suppressed. The French attempt to put socialism into practice failed and Louis Napoleon was proclaimed President of the Second Republic. The Hungarian revolution was crushed by Austrian and Russian forces and an absolutist regime was imposed. The Frankfurt Parliament failed to unify Germany and it was disbanded, which lead to the reassertion of Austrian domination. Pius IX was restored to Rome by French troops and the republic was overthrown. Although the Revolutions of 1848 failed in their objectives, they did give the working classes a chance to unite and they laid the seeds for future revolutionary movements that would lead to successful change.


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