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In What Major Respects Had Europe Changed by 1971

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Essay title: In What Major Respects Had Europe Changed by 1971

From the 1815 until the 1871, Europe underwent a great change. As the revolution of the 1830s showed, the Vienna Settlement did not last, even though the great European powers were able for a while to take the situation under control with brutal repression. However, it was impossible to stop the liberal revolution, which led to important political events and deep social changes. In the political field there are three major events: the rise of Napoleon III, the unification of Germany and the Italian Risorgimento. In the field of social changes there are the extraordinary doubling of the population, the new technologies, which made possible the development of communication and transportation, and the important consequences of the industrial revolution.

Louis Napoleon Bonaparte came to power the 2nd of December 1852. With him, the Second Empire started. Years before, he was expelled to America, but with the fall of the July Monarchy in February 1848, he returned to France to reassert his claim to being Napoleon Bonaparte's legitimate heir, and to take advantage of the new opportunities that suddenly presented themselves. To obtain what he wanted, Bonaparte used the army and police to arrest his principal political opponents and to occupy the Assembly. After this he announced his assumption of power and proclaimed a new constitution, to be subjected to an immediate plebiscite, where Napoleon obtained a huge majority, and became president of France. But one year later, in another plebiscite, Napoleon received popular ratification of his assumption of the title of Emperor, as Napoleon III. Many observers saw this "meteoric rise", as the beginning of a new era of absolutism. However, the public opinion never considered Napoleon as a tyrant, as electoral statistics show. They trusted him, who did not disappointed their expectations. Napoleon's agenda concerned the reorganization of the State, a new economical policy and a great program of public works. During Napoleon's government, France underwent a deep change. After a long period of disorder, society found its stability, both on the political and economical side. In fact, Napoleon helped to foster an economic boom, which provided ample employment for the urban poor as well as for the young people, ambitious and well prepared. He mobilized all the resources of the State to give a new aspect to his nation, which was developing a new urban dimension. The railroads, from the 3,600 km of the 1850, passed to 18,000 km in the 1870. The number of streets and navigable canals doubled and the merchant navy was improved. These changes were essential to guarantee the market growth. The State's resources were mobilize for the massive rebuilding of Paris too. Boulevards, great squares and great buildings took the place of the old slums, and new sewer allowed the improvement of hygienical conditions. All the expenses for these works were divided between the imperial government and the City of Paris. After having consolidated his regime in France, napoleon turned his attention to his position in Europe. His aim was to gain a new position of prestige for France, which was lost with the defeat of Napoleon I. He decided to conduct a strong foreign policy and to take side with all the countries claiming for their independence. Napoleon III helped Italy to reach his unification and to obtain from Austria that part of Italy they occupied for a long time. The figure of Napoleon III was very important for France, also if his attitude could seem sometimes despotic.

Another important event, which occurred in Europe in the 19th century, was the reunification of Germany. As for France the long struggle started in 1848. After several decades of repression, a strong desire for reform had developed among the educated and wealthy bourgeoisie. In March 1848 the German liberals started to push for their claims. The princes of the several little states belonging to the German Confederation, were obliged to grant constitutions and parliamentary assemblies and appointed liberal ministries all over Germany. At the same time the German nationalists called a National Assembly in Frankfurt to prepare the unification of Germany as a liberal, constitutional state. However, they found several problem, most of all they did not know what should become part of the United Germany. At the end they advocated the exclusion of Austria from the German nation state and the foundation of a smaller empire under Prussian leadership. The deliberations of the National Assembly, however, soon became irrelevant because they were unable to face the growing of reaction all over the German Confederation. The European Monarchs provided troops for bloody repression of the liberals, and Prussian army helped crush democrats in South Germany. In an act of desperation the National Assembly tried to save national unity by offering a German crown to the Prussian king. However, he

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