Lecture 11 - Why no Revolution in 1848 in Britain

author: John Merriman, Department of History, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: April 16, 2010,   recorded: October 2008,   views: 3644
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)
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Revolutions occur when a critical mass of people come together to make specific demands upon their government. They invariably involve an increase in popular involvement in the political process. One of the central questions concerning 1848, a year in which almost every major European nation faced a revolutionary upsurge, is why England did not have its own revolution despite the existence of social tensions. Two principal reasons account for this fact: first, the success of reformist political measures, and the existence of a non-violent Chartist movement; second, the elaboration of a British self-identity founded upon a notion of respectability. This latter process took place in opposition to Britain's cultural Other, Ireland, and its aftereffects can be seen in Anglo-Irish relations well into the twentieth century.

Reading assignment:

Merriman, John. A History of Modern Europe: From the Renaissance to the Present, pp. 670-701

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