The Restoration: order, society and economy

The Restoration: order, society and economy

The end of Napoleon and the Great Empire marked the beginning of a new historical period in the European framework. Many thinkers and politicians of the time thought that the fall of the French emperor, especially in form, dictated the end of the revolutionary era. In fact, the European powers that attended the Congress of Vienna were certain that they had succeeded in extinguishing liberal ideas.

Globally, the Restoration begins in 1815 with the Congress of Vienna and lasts until 1830, the year in which a series of explosions of revolutionary ideas take place throughout Europe. The central idea of ​​this period is to restore the society and norms that existed before 1789. Restore, not renew. The powers were thinking of returning to absolute power but they did not count on the fact that Napoleon's armies had not only occupied territories, but had sown them with feelings of freedom and nationalistic sentiments. This period tried to eradicate them, but only managed to sleep for fifteen years.

The powers created different tools to consolidate their power and ideals. On the one hand, they started what would be called "Congress Europe”. The premise of that mentality was to meet to avoid new wars between the most prominent countries. Thus, they would have different places congresses in Vienna, Aachen, Troppau, Laibach and Verona. All of them aimed at keeping alive the absolutist spirit of the 18th century.

Each of the member nations of the so-called “Pentarchy” (Austria, Russia, Prussia, Great Britain and France) had interests to defend, apart from those exposed in the Congress of Vienna. Russia intended to increase its territory and did so under the leadership of Alexander I and their different ideas (Poland and Holy Alliance). Austria showed great interest in eliminating nationalisms, since its territory was made up of a huge mosaic of different nations. Prussia he wanted to stand out from the rest of the Germanic kingdoms. Britain he was simply looking for a European balance, he did not want to intervene because “I did not go with them”. Y France it wanted to be accepted again by the rest of the powers.

These interests, added to those of the Congress of Vienna, they made the Restoration a period of "tense peace”. That is, there was peace in Europe, but many tensions between the countries. You can see that from the Troppau Congress, Great Britain decides to get out of the Austro-Russian interventionist policy. At the same time, we see how each of the powers seeks their personal benefit compared to the common benefit that the treaty signed in 1815 supposed.

In the economic aspect, a traditional economy based on agriculture prevailed. Even in slightly industrialized countries like Great Britain, this model had to be adopted for fear of another continental blockade. The purchasing power of people was reduced due to several economic crises in a row. In 1816 and 1817, poor harvests were to blame for the rise in prices. Several years later, between 1826 and 1829, something similar happened again, which ended up provoking uprisings in the working population. However, industry increased in this period and created sufficient capital to drive the industrial capitalism of the following historical period.

During the Restoration, the difference between the different classes was also maintained. The nobles remained at the head of society, followed by a bourgeois middle class that, little by little, were increasing in number and power. This middle class came from the Napoleonic administration and was the cause of the genesis of various artistic movements, such as Romanticism, and of various artists, such as Victor Hugo or Chateaubriand. It was an important chapter in European culture.

Faced with this cultural flourishing, were the lower classes: the peasants and the workers. Misery was the common note in all European countries. The wealthy classes cleared their conscience through charity but that was not enough. In this sense, the Catholic Church was the only one that took care of the assistance of the most needy, creating several institutions to serve them.

As you can appreciate, it was a tense period internationally (between the powers) Y strap nationwide (between classes). The most powerful countries made a mistake: ignoring the “Philosophy of Enlightenment”And what the peoples demanded. They focused on restoring and not renewing, thus burning a model that the population would see as expired after 1830. The seed implanted by the “Son of the Revolution”Would bear fruit and would end the absolutist era in Europe once and for all.

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was a child he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.

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