Alexander von Bach, restorer of Austrian power after 1848

Alexander von Bach, restorer of Austrian power after 1848

Baron Alexander von Bach was quite an important figure in the course of the Revolutions of 1848 in Germany. He was the main promoter of the so-called “Bach system”, For which the German administrations had to render accounts to the Austrian Empire. Although at first he was a defender of liberal ideas, he ended up embrace the emperor's cause and enact reactionary laws favorable to absolutism.

He was born on January 4, 1813 in Loosdorf (Austria) into a fairly well-off family, as his father owned a judicial office. He was always linked to the study of law and at the age of 24 he got a doctorate in Law. After completing his studies, he joined the imperial military service for nine years.

He left the army when he was summoned to be member of the Austrian government. First in 1848, he was elected to the post of Minister of Justice, but only a year later, he obtained the portfolio of the Interior. At first, Von Bach was clearly liberal-minded and was known as the "barricade minister. But although he was against Metternich's absolutist system, the truth is that he was also a firm detractor of the revolutionaries of 1848.

Popular opposition made him adhere to the conservative ranks and that it be added to its postulates. It was then that in March 1849 he devised the so-called "Bach system”, By which the Germanic states adopted a centralized bureaucratic system that was accountable to the Austrian Empire. The idea was to restore the absolute power of Emperor Franz Joseph I, so Von Bach undertook reactionary reforms such as reducing freedom of the press and abandoning public trials. In addition, the Austrian politician promoted the concordat that gave control of education and family life to the Catholic Church.

During the time he was in charge of the Ministry of the Interior, the prisons were filled with political prisoners of all stripes: from liberals to nationalists, through republicans and socialists. In contrast, economic freedom increased exponentially after 1850. Internal customs were abolished and peasants were exempted from their feudal obligations.

Their absolutist and reactionary political successes they were gratefully recognized by the emperor, who granted him the title of baron (Freiherr) in 1854. But it was not Von Bach's first title, since he also served as guardian of the Academy of Sciences since 1849.

However, history always affirms that everything that goes up must come down. Von Bach was no exception. The war against Italy and France was a failure for the Austrian Empire. The politician had to resign in 1859 but was given the position of ambassador to the Holy See that he held between 1859 and 1867.

From that year on, he was forced to go into exile and to remain completely isolated from public life. Finally, on November 12, 1893, he died in Schöngrabern (Austria).

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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