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Revolution and migration, Europe 1848–49

Migration A–Z


  1. Sabine Freitag

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm455

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Freitag, S. 2013. Revolution and migration, Europe 1848–49. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


If we look at the map of Europe in 1848 there is one striking feature: European revolutions in 1848 did not break out in liberal England, which had the highest level of industrialization, nor in tsarist Russia, the most backward agrarian state in the East. While in Britain reform politics managed to adjust gradually to the process of modernization, in Russia the political system was far too backward and repressive – serfdom would not be abolished until 1861 − to allow a climate of political protest. In 1848/49 England, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian countries stayed calm in the midst of turmoil for other reasons than autocratic Russia, unstable Spain and Portugal, the countries of southeast Europe occupied by the Ottoman empire (Balkan), and autonomous Greece. But revolutions broke out in those countries that found themselves “in between” – that is, countries that were already on the road to constitutional and economic modernity but which showed some kind of arrested development: France, Germany, and the Austrian empire. Although in some of these countries new constitutions had been granted after the Vienna Congress in 1815 (i.e. the smaller states of the German confederation: Württemberg, Bavaria, Baden, Hanover, Hesse, Saxony), many of them still lacked a real political, economic, and social transformation, and suffered from uninspired governments and reactionary political restrictions. Nevertheless all political and social unrest in Europe in 1848/49 had its own causes and aims, especially when it came to tax protests or hunger revolts on a regional or local level.


  • revolution;
  • protests;
  • poverty;
  • immigration;
  • foreign interventionism;
  • empire