The Policies of Metternich (1 minute) The Industrial Revolution (1 minute)
Francis I, Emperor of Austria (1804-1835) continued to rule and had a conservative approach to government as did his Chancellor Klemens von Metternich. After Francis died his eldest son Ferdinand I (1835-1848) came to power but was feebleminded and government affairs were handled by a body of counselors with Metternich as Chancellor having the most influence. This was a time when revolutionary ideas were circulating in Europe. Austria did her best to suppress these notions in order to maintain a conservative government. Metternich believed that the best government was absolutism.
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Metternich strove for a balance of power in Europe in order to prevent another powerful empire like Napoleonic France from disrupting the continent. He was instrumental in the formation of the Concert of Europe who founding members were: Austria, Prussia, the Russian Empire and the United Kingdom known as the Quadruple Alliance. France would join later. He asserted a policy of “legitimacy” aimed at maintaining the status quo. All of this was referred to as the “Metternich System”.
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There was opposition to his policies in the German Confederation. In 1817 German students protested this conservative approach at the Wartburg Festival. Nationalism and liberalism were on the rise in Europe and in the 1830’s Metternich began to lose support in Europe.
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The Industrial Revolution (1 minute)
Austria’s first railroad opened in 1832 and was a horse drawn train which operated between Budweis (Ceske Budejovice) and Linz. Later trains were steam powered. There were both private and government railways but the planning of railways was done by the government. In 1831 the Danube Steamship Company started operations. This new transportation network with Vienna as it hub aided in the development of industry which developed faster than industry in the Zollverein (German Customs Union). Austria produced pig iron, coal, cotton, textiles, woolens and foodstuffs.
The first revolt came in Sicily then on February 24, 1848 the king of France Louis-Philippe of Orleans abdicated as a result of three days of street protest in France – this set the example for the rest of Europe – Revolutions would sweep the Habsburg Empire and the most of Europe.