free ebooks

A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Wuertemberg and Hesse Darmstadt in 1819



Of course, the carrying of these provisions into effect was left entirely to the rulers of the States: the people were not recognized as possessing any political power. Even the "representative government" which was assured did not include the right of suffrage; the King, or Duke, might appoint a legislative body which represented only a class or party, and not the whole population. Moreover, the Diet was prohibited from adopting any new measure, or making any change in the form of the Confederation, except by a _unanimous_ vote. The whole scheme was a remarkable specimen of promise to the ears of the German People, and of disappointment to their hearts and minds.

The Congress of Vienna was followed by an event of quite an original character. Alexander I. of Russia persuaded Francis II. and Frederick William III. to unite with him in a "Holy Alliance," which all the other monarchs of Europe were invited to join. It was simply a declaration, not a political act. The document set forth that its signers pledged themselves to treat each other with brotherly love, to consider all nations as members of one Christian family, to rule their lands with justice and kindness, and to be tender fathers to their subjects. No forms were prescribed, and each monarch was left free to choose his own manner of Christian rule. A great noise was made about the Holy Alliance at the time, because it seemed

to guarantee peace to Europe, and peace was most welcome after such terrible wars. All other reigning Kings and Princes, except George IV. of England, Louis XVIII. of France, and the Pope, added their signatures, but not one of them manifested any more brotherly or fatherly love after the act than before.

The new German Confederation having given the separate States a fresh lease of life, after all their convulsions, the rulers set about establishing themselves firmly on their repaired thrones. Only the most intelligent among them felt that the days of despotism, however "enlightened," were over; others avoided the liberal provisions of the Act of Union, abolished many political reforms which had been introduced by Napoleon, and oppressed the common people even more than his satellites had done. The Elector of Hesse-Cassel made his soldiers wear powdered queues, as in the last century; the King of Wuertemberg court-martialled and cashiered the general who had gone over with his troops to the German side at the battle of Leipzig; and in Mecklenburg the liberated people were declared serfs. The introduction of a legislative assembly was delayed, in some States even wholly disregarded. Baden and Bavaria adopted a Constitution in 1818, Wuertemberg and Hesse-Darmstadt in 1819, but in Prussia an imperfect form of representative government for the provinces was not arranged until 1823. Austria, meanwhile, had restored some ancient privileges of the same kind, of little practical value, because not adapted to the conditions of the age; the people were obliged to be content with them, for they received no more.

[Sidenote: 1817.]

No class of Germans were so bitterly disappointed in the results of their victory and deliverance as the young men, especially the thousands who had fought in the ranks in 1813 and 1815. At all the Universities the students formed societies which were inspired by two ideas--Union and Freedom: fiery speeches were made, songs were sung, and free expression was given to their distrust of the governments under which they lived. On the 18th of October, 1817, they held a grand Convention at the Wartburg--the castle near Eisenach, where Luther lay concealed,--and this event occasioned great alarm among the reactionary class. The students were very hostile to the influence of Russia, and many persons who were suspected of being her secret agents became specially obnoxious to them. One of the latter was the dramatic author, Kotzebue, who was assassinated in March, 1819, by a young student named Sand. There is not the least evidence that this deed was the result of a widespread conspiracy; but almost every reigning prince thereupon imagined that his life was in danger.

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us