What Political and Social Changes in Western and Central Europe Account for the Virtual Disappearance of Revolutionary Outbreaks in the Half-Century Following 1848?

What political and social changes in Western and Central Europe account for the virtual disappearance of revolutionary outbreaks in the half-century following 1848?

In the years following the great revolutions of 1848, Europe experienced radically fewer revolutions than it had during the first half of the century. Although powerful central governments maintained their opposition to revolution, the reason for the drought of revolutions was something else entirely. Rather than submitting at last to conservative bullying, the voices for violent change quieted themselves in the face of growing liberal reform, heightened nationalist fervor, and an increasing standard of living.

Long a cherished goal of revolutionaries across Europe, liberal reform proved invaluable in easing social tensions. In England, after the initial Reform Act of 1832-which extended slightly the franchise-Parliament continued to progress with its liberal reforms in 1867 and again in 1888, by which time most male citizens could vote. England never experience revolt largely because its government proved capable of liberal reform. In France, the appeal of liberal reform led France's working and middle class to embrace Napoleon III with all his liberal promises. In Austria the Ausgleich established an independent Hungarian parliament-a liberal reform which greatly pleased the volatile Magyar majority. Certainly Europe did not experience a sudden conversion to liberal ideals, but a trend towards liberal reform worked to prevent revolution in some countries.

A product of the increasingly romantic age, nationalism discarded rational liberalism in favor of the basic instincts and emotions of men. Appealing to a people's mythical past and magnificent present, the new sense of nationalism in the 19th century greatly contributed to a sense of loyalty to one's nation. In Italy, a region long split by regional rivalries and localized revolts, nationalism served to unite a people under the leadership of...