UCSB > History Dept. > Prof. Marcuse > Courses > Hist 133a > Lecture 12: Post-1848 Reaction

UCSB Hist 133A, Fall 2006 (133a homepage)
19th Century Germany, Oct. 27, 2006

Prof. Marcuse (homepage)

Lecture 12:
The Post-1848 Reaction
(previous lecture, next lecture)


  • Schulze typos: p. 75 "8 April 1848"=November; p. 131 "4 March 1848"=1849
  • Heinrich Mann, Man of Straw available in the UCen bookstore (course books section) for $11.95

Guiding Question

  • How strong was the "revolutionary" movement across the German states?

Karl Marx (1818-1883)

  • Studied in Bonn (1835), Berlin, Jena (1841 Ph.D.); Rhine News; 1843 to Paris; 1845 Brussels
  • 1848 Cologne: "New Rhine News;" 1849 London

The Frankfurt Delegation to Berlin and the King's response

The delegation of the National Assembly in Frankfurt, which was sent after the election of the Head of the Reich, and which arrived yesterday afternoon, was received by His Majesty the King at noon today in the Knights' Hall of the Royal Castle in the presence of the princes of the Royal House and Ministry of State. After the Minister of State, Count of Brandenburg, introduced the delegation, the president of the German National Assembly gave the following speech:
"The constitutional convention that was convened last spring in unanimous agreement of the princes and national peoples of Germany in order to create a German constitution, has, on Wednesday, March 28 of this year, after the announcement and twofold reading of the approved German Imperial Constitution, decided to confer the Power of Kaiser established therein to His Majesty the King of Prussia. ….
The assembly expressed its firm trust that the princes and national peoples will generously and patriotically, in agreement with the National Assembly, support the realization of these decisions."

King's response:
Dear Gentlemen! The message that you have come to bring moves me deeply. It turned My gaze to the king of kings and the holy untouchable duties that I must carry out as the king of My people and as the mightiest prince in Germany. Such a perspective makes one's eyes clear and one's heart certain. In this decision I see the voice of the representatives of the German people. This call demands immeasurable sacrifices and lays upon me the heaviest duties. The German National Assembly counts on me in everything upon which Germany's honor and Germany's power is based. I honor your trust and am ready to prove by deeds that your hopes for My loyalty and My willingness to submit was not in vain.
I would not deserve your trust, I would not achieve Germany's unity, if I wanted to curtail rights and make a decision without the free consent of the crowned princes and the free cities, when that decision is of crucial importance for them.
It is now up to the governments of the individual states to find out whether the constitution as a whole is proper, whether the rights to be conveyed to me will put me in position to steer the fateful course of Germany and realize the hopes of the peoples. Of this however Germany can be certain, and this you should announce in all German lands: If the Prussian sword should be needed, I will come even if not called.


  • March 28, 1849: 267:263 for constitution; 290:248 for King of Prussia
  • Uprisings in Dresden (Richard Wagner), Baden, Rastatt (massacre of )
  • Revisions of the Prussian constitution
  • 1848, Dec. 5: King decrees a relatively liberal constitution
  • 1849, May 30: conservative revision of constitution, with a House of Lords (Herrenhaus; they don't pay taxes, inherit their seat) , and 2nd chamber elected by:
    "3-class-franchise," in which each of the three taxpaying classes elect 1/3 of the chamber.
  • The proportions remain basically the same as long as the constitution is in effect (until 1918):
    Prussian 3-class franchise
    1. entrepreneurs and factory owners
    2. Mittelstand ("3rd Estate")
    3. bulk of population (peasants, workers)

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prepared for web by H. Marcuse on Oct. 31, 2006, updated: 12/24/06
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