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Prussian Revolution of 1848
Transcript of Prussian Revolution of 1848
March 18, 1848- Riot in Berlin
In 1848, crowds began to gather in Berlin, demanding to address the king. They were demanding a constitutional government and multiple social reforms. It was not until violence broke out among commoners and his army, resulting in a 16-hour street battle, that he agreed to adhere to some reform policies. He ordered the withdrawal of his troops and set forth a shockingly progressive program, which included:
armed civic guard intended to maintain the peace
assuming temporary leadership of Germany
called for the "March Ministry" (appointing two Rhenish Liberals as Ministers)
created elected constituent assembly
assumed temporary leadership of Germany and announcing that "henceforth Prussia is merged with Germany"
These changes caused many to think that the king had finally adopted permanently liberal policies, but were unaware that it was little more than a tactical retreat.
Street fighting at Alexanderplatz in Berlin in 1848 during the German Revolution.
The king's advisers soon began to challenge every single liberal initiative proposed by the people of Prussia, while the elected constituent assembly pushed liberal ideas that the king disapproved of. There was a constant political tug-of-war between the two sides. After disagreements with his March Ministers, the king declared martial law and chased them out. He then attempted to put an end to the constituent assembly by making it superfluous.
To strengthen his power, the king then published a Prussian constitution based on a draft that the assembly's constitutional committee had just produced. He however decided to add many emergency powers that added to his rule. He dissolved his "revision chambers" in 1849 and gave more votes to the wealthy to influence the outcome. He had effectively dissolved the Prussian Assembly. Though it was shoddy and messy, the creation of a constitutional state in Prussia is one of the biggest accomplishments of the revolution.
Prussian Impact on German Revolution
Prussia becomes a constitutional state
Negative impact on German revolution
The Prussian revolutions of 1848 inspired the German people that year , and in May the Frankfurt Assembly met to discuss a Liberal, unified, constitutionally governed Germany. They argued over if the Prussian king or he Austrian king should rule over Germany.
In 1849, the Frankfurt Assembly offered Germany to Frederick William IV. He didn't wish to rule another constitutional state or go to war with Austria, however, so he turned them down, despite his previous temporary rule over Germany and his promise to unify Germany with Prussia. Thus Germany fell back into fragmented states and old rulers returned to power in the region.
The wave of revolutions all over Europe in 1848 sparked the Prussian people to demand social reform and liberal policies in their country, as well as a constitutional state.
King Frederick William IV
Elected Constituent Assembly
King of Prussia who reigned from 1840 until 1861, was offered the title of German Emperor by the Frankfurt Parliament but rejected the offer.
The Prussian National Assembly came into existence after the revolutions of 1848 and was given the task of writing up a constitution for Prussia.
The first parliament for all of Germany elected on May 1, 1848.
Two new ministers appointed by the king to maintain order and called for the election of a constituent assembly for Prussia.
May 22 to December 5, 1848
An assembly created by King Frederick William IV and his new ministers in attempts to approve the government's draft constitution. This proved faulty and the assembly began working on their own drafting a new constitution, initiating legislation, conducting investigations, and interrogating ministers. After six months the assembly was dismissed.
May 22, 1848- Prussian Assembly Convenes
December 5, 1848- Prussian Assembly Dissolved
May 1849- King of Prussia offered title of German Emperor
March 29, 1848- March Ministry is Created
March 18-21, 1848- Promise Made to Merge Prussia into a National State
May 18-31, 1848- Frankfurt Assembly Sessions Held
December 5, 1848- Prussian King Imposes Constitution
May 1849- Rebellions Triggered by Rejection of the Crown are Crushed Violently
1. Do you think that the decision of the Prussian King to not accept the title of Emperor was a good decision or a bad one?
2. Do you think it was a smart political move to create and then dismiss the Prussian Assembly?