Poets utter great and wise things which they do not themselves understand.
Where Shakespeare gave a vain, boastful and corrupt character named Sir John Falstaff the line which includes these words:
"There’s neither honesty, manhood, nor good fellowship in thee."
it was not set in any philosophical context but was part of an address challenging a teenage Prince Hal, to induce his participation, (through such implied shaming), after one of their
young companions in misadventure had suggested way-laying some Canterbury-bound pilgrims and London-bound rich merchants in order to steal their
'rich offerings' and 'fat purses'.
We are given cause for further thought about partially understood wisdom by the realization that Indian holy men have attempted to give precedence to
personal spirituality through "enduring storms of desire and of wrath."
Because the peace of God is with them whose mind and soul are in harmony, who are free from
desire and wrath, who know their own soul.
Bhagavad Gita 5:26
It may well be the case that such considerations can be placed in more practically worthwhile philosophical context by the content of some
Socratic dialogue from Plato's The Republic:
Plato, who lived some four centuries B.C., was a pupil and friend of the Greek philosopher Socrates. Amongst the many works attributed to Plato's authorship is his "The Republic" wherein is set out a series of discourses that allegedly took place between Socrates and a number of other persons who variously arrived and departed as the discussions continued.
It is in this record, made by Plato, of Socrates' philosophising that most intriguing themes are developed:
...can we possibly refuse to admit that there exist in each of us the same generic parts and characteristics as are found in the state? For I presume the state has not received them from any other source. It would be ridiculous to imagine that the presence of the spirited element in cities is not to be traced to individuals, wherever this character is imputed to the people, as it is to the natives of Thrace, and Scythia, and generally speaking, of the northern countries; or the love of knowledge, which would be chiefly attributed to our own country; or the love of riches, which people would especially connect with the Phoenicians and the Egyptians.
This then is a fact so far, and one which it is not difficult to apprehend.
No, it is not.
But here begins a difficulty. Are all our actions alike performed by the one predominant faculty, or are there three faculties operating severally in our different actions? Do we learn with one internal faculty, and become angry with another, and with a third feel desire for all the pleasures connected with eating and drinking, and the propagation of the species; or upon every impulse to action, do we perform these several actions with the whole soul.
Socrates' teaching from Plato's Republic Book 4
In the later part of the ninth century A.D., Alfred the Great, an “Anglo-Saxon” king who ruled in southern England, authorised, and may have personally contributed
to, a translation of Boethius’ work “The Consolations of Philosophy.”
Several such examples of committment to scholarship have led to Alfred's Kingdom of Wessex being perceived as having shared to some extent in a so-called
which emanated from the court of a notably powerful Frankish king named Charles the Great - who is also known to history as the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne.
Whilst little is known about several of the regional kings who reigned in diverse parts of England in these times King Alfred had a biographer in the form
of a churchman named Asser.
King Alfred's views on kingship were probably influenced by his ruling over Christianized Anglo-Saxon peoples whose free existence was seriously threatened
by ‘heathen’ Viking peoples who had fairly recently established a formidable presence in more northerly territories of England and had proved only too capable
of launching sizeable raiding parties up the river Thames and establishing settlement there.
All four of his older brothers had lost their lives in times of struggle against the Vikings and in his later thirties Alfred himself had felt obliged to seek
refuge in some remote marshlands.
“… you know that desire for and possession of earthly power never pleased me overmuch, and that I did not unduly desire this earthly rule, but that nevertheless I
wished for tools and resources for the task that I was commanded to accomplish, which was that I should virtuously and worthily guide and direct the authority
which was entrusted to me. You know of course that no-one can make known any skill, nor direct and guide any enterprise, without tools and resources; a man
cannot work on any enterprise without resources. In the case of the king, the resources and tools with which to rule are that he have his land fully manned: he
must have praying men, fighting men and working men. You know also that without these tools no king may make his ability known.” …
Alfred the Great: Asser’s Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources
Some decades after King Alfred’s suggestions about kingship two churchmen based in continental Europe both separately proposed that men could be identified by whether they primarily pray, fight or work:
… they portrayed society as an accumulation of communities. Soon after the year 1000 Bishop Adalbaro of Laon and Bishop Gerard of Cambrai described the existence of humankind as an interaction of three estates, namely of praying men, peasants, and warriors. Gerard pointed out that this threefold partition originated from the creation of humans by God himself. The unknown chronicler of the Bishops of Cambrai paraphrased Gerard’s doctrine in the following words:
He taught that humankind was divided from the very beginning in a threefold way, in praying men, in peasants, and in warriors. He clearly outlined that these three parts supported one another …
… Adalbero presented the unique house of God as a mutual entanglement of different parts:
The threefold house of God at once appeared as a unity. One part prays, the second fights, the third labours. But these parts are joined together without any disjunction. The efforts of two parts stand for the office of one. They give comfort to each other by mutual change, because this threefold combination is in fact unitary. As long as this law shines the world rests in peace.
Potency of the Common: Intercultural Perspectives about Community and Individuality, Gert Melville and Carlos Ruta, p. 173
Should we regard it as being a coincidence that this sort of societal tripartism is potentially in accordance with “honesty, manhood and good fellowship” as
suggested of by Shakespeare and “Spirituality, Desire and Wrath” as suggested of by several of the major World Religions?
Is it perhaps more reasonable, all things considered, to strongly suspect that the underlying tripartism suggested by various philosophical and literary figures, and by FIVE major World Religions, is to a greater or lesser extent, “The Cause” of “An Effect.”
This effect being no less, no more, and no other, than contributing very considerably to the ways in which feudal societies wherein -
“some men worked, some men fought and some men prayed”
- presented themselves to the world of their day!
Such feudal societies being peopled by a church clergy that was often supported by considerable wealth largely accumulated through donations, bequests and the revenues earned by selling produce from the vast estates of the church, a numerous feudal nobility complete with their armed “retainers,” and a much wider society composed of lay persons who worked in a variety of roles hoping to earn their livings and, through their actions and their skills, providing for the material wants and needs of society as a whole.
The administrative life of the French kingdom came to feature royally sponsored assemblies, both at provincial level and kingdom-wide, where representatives associated with a “First Estate” of Churchmen, a “Second Estate” of Nobles, and a “Third Estate” of everyone else, were typically present.
Such kingdom-wide assemblies came to be referred to as Estates General.
Similarly the administrative life of the English state featured a Parliament where an “Upper House” was comprised of Lords Spiritual and Lords
Temporal and there was a “Lower House” comprised of influential “Commoners”.
George Washington, serving as an officer in the Virginia militia, was involved in an incident on the frontiers of the "British" and "French" presences,
(as colonial powers), in the interior of the North American continent in 1754.
A period of active hostility, known in North America as the French and Indian War, was an early engagement in conflicts that went on to be actually contested widely
by Britain and France across the globe as a Seven Years War between 1756 and 1763.
Sometimes spoken of by historians as a “world war”, it featured many deaths and injuries and was very, very, draining of financial resources.
France had expensively participated in the Seven Years War, had engaged in an extensive modernisation of her naval forces and provided substantial and notably costly aid to the ‘American Patriots’ in events associated with an American War of Independence, (before and after 1776 A.D.), - all of which led to a most burdensome accumulation of debt on the part of the French royal state.
It so happened that crops and herds in France were adversely affected by extreme weather in the seventeen-eighties, that was itself very possibly a result of significant volcanic activity in Iceland. Such lessening of agricultural production raised food prices and depressed the ability of the French population to feed and clothe themselves let alone pay their taxes.
A financial crisis ensued where the king eventually accepted the necessity of convening an Estates General.
No such an Estates General had been convened for more than one hundred years previously and this one was only being called to assemble because of the depth of the crisis in the finances of the kingdom.
It was accepted by the Royal authority that the upcoming Estates General would follow historical precedent in featuring voting "by Order" where each of the three historically recognised "Estates", would consider issues separately and advise the king’s ministers of the majority positions reached within that Estate.
The king seems to have expected that the Estates General would obligingly endorse increases in taxation to meet the financial crisis.
Many Third Estate representatives, (at that time the Third Estate actually comprised some ninety-eight per cent of the population), hoped for, or even expected, some degree of political reform which would allow the broader population of France more of a voice in affairs.
In the event the higher Clergy and the Nobility proved to be reluctant to consent to such reforms preferring that the First, Second and Third Estates should each continue to be able to advise the royal administration of the results of their own Estates' independent processes of deliberation.
In the lead-up to the selection of representatives to the Estates General the king had authorised the selection of about as many individual representatives on behalf
of the Third Estate as would be selected to represent the First and Second Estates combined. From the initial convening of the Estates General in early May, 1789,
"Third Estate" representatives had declined to comply with official procedures of accreditation which were intended to be followed by the various Estates meeting
separately and voting "by Order".
By mid-June most of the Third Estate representatives had accepted the idea that the traditional proceedings of an Estates General should be replaced by an inclusive Assembly where all representatives, regardless of “Estate”, would participate in deliberating together, and voting jointly on issues "by head," in efforts to settle upon a majority position.
[It came about that the formation of such a “National” Assembly was reluctantly assented to by King Louis XVI after, (given the impasse over such things as accreditation), most of the representatives of the "lower" clergy, (who typically had "Third Estate" family backgrounds), and a number of "reform-inclined" nobles, (including the Marquis de Lafayette who had been prominent in the recent French involvement in North America), joined in with the Third Estate in supporting the formation of such an assembly].
The financial crisis continued, those who sought reforms considered that the king might suspend the Estates General / National Assembly and seek to impose his own measures - with the backing of the army.
The situation moved towards more revolutionary change after Parisians stormed a fortress-prison known as the Bastille, and tore down a customs wall in Paris, (where taxes and duties were routinely imposed on key commodities such as salt entering the city), in July, 1789.
France was declared to be a Republic "One and indivisible". King Louis XVI was required to undertake to uphold a Constitution that was to be devised in relation to the future governance of France.
Whilst initially seeming to be on a course towards "Constitutional Monarchy" events subsequently took a more "revolutionary" turn and a French Revolutionary Era ensued in France and subsequently spread widely across Europe.
The sovereignty of the people was proclaimed in France and legislation was passed authorizing that elections of representatives to future “National” assemblies were to be held on the basis of a clear majority of adult males qualifying as having voting rights.
Before many years had passed, (and after experiencing a “Reign of Terror” under Robespierre and a “Committee of Public Safety”), France became less revolutionary as "liberal-constitutional" interests gained power.
France, and much of Europe, subsequently spent some fifteen years under the leadership of a successful general, who also showed considerable political and administrative talents, named Napoleon Bonaparte.
A so-called Constitutional Church had been authorised by the French authorities as the Catholic Church had, understandably, proved to be disapproving of the harassment of its priests and seizure of its property.
Whilst campaigning in the north of the Italian peninsula in the late spring of 1800 Napoleon had a meeting with a cardinal to whom he suggested that reconciliation
between France and the Catholic Church should be possible.
Such thinking led Napoleon to consider withdrawing support for the Constitutional Church which had been sponsored, after 1789, by previous French authorities
and to consider offering support to a recovery of a Catholic Church that was given recognition by the Pope:
Holcroft relates the following anecdote of Bonaparte:
"Volney had believed in his virtue, had been his friend, and admitted to his familiarity, and, being a sincere friend of freedom himself, continued its defender. He was one day
endeavouring to convince the chief consul of the mischief he would do to mankind, by again conferring power on the priesthood, and burthening the people who were of a
different creed with a general and unjust tax. Bonaparte replied – "Why do you mention the people? I do but act in this business according to their desire: a
large majority of the people wish for the re-establishment of the church"’.
The Life and Campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte: From His Birth Down to His Departure for St. Helena, J. W. Robertson, p. 308.
During these times Napoleon Bonaparte also said this to his Council of State :
"My policy is to govern men as the majority wish. That, I believe, is the way to recognize sovereignty of the people."
Napoleon, Vincent Cronin, Harper Collins, p. 212
In 1802 Napoleon pushed for the establishment of a "Legion of Honour" whereby both soldiers and civilians could be honoured by the state for their efforts and
their contributions to the good of the state. The old system of nobility that had been established under the kings of France had been abolished by the
Revolution as it sought thereby to promote Liberty, Egality and Fraternity. The strong opposition that Napoleon met in relation to his proposed Legion of Honour seems to have been attributable to strong suspicions that it would prove to be a step that could actually become a first step leading along the road towards the recognition of another system of titled nobility in France.
According to John Gibson Lockhart :
"It is said that the first idea of the Legion of Honour arose in the breast of Napoleon on witnessing one day, from a window at the Tuileries, the admiration with which the crowd before the palace regarded the stars and crosses worn by the Marquis Lucchesini, ambassador of Prussia, as he descended from his carriage. The republican members of the senate could not be persuaded that the institution of an order, with insignia, was anything but the first step to the creation of a new body of nobility; and they resisted the proposed measure with considerable pertinacity. On this head, as on that of the concordat with the Pope, the Consul condescended to enter personally into discussion with the chief persons who differed from his opinion, or suspected his intentions; and if any, who heard his language on this occasion, doubted that both nobility and monarchy were designed to follow hard behind the Legion of Honour, they must have been singularly slow of understanding. Berthier had called ribbons and crosses "the playthings of monarchy," and cited the Romans of old as "having no system of honorary rewards." "They are always talking to us of the Romans," said Buonaparte. "The Romans had patricians, knights, citizens, and slaves:- for each class different dresses and different manners - honorary recompenses for every species of merit - mural crowns - civic crowns - ovations - triumphs - titles. When the noble band of patricians lost its influence, Rome fell to pieces - the people were vile rabble. It was then that you saw the fury of Marius, the proscriptions of Sulla, and afterwards of the emperors. In like manner Brutus is talked of as the enemy of tyrants: he was an aristocrat, who stabbed Cæsar, because Cæsar wished to lower the authority of the noble senate. You talk of child's rattles - be it so: it is with such rattles that men are led. I would not say that to the multitude; but in a council of statesmen one may speak the truth. I do not believe that the French people love liberty and equality. Their character has not been changed in ten years: they are still what their ancestors, the Gauls, were - vain and light. They are susceptible but of one sentiment - honour. It is right to afford nourishment to this sentiment: and to allow of distinctions. Observe how the people bow before the decorations of foreigners. Voltaire calls the common soldiers Alexanders at five sous a day. He was right: it is just so. Do you imagine that you can make men fight by reasoning? Never. You must bribe them with glory, distinctions, rewards. To come to the point: during ten years there has been a talk of institutions. Where are they? All has been overturned: our business is to build up. There is a government with certain powers: as to all the rest of the nation what is it but grains of sand? Before the Republic can be definitely established, we must, as a foundation, cast some blocks of granite on the soil of France. In fine, it is agreed that we have need of some kind of institutions. If this Legion of Honour is not approved, let some other be suggested. I do not pretend that it alone will save the state; but it will do its part."
John Gibson Lockhart, The History of Napoleon Buonaparte, pp. 173 - 175
Napoleon was sent into exile on the Island of St. Helena in 1815, after an extensive coalition of European opponents brought about his downfall.
These European powers supported the restoration of the pre-Revolution Bourbon dynasty to kingship in France.
A brother of King Louis XVI, (whose life had been brought to an end through the utilisation of a supposedly relatively humane
appartus of execution known as the guillotine), succeeded as Louis XVIII.
Although never formally crowned kingship
was attributed, as Louis XVII, to a son of Louis XVI who had died, as a twelve-year-old, in revolutionary captivity.
Some twenty years after a revolutionary "Reign of Terror" was at its height, at which time numerous "Aristos", and other
condemned persons, were brought to La Place de la Revolution in horse-drawn carts to meet their alloted appointment with the guillotine, and
many parts of France, (and not least Paris), were subject to a severely imposed De-Christianisation, it happened that with the
Restoration of Monarchy in France there was to be a prominent place again the Church and for ennobled
persons: be they from 'old aristocratic families,' or raised more recently to their titles during Napoleon's Empire.
Something of a step-change was occurring in much of Western Europe during these times.
Prior to the French Revolutionary turmoils, (after 1789), and the subsequent Napoleonic Wars, (which lasted until 1815), traditional dynastic, clerical and noble elites
monopolised socio-politico-economic power and initiative and had found it possible to contain such popular socio-politico-economic movements as might arise.
Such movements had, in fact, been very occasional and even then had tended to be prompted by famine and or other forms of widespread want and privation.
A Congress of conservatively-inclined European powers held at Troppau late in 1820, where proceedings were principally influenced by the Austrian Empire, the Russian
Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia, authorised direct Austrian interventions
in the affairs of the Italian peninsula to suppress Liberal-Constitutional-National "movements" which had recently been active.
It made a request for a sizeable Russian army to be based in Poland in case a future Congress might call on its assistance in relation to the affairs of more southerly parts of Europe.
The so-called "Troppau Protocol", was a main pronouncement of the Troppau Congress :
"States, which have undergone a change of government due to revolution, the result of which threaten other states, ipso facto cease to be members of the European Alliance, and remain excluded from it until their situation gives guarantees for legal order and stability. If, owing to such alterations, immediate danger threatens other states the powers bind themselves, by peaceful means, or if need be, by arms, to bring back the guilty state into the bosom of the Great Alliance."
Mack Walker, Metternich’s Europe, p. 127
As the nineteenth century proceeded, notable concessions to liberalism, constitutionalism and nationalism were made in relation to Greek
and Belgian statehood, and in relation to extensions of democracy in France and Britain.
The succession of King Louis XVIII as King of France, after the fall of Napoleon from power, was not universally popular in France and he was open to having been
brought to Paris "in the baggage train" of the anti-Napoleonic allied forces.
Those allied powers who supported this Bourbon restoration made it a condition that as king Louis XVIII would accept Constitutional limits and guidelines
on his exercise of royal authority so as not to risk alienation of popular support.
In the event such such arrangements were accepted by the incoming monarch,
referring to a Constitutional Charter - submitted to him by pre-existing French legislators - as being something which "We have decided to grant" and dating the start of his
reign from the time of the demise of his nephew - the presumptive King Louis XVII.
Those powers that supported such establishment of constitutional monarchy in France were unlikely to adopt constitutional frameworks in their own states but
tended to regard constitutional monarchy in France as a least-worst option better allowing post-Napoleonic France to be at peace with herself, and with the rest of Europe.
Lous XVIII was in turn succeeded as King of France by a younger brother who ascended the throne in 1824 as King Charles X.
He insisted on his coronation
ceremonials taking place in line with lavish and historic royal traditions at the Cathedral of Rheims.
Charles X was soon seen as being capable of giving his Royal endorsement to a church
which found it possible to be supportive of traditions of royal-ecclesiastical-aristocratic priviledge, and of giving his favour to the old, pre-revolutionary, nobility.
In the event such tendency proved unacceptable to popular liberal-constitutional opinion such that King Charles X, and his "Legitimist" Bourbon dynastic line, were
deposed amidst turmoil in 1830 with a cousin named Louis Philippe, from a junior "Orléanist" branch of the Bourbon family, agreeing to rule more constitutionally.
Whilst previous monarchs had been Kings of France "by the grace of God", Louis Philippe was styled as being "King of the French by the grace of God and the will of the people" and agreed to a replacement of the white emblems of the Bourbons with the red, white and blue tricolour emblems adopted
by the French Republic after 1789.
Due to the irresistible strength of wider public opinion on such matters Britain began, as the nineteenth century proceeded, to undergo slow processes of transformation towards being more democratically representative.
Historic parliamentary constituencies, known as "rotten boroughs," (because depopulated-over-time), or "pocket boroughs", (because they were typically
under the decisive influence of local magnates),
were abolished in the eighteen-thirties whilst new parliamentary constituencies were established in relation to a number of towns and cities which had appeared
as a result of Britain's Industrial Revolution.
Voting rights were extended slightly more widely to property owners and to those who contributed relatively strongly to the local or national economy.
These reforms had been sponsored by a liberal "Whig" administration and had been blocked by the firm opposition of many Lords Spiritual and Lords Temporal in the House of Lords.
In the event a critical logjam was dismantled as many such members of the House of Lords, including the Duke of Wellington who had been a commanding officer at the
Battle of Waterloo in 1815, reluctantly felt practically obliged to opt to abstain from continuing to vote to block these proposed reforms as it became evident that the "mood of the country" was
unmistakeably in favour of their becoming approved by Parliament.
It was also known that the then king had, also reluctantly at this time of real crisis, agreed to raise a sufficient number reform-inclined persons to qualify
for participation in the proceedings of the House of Lords if it was necessary in order to ensure the approval of such electoral reform.
It was becoming clear that in relatively liberal states such as France and Britain traditional elites were finding it advisable, or necessary, to make concessions to popular opinion.
"Rulers, Statesmen, Nations, are wont to be emphatically commended to the teaching which experience offers in history. But what experience and history teach is this - that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it. Each period is involved in such peculiar circumstances, exhibits a condition of things so strictly idiosyncratic, that its conduct must be regulated by considerations connected with itself, and itself alone."
Circa 1750 most European societies featured what might be called a stable “pre-modernity” by 1850, however, there were pressures for socio-political and economic “movement”.
G. W. F. Hegel
Such things as Capitalism, Liberalism, Constitutionalism, Nationalism and Socialism had recently, and in cases newly, become widely evident as forces with the potential to bring about, or continually press for, diverse change.
Dynastic sovereignty was being challenged by increasingly potent calls for the Sovereignty of Peoples.
Napoleon called a new power into existence by attacking nationality in Russia, by delivering it in Italy, by governing in defiance of it in Germany and Spain. The sovereigns of these countries were deposed or degraded; and a system of administration was introduced which was French in its origin, its spirit, and its instruments. The people resisted the change. The movement against it was popular and spontaneous, because the rulers were absent or helpless; and it was national, because it was directed against foreign institutions. In Tyrol, in Spain, and afterwards in Prussia, the people did not receive the impulse from the government, but undertook of their own accord to cast out the armies and the ideas of revolutionised France.
Lord Acton on Nationality
After the fall of “Napoleonic” Europe in 1815 both the Italian Peninsula and the Germanic lands had returned to featuring a number of locally or regionally sovereign dynastic or clerically-ruled states.
Popular pressures towards change built up after 1815 and much of continental Europe featured serious liberal-constitutional, national and social forms of turmoil
from the spring of 1848 into the late summer of 1849.
Whilst some unsettlement first appeared in the south of the Italian Peninsula it was some rather serious Parisian unrest, (which cost Louis Philippe his throne),
and the clandestine departure from Vienna into exile, (amidst intense disputation over political representation),
of Metternich, first minister of the Habsburg "Monarchy" / Austrian Empire, who had been
a principal architect of post-Napoleonic reaction, that more definitely signalled the onset of widespread socio-political upheaval in Europe.
Radical socialist reformers sought justice for the "disinherited" classes, the peasants and the factory workers, while more moderate political reformers
were concerned with protecting and increasing the influence of the middle classes, the bourgeoisie and the professional groups. The radicals in general
favoured a republican form of government while many moderates were prepared to accept constitutional monarchy as a satisfactory substitute...
...Many of the revolutionaries, especially in the German Confederation and Italy, wanted to transform their homeland into a strong and united country, but
their aims contradicted the nationalist aspirations of minority groups.
Geoffrey Brunn, Revolution and Reaction 1848-1852, Chapter I
By late spring 1848, the Habsburg Empire looked like a hopeless case: the monarchy's northern Italian possessions in revolt, invaded by a Piedmontese* army
and largely cleared of Austrian troops; three different "national" governments in Vienna, Budapest and Zagreb each claiming sovereign authority; Polish,
Romanian, Slovenian, Serb, Czech, and Slovak national movements aspiring to a similar sovereign status; a mentally incompetent monarch and his court
in flight from the capital to the provinces; a state treasury completely bare.
Jonathan Sperber, The European Revolutions, 1848-1851, p. 203
*These forces were authorised by the Kingdom of Sardinia which maintained its Royal court at Turin in Piedmont.
During the earlier years of the French Revolution the leadership of that movement, which aspired to bring Liberty, Egality and Fraternity to the French people,
began to impose the French language, (as spoken in Paris and its environs, and, as such, the everyday medium of communication for only about one-in-ten of the
population of France), on the whole country despite the fact that many other tongues and dialects had previously flourished, and had regionally become everyday mediums of expression,
across the French realms over several centuries of dynastic rule.
In pre-modern, dynastic, times such linguistic diversity, (in circumstances of minimal geographical or social mobility and very limited availability of formal education
and mass media), did not unduly disrupt or complicate the existence of the state. The French language co-existed with such diversity as the language of the
elites, of many persons in Paris and its surroundings,
of administrative communication with the
provinces and as a language familiar to doctors, lawyers, many churchmen and women, prosperous bourgeois families, etc..
Standard French had also become the shared language of cultured Europe and was then the language of diplomacy and an internationally accepted language of scholarship and of many forms of cultural expression.
In revolutionary times such historically embedded regional languages and dialects as Occitan, Breton, Basque, Franco-Provençal, Corsican, Alsatian and Catalan were increasingly
seen as possibly underpinning forms of dissent, or actual regional assertions of sovereignty. Such languages and dialects were stigmatised by the governing
authority as forms of patois and were condemned as being obstacles to the progress being promoted by would-be societal reformers based in Paris.
Italian and German were also seen as being "problematic" mediums of communication in certain border regions.
Where dynastic sovereignty had been accepted as being somewhat "divine," and had been historically
enduring, emergent "national" sovereignty was seen as being less secure because it required on-going popular consent.
"Federalism and superstition speak Bas-Breton; emigration and hatred of the Republic speak German; the counterrevolution speaks Italian, and fanaticism
speaks Basque. Let us break these instruments of shame and error."
Bertrand Barère de Vieuzac (a prominent member of the Committee of Public Safety, 1794)
In 1794 the revolutionary leadership paid quite a bit of attention to the French language’s actual situation and what it meant in a revolutionary context.
It authorised the acceptance of a report by Henri Grégoire, which was presented under the title, "Report on the necessity and means to annihilate
the patois and to universalise the use of the French language."
Grégoire's report suggested that, from the revolutionary states point of view, (and to the practical benefit of patois speakers),
people would more easily be able to understand the law and the ideas of the revolution and thus be more prepared to participate in politics and the state.
There could well be an expansion of trade networks and commerce inside the state and the widespread dissemination of practically useful knowledge related to
science and agriculture.
Such unprecedented linguistic policy was not the only novelty settled upon by the leaders of the French Revolution.
For example the calendar was altered, (to mark the onset of the new age of liberty), by the replacement of the Anno Domini, i.e. the Year of our Lord, ordering
of time with the recognition of Year One, Year Two, etc., of the French Republic,
the traditional naming of months was abandoned to be replaced by one where months were regarded as being ones "of wind," "of harvest," etc., and the historic
provinces of France were abolished, because of perceived association with Feudality, and replaced by some eighty administrative Départements typically named after geographical
Citoyen, (i.e. Citizen), and Citoyenne replaced Monsieur and Madame as polite forms of personal address.
Usage of "Citoyen" and "Citoyenne" was moreover politically correct - at a time when being seen to be politically correct could be a matter of life or death.
As the potentially transformative events of 1848-1849 unfolded it became apparent, in relation to a would-be independent Kingdom of Hungary, (which seemed to
be emerging from out of the Austrian Empire, in which it had been incorporated due to a dynastic marriage centuries earlier), and elsewhere,
that emergent "national" movements were potentially capable of endorsing linguistic centralism in their own would-be establishment of states.
Linguistic centralisms, indeed, that gave every appearance of being similarly capable of dismissing the existence of other tongues and dialects within the
territories they could claim as belonging to their proposed states.
Representatives of several Slavic peoples gathered together in Prague in a brief Pan-Slav Congress of June, 1848, which issued a Manifesto on its outlook for the future
of the Slavic peoples of Europe.
The Slavic Congress in Prague is something unheard of, in Europe as well as among the Slavs themselves. For the first time since our appearance in history, we, the scattered members of a great race, have gathered in great numbers from distant lands in order to become reacquainted as brothers and to deliberate our affairs peacefully. We have understood one another not only through our beautiful language, spoken by eighty millions, but also through the consonance of our hearts and the similarity of our spiritual qualities. The truth and sincerity that have guided all our deliberations have persuaded us to make our demands known before God and the world....
...In the belief that the powerful spiritual stream of today demands new political forms and that the state must be reestablished upon altered principles, if not within new boundaries, we have suggested to the Austrian Emperor, under whose constitutional government we, the majority, live, that he transform his imperial state into a union of equal nations, which would accommodate these demands no less fully than would a unitary monarchy.
We see in such a union not only salvation for ourselves but also freedom, culture, and humanity for all, and we are confident that the nations of Europe will assist in the realization of this union. In any case, we resolve, by all available means, to win for our nationality the complete recognition of the same political rights that the German and Hungarian peoples already enjoy in Austria....
Whilst Germans and Magyar Hungarians had historically enjoyed favoured status as "Peoples of State" within the extensive territories of the Austrian Empire that
empire, - and not least its "Hungarian" lands, - had a majority
Slavic population of Czechs, Slovaks, Croats, Serbs, Slovenes, Poles, Ukrainians and others - hence the phrase "we, the majority, live," in the above selection.
Hence, also, the aspirations for an Austrian-backed "union of equal nations" where the several Slavic peoples could find an acceptable future.
Ethno-linguistic map of the Austrian Empire
In February 1948, the British historian Lewis Namier delivered a lecture commemorating the centennial of the European Revolutions of 1848.
In this lecture Namier presented facts about the historical developments, themes, and events evident in 1848 and reached the conclusion that:
"1848 remains a seed-plot of history. It crystallized ideas and projected the pattern of things to come; it determined the course of the following century."
Whilst German and Italian liberal, constitutional and national opinions, (impatient with dynastic or clerical administrations they tended to see as being petty,
parochial and repressive), supported greater unifications in 1848-1849 they were not enduringly brought about.
Just as Tsarist Russia, the Austrian Empire, and the Kingdom of Prussia, had been prominent in returning continental Europe to conservative socio-political
modes of existence after 1815 so also these three powers contributed significantly to rolling back most of the ‘revolutionary’ changes that occurred in 1848-1849.
French disappointment with their both their "Legitimist" and "Orléanist" Bourbon Dynastic rulers after a restoration of conservatively-inclined monarchy in France in 1815 provided context to Louis Napoleon, a nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, ascending to the Presidency of a (second) French Republic in the aftermath of the turmoil of 1848-1849.
After an “Italian” liberal-constitutional "patriot’s" attempt on his life Louis Napoleon, (who regarded further threats to his life by persons motivated by "Italian" sympathies as being a real possibility), found it politic to undertake “to do something for Italy”.
Louis Napoleon had actually personally engaged in “Italian” causes, along with his brother, as a much younger man! Said older brother had actually fallen ill
and perished during this participation.
More recently, as leader of France after the turmoil of 1848, (and for "French" political reasons), he had authorised the deployment of a powerful French force to overturn a
"Roman Republic" where, with the then Pope living in exile due to on-going turmoil in the States of the Church in 1848-1849, an Italian republican named Mazzini was a prominent leading figure and a committed
Italian nationalist named Garibaldi had offered his services in its defence.
It may be that in his interactions with Cavour, chief minister to the Kingdom of Sardinia, Louis Napoleon, (and Cavour), only anticipated some consolidation of territories based on
the "Sardinian" dynastic House of Savoy's Piedmontese possessions in the north-west of the Italian peninsula - rather than any more extensive "Italian Unification."
Even then Louis Napoleon made it clear that he expected to gain Nice and Savoy, (territories north of the Alps, directly bordering France and then ruled by the House of Savoy), as a price for French involvement.
Whilst Savoy was "the cradle" of the House of Savoy Louis Napoleon could make a case that it would be negligent to leave certain strategic Alpine passes, and an associated hinterland north of the Alps,
under the control of a further empowered Kingdom of Sardinia.
During the revolutionary years of 1848-1849 a Russian Tsar had authorised large-scale assistance being given to the Austrian Empire better allowing its suppression of
the movement for the establishment of a somewhat more independent, (of direct Habsburg / Austrian Imperial sovereignty), Kingdom of Hungary than had been the case before 1848.
The Austrian Empire's failure to offer meaningful support to the Russian Empire at the time of the Crimean War, in the mid 1850s, deeply alienated Tsarist Russia
effectively undermining any willingness of the Tsars to assist the Austrian Empire in restraining domestic or foreign movements that challenged its integrity.
In the mid-nineteenth century the Austrian Empire directly, and indirectly, controlled broad swathes of the Italian peninsula including a Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia
from which it raised immense revenues.
After Napoleon's fall several Kingdoms, Grand Duchies and Duchies were restored
as were the States of the Church - under Papal sovereignty.
Large scale French military intervention against the Austrian Empire, in ‘Wars of Italian Unification’, contributed to the establishment of a Kingdom of Italy.
this French involvement loosened the Austrian Empire's direct and indirect hold over diverse territories in the Italian peninsula it was local liberal-constitutional-nationalist
sentiment in several duchies and grand duchies in the north of the Italian peninsula that caused them to disown their, often disrespected, former rulers and to gravitate towards close association
with the Kingdom of Sardinia - which formed the nucleus of an emergent Kingdom of Italy.
It was an adventuresome "liberation" by Garibaldi, and "a thousand" followers, who had volunteered to travel by sea from Genoa to Sicily, (in an expedition which had necessitated Cavour's somewhat reluctant consent), which brought about the inclusion of Sicily and Naples in this movement towards the Unification
"Garibaldi and the Thousand" were supported by local populations against an unpopular ruler - whose rule was overthrown.
It seems to have been moreso Garibaldi's "Italian" nationalistic sentiments, than the evident and spontaneous will of the people of the former
"Kingdom of the Two Sicilies," that brought about a subsequent association with the Kingdom of Italy - that
actually appears to have been unlooked for, by Cavour, at the time.
Italy ceased to be "merely a geographical expression" being increasingly reconstituted
as a Kingdom based upon the slightly constitutional, and patriotic, Kingdom of Sardinia.
These developments prompted some Germanic rulers and diplomats, not least a wily, and deeply conservative, Prussian diplomat named Otto von Bismarck, to
take thought as to how their own states might be territorially extended with a degree of popular support, (as had been the case with “Italy”).
Bismarck's adoption of such a "non-conservative" seeming policy was in large part explicable by his recognition that liberal-constitutional-national change was
increasingly "in the air" in relation to the German lands.
He seems to have taken the view that it would be preferable to attempt to guide change into relatively conservative, and monarchical,
channels than suffer somewhat unpredictable changes moreso initiated by "German" liberals, constitutionalists and nationalists that could well be less sympathetic than he would wish
to conservatism and to the Prussian monarchy to which he was personally strongly committed.
In the event a "slightly constitutional" (second) German Empire was proclaimed in 1870 after wars of “German” unification - brought about by Bismarck's diplomatic machinations!
This confederal, but Prussian-dominated, German "Reich" was to some extent a product of a struggle for predominance in the German lands between Prussia and Austria. Bismarck preferred that
"Austrian Germany" not be included in his rearrangements of the German lands.
Austria, (inside the German Empire), was seen by him as a potential vexatious rival to Prussia which might be
supported in such rivalry by one or more of the minor German states which had been included in the Second German Empire.
Bismarck was also concerned about the possible fates of the non-German elements of the Habsburg Monarchy without "wider Austrian" defensive shielding and associated conservative anchoring.
The Italian Kingdom - as an associate of Prussia in struggling against Austria - acquired Venetian and (historically) Papal, lands – including the city of Rome - in these times.
Other consequences of the turmoil associated with the establishment of the Second German Empire being the reconstitution of the Austrian Empire as an Austro-Hungarian "Dual Monarchy"
and the fall from power in France of the Emperor Napoleon III: that is to say the former president Louis Napoleon.
As had been the case with the Kingdom of Sardinia the Kingdom of Prussia lay at the core of this similarly expanded "Germanic" polity and was qualified to do so,
in the opinion of its supporters in that role, as being open to being perceived as a relatively constitutional, patriotic, powerful and progressive German state.
It can surely be suggested that it was the historical circumstances that led to the establishment, hundreds of years earlier in the Italian Peninsula and in the German lands, of a multiplicity
of locally sovereign clerically ruled or dynastic states that persisted into the nineteenth century that allowed such dramatic "Unifications" to take place.
The nineteenth century is sometimes referred to by historians as being "the Century of Nationalism." It was then that popular liberal-constitutional-nationalism
emerged with a sufficient potency to cause powerful local states such as Sardinia and Prussia to attempt to guide such enthusiasms into channels which further
empowered their own states and better assured their own survival in relation to possible erosion by liberal-constitutional-nationalist change.
Somewhat uniquely in Europe "Nationalist" fellow-sentiment across historic state borders, and with would-be foundational states such as Sardinia, in the "Italian" case,
and Prussia, in the "German", contributed to making such dramatic "Unifications" possible.
A hundred years ago a man's political likes and dislikes seldom went beyond the range which was suggested by the place of his birth or immediate descent. Such birth or descent made him a member of this or that political community, a subject of this or that prince, a citizen - perhaps a subject - of this or that commonwealth. The political community of which he was a member had its traditional alliances and traditional enmities, and by those alliances and enmities the likes and dislikes of the members of that community were guided. But those traditional alliances and enmities were seldom determined by theories about language or race. The people of this or that place might be discontented under a foreign government; but, as a rule, they were discontented only if subjection to that foreign government brought with it personal oppression or at least political degradation. Regard or disregard of some purely local privilege or local feeling went for more than the fact of a government being native or foreign. What we now call the sentiment of nationality did not go for much; what we call the sentiment of race went for nothing at all. Only a few men here and there would have understood the feelings which have led to those two great events of our own time, the political reunion of the German and Italian nations after their long political dissolution.
Edward Augustus Freeman, Race and Language, (1879)
"Why on earth does it matter what happened long ago? The answer is that History is inescapable. It studies the past and the legacies of the past in the present. Far from being a 'dead' subject, it connects things through time and encourages its students to take a long view of such connections.
All people and peoples are living histories. To take a few obvious examples: communities speak languages that are inherited from the past. They live in societies with complex cultures, traditions and religions that have not been created on the spur of the moment. People use technologies that they have not themselves invented. So understanding the linkages between past and present is absolutely basic for a good understanding of the condition of being human. That, in a nutshell, is why History matters. It is not just 'useful', it is essential."
Penelope J. Corfield, Professor Emeritus, University of London.
History is not the story of strangers, aliens from another realm; it is the story of us had we been born a little earlier."
In the later decades of the nineteenth century, and into the twentieth, two formidable systems of international alliance came into being - a Triple Entente, composed
of France, Russia and the United Kingdom and a Triple Alliance composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the Kingdom of Italy.
These alliances were formed with the aim of achieving security through maintaining a "Balance of Power."
In the event there was an arms race and, after the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who was heir to the Austro-Hungarian thrones, was assassinated in June, 1914, (by a teen-age Slavic nationalist),
these international security arrangements culminated in a Great War of 1914-1918 after Russia found it impossible to tolerate a punitive move by Austro-Hungary
against Serbia - blaming it for complicity in the death of the Archduke.
Three rather conservative European powers - the Russian Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the second German Empire, together with the Ottoman Empire,
all "exited into History," as a result of this prodigious conflict which cost tens of millions of people their lives.
The greater portion of the Russian Empire fell under the control of "Bolshevik" communists led by Vladimir Lenin and the constituent ethnicities of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy were "given
a green light," (by statesmen hoping to better establish circumstances favourable to an enduring post-war peace), to attempt to embark upon "autonomous development".
It was envisaged that peoples could attempt to follow courses of "National Self-determination" and resultant state boundaries would largely be "along lines of nationality".
Both the Austrian and Hungarian components of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy suffered significant territorial dismemberments as "successor states,"
such as Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania, came into
being, or expanded in size, due to such pursuits of autonomy and self-determination.
The settlement to this Great War sought to replace Balances of Power, which in the aftermath of the recent carnage were thought to be seriously precarious, with Collective Security arrangements supported by a League of Nations, which it was hoped would prove more
Some recognition was to be given to the rights of National minorities.
In relatively modern times the complexities of human nature in changing societal circumstances have often given rise to the “side-lining” of dynastic rulers,
clerical hierarchies and systems of titled nobility.
Capitalism, Liberalism, Constitutionalism, Nationalism, Socialism and Communism - operating in circumstances of steady population growth,
and extensive economic growth, facilitated by application of new technologies to agriculture, public health, and industrial production - have transformed how human lives are to be lived.
"History is for human self-knowledge ... the only clue to what man can do is what man has done. The value of history, then, is that it teaches us what man has done and thus what man is."
R. G. Collingwood
Our assessment of “Human Nature” must be one which accepts that capacities for Honesty are more or less relative to those for Manhood and Good fellowship, (which
can be restated, for many, as capacities for Spirituality being more or less relative to those for Desire and for Wrath).
Capitalism, Liberalism, Constitutionalism, Nationalism, Socialism and Communism must also be held to be consistent with any credible view of Human Nature. Similarly consistency must plausibly allow for the discovery, invention and application of new technologies to such things as food production, disease control, and industry.
What is the business of history? What is the stuff of which it is made? Who is the personage of history? Man : evidently man and human nature. There are many different elements in history. What are they? Evidently again, the elements of human nature. History is therefore the development of humanity, and of humanity only; for nothing else but humanity develops itself, for nothing else than humanity is free.
... Moreover, when we have all the elements, I mean all the essential elements, their mutual relations do, as it were, discover themselves. We draw from the nature of these different elements, if not all their possible relations, at least their general and fundamental relations.
Introduction to the History of Philosophy
Is Human Being more truly Metaphysical than Physical?
Readers comments welcome to bri060new @t gmail.com.
[Please be aware that replies are not guaranteed, however]
Man is explicable by nothing less than all his history. Without hurry, without rest, the human spirit goes forth from the beginning to embody every faculty, every thought, every emotion which belongs to it, in appropriate events. But always the thought is prior to the fact. All the facts of history pre-exist in the mind as laws. Each law in turn is made by circumstances predominant, and the limits of nature give power to but one at a time.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, History
Where this could, possibly, lead ...
N. B. The page mentioned in the graphic ~ roots.asp ~ has been replaced,
(on our partner site www.age-of-the-sage.org),
by this page
This 'knot of roots' insight features in:
"Whatever concept one may hold, from a metaphysical point of view, concerning the freedom of the will, certainly its appearances, which are human actions, like every other natural event, are determined by universal laws. However obscure their causes, history, which is concerned with narrating these appearances, permits us to hope that if we attend to the play of freedom of the human will in the large, we may be able to discern a regular movement in it, and that what seems complex and chaotic in the single individual may be seen from the standpoint of the human race as a whole to be a steady and progressive though slow evolution of its original endowment."
Immanuel Kant, Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View
It may be that a greater appreciation of our common, individual, “Existences” as Human Beings variously capable of Honesty, Manhood, Good fellowship, (and Rationality), and of the close similarities of the Inner-most Spiritual Teachings of the Great Faiths of the World, (as suggested of on our Home Page), will hopefully better allow for the harmonious functioning of society in those countries that have become peopled by diverse ethnic and confessional communities since the Second World War.
More detailed considerations of the European Revolutions of 1848, the Unification of Italy and German Unification are available on our partner site: Age of the Sage.
The European Revolutions of 1848
The Unification of Italy
Bismarck and German Unification
Key sources supportive of Tripartite Theory of Soul