Aristocrats and the Crowd in the Revolutionary Year 1848
A Contribution to the History of Revolution and Counter-Revolution
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The Prague Uprising of 1848 was part of the powerful series of revolutions that shook practically the entire European Continent as the middle classes and urban and rural workers pressed against the rule of aristocrats and monarchs.
Czech Marxist historian Josef Polisensky analyzes the general turmoil of revolutionary thought and action in Europe and then focuses on the specific case of the Prague Uprising. By using previously untouched sources—the records of hundreds of noble houses that came under the control of the Czech Archival Administration after World War II—Polisensky is able to show how those of the old social establishment fought the participants in the Uprising and temporarily restored the rule of the aristocracy.
With an excellent sense for the dramatic and a thorough knowledge of place, Polisensky tells us who fought and died on the streets of Prague. With the conceptual framework of class conflict and a broad perspective on European events, he proposes reasons for the failure of the Prague Uprising in contrast to other successful revolutions.
Aristocrats and the Crowd is the last of Polisensky's trilogy of studies on Czech society and revolution. In The Thirty Years' War and the European Crisis of the Seventeenth Century and Napoleon and the Heart of Europe, Polisensky explored the effects of other European conflicts on Czech society. Aristocrats and the Crowd describes, in his words, "the revolutionary springtime which eventually arrived, full of twists, in Bohemia itself. "
Frederick Snider is Assistant Professor of History at the Ohio State University. Josef Polisensky is Director of the Center for Ibero-American Studies at Charles University, Prague.