Aristocrats and the Crowd in the Revolutionary Year 1848

A Contribution to the History of Revolution and Counter-Revolution

By Josef V. Polisensky
Translated by Frederick Snider

Subjects: European History
Paperback : 9780873954242, 245 pages, June 1980
Hardcover : 9780873953986, 245 pages, June 1980

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Introductory Note

I. The Long Road Towards the Problem

1. Bohemia, Austria and the European Revolution
2. In Search of the Problem
3. Marxism and the Theory of Revolution
4. New Problems and New Sources

II. Between Two Revolutions

1. The Age of Industrial and Political Revolution
2. What was Austria Before 1848?
3. Prague and Vienna in July 1844
4. The "Czech Question" and European Politics at the Beginning of 1848

III. The Autumn of the Old order and the Springtime of the Peoples

1. Metternich and the Spectre of Revolution
2. Ficquelmont and Thun on the Eve of the Revolution

IV. The March Revolution in Austria

1. March 13, 1848: The Black Day for the Old Order
2. The Inglorious Flight of Prince Metternich
3. The Revolutionary Crisis in Italy
4. The Social Basis of the Revolution in Bohemia

V. The Retreat of the Old Order: March-May 1848

1. Kolowrat and Ficquelmont
2. The Origins of the Social and Nationality Questions

VI. The First Center of Counter-Revolution

1. Politics and the Army
2. Prague, Vienna and Innsbruck

VII. The First Victory of the Counter-Revolution: Prague, June 12-14, 1848

1. Windischgrätz and Lobkowitz
2. The Six Days
3. The Results of Windischgrätz's Victory

VIII. The Weakness of the Revolution and the Strength of the Counter-Revolution

1. The Government's Unsteadiness and the Army's Growing Might
2. The Bohemian Germans and Their Congress at Teplitz

IX. "The Army Takes Over the Protection of the Court and Government"

1. The Road to Olomouc
2. The Second Victory of the Counter-Revolution: Vienna in October 1848

X. Austria's Future is Decided

1. The Rise of Felix Schwarzenberg
2. Austria and the "Bohemian Question" at the End of 1848

Epilogue: From the Revolution of 1848 to the Paris Commune and the First International


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.