Europe 1820: Revolutions of 1820
Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the Great Powers attempted to stand together to preserve the stability of the old European order against the growing force of liberalism. Although the British and Germans temporarily succeeded in suppressing liberalism in 1819, liberal revolutionaries—partially inspired by the independence struggle in Latin America—took power in Spain, Portugal, and the Two Sicilies in 1820.
16 Aug 1819 Peterloo Massacre▲
In August 1819 a crowd of 60,000–80,000 gathered at Peter’s Field in Manchester, England, to listen to the radical orator Henry Hunt and his calls for parliamentary reform and the end of the harsh Corn Laws (which kept grain prices high to favor domestic producers). Fearing revolution, the local magistrates ordered the Yeomanry to charge through the crowd and apprehend Hunt. At least a dozen people were killed and over 400 injured in a massacre which would be christened “Peterloo” in ironic reference to the recent Battle of Waterloo. Although the immediate outcome of the massacre was a government crackdown on radicals, outrage across the country led to the reformer’s demands being met in the 1820s and 1830s.
20 Sep 1819 Carlsbad Decrees▲
Following the murder of conservative writer August von Kötzebue by a liberal student in March 1819 and other actions of revolutionary agitation, the Austrian Minister of State Prince Metternich called for a conference of the states of the German Confederation at Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary) in Austrian Bohemia. There they sanctioned the reactionary Carlsbad Decrees, abolishing freedom of the press, placing universities under state supervision, and banning liberal and nationalist organizations.
1 Jan–9 Mar 1820 Riego’s Revolution▲
In January 1820 Colonel Rafael del Riego led a liberal revolt in Seville province, Spain, quickly gaining support among soldiers being gathered to fight the independence movements in Spanish America. As Riego marched through Andalusia in an attempt to rally support, revolts broke out in Galicia and across the north of the country. Caving in to pressure, King Ferdinand VII agreed to liberal demands and restored the Constitution of 1812.
Feb 1820–26 Jan 1822 Ali Pasha’s Rebellion▲
In February 1820 Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II demanded that the eighty-year-old Ali Pasha, ruler of the powerful and semi-independent Pashalik of Janina (Ioannina), surrender himself to the authorities after he attempted to assassinate his political rival Ismael Pasho in Constantinople. After Ali Pasha refused, Ottoman government forces invaded his pashalik and laid siege to the Castle of Janina. After almost two years of resistance, Ali Pasha capitulated to the Ottomans under the promise of amnesty in January 1822; he was instead executed and his head sent to the Sultan.
2 Jul 1820–23 Mar 1821 Carbonari Revolution▲
Encouraged by the liberal revolution in Spain earlier that year, officers Michele Moreli and Guglielmo Pepe led a revolution against King Ferdinand of the Two Sicilies in July 1820. Supported by the Carbonari secret society, the rebels forced the king to promise a constitution. The rebellion also took hold in the Papal enclaves of Pontecorvo and Benevento, but was resisted for three months in Palermo, which pushed for Sicilian independence. Sent to Austria to reassure the European powers, the king reneged on his promises and requested Austrian intervention in 1821.
24 Aug 1820–26 Jan 1821 Liberal Revolution in Oporto▲
In the morning of 24 August 1820 soldiers and revolutionaries in Oporto, Portugal, proclaimed the “Provisional Junta of the Supreme Government of the Kingdom of Portugal”, demanding that King John VI return from Brazil—where he had been living since the Napoleonic Wars—and accept a constitution. The revolution quickly spread to Lisbon and soon established its rule across the country, forcing the Crown to accede to its demands. As a result the Cortes met in January 1821 to draft a constitution and the Portuguese Court agreed to return to Portugal.