Europe 1848: German Question
The 1848 call for German unification had led to nationalists congregating in Frankfurt to establish a national assembly and work on replacing the German Confederation with an Empire. While there was some debate over whether German-speaking Austria would be included in the new Germany, there was little over Schleswig-Holstein, which had just thrown off Danish rule. In mid-April, the embryonic National Assembly declared war on Denmark, sending a Prussian-led mixed German army to Schleswig.
7–22 Apr 1848 First Italian War of Independence expands▲
On 7 April 1848 the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies joined the Kingdom of Sardinia in the First Italian War of Independence against the Austrian Empire, although it was unable to provide even half of the 25,000 troops promised by Ferdinand II due to the revolution in Sicily. The Papal States joined the war on the 22nd and began to move 18,000 troops into Lombardy under the command of the Piedmontese Giovanni Durando, however, seven days later Pope Pius IX gave the allocution Non-semel (“Not once”), declaring that a war could not be fought against the Austrians as they were fellow Catholics. Although Durando ignored the Pope’s wishes and continued the campaign, Pius’ words were met with concern by Charles Albert of Sardinia.
12 Apr 1848 First Schleswig War starts▲
On 9 April 1848 the Danes defeated the Duchy of Schleswig at Bov and quickly regained control of the territory. In response the provisional German government in Frankfurt recognized the provisional government of Schleswig on the 12th and declared war by the German states against the Kingdom of Denmark, commissioning the Kingdom of Prussia to enforce its decrees. One week later Prussian troops crossed the Dannevirke into Schleswig, defeating the Danes at the Battle of Schleswig on the 23rd.
13–27 Apr 1848 Hecker Uprising▲
Disappointed by the rejection of republicanism at the preliminary parliament in Frankfurt in March–April 1848, the anti-monarchical lawyer Friedrich Hecker returned to his homeland, the Grand Duchy of Baden, to promote revolution there. Hecker and his followers launched their uprising at Konstanz, in the south of Baden, on 13 April and began marching on the capital Karlsruhe, accumulating several hundred followers along the way. Military units of the German Confederation quickly converged on the rebels and on the 20th a force of 3,000 soldiers decisively defeated Hecker at Kandern. Hecker fled to Switzerland, then to exile in the United States, while his remaining followers were crushed over the following days.
13 Apr 1848 Sicily declares independence▲
The Sicilian Parliament declared Ferdinand II of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies (Naples) deposed, proclaiming the independent Kingdom of Sicily with the declared intention of later joining the Kingdom of Italy.
19 Apr–9 May 1848 Greater Poland Uprising▲
In March 1848 King Frederick William IV of Prussia amnestied Polish prisoners from the 1846 Greater Poland Uprising to found a “Polish Legion” under the command of Ludwik Mierosławski with the intention of starting a rebellion in Russian-ruled Congress Poland to prevent Russia moving against German unification. This action caused unease among the German population of the Grand Duchy of Posen (Poznan) where the legion was gathering and, when the Russian threat soon receded, the Prussians quickly turned against the Poles. Incited into a general uprising, Polish peasants joined the legion but, despite initial successes, were defeated by Prussian forces at Miłosław on 30 April. The rebellion collapsed early in the following month, as the Polish leaders capitulated to the Prussians, who ended any pretense of Polish autonomy by replacing the Grand Duchy of Posen with the Province of Posen.
23 Apr–15 May 1848 May insurrections in France▲
On 23 April 1848, following the enaction of universal male suffrage in the French Republic, democratic elections were held for the national Constituent Assembly in France. When the results were unfavorable to republican progressives and socialists, workers mounted uprisings in the provinces, especially in the cities of Limoges and Rouen. On 15 May protestors temporarily seized the City Hall of Paris and proclaimed an “insurrectionary government”, but were soon suppressed by the National Guard.