We will now resume our important discussion regarding Europe and discuss the events leading up to the Revolutions of 1848, the largest continental rebellion in world history. Leading up to the armed conflict, we previously discussed how Europe was in the midst of the First Industrial Revolution which had a large impact on the makeup of society and the economy. As a result of the industrial revolution, the world's wealth was becoming more concentrated in the hands of the affluent, from the labor of the common person, creating economic injustice. Social mistreatment followed from the discrimination, relentless factory work, and the middle classes' wealth and pride being destroyed. Famine, which occurred leading up to the revolutions spread across Europe and lead to the death of many creating even more frustration with the current regimes. It's time to dig a little deeper and pull back the curtain of the origins and years leading up to the spark of the Revolutions of 1848.
Europe After Napoleon’s Fall
After the fall of Napoleon in 1815, Austrian Prince Klemens Metternich, who had in the years prior became close associates with Salomon Rothschild, convened and headed the Congress of Vienna, a continental peace conference among various European nations. The goal of the conference was intended to create a peaceful and synchronized atmosphere among the various populations in Europe through creating international trading relationships and political diplomacy. This significant attempt at harmony was going to be headed by one of the closest acquaintances and business partners to the Rothschilds, giving the Money Changers abilities to influence the issues brought to the various diplomats and how those questions would be resolved.
In this meeting, each country would have various powerful and influential diplomats we have discussed in previous sections representing their country's international interests. The Duke of Wellington would represent Great Britain. Prince Metternich would represent Austria; King Alexander I and King Frederick William III controlled the delegations of Russia and Prussia respectively. All of these men, as cited in previous sections, had deep connections to the Rothschilds personally and professionally.
(1: Duke of Wellington in Great Britain. 6: Prince Metternich of Austria 18: Friedrich von Gentz, German Diplomat of Austria, Salomon’s close business associate. 21: Prince Karl August served under Prussian King Frederick. 8 and 23 were King Alexander of Russia’s representatives.)
Nathan Rothschild, who was stationed in London, was the largest financer and Money Changers of Great Britain’s Duke of Wellington, who was among the most powerful politicians in Great Britain and became the Prime Minister after his successful war efforts against Napoleon. Those same war efforts to put Wellington's name on the world stage were funded by Nathan Rothschild in London.
Salomon Rothschild in the Austrian branch helped Austrian Prince Metternich reach political prosperity. Salomon was a large financer for Metternich and helped managed his finances which allowed him to become successful. Austrian Emperor Francis I and Salomon Rothschilds' deep connections helped with the introduction of Metternich and Salomon and was therefore just another talking mouth for the Rothschilds' ideas.
King Alexander of Russia and King Frederick of Prussia had connections with Amschel Rothschild who managed the Frankfurt Branch and also had diplomats representing their interests. Other smaller countries were included in the conference, however, most of them held little significance when compared to the other four nations because of their geographical and economic disadvantages. Among the decisions made at the Congress of Vienna were legal decrees that gave large portions of land to Great Britain, Austria, Russia, the Netherlands, and Prussia and allowed the kings and Money Changers of those lands to preserve control over their vast empires. In addition, leaders at the Congress of Vienna suggested newly created infrastructure, that was created from the exploitation and abuse of the poor, to be used by the various nations across Europe to stimulate the economy, allowing more credit to be issued, and therefore more money to be concentrated in the wealthy’s hand, during unelected officials causing random business cycles, while the lower and middle classes continued to suffer.
Most of the changes made by the aristocrats during the Congress of Vienna widely ignored the revolutionary fervor that was sweeping the continent during and after Napoleon's reign as the leader of the French. With the congress of Vienna putting the power of the common people to a minimum, the wealthy and powerful now had the ability and freedom to focus on maintaining their powerful financial and political empires of the past. This started a multi-year trend leading up to the Revolutions of 1848 of Money Changing families funding powerful aristocrats and politicians. Allowing the individuals who make laws to effectively be puppets and push agendas of unelected officials across the world. Without realizing it, the lower and middle classes were becoming victims of measured exploitation and neglect by Money Changers, which led to the degradation of civilian life and drove people’s tolerance toward mistreatment to gradually fade.
In combination with the quality of life slowly deteriorating for commoners because of Money Changers using wealth and power to persuade legislators to become their political instruments, society was changing as a whole. The creation of new technology was rampant, education systems were improving, new political theories were being developed, and novel economic structures were being examined. Furthermore, the citizens were becoming increasingly literate, skilled at working machinery, and politically active.
These increases in widespread knowledge, literacy, and activism led people around the world to realize the mistreatment they were suffering at the hands of the elite and began demanding higher standards of living and better returns for their investment of labor. After these standards were not met, people were finally educated enough to understand the value of their labor to the economy and how important their votes are to the nation they live in and the citizens became bitter toward their representatives. This bitterness slowly turned into resentment, and the resentment turned into action in the direction of opposing the leaders of their respective nations. Many areas began actively expressing dismay toward the empires that controlled them. Two quick examples include Portugal and Spain losing control over many of their overseas territory, in the early 1800s, due to foreign rebellion, the monarchy's focus on domestic protests, and a lack of resources to continue to fight extensive, long-distance wars. However, the Revolutions of 1830 in France and Belgium, prove to be more detailed and representative samples of the European population's dismay toward the wealthy during this time as an entire continent.
Revolutions of 1830
The citizen's resentment toward monarchies and desire for justice showcased themselves in two abrupt, but powerful, altercations that started in 1830 when France and Belgium experienced a major change of power. These two revolutions would be a brief insurrection from the lower and middle classes, because of the mistreatment from the elite and showcase the reality of the lives of civilians in Europe during the early 19th century. As a result of these altercations, many drastic and long-lasting transformations occurred in society, politics, and the economy, as well as other short-lived changes. Therefore, we will discuss the impacts the Revolutions of 1830 had in two halves and relate them to the larger context regarding the people of Europe and the Revolutions of 1848.
The first half of the Revolutions of 1830 occurred in France in what is referred to as the July Revolutions and started after the fall of Napoleon and a power vacuum being filled by the new French King Charles X in 1815. After King Charles had been in power for some time and relatively liked in the beginning, the power got to his head, and in 1830 when King Charles X ordered stringent censorship of literature and media, payments for the wealthy who lost property during the Revolution of 1789, and the death penalty for stealing church property. As a result of what the people believed to be unfair treatment and unrepresentative laws, rebellions began springing up across the country in the July Revolutions and after three short days of armed conflict, King Charles X was overthrown from his position and replaced with his cousin Louis Philippe I.
(Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix: an allegorical painting of the July Revolution.)
Once King Louis Philippe I ruled over France, the people insisted that a constitutional monarchy be put into place that allowed for restraints to be set on the new King. Initially, those limits were successful and King Philippe I was popular with French citizens because he did not flaunt his wealth, created laws that allowed for people to have more influence in political decisions, and did not allow his close connections with the financial elite to be widely known.
This change in political power is in alignment with the period the industrial revolution was reaching France, which resulted in more people moving into dirty, unkempt cities to work in dangerous, life-threatening factories. The lower and middle classes maintained their level of social unrest even with the new king and continued to increase their skills and human capital in the meantime. As a result of their living standards decreasing under King Philippe and citizens now being consciously aware they are being exploited, citizens were becoming distraught. Individuals were seeing the extravagant possibilities that technology could bring to the world and the impoverished were not reaping the rewards of the amazing creations. The disappointment among the commoners was mounting and eventually reached its tipping point in 1848, but we need to provide more context in other areas of Europe before reaching this point.
The July Revolution from a ten-thousand-foot view is representative of Europe’s political atmosphere during this period in many ways. Kings, monarchies, and empires were becoming complacent with the well-being of their citizens whose living standards continued to decrease, while the aristocrat’s wealth increased. The same citizens the aristocrats taxed for revenue were abused for labor and manipulated politically. As a result of the deteriorating conditions, the people rebelled in 1848.
Now we will turn our attention to Belgium in the second half of the Revolutions of 1830 when Leopold I would become the country’s first Emperor. Leopold, I had many connections to the European monarchies and will be an important figure as we move forward through time. In fact, he was so important to the monarchies, that shortly after coming to power in 1830, King Philippe I of France would instruct his daughter to marry Emperor Leopold I in 1832, whose heirs include all of the subsequent Rulers of Belgians. Now let’s get into how all of this happened.
Brief History of the Dutch Empire and the Netherlands
Dutch is usually referred to as the political empire while the Netherlands is considered the area the Dutch control. Historians agree there are many forces that commenced the Belgian Revolution of 1830. In fact, the history of this area is far more complicated than meets the eye and has implications for the world economy and society. After Napoleon’s loss in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, France was forced to give up land containing present-day Belgium to the Netherlands after decisions made in the Congress of Vienna, headed by Austrian Prince Metternich. As a result of these decisions, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands was born headed by the House of Orange-Nassau. However, this wasn’t the first time the House of Orange-Nassau would be in control of this territory.
The House of Orange-Nassau was and still is one of the most powerful royal families in Europe and still reigns over the Dutch people today. This family has a long and deep history that we will briefly discuss to bring everyone up to speed, but the same principles of Money Changing, manipulation, wealth, and corruption can be found throughout this family’s history and geographical area of the Netherlands from the 16th century until now.
The House of Orange-Nassau is a Royal Dutch Family that began after a marriage between Henry III of Nassau, a lord from Germany, and Claudia of Orange, a princess of a French state in the early 16th century. Their son Rene inherited their massive wealth but did not change his last name. It was only after Rene passed away in 1544 and gave his wealth to his cousin, William of Nassau, who became William of Orange or William the Silent, that the House of Orange-Nassau was officially founded (Rowen, Herbert H, 1988.). William the Silent's heirs are the ones still preserving the Dutch throne today.
(Portrait of William the Silent by Adriaen Thomasz. Key, c. 1580)
To give some background on the geographical area during the 16th century, present-day Belgium and the Netherlands were broken up into various different states that were ruled over by the Spanish. At this time, the Austrian empire (Habsburg empire) which consisted mostly of the Holy Roman Empire was on the decline from being the largest and most influential economic and political machine in all of Europe. It was previously the center of innovation, political discussion, philosophy, music, and more, but at this point in history, Austria and the Holy Roman Empire were becoming too big to control. As a result, pockets of people began pooling their resources together around the continent to have more influence and push their ideas forward.
As a result of the Holy Roman Empire becoming too large, the emperor at the time, Charles V was forced to divide various parts of the kingdom after decisions made in the Imperial Election of 1531. Major parts of the Empire that had to be broken up included Austria and its Kingship/Crown to the newly enthroned Ferdinand. The Spanish Empire was given to his son, Phillip II (Philip the Prudent). Although both of these large pieces of territory were ceded, Charles V was able to continue his reign as the Holy Roman Emperor. However, these elections were signals to the world of the declining power of the Holy Roman Empire, and a power vacuum of who would lead the world order was developing.
Getting back to William the Silent who was the founder of the House of Orange-Nassau in the Netherlands, two years after the territories of the Holy Roman Empire were ceded, William the Silent was born in present-day Hesse, Germany in 1533 inside the Holy Roman Empire. His family’s connections allowed William the Silent to be born into a great deal of wealth. For example, when he inherited massive royal wealth and land from his cousin in 1544, he was only 11 years old. With this inheritance, William the Silent was named the ruler over the Principality of Orange, which was a southern state in present-day France, and understood that he had to create a historical legacy for his family.
Emperor Charles V would mentor William until he was old enough to rule the country on his own because of his young age. However, only seven years later when William was 18, he would go on to marry a wealthy woman whose deceased father had been a Dutch lord. As a result of her father’s death, when William and his first wife married, he immediately became a Lord of territory in the Netherlands and immediately became a popular political figure in the area in addition to his massive wealth and influence from being the Prince of Orange.
Being a mentee to the Holy Roman Empire and having large amounts of land under his control helped William become one of the most powerful European figures in the 16th century. Once he was married, he became a politician and a direct advisor to the Holy Roman Emperor and continued to receive accolades, responsibility, and influence. As we cited previously, in 1556, Emperor Charles V’s son, Phillip the Prudent, would be named King of Spain and over the next few years would be given the ability to reign and govern over four more providences that significantly amplified his political power in the region (Wedgwood. 1944, p. 34). However, this power would get to Phillip's head, and William the Silent and Phillip the Prudent didn’t necessarily see eye to eye on many issues pertaining to how to rule a nation.
Shortly after being granted power over the 4 additional states, King Phillip of Spain began implementing laws that persecuted, mistreated, and victimized those who practiced Protestantism in the region of present-day Netherlands. William the Silent was a believer that citizens should be able to practice all religions and took very harshly to these new laws. Soon, King Phillip would name William an outlaw because of his open disapproval of the kings’ practices, and some of William the Silent’s property and wealth were confiscated.
As a result of the seizure, he took up arms in the rebellion. His status as a popular politician in the Netherlands after becoming lord through the marriage of his first wife, and his disapproval of the new Spanish King Phillip’s practices immediately catapulted him to become the leader of the armed resistance. To show his dismay, William would draw up military plans and command his brothers to go fight against the Spanish in 1567 in the Battle of Jemmingen, where the Dutch lost, and the Battle of Heiligerlee, which was a Dutch victory. These two battles are widely agreed to start the Netherlands' fight for independence in what is now known as the infamous and significant 80 Years' War between the Netherlands and other European powers during the 16th and 17th centuries.
William would go on to help the rebellion and be active in politics for the remainder of his life until he was assassinated by a Spanish mercenary hired by Phillip II in 1584. William the Silent was shot with a handgun and William’s assassin would go on to be tortured and executed, “the right hand of Gérard should be burned off with a red-hot iron, that his flesh should be torn from his bones with pincers in six different places, that he should be quartered and disemboweled alive, that his heart should be torn from his chest and flung in his face, and that, finally, his head should be cut off” (Motley, John L. 1856. The Rise of the Dutch Republic, Vol. 3)
Now we will follow William the Silent's heirs' impacts on the revolution and the world today. William’s son, Maurice, would go on to become Prince of Orange after his death and managed to garner a 12-year ceasefire against the Spanish from 1609 to 1619, even though it wasn’t peaceful, it marked the turning point for the Netherlands' eventual victory in the battle. After Maurice died, William the Silent’s youngest son from his last marriage, Frederick Henry, continued to fight the Spanish and inherited the title of Prince of Orange.
Henry’s son, William II came next and was the Prince of Orange. William II’s son William III would go on to secure one of the most important titles in Europe and become King of England and serve for many years. As the King of England, he would work closely with Money Changers, greedy financiers, and aristocrats to create the first privately owned Central Bank in history in 1689, which we have discussed in earlier sections, and marked the turning point from the Dutch being in control of the World Order to England being the dominant world power.
All of William the Silent’s heirs would continually find success and benefit from the developments occurring in the upcoming Dutch Golden Ages that started in 1588. For now, it’s important to understand the House of Nassau-Orange is still one of the leading royalty families in the Netherlands today with William the Silent being recognized as a national hero. The 80 Years War and the 30 Years War, which was another altercation between European powers and the Dutch at the same time, would officially end for the Netherlands in 1648. The Peace Treaty of Westphalia was signed and officially ended the armed altercations between the belligerents and recognized the Netherlands' independence as a nation.
During the 80 Years' War, the Netherlands still manage to enter into what is now known as the Dutch Golden Ages in the middle of the 1600s. As a result of the unfolding conflict in the 80 Years War, many of the Dutch population moved to the northern city of Amsterdam. Here unprecedented speed in the improvements of education systems, technological innovation, and economic experimentation would help this city become one of the most important port cities in the entire world.
This quick acceleration in the growth of the area was due to, the first modern stock exchange in the world, the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, being developed in 1602 to sell shares of a government-directed consolidation corporation of various Dutch trading companies, called the Dutch East India Trading Company. This company is believed to be the largest company ever in recorded history and was a vertically and horizontally integrated global supply chain and trading monopoly that traded through Europe, China, India, Japan, Africa, South Africa, and other countries. Many other governments attempted to reenact the success of the Dutch monopoly but were unsuccessful in replicating and exceeding their levels of influence and wealth (British East India Company, Danish East India Company, French East India Company, Portuguese East India Company, and the Swedish East India Company).
(Dutch East India Company Logo)
Seeing the success of a company available for purchase by the public, more and more companies would be slowly added to the list of publicly traded companies available to buy and sell on the Amsterdam stock exchange to help finance the growth of the economy. Another way the Dutch helped stimulate growth was by creating the Bank of Amsterdam, which some think is the First Central Bank in existence and would practice currency exchanges and money management for the Dutch government.
Ray Dalio points out in his book Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order, that there are stages the individual countries go through that affect their power on a global stage; Growth, Stabilization, and Failure. He uses various strategies to understand why a country is successful and allows it to be powerful on the world stage. In his book, he uses 8 measurable variables that result in the outcome of a country’s success. Those factors are education, innovation and technology, market competitiveness, the output of goods, trade activity, military size, financial system, and the reserve status of the currency. Furthermore, he explains how major battles need to take place between the incumbents and the rebels because the incumbents will not willingly give up their power or wealth.
During this time, the Dutch had to fight in the 80 Years’ War in order to fight between Habsburg Spain and the Austrians. Furthermore, the Dutch outperformed their foreign competitors in all of these areas Dalio listed, which resulted in the economy being able to thrive, the Netherlands being the most powerful area in the world, and Amsterdam as the trade center of the globe. All of this was true of the Netherlands until the Dutch lost control during the War of Spanish Succession and the Dutch-French war toward the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century. This led to Great Britain following in the Dutch path by creating a stock exchange, central bank, and multi-national monopoly to try to capture the thrown of being in control of the world order. However, during the Dutch Glory days, the Netherlands was responsible for over 25% of the world’s innovations, including the wind-powered turbine and wind-powered ships in 1677 that allowed trading to occur across the world in record time, allowing them to be the clear winner of the world’s innovations.
(A river landscape with fishermen in rowing boats, windmills beyond, 1679)
These three pieces of economic experimentation; a central bank, a multi-national publicly traded company, and a stock exchange revolutionized the capitalist economy we think we know and love today and allowed for countries like Great Britain and the United States to create global financial and political empires for themselves.
Now that we have some context of the Netherlands' battle for independence during the 80 Years' War, the Royal House of Orange-Nassau, and the Dutch Golden Era, let’s fast forward almost 200 years to the Belgian Revolution of 1830 which almost put the Dutch into bankruptcy and was a major signal of the changing controlling global authority from the Netherlands to the British.
The decision in the Congress of Vienna by Metternich, who was a tool of the Rothschilds, allowed for a familiar family to be put back into power in the Netherlands after it had been taken over by Napoleon and France. The House of Orange-Nassau was to be put back into power. The same family that helped create the Privately Owned Central Bank in London, expanded the Netherlands in their glory days by creating a central bank, stock exchange, and government-owned monopoly, and were politically connected to the most elite and wealthiest people in the world.
The Dutch Republic ended in 1795 after William V of Orange, a relative to William the Silent, was exiled during Napoleon's reign and a French-based republic was instituted. However, shortly after Napoleon took control over the Netherlands during his battles across Europe, he made the area a proxy to the French government, until he was defeated in the Battle of Waterloo and the Congress of Vienna took place to redistribute the land. Here the Rothschilds used Metternich to convince the European monarchies to unify under one political and economic system that could be abused and exploited by the financers and put the House of Orange-Nassau back into power to help accomplish that mission.
In the Netherlands in 1815, William V’s son, William Frederick, was to be given land, and wealth and named King of the Netherlands. Thus, the Kingdom of the Netherlands was born. As a result of being enthroned, he changed his name to William I. This would change the political system from a republic into a kingdom that still lasts today. Part of this agreement was that the Netherlands and the new King William I were to be given land which comprises modern-day Belgium. Here stark differences between the Northern Dutch and the Southern Belgians caused persecution and unfair treatment of the northern region toward the newly acquired southern region, and the Belgians were not enjoying the unfair treatment they were receiving from what they perceived to be a foreign king.
More specifically, a stark religious contrast between the Netherlands in the North, which were mostly Protestant and controlled by William I, and present-day Belgium in the south, which was mostly Catholic and underrepresentation in politics, caused the economic, social and political mistreatment of the southern populous.
The Belgium Revolution officially started during what is known as the ‘Night of the Opera’, wherein a Brussels opera house (Brussels was a major city in the Netherlands and is the present-day capital of Belgium) they were reenacting a play that opposed the rebels who fought against the Spanish King in the 1600s, essentially supporting the current monarchy. Rallies started to surround the opera house because of the news spreading surrounding the successful July Revolutions in France. Soon many of the attendees of the play exited the concert and began rallying in the streets with the rebels who quickly seized control over many crucial government buildings in the area. King William I of the Netherlands sent his two sons to attempt to disarm the rebellion, much like William the Silent did at the start of the 80- Years War, but after a new National Congress was established by the Belgium people, they selected Leopold of Saxe-Coburg to be their king, and any chance for reconciliation was over.
Leopold, I became the King of Belgium on July 21, 1831, which is the day that Belgium’s national independence is celebrated today. Leopold will come up later in the Revolutions of 1848, but for now, we should know that he had deep connections to the British and became a citizen in 1816. Shortly after, he married King George IV’s daughter, but she passed away before her dad died, so Leopold was unable to be named King of Great Britain. However, as we mentioned he accepted the offer by the Belgium National Congress in 1831 to become King of Belgium and spread his influence and ideals to an entire nation. One year later, he would marry King Phillipe of France’s daughter and their heirs continue to rule over Belgium today. Do you still think events that occurred 200 years ago don’t have an effect on us today? What about 100 years, 50 years? 20 years? 2001? 2007? Every day we are being exploited, and it's time we form a social and economic revolution for ourselves.
The House of Orange-Nassau remained the leading force in the Netherlands through the 19th century, and as we mentioned earlier is still the leading royal family of the Dutch today and holds important influence over international politics, economics, and society.
(Royal Arms of the Netherlands)
The revolutionary mindset of France and Belgium during the Revolutions of the 1830s is widely represented in most of Europe. Most of Europe including Austria, Russia, Prussia, Italy, and other countries' citizens went into strong rebellion against their political structures. This was due to a variety of mounting reasons that included the lower and middle classes becoming more educated, politicians passing laws that protected the financial interests of the wealthy, and more. However, these rebellions did not reach the point of overthrowing their government and did not reach the point of the widespread revolution until 1848, but now we understand the struggles that the poor were going through that led to the gradual decline of their standard of living, which always ends up in armed conflict against the incumbents, and the people who want to take their position who believe they will instill a greater good.
The lower and middle classes across Europe have felt the frustration build up for too long. For too long, the lower and middle classes' power has been dismantled, their wealth has been stolen, and their spirit has been broken. From birth, they are told what to think, believe and buy with the money earned from their labor. Citizens consciously and unconsciously see the prosperity their labor is producing with the industrial revolution, but their efforts are being rewarded with poverty, starvation, hunger, and homelessness. The Revolutions of 1848 are upon us.