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The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848 Study Guide & Plot Summary

This Study Guide consists of approximately 33 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Age of Revolution.
This section contains 483 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
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The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848 Summary & Study Guide Description

The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848 Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848 by Eric Hobsbawm.

Plot Summary

The Age of Revolution is Eric Hobsbawm's survey of Western Europe during the years between 1789 and 1848. Major events covered during that period include the storming of the Bastille marking the beginnings of the French Revolution and the publication of The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx, signaling the widespread political upheaval in Europe that comes in 1848. Hobsbawm divides his book into two sections, the first describing the actual events of the period and their immediate results, and the second examining the larger transformations that occur.

The two major events during this period are the Industrial Revolution which begins in Britain and the French Revolution and subsequent wars under Napoleon. This "dual revolution," as Hobsbawm calls it, transforms not only Britain, France and the rest of Europe, but has economic and social repercussions around the world. Through increased trade, Britain, and to a lesser extent France, export their new industrial system to other parts of the world. In politics, the French Revolution stands to inspire other peoples to organize and rise in revolution. The conquests of Napoleon redraw the map of Europe, and the codes of law that he implements in newly conquered countries transform the political landscape.

Rather than seek the direct causes of this dual revolution, the author examines the conditions that make such enormous changes possible and documents the transformative forces these events have on the people of the time. Owing to differences in the existing political and social conditions, different countries respond in different ways to these forces, and Hobsbawm explains why. However he also draws parallels between groups and events in different countries, suggesting that these different responses are more closely linked than they appear at first.

Aside from the political upheaval and the advances in industry and trade that emerged as a result of this dual revolution, Hobsbawm chronicles a social environment the diminishes the importance of the aristocracy and allows for economic and social advancement based on a man's talent. A new middle class of people emerge, as the former agrarian peasantry become disconnected from the land and form a new class of working poor. It is this new social order that makes possible the imagination of new social theories like socialism and communism, a thread Hobsbawm follows closely through the period. He describes the seeds of nationalism that will expand in the second half of the 19th century, classifying it as largely a middle class phenomenon supported by a flowering of literary arts in the native languages of the different regions of Europe.

Hobsbawm also examines the significant advances in science during this period, particularly in the field of social science, and the unprecedented achievements in the arts. He connects these advances to the social upheaval and transformation following the dual revolution. Hobsbawm concludes the book looking ahead to the tumultuous year 1848, in which Europe sees a series of national revolutions and the first emergence of communism.

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This section contains 483 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848 Study Guide
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The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848 from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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