When dealing with the period known as the "Restoration," one often uses the dates of 1815 to 1848.The Congress of Vienna, in 1815, signaled the start of the Restoration, and the Revolution of 1848 signaled the end.The question, however, is not "when was the Restoration," but "why was it called the Restoration."These dates are important in helping us determine what was restored, as we see 1815 bring an end to Napoleon's rule, and 1848 bring an end to the July Monarchy and touch off revolutions throughout Europe.After Napoleon's failed "One Hundred Days" return, every major European nation, from Austria, Russia, Britain and France to Portugal, Spain, and Sweden, got together at the Congress of Vienna in what was effectively thefirst European Union.What is worth note is that this meeting's goal was to "restore peace and stability to a Europe which had known neither for twenty years."1 This Congress ended up making changes to the existing political and societal landscape, which is not a "Restoration" at all; they did, however restore some semblance of peace in Europe.
Very little in the way of reverting to the old form of government, either an autocracy or theocracy, or in terms of social norms, was actually restored; that is, returned to the way it was before Napoleon Bonaparte.Upon examination, the only major "restoration" in France was the monarchy, and even that was changed by a constitution.The Bourbon regime was returned to power, and things seemed to look good for it.2
Prior to the Restoration, the French government was fighting a war on several fronts, against Austria, against revolutionaries, and against a peasant revolt.Germany, or the German States, had no national identity, no common unity; the war against Russia united the volk under a banner of pseudo-nationalism, and created a sense of belonging. After 1815, many…