Compared with the revolutionary upheavals that swept Europe from 1789 to 1850, the second half of the century appears remarkably free of violent conflicts. This fact is even more remarkable considering the impact of the French Revolution on Europe. The French Revolution was one of the most significant events of this time in European history. The aristocracy was overthrown, the king and queen were beheaded and every traditional institution was threatened. The French Revolution changed the existing constitutional monarchy to a radical democratic government. Later, the government would convert to a dictatorship under Napoleon Bonaparte.
There had been on-going antagonism between France and its neighbors, especially Austria, due to treaty violations. Ideological differences exacerbated the conflict, also. France declared war on Austria and Prussia in 1792 based on a belief that they were going to support an armed group of emigrant French nobles at Coblentz. When France defeated the Austrians and overran the Netherlands, Britain, Holland, Sardinia and Spain aligned themselves against them. Despite civil war, the French raised the first national conscript army and its forces became successful throughout the region. Through the brilliant military efforts of Napoleon, France conquered Italy, Spain, and most of Germany.
As a result of his conquests, Napoleon transformed the ancient Italian and German political structures. Prussia and Austria were reduced to French states. France brought land reform, tax reform, new institutions, and new system of weights and measure, currency, and law to the defeated territories. As a result of the French occupation, the doctrines of freedom, equality and the nation as the embodiment of the people's will spread all over Europe.
This reunification of Europe did not last, however, because the two greatest powers in Europe, Russia and Great Britain, remained outside the system. Revol...