Video appunto: Romanticism (4)
The age of revolution
During the 18th century, British society attained a high level of political and social stability. George Washington became the first president of the USA with the American Declaration of Independence (1776). It was written by Thomas Jefferson that said that its inhabitants had the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, so there was the loss of the American colonies. Both Revolution (French Revolution and Industrial Revolution) were different from the “Glorious Revolution”: the aim of revolution now, was no longer to restore society to an earlier “uncorrupted” state but to get rid of old forms of government and find new and more just ways to organize and govern society.
There was an economic development in England from 1760 to the middle of 19th century, and it became an industrial country. There were new sources of power (like coal and steam) and technological inventions like steam engine. There was the Great Exhibition of 1851, where there were the most important inventions.
The French revolution: from emancipation to terror
It inaugurated an age of political and social change that influenced the political culture of most of Europe. In Britain there were intellectual people like Blake, Coleridge and Wordworth. Burke, a thinker of that period, condemned the Revolution’s violence in his Reflections on the French Revolution (1790). He said that society should develop through reforms and not revolution. Then, there was Thomas Paine who did The Rights of Man (1791-92) where he wrote that everybody had natural rights not based on property and birth. He wanted a redistribution of resources for the poor. He escaped thanks to Blake. Britain want a national unity and there were a lot of bloody power struggles between Jacobins and Girondins in 1793. From Robespierre, in that period there was the idea of liberty, equality and fraternity for all.
He began exhibiting his works when he was a teenager and they had successful. During his career, he worked as a meteorologist and topographic draughtsman. Then he refined his painting technique according to Romantic principles, translating ordinary scenes into quasi-abstract light-fields which expressed his emotional and physical perception of the landscape. He painted two important picture: Snow Storm and Rain, Steam and Speed. Snow Storm (1842) is so realistic that it looks like you are into it, it represents a night with storm. Rain, Steam and Speed (1844) represents a train that go very speedy, but the picture gives the sense of the speedy and it was very technological and new for the period.
After the French Revolution, in France Napoleon took the power from 1769 to 1821. He was born in Ataccio a few days after Corsica became French possession. He had Italian roots, and he was a general. He led the French army against U. K. In 1805 was protected from French invasion by the admiral Nelson, who defeated France in the battle of Trafalgar, in which he died. In the same year, Napoleon won also the Battle of Austerlitz. But there was a turning point, in the was against England, fought in Spain. So he decided to invade Russia (1814). But it was an unsuccessful , and he was defeated at Lipsia, together with the defeat inflicted by Wellington, and so he was sent in exile to the Island of Elba, but he escaped an collected an army, and he was at Waterloo when he lost and he was sent to St.Helena in 1821.
Free trade and political repression
The reign of George III is one of the most long in the English history. He was unpopular king and he surrounded himself with a party of sympathizers called the King’s Friends or New Tories. During his reign, his son William Pitt the Younger became the prime minister. He was with the king against Parliament and he accepted his conservative ideas. William supported the interests of the land - owning aristocracy. He was
a remarkably different politician from Walpole and he showed financial ability and integrity in refusing methods of government by bribery.
He was influenced by the ideas of the economist Adam Smith who with An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of the Nations proposed the end of the government’s regulation of trade. In 1801
trying to control rebellion in Ireland, Pitt did the Act of Union; with it, Irish Parliament was absorbed into English Parliament.
The road to reform
The period between 1811 and 1820 was called the Regency. After the death of George III, his son became king and he was called firstly the Prince Regent, and then George IV. During his reign, Trade Unions were legalized and the prison system was reformed. George IV was succeeded by William IV, and this was a period of important reforms. There was the First Reform Act, that extended the possibility to vote to middle-class men, while the parliament was controlled however by the upper. In 1833 slavery was finally made illegal, partly thanks to the philanthropist and politician William Wilberforce. The ideas of French Revolution arrived in Britain and there was a slave revolt in 1791 in St Domingue . Toussaint Louverture, a former slave, proved a talented military commander and gifted administrator there before being imprisoned by Napoleon. The lucrative sugar trade was too important to be put a risk.