Germany and the French Revolution

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Germany can serve as short-hand for the “Holy Roman Empire” in the eighteenth century. Long dismissed as a constitutional “monstrosity,” the Empire in reality proved a surprisingly durable fixture of Europe’s Old Regime political and dynastic firmament. Within its confines there existed a multiplicity of sub-units that ranged in size and importance from the Great Powers of Austria and Prussia, to tiny independent principalities and city states. Some of these might be considered vibrant, and others stagnant. Some were ruled by princes who deserved the label “enlightened,” whilst others were governed by despots. A generalization that holds for the Empire as a whole is that it encouraged a political culture distinguished by its legalism and its localism. These characteristics were hardly effective when confronting the challenges posed by the French Revolution, whose real impact on Germany began in 1792 with the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars. These wars ultimately destroyed the Empire, thereby paving the way for the transformation of Germany that occurred under the hegemony of Napoleon.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge History of the Age of Atlantic Revolutions
Subtitle of host publicationFrance, Europe, and Haiti
EditorsWim Klooster
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781108599405
ISBN (Print)9781108475983
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2023

Publication series

NameThe Cambridge History of the Age of Atlantic Revolutions
PublisherCambridge University Press


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