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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: July 2011

13 - German liberalism in the nineteenth century

from II - Modern liberty and its defenders
German liberalism is a main reason why Germany in the nineteenth-century could not come out of an authoritarian political system. German liberalism largely originated in a movement of intellectuals without deep roots in the middle classes as such. During and after the Napoleonic wars there emerged a liberal bureaucracy that was prepared to meet liberal demands in part, if only to strengthen government positions in a period of transition and unrest. The civil servants who opted for a modernisation of the governmental systems in Germany were impelled by Enlightenment ideas. The 1830s and 1840s were a crucial period for the formation of liberalism in Germany. In 1858 the prince-regent William announced the beginning of a new era; Prussia was determined to make the promotion of a greater degree of German unity. In 1879, Otto von Bismarck decided to break once and for all with the National Liberal Party.
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The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Political Thought
  • Online ISBN: 9780511973581
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