Tag Archives: Democracy

Fringes of an Empire (1848, #3)

The revolutions of 1848 were a truly European event. We’ve seen how the spark from Paris also set Germany ablaze. Part of that Germany was Austria, the German-speaking part of the Habsburg monarchy. Yet the Habsburgs also ruled over vast non-German territories: Their rich holdings in northern Italy provided a third of the total tax income. Hungary had been essential for Habsburg power projections into the Balkans for centuries. Both the Italians and the Hungarians – and also Czechs and Galicians – yearned to shake off Habsburg domination and chart their own national destinies.

You can read all posts in this series here:

The Spark of Revolution (1848, #1)

Black-Red-Gold (1848, #2)

Fringes of an Empire (1848, #3)

Continue reading

Black-Red-Gold (1848, #2)

When news of the February Revolution in Paris reached Germany, the liberals, nationalists, and radicals which had chafed under the post-Napoleonic restauration of the old order were ecstatic. They quickly set out to make their own revolutions. Soon, they reached complicated and interlocking questions of statehood and nationhood which needed answers – and, as the military interventions in Baden, Denmark, and Poland showed, the defenders of the old order still had an ace up their sleeves.

You can read all posts of this series here:

The Spark of Revolution (1848, #1)

Black-Red-Gold (1848, #2)

Fringes of an Empire (1848, #3)

Continue reading

The Spark of Revolution (1848, #1)

Popular protest is a classic tool to bring about political change. Sometimes the protests are successful – like the revolutions against Communist rule in Eastern Europe in 1989. Sometimes they are put down (like the Prague Spring had been in 1968). Sometimes, the result is mixed – the Euromaidan protests in Kiev during the winter of 2013/14 strengthened democracy in the country by removing its autocratic president Viktor Yanukovych, but the Ukrainians paid a steep price for their freedoms as Vladimir Putin took the removal of his vassal Yanukovych unkindly and has been attempting to dismantle Ukraine since then. And sometimes, the success of revolution is still in the air – like in Iran, where large crowds have been protesting for the last months against their fundamentalist government’s meddling in private affairs.

As these examples show, success and failure are sometimes not so easy to assess. They also demonstrate that protest is often limited to a few cities or one country. Only rarely does revolution leap from one place to another. The closest Europe has ever come to a revolutionary conflagration was 175 years ago, in 1848. This post traces the roots of these revolutions to the French Revolution, takes a look at the restaurationist interlude and the mounting political pressures before 1848, and then looks at the outbreak of revolution in the Paris of February 1848. With that, the stage is set for the 1848 series of posts on this blog!

The Spark of Revolution (1848, #1)

Black-Red-Gold (1848, #2)

Fringes of an Empire (1848, #3)

Continue reading

Greek Freedom? (The Greco-Persian Wars, #2)

2500 years ago, the most powerful man in the world, Persian great king Xerxes I, had set out to add another country to his vast domains – small, mountainous Greece. In the previous post we’ve seen what prompted this invasion and how initially things were going well for the Persian invasion force – they broke through the Greek defenses at Thermopylae and thus central and southern Greece lay open to them. This time, we’ll finish the account of the Persian invasion of 480/479 BCE, look at Greco-Persian relations in the following one and a half centuries, and look at how the Greco-Persian Wars were remembered among the ancient Greeks and until today – of course, with board games!

Continue reading

1989 (Games about the Cold War, #6)

How time flies – it is already the sixth installment of my series on board games about the Cold War (here are parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5). Today, we go to the very end of the Cold War – the collapse of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989: Dawn of Freedom (Ted Torgerson/Jason Matthews, GMT Games). As usual, we’ll look at it in both game and academic terms.

Continue reading

The Many Explanations for the Collapse of Communism (1989, #1)

The ancient history professor Alexander Demandt has enumerated 210 theories why the Western Roman Empire had fallen that had been proposed in the 1500 years since the Empire’s collapse. They ranged from the abolition of the gods to vulgarization and everything in between – fighting multi-front wars, excesses, lead poisoning, decline of the “Nordic character” of the Romans, female empowerment, you name it.[1] While the Roman Empire is gone for a bit longer than the Soviet Empire, the number of explanations for the sudden end of the Cold War and the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe are almost as manifold as those for the fall of Rome. That speaks of the surprise that the collapse of Communism was, and never was this process faster or more dramatic than in the year 1989. This article will look at the first group of explanations for the collapse of Communism and how they are represented in the board game 1989 (GMT Games, Ted Torgerson/Jason Matthews), kicking off a series on how history, politics and culture intertwine in 1989.

Continue reading