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Bavaria Revolution came to Bavaria in March 1848 in the form of widespread popular demands for reforms of all kinds. Catalysed into action by the stirring news from Paris of the revolution in late February which forced King Louis Philippe into exile, public assemblies in Bavaria met and formulated requests for change. With the exception of scattered outbreaks of peasant violence against tax collectors, landlords and Jews in Franconia and Swabia, the "revolution" of 1848 in Bavaria was non-violent. Thousands of Munich citizens agreed on a list of demands which they presented to King Ludwig I on March 3, 1848. On March 6, under pressure from his advisors and family because of popular criticism of his personal life and unwilling to preside over political changes he considered incompatible with monarchy, Ludwig I agreed to abdicate in favor of his son, Maximilian II. This was one of the few monarchical changes in Germany brought on by the revolution.

In Bavaria, unlike Prussia, a national parliament based on estates dated from 1818 and in 1848, with no changes in its make-up, began to debate the reforms agreed to in principle by both Ludwig and Maximilian. In summer 1848 this parliament passed a wide-ranging series of laws providing for abolition of most the older restrictions on landowning and dues owed to noble landlords, reform of the court system, freedom of the press, a new and liberal electoral law and ministerial responsibility for the cabinet. Elections conducted under the new laws took place in November 1848 and resulted in an assembly dominated by liberals and democrats. Despite the electoral gains made by the left in November, the political pendulum had begun to swing to the right in Bavaria as in Germany. After the parliament in Frankfurt passed the Basic Rights (Grundrechte), the Bavarian Lower House of parliament did likewise on January 16, 1849, while the Upper House (of Lords) rejected it. This action stimulated a new wave of popular action in the form of assemblies that formulated and submitted to parliament petitions for and against the Basic Rights. In early March 1849 Maximilian adjourned parliament until May 16 and, in the interim, appointed a new Foreign Minister, Ludwig von der Pfordten, a moderate conservative, and chose new heads for most major state ministries with the same moderate-conservative attitudes.

On April 23, 1849, Maximilian further announced the Bavarian government's nonrecognition of both the basic rights and the Frankfurt constitution. His action caused the almost immediate eruption of a new wave of assemblies and petitions for and against the constitution, this time amidst rumor of revolutionary armed action by the left. In terms of expression of sentiment through petitioning, Bavarians divided nearly evenly over the government's rejection of an national state. In the traditional provinces of Lower and Upper Bavaria along with the Upper Palatinate, opinion clearly favored the king. In the newer Franconian provinces and Swabia feelings ran counter to the government, but even in radical Lower Franconia there was no significant resort to violence. But in the Palatinate on the left bank of the Rhine antagonism to the government was intense and resulted in armed action.

Unable to quell the disturbances in the Palatinate and worried about possible insurrection in Franconia, Maximilian asked Prussia for military help to suppress the revolutionaries on the left bank of the Rhine. One reason for his concern was the existence in 1849 of numerous civil militias established on the communal level that had obtained arms from the government and itself and, potentially, posed a significant military threat. Simultaneously, the king dissolved the parliament and called for new elections, which were held in July 1849 and sent a less democratic and more liberal group of legislators to Munich. Following the Prussian military suppression of armed rebellion in Baden, Maximilian began to move against dissenters within the Bavarian governmental bureaucracy. Despite modernizing moves in some areas of governmental action, Maximilian's major decisions in 1848 and especially following 1849 mark him as far more conservative than previously considered.

As in other states, many of the gains made in Bavaria in early 1848 remained after the revolution had lost its influence. But a new wave of legislation, largely stemming from 1850 and after, imposed new restrictions, especially on the political use of the press and on political action in the form of clubs, parties and workers' organizations. However, political groups of all kinds had already emerged from the 1848-49 revolution in Bavaria, including right-wing, Catholic clubs like the Pius Associations and the Association for Constitutional Monarchy and Religious Freedom. Although restricted by later legislation in the years after 1849, some of these organizations survived and provided the foundations of modern political party development in Bavaria.
James F. Harris


Doerberl, Michael, Entwicklungsgeschichte Bayern(/CITE>, III Vom Regierungsantritt König Ludwigs I. bis zum Entwicklung Bayerns unter dem Prinzregenten Luitpold

Schleunes, Karl A., Schooling and Society: The Politics of Education in Prussia and Bavaria 1750-1900 (NY/Oxford/Munich, 1989).

Spindler, Max ed., Handbuch der bayerischen Geschichte IV Das neue Bayern 1800-1970 (Munich, 1974).

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