German History Society conference, Leicester, September 2018

I will be speaking at the German History Society annual conference, being held this year at the University of Leicester between 13 and 15 September 2018. I’m appearing on a panel along with Dr. Anna Ross (University of Warwick) and Dr. Jean-Michel Johnston (University of Oxford), the panel topic being State and Society after 1848. My paper is entitled “The Myth of the Ultraösterreichischern: Particularism and Patriotism in Württemberg and the South after 1848″, and the abstract is below:

Southern German Mittelstaaten played prominent roles during the 1848 revolutions, and many of the key revolutionary protagonists hailed from these states. In spite of this, with some exceptions the south German states are typically ignored in the aftermath of the failure of the revolutionary project. In the standard narrative, 1848 stands as a ‘last hurrah’ of Mittelstaat autonomy; what followed, particularly after the post-1849 reaction, was best characterised by a mixture of servitude and obsequiousness, with most states reaffirming their commitment to an Austrian-led Germany. 1848 is thus the moment of rupture between the Metternich era and a more sympathetic rapprochement between Vienna, Stuttgart, Munich, and Karlsruhe.

This reading, however, ignores the complexities of Mittelstaat politics, and assumes that a correlation of southern states siding with Austria in German disputes implies a causation of fealty. In reality, the revolutions and their aftermath provided a catalyst for a gradual distancing of the Mittelstaaten from Austrian policy, and a souring of attitudes towards Vienna. Using the Kingdom of Württemberg as a case study, this paper demonstrates that, far from demonstrating so-called ‘ultra-Austrian tendencies’, between 1849 and 1866 the southern states manipulated their relationships with the Habsburg Empire to their own ends. Far from the end of Metternich signifying a new, positive era in Austro-German relations, between the end of the Frankfurt Assembly and the triumph of the Prussian army at Königgrätz diplomatic ties in the centre of Europe were strained, fractious, and frequently and cynically exploited.

The German History Society is a fantastic professional academic organisation, and is responsible for the publication of the journal German History, as well as a series of monographs (Studies in German History) in conjunction with Oxford University Press. Anyone with an interest in German history in general would be well advised to see if they can put together a trip to Leicester in September!

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