Frankfurt Parliament


Frankfurt Parliament
(1848–1849)
   A Vorparlament, or provisional parliament, established as the German National Assembly during the revolutionary upheavals of 1848, the Frankfurt Parliament convened in the rotunda of Paulskirche in Frankfurt am Main and authorized the organization of elections by direct male suffrage throughout Germany and Austria. The parliament was a hastily improvised response of liberal reformers to the decision by Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV to consent to a combined Prussian diet to discuss German unification.
   The parliament was chiefly concerned with preparation of a constitution for all the German lands. The parliament was briefly the heartbeat of German national aspirations, but it came to grief because of a lack of unanimity specifically over the construction of a national government. It offended Austria-Hungary with a resolution to exclude from the German Empire all non-German lands. The parliament then offered the title of hereditary emperor to Friedrich Wilhelm, who was both loath to accept a throne offered by social inferiors and fearful of provoking Austria or Russia. Having stood partly on the principle of divine right, he weakly put it aside and asked for the consent of the various German states. When Bavaria, Hanover, Saxony, and Württemberg objected and Austria disapproved, he refused the crown. Its plan defeated, the assembly melted away, and the day of German unity was postponed until 1870. Meaningful liberal reform was postponed much longer.
   See also <>; <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Eyck, Frank. Frankfurt Parliament, 1848-1849. New York: St. Martin’s, 1968.
   CARL CAVANAGH HODGE

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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