Class 10 History

Economic Liberalisation

Economic liberalization was another hallmark of the Napoleonic Code. The emerging middle class was also in favour of economic liberalization.

Let us take example of German-speaking regions in the first half of nineteenth century. There were 39 states in this region which were further divided into many principalities. Each principality had its own currency and its own units of measurement.

If a merchant travelled from Hamburg to Nuremberg; he had to pass through 11 customs barriers and pay a custom duty of about 5% at each barrier. Custom duty had to be paid according to weight and measure. Wide difference in units of weight and measurement created further confusion.

The conditions were not at all business friendly and served as obstacles to economic activities. The new commercial class was demanding a unified economic territory so that there could be unhindered movement of goods, people and capital.


In 1834, a customs union or zollverein was formed; at the initiative of Prussia and was joined by most of the German states. Tariff barriers were abolished and the number of currencies was reduced from thirty to two. Development of a railways network further enhanced mobility. This created some sort of economic nationalism which helped in strengthening the national sentiments which were growing at that time.

A New Conservatism After 1815

Napoleon was defeated in 1815 by the combined power of Britain, Russia, Prussia and Austria. After the defeat of Napoleon, European governments wanted to follow conservatism. The conservatives believed that established, traditional institutions of state and society should be preserved. They believed in preserving the monarchy, the Church, social hierarchies, property and the family.

But most of them also wanted to retain the modernization which Napoleon carried out in the spheres of administration. The conservatives believed that modernization would strengthen traditional institutions. It was believed that a modern army, an efficient bureaucracy, a dynamic economy, the abolition of feudalism and serfdom could strengthen the monarchies of Europe.

The Treaty of Vienna

The representatives of the European powers (Britain, Russia, Prussia and Austria) met at Vienna in 1815 to draw up a settlement of Europe. The Austrian Chancellor Duke Metternich was the host of the Congress. The Treaty of Vienna of 1815 was drawn up at this meeting. Its objective was to undo most of the changes which had come in Europe during the Napoleonic wars. Some of the steps taken according the Treaty of Vienna are follows:

The conservative regimes which were set up in 1815 were autocratic. They were intolerant of criticism and dissent. Most of them imposed censorship laws to control the contents in newspaper, books, plays and songs.