Reform and Equality

You have seen at this point several decades of revolution, intertwined with the diffusion of Enlightenment thought across Europe, and with the diffusion of the effects of industrialization. We have moved from societies based on hierarchies, to post-revolutionary societies grappling with issues of liberty and equality. But, as you all have noted in your discussions, it’s difficult to pursue liberty and equality simultaneously. Countries will tend to emphasize one or the other. You have big revolutionary periods to study now: 1789-1815, and the 1848 revolutions. You also have liberal and nationalist movements between 1815 and 1848… and by way of contrast you have the non-revolutionary changes in Britain in the 1830s.

At what point did the politics of revolutionary countries or of reform movements emphasize liberty, and at what point equality? Can you detect patterns?