More than fifty–five years ago,in February 1948, the British historian Lewis Namier (1888 –1960) delivered a lecture commemorating the centennial of the European revolution of 1848. His lecture has been published many times since then as "1848: Seed–plot of History," in, among other places,a volume titled Vanished Supremacies.
Namier's choice of 1848 as a point of departure was well founded. There is a tired cliché that 1848 was a turning point in history when history failed to turn, but that is wrong. The year 1848 saw the first European revolutions: France was at the center, and there were also revolutions in Palermo, Naples, Vienna, Berlin, Buda, and Poznañ, to name a few. It was also the year of nationalist revolutions in Central Europe and the year of publication of The Communist Manifesto, which predicted that an international proletarian revolution would abolish capitalism, the state, nations, and nationalism.
In 1848,as Kathleen Burk writes in her study of A.J.P.Taylor, the Austrian, or Habsburg, Empire "was a German as well as a Balkan Power,the keystone of the Concert of Europe;there was the German nation, but no Germany; there were Italian states, some of which belonged to the Austrian Empire, and two Italian kingdoms, but no Italy; France was still perceived by all the others as the most powerful,or at least the most threatening, of the continental Powers; and Russia was predominantly a European,not an Asiatic, Power ...."