Gylian revolution of 1848
|Gylian revolution of 1848|
Drawing of a barricade in Rance during the revolution
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|History of Gylias|
The Gylian revolution of 1848 (French reformed: Révolution d'1848) was one of a broader revolutionary wave in Tyran that year. A series of loosely coordinated protests, rebellions, and uprisings erupted throughout Xevden, demanding the abolition of the authoritarian regime, an end to marginalisation of Gylians, and economic reforms.
The revolution marked the first show of force for the Gylian ascendancy, and displayed an effective alliance between reformists and radicals. Faced with the danger of nationwide insurrection, the Xevdenite authorities chose to negotiate. The first Gylian national assembly was convened in Keraþ, and it produced a constitution which was highly advanced in liberal democratic terms. However, the Xevdenites' attempt to water down and stall the proposed constitution inflamed public outrage, and provoked the Glorious Rebellion in 1856.
Although the revolution ultimately failed with the defeat of the Glorious Rebellion, it marked a turning point in Gylian history, showcasing the strength of the Gylian ascendancy and pushing Xevden into disintegration. The Keraþ constitution assumed great symbolic significance, and would be the basis of Alscia's constitution.
Xevden had begun an authoritarian turn after queen Senalta's death in 1804. Her successors lacked her skill at balancing competing interests or credibility among the native populations, and the monarchy lost power to the nobility and conservative-dominated parliament. Having to operate in a new constitutional context based on the Treaty of Aðnat, the Xevdenite elites increasingly embraced a racist, social spencerist justification for their rule.
The failure of the Rebellion of 1749 and subsequent betrayal of trust in Senalta's promises helped drive the Gylian ascendancy, a period of national awakening that saw the formation of a common Gylian identity and significant progress in organising a "parallel society" outside of the Xevdenite state. The increasingly cohesive and well-organised Gylian movement capitalised on the economic problems affecting Xevden: rampant corruption, deficient industrialisation, severe inequality, and an emerging middle class revolted by aristocratic privileges.
In early 1848, student demonstrations were mounted in several large cities in protest against recent abuses by Xevdenite authorities, particularly harassment of local Gylian schools and publications. The ruling Party of Order sent troops to crush the demonstrations. The repression backfired, as demonstrations grew and students were joined by the working class and middle class in the cities, turning into an armed insurrection.
The Xevdenite ruling class initially continued to try violent repression. More protests erupted nationwide, and insurrections broke out. In the cities, revolutionaries erected barricades, set fires, and attacked important buildings such as palaces, law enforcement headquarters, and military camps. As news of the uprising spread, revolts broke out in rural areas, where farmers took over land and executed landlords and nobles.
With king Ŋarny vacillating in the face of the revolution, a split began to occur among Xevdenite ranks between pragmatists advocating concessions and reactionaries committed to force. The Xevdenites tried to disrupt communication and coordination among Gylians by attacking means of communication and the press. However, disruption of communications also affected the Xevdenite authorities, while the Gylians found workarounds such as relying on kyðoi to transport messages as well as support insurrections.
Unity among the Gylian factions held firm despite efforts to sow division by Xevdenites. Many of the influential theorists and agitators came from a middle class background, while the greater contribution to the insurrection came from the working classes and underclasses. The workers were on average more radical and demanded immediate improvements in working and living conditions. This provided an economic counterpart to the liberal agitation for democracy and civil rights.
Popular assemblies were organised, both to present demands and to govern areas under revolutionary control through direct democracy. Their resolutions converged into a set of demands centred around a new constitution.
Towards the middle of 1848, the revolution had reached an impasse. Gylian revolutionaries controlled sizeable amounts of territory and major cities, but these were largely discontinuous, and remained a problem. The Xevdenite authorities, despite their retreats in the face of revolutionary pressure, continued to harass the revolutionaries and bided their time waiting for divisions among revolutionaries to emerge.
Seeing the failure to crush the revolution militarily or stir backlash, king Ŋarny chose to side with the pragmatists. He issued a manifesto calling for peace, pulled back military forces, and prosecuted several hated officeholders and commanders for abuses. This allowed him to get a hearing from revolutionaries, and he granted further concessions. Most importantly, he announced the organisation of a national assembly, freely elected by Gylians, to produce a new constitution.
All 600 seats to the National Assembly
Elections for the national assembly were held by universal suffrage among Gylians, with Xevdenites largely boycotting the poll. A total of 600 deputies were elected. The assembly convened in Keraþ, thus earning the nickname "Keraþ assembly". The choice of the city had a symbolic significance — due to its central location at the foot of the Kackar mountains — and a practical one — the further away from Velouria the more it was protected from Xevdenite interference.
The assembly struggled from the outset against Xevdenite inflexibility and subversion attempts. It successfully forced the authorities to pay the deputies salaries and provide a budget, and hired secretaries, stenographers, and clerks to assist its workings. Reports of the daily sessions were printed for the public afterwards and spread through the Gylian press. The revolutionary tricolour of blue–yellow–red flew over the assembly's meeting place and was draped throughout the chamber walls.
The national assembly made Keraþ a central point of the revolution, and immersed the city in lively political and social debate. Assembly delegates were drawn from all walks of life, from workers, traders, farmers, intellectuals, and the limited Gylian middle class. One famous aspect was the presence of numeous leading figures of the Gylian ascendancy among deputies, including artists like Anca Déuréy and Angeline Dalles, and political philosophers like Nefne Sary, Hannah Edelstein, and Mary Grant.
Soon, three major political factions formed, with one historical estimate attributing 300 seats to liberals, 200 seats to conservatives, and 100 seats to socialists and social democrats. Each faction met in an associated meeting place, and the cafés and clubs of Keraþ played host to kindred political spirits, some of whom formed lifelong friendships.
Although the national assembly brought a degree of peace to Xevden, a tense dual power situation existed. The Gylian constitutionalists who predominated in the assembly maintained an alliance with the confrontationists outside of it, and protests, insurrections, and kyðoi attacks happened semi-regularly to maintain pressure on the authorities. On the Xevdenite side, Ŋarny's suspension of the Xevdenite parliament angered the Party of Order, and reactionaries continued to meet as a rump parliament in Velouria and denounce Gylian revolutionary violence.
The assembly's deliberation lasted almost a year. One major issue was accurately judging the revolutionaries' leverage and how much they could obtain. The radicals advocated presenting a republican constitution with radical provisions specifically to force the Xevdenites to bargain down to still significant concessions. The conservatives and liberals were pessimistic about such a strategy and feared a long delay would embolden the reactionaries. They advocated making some compromises in the hopes of increasing chances that the constitution could be forced upon Xevden.
The final constitution was presented in 1849 — symbolically, on the centenary of the Rebellion of 1749. Although the radical left faction was displeased by the compromises of the final text, the constitution remained a landmark among Tyranian constitutions of the era. It contained advanced liberal and democratic provisions, including:
- Universal suffrage and citizenship
- An extensive bill of rights
- A parliamentary system, with the government responsible to the legislature, and the monarch largely playing a ceremonial role
- Extensive decentralisation and reorganisation of the state as a federation
- A bicameral parliament with a directly-elected lower house and an upper house appointed by regional governments
- An elective monarchy
- State secularism
- Free public education and hospitals
- State obligation to provide social benefits
- Abolition of the nobility and expropriation of its property
- Land reform without compensation to landlords, and expansion of common land
- State control of mechanisation to prevent reduction of wages
The text of the constitution was designed so that even inevitable compromises to get it past the Xevdenite parliament would still force the elite to grant more concessions than envisioned.
The Keraþ assembly essentially dissolved itself after its work was complete, and the onus shifted to the Xevdenites. While the reactionary faction was predictably outraged by the Keraþ constitution, the pragmatists themselves had misgivings about its radicalism. They were willing to concede political reforms, but were unnerved by the social and economic provisions. This possibility was anticipated by Hannah Edelstein, who declared during one debate, "We won't accept the right to vote without the right to the wealth that's been stolen from us."
Lacking a clear strategy, the Xevdenites tried to stall acting on the constitutional proposal, hoping that the revolutionaries would lose their cohesion and élan. The constitution was introduced into the Xevdenite parliament not integrally, but piecemeal. The political process survived a tedious adoption process at the cost of being watered down: the elected and ceremonial monarchy was discarded, the bill of rights was reduced in comprehensiveness, the state religion retained, and decentralisation was abandoned.
Gylians were outraged by the Xevdenites' intransigence. A "constitutional campaign" was launched, with uprisings throughout Xevden and intensification of kyðoi attacks to force Xevden to accept the constitution. Notably, one riot took place in Velouria in which protesters managed to overpower the garrison and attacked and set fire to the Xevdenite parliament building, forcing parliamentarians to flee to Tezeŋşa for safety. Mounting pressure and unrest caused by the stalling of the constitution finally brought about the Glorious Rebellion in 1856.
The revolution and the Glorious Rebellion would assume high symbolic significance for Gylian history. The memory of the Keraþ assembly was glorified, particularly for the way the reformist–radical alliance held firm in the face of Xevdenite pressure, and was invoked as a precedent in the formation of the Gylian consensus. The Keraþ constitution itself was embraced as a foundational text for Gylian conservatives, who expressed pride in it and celebrated it as one of Gylian conservatism's greatest achievements. It would form the model for Alscia's constitution, and later served as a touchstone for the popular drafting of the Constitution of Gylias.