The French Revolution

The French Revolution

Then came the French Revolution (1789) and the end of the feudal age. Napoleon emerged, and with him came the restructuring of Europe and the rise of the middle classes. The Corsican, Emperor of France since 1804, rode up and down the Danube several times. He took up his quarters in Regensburg, Passau, Linz, Melk, Schönbrunn, and Vienna. Sparing ourselves a description of the victories and defeats on the Danube, let’s just look at the outcome: the most important and most obvious result was the disappearance of the old Roman Empire of the German Nation. The first step towards this had been the secularisation of church property. The ecclesiastical territories were shared out amongst the secular states. An imperial deputation passed the resolution at the Regensburg Diet of 1803. On the Danube, this decision affected the prince-bishopric of Passau, which was simply handed to Bavaria. The proclamation of Bavaria’s status as a kingdom took place on 1 January 1806. Then, in 1810, Regensburg likewise passed into the possession of the Bavarian crown. 600 years of autonomy had come to an end.

Franz II had already assumed the hereditary title of Emperor of Austria in 1804. The newly-created Austrian Empire encompassed the old hereditary Habsburg lands on the Danube and the kingdoms of Bohemia and Hungary. The coat of arms of the old Empire – the double-headed eagle – was retained as the national coat of arms of Austria. The new order of states also survived the fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna of 1814. Bavaria, now augmented by the addition of Franconia and Swabia, continued to be ruled as a kingdom by the Wittelsbach dynasty until 1918. Under King Ludwig I, who reigned from 1825 to 1848, patriotic monumental buildings were erected, such as the Walhalla memorial downriver of Regensburg and the Befreiungshalle above Kelheim.