1848 saw an unprecedented wave of revolutions. The social order appeared shaken to its foundations. Even those countries, like Britain which did not experience revolutions endured severe political crises. Yet within months established elites were able to re-assert themselves, and to take advantage of their entrenched position within bureaucracies and armies. This book seeks to analyse the causes of both revolution and reaction. It aims to set political events with the context of a Continent undergoing complex processes of transition from essentially pre-industrial economic and social structures, towards more modern urban-industrial systems. It considers why, after 1848, except in the exceptional circumstances of war, governments were better able to prevent the development of revolutionary movements.