By Peter Hofschroer
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Additional info for 1815 The Waterloo Campaign: Wellington, His German Allies and the Battles of Ligny and Quatre Bras
Added to which this Christian and patriarchal monarch felt that to fight against his own people was a sin; accordingly everything now depended on extending the hand of reconciliation. General von Prittwitz had scarcely left him when the king sat down at his desk to draft a proclamation 'To my beloved Berliners'. Everything, he wrote, had been a crazy mistake, caused by 'a gang of rabble-rousers, mostly from foreign lands'. The people needed only to leave the barricades and send delegates to the palace 'filled with the true old Berlin spirit, with words such as are due to your King', and he gave his royal word that Berlin would immediately be cleared of troops, and that only the palace and the Zeughaus would retain their military guards for a short while.
Had the royal patents not released so much pressure that a happier sequence of events would have allowed constitutional conditions to be reached along a peaceful road, as in almost all the other German states? Everything hung in the balance on that afternoon of 18 March, and the slightest pressure would decide the direction events would take. It is indeed possible that those two shots provided that pressure. The battle begins Within an instant the scene changed. People were fleeing headlong into the sidestreets; the cry of 'Treachery!
The old agrarian society of Europe was gradually breaking up, since despite rising food production, in many agricultural regions the population was growing faster still. The flow of emigration was partly towards the still unpopulated regions of the world, America, Australia and Canada, and partly towards places already inhabited by many people, namely the towns, which were growing furiously, and where, during the course of the nineteenth century, depths of social, hygienic and moral abuse were plumbed which defied description; Charles Dickens' and Eugene Sue's novels provide only a dim and romanticised notion of the crass and wretched reality.
1815 The Waterloo Campaign: Wellington, His German Allies and the Battles of Ligny and Quatre Bras by Peter Hofschroer