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Chapter 22, January Revolution

Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio

The sudden economic crisis also left the Austrian Government dumbfounded; this was their first experience with such a crisis, and everyone lacked experience.

Ordinary economic crises would have been manageable, but this time, the crisis caused by the industrial crisis rendered traditional solutions obviously obsolete.

Government bailout?

That was clearly impossible, Prime Minister Metternich must have had water in his brain if he ever thought about rescuing the capitalists.

Of course, there were still necessary measures, such as the government had lowered tariffs due to soaring prices, which were promptly restored to normal.

But the domestic crisis was not alleviated, and the capitalists and nobility who had hoarded a large amount of goods ended up sacrificing even their figurative underpants.

Take daily necessities as an example, the current retail prices in Vienna are only sixty-six percent of those in the first half of 1847, not even one-third of the retail prices at the peak in December.

The decline in prices was just one side of the problem; the most critical aspect was the decline in purchasing power — even at such prices, people had no money to buy.

That was tragic.

Under normal circumstances, the wholesale price of daily necessities should have been thirty to forty percent lower than retail prices. A drop in retail prices meant that capitalists could simply take a financial hit and leave—most could bear this loss.

The problem now was that despite having a price, there was no market; a pile of goods lay there with no buyers.

Well-capitalized capitalists could still hold on, but those who lacked strength were already experiencing broken funding chains, defaulted on bank debts, and fled.

Financial institutions in Austria, therefore, suffered severe damage, and the financial crisis erupted, fueling a vicious cycle.

The era of the Great Depression had arrived, not only in Austria but throughout the European Continent, with the exception of Russia, no one could keep themselves completely unaffected.

Understandably, the "Labor Protection Law" introduced by the Vienna Government was postponed indefinitely — with no jobs, what was there to discuss about treatment?

The bourgeoisie achieved their goal — the Vienna Government indeed made concessions, and the "Labor Protection Law" was put on hold, but this was not what they had wanted.

The sudden economic crisis had severely weakened the bourgeoisie. Due to brutal market competition, the internal conflicts among the capitalists also intensified.

Prime Minister Metternich became both the biggest winner and the biggest loser. He successfully thwarted the bourgeoisie's scheming, but alas, it was he who had to clean up the mess after the victory.

Franz, the disinterested observer, was stunned. He had not anticipated such an ending, where the bourgeoisie, the nobility, and the government were all losers of this political struggle.

If there were to be any winners, it would be Ferdinand I, who did nothing in the Imperial Palace — sadly, he himself could not feel it.

Then, the working class was in a situation of a tie. Austria's economic crisis was more severe than in history, their days became harder, and their sole gain was a "Labor Protection Law" with no set date for fulfillment.

In short, the future is bright, but the reality is cruel.

"Grand Duke, last night, a revolution erupted in Sicily!"

Tyren, the head of the Intelligence organization, rushed in, bringing this shocking news to Franz.

Franz was indeed stunned. Wasn't the 1848 European revolutions supposed to start in February in France? How did a Sicilian revolution pop up?

Alright, Franz admitted his knowledge of Sicily was limited to the beautiful legends of Sicily; its fertile land is suitable for growing food and strategically located at the center of the Mediterranean.

And that's it. After recalling carefully, Franz remembered a line from a history book that mentioned a January Revolution in Italy had erupted before the February Revolution in France.

The original text stated the Italian January Revolution marked the beginning of the 1848 European revolutions, merely glossing over it with no further explanation, and Franz had not paid much attention.

What a trap! Italy wasn't even unified yet; Sicily was then an independent Kingdom of Sicily. What did they have to do with Italy?

Because of this, he had specifically sent people to watch over the Kingdom of Sardinia — weren't they the ones who later unified Italy?

Soon, Franz recovered. He wasn't specialized in history research after all; being unfamiliar with historically insignificant events was natural.

"How large is the scale of this revolution? Has the Kingdom of Sicily been overthrown?"

Why a revolution had erupted was obvious even without asking — the economic crisis had erupted, and the people of the Kingdom of Sicily could no longer survive.

"Grand Duke, we're not clear on that yet, as we have too few intelligence agents in the Kingdom of Sicily, so it's impossible to understand the situation in such a short time!"

Tyren explained apologetically, it wasn't that he wasn't making an effort, but intelligence work was not something that could be accomplished overnight — receiving news this quickly was already commendable.

In this era, wireless telegraphy wasn't invented yet; only big cities had wired telegraphs, so the events occurring in Sicily had to go through a series of relays before reaching Vienna.

If they had to wait for news to spread naturally, the message could easily be delayed by three to five days, even one or two weeks was not unusual.

"Hmm, let's leave it at that. Focus our efforts on Vienna, Milan, Venice, and Budapest instead, the revolution in the Kingdom of Sicily might trigger a chain reaction!" Franz thought for a moment and said.

He had figured it out; he couldn't control what was happening outside, so he'd better stabilize the domestic situation first. At least they should receive the news before the outbreak of the revolution, to be prepared, right?

"Yes, Grand Duke!"

Seeing that Franz did not blame him, Tyren breathed a sigh of relief; the combat effectiveness of the Intelligence organization had declined much from the past, and as a responsible person, he couldn't shirk the blame.

Well, he didn't know how low Franz's expectations of them were. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

In the Intelligence organization, over ninety-five percent of the personnel worked voluntarily without any pay — what more could Franz expect?

These were the results of the Habsburg Family's many years of effort; conquering Europe with the lower half of the body wasn't a joke, their network had long been spread across the European Continent.

Using these connections, it was feasible to communicate news among each other, but to order them to do things, Franz didn't think he possessed such a commanding presence.

As for Tyren, there was no doubt that he was a temporary substitute. Once Franz's own Intelligence organization was established, they would serve as a facade to attract external attention.

With the revolution in Sicily erupting, Franz also began to prepare. He did not dare entrust his life to others.

Using this as an excuse, Franz conducted a drill of the Royal Guards, recompiling those who were there just to make up the numbers into a separate unit.