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- After the war with France, Karl and his brother Adolf returned to Giessen university where Karl Follen founded the radical "Germania" reading society which encouraged Jahn's idea of physical exercise in preparation for defence of the Fatherland.
- Follen and other radicals also introduced at Giessen the new type of Burschenschaft fraternity established by Jahn to promote the concept of German unification with the motto: "honour, freedom, fatherland".
- At high school Follen picked up nationalist ideas and was introduced to nationalist writers such as Jahn.
- In 1817 the Giessen Burschenschaft was disbanded by the authorities.
- In 1818 he qualified as a doctor of civil and canonical law and began to practice law and lecture on jurisprudence at Giessen.
- This hardened Follen's attitude and he became fanatically nationalist and politically extreme, writing poetry and songs sanctioning political assassination in pursuit of a morally free society.
- He was part of a group who drew up a plan for a national constitution, based on the French Republic.
- In October 1818 Follen moved to the university of Jena, where the Burschenschaft flourished.
- In March 1919 a right-wing playwright, August von Kotzebue was assassinated by Karl Sand, one of Follen's closest friends at Jena.
- Freedom of the press was immediately abolished, student associations forbidden, the universities were put under government control and many student were imprisoned.