The Rise of Nationalism in Europe

(It is a compiled note based on NCERT class 10th History chapter) 

The series of prints by French artist Frederic Sorrieu

French artist Frederic Sorrieu prepared a series of four prints in 1848 visualizing his dream of a world made up of democratic and social Republics’, these points show-

  • The first print of the series shows the peoples of Europe and America – men and women of all ages and social classes – marching in a long train, and offering homage to the Statue of Liberty as they pass by it.
  • On the earth in the foreground of the image lie the shattered remains of the symbols of absolutist institutions. (absolutist-a government or system of rule that has no restraints on the power exercised.)
  • In the Utopian vision, the peoples of the world are grouped as distinct nations, identified through their flags and national costume. (Utopian – A vision of a society that is so ideal that it is unlikely to actually exist).
  • All these were led by the United States and Switzerland (nation-states) followed by France having the new tri-colored flag, Germany.
  • The flag they carry is an expression of liberal hopes in 1848 to unify the numerous German-speaking principalities into a nation-state under a democratic constitution. All these followed by the people of Germany, are the peoples of the Kingdom of the Two Scillies, Lombardy, Poland, England, Ireland, Hungary, and Russia. Austria, the
  • The artist to symbolize fraternity among the nations of the world used the heavens above, Christ, saints, and angels’ gaze upon the scene.
Rise of Nationalism in Europe

Rise of Nationalism in Europe

During the nineteenth century, nationalism emerged as a force that brought about sweeping changes in the political and mental world of Europe. After the multi-national dynastic empires of Europe, the nation-state emerged as a result. Nation-state means sharing the same history and common identity was important for people.

French Philosopher Ernst Renan– ‘A nation is the culmination of a long past of endeavors, sacrifice, and devotion. A heroic past, great men, and glory, that is the social capital upon which one bases a national idea. To have common glories in the past, to have a common will in the present, to have performed great deeds together, and to wish to perform still more, are the essential conditions of being a people. A nation is therefore large-scale solidarity … Its existence is a daily plebiscite … A province is its inhabitants; if anyone has the right to be consulted, it is the inhabitant. A nation never has any real interest in annexing or holding on to a country against its will. The existence of nations is a good thing, a necessity even. Their existence is a guarantee of liberty, which would be lost if the world had only one law and only one master.  


The French Revolution and the Idea of Nation

The feeling of nationalism came first with the French Revolution in 1789. the wake of the French Revolution known transfer of sovereignty from the monarchy to a body of French citizens.

  • Introduction of ideas of la Patrie (the fatherland) and le citoyen (the citizen), equal rights under a constitution, and a new flag – tricolor was chosen.
  • Election of estate general by citizens and renaming of National assembly.
  • For the nation new hymns were composed, oaths were taken and martyrs were commemorated as these plays important roles in the revolutionary nationalism feeling.
  • Napoleon destroyed democracy in France, and he introduced the Civil Code of 1804 –usually known as the Napoleonic Code.
  • Under Napoleonic Code- detained with all privileges based on birth, established equality before the law, and secured the right to property.
  • Napoleon simplified administrative divisions, abolished the feudal system, and freed peasants from serfdom and manorial dues.
  • Transport and communication systems were improved. Peasants, artisans, workers, and new businessmen enjoyed newfound freedom, even common national currency would facilitate the movement and exchange of goods and capital from one region to another.
  • Initially, French armies welcomed but after some time it became clear that the new administrative arrangements did not go hand in hand with political freedom.

Some Important Dates in the Rise of Nationalism in Europe:

1797 Napoleon invades Italy; Napoleonic wars begin.
1814-1815 Fall of Napoleon; the Vienna Peace Settlement
1821 Greek struggle for independence begins.
1848 Revolutions in Europe; artisans, industrial workers, and peasants revolt against economic hardships; middle classes demand constitutions and representative governments; Italians, Germans, Magyars, Poles, Czechs, etc. demand nation-states
1859-1870 Unification of Italy.
1866-1871 Unification of Germany
1905 Slav nationalism gathers force in the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires

The Making of Nationalism in Europe

Germany, Italy, and Switzerland were divided into kingdoms, duchies, and cantons whose rulers had their autonomous territories. Eastern and Central Europe were under autocratic monarchies within the territories of which lived diverse peoples.

The Aristocracy and the New Middle Class
  • The aristocracy was the dominant class on the continent having Socially and politically, landed, having a very strong position.
  • members of the class were very united followed by a common way and that cut across regional divisions.
  • They used the French language for purposes of diplomacy and in high society. Their families were often connected by ties of marriage. This powerful aristocracy was, however, numerically a small group.
  • The majority of the population was made up of the peasantry.
  • Industrialization began in the second half of the eighteenth century in England, but in France and parts of the German states, it occurred during the nineteenth century, by industrialization a new class comes into existence that was working businessman middle class.
The Liberal Nationalism Stand for:
  • The term ‘liberalism’ derives from the Latin root liber, meaning free. Men without property and all women were excluded from political rights.
  • In the economic sphere, liberalism stood for the freedom of markets and the abolition of state-imposed restrictions on the movement of goods and capital.
  • In 1834, a customs union or Zollverein was formed at the initiative of Prussia and joined by most of the German states. The union abolished tariff barriers and reduced the number of currencies from over thirty to two.
  • A wave of economic nationalism strengthened the wider nationalist sentiments growing at the time.
A New Conservatism after 1815:
Term – Conservatism – A political philosophy that stressed the importance of tradition, established institutions, and customs, and preferred gradual development to quick change
  • By the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, European governments are driven by a spirit of conservatism who believed that established, traditional institutions of state and society – like the monarchy, the Church, social hierarchies, property, and the family – should be preserved. Later they realized that modernization could in fact strengthen traditional institutions.
  • A modern army, an efficient bureaucracy, a dynamic economy, and the abolition of feudalism and serfdom could strengthen the autocratic monarchies of Europe.
  • Britain, Russia, Prussia, and Austria – who had collectively defeated Napoleon and were representatives of the European powers, met at Vienna to draw up a settlement for Europe in 1815(treaty of Vienna) hosted by the Austrian Chancellor Duke Metternich.
  • The Bourbon dynasty had been deposed during the French Revolution, was restored to power, and France lost the territories it had annexed under Napoleon.
  • Thus the kingdom of the Netherlands, which included Belgium, was set up in the north, and Genoa was added to Piedmont in the south. Prussia was given important new territories on its western frontiers, while Austria was given control of northern Italy.
  • German confederation of 39 states that had been set up by Napoleon was left untouched.
  • Russia was given part of Poland while Prussia was given a portion of Saxony.
  • One of the major issues taken up by the liberal nationalists, who criticized the new conservative order, was freedom of the press.
The Revolutionaries
  • In the year 1815, many secret societies were formed in European states to train revolutionaries for spreading their ideas to oppose monarchical forms that had been established after the Vienna Congress, and to fight for liberty and freedom.
  • In Genoa in 1807, an Italian revolutionary named Giuseppe Mazzini was Born and became a member of the secret society of the Carbonari at a young age.
  • He founded two more underground societies, first, Young Italy in Marseilles, and then, Young Europe in Berne, whose members were like-minded young men from Poland, France, Italy, and the German states.

The Age of Revolutions: 1830-1848

  • France in July 1830 the first upheaval took place, Bourbon kings who had been restored to power during the conservative reaction after 1815, were now overthrown by liberal revolutionaries who installed a constitutional monarchy with Louis Philippe at its head.
  • The July Revolution sparked an uprising in Brussels led to Belgium breaking away from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.
  • Greeks began a struggle for independence in 1821.
  • The Treaty of Constantinople of 1832 recognized Greece as an independent nation.

The Romantic Imagination and National Feeling

  • The development of nationalism did not come about only through wars and territorial expansion; culture also plays an important role in creating the idea of the nation: art and poetry, stories and music helped express and shape nationalist feelings.
  • Romanticism is a cultural movement that sought to develop a particular form of nationalist sentiment.
  • The language also played an important role in developing nationalist sentiments.
  • After the Russian occupation, the Polish language was forced out of schools and the Russian language was imposed everywhere. In 1831, an armed rebellion against Russian rule took place which was ultimately crushed.
  • The use of Polish came to be seen as a symbol of the struggle against Russian dominance.

Hunger, Hardship, and Popular Revolt

Economic hardships were faced by Europe in the 1830s. There was an enormous increase in population in Europe during the first half of the nineteenth century. The rise of food prices or a year of bad harvest led to widespread pauperism in towns and countries. In year 1848, the population of Paris came on the road due to Food shortages and widespread unemployment.

  • Earlier, in 1845, weavers in Silesia had led a revolt against contractors who supplied the raw material and gave them orders for finished textiles but drastically reduced their payments.
The Revolution of the Liberals
New word – Feminist – Awareness of women’s rights and interests based on the belief of the social, economic, and political equality of the genders

In 1848 revolts of the poor, unemployed, and starving peasants and workers in many European countries were on the way to revolution. In the year 1848, the revolution started and was led by the educated middle classes.

  • In other parts of Europe such as Germany, Italy, Poland, the Austro-Hungarian Empire –where independent nation-states did not yet exist, men and women of the liberal middle classes combined their demands for constitutionalism with national unification.
  • Their demands were for the creation of a nation-state on parliamentary principles – a constitution, freedom of the press, and freedom of association.
  • On 18 May 1848, 831 elected representatives marched in a festive procession to take their places in the Frankfurt parliament convened in the Church of St Paul.
  • A constitution for Germany was drafted, headed by a monarchy subject to a parliament.
  • Friedrich Wilhelm IV, King of Prussia rejected the crown and joined other monarchs to oppose the elected assembly. In parliament, there was dominancy of the middle class.
  • Political rights to women were extended and this was very controversial, while large numbers of women had participated actively over the years.
  • After 1848, the autocratic monarchies of Central and Eastern Europe began introducing changes that had already taken place in Eastern Europe before 1815. Thus serfdom and bonded labor were abolished both in the Habsburg dominions and in Russia.
The Making of Germany and Italy
  • The Prussian king, William I, proclaimed German Emperor in a ceremony held at Versailles In January 1871.
  • 18 January 1871 an assembly comprising the princes of the German states, representatives of the army, and important Prussian ministers including the chief minister Otto von Bismarck gathered to proclaim the new German Empire.
  • The currency, banking, legal and judicial systems in Germany were modernized.
Italy Unified

Italy had several dynastic states as well as the multi-national Habsburg Empire. During the middle of the nineteenth century, Italy was divided into seven states, and only Sardinia-Piedmont was ruled by an Italian princely house.

  • During the 1830s, Giuseppe Mazzini formed a secret society called Young Italy for the unitary Italian Republic.
  • Chief Minister Cavour led the movement of Italy as neither a revolutionary nor democrat. Sardinia-Piedmont succeeded in defeating the Austrian forces in 1859.
  • under the leadership of Giuseppe Garibaldi, a large number of armed volunteers marched into South Italy and the Kingdom of the Two Scillies and succeeded in winning the support of the local peasants in 1860.
  • Victor Emmanuel II was proclaimed king of united Italy in 1861.
The Strange Case of Britain

In Britain, the formation of the nation-state was not the result of a sudden revolution it was the result of the long-drawn-out process. Prior to the eighteenth century, there was no British nation-state.

  • The Act of Union (1707) between England and Scotland, resulted in the formation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain’ which meant, that England was imposing its influence on Scotland.
  • The British parliament was dominated by its English members.
  • After a failed revolt led by Wolfe Tone and his United Irishmen (1798), Ireland was forcibly incorporated into the United Kingdom in 1801.
  • The symbols of the new Britain – the British flag (Union Jack), the national anthem (God Save Our Noble King), and the English language – were promoted.
Visualizing the Nation
  • eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the artists represented a country as a person and a nation as female figures which means the female figure became an allegory of the nation.
  • French Revolution artists used the female allegory to portray ideas such as Liberty, Justice, and the Republic. red cap, or the broken chain, while Justice is generally a blindfolded woman carrying a pair of weighing scales.
  • Similarly, Germania became the allegory of the German nation’s visual representations, Germania wears a crown of oak leaves, as the German oak stands for heroism.
New words Allegory – When an abstract idea (for instance, greed, envy, freedom, liberty) is expressed through a person or a thing. An allegorical story has two meanings, one literal and one symbolic
Nationalism and Imperialism
During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, nationalist groups became increasingly intolerant of each other and ever-ready to go to war. The area called the Balkans was the most serious source of nationalist tension in Europe after 1871.
  • Balkans was a region comprising modern-day Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Greece, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, Serbia, and Montenegro whose inhabitants were broadly known as the Slavs.
  • During the nineteenth century, the Ottoman Empire sought to strengthen itself through modernization and internal reforms but with very little success. The Balkan area became an area of intense conflict.
  • there was intense rivalry among the European powers over trade and colonies as well as naval and military might. These rivalries were very evident in the way the Balkan problem unfolded.
  • Russia, Germany, England, and Austro-Hungary – were keen on countering the hold of other powers over the Balkans. This led first world war in 1914.
  • In 1914 nationalism became a disaster in Europe. But the idea that societies should be organized into ‘nation-states’ came to be accepted as natural and universal.

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