- Rise of nationalism in Europe
In the 18th century, a wave of
romantic nationalismswept the continent of Europe transforming the countries of the continent. Some new countries, such as Germany and Italy were formed by uniting smaller states with a common "national identity". Others, such as Greece, Poland and Bulgaria, were formed by winning their independence.
French Revolutionpaved the way for the modern nation-state. Across Europeradical intellectualsquestioned the old monarchial order and encouraged the development of a popular nationalismcommitted to re-drawing the politicalmap of the continent. By 1914 the days of multi-national empireswere numbered. The French Revolution, by destroying the traditional structures of power in Franceand territories conquered by Napoleon, was the instrument for the politicaltransformation of Europe. Revolutionary armies carried the slogan of "liberty, equality and brotherhood" and ideas of liberalismand national self-determinism. National awakening also grew out of an intellectualreaction to the Enlightenment that emphasized national identityand developed a romantic view of culturalself-expression through nationhood. The key exponent of the modern idea of the nation-statewas the German Georg Hegel(1770-1831). He argued that a sense of nationalitywas the cement that held modern societies together in an age when dynasticand religiousallegiance was in decline. In 1815, at the end of the Napoleonic wars, the major powers of Europetried to restore the old dynasticsystem as far as possible, ignoring the principle of nationalityin favour of " legitimism", the assertion of traditionalclaims to royal authority. With most of Europe's peoples still loyal to their local provinceor city, nationalismwas confined to small groups of intellectualsand politicalradicals. Furthermore, political repression, symbolized by the Carlsbad Decreespublished in Austriain 1819, pushed nationalistagitation underground.
Congress of Vienna.
"1821" Greek declaration of national independence.
"1848" Nationalist revolts in
Hungary, Italyand Germany.
"1859-61" Italy unified.
"1863" Polish national revolt.
"1866-71" Germany unified.
Congress of Berlin: Serbia, Romaniaand Montenegrogranted independence.
The struggle for independence
A strong resentment of what came to be regarded as foreign rule began to develop. In
Ireland, Italy, Belgium, Greece, Poland, Hungaryand Norwaylocal hostility to alien dynastic authoritystarted to take the form of nationalistagitation. Nationalismcame to be seen as the most effective way to create the symbols of resistance and to unite in a common cause. Success came first in Greecewhere an eight-year civil war (1821-1829) against Ottoman rule led to an independent Greek state; in 1831 Belgiumobtained independence from the Netherlands. Over the next two decades nationalismdeveloped a more powerful voice, spurred by nationalistwriters championing the cause of nationalist self-determination. In 1848, revolutions broke out across Europe, sparked by a severe famineand economic crisisand mounting popular demand for political change. In Italy Giuseppe Mazziniused the opportunity to encourage a war for national unity. In 1861 he wrote:
"No people ever die, nor stopshort upon their path, before they have achieved the ultimate aim of their existence, before having completed and fulfilled their mission. A people destined to achieve great things for the welfare of humanity must on day or other be constituted a nation".In
Hungary, Lajos Kossuthled a national revolt against Austrian rule; in the German Confederationa National Assembly was elected at Frankfurtand debated the creation of a German nation. None of the nationalistrevolts in 1848 were successful, any more than the two attempts to win Polish independence from Russian rule in 1831 and 1846 had been. Conservativeforces proved too strong, while the majority of the populations little understood the meaning of national struggle. But the 1848 crisis had given nationalismits first full public airing, and in the thirty years that followed no fewer than seven new national states were created in Europe. This was partly the result of the recognition by conservativeforces that the old order could not continue in its existing form. Conservative reformers such as Cavourand Bismarck made common cause with liberal political modernizers to create a consensus for the creation of conservativenation-states in Italyand Germany. In the Habsburg empire a compromise was reached with Hungarian nationalists in 1867 granting them a virtually independent state. In the Balkansthe Greek example had inspired other national awakenings. Native historyand culturewere rediscovered and appropriated for the national struggle. Following a conflict between Russiaand Turkey, the Great Powers met at Berlin in 1878 and granted independence to Romania, Serbiaand Montenegro.
The invention of a symbolic national identity became the concern of racial or linguistic groups throughout
Europeas they struggled to come to terms with the rise of mass politics, popular xenophobia, discriminationand the decline of the traditional social elites. Within the Habsburg empirethe different peoples developed a more mass-based, violent and exclusive form of nationalism. This developed even among the Germans and Magyars, who actually benefited from the power-structure of the empire. The Jewish population of eastern and central Europebegan to develop radical demands for their own national state in Palestine. In 1897, inspired by the Hungarian-born nationalist Theodor Herzl(1860-1904), the First Zionist Congresswas held in Basle. On the European periphery, especially in Irelandand Norway, campaigns for national independencebecame more strident. In 1905 Norwaywon independence from Sweden, but attempts to grant Irelandthe kind of autonomyenjoyed by Hungaryfoundered on the national divisions on the island between the ethnic Irish and British migrants. By this time the ideals of European nationalismhad been exported worldwide and were now beginning to threaten the colonial empires still ruled by European nation-states.
Ethnic autonomous regions
National liberation movements
Society of the United Irishmen
* [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/modsbook3.html#Nationalism Modern History sourcebook about nationalism]
* [http://www.nostos.com/greekrev/ Profiles of leading Greek independence figures]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/history BBC History]
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