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The Making of Nationalism in Europe | Class 10

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In the mid-18th century, nation-states were not present in Europe and the whole of Europe was divided into kingdoms which were ruled by the monarchs who were fighting against each other for capturing more territories. The people did not share a common identity and history. The making of nationalism in Europe is based on many factors and agencies, which are discussed in the article.

The Making of Nationalism in Europe

The Making of Nationalism in Europe

The Making of Nationalism in Europe

Germany, Italy, and Switzerland were divided into kingdoms, duchies, and cantons, with their own rulers. Eastern and Central Europe were ruled by autocratic monarchies that housed a diverse population. They did not see themselves as having a shared identity or culture. They frequently spoke different languages and belonged to various ethnic groups.

The Habsburg Empire, which ruled over Austria-Hungary, was a patchwork of various regions and peoples. It included the Alpine regions of Tyrol, Austria, and the Sudetenland, as well as Bohemia, where the aristocracy spoke German. Lombardy and Venetia, which both speak Italian, were also included. In Hungary, half the population spoke Magyar and the other half spoke a number of dialects.

The aristocracy in Galicia spoke Polish. Aside from these three dominant groups, the empire’s borders were home to a swath of subject peasant peoples, including Bohemians and Slovaks to the north, Slovenes in Carniola, Romans in Transylvania to the east, and Croats to the south. Such differences made it difficult to foster a sense of political unity. The only thing that held these disparate groups together was their devotion to the emperor.

The French Revolution in 1789 marked the beginning of the process of establishing nation-states. The concept that led to the creation of France as a democratic nation-state took around 100 years to take actual form. The early 20th century saw the emergence of contemporary democratic systems throughout the majority of the world as other regions of Europe followed the pattern.

The Aristocracy and the New Middle Class

The dominant social and political class on the continent was the landed aristocracy. This class’s members had a common way of life that transcended geographic boundaries. Their families were frequently linked together by marriage. However, this powerful aristocracy included a relatively tiny number of people.

The development of towns and the rise of commercial classes relied on market-based production. Industrialization started in England in the second half of the eighteenth century, but it didn’t start until the nineteenth century in France and several of the German states. In its wake, new social groups emerged: a working-class population and middle-class populations comprised of industrialists, businessmen, and professionals. Following the abolition of aristocratic privileges, ideas of national unity gained popularity among the educated, liberal middle classes.

What did Liberal Nationalism Stand for?

The ideology of liberalism was closely associated with early-nineteenth-century Europe. The term “liberalism” is derived from the Latin root liber, which means “freedom.” Liberalism promoted legal equality and personal freedom. It emphasized the concept of consent-based government. A constitution and parliament-based representative government. Property-owning men were granted the right to vote and run for office. They were a prominent group in the “Age of Social Change“.

Equality before the law did not stand necessarily for universal suffrage. Political rights were denied to men without property and to all women. Women, as well as non-property men and women, organized opposition movements calling for equal political rights. Only for a brief period of time, under the Jacobins did all the adult males enjoy some form of suffrage. However, the Napoleonic Code limited suffrage and reduced women to minor status, subject to the authority of fathers and husbands.

In the economic sector, liberalism meant freedom of markets and abolition of state-imposed restrictions in the movement of goods and capital. This was a strong demand for people of emerging middle classes in the 19th century.

The removal of state-imposed barriers to the free movement of goods and capital. In 1833, a merchant traveling from Hamburg to Nuremberg to sell his goods would have to pass through 11 customs barriers and pay a customs duty of approximately 5% at each one. Economic exchanges and growth were hampered by the new commercial classes, who advocated for the creation of a unified economic territory that allowed the free movement of goods, people, and capital. Tariff barriers were eliminated, and the number of currencies was reduced from over thirty to two.

In 1834, a customs union, or Zollverein was formed at the initiative of Prussia and was joined by most of the German states. The tariff barriers were removed and reduced the number of currencies was from thirty to two. The network of railways further stimulated mobility, economic interests, and national unification.

New Conservatism after 1815

In 1815, European governments were pushed by a conservative spirit following the defeat of Napoleon. Conservatives believed in monarchy, the Church, social hierarchies, property, and the preservation of the family. A modern army, an efficient bureaucracy, a dynamic economy, and the abolition of feudalism and serfdom could all help to strengthen Europe’s autocratic monarchies. 

Representatives from the European powers – Britain, Russia, Prussia, and Austria – met in Vienna in 1815 to draught a European settlement. The Treaty of Vienna of 1815 with the motive to undo most of the changes in Europe, came about during the Napoleonic wars.

The Bourbon dynasty was restored to power, and France lost the territories that Napoleon had annexed. One of the major issues raised by the liberal nationalists who criticized the new conservative order was press freedom. The nature of conservative regimes set up in 1815 was autocratic and did not tolerate criticism. Most of them imposed censorship laws to control media. The memories of the French Revolution continued to inspire liberals.

The Revolutionaries

Fear of repression drove many liberal-nationalist undergrounds in the years following 1815. Many European countries established secret societies to train revolutionaries and spread their ideas. To be revolutionary at the time meant to oppose the monarchical forms established after the Vienna Congress and to fight for liberty and freedom. Most of these revolutionaries saw the formation of nation-states as an essential part of the struggle for liberty. 

Giuseppe Mazzini

Giuseppe Mazzini, an Italian revolutionary, was one such person. He joined the Carbonari secret society after being born in Genoa in 1807. In 1831, he was exiled as a 24-year-old for attempting a revolution in Liguria. He later founded two more underground societies, Young Italy in Marseilles and Young Europe in Berne, both of which included like-minded young men from Poland, France, Italy, and the German states.

Mazzini believed that nations were created by God to be the natural units of humanity. As a result, Italy could no longer exist as a patchwork of small states and kingdoms. It had to be forged into a single unified republic within the framework of a larger alliance of nations. This unification acted as a base for Italian liberty and following his model, secret societies came up in Germany, France, Switzerland, and Poland. Mazzini’s continuous opposition to monarchy and his vision of democratic republics frightened the conservatives.

FAQs on The Making of Nationalism in Europe

Question 1: What did liberal nationalism stand for?


Liberal nationalism stood for commitments which dealt with the freedom, tolerance, equality and individual rights. Liberal Nationalism stood for inviolability of private property, individual freedom, equality before the law, the Constitution and Representative Government.

Question 2: What is aristocracy Class 10th?


Aristocracy refers to the ruling class. The landed aristocracy was the dominant class on a social and political level.

Question 3: What is the Treaty of Vienna Class 10?


Treaty of Vienna 1815, refers to a formal agreement between Great Britain, Prussia, Russia, and Austria, allied powers, for drawing a European statement.

Question 4: What was Zollverein?


Zollverein refers to the German Customs Union which was established in 1834 under the Prussian leadership, for free-trade area throughout much of Germany and was an important reason for German reunification.

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Last Updated : 19 Apr, 2023
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