The 18th century witnessed the French Revolution in 1789. Along with this movement, nationalist concepts of La Patrie (Fatherland) and Le Citoyen (The Citizen) developed and were accepted by the masses. There was a wave of change coupled with people advocating for equal rights and a unified nation-state.
The French revolution and rulers like Napolean played landmark roles in this new era of nationalism. From 1830 to 1848, numerous revolutions took place in the name of nationalism. Even though many of these revolutions failed, some succeeded.
Revolutions in Europe After 1830
The revolution in Belgium was a success. After a conference in London in 1831, it was declared that Belgium would be an independent country. So, Belgium was established as an independent country under the rule of King Leopold.
- Initially, Greece was under the control of Turkey. The struggle of the Greeks to be free of Turkey started in 1821. It was the Treaty of Adrianople in 1829 with which Greece was recognized as a nation independent and free from the control of Turkey and any other nations.
- Commencing with being a republic, the Greek set up was changed to a monarchy in 1832. The successful struggle of Greece was a big win for nationalism ever since the death of Napolean.
- The Austrian Empire was an ensemble of people from different races and cultures. With nationalist ideologies spreading like wildfire, these people too developed a spirit of national unity.
- France witnessed many revolts between 1830 and 1848, where Hungary and Bohemia struggled for a constitutional government. In 1867, Hungary achieved the status of an independent nation.
- Unfortunately, most of the revolts in the Austrian empire were a failure.
- After Napolean’s death and the Congress of Vienna in 1815, territories occupied by the French were redistributed. In the case of Italy, great thinkers and activists had spread the idea of liberty and freedom in the minds of its people. They wanted national integrity as well.
- Italy became disintegrated after this redistribution. Lombardy and Venetia went under Austria’s control. Pope had control over Rome and Central Italy. It was the Bourbon Family that was given Naples and Sicily.
- In this time of despair, it was the ‘Young Italy,’ a political movement organized by Giuseppe Mazzini, that kept a bit of hope for independence and national unity alive.
- With another failed revolution in 1848, Count di Cavour, the Sardinian King’s Prime Minister, decided to unite Italy under the rule of Victor Emmanuel II. He believed that for Italy to unite, the strong presence of France and Austria would be required. So, he won the goodwill of France by supporting it in the Crimean War.
- It was a long struggle for Italy. In 1861, most of Italy had been united, except Venetia and Roma. Venetia was ceded to Italy in 1866 and Rome was captured by the Italian army in 1870. After this unification, Rome was declared as the capital of Italy.
- As was the case with Italy, Germany had also been divided into small kingdoms. Under Napolean’s rule, the Germans became aware of democratic and nationalist ideas.
- Otto von Bismarck was responsible for uniting all the small German kingdoms. He was appointed by King William I in the capacity of the Prime Minister of Prussia in 1862.
- Bismarck believed military force could help unite Germany. It took three wars to unify Germany- wars against Denmark, Austria, and France. Austria lost the war in 1866, resigning from German confederation. France was defeated in the Battle of Sedan. A direct result of this was a complete political unification of Germany.
The Role of Thinkers with Nationalist Ideologies
- People like Jeremy Bentham, Edmund Burke, Goethe (credited with the German Volksgeist), Karl Marx (laid down the basis of Communism), and David Ricardo (formulated ‘Iron Law’ of wage system) contributed to spreading the ideology of nationalism and molding people together to revolt against oppressive powers.
- Where thinkers played an important role, the constant struggle for unity and independence took a toll on its people. After innumerable attempts to freedom, different countries succeeded over a period of years only to face each other again in the World War I.