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The Rise of Nationalism in Europe | Class 10 |




Nationalism refers to the feeling of oneness among the people living in a common region, share the same historical and cultural background, also they have the common identity.

Outcome of nationalism is a formation of nation state.

Frédéric Sorrieu's print

In 1848, Frédéric Sorrieu, a French artist, prepared a series of four prints visualizing his dream of a world made up of ‘democratic and social Republics’.

The first print is showing the Europeans and Americans travelling and paying homage to the Statue of Liberty as they pass by. Through this print, it was showcased that the Torch of Enlightenment is held by a female statue one hand and the Charter of the Rights of Man in the other.

Utopian vision is a vision of a society that is so ideal which is actually not possible (exist).

In the foreground of the print, Sorrieu shown the shatter remains of absolutist institutions.

In the print, United States and Switzerland crossed statue of liberty which means they had formed a nation-state. Germany and France were struggling for formation of nation state.

When Sorrieu created this image, German people did not exist as a nation state, the flag they carry is an expression of liberal hopes.

From the heaven, Christ, saints and angles giving blessing to the people who had crossed the statue of liberty.

Fraternity: A group of people sharing same thought and idea or friendship and mutual support within a group.

The French Revolution

The first clear expression of nationalism came from French Revolution in 1789. France was under the rule of absolute monarch named Louis XVI from bourbon family.

After the French revolution, the political and constitutional power of monarch was shifted to active citizens of France.

The French revolution proclaimed, henceforth people of the country would decide the destiny and shape of the country.

Various measures and practices adopted by French revolutionaries to spread the idea of nationalism in entire Europe were:
i) Introducing the idea of la patrie (the fatherland) and le citoyen (the citizen).
ii) Using a new flag for France.
iii) The Estates General was elected by the body of active citizens and it was renamed to National Assembly.
iv) New hymns were composed, oaths were taken and the martyrs were commemorated all over the nation.
v) A new centralised administrative system was put in place and it formulated uniform laws for all citizens within its territory.
vi) Internal customs dues and duties were abolished.
vii) Accepted a uniform system of weights and measures.
viii) French language became the common language of the nation.         

With the help of above strategy French Revolutionary wanted to liberate the citizen of entire Europe from despotism of monarch. French revolution set up democratic principles of equality, liberty, and fraternity.


Napoleon was a military commander during the French Revolution. Later he designated up and became the head of the three consuls of France. In 1804 Napoleon was declared as the king of France. He ruled on France from 1799 to 1815.

He gained his absolute power in 1799 by becoming the first consul.

He demolished the democracy in France, which was achieved during the French revolution and reinstated the monarchy.

In 1804, Napoleon introduced a civil code which is also known as napoleonic code. Napoleonic code code abolished all privileges based on birth and attempted to ensure equality and right to property.

He did many improvement in the political and social sphere for which he’ll always be remembered. Napoleon made the system better and more efficient than before.

Improvement or reforms done by Napoleon

i)                    Abolished Feudal system.

ii)                   Division of society is minimized.

iii)                 Simplified administrative divisions.

iv)                 Freed peasants from serfdom and manorial dues.

v)                  Guild systems (trade barrier) removed.

vi)                 Transport and communication systems improved.

vii)               A uniform laws for nation state established.

viii)              Standardized weights and common currency which improved trades with other regions.

ix)                 Abolished all privileges based on birth and attempted to ensure equality and right to property.

Mistakes done by Napoleon during his regime

i)                    Censorship on content.

ii)                   No voting rights for women.

iii)                 No right to property to women.

iv)                 Forced the people to join the Napoleon’s army.

Treaty of Vienna

Napoleon was defeated by allied powers (Prussia, Russia, Austria and Britain) in the battle of Waterloo in 1815. The outcome of battle of waterloo was Treaty of Vienna.

The Treaty of Vienna was an agreement of allied powers Prussia, Russia, Austria and Britain with Napoleon for the settlement of Europe after the battle of waterloo. The main aim of this treaty was to undo all the steps taken during Napoleon regime. The Congress was hosted by the Austrian Chancellor Duke Metternich. The Bourbon dynasty, which had been deposed during the French Revolution, was restored to power, and France lost the territories it had annexed under Napoleon.

 A series of states were set up on the boundaries of France to prevent French expansion in future. 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. But the German confederation of 39 states that had been set up by Napoleon was left untouched.

In the east, Russia was given part of Poland while Prussia was given a portion of Saxony


Reaction of neighboring states to Napoleon's nationalism

 In many places such as Holland and Switzerland, Brussels, Mainz, Milan and Warsaw, the French armies were welcomed as harbingers of liberty.

 Peasants, artisans, workers and new businessmen, small scale producers started realise that the economic changes brought by Napoleon rule such as uniform weights and measures, simplified laws and single currency would help in increase of trade from one territory to the other.

But the enthusiasm soon changed into hostility as the new administrative measures controlled the political freedom as these changes were also associated with increased taxation, censorship, forced recruitment into the French army etc.

The Making of Nationalism in Europe or scenario of Europe in mid-18th century

Present day’s 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. Under this territories peoples of diverse culture were lived. They were not sharing a collective identity or a common culture. They spoke disimilar languages and belonged to different ethnic groups. No nation state were in Europe due to diverse culture.

 For example

 ·    The Habsburg Empire that ruled over Austria and Hungary had people from different regions and spoke different languages. They existed as a patchwork. 

The aristocrats (upper class) from alpine regions of Tyrol, Austria, Sudetenland and Bohemia spoke German.

 Half of the population  In Hungary were spoke Magyar while the other half spoke a variety of dialects.


The Aristocracy and the New Middle Class

In Europe, the society was divided into two major classes- Aristocracy and Peasantry.

Aristocracy, was a small groups but they were the dominant class in the continent. They owned estates and property and spoke French for purposes of diplomacy and in high society. Their families were connected by ties of marriage. The members of this class were united by a common way of life that cut across regional divisions.


Due to industrialization the new social groups of working class and middle class population, including industrialists, businessmen, and professionals came into existence called New Middle Class.

The educated middle class advocated the ideas of liberalism and nation unity .They demanded the end of privilege of aristocracy.

What did Liberal Nationalism Stand for?

Ideas of national unity were closely associated to the ideology of liberalism. 

For the new middle classes, liberalism meant freedom for individual and equality of all before law. 

Political liberty emphasized the concept of government by consent, remove the birth privilege, treated equally before the law.

Economic Liberty emphasized the freedom of markets and the abolition of trade barrier, common currency system inside the Europe.

 Rise of Conservatism and Revolutionaries


The middle class emphasized in freedom and equality of all individuals before the law. Liberalism means end aristocracy and clerical privileges.

After the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the European government implemented the idea of Conservatism.

Conservatism was a political philosophy which highlighted the importance of tradition, established institutions and customs (like the monarchy, the Church, social hierarchies, property and the family – should be preserved), and preferred gradual development rather than quick change.

After 1815, several liberals began working in secret societies all over Europe to propagate their views and train  revolutionaries.

Revolutionaries were under threat to the restored monarchies, and hence, were repressed.

Giuseppe Mazzini

Giuseppe Mazzini was a famous Italian revolutionary was born in 1807 in Genoa. He worked as activist for the unification of Italy. He was the member of a secret society called Carbonari and founded two underground societies called Young Italy in Marseilles, and Young Europe in Berne.

In 1831, Giuseppe Mazzini was sent into exile for attempting a revolution in Liguria. Mazzini believed in the unification of the small kingdoms and principalities in Italy. These societies were joined by like-minded young men from Poland, France, Italy and the German states.



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