HS-102 Readings


1. Nationalism
2. France
3. The Crimean War
4. Italy
5. Germany


    Nationalism is a sense of identity with the nation. It is similar to tribalism, and like the family, is held together by a sense of kinship.  Liah Greenfeld, Professor of Sociology at Boston University has defined nationalism as "an image of a social order, which involves the people as a sovereign elite and a community of equals". The original use of the term nationalism refers to elite groups, but in modern useage it refers usually to a very large group, sometimes as large as an empire.

    A nation differs from a tribe in that it is larger. The greater literacy, and the improved communications and transportation rendered by industrialization make the nation possible.

    The nation is unlike an empire, which is held together by military force, by police, sometimes by religion as with a god-king. The relationship between the members of an empire is an unequal relationship between the ruler and the subject.

    The relationship of the members of a nation is, theoretically, an equal relationship between citizens. It develops differently in different national communities under different historical circumstances.

    According to Professor Liah Greenfeld, nationalism may be collectivistic or individualistic depending upon whether or not the community or the individual is considered to be more important. A collectivistic nationalism tends to be authoritarian. An individualistic nationalism tends to be liberal.

    Also, nationalism may be either ethnic or civic. Ethnic nationalism must also be collectivistic because it is based upon blood or race or ethnic group. Civic nationalism is usually individualistic, but it can be collectivistic.

    England and the United States are examples of civic, individualistic nationalisms. France is an example of a civic, collectivistic nationalism. Germany and Russia are examples of ethnic, collectivistic nationalisms.



    During the period 1850 to 1871, the nation-state achieved its mature status in Europe.  Nationalism clearly became the principal basis for the organization of western civilization. This fact had earlier been demonstrated in England and in France during the course of their political revolutions. In this period, it became manifest throughout Europe.

Nationalism is a primary motivating element which determines the course of events in:

France during the regime of Napoleon III,

Italy where unification is achieved,

Germany  where unification is achieved,

Russia where important steps towards modernization are taken, and

the United States which experiences the Civil War, a war to preserve the

    Napoleon won election as President of the 2nd French Republic because of his successful appeal to Frenchmen regardless of class. That same nationalistic appeal won him the support for his seizure of power and establishment of the 2nd Empire. His popularity was further enhanced by the public works program which made the city of Paris into a city about which the French people could feel proud

    He also benefitted from the return of prosperity in the 1850's. Prosperous conditions were enhanced by the activities and wealth being generated by the industrial revolution which entered into a new dynamic phase after mid-century.

    During the 1860's, Napoleon allowed the French Assembly increasing influence.  France was slowly evolving in a liberal direction. Napoleon's popularity was, however, gradually eroded by foreign involvements.

    He brought France into involvement with Russia in the Crimean War (1853-1856). While French nationalism motivated France to be a self-appointed protector of the Roman Catholic Church and Christian shrines in Palestine, Russian nationalism motivated the Russians to be the self- appointed protectors of the Christian Orthodox interests there.  Although part of the Ottoman Empire, the Turks were becoming too weak to maintain their own control against the pressure of European powers.

    Meanwhile, England opposed the expansion of Russian influence into the eastern Mediterranean and gave support to the Turks in standing against Russia. England's connection with India went through the Mediterranean and the isthmus of Suez. War developed from these tensions, with England allied with France against Russia. The Kingdom of Piedmont, a small Italian state, joined on the side of the French in order to improve relations with neighboring France.

    The fact that the Crimean War was fought entirely on the Crimean peninsula, Russian territory, is revealing. In part, it was because there was no common border between the belligerents. But it also demonstrated the ability of the English and French to project their power 2000 miles to the east, while Russia had difficulty maintaining its internal lines of transportation. The Crimean War revealed to the Russian leadership their lack of industrial development and how this detracted from their status as a great power.

    The Kingdom of Piedmont had become a constitutional monarchy as a result of the Revolution of 1848. Its prime minister, Cavour, persuaded Napoleon III to agree to a secret treaty of alliance with Piedmont. Cavour then provoked Austria into war, and the French intervened on the side of Piedmont. The Franco-Austrian War of 1859 involved bloody fighting in northern Italy. Before the Austrians had been defeated, Napoleon withdrew from the war unilaterally. This enabled Austria to recoup some its losses, in particular the province of Venetia. However, the war had encouraged Italians to rise up against the Austrians in northern Italy and to achieve independence for many of the northern Italian states. They accepted unification under the government of Piedmont.

    Encouraged by this turn of events, Garibaldi, an Italian revolutionary, led an invasion of Sicily with only a thousand partisans, dressed in red shirts. Italians in Sicily and southern Italy rose up in support, and Garibaldi marched triumphantly to the Italian mainland and north to Naples.

    Cavour intervened at this point, sending the army of Piedmont southward, avoiding Rome which was "protected" by a French army, and meeting with Garibaldi. Garibaldi stepped down in favor of the king of Piedmont; and Italy, with the exception of Rome and Venetia, was now united and independent.

    The next step in the course of events in both France and Italy, depended upon developments in Prussia and Germany.

    Although Germany was still divided into 38 sovereign states after the revolutions of 1848, there was a customs union, the Zollverein, that developed throughout northern Germany in the part outside the Austrian Empire.  This encouraged rapid economic development while it strengthened the role of Prussia as the largest German state within the Zollverein.

    During the 1850's, Prussians wanted to unite Germany under their leadership, but Austria blocked such a union. The Prussian emperor and army leaders foresaw the need for a greatly expanded army, but were blocked by a liberal legislature which refused to appropriate the funds.

    The emperor William I appointed Bismarck, a Junker aristocrat, to the position of Chancellor in 1862.  Bismarck had a reputation, established during the Revolution of 1848, as an arch defender of the monarchy and the army, and a critic of the liberal revolution. He had represented Prussia in the German confederation and later served as ambassador to Russia and to France. He knew, from personal experience, that Austria stood in the way of German unification under Prussian leadership.

    Under the Prussian Constitution, the chancellor was appointed by andserved the emperor. He was independent of the legislature. Faced with the refusal of the legislature to approve military appropriations and higher taxes, he issued orders to the bureaucracy to collect the taxes. Though roundly condemned by the liberals in the legislature, Bismarck violated the Constitution, and the army was doubled in size.

    Bismarck looked for opportunities to discredit Austria in the eyes of German nationalists. Meanwhile, he assured himself, through diplomacy, that no power would intervene in favor of Austria in the event of war.

    An attempt by Denmark to unify the provinces of Schleswig and Holstein into a Danish national state, provoked intervention by Austria and Prussia on behalf of Germans in those provinces. This created opportunities for Bismarck to make war on Austria under circumstances in which Austria appeared to stand in the way of German unification.

    The Austro-Prussian war (1866) was won by the Prussians in 7 weeks. Use of the railroad to move troops, and a new breech-loading rifle helped the Prussians to win a quick victory.

    Bismarck dictated the terms of a peace treaty which removed Austria from any influence with the other German states. A North German Confederation was created. Prussia controlled the foreign policy in a federal system. The southern German states remained independent. No Austrian territory was annexed; nor were any reparations demanded.

    Bismarck knew that war with France, if France looked to be the aggressor, would propel the southern German states into union with Prussia. He therefore hoped for such an eventuality. Meanwhile he used diplomacy to assure France's diplomatic isolation.

    In 1870, there was no direct heir to the Spanish throne. Leopold of the Hohenzollern dynasty, which ruled Prussia, could claim the throne. France protested, threatened war, and Bismarck thought his opportunity had arrived. However, Leopold refused the throne.

    But the French were not satisfied. They demanded, at a meeting between the French ambassador and the Prussian emperor, that the Prussians forever renounce any claim to the Spanish throne. The emperor was unwilling to go that far. He reported his discussions to Bismarck in the Ems Dispatch.

    Bismarck edited the dispatch to exaggerate the hostility between the two men, and released the edited version to the leading Berlin newspaper. Newspapers in Paris quickly picked up the story. Frenchmen, believing their ambassador was insulted, demanded war.

    The Franco-Prussian War was over in 6 months. Their army was defeated in the first month and Napoleon taken prisoner. The seige of Paris endured until the following year (1871).

    Bismarck again dictated peace terms. They included reparations, and the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine. Bismarck announced the formation of the German Empire. German
unification under Prussian auspices was achieved.

    Italy, allied with Prussia in the war against Austria had seized Venetia from Austria in 1866.  Rome was taken from the Church in 1870 when the French withdrew their garrison to fight the Prussians.

    A unified Germany created a strong power in central Europe for the first time in European history. With an industrious people, and great resources in coal and iron, Germany would, by the end of the century, become the greatest power in Europe.

    The face of Europe had been remade by nationalism.