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Nationalism has been an important factor in the development of Europe. In the 18th century, a wave of romantic nationalism swept 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.

The French Revolution paved the way for the modern nation-state. Across Europe radical intellectuals questioned the old monarchial order and encouraged the development of a popular nationalism committed to re-drawing the political map of the continent. By 1914 the days of multi-national empires were numbered. The French Revolution, by destroying the traditional structures of power in Francemarker and territories conquered by Napoleon, was the instrument for the political transformation of Europe. Revolutionary armies carried the slogan of "liberty, equality and brotherhood" and ideas of liberalism and national self-determinism. National awakening also grew out of an intellectual reaction to the Enlightenment that emphasized national identity and developed a romantic view of cultural self-expression through nationhood. The key exponent of the modern idea of the nation-state was the German G. W. F. Hegel. He argued that a sense of nationality was the cement that held modern societies together in an age when dynastic and religious allegiance was in decline. In 1815, at the end of the Napoleonic wars, the major powers of Europe tried to restore the old dynastic system as far as possible, ignoring the principle of nationality in favour of "legitimism", the assertion of traditional claims to royal authority. With most of Europe's peoples still loyal to their local province or city, nationalism was confined to small groups of intellectuals and political radicals. Furthermore, political repression, symbolized by the Carlsbad Decrees published in Austriamarker in 1819, pushed nationalist agitation underground.There were 39 small small kingdoms and 39 currencies.The custom union known as zollverien reduced the currency into 2.


1804 - Serbian revolution.

1815 - The Congress of Vienna.

1821-29 - Greek declaration of national independence and revolution against the Ottoman Empire.

1830-31 - Revolution in Poland and Lithuania

1846 - Uprising in Greater Poland

1848 - Nationalist revolts in Hungarymarker, Italymarker and Germanymarker (including Polish revolt in Greater Poland).

1859-61 - Italy unified.

1863 - Polish national revolt.

1866-71 - Germany unified.

1867 - Hungarymarker granted autonomy.

1878 - Congress of Berlin: Serbiamarker, Romaniamarker and Montenegromarker granted independence.

1908 - Bulgariamarker becomes independent.

The struggle for independence

A strong resentment of what came to be regarded as foreign rule began to develop. In Irelandmarker, Italymarker, Belgiummarker, Greecemarker, Polandmarker, Hungarymarker and Norwaymarker local hostility to alien dynastic authority started to take the form of nationalist agitation. Nationalism came to be seen as the most effective way to create the symbols of resistance and to unite in a common cause. First national revolution was in Serbian (1804-1817) which created the first nation-state in Central Europe. Success came in Greecemarker where an eight-year war (1821-1829) against Ottoman rule led to an independent Greek statemarker; in 1831 Belgiummarker obtained independence from the Netherlandsmarker. Over the next two decades nationalism developed a more powerful voice, spurred by nationalist writers championing the cause of nationalist self-determination. In 1848, revolutions broke out across Europe, sparked by a severe famine and economic crisis and mounting popular demand for political change. In Italymarker Giuseppe Mazzini used 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 Hungarymarker, Lajos Kossuth led a national revolt against Austrianmarker rule; in the German Confederationmarker a National Assembly was elected at Frankfurtmarker and debated the creation of a German nationmarker. None of the nationalist revolts in 1848 were successful, any more than the two attempts to win Polish independence from Russianmarker rule in 1831 and 1846 had been. Conservative forces proved too strong, while the majority of the populations little understood the meaning of national struggle. But the 1848 crisis had given nationalism its 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 conservative forces that the old order could not continue in its existing form. Conservative reformers such as Cavour and Bismarck made common cause with liberal political modernizers to create a consensus for the creation of conservative nation-states in Italymarker and Germanymarker. In the Habsburg empire a compromise was reached with Hungarian nationalists in 1867 granting them a virtually independent statemarker. In the Balkans the Serbian example had inspired other national awakenings. Native history and culture were rediscovered and appropriated for the national struggle. Following a conflict between Russiamarker and Turkeymarker, the Great Powers met at Berlin in 1878 and granted independence to Romaniamarker, Serbiamarker and Montenegromarker and a limited authonomy to Bulgariamarker.

Nationalism exported

The invention of a symbolic national identity became the concern of racial or linguistic groups throughout Europe as they struggled to come to terms with the rise of mass politics, popular xenophobia, discrimination and the decline of the traditional social elites. Within the Habsburg empire the 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 Europe began to develop radical demands for their own national statemarker in Palestine. In 1897, inspired by the Hungarian-born nationalist Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), the First Zionist Congress was held in Baslemarker. On the European periphery, especially in Irelandmarker and Norwaymarker, campaigns for national independence became more strident. In 1905 Norwaymarker won independence from Swedenmarker, but attempts to grant Irelandmarker the kind of autonomy enjoyed by Hungarymarker foundered on the national divisions on the islandmarker between the ethnic Irish and British migrants. The Polish attempts to win independence from Russiamarker also proved to be unsuccessful with Polandmarker being the only country in Europe whose autonomy was gradually limited rather than expanded throughout the 19th century, as a punishment for the failed uprisings (in 1831 Poland lost its staus of a formally independent state and was merged into Russia as a real union country and in 1867 she became nothing more than just another Russian province). By this time the ideals of European nationalism had been exported worldwide and were now beginning to threaten the colonial empires still ruled by European nation-states.

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