[World History] The Rise of Nationalism in Europe : Important Questions Answers for UPSC Mains

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  1. Count Camillo de Cavour
    Answer: Count Camillo de Cavour was the leading figure in the movement towards unification of Italy. He was the Prime Minister of Piedmont-Sardinia. He was neither a revolutionary nor a democrat. He was like many other wealthy and educated members of the Italian elite. He too was more fluent in French than in Italian. He made a tactful diplomatic alliance with France and thus succeeded in defeating the Austrian forces in 1859. Apart from regular troops, many armed volunteers under the leadership of Giuseppe Garibaldi joined the fray. In 1860, they marched into South Italy and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. They succeeded in winning the support of the local peasants and drove out the Spanish rulers. Victor Emmanuel II was proclaimed king of united Italy in 1861. Cavour became the first Prime Minister of the unified Italy.

  2. The Greek war of independence
    Answer: The Greek war of independence mobilized the nationalist feelings among the educated elite across Europe. The struggle for independence among the Greeks began in 1821. The nationalists in Greece got support from many Greeks who were living in exile. Moreover, they also got support from many West Europeans who sympathized with the ancient Greek culture. Poets and artists mobilized public opinion to support this struggle against the Muslim empire. It is important to note that Greece had been a part of the Ottoman Empire. Finally, the Treaty of Constantinople of 1832 recognized Greece as an independent nation.

  3. Frankfurt parliament
    Answer: In German regions, there were a large number of political associations whose members were middle class professionals, businessmen and prosperous artisans. They came together in the city of Frankfurt and decided to vote for an all-German National Assembly. On18 May 1848, 831 elected representatives took out a festive procession to take part in the Frankfurt parliament which was convened in the Church of St. Paul. They drafted a constitution for a German nation. This German nation was to be headed by a monarchy subject to a parliament. Friedrich Wilhelm IV, King of Prussia was offered the crown on these terms. But he rejected the offer and joined other monarchs to oppose the elected assembly.

  4. The role of women in nationalist struggles
    Answer: The issue of extending political rights to women was a controversial one within the liberal movement, in which large numbers of women had participated actively over the years. Women had formed their own political associations, founded newspapers and taken part in political meetings and demonstrations. Despite this, they were denied suffrage during the election of the Assembly. When the Frankfurt Parliament convened in the Church of St. Paul, women were admitted only as observers to stand in the visitors’ gallery.

  5. Giuseppe Mazzini
     Giuseppe Mazzini was an Italian revolutionary. He was born in 1807. He became a member of the secret society of the Carbonari. When he was 24 years old, he was sent into exile in 1831 for attempting a revolution in Liguria. After that, he founded two more underground societies; first Young Italy in Marseilles and then Young Europe in Berne. Mazzini believed that God had intended nations to be the natural units of mankind. So Italy had to be forged into a single unified republic instead of being a patchwork of small state kingdoms. Following in the footsteps of Mazzini, many secret societies were set up Germany, France, Switzerland and Poland. The Conservatives feared Mazzini.

2. What steps did the French revolutionaries take to create a sense of collective identity among the French people?


The French revolutionaries took many important steps to create a sense of collective identity among the French people which were:
→ Ideas of la patrie (the fatherland) and le citoyen (the citizen) emphasising the notion of a united community enjoying equal rights under a constitution.
→ A new French flag, a tricolour replaced the royal standard.
→ The Estates General was renamed the National Assembly and was elected by a group of active citizens.
→ New hymns, oaths and martyrs commemorated in the name of the nation.
→ A central administrative system made uniform laws for the entire nation.
→ Discouraging regional dialects and promoting French as a common language of the nation.

3. Who were Marianne and Germania? What was the importance of the way in which they were portrayed?

Marianne and Germania were respective female allegories for the French and the German nation. They stood as personifications of ideals like 'liberty' and 'the republic'. The importance of the way in which they were portrayed lay in the fact that the public could identify with their symbolic meaning, and this would instil a sense of national unity in them.

4. Briefly trace the process of German unification.


In the 1800s, nationalist feelings were strong in the hearts of the middle-class Germans. They united in 1848 to create a nation-state out of the numerous German States. But the monarchy and the military got together to repress them and they gained support from the landowners of Prussia (the Junkers) too. Prussia soon became the leader of German unification movement. Its Chief Minister Otto von Bismarck was the architect of the process with support from Prussian army and Prussian bureaucracy. The unification process was completed after Prussia won wars with Austria, Denmark and France over seven years time. In January 1871, the Prussian king, William I, was proclaimed the German Emperor in a ceremony held at Versailles.

5. What changes did Napoleon introduce to make the administrative system more efficient in the territories ruled by him?


Napoleon brought following changes to make an efficient administrative system:
  • The Civil Code of 1804; which is commonly known as the Napoleonic Code abolished all privileges based on birth.
  • It also established equality before the law and secured the right to property.
  • Even in those territories which came under his control; Napoleon began to introduce many reforms as he did in France.
  • He simplified the administrative divisions in the Dutch Republic, Switzerland, Italy and Germany.
  • He abolished the feudal system and peasants could be freed from serfdom and manorial dues.
  • Guild restrictions were removed in towns. Transport and communication systems were improved.
6. Explain what is meant by the 1848 revolution of the liberals. What were the political, social and economic ideas supported by the liberals?


The 1848 revolution of the liberals refers to the various national movements pioneered by educated middle classes alongside the revolts of the poor, unemployed and starving peasants and workers in Europe. While in countries like France, food shortages and widespread unemployment during 1848 led to popular uprisings, in other parts of Europe (such as Germany, Italy, Poland and the Austro-Hungarian Empire), men and women of the liberal middle classes came together to voice their demands for the creation of nation-states based on parliamentary principles.The political, social and economic ideas supported by the liberals were:
→ Politically, they demanded constitutionalism with national unification, nation-state with a written constitution and parliamentary administration.
→ Socially, They wanted to rid society of its class-based partialities and birth rights. Serfdom and bonded labour had to be abolished.
→ Economically they demanded freedom of markets and right to property. Abolition of state imposed restrictions on the movements of goods and capital.

7. Choose three examples to show the contribution of culture to the growth of nationalism in Europe.


Three examples to show the contribution of culture to the growth of nationalism in Europe were:
→ Romanticism was a European cultural movement aimed at developing national unity by creating a sense of shared heritage and common history. The Romantic artists' emphasis on emotions, intuition and mystical feelings gave shape and expression to nationalist sentiments. The strength of art in promoting nationalism is well exemplified in the role played by European poets and artists in mobilising public opinion to support the Greeks in their struggle to establish their national identity.
→ Folk songs, dances and poetry contributed to popularising the spirit of nationalism and patriotic fervour in Europe. Collecting and recording the different forms of folk culture was important for building a national consciousness. Being a part of the lives of the common people, folk culture enabled nationalists to carry the message of nationalism to a large and diverse audience. The Polish composer Karol Kurpinski celebrated and popularised the Polish nationalist struggle through his operas and music, turning folk dances like the polonaise and mazurka into nationalist symbols.
→ Language also played a distinctive role in developing nationalist feelings in Europe. An example of this is how during Russian occupation, the use of Polish came to be seen as a symbol of struggle against Russian dominance. During this period, Polish language was forced out of schools and Russian language was imposed everywhere. Following the defeat of an armed rebellion against Russian rule in 1831, many members of the clergy in Poland began using language as a weapon of national resistance. They did so by refusing to preach in Russian, and by using Polish for Church gatherings and religious instruction. The emphasis on the use of vernacular language, the language of the masses, helped spread the message of national unity.

8. Through a focus on any two countries, explain how nations developed over the nineteenth century.


The development of the German and Italian nation states in the nineteenth century

→ Political fragmentation: Till the middle of the nineteenth century, the present-day nations of Germany and Italy were fragmented into separate regions and kingdoms ruled by different princely houses.

→ Revolutionary uprisings: Nineteenth-century Europe was characterised by both popular uprisings of the masses and revolutions led by the educated, liberal middle classes. The middle classes belonging to the different German regions came together to form an all-German National Assembly in 1848. However, on facing opposition from the aristocracy and military, and on losing its mass support base, it was forced to disband.
In the Italian region, during the 1830s, revolutionaries like Giuseppe Mazzini sought to establish a unitary Italian Republic. However, the revolutionary uprisings of 1831 and 1848 failed to unite Italy.

→ Unification with the help of the army: After the failure of the revolutions, the process of German and Italian unification was continued by the aristocracy and the army. Germany was united by the Prussian chief minister Otto von Bismarck with the help of the Prussian army and bureaucracy. The German empire was proclaimed in 1871.
The Italian state of Sardinia-Piedmont played a role similar to that played by Prussia. Count Camillo de Cavour (the Chief Minister) led the movement to unite the separate states of nineteenth-century Italy with the help of the army and an alliance with France. The regions annexed by Giuseppe Garibaldi and his Red Shirts joined with the northern regions to form a united Italy. The italian nation was proclaimed in 1861. The papal states joined in 1870.

9. How was the history of nationalism in Britain unlike the rest of Europe?


The history of nationalism in Britain unlike the rest of Europe because:
→ In Britain the formation of the nation-state was not the result of a sudden upheaval or revolution.
→ The primary identities of the people who inhabited the British Isles were ethnic ones - such as English, Welsh, Scot or Irish.
→ The Act of Union (1707) between England and Scotland resulted in the formation of the 'United Kingdom of Great Britian' meant that England was able to impose its influence on Scotland. Scotland's distinctive culture and political institutions were systematically suppressed.
→ The Scottish highlanders were forbidden to speak their Gaelic language or wear their national dress and large numbers were forcibly driven out of their homeland.
→ The English helped the Protestants of Ireland to establish their dominance over a largely Catholic country. Catholic revolts against British dominance were suppressed. Ireland was forcibly incorporated into the United Kingdom in 1801.
→ The symbols of the new Britain - the British flag, the national anthem, the English language were actively promoted and the older nations survived only as subordinate partners in this union.

10. Why did nationalist tensions emerge in the Balkans?


A large part of the Balkans was under the control of the Ottoman Empire. This was the period of disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and the spread of the ideas of romantic nationalism in the Balkans. These developments made this region very explosive. All through the nineteenth century, the Ottoman Empire tried to strengthen itself through modernization and internal reforms. But it could not achieve much success. Its European subject nationalities broke away from its control one by one and declared independence. The Balkans used history and national identity to claim their right of independence. While the Slavic nationalities struggled to define their identity and independence, the Balkan area became an area of intense conflict. In the process, the Balkans also became the scene of big power rivalry.

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