336411152 the growth of nationalism through the French Revolution


Final Paper –
Semester One

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History of the
Modern Era and Zionism

Mr. Tommy

















In the 19th century a new idea
transpired throughout Europe; the idea of nationalism. Nationalism, a form of
social identity, is a strong belief that the interest of the nation state is
the priority. It is the belief that people who share a common language, culture,
and history make up an independent and sovereign nation. Nationalism binds the
nation together and gives a voice to those who did not have one before. It
flourished as a result of the enlightenment; which brought about ideas of
freedom, equality, democracy and political reform. At a time where European
countries were made up of multiple nations, nationalism attempted to unify
them; while threatening the very idea of boundaries. People began to identify
with their nation, rather their leader. This paper will analyze the growth
of nationalism through the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era which in
turn gave rise to new ideas such as socialism and liberalism, both of which
challenged conservative European order. In addition, this paper will elaborate
on the implications of nationalism in the unification of Germany and Italy,
along with the fight for the Balkans, and how it consequently led Europe into
the Great War.                                                       Nationalism
ignited in the French Revolution, sparking self-determination, and acting as a
driving force for change within the state. Prior to the revolution, France was
divided into regions based on religion and the only uniting factor was the
belief that everyone served the king. The proto-nationalist ideas of Enlightenment
writers, such as Montesquieu, Locke and Voltaire influenced the Revolution. People began to see themselves as citizens
and not subjects. Due to these enlightenment ideas, people
began to have pride in serving their country. In 1791 the Rights of Man was
published in order to defend the revolution (people can revolt if the
government does not protect their natural rights). The country became
increasingly united and people identified more and more with nationalism. Nationalism
can also be seen through the military. There was mass inscription of the
citizens, who began to join in an effort to defend and fight for their country.

It was the first-time soldiers united under the motto “liberty, equality,
fraternity” which reflected the three colors on the French flag. Not only was
the flag a symbol for the army, but it became a uniting symbol among common
people as well. The motto would later be used in the rise of Napoleon
Bonaparte.                                                                          Although the French
Revolution was the birth of nationalism, we see it in action in the Napoleonic
Wars. In the Napoleonic Wars, which is considered to be a total war, the
citizens were recruited into the war effort. As nationalism emerged in
countries such as Germany or France, war became between the countries and not
the monarchs or leaders. Napoleon Bonaparte promoted nationalism using ideas
from the French Revolution (liberty, equality, fraternity). He justified the
French expansion on the idea that France had the right to spread these
enlightenment thoughts. Further causing the massive spread of nationalism.                                                 After
both the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars there was a plea for change
in Europe. The conservative leaders of Europe – Prussia, Austria, Britain and
Russia – did not agree with Napoleons ideals of revolution and felt as though
he was a threat to the status quo. The European states came together in the
Congress of Vienna in 1814-1815 in order to come up with a long-term peace plan
and discuss issues which came about due to the French Revolution and Napoleonic
Wars. Furthermore, they wanted to restore old boundaries and find a balance of
power in order to maintain peace. However, some ideas (such as liberalism and
socialism) which came about during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars had
become too powerful and widespread to contain.                                                                                                          Liberalism,
a political philosophy- founded by John Locke – is based on liberty and
equality, emphasizes and supports ideas such as freedom of speech, press, and
religion; as well as free markets, civil rights, and gender equality.

Liberalism emphasizes the individual and at the same time, goes against state religion,
hereditary privilege, absolute monarchy, and divine right. Liberalism is the
thought that people have their right to life, liberty and property and the
government should not interfere. Liberalism was yet another justification of
the revolutions.                                                                                                                                    Socialism,
on the other hand, is a socio-economic system advocating the means of
production, distribution and exchange being regulated by the government as a
whole. It is a consequence of the Industrial Revolution which attempted to
destroy the old order of class privilege and struggle. Socialism eventually
turned into Marxism originating from the Communist Manifesto by German
philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marxism looks into class relations
and conflicts within society using a method of historical materialism –the idea
that history is driving by wealth and the power that wealth creates- to analyze
and critique the development of capitalism and the class struggle. Marxism saw
that the relationship between the owners, who maximize profit and victimize the
workers who suffer under the owner’s rule, would lead to eventual uprising from
the worker and in turn would create another powerful social identity.


although these ideas had spread through Europe, no idea was as powerful and
influential in the disruption of the old European order as nationalism was.

Nationalisms biggest rise came in the unification of Germany and Italy. Germany
was divided into small states and principalities. There were a few attempts to
unify Germany, including the attempt of the King of Prussia in 1871, who used
language as a unifying factor. However, the real work came with the rise of
leadership of Otto von Bismarck. Bismarck became known as the “Iron chancellor”
because of his strong and stable rule, dedicated to nationalism. As Germany
grew in industrial and military power, Bismarck challenged other powers in
Europe. One of Bismarck’s successes included annexing the French provinces on
Alsace and Lorraine, which had populations of both French and German speakers.

Although Bismarck’s goal was to unite Germany, his actions, driven by
nationalism, were some of the many reasons for World War One. Likewise, Italy
was also divided among papal states, city states, principalities and foreign
countries (Austria-Hungary). With the support of France, Italy united against
the Austrian-Hungarian Empire in order to unite
its Italian speaking areas. Unity of Italy was achieved with the capture of
Rome in 1870. Consequently, the nationalist movements in Germany and Italy not
only succeeded in achieving sovereignty but they would also lead to great

Although there was relative stability before
World War One, tension quickly rose due to a conflict of power and instability
in the Balkans. Situated between three major empires – Ottoman, Russian, and
Austro-Hungarian- it was a vital location and heavily sought after. As the
Ottoman Empire, who controlled the Balkans, weakened… Western European powers
became quickly interested in the region; referred to as the “Eastern Question”.

This consequently sprung up nationalist feelings in which minorities living in
the empire began to search for independence and sovereignty. Eventually, Russia
took control of the Balkans.                                                  In
conclusion, nationalism lead to World War One as it influenced the French
Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, a change in ideology in Europe, the unification of
Germany and Italy and finally the fight for the Balkans. Nationalism influenced
social and political change which in turn caused countries to push for the
interests of their people and for people to fight in the interest of the
country. Actions committed by these newly unified countries lead in turn, to The
Great War.