Nationalism In Germany And Italy Essay Research

Nationalism In Germany And Italy Essay, Research Paper


Nationalism is a state of mind. It is a patriotic feeling or emotion that people experience when they believe they belong together as a nation.I individuals who share a common culture, history, language, or religion often feel that he or she owes supreme loyalty to the nation-state. Nationalism is a modern movement where devotion and patriotic feelings dominate politics and are often manifested as a desire for unity or national independence. Throughout history, men and women have been attached to their native soil, family, tradition, culture, history, and territory. The reverence individual s feel for their roots is often expressed as forms or intense loyalty and pride. Consequently, the affects of extreme nationalism have been both good and bad and have often been responsible for dominating and molding the course of human history.

In Italy, in 1848, revolts took place in the eight states on the Italian peninsula. These revolts failed and afterwards nationalists looked to the Kingdom of Sardinia for leadership. Nationalists respected Sardinia because it was unique in many ways. Its most important attribute was that out of all of the eight states, Sardinia was the only one ruled by Italians. Sardinia was also the most powerful and it the most liberal independent state. These characteristics remained the same until 1852, when Sardinia s King Victor Emmanuel II appointed Count Camillo di Cavour his prime minister.

Cavour aspired to make Italy an independent, unified country. He was very serious about unifying Italy and he made it his top priority. Widely traveled in Europe and well educated, Cavour possessed a profound knowledge of politics and economics. He was a very practical leader who believed that making alliances with other countries and using diplomacy would be more beneficial than romanticizing an ideal government. His practicality coupled with his diplomatic skill didn t go over well with nationalists who believed that people should be intensely loyal to their state. Cavour pursued liberal, anticlerical, anti-republican politics. He often fought with nationalists including their leader, Mazzini, who called him a pale ghost of Machiavelli . Nationalists viewed Cavour s idea of uniting Italy with skepticism believing that he sought more to enhance the power of Sardinia than to unite the country under a single government.

Cavour was a very sensible man and he knew that he would need support from other, powerful leaders. He received this support from Napoleon III of France. Austria was the biggest threat to unification.An alliance with France against Austria was an ingenious way to undermine Austrian power. In 1858, Cavour and Napoleon agreed to force Austria out of Lombardy and Venetia. For Napoleon s backing, Cavour agreed to give him the borders of two regions. Cavour quickly began a war against Austria and won victoriously. However, the result was nothing like what Napoleon had imagined.

For a while, Napoleon contemplated going to war against Cavour, however, Cavour remained friendly with the other powerful states so that France wouldn t have a chance to win a war against the stronger Sardinians. Napoleon later reneged his threats against Sardinia and accepted the two regions Cavour had promised him. By the end of the 1850 s Sardinia had almost complete control in northern Italy.

As Cavour continued unifying northern Italy, he was privately supporting nationalist rebels to the south. In 1860, a small army of just over 1,000 rebels sailed to Sicily, with their leader and liberator, Giuseppe Garibaldi.

The thousand volunteers attacked the Sicilians and overwhelmed them. With the aid of local insurrectionists, Garibaldi began parading north often giving speeches pertaining to the unification of Italy. Cavour hated Garibaldi and actively called him incapable. However, they two enemies never fought because Cavour arranged a meeting for his king and Garibaldi where they agreed to coexistence. Many months later, the Italian Parliament named Victor Emmanuel II the king of Italy. This united Italy and made its government lead by one constitutional monarch.

A few years later, problems started arising and Cavour died. Vinetia and the Papal states, the only two lands that had not been unified, were taken over by Italy. As a concession to the Pope, Rome was made the national capital of Italy.

The movement of the capital of Italy to Rome was a victorious event for Italian nationalists. However there were still many problems to overcome including rivalries between the different provinces. Italy still lacked strong, national leadership because Cavour had died before true unity was achieved. Garibaldi tried to make up for the lack of leadership but didn t succeed in being a leader. Italy also faced tremendous economic problems that were the direct result of trying to unify formally independent states. The country experiences peasant revolts, strikes, and riots. One significant result of Italy s problems was substantial immigration to other areas of the world.

The person most responsible for the unification of Germany was Otto Von Bismarck. Bismarck united Germany by blood and iron . In 1864, Bismarck took the first step to increase Prussian power. He won a significant war against Denmark which Prussia two strategically located border provinces. In 1866, Bismarck provoked a war between Austria and Prussia. This insurrection was known as the Seven Weeks War. Prussia totally demolished and humiliated Austria. Consequently, Austria was forced to withdraw from the German confederation. Austria tried to regroup and regain power but to no avail. Because of Austria’s defeat, the country was in disarray and faced tremendous dissatisfaction of all the nationalities the country controlled.

In 1867 Austria and Hungary agreed to a dual monarchy. The dual monarchy consisted of two independent but equal states lead by one ruler. By 1867, only a few southern German states remained independent. Bismarck, still seeking to unify his country, once again instigated war. He provoked war with France to gain the support of the Christians. He felt that the only way to gain the support of Christians was to have another nation threaten them.

Napoleon III, in an effort to avoid confrontation with Prussia, gave Bismarck a chance to win southern Germany in 1868. While Germany and France were jockeying for position, Spanish revolutionaries through out Spain s Queen Isabella II and offered her throne to Leopold of Hohenzollern. Leopold was a distant cousin of Prussia s William I. Napoleon III protested because he didn t want his country surrounded by Hohenzollern rulers. Napoleon s hostility caused a great deal of tension and Bismarck, in an attempt to appease him, gave false accounts of conversation between French ambassador and Prussian king which caused a huge public uproar. Citizens of German were outraged that Napoleon III could dictate whom he wished to rule. The public demanded war and Germany complied. The Germans easily defeated Napoleon in the Franco-Prussian War. The defeat of Napoleon III and the rout of France was the final stage in German unification. The German people accepted the unification of the country and Prussian leadership. In 1871 King William I of Prussia was crowned kaiser and thus began the unified and economically powerful country of Germany.

Nationalism was the catalyst that brought about the unification of Italy and Germany. The mid-19th century was a time of great social upheaval in Italy and in Germany. The social order of both countries were under seige and beginning to crumble. New ideologies, changing perspectives, and revolutionary thoughts came to the forefront. People demanded new governments, new leaders, and new politics. They sought to improve their social condition, obtain better education, and increase their standard of living. This social and economic development lead to nationalism and the feeling that each citizen owed his or her supreme loyalty to the nation.