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History of Europe 1815-1914 Essay

Nationalism is a relatively recent phenomenon, considering the grand sweep of history. Although its roots can be found among the ancient Hebrews and Greeks, Niccolo Machiavelli’s book, The Prince, was the beginning of modern day nationalism, and was “important in the preparation of nationalism. ” (Kohn, 1955, p. 9) Machiavelli believed that the state must be preserved and defended at any cost, and longed for Italian unification, which was to come centuries later. John Milton of 17th century Great Britain is considered to be the architect of modern day nationalism.

Milton regarded nationalism as “the affirmation of individual freedom from authority, the self-assertion of personality in face of its own government or church,” and the freedom to “utter and to argue freely according to conscience. ” (Kohn, 1955, p. 16-17) According to historian John Hall, at the core of liberalism is the quest to answer the question, “What is the nature of a good life? ” (Hall, 1988, p. 9) Immanuel Kant, the German philosopher, was concerned with the categories of the human mind.

His philosophy is often called critical philosophy. He believed human reasoning to be the ultimate authority on morality, and that a person should be free to reason. As hall puts it, Kant’s “defense of the basic liberal aim of considering individuals to be of moral worth remains high-powered and absolutely central to liberalism. ” (Hall, 1988, p. 19) John Stuart Mill is considered to be “the most important single theorist of liberalism. ” (Hall, 1988, p. 24) He believed in a person’s right to freedom, as did Kant, and defended individual liberty.

Mill wrote in his work, On Liberty, “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. ” (Hall, 1988, p. 25) Mill was considered to be a radical in his time for he supported women’s equality, including the right to vote, education and birth control. Although Mill never became a socialist, he studied pre-Marxist socialist works. Karl Marx’s brand of socialism divided industrialized society into two classes: proletariat and bourgeoisie. The proletariats being the working class, and the bourgeoisie being the rich, ruling class.

He criticized capitalism and considered it to be oppressive. He viewed freedom as the “extent of humankind’s domination over nature and the degree of rational, conscious control over social relations. ” (Walicki, 1995, p. 12) Marx was the “prophet of communism” and he thought that his utopian view of society would “restore the unity of humankind, reconciling human individual existence with human species essence. ” (Walicki, 1995, p. 12) Friedrich Engels was a contemporary of Marx, and co-wrote works with him, including the Communist Manifesto. Both Engels and Marx co-founded communism.

He believed that the evils in industrialized society were due to private property, and only through a class struggle which led to a communist society could there be equality. The Problem of Bismarck Otto von Bismarck was appointed as Prime Minister of Prussia by Emperor William I in 1862. Not incredibly popular when appointed, people underestimated the power-hungry man. Prior to Bismarck’s appointment, William wanted to reform the Prussian military. The parliament agreed to reform but did not want to yield control of the budget to William for a long period of time.

When Bismarck came on the scene he managed to collect additional taxes needed, and used them toward military reform without the consent or approval of the parliament. Unlike Bismarck, Louis-Napoleon of France, the great nephew of Napoleon I, started his political career with great support, but ended up being deposed. He was elected president of France in 1848 with a victory of 74. 2%. He was able to gain such a huge victory by being able to “appear as all things to all men. ” (Price, 2003) However, resistance grew to his domination of government in 1851.

He started a coup in December 1851 with little resistance in Paris, but more in rural areas, but he was able to crush that resistance. An election was held after the coup to decide whether or not people wanted him to have the authority necessary to create a constitution, and the result was an overwhelming yes, due to his “immense popularity. ” (Price, 2003) Napoleon created the Second Empire, with himself the Emperor. In 1868 Bismarck pushed for Leopold, prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, to take the throne of Spain after the Spanish Revolution of 1868.

Napoleon was alarmed at the prospect of Leopold taking the Spanish throne and threatened war. Leopold’s candidacy for the throne was withdrawn, but Napoleon wanted a letter of apology from Bismarck. Bismarck published the demands of Napoleon and Prussia’s rejection in the Ems Dispatch because he knew it would likely lead to war, and thought that a war with France would cause southern German states to help fight a Prussian war, leading to the unification of Germany. War did break out in 1870, and lasted until 1871. France was defeated by Prussia under Bismarck’s leadership.

Politics & Economy During the 19th century Great Britain experienced a tremendous amount of economic growth, which began with the cotton industry. “Between 1815 and 1851 occurred the most rapid economic development of domestic resources in the whole of British economic history. ” (Smellie, 1962, p. 140) By 1860 half of the world’s coal and manufactured goods were supplied by Britain. By 1870 British international trade was greater than the French, German and Italian combined. Several major political developments occurred in Britain during the 1830s.

The Reform Bill, enacted in 1832, lessened the amount of land a man had to own to be eligible to vote. It increased eligible voters by more than 200,000. However, eligible voters still only amounted to 20%. As a reaction to the French Revolution, the Six Acts Law was passed by Parliament in 1819. It severely limited civil liberties, including freedom of the press and the right to public meeting. Other laws were passed which outlawed political rallies, and made it illegal to form labor organizations. The economic development of France was much slower than Britain’s.

It took longer to industrialize because the French population did not increase as fast as the rest of Europe. The slow population growth was caused by peasants limiting their family size due to the small plots they farmed. A recession in the 1860s occurred because agriculture and industry could not keep up with global competition. From 1815 to 1870 France went through a series of regime changes. In 1815 Napoleon I was defeated and France was invaded by foreign troops. Restoration of the Bourbon monarchy was forced upon the French people, and Louis XVIII was installed as king.

After Louis died in 1824 Charles X became king. Moderate royalists and liberals won seats in elections, and in 1829 Charles appointed Jules de Polignac as chief minister, which alienated both moderates and liberals. After the elections in 1830 Charles signed the July Ordinances into law which dismissed the newly elected Chamber of Deputies, causing another revolution where Charles was driven from the throne, and the July Monarchy installed, named after the month when Louis Philippe, of the house of Orleans, was installed. Louis-Philippe was also driven from the throne in 1848, and the Second Republic was created.

An April 1848 election allowed all eligible males to vote. Workers in Paris, however, did not like the results of the election and revolted. The revolts were brutally put down in what came to be called the June Days of 1848. Louis Napoleon won the presidential elections of 1848, as previously mentioned, later declaring himself emperor. War & Unity During the 19th century unification occurred in both Germany and Italy. In Germany Bismarck managed to unite Germany through war with France in 1870, asking Germans not to fight “for Prussian expansion but for the sake of the fatherland. ” (Bridge, 1980, p. 3)

He succeeded in uniting Germany, but at a price Germans did not realize. “Bismarck’s sensational success in unifying the country blinded most of his countrymen to the political retardation he had imposed upon them. ”(Feuchtwanger, 2001, p. 14) He managed to force an authoritarian system on all of Germany. In Italy the Risorgimento, the term for Italian resistance to Austrian rule and the growing desire for unification, began with Giuseppe Mazzini. Exiled to France in 1831, he created the organization called Giovane Italia (Young Italy) in order to help spread Italian nationalism.

Giuseppe Garibaldi was inspired by Mazzini, and in 1860 he landed in Sicily in order to stir up a revolt against the Sicilian king. He managed to gather Sicilian peasants to fight, and they were able to defeat the king. He then set himself up as the dictator of Sicily, and headed to the southern mainland with his Sicilian peasants. He also gained the support of peasants there, and then headed north, where he defeated King Francis of Naples. He was met with resistance by the forces of Victor Emmanuel, king of Sardinia.

He decided to hand over his conquests to Victor Emmanuel. Garibaldi was an exact opposite of Bismarck. He fought for unification of his country by gathering the support of the people, while Bismarck united his country by embroiling them in wars. Bismarck imposed authoritarianism on the German people. Garibaldi put his political ambitions aside for the good of his country. “He could have established himself as dictator of southern Italy but believed national unity to be more important than personal ambition. ” (Farmer, 2006)


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