Nationalism can be defined as the desire to be free from foreign rule or occupation. European nationalism was a manifestation of the political will of the Europeans to free themselves from foreign domination and oppression.

Nationalism in various European countries aimed at uniting the nations and liberates them from foreign control; this is what led to the German and Italian unification.

Since 1700, Nationalism became an important force in international relations; the development of European nationalism was closely linked with the development of monopoly capitalism.

Due to the demands of monopoly capitalism, three was a need to protect none markets but protecting the markets meant unification which was achieved through nationalism.

The rise of nationalism occurred along with the development of a political unit which is called a nation/state.

Factors that contributed to the rise of European nationalism

(a) Development of monopoly capitalism.

Due to the demands of monopoly capitalism, there was a need to protect home markets but this meant unification which had to be achieved by getting rid of colonial rule.

(b) Dislike of foreign rule.

The major goal of nationalism was to unite the nations and free those from foreign rule or dominations, this goal led to the German and Italian unification that were protesting against French occupation.

(c) Education.

Education exposed the evils of colonial rule, hence stimulating nationalistic sentiments (feelings). Education made it possible for people to speak the same language, hence cultivating a strong sense of unity which facilitated the development of a main state.

(d) Improved communication.

The improvement of communication made it possible for people to travel from one place to another which cultivated a sense of unity that contributed to the rise of European nationalism.


The Italian had been subjected to foreign domination’s for many years for example, towards the end of the 19 th Century; Napoleon invaded Italy in the famous Italian campaign whereby the Italians were put under French control.

Following Napoleons’ defeat in 1815, the Italians were again subjected to Australian domination until 1870 when they regained. The Italian disliked foreign domination and on the growth of nationalism, different nationalist movements were organized by different leaders.

(i) In 1820, they formed the carbonari movement which was mainly an organization of intellectuals.

(ii) In 1831, Givseppe Mazzini founded the young Italy movement.

There were various stages in the Italian unification in which different territories were liberated from Austrian control. It should be noted that the liberation of Rome completed the Italian unification. The greatest maker of the Italian unification was Count Camillo Cavo.

Obstacles in the Italian unification before 1850

(a) The position of pope and the influence of the Catholic Church.

The pope could not fight with Austria because it was a major Catholic stateand consequently feared opposition from all Catholics. Without the support of the pope, the unification of Italy was impossible.

The pope enjoyed international sensitivity from all the Catholics of the world thus attacking the pope would force ambitious Catholic state to protect the pope.

(b) Military superiority of the Australian.

The Austrian empire had a well trained organized and equipped army. The Austrians also had a well established spying network on the other hand; the Italian nationalists were not military strong by 1848. The carbonari movement and young Italy movement did not have organized armies.

(c) Metternich and the Metternich system.

Metternich had divided Italy into small and different states, each with its own parliament. The Italians were one nationality but they could not agree on a single plan because of the political meetings, associations and freedom of the press were banned.

A strong detective system kept Metternich informed of all those movements that were fighting for independence and they were consequently controlled.

(d) Economic backwardness of Italy.

Economic backwardness of the Italian states partly hindered the struggle for independence. The Italians depended largely on subsistence farming, the level of education were also low.

There were also small middle class to champion a serious revolution against the Austrians. The Italian economy lacked a strong industrial sector, thus without a sound economic base, the nationalist movements were frustrated due to financial difficulties.

(e) Lack of a clear and able leadership.

This was a great hindrance in the struggle for independence before 1849. The Italians lacked ready and determined leadership against Austrian domination.

King Charles Albert of Piedmont would have united the Italians if he had accepted to lead the revolution in 1848, but he feared Austrian might and he reluctantly accepted the offer.

(f) Lack of mass mobilization.

Most Italians up to 1849 were not nationally conscious of the need for unification and independence. The Carbonari movement was simply on organization of intellectuals, while the young Italian movements tried to use the youth to appeal to all sections of the masses, thus these movements failed to win enough support from the masses.


For a long period, German states were victims of foreign domination, under Napoleon Bonaparte, the German states were grouped together to form the Rhine confederation, which was put under French control.

After the downfall of Napoleon, the German states were again grouped together to form the German confederation, which was put under Austrian control.

Between 1815 and 1848, the forces of nationalism became very strong and the Germans began demanding for a united and a free Germany, but with little success because of the following obstacles.

(a) Disunity at the Frankfort parliament.

The members of the parliament lacked a common plan; the nationalists wanted a united and free Germany, while the liberals wanted a democratic and a constitutional government.

There were also divisions based on religion, whereby the Catholics wanted Austrian leadership to remain and the Protestants (Anglicans) wanted a united Republic.

(b) Austrian Military might.

The Austrians had a well trained, equipped and a large army contrary to the Germans who lacked a strong and an organized army thus without it, they found it difficult to defeat the Austrians, so as to regain their independence.

(c) Lack of a sound economy.

German states depended on agriculture as the basis of their economy. Transport and communication were not yet well developed, hence without a sound economic base; the Germans could not strengthen their military power and mobilize the local population against the Austrians.

(d) Lack of able leadership.

The revolution in PRUSSIA lacked a strong and able leadership against Austria domination. King Fredrick William IV of Prussia would have led the revolution but he was opposed to liberalism, thus without a capable and able leadership, the nationalists movements failed to achieve their objectives by 1849.

(e) Foreign intervention of Russia.

Czar Nicholas I was opposed to liberal movements both in Russia and its neighbours. He had used the militaryto crash liberal movements in Russia.

It was therefore not a surprise that the establishment of a liberal government in Germans would face opposition from Russia, indeed in 1849; Russia sent her troops to crash liberal movements in Germany.

Despite all their problems, German unification was attained in 1871 and the German empire was proclaimed at Versailles.


1. European nationalism led to the emergence of new states such as Greece, Belgium, Italy, Germany, etc. This was because these nations unified themselves in order to be strong and be able to compete with the former strong nations such as France and Britain, in terms of market, raw materials, industrialization, military and areas for investment.

2. Led to intensification of national rivalries and antagonism among European powers. This was because the former big powers which were France and Britain started to be in antagonism with the newly unified nations like Germany and Italy in terms of raw materials, areas for investments and markets.

3. It led to emergence of hostile military alliance which were the triple alliance and the triple entente of Britain, France and Russia.

4. It led to the disturbance of balance of power in Europe. The balance of power which was agreed at the Vienna congress in 1815 was upset by Germany after it had undergo unification because after unification Germany started to be powerful in terms of military, industrialization, monopolization of trade, look for market, areas for investment and therefore the power which was formerly dominated was now disturbed by the newly unified countries.

5.It led to the breakout of the world war i.e. World War I and World War II; this wars affected world socially, economicallyand politically.

6.The Unification led to the rise of the new imperialism in Europe from 1850’s.

This was because European nationalism accelerated the rise and development of nationalism in Europe which brought expansionist tendencies among European powers to go in other parts of the world to expand their boundaries.


1. It led to the influx of agents of colonialism in Africa like explorers, missionaries,and traders who searched the information about the potential strategic and navigable rivers of Africa and they sent information to their countries about the wealth found in African continent.

2. Led to the scramble for African continent; this was because those agents of colonialism started to explore and search the potential information about African continent. Example fertile soil for agriculture, navigable rivers, i.e. Niger delta, Congo basin etc. mining areas and thereafter their mother nations rushed to Africa to look for those areas.

3. Led to the partition of Africa after the scramble which was done by European big powers about the potential of African continent; therefore the partition of Africa was done during the Berlin conference of November 1884 to February 1885.

4. Led to colonization of Africa in the last quarter of the 19 th C where by the big powers after the scramble for Africa were able to control Africa in all aspects in order to protect and satisfy European interests especially for the development of capitalism in Europe.

5. Led to the establishment of colonial state as an extension of metropolitan rule (colonial rule) in Africa, therefore the work of colonial state was to make sure that the interest of colonialism like the establishment of colonial economy such as plantations settlers and peasant economy, mining, establishment of administration etc. was to be achieved for the interests of colonialist.

6. It led to the establishment of colonial economy in African continent which was the work done by colonial state in order to make sure that European colonialists should continue on the expense of Africans.

7. Led to destruction of African culture by introducing European culture. Example African culture practices things such as traditions, customs, norms, dressing styles, eating, marriage, etc. were totally forbidden and destroyed by Europeans.

8. Led to the outbreak of the world wars i.e. WWI of 1914-1918 and WWII of 1939-1945, these world wars affected Africain all aspects of life such as occurrence of deaths, famine, Economic hardship, change of colonial masters etc.


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