Nationalism means the wish of a people to govern themselves as a nation. This ideal reshaped the map of Europe in the 19th century. Later in the century, nationalism took on a second meaning—an exaggerated belief in the superiority of one’s own nation.


1830–1831 Nationalist agitation; calls for democratic reform across Europe
1832 Greece recognized as independent from Turkey
1848 Nationalist and liberal uprisings across Europe
1871 Germany unites as an empire
1871 Italy becomes a single nation


Between 1772 and 1795, Poland was divided among Russia, Prussia, and Austria. There were nationalist uprisings against the Russians in 1830 and 1863, but independence was not regained until 1918.


Since the Middle Ages, Germany had been a patchwork of free cities and small states within the Holy Roman Empire. In the 1800s, these gradually came together, economically, then politically. In 1871, Wilhelm I of Prussia became emperor of a united Germany.


Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882) dreamed of uniting Italy and freeing it from foreign rule. In 1860 he assembled 1,000 volunteers, who wore red shirts as a uniform. They sailed from Genoa to Sicily and joined an uprising against that kingdom’s French rulers. They then crossed to southern Italy. Garibaldi later tried to march on Rome, and fought against Austria.


Bismarck was a Prussian politician, a conservative and a royalist. He opposed the liberal nationalists who demanded democratic change in Germany in 1848, but played a major role in creating the German Empire of 1871.

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley

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