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 dominations’ for many years for example, towards the end of the 19th 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 state and 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, economically and 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.


Military alliances and the notion of European balance of power


The defeat of France during Franco – Prussian war of 1871 had a tremendous impact in Europe. Before the war, the European powers were Britain and France but after the war, the new powers were Britain and Germany which meant that there was a shift in the balance of power.

After the defeat of France, Bismarck directed his efforts to isolate France in order to maintain her in a weak and defeated position by farming military alliances.

Bismarck forged military alliances with different European countries, this included;

(a) The Dual Alliance of 1879.

In 1879, Germany and Austrian –Hungary signed a treaty which formed a defensive alliance called the “dual Alliance” This alliance was intended to strengthen and protect Germany from France and at the same time protect Austria – Hungary against Russia. By 1870, Austria – Hungary was threatened by Russian Army ships in the Balkan regions and feared that Russia might attack her.

(b) The Triple Alliance of 1882.

In 1882, Bismarck formed the Triple Alliance which was intended to be defensive and to completely isolate and weaken France. The triple alliance came into existence by admitting Italy into the “Dual Alliance”.

France and Italy had both been interested in Tunisia; Italy became frustrated and started looking for alliance against France. The Triple alliance would therefore defend Germany, Austria and Italy.

(c) The Dual Alliance of 1892.

By 1992, both France and Russia felt insecure and they decided to make a defensive agreement called the Dual Alliance against the triple alliance of 1882. In this alliance, the two powers agreed to help each other incase of an attack by Germany.

(d) The Anglo – Japanese Alliance of 1902.

For many years Britain had concentrated on looking after vast empire and had kept out of European affairs, this policy was known as splendid isolation. When her colonial rural such as France and Russia combined to form the dual alliance of 1892; Britain was forced to forge an alliance with Japan with the objective of protecting her economic interests in the Far East.


(e) The Triple Entente of 1907.

In 1907, Russia was admitted into the “Dual alliance”, which led to the formation of the Triple Entente, consulting of Britain, Russia and Japan. These powers agreed to help each other in case of war.

In order to maintain stability in Europe, the European powers adopted the nation of balance of power.

The causes of militarism and arms race in Europe in the 19th C.

Arms race, refers to the intense competition between nations to accumulate technologically advanced and military strategic weapon system. The most prominent instance of such competition was the rapid developed by the USA and the soviet union of more and better nuclear weapons during the cold war.

The term arms race its original usage describes a competition between two or more parties for military supremacy. Each party. Competes to produce large number of weapons, greater armies or superior military technology.

Factors for the Arms Race.

Some of the factors for Arms Race in Europe are;

i. The need to maintain balance of power among nations so that no one nations should military be threat to other.

ii. The cold war that existed between U.S.A and U.S.S.R and their respective camps.

iii. The developed world war was looking for more influence and control in the third world countries and other saw armament as a way of increasing that capacity

iv. Armed race was meant to scare other countries of the world and make them fear the big powers such as U.S.A and U.S.S.R.


The following are some of the impacts of the armed race

i. Many people lost their lives due to the use of nuclear or chemical weapons e.g:- Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan during the second world war.

ii. It reduced the level of resources that could have been utilized in the provision of social and economic welfare of the people in the super power states and the world countries

iii. It sharpened the hostility between western block under U.S.A and Eastern Block under U.S.S.R.

iv. The emergence of terrorists. Using various weapons of mass destruction.


This refers to a policy whereby European powers used military alliances as the determining factor in maintaining stability in Europe.

The factors that led to the use of this policy:-

(a) Rise of European nationalism.

During this period, colonies were seen as a sign of prestige. They became a test and proof of a nation’s superiority. This belief was bound to force the European powers to look for colonies in Europe, thus disturbing the balance of power.

(b) Development of monopoly capitalism.

The development of capitalism to the monopoly stage had various demands in Europe. Due to monopoly capitalism, there was need for raw materials, markets and cheap labour which could only be satisfied through acquiring colonies. To prevent European countries from searching for colonies in Europe, the European powers adopted the notion of European balance of power so as to maintain stability.

(c) Emergence of Germany and Italy.

After Germany and Italy achieved their unification, they joined the race for colonies to meet the demands of monopoly capitalism. To maintain stability in Europe, The European powers decided to adopt a notion of European balance of power.

Due to monopoly capitalism, there was a need for markets, raw materials and investment areas. Their needs could only be achieved by acquiring colonies but the European countries were not supposed to look for colonies inside Europe, thus an outlet had to be created and this led to the scramble for and partition of Africa.


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