NCERT Notes Class 10 Social Science History Chapter 1 The Rise of Nationalism in Europe

NCERT Notes Class 10 Social Science History Chapter 1 The Rise of Nationalism in Europe

Chapter 1 The Rise of Nationalism in Europe Notes

Chapter Name

The Rise of Nationalism in Europe Notes


CBSE Class 10

Textbook Name

India and the Contemporary World II Class 10

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  • Notes for Class 10
  • Notes for Class 10 History
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King Louis XIV and his absolutist government and his disappointing policies and the feudal system were the major causes that caused upheaval among the French population. They led to the French Revolution in 1789. This French Revolution was a clear answer that the French population wanted to throw away the age-old monarchical institutions and wanted a political structure that would stand for them. It was a strong message that the public’s will is the strongest for a state to survive. It did not meet all its goals, but it became a major cause , which led to the rise of the modern nations that we know today. The revolution led to a lot of bloodsheds, and it ended with Napoleon Bonaparte becoming the Emperor. The French Revolution was a revolution that led to the growth of nationalism in Europe. It was a clear expression of the will of the people.

French Revolution: Measures and Practices

The French Revolution was based on the idea that the will of the public makes the state, and so, they started practices and measures that would unify the people of France.

  1. La Patrie, which meant fatherland, and Le Citoyen, which meant the citizen, were introduced to symbolize the idea of a united community, with a constitution that would provide them equal rights.
  2. A new tricolor flag was introduced to instill a sense of oneness.
  3. The Estates-General was renamed the National Assembly, which was now a body of the active citizens, it was basically a body replacing monarchy and establishing the republic government.
  4. French was introduced as the common language.
  5. A central administrative system with uniform laws replaced the old monarchical system.
  6. A new system of uniform measures and systems was introduced.

Spread of Nationalism in Europe by the French Revolutionaries

The French Revolution had a drastic impact on the French revolutionaries’ attitude, and they decided to liberate the whole of Europe from absolutism and despotism. The French Revolution inspired many parts of Europe. Many educated middle-class people and students started forming Jacobin Clubs to help the French armies enter their countries, liberate them from the monarchy and feudal system clutches. By the 1790s, the French armies had moved to Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy.

Rise of napoleon Bonaparte: An End to the French Revolution

Napoleon Bonaparte played a key role in the French Revolution and was the first consul of France in the year 1799 (Godechot, 5) and the emperor of France by 1804. Though Napoleon’s rule had ended democracy in France, which was established with many difficulties, he established measures and great administrative policies that are to be appreciated. The most important one being the Civil Code of 1804 or The Napoleonic Code.

Civil Code of 1804

  • The code brought revolutionary changes as it did away with the centuries-old privileges of birth, made law equal for everyone, and, most importantly, secure the property right.
  • The code led to simpler administrative divisions and abolished the feudal system. The peasants were free from serfdom and manorial duties.
  • Napolean also removed the guild restrictions.
  • Transport and communication system became more efficient.

All did not welcome the Civil Code. While the administrative changes made the peasants, workers, and small business people happy, the others started to understand that the administrative changes did not really meet the expectations of the political liberty that the people had fought for. There were increased taxation, censorship, and forced conscriptions into the French armies, which were not taken well by France’s local population.

Making of Nationalism in Europe

Nationalism was not born in a day or two. There were a series of events that led to the concept of a nation-state across Europe.

In the mid-eighteenth century, Europe was divided into kingdoms and territories populated with people belonging to varied cultures and ethics: Germans, Bohemians, Polish, and many more. These people did not see each other as one. The aristocratic rulers were the only common thread that connected these people.

The Aristocracy and the New Middle Class

It is usually, through influential people, an idea is popularized. In Europe, there were mainly twosuch groups that had the influence.

One was the aristocratic class, which owned large estates and townhouses, but they were numerically small. The other class, which gained popularity, influence, and a number, was a working population. They were people who made money during the growth of industrialization and included business people and professionals. It was among these people where the birth of national unity took place.

What did Liberal Nationalism Stand for?

Liberalism term derives from the Latin word liber, meaning free. For the growing new middle-class population, liberalism meant freedom, freedom to choose the government, freedom to vote (irrespective of economic status and gender). The working class also wanted an end to aristocratic privileges and a treatment where all were equal before the law.

  1. What strengthened the people’s unity was their similar interest in the economic sphere. There were many policies and conditions which hindered the growth and movement of goods, people, and capital. Some of them being:
  2. The region was divided into a large number of states. Each state had its own currency, measures, and weight. This made exchange difficult.
  3. There were many custom barriers, and duties were based on the number of goods being carried. This made profit earnings minimal.
  4. To overcome such issues, a customs union, or Zollverein, was by Prussia and joined by many German states. This union abolished custom duties and the number of currencies, unifying weights and measures across the region.
  5. Also, the establishment of railway lines across Europe caused goods faster and over a wide range of networks, thus further strengthening the idea of liberalism among the people.

A New Conservatism after 1815

Napoleon’s defeat in 1815 led to the rise of conservatism in Europe. The powers that united against Napoleon’s fall believed that the set ways of society were necessary for its growth. But though they believed that the established, traditional institutions should be preserved, they also encouraged some of the changes brought about by the Napoleon government. This, the aristocratic class believed, could strengthen their rule over the state.

Treaty of Vienna (1815):

Austrian Chancellor Duke Metternich hosted a Congress of the European powers at Vienna to discuss the future of Europe and its power distribution. These were those who were responsible for the defeat of Napoleon. This treaty’s objective was to remove many of the changes brought about by Napoleon and bring to power the monarchies overthrown by him.

Territories were such distributed, and states were established at the boundaries of France to limit its expansion (e.g., Netherlands was given hold of Belgium and was set up in the north; Russia and Prussia in the east both being given parts of Poland and Saxony respectively; Genoa added to Piedmont in the south).

As expected from the conservative class, they did not support democratic ideas. They opposed and took strict measures to control activities that criticized and questioned their rule. The autocratic class took control over the significant measure that helps spread ideas and awareness: freedom of the press.

The Revolutionaries

The oppressive measures took by the autocratic government led many liberal-nationalists to form secret societies. Such societies promoted ideas of liberty, freedom, and idea of creation of nation-states.

Guiseppe Mazzini

  • Born in Genoa in 1807, he was described as “the most dangerous enemy of our social order” by Austrian Chancellor Metternich.
  • At first, he became a member of a secret society of the Carbonari.
  • He was sent to exile in 1831 for attempting a revolution in Liguria, where he founded two secret societies: Young Italy in Marseilles and Young Europe in Berne.
  • Mazzini firmly believed in the idea of a nation-state and wanted Italy to be a unification of a large number of alliances, which he thought will lead Italy to its liberalism.

The Age of Revolutions: 1830-1848

Many revolutions took place across Europe. These were led by liberal-nationalists who were mainly professors, school teachers, and commercial middle-class members.

In July 1830, a first uprising took place in France. The autocratic monarchy of Bourbon kings was abolished, and a constitutional monarchy was set up in its place. This uprising acted as a catalyst, leading to many such revolutions in many parts of Europe.

A specific event that sparked nationalist feelings all over Europe was the struggle for independence of Greece. Greece was considered a homeland of European civilization, fighting its war of independence against a Muslim kingdom – the Ottoman Empire. Greek revolutionaries got support from other Europeans and wanted to keep the ancient Greek culture intact. Popular among such people is an English poet, Lord Byron, who organized funds and fought for independence. He died in 1824.

Finally, in 1832, the Treaty of Constantinople was signed, which recognized Greece as an independent nation.

The Romantic Imagination and National Feeling

The basic aspects of one’s culture, i.e., art, poetry, music, and stories, played a major role in spreading nationalist feelings.

Many artists believed that instead of reasons and logic, a common man’s nationalist feeling or unity could be generated if expressed, taking into consideration the shared cultural heritage and past.

Others, such as German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, believed that exploring and exploiting folk culture (songs, dance, and poetry) can sparking oneness among people. To achieve this, ancient folklore in local languages were recorded. This helped spread cultural unity and national sentiments to a large number of audiences, especially the illiterate. Another example of such an artist is Karol Kurpinski, who popularised national struggle through his music and opera and made folk dances such as the polonaise and mazurka nationalist symbols.

The use of vernacular languages also came to be seen as a nationalist symbol. An example of such can be cited from Poland, where the polish was banned after its Russian occupation. Enraged by such an act, the Polish language was started to be used in religious ceremonies and church gatherings. This led to the banishment of priests and bishops. The use of the Polish language became a sign of struggle for independence from Russian rule.

Hunger, Hardship and Popular Revolt

In the 1830s, where Europe faced transition in the political domain field, it also faced starvation and death.

There was an increase in population in Europe. This led to more unemployment. Also, as many people were traditionally based professionals, they faced a lot of competition with the new industrialists whose products were cheap. Peasants also faced hardships since they were under autocratic rule, and much of their produce was being sold at very minimal rates.

In 1848, when unemployment and hunger reached their peak, people were forced to come out on roads and revolt. They put on barricades and took control over the city. Louis Philippe fled from the city. A National Assembly was constituted, which gave the right to vote to all its adult males above the age of 21 and promised the right to work.

Such similar revolts were seen in many parts of Europe where oppressed people revolted and took power into their own hands.

1848: The Revolution of the Liberals

The year 1848 saw very major changes and events in Europe. On the one side where peasants and workers were fighting against unemployment and starvation, middle-class liberal-nationalists were planning to implement their ideas into action. The anger people supported this was facing against the autocratic rule.

The main objective of the liberals was the formation of a constitution run by a parliament-based on principles of freedom of press and association.

In Germany, to fulfill their demands, people decided to enact an all-German National Assembly.

  • On 18th May, in Frankfurt, 831 elected representatives marched out in a ceremonial procession to participate in the Frankfurt parliament to be held in the Church of St. Paul.
  • A constitution was drafted granting the monarch the position of head of the government.
  • The position was denied by Friedrich Wilhelm IV, King of Prussia.
  • The king of Prussia joined hands with other monarchs and thus created a powerful army.
  • The association of liberals also weakened as they ignored the peasant’s and artists’ demands, thus losing their support.
  • In the end, the liberals lost, and the assembly dissolved.

A major issue observed in this event was that though the liberals wanted equality before the law, they were not ready to accept women in the National Assembly. Over the years, women had actively participated in the cause of nationalism. They had their own associations and newspapers. Despite such efforts, they were denied the right to vote. Also, during the drafting of the constitution, they were present there as only observers.

Though the monarchs successfully suppressed the revolt, they also realized that they would have to give in to the liberal-nationalists’ demands to end this problem permanently. Consequently, after 1848, the monarchs adopted many changes; for example, bonded labor was abolished in Habsburg and Russia; Habsburg rulers also granted more autonomy to Hungarians in 1867.

The Making of Germany and Italy

Germany: Can the Army be the Architect of a Nation?

  • After the revolt of 1848, the conservatives realized that to win the people and end the uprisings against the monarchy; they will have to use the sentiments of democracy and nationalism to meet their ends.
  • To defeat the liberals, Germany’s monarch joined hands with other monarchs, and their army collectively defeated the liberals and dismissed the National Assembly.
  • After this victory, Prussian chief minister, Otto von Bismarck, decided to control entire Germany. He fought three wars over a period of seven years with Austria, Denmark, and France and took these regions under Prussian rule.
  • On 18th January 1871, The Prussian King – Kaiser William I, was proclaimed as the German Emperor. The ceremony was held at the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles.
  • For gaining people’s trust, the new empire emphasized modernizing currency and banking and introduced judicial and legal systems in Prussia, which became an ideal for the rest of Germany.

Unification of Italy

  • In the nineteenth century, Italy was a fragmentation of seven states under the control of different powers. Only one state, Sardinia-Piedmont, was ruled by an Italian king.
  • Initially, Giuseppe Mazzini, a liberal nationalist, sought to unify Italy. He formed a secret society named Young Italy, where like-minded young people joined him for the common mission.
  • But the defeat of the uprisings in 1831and 1848 shifted the burden of unification of Italy on the shoulders of Sardinia-Piedmont ruler – King Victor Emmanuel II.
  • The chief minister of Sardinia-Piedmont, Cavour, joined hands with French forces and defeated Austria in 1859. Another nationalist, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and his volunteers joined Sardinia-Piedmont forces, and together they occupied South Italy and the Kingdom of Two Sicilies. The local peasants of the region also supported the armed forces to get rid of the Spanish rulers.
  • Though the aim was the unification of Italy, many were ignorant of the democratic and nationalist ideas. The peasants, who helped in driving out of Spanish rulers, had no idea about Giuseppe Garibaldi’s ideologies and believed that “la Talia” was the name of the King’s wife.

The Strange Case of Britain

  • Like other European nations, the unification of Britain was not because of its people revolting against the monarch for freedom. It was rather the dominance of English over other regions.
  • Initially, the region, British Isles, was inhabited by English, Welsh, Scot or Irish. After gaining wealth and power through trade, the English nation started extending its dominance over other islands in the region.
  • In 1688, the monarchy was defeated, and the English parliament was established. In 1707, The Act of Union between England Scotland was signed, which gave England control over Scotland. This led to the formation of England as a nation-state.
  • The people of Scotland, especially the Catholics, suffered at the hands of British people, who were the majority in the British parliament. The Scottish culture and language (Gaelic language) were forbidden to be practiced. They were restricted even to wear their ethnic clothes.
  • Similar incidents were observed in Ireland where Catholics were suppressed, and the Protestants were helped to gain dominance over the region. After many failed attempts for independence, Ireland was incorporated into the United Kingdom in 1801.
  • The British flag symbols that were popularized were the British flag (Union Jack), the national anthem (God Save Our Noble King), and the English language.

Visualizing the Nation

Eighteenth and nineteenth-century artists, for spreading the idea of nationalism and to give it a concrete form, started depicting nations as female figures.

  • Female figures were used to depict the idea of Liberty, Justice, and the Republic during the French revolution. Liberty was depicted through broken chains and a red cap, while Justice was depicted through a blind-folded woman carrying a pair of weighing balances.
  • Marianne, a popular Christian name, was popularised in France for depicting the nation. The image was depicted with a red cap, the tricolor, and the cockade.
  • In Germany, Germania became the idea of a nation. She was represented by wearing a crown of oak leaves, as oak leaves stood for heroism.
  • Some symbols and their meanings are:



broken chains

being freed

crown of oak leaves



willing to fight

olive branch around the sword

willingness to make peace

rays of the rising sun

beginning on a new era

black, red, and golden tricolor

flag of the liberal-nationalists in 1848

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