Chapter twenty-four national states and national cultures

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Chapter Summary

Chapter Twenty-four charts the emergence of European national states that took an interest in their economies, societies, educational systems, public health, and high culture. The revolutions of 1848 revealed both the difficulties and possibilities of bringing this about. At first a series of middle-class revolts on behalf of constitutionalism and liberal political rights, the revolutions foundered over divided aims between the middle and lower classes and over conflicting goals of ethnic independence or national integration. Across central and eastern Europe forces of liberalization were crushed by the armies of the great autocracies. Though concrete goals were achieved - the abolition of serfdom in the Austrian empire, modest constitutions in Piedmont and Prussia - monarchs, aristocrats, and churches emerged intact, and liberals much less sanguine about the prospects of genuinely representative government.

In the end the adhesive that would paper over the deep social and cultural divisions within European societies was nationalism. Middle-class intellectuals consciously articulated the idea of their peoples’ special historical mission, unique language, and right to a modern, efficient government and economy. In France Napoleon III, founder of the Second empire, epitomized the new statesman, with his combination of authoritarian tactics and progressive social and economic reform. The Crimean conflict, wasteful and inglorious in most respects, revealed how foreign policy adventures could unite a people and marked a shift in the international balance of power that allowed further changes to occur. In 1861 Italy was unified as the Piedmontese state of Victor Emmanuel and Cavour skillfully enlisted French aid to oust Austria from northern Italy. More democratic forces led by Garibaldi brought southern Italy into the union, thus creating a united peninsula where the discrepancies between north and south were palpable. In the 1860s, even more momentously, the German states united under the domination of Prussia. The Iron Chancellor Otto von Bismarck used foreign victories over Austria and France to woo and coerce the disparate states into alliance and to silence liberal, Catholic, and socialist opponents at home. In Russia Alexander II ended serfdom by decree and instituted a certain measure of mir and zemstvo autonomy, though in the cities a desire to quell all radical activity led to surveillance and state control. The Austrian empire, the European state most challenged by her own diversity, granted a large measure of autonomy to Hungary and played one ethnic group against another in ways that kept the empire intact but impeded the reforms that would be needed in the long term.

The consolidation of the nation-state in the mid-nineteenth century was characterized also by the consolidation of national, public forms of cultural expression. These were largely geared toward middle-class tastes that could be satisfied in the new public venues of museums, auditoriums, theaters, opera houses, and lecture halls. For the first time singers, musicians, writers, and painters could make their living by sales directly to the public. In a mixture of styles and themes their work explored the conventions and moral constraints surrounding the middle class, romanticized the old feudal order, proclaimed the power of the man of genius, and depicted the grim realities of life for the poor. Newspapers, aided by illustrations and telegraphic communication, were an important part of the emerging national cultures. So too were histories that proclaimed a nation’s defining characteristics or, in the case of Hegel’s work, provided an entire metaphysics for understanding the vast forces of historical evolution. Many were troubling by the difficulties of reconciling traditional religions and an increasingly secular culture.

Lecture and Discussion Topics

1. Assign Marx’s The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon. Discuss Marx’s interpretation of the revolution of 1848 in France.

2. Choose a region of Europe and explore nineteenth century nationalism within that region.

3. Ask students to research the Crimean War and then write journalistic entries describing the events.

4. Compare the lives and careers of Mazzini and Garibaldi.

5. Explore Bismarck’s Kulturkampf and the ways in which he repressed both religion and socialism.

6. Research the reception and aftermath of the emancipation of the Russian serfs.

7. Assign students to report on different novelists and painters of the nineteenth century, showing how their work fits into the concerns of the era.

8. Present mid-nineteenth-century culture using cartoons from Punch, Illustrated London News, or other contemporary papers.

supplemental films

1848. 22 min. B/W. 1949. Radim Films. Graphics by Daumier to show Paris in 1848.
Bismarck: Germany from Blood and Iron. 30 min. Color. 1976. Learning Corporation of America. Bismarck’s words to describe German unification.
The Creation of Italy: Battle of Solferino. 30 min. Color. Films for the Humanities. complicated Italian and European politics leading to successful unification.
The Crystal Year. 30 min. B/W. 1965. National Educational Television. England in 1851.
Daumier’s France. 60 min. Color. Films for the Humanities. France from the 1840s to the 1860s.

Multiple Choice Questions

The page numbers listed below indicate the correct answers and their locations in the text.

1. The Second Republic

a. was established when Louis Philippe abdicated

b. was founded when Louis Philippe’s grandson ascended to the throne

c. was led by Alphonse de Lamartine

d. all of the above

e. a and c (p.846)

2. Which countries did not experience revolution in 1848?

a. Britain and Italy

b. Hungary and Poland

c. Britain and Russia (p.847)

d. Russia and France
3. In 1848 French revolutionaries from the middle class and working class were most divided over

a. support for Louis Napoleon Bonaparte

b. whether the state had an obligation to provide work for the unemployed (p.849)

c. whether to have universal manhood suffrage

d. whether to have a monarchy or a republic

e. all of the above

4. As a result of the revolutions of 1848 serfdom was abolished in

a. Austria (p.850)

b. Russia

c. Piedmont

d. Poland

e. all of the above

5. The outcome of the revolutions of 1848 revealed the

a. support of middle-class liberals for the independence of small nationalities such as the Poles and the Venetians

b. willingness of monarchs to support middle-class demands

c. split in goals between middle-class and working-class radicals (p.854)

d. all of the above
6. Proponents of nationalism in the mid-nineteenth century espoused

a. adopting a common European language

b. the idea that different peoples had distinct historical missions (p.855)

c. universal human rights

d. free trade to promote industrial development
7. At the inception of Napoleon III’s Second Empire opposition came from

a. businessmen

b. the Catholic church

c. local notables

d. monarchists

e. none of the above (p.856)

8. The regime of Napoleon III fell in spite of the fact that it

a. curbed the power of the French church

b. massive social programs (p.857)

c. outlawed the right to strike

d. established a democratic government
9. Which was not among the causes of the Crimean War?

a. Britain’s concern about Russian expansion toward Persia and India

b. France’s desire to protect Catholics in the Ottoman empire

c. Russia’s desire to protect Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman empire

d. the Ottoman emperor’s desire to expand his control in the Balkan area of Europe (p.860)
10. The principal barrier to Italian unification was

a. Austria

b. Guiseppe Garibaldi

c. Napoleon III

d. the papacy

e. a and d (p.863)

11. Italian unification occurred because

a. of efforts on the part of Piedmontese and Garibaldian troops (p.866)

b. the papacy was an active supporter of a strong Italian state

c. glaring differences between north and south Italy were lessening

d. the leaders of Piedmont looked to Austria for support in defeating the French
12. Once in power, Bismarck

a. opposed nationalism

b. dissolved the parliament (p.868)

c. reinstated the parliament

d. alienated Russia

13. The Franco-Prussian War was provoked by

a. Napoleon III’s desire to annex southern Germany

b. competition over influence in Spain (p.869)

c. France’s alliance with Austria

d. conflict over Alsace and Lorraine

14. Bismarck’s Kulturkampf involved a struggle with

a. German liberals

b. the Catholic church (p.871)

c. the socialists

d. all of the above
15. The law of 1861 that liberated the Russian serfs also

a. integrated the free peasantry into Russian society

b. granted the village commune the power to control the movements of the freed serfs (p.873)

c. allowed serfs to earn enough from the land they acquired to pay the obligatory purchase price to their former masters

d. created a prosperous and free peasant class
16. The creation of a public culture in nineteenth-century European states was aided by

a. a vast extension of aristocratic patronage

b. the tendency of authors to write for an audience of intimate friends

c. the building of many new theaters, museums, and opera houses (p.875)

d. the practice of newspapers being funded by subscription rather than advertising
17. The nineteenth century saw the invention of

a. photography (p.875)

b. the ballet

c. the novel as a literary form

d. opera and chamber music
18. Which of the following is correctly matched?

a. Verdi and Wagner: composers (p.878)

b. Dickens and Balzac: poets

c. Liszt and Paganini: novelists

d. Beethoven and Turner: painters

Essay Questions

19. “In 1848 the forces of liberalism, democracy, and nationalism met in a head-on collision. Autocracy and capitalism emerged victorious.” Explain this statement. Do you agree or disagree?

20. How did Napoleon III and Bismarck foster loyalty and suppress the opposition? Do their methods explain their popularity?

21. Why did the Crimean War represent a low point in the achievements of Europe in the nineteenth century?

22. Discuss the changes that took place in European high culture in the nineteenth century. How did they reflect the economic and political changes of the era? Who were the patrons? What changes took place in the role and position of artists in society? What new cultural forms emerged?

23. Examine the factors that led to the outbreak and failure of the revolutions of 1848. How did those factors differ from country to country?

24. Define nationalism. What aspects of nationalism can be used by both liberals and conservatives regarding political, economic, and social policy?

25. Discuss the connection between the rise of nationalism and the rise of the middle class.

26. How was nationalism antithetical to various ideals of the Enlightenment?


Evaluating Evidence

27. Consider the painting on page 847. What was the symbolic significance of the tricolor vs. the red flag? How is the moment of Lamartine’s persuasion of the crowd presented here?

28. Consider the illustration on page 857. How do you think Haussmann’s plans to rebuild Paris were received?

29. What was the meaning of the meeting between Emmanuel and Garibaldi? How is that meeting depicted in the engraving on page 864?
30. Study the photo on page 873. What kinds of differences can you detect between the conditions in which peasants and officials lived in Russia? How do you think the peasants received the news of their emancipation?
31. How did Courbet deal with class differences in his painting on page 879?

Critical Analysis

The Frankfurt Constitution

32. How did the Constitution utilize German nationalism to assert its agenda?
33. Could the Constitution be considered a precursor to German unification?
34. Which articles and sub-sections were most threatening to the status quo? Why?

Mazzini's Nationalism

35. What, according to Mazzini, is the role of the individual in society?
36. In what ways is this a romantic document?

37. What do you think Mazzini thought of Enlightenment individualism?

38. Compare and contrast Mazzini's “On the Duties of Man” with the French “The Rights of Man”.

Bismarck's Social Program

39. Why did a conservative nation such as Germany pass liberal laws promoting social welfare?
40. What did Bismarck consider to be the limit of state responsibility for social welfare?
41. Do you find signs of German nationalism in this passage?
42. Was Bismarck's policy motivated by pragmatic or ideological concerns?


  1. Alphonse de Lamartine

  2. Second Republic

  3. Louis Napoleon Bonaparte

  4. Franz Joseph I

  5. Herder

  6. Friedrich List

  7. Georges Haussmann

  8. Crimean War

  9. Mazzini

  10. Victor Emanuel II

  11. Risorgimento

  12. Expedition of the Thousand

  13. William I

  14. Austro-Prussian War

  15. Franco-Prussian War

  16. kaiser

  17. Lassalle

  18. mir

  19. Dual Monarchy

  20. Balzac

  21. George Sand

  22. Verdi

  23. Kierkegaard

  24. Louis Blanc

  25. Frederick William IV

  26. Felix von Schwarzenberg

  27. nationalism

  28. Fichte

  29. Second Empire

  30. Palmerston

  31. Congress of Paris

  32. Piedmont

  33. Cavour

  34. Garibaldi

  35. Red Shirts

  36. Bismarck

  37. North German Confederation

  38. German Reich

  39. Kulturkampf

  40. Reichstag

  41. zemstvos

  42. Louvre

  43. Dickens

  44. Wagner

  45. Jules Michelet

  46. Hegel

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