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Nationalism

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The Italian unification was a result of a series of political and military events that culminated in creation of a united Italian peninsula in the kingdom of Italy in 1861. Before this time, only individual regions had existed. In 1861 Count Cavour declared the birth of the kingdom of Italy.  The unification is bound up with ‘Risorgimento’, which means awakening and revival of strength. ‘Risorgimento’ suggests the throwing out of foreign rulers, removal of harsh governments and finally unifying the various pieces of the fragmented country into one state. ‘Risorgimento’ thus was a political and social movement ended with the agglomeration of the various fragmented regions.

For one to understand the causes of unification we must analyze the events that took place before 1861. Before 1861, Italy was not a political entity.  The term Italy meant nothing more than a geographical phrase.  It was bounded on three sides by the sea. The remaining portion had the long chain of Alps as its boundary.

The stages that led to unification can be broken down in the following stages. The first one is the pre- revolutionary Phase.  This includes the duration that saw the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte. The powers that emerged gathered at a conference in Vienna in 1815. They gavethe control of the Italian peninsula to Austria. Issues that interfered with unification process were that Austria dominated many states including Lombardy and Venice. Others were the limited influence of Italian leaders. In the first half of 19th century, Italian leaders, intellectuals and the upper class began to advocate for the unification but the masses did not.

In the period between 1790 and 1814, French troops conquered and occupied the region that was later agglomerated to for the German empire.  French dominance thus was the first cause that resulted in the consolidation of Germany. Living under French authority caused the first surge of Germany nationalist. Therefore, without intending to, the French emperor Napoleon assisted in the unification of Germany. He encouraged middle-sized states to take up the numerous small -sized independent territories. The German allied with the French princes thus seized this opportunity and absorbed mostly bishoprics, local principalities and lands that were under the authorities of churches. They enlarged their territories and refused to release these regions even after the defeat of Napoleon. In 1790, it is estimated that the number of the small states that existed were more than one thousand.

The number reduced significantly in the next thirty years to onnly thirty states. The consolidation process led to the use of measurements and weights in German-speaking regions. After Napoleon defeated Prussia, which was the last independent German state, Prussia reinvented government. This is how Prussia became the only hope of other Germans states, which were already burdened under French authority. This caused an uprising which forced Napoleon away from Germany in 1813. Since people from different states were united under one cause, which was to drive Napoleon out of Ger many, they all developed a strong sense of nationality. The intellectuals thus demanded unification of Germany. In 1815, the congress of Vienna with the desire of restoring stability in Europe developed the German Confederation.

After some time, German liberals and the masses began demonstrations with revolutionary violence. Princes who were poorly prepared for this granted them there desires by appointing liberal minister, granting constitutions ands parliamentary assembly. This gave a great boost to the unification of Germany. Nevertheless, professors who were the majority in the national assembly could not decide on the regions to be part of a United Germany. The discussions of the national assembly thus stalled. The national assembly was disbanded. The king proclaimed Germany an empire on 18 January 1871.

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