Class 10 History

The Revolutionaries in Europe

After the events of 1815, many liberal nationalists went underground for the fear of repression.

Giuseppe Mazzini

Giuseppe Mazzini was an Italian revolutionary. He was born in 1807. He became a member of the secret society of the Carbonari. When he was 24 years old, he was sent into exile in 1831 for attempting a revolution in Liguria.

After that, he founded two more underground societies; first Young Italy in Marseilles and then Young Europe in Berne. Mazzini believed that God had intended nations to be the natural units of mankind. So Italy had to be forged into a single unified republic instead of being a patchwork of small state kingdoms. Following in the footsteps of Mazzini, many secret societies were set up Germany, France, Switzerland and Poland. The Conservatives feared Mazzini.

While the conservative regimes were trying to consolidate their power, the liberals and nationalists continued to spread the idea of revolution. These people belonged to the educated middle-class elite; like professors, school teachers, clerks and members of the commercial middle classes.

The first upheaval took place in France in July 1830. The Bourbon kings were overthrown by liberal revolutionaries. A constitutional monarchy was installed with Louis Philippe at its head. The July Revolution sparked an uprising in Brussels which resulted in Belgium breaking away from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Independence of Greece

The Greek war of independence mobilized the nationalist feelings among the educated elite across Europe. The struggle for independence among the Greeks began in 1821. The nationalists in Greece got support from many Greeks who were living in exile. Moreover, they also got support from many West Europeans who sympathized with the ancient Greek culture. Poets and artists mobilized public opinion to support this struggle against the Muslim empire.

It is important to note that Greece had been a part of the Ottoman Empire. Finally, the Treaty of Constantinople of 1832 recognized Greece as an independent nation.

The Romantic Imagination and National Feeling

Romanticism was a cultural movement which sought to develop a particular form of nationalist sentiment. Romantic artists usually criticized the glorification of reason and science. They focused on emotions, intuition and mystical feelings. They tried to create a sense of collective heritage, a common cultural past, as the basis of a nation.

Other Romantics, like the German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder (1744 – 1803), claimed that the true German culture could be discovered among the common people; das volk. These Romantics used folk songs, folk poetry and folk dances to popularize the true spirit of the nation (volksgeist). The emphasis on vernacular language was also important to take the nationalist message to a large number of people who were mostly illiterate. Karol Kurpinski celebrated the national struggle through his operas and music in Poland. He turned folk dances; like polonaise and mazurka into nationalist symbols.

Role of Language

Language also played an important role in developing nationalist sentiments. After Russian occupation, the Polish language was forced out of schools and the Russian language was imposed everywhere. An armed rebellion took place against Russian rule in 1831 but this was ultimately crushed. But after this, many members of the clergy in Poland began to use language as a weapon of national resistance. In all Church gatherings and in all religious instructions, Polish was used. The Russian authorities put a large number of priests and bishops in jail or sent them to Siberia as punishment for their refusal to preach in Russian. The use of Polish thus became a symbol of the struggle against Russian dominance.

Hunger, Hardship and Popular Revolt

The 1830s were years of great economic hardship in Europe. There was huge growth in population in the first half of the nineteenth century. Number of unemployed had increased manifold. There was large scale migration from rural areas to urban areas. Such migrants lived in overcrowded slums in the cities.

At that time, the industrialization in England was more advanced than in other parts of Europe. Hence, cheap machine-made goods from England gave stiff competition to small producers in the towns of the other European countries. In some regions of Europe, aristocracy was still powerful and the peasants were under the burden of feudal dues and obligations. A year of bad harvest; coupled with price rise in food led to pauperism in town and country.

Pauperism is a condition in which people live in abject poverty.

The year 1848 was one such bad year. Because of shortage of food and high level of unemployment, the people of Paris came out on the roads. The protest was at such a large scale that Louis Philippe had to flee. A National Assembly proclaimed a republic. It granted suffrage to all adult males above 21. It guaranteed the right to work. National workshops were set up to provide employment.