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Nationalism, as a powerful political and cultural ideology, developed in the 19th century and played a central role in shaping the modern world. It emerged as a complex and multifaceted phenomenon driven by a combination of historical, social, and political factors. Here's how and why nationalism developed during the 19th century.

Causes and Factors:
  • Legacy of the French Revolution: The French Revolution (1789-1799) and its principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity inspired a sense of national identity and self-determination. The revolutionary ideals of sovereignty and citizenship contributed to the spread of nationalist ideas.
  • Impact of the Napoleonic Wars: The Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) resulted in the redrawing of national borders in Europe and sparked a desire for self-determination among various ethnic and cultural groups. Napoleon's conquests and subsequent defeats contributed to the reshaping of Europe along national lines.
  • Intellectual and Literary Movements: Intellectuals, writers, and philosophers played a crucial role in fostering nationalist sentiment. Romanticism, a cultural and literary movement of the 19th century, celebrated the unique qualities and traditions of different nations, promoting a sense of national identity.
  • Print Culture: The spread of print culture, including newspapers, books, and pamphlets, made it easier to disseminate nationalist ideas and connect people across regions and languages. This facilitated the exchange of ideas and the growth of national consciousness.
  • Revolutionary Movements: Nationalist aspirations often fueled revolutionary movements in various regions. In Italy, Germany, and Greece, for example, nationalist sentiments contributed to the struggle for independence and unification.
  • Industrialization and Urbanization: The 19th century witnessed rapid industrialization and urbanization, leading to the growth of cities and the formation of a more interconnected and mobilized populace. This urbanization contributed to the spread of nationalist ideas.
  • Reaction to Imperialism: The spread of European imperialism and colonialism also fueled nationalist reactions in colonized regions. Colonized peoples often sought to reclaim their national identities and achieve independence from imperial powers.
  • Political Movements: Nationalist movements in various countries aimed to create or strengthen independent nation-states. These movements ranged from peaceful political campaigns to armed struggles.
Key Developments:
  • Italian Unification: Figures like Giuseppe Garibaldi and Count Cavour played pivotal roles in the unification of Italy in the 19th century. Italy was fragmented into numerous states and regions, and the movement for unification, known as the Risorgimento, was driven by nationalist sentiments.
  • German Unification: Otto von Bismarck, the Chancellor of Prussia, orchestrated the unification of Germany in the late 19th century through a series of wars and diplomatic maneuvers. The Franco-Prussian War in 1870-1871 was a key event that led to the establishment of the German Empire.
  • Greek Independence: The Greek War of Independence (1821-1829) resulted in the establishment of the modern Greek state, which had a profound impact on the development of national movements in the Balkans.
  • Central and Eastern Europe: Nationalist movements in Central and Eastern Europe sought to assert the identities and independence of various ethnic and cultural groups, leading to the dissolution of empires like the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg Monarchy, and the Russian Empire.
Impact and Legacy:
  • Formation of Nation-States: Nationalism played a crucial role in the creation of modern nation-states. It led to the redrawing of borders and the establishment of governments based on the principle of national sovereignty.
  • Continued Influence: Nationalism remains a powerful force in contemporary politics and has influenced issues related to self-determination, identity, and regional conflicts.
  • Challenges and Conflicts: While nationalism has promoted the formation of nation-states, it has also been a source of tension and conflict, including ethnic and nationalist conflicts.
  • Globalization: In the era of globalization, nationalist sentiments can sometimes run counter to the trend of increasing interconnectedness. Nationalism has both positive and negative implications in the context of globalization.
In summary, nationalism developed in the 19th century as a response to historical events, intellectual movements, and political aspirations. It played a significant role in the formation of modern nation-states and continues to shape political and cultural landscapes around the world. > World History > Global Nationalism