The Rise of Nationalism in Europe Chapter Notes Class 10 History

Notes of the Class 10 history Chapter ‘The Rise of nationalism in Europe’ are given here. The notes are based on chapter’s text matter. Notes are given proper headings and sub headings for better understanding of the events discussed in the chapter.

Click here for more study materials on Class 10 History

Click for deatailed Notes on ‘The Rise of nationalism in Europe’ with CBSE Questions

See the video tutorial on ‘The Rise of Nationalism in Europe’. Click here for the other parts of this Video Tutorial Series

The Rise of Nationalism in Europe Class 10 Vide

Notes: The Rise of Nationalism in Europe

Effect of the French Revolution on the Rise of Nationalism in Europe

How did the French Revolution give rise to nationalism in Europe?

Changes after the French Revolution

i. France was under the control of an absolute monarch until 1789. The French Revolution transferred power from the monarchy to French citizens.

ii. The ideas of la patrie (fatherland) and le citoyen (citizen) centred on the principle of a community enjoying equal rights under the French constitution.

iii. The French tricolour replaced the standard royal flag. The Estates General was renamed National Assembly. A central administrative system with uniform laws came into existence.

iv. French revolutionaries believed that it was their responsibility to liberate the people of Europe from tyrannical rule and help them in the formation of a nation.

Spread of Ideas of French Revolution

i. Ideas of the French Revolution spread to different parts of Europe such as Holland, Italy, Switzerland and Belgium in the 1790s. Students and the educated middle class set up the Jacobin club.

ii. French armies carried the idea of nationalism to different parts of Europe.

Napoleonic Code (1804)

i. Emperor Napoleon introduced the Napoleonic Code or the Civil Code of 1804, which established equality before the law, abolished privileges based on birth, and secured the right to property.

ii. The Code became popular in different parts of Europe, especially in Switzerland, Italy, the Dutch Republic and Germany.

iii. Napoleon abolished the feudal system, simplified administrative divisions and freed peasants from payment of feudal taxes.

iv. Transport and communication improved. Businessmen and small- scale producers of goods understood the significance of a common currency, standardised weights and measures and uniform laws because these facilitated the movement of capital and goods from one place to another.

Reaction of the People to French Armies

i. The French armies were looked upon as harbingers of liberty, especially in places like Milan, Mainz, Brussels and Warsaw. But the initial enthusiasm soon gave way to hostility as the new administrative system did not go hand in hand with political freedom.

ii. Censorship increased taxation and forced conscription into French armies outweighed the advantages of the administrative changes.

European Society and Nationalism

How did society change in the eighteenth-century Europe?

Mid-18th Century Europe

i. Before the French Revolution, almost all states in Europe were monarchies.

ii. People who lived in these territories did not share a collective identity or a common culture.

iii. The Habsburg Empire that ruled over Austria-Hungary was a patchwork of many different regions and people.

iv. People living in these regions spoke different languages.

v. In Hungary, half of the population spoke Magyar while the other half spoke a variety of dialects. In Galicia, the aristocracy spoke Polish.

The Aristocracy and the New Middle Class

i. Socially and politically, the landed aristocracy was the dominant class in Europe. They were numerically a small group and united by a common way of life. They owned estates in the countryside. They spoke French in high society.

ii. The majority of the population comprised of the peasantry, who worked on land as tenants, small owners or serfs. 

iii. Industrialisation did not begin at the same time all through Europe. In England, it began in the second half of the 18th century while in France and Germany, it began in the 19th century.

iv. Industrialisation created new social groups comprising of working-class population and middle classes made up of professionals, industrialists and businesspersons.

v. Following the abolition of aristocratic privileges, the ideas of national unity gained popularity among the liberal and educated middle class.

Meaning and significance of liberalism

What did liberalism stand for?

i. In early 19th century Europe, the idea of national unity was linked to the ideology of liberalism.

ii. The word ‘liberalism’ is derived from the Latin word liber meaning free.

iii. For the new middle class of Europe, liberalism meant individual freedom and equality of all before law.

Liberalism in political sphere

i. In the political sphere, liberalism opposed clerical privileges, stood for the end of autocracy and for a constitution that upheld parliamentary form of government.

ii. Equality before law did not necessarily mean universal suffrage as men without property and women were not allowed to vote. This led to them protesting for equal political rights.

Liberalism in economic sphere

i. In the economic arena, liberalism stood for freedom of markets and abolition of state-imposed restrictions on goods and capital movement.

ii. Many members of the middle class in Germany argued for the creation of a unified economic territory and unobstructed movement of goods and capital.

iii. In 1834, zollverein, or customs union, was formed. It abolished tariff barriers and reduced the number of currencies from thirty to two. Zollverein led to economic unification that also contributed to the feeling of national unification.

iv. The wave of economic nationalism and unification further strengthened nationalist sentiments.

Spirit of conservatism

What were the ideas of conservatists and revolutionaries?

i. After the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, European governments took the path of conservatism.

ii. Conservatives believed in preserving the traditional institutions of state like monarchy, church, property and family.

iii. They believed that autocratic monarchies of Europe could benefit from a modern army, an efficient bureaucracy, a dynamic economy and the abolition of feudalism and serfdom.

Congress of Vienna, 1815

i. In 1815, the representatives of European powers – Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia — met at Vienna to redraw the boundaries of Europe. The Congress was hosted by Austrian Chancellor Duke Metternich.

ii. This meeting is also known as Congress of Vienna.

iii. The purpose of this treaty was to restore monarchies and create a conservative order in Europe.

iv. The Bourbon dynasty was restored to power. The Kingdom of Netherlands was set up in the north and Genoa was added to Piedmont. Prussia was given a part of Saxony, Russia was given part of Poland and Austria was given control of northern Italy. The German confederation was left untouched.

v. Thus, monarchies that had been overthrown by Napoleon were restored and a new conservative order was created in Europe.

Conservative regimes

i. Conservative regimes were autocratic and did not tolerate dissent or criticism. They sought to curb activities that questioned the legitimacy of autocratic governments.

ii. Freedom of press was one of the major issues taken up by the liberal nationalists.

Formation of secret societies

i. Secret societies emerged in different parts of Europe which aimed to train revolutionaries and spread their ideas. Giuseppe Mazzini was an Italian revolutionary who started Young Italy and Young Europe.

ii. Mazzini believed that Italian unification could be the basis of Italian liberty.

iii. Following his model, secret societies were set up in Germany, France, Switzerland and Poland.

iv. Mazzini’s unrelenting opposition to monarchy frightened conservatives. Metternich described him as ‘the most dangerous enemy of our social order’.

Causes for the Rise of Nationalism in Europe

How did romanticism contribute to the development of nationalism in Europe?

Revolutions in different nations

i. The ideologies of liberalism and nationalism were increasingly associated with revolution in many regions of Europe, like Italian and German states, provinces of Ottoman Empire, Poland and Ireland.

ii. The Bourbon kings, who came to power during the conservative regime, were overthrown by the liberal revolutionaries who installed a constitutional monarchy with Louis Philippe as the new monarch.

iii. The Greek war of independence mobilised nationalist feelings across Europe. Poets and artists hailed Greece as a ‘cradle of European civilisation’. This helped in mobilising public support in the struggle against a Muslim empire.

Romanticism and national feeling

Culture in the form of art, poetry, music and stories played a vital role in the creation of a nation. Romanticism was a cultural movement that aimed to develop a nationalist sentiment.

Romantics like Johann Gottfried, a German philosopher, claimed that German culture could be discovered among das volk i.e. common people.

Folk songs, poetry, music and dance were popularised with the aim of nation building. This was true especially in the case of Germany and Poland.

Vernacular language and collection of local folklore helped in carrying the modern nationalist message to a large audience which was mostly illiterate.

Language too became instrumental in developing nationalist sentiments. The use of Polish came to be seen as a symbol of the struggle against Russian dominance.

Economic hardships in Europe

How did economic hardships become a cause for the rise of nationalism in Europe?

i. Europe experienced tremendous economic hardship in the 1830s because of an increase in population, unemployment and frequent crop failures.

ii. People in rural areas migrated to cities in search of jobs. They lived in overcrowded slums in cities.

iii. Peasants struggled because of feudal dues, and small producers faced stiff competition from the import of cheap, machine-made goods.

iv. This was true for textile production, which was mainly carried out in small workshops and homes.

Protests and revolts in Europe

i. In 1848, food shortage and unemployment led to widespread protests in Paris.

ii. King Louis Phillippe was forced to flee.

iii. A National Assembly proclaimed a republic, granted suffrage to all adult males above 21 years of age and guaranteed the right to work.

iv. National workshops to give jobs were established.

v. In 1845, weavers in Silesia led a revolt against contractors who reduced the payment for finished textiles. This event gained enormous significance in the history of the German labour movement.

Revolution of the liberals

How did the revolution led by liberals give rise to nationalism?

i. In France, the events of February 1848 led to abdication of the monarch and proclamation of a republic based on universal male suffrage.

ii. Liberal middle-class men and women of Italy, Germany, Poland and Austro-Hungarian empire joined their demands for constitutionalism with national unification.

iii. They demanded the creation of a nation-state based on the parliamentary principles of a constitution, freedom of press and freedom of association.

Frankfurt Parliament

i. Middle class professionals, prosperous artisans and businessmen came to the city of Frankfurt and voted for an all-German National Assembly.

ii. On 18 May 1848, 831 elected representatives marched to Frankfurt parliament. There, they drafted a constitution that placed the monarchy under the control of a parliament.

iii. The King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, rejected the crown on these terms and joined other monarchs to oppose the elected assembly.

iv. The parliament was dominated by the middle class who opposed the demands of workers and eventually lost their support.

Women’s political rights

i. Women were denied political rights.

ii. They had formed political associations, founded newspapers and taken part in political associations. Yet, they were denied the right to vote during elections to the Assembly.

iii. During the Frankfurt parliament in 1848, women were admitted as observers to stand in the visitors’ gallery.

Changes adopted by conservative regimes

i. The conservative forces succeeded in suppressing liberal movements in 1848.

ii.  The autocratic monarchies of Central and Eastern Europe introduced certain changes that had already taken place in Western Europe before 1815.

iii. Bonded labour and serfdom both were abolished in Habsburg dominions and Russia. Hungarians were given autonomy by Habsburg rulers in 1867.

Role of Army and Diplomacy in Building Nation States

How did Germany and Italy become unified nations?

Political situation and unification of Germany

i. In 1848, middle class Germans tried to unite different regions of the German confederation into a nation-state. This initiative was suppressed by the combined forces of monarchy and military and large landowners of Prussia.

ii. Otto von Bismarck, Prussia’s chief minister, was the architect of the entire process. Prussia defeated Denmark, France and Austria in three wars fought over seven years. This completed the process of Germany’s unification.

iii. William I, the King of Prussia, was proclaimed the German Emperor on 18January 1871 in a ceremony held at Versailles.

iv. The nation building process demonstrated the strength of Prussian state which emphasised modernising banking, currency and judicial systems in Germany.

v. Prussian methods and practices became a model for the rest of Germany.

Unification process of Italy

Political situation of Italy before unification

i. During the middle of the 19th century, Italy was divided into seven states.

ii. The north was under the control of Austrian Habsburgs, the southern region was under the dominance of the Bourbon kings of Spain, and the centre was ruled by the pope.

iii. The Italian language had not acquired a common form.

iv. The unification process was led by three revolutionaries – Giuseppe Mazzini, Count Camillo de Cavour and Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Process of unification of Italy

i. Giuseppe Mazzini formed a secret society called Young Italy to achieve the goal of Italian unification.

ii. With the failure of revolutionary uprisings in 1831 and 1848, the responsibility fell on King Victor Emmanuel II, the ruler of Sardinia-Piedmont, to unify the Italian states through war.

iii. Sardinia-Piedmont succeeded in defeating Austrian forces in 1859 through a tactical diplomatic move made by Count Cavour of allying with France.

iv. Giuseppe Garibaldi’s forces joined the fray, and they succeeded in winning peasant support to drive the Spanish rulers out.

v. Victor Emmanuel II was proclaimed as the king of united Italy in 1861.

Unique Case of Britain

Formation of United Kingdom of Great Britain

How did Britain become a nation?

i. Before the 18th century, there was no nation of Britain.

ii. The inhabitants of British Isles belonged to different identities and ethnic groups, namely, English, Scot, Irish and Welsh. Each of these had its own cultural and political traditions.

iii. The formation of Britain was as a result of a long-drawn-out process and not a revolution or sudden upheaval.

iv. In 1688, the English parliament seized power from the monarchy after a prolonged struggle.

v. The Act of Union (1707) between Scotland and England led to the formation of the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain’. This Act gave England control over Scotland and eventually Scotland’s distinctive culture was suppressed.

British dominance in Ireland

i. Ireland was divided between Protestants and Catholics. The English assisted the Protestants of Ireland to control the region dominated by Catholics.

ii. Wolfe Tone, an Irish revolutionary, and his organisation United Irishmen led a revolt against the English in 1798 but failed, and Ireland was forcibly incorporated into United Kingdom in 1801.

iii. The British flag (Union Jack), national anthem (God Save our Noble King) and the English language became symbols of new Britain.

Visualising the Nation

How did visual imagery contribute to the idea of nationalism?

Personifying a nation

i. Artists in the 18th and 19th centuries decided to personify a nation. This meant they represented a nation as if it were a person.

ii. Nations were represented as female figures in order to give concrete form to the abstract idea of a nation.

iii. Artists of the French Revolution used female allegory to depict ideas like liberty, justice and republic.

iv. Liberty was decorated with symbols like red cap and broken chain while Justice wore symbols like a blindfold and a pair of weighing scales.


i. In France, the female allegory was called Marianne who underlined the idea of France as a people’s nation-state.

ii. Her characteristics were drawn from Liberty and Republic – the red cap, cockade and tricolour.

iii. Marianne’s statues were erected in public places, and her images were marked on stamps and coins in order to remind people of the national symbol of unity and persuade them to identify with it.


i. Germania was the allegory of Germany.

ii. She is shown wearing a crown of oak leaves; the German oak stands for heroism.

The underlying idea was to symbolise the Germans as heroic.

Rise of Imperialism – Balkan Crisis

What happened when nationalism was aligned with imperialism in Europe?

Balkan States

i. The Balkans comprised present-day Greece, Macedonia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Montenegro, Slovenia, Serbia and Bosnia-Harzegovina. They became a source of nationalist tension after the spread of romantic nationalism and disintegration of the Ottoman empire.

ii. The Ottoman empire tried to strengthen itself through modernisation and internal reforms but met with little success.

Rise of nationalism in the Balkan states

i. The Balkan people based their claims for independence on nationality and used history to assert that they had once been independent and were subjugated by foreign powers.

ii. The rebellious nationalities in the Balkans thought that their struggles were attempts to win their long-lost independence.

iii. Balkan states were fiercely jealous of each other and wanted to acquire more territories. There was intense rivalry among European powers over trade, colonies, naval might and military power.

iv. European powers like Russia, Germany, England and Austro-Hungry wanted to oppose the hold of other powers over the Balkans for extending their own area of control.

v. The intense rivalry between Balkan states led to a series of wars and eventually triggered the First World War in 1914.

Anti-imperialism and Rise of Nationalism in Colonies

i. Many colonised nations in the 19th century opposed imperial domination, and the struggle for the formation of independent nation-states began.

ii. The colonised nations were inspired by a sense of collective national unity.

· European ideas of nationalism were not replicated everywhere. Instead, people developed their own form of nationalism.

iii. The idea that societies should be organised into nation-states came to be considered as natural and universal.

Study Materials on CBSE Class 10 History

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

This Post Has One Comment

Leave a Reply