Growth Of Nationalism In Germany Higher History Assignment

2928 words - 12 pages

‘Cultural factors were the main reason for the growth of nationalism in Germany, 1819-1850.’ How valid is this view?
Prior to 1819, the land of ‘Germany’ was once part of the small four hundred states that composed the Holy Roman Empire, an empire which no longer exists. The Holy Roman Empire once was a titanic empire which stretched across central and western Europe from as early as the Middle Ages. This Empire was put to an end in 1806 when Napoleon Bonaparte and his French Empire successfully invaded and occupied central Europe, resulting in a military defeat that led to the last Holy Roman Emperor Francis II’s abdication and the dissolvement of the Holy Roman Empire. Napoleon, now in control of the land, reorganised the the four hundred states into the Confederation of the Rhine. Eventually Napoleon was defeated in 1815. Determined to rid central Europe from as much of Napoleon’s legacy as possible, the leaders of the central European states held the Congress of Vienna; where German nationalists tried but failed to establish Germany as a nation-state. Instead, the Confederation of the Rhine was dissolved and the sixteen states were replaced by thirty nine independent states. Although the unification of Germany did not happen until later in 1871, throughout the decades nationalism began to grow in the German states. There is many factors which may have been the main reason for this growth of nationalism within Germany from 1819 to 1850. Many historians argue that cultural factors such as the unifying force of language and the Romantic movement were largely responsible for the growth of nationalism within Germany. However, it can be said that cultural factors were not the main reason for the growth of nationalism in Germany from 1819 until 1850 as a variety of other factors are considered more important. Many historians believe that economic factors such as the Zollverein and the expansion of railways were the main cause of nationalism within Germany during the first half of the 19th century. Other historians may also point out that political factors such as the Napoleonic wars were also important in sparking a rise of nationalism in Germany from 1819 to 1850. It can be said that the economic factors, not the cultural factors, were mainly responsible for the growth of nationalism in Germany from 1819 to 1850.
One of the main contributing factors argued by historians to have caused the growth of German nationalism between 1819 and 1850 was cultural factors such as the Romantic Movement and the unifying force of language. During the nineteenth century, Germans began to recognise the similarities between themselves and the citizens of other German states. Over twenty five million people spoke German, this shared language created a powerful bond within the German speaking community and unified the states together. In Addresses to the German Nation, 1808, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, a German nationalist, described Germany as ‘the fatherland where all...

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