Was nationalism the most important force of change in Europe up to 1870? Justify your answer.

Essay by cafedeglamourB, February 2004

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Nationalism is the feeling of loyalty shared by a group of people united by race, language, and culture. It was born and spreading since 1789 during the French Revolution, and spread by the Napoleon army. To express their loyalty to their nation, people will attempt to fight for independence against foreign rule or unite themselves into one large nation-state. Nationalism therefore was both a uniting force and dividing force; uniting a number of small states into one large nation-state or splitting a large country into smaller ones. This feeling of nationalism therefore directed the people to make many territorial changes on the face of Europe.

First, we should look at changes made by nationalism to the Vienna settlement. Vienna settlement can be seen as a stage that attempts to stop changes from taking place in Europe: it aimed to "turn to clock back", restoring old order, and preserve a "status quo" to maintain balance of power and stability in return for peace.

Changes made to it started in 1830, when there was the Belgium War of Independence. The Belgians, forced to unite with Holland in 1815 by the Vienna settlement to create a buffer state to prevent France from further aggression, were serious fed up of the Holland government over them because they were treated like a conquered country and started a revolt. The success of the Belgian revolt was the first important violation of the settlement. Reactionary powers, which suppressed all revolts and uprising previously in Europe, surprisingly helped in the creation of the new Belgian state. Their independence served as great encouragement to those who were still under foreign rule and want their own independence because of nationalist thinking. Belgium Independence was one of the changes made to the map of Europe under the force of nationalism, cutting...