Redrawing the Map of Europe

Europe witnessed a dramatic rise in nationalist fervor in the middle of the nineteenth century, leading to the unification of Italy and the German states. Giuseppe Mazzini’s On Nationality highlighted the trend towards uprisings under the banner of liberty rather than uprisings for the sake of power or wealth. ((Giuseppe Mazzini, On Nationality, 1852)) With cries for liberty came cries countries to be united based on nationality. Mazzini campaigned for Italy to be a country comprised of “a human group called by its geographical position, its traditions, and its language,” which he believed would result in a peaceful nation of common peoples. ((Mazzini, On Nationality)) Mazzini, a politician and the driving force behind the movement for Italian unification, wrote to convince his contemporaries of a necessary redrawing of the map of Europe, with nationality rather than conquest being the basis for borders. Concurrently, the multitude of German states had become an object of war between Prussia and Austria.


Giuseppe Mazzini, Count Camillo di Cavour, and Giuseppe Garibaldi, “Fathers of the Fatherland”

In 1849, National Assembly in Frankfurt offered the German crown to the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. ((Johann Gustav Droysen, Speech to the Frankfurt Assembly,1848)) In an earlier speech, Johann Gustav Droysen, a member of the assembly, argued for the superiority of Prussia over Austria because Prussia’s monarchy was “wholly German.” A Prussian Imperial Proclamation accepting the German crown in 1871 reiterated this nationalist connection. Wilhelm acquired power over Germany as a “duty to [their] common fatherland,” and asserted responsible for protecting the rights of all those in the German Empire. ((The Imperial Proclamation, 1871)) The simultaneous unifications of both nations were symptoms of nationalist zeal and a desire to live amongst, and be ruled by kinsmen. While considering the role nationalism played in shaping our understanding of nations and borders, I want to ask what influences (i.e. the French Revolution) may have spurred on the fervor in the nineteenth century, and what examples of nationalism exist today.

Italian Nationalism and Unification

Giuseppe Mazzini was an Italian nationalist who played a large role in the nationalist movement in Italy. In 1852, Mazzini published some of his work that focused on nationalism and the need for a unified democratic state of Italy. Mazzini mentioned in his writing that the people from the revolution in Vienna were fighting for something more than just material possessions; they were fighting for their nation.[i] The revolution in Vienna was in context with Mazzini trying to propose a unified state. He was looking to unify the people of Italy to rid their beloved nation of those who occupied it, the Austrians, and create a democratic state for Italy to be run. By ridding the state of Italy of the Austrians, Italy could be free to run themselves and prosper on their own.

In the documents of Italian unification, the Program of Count Cavour 1846 provides a point towards Mazzini’s thinking that opposes it even though it was before him. It states that “Nationalism has become general; it grows daily; and it has already grown strong enough to keep all parts of Italy united despite the differences that distinguish them”. [ii] If nationalism is growing every day then would it be easier for Mazzini to achieve his goal of a unified democratic state of Italy? If this concept grows then it will reach numerous people every day which will contribute to the nationalist movement started by Mazzini.

[i] Giuseppe Mazzin: On Nationality, 1852

[ii] Documents of Italian Unification, 1846-61