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.


AUTHOR: Giuseppe Mazzini was an Italian politician and journalist and played a vital role in the eventual unification of Italy. In 1831, he traveled to Marseille and started a up a secret society, Young Italy, which promoted Italy’s unification. Mazzini pursued his thoughts regarding unification by creating similar groups to Young Italy, such as Young Germany, Young Poland and Young Switzerland.   After Italy was successfully unified, he became a strong advocate of the European unification (( .

CONTEXT: This was published in 1852; two years after Mazzini had been hiding from the Swiss police. Leading up to 1852, Mazzini had been traveling around Europe promoting European unification as well as Italian unification. Revolutions had been prominent all around Europe, such as the French Revolution of 1848 and the October Revolution in Vienna in 1848 (( .

LANGUAGE: Mazzini wrote with a very confident tone, adamant about what was best for Italy. He states what must be done gives specific instructions to the readers regarding Italy’s nationality and unification. His tone is also very prominent when discussing the lack of nationality Europe’s counties have, and how he believes the nations should go about fixing this.

AUDIENCE: Mazzini is directing this piece towards everyone in Europe, specifically those who live in nations undergoing turmoil. He wished to persuade the people to unify their nations for the betterment of Europe as a whole.

INTENT: Mazzini’s intent in writing this was to evoke the people of Europe to make more of an effort to unify their nations. He was trying to show them how big of an issue it was that these nations and Europe itself was not unified.

MESSAGE: Mazzini’s message was to inform the people they would receive much more benefits by living in a unified nation and continent.

WHY? This was written in response to many of the revolutions Mazzini had noticed occur around Europe. He realized that multiple nations were struggling with unification and nationalism, and he encouraged them to find a way to become one.

Count Cavour and Nationality

In “The Program of Count Cavour” from 1846, around the beginnings of the Italian Unification, Count Cavour expresses that “no people can attain a high degree of intelligence and morality unless its feeling of nationality is strongly developed. This noteworthy fact is an inevitable consequence of the laws that rule human nature”. As a powerful figure in the unification of Italy, Cavour makes purposefully strong statements such as these to fuel a sense of determination and obligation in the peoples of Italy. In order to prompt in his people a feeling of duty, Cavour subtly suggests that those who have not cultivated a sense of nationality will not achieve intelligence or morality. He insinuates that a sense of nationality and belonging has always been present in human nature, and that awareness of this sense of nationality has always been the key to reaching “a high degree of intelligence and morality”, or in other words, enlightenment. In this manner, Cavour cleverly encourages nationalism in Italians. In a way, he makes those lacking in nationalistic values out to be ignorant and unconscionable. Cavour chooses to tie morality to nationalism because one who is patriotic has a sense of loyalty to a greater population, rather than just himself. Therefore when someone thinks only of himself, and not of his country too, he has a lower standard of morality.

I definitely understand Cavour’s sentiments in relating intelligence and morality to nationalism, but it definitely is not true in many situations. Nations which employ immoral practices should not feel entitled to feelings of nationalism from its people, particularly if there are laws or policies that do not protect the welfare of its people. Sometimes the most intelligent and moral people are those who speak out against a nation, questioning certain practices and systems in place. A sense of nationalism can also be a detrimental thing for a nation’s people. Governments can convince and/or force its people to perform immoral, inhumane acts in the interests of the country. Nationalism may be the best thing for an individual country, but may hurt its people and affect other countries in a negative manner. Is Cavour right in saying that nationalism is tied to high levels of intelligence and morality? Is this relevant in any nations today? Was it only relevant at the time for Italy?