Louis Napoleon was elected president of France’s Second Republic in 1848, but when the National Assembly refused to sanction a second term, he led a coup d’etat against his own government, and, with the approval of the French voters, he became Emperor Napoleon III. Against the tide of laissez-faire liberalism, his regime took the economic lead, notably in the rebuilding of Paris. The decline of the Ottoman Empire sparked the Crimean War (1854-1856), the result of Britain and France’s fear of Russian expansion. Russian ambitions were thwarted in the costly conflict, and both Russia and Britain subsequently retreated from European affairs during the era of the unification of Germany and Italy.

Italian unification was led by Count Camillo di Cavour (d.1861), prime minister of Piedmont-Sardinia. An alliance was made with France against Austria, and victories in 1859 enlarged Piedmont’s territory. Giuseppe Garibaldi (d.1882) led an uprising against the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and in 1861 a kingdom of Italy under Piedmont’s House of Savoy was realized except for Rome and Venetia, which were taken over by 1870.

In 1862, Otto von Bismarck became Prussia’s prime minister. A brilliant diplomat, he maneuvered larger Austria into declaring war against Prussia in 1866. With its superior army, victorious Prussia united the northern states into the North German Confederation. In 1870, Bismarck edited an exchange between a French envoy and the Prussian king to make it appear that the king had insulted France. In the subsequent war, France was defeated, and the Second German Empire was the result. Under Bismarck, nationalism was allied with conservatism, whereas earlier in the century nationalism had been associated with liberalism.

Austria compromised with Hungarian nationalists, creating the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. Russia’s defeat in the Crimean War led to reforms under Alexander II (r.1855-1881), including the freeing of millions of serfs. Conservatives feared the tsar went too far, but others wanted more reform, which led to the tsar’s assassination in 1881. Britain escaped disruption because of economic growth and Parliament’s willingness to make necessary reforms. The American Civil War (1861-1865) ended with the Union preserved and slavery abolished, and in 1867, Britain gave Canada dominion status, including the right to rule itself in domestic matters.

Karl Marx (d.1883), with Friedrich Engels (d.1895), published The Communist Manifesto in 1848, but initially it passed unnoticed. According the Marx, “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” In the modern world it was the middle-class, or the bourgeoisie, which controlled the means of production, but Marx predicted that the proletariat would rise up, reorganize society on a socialist model, and create a classless society.

In science, the laws of thermodynamics, the germ theory of disease, electromagnetic induction, and chemistry’s periodic law changed the world, as did Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859), with its theory of the struggle for existence, the survival of the fittest, and the emergence of new species. In health care, Louis Pasteur and others developed vaccines against specific diseases, the antiseptic principle reduced infections, and the discovery of chloroform lessened surgery’s pain. Medical schools and medical associations were established, although initially closed to women. Science was applied to the study of society, notably by Auguste Comte in his system of positivism, which led to the discipline of sociology.

It was the age of realism in the arts, exemplified in the novels of Gustave Flaubert and the works of Charles Dickens. Gustave Courbet painted scenes of everyday life. In music it was the twilight of romanticism, with Franz Liszt’s symphonic poems and Richard Wagner’s operas, where Germanic myths were the subject matter, appropriate in the age of nationalism.

  1. Explain the context in which nationalistic and imperialistic sentiments developed in Europe from 1815 to 1914.
    1. European states struggled to maintain international stability in an age of nationalism and revolutions.
      1. The breakdown of the Concert of Europe opened the door for movements of national unification in Italy and Germany as well as liberal reforms elsewhere.
      2. The unification of Italy and Germany transformed the European balance of power and led to efforts to construct a new diplomatic order.
    2. A variety of motives and methods led to the intensification of European global control and increased tensions among the Great Powers.
      1. Industrial and technological developments (e.g., the second industrial revolution) facilitated European control of global empires.
    3. European ideas and culture expressed a tension between objectivity and scientific realism on one hand, and subjectivity and individual expression on the other.
      1. Following the revolutions of 1848, Europe turned toward a realist and materialist worldview.
  2. Explain how the development and spread of nationalism affected Europe from 1815 to 1914.
    1. Nationalists encouraged loyalty to the nation in a variety of ways, including romantic idealism, liberal reform, political unification, racialism with a concomitant anti-Semitism, and chauvinism justifying national aggrandizement.
      • Illustrative Examples of Nationalists: J. G. Fichte, Grimm Brothers, Giuseppe Mazzini, Pan-Slavists
      • Illustrative Examples of anti-Semitism: Dreyfus a air, Christian Social Party in Germany, Karl Lueger, mayor of Vienna
    2. While during the 19th century western European Jews became more socially and politically acculturated, Zionism, a form of Jewish nationalism, developed late in the century as a response to growing anti-Semitism throughout Europe.
      • Illustrative Examples of Zionists: Theodor Herzl
    3. A new generation of conservative leaders, including Napoleon III, Cavour, and Bismarck, used popular nationalism to create or strengthen the state.
    4. The creation of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, which recognized the political power of the largest ethnic minority, was an attempt to stabilize the state by recon guring national unity.
  3. Explain the factors that resulted in Italian unification and German unification.
    1. The Crimean War demonstrated the weakness of the Ottoman Empire and contributed to the breakdown of the Concert of Europe, thereby creating the conditions in which Italy and Germany could be unified after centuries of fragmentation.
    2. Cavour’s diplomatic strategies, combined with the popular Garibaldi’s military campaigns, led to the unification of Italy.
    3. Bismarck used Realpolitik, employing diplomacy, industrialized warfare, weaponry, and the manipulation of democratic mechanisms to unify Germany.
  4. Explain how nationalist sentiment and political alliances led to tension between and among European powers from 1815 to 1914.
    1. After 1871, Bismarck attempted to maintain the balance of power through a complex system of alliances directed at isolating France.
    2. Bismarck’s dismissal in 1890 eventually led to a system of mutually antagonistic alliances and heightened international tensions.
    3. Nationalist tensions in the Balkans drew the Great Powers into a series of crises, leading up to World War I.

Reading 1: Pages 657-663

The France of Napoleon III:
Louis Napoleon: Toward the Second Empire
The Second Napoleonic Empire
Foreign Policy: The Mexican Adventure
Foreign Policy: The Crimean War

Reading 2: Pages 663-669

National Unification: Italy and Germany:
The Unification of Italy
The Unification of Germany

Reading 3: Pages 669-677

Nation Building and Reform:
The Austrian Empire: Toward a Dual Monarchy
Imperial Russia
Great Britain: The Victorian Age
The United States: Slavery and War [optional]
The Emergence of a Canadian Nation [optional]

Reading 4: Pages 677-680

Industrialization and the Marxist Response:
Industrialization on the Continent
Marx and Marxism

Reading 5: Pages 680-684

Science and Culture in an Age of Realism:
A New Age of Science
Charles Darwin and the Theory of Organic Evolution
A Revolution in Health Care
Science and the Study of Society

Reading 6: Pages 684-687

Science and Culture in an Age of Realism:
Realism in Literature
Realism in Art
Music: The Twilight of Romanticism