Nationalism and Statebuilding for AP European History (page 4)

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Mar 4, 2011

Nationalism in France

Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte had originally been elected president of the Second Republic in 1848. When the National Assembly refused to amend the constitution to allow him to run for a second term, he staged a coup d'état on 2 December 1851. The public overwhelmingly sided with Louis-Napoleon, who granted them universal manhood suffrage. They responded, in two plebiscites, by voting to establish a Second Empire and to make Louis-Napoleon hereditary emperor.

Like his namesake, Louis-Napoleon attempted to increase his popularity by expanding the Empire, but soon his foreign adventures began to erode his popularity. By 1870, the liberal parliament had begun to reassert itself. The humiliating defeat in the Franco-Prussian War brought down both Louis-Napoleon and the Second Empire; it also set in motion a battle between monarchists and the people of Paris who, having defended Paris from the Germans while the aristocrats fled, now considered themselves to represent the nation of France.

Nationalism in Russia

At midcentury, Russia's government was the most conservative and autocratic in Europe. The peasants of Russia were still bound to the land by serfdom. The Crimean War (1853–1856), in which Russia essentially battled Britain and France for control of parts of the crumbling Ottoman Empire, damaged the reputation of both the tsar and the military. Alexander II, who ascended to the throne in 1855, was determined to strengthen Russia by reforming and modernizing it. He abolished serfdom, made the judiciary more independent, and created local political assemblies.

However, Russia was plagued by its own nationalities problem. Alexander attempted to deal with it by relaxing restrictions on the Polish population within the Russian Empire, but this fanned the flames of nationalism and led to an attempted Polish Revolution in 1863. Alexander responded with increased repression of Poles and other ethnic minorities within the Russian Empire. And after an attempt on his life in 1866, Alexander gave up all notions of liberal reform, and proceeded to turn Russia into a police state.

Rapid Review

The failure of the revolutions of 1848 broke the fragile alliance between liberalism and nationalism. The unification of northern Italy under Victor Emmanuel II was accomplished through the statesmanship of the conservative Count Camillo Cavour. The Romantic nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi led a massive popular uprising and took control of southern Italy, then presented it to Victor Emmanuel in the name of Italian unity to create the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. The remaining two areas, Venetia and Rome, came into Italy in 1866 and 1870, respectively.

Germany was unified under William I of Prussia through the machinations of the conservative Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck. A unified German Empire, called the Second Reich, was proclaimed, following a Prussian victory in the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. The Hapsburg Empire was plagued by a nationalities problem and became Austria–Hungary in 1867. France's defeat led to the fall of the Second Empire, while Alexander II turned Russia into a police state.

The review questions for this study guide can be found at:

Nationalism and Statebuilding Review Questions for the AP European History Exam

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