Nationalism in Europe
- French Revolution
- Creating a sense of nationhood
It is a belief system which instills a sense of common identity among the members of a nation. National flag, national symbol, national anthem, etc. play an important role in developing and strengthening the idea of nationalism.
Rise of Nationalism in Europe
Before the middle of the nineteenth century, the countries in Europe were not in the form as we know them today.
Different regions in Europe were ruled by various multi-national dynastic empires. These were monarchies which enjoyed absolute power over their subjects.
Various technological and the ensuing social changes helped in developing the ideas of nationalism. The process of creation of nation states began in 1789; with the French Revolution. It took about hundred years for the idea to gain concrete shape which resulted in the formation of France as a democratic nation state. The trend was followed in other parts of the Europe and led to the establishment of the modern democratic systems in most parts of the world; at the beginning of 20th century.
First Expression of Nationalism: French Revolution led to a change in politics and constitution of France. In 1789 the power was transferred from monarchy to a body of citizens. It was proclaimed that henceforth the French people would shape the destiny of their country. At that time, France was ruled by the King of Bourbon Dynasty.
Creating a sense of Nationhood:
Various steps were taken by the revolutionaries to create a sense of common identity among people. Some of these steps are given below:
- The idea of the fatherland and citizen was created to emphasize a community which enjoyed equal rights under the constitution.
- The royal standard was replaced with a new French flag; the tricolor.
- The Estates General was elected by the body of active citizens and it was renamed as the National Assembly.
- In the name of nation; new hymns were composed and oaths were taken.
- Martyrs were commemorated.
- A centralized administrative system was created which formulated uniform laws for all citizens.
- Internal custom duties were abolished.
- A uniform system of weights and measures was adopted.
- Regional dialects were discouraged and French language was promoted as the common language of the nation.
- The revolutionaries also declared that it was the mission and destiny of French people to liberate the people of Europe from despotism and help other regions of Europe in becoming nations.