The lion, a symbol of brothers nationalism and strength

Nationalism to be a prominent pressure in at an early stage 20th century Europe and a far-reaching cause of world War I. Nationalism is an intense kind of patriotism or commitment to one’s country. Nationalists exaggeration the prestige or virtues of their home country, place its interests over those of various other nations.

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Feelings of supremacy

In the 19th and also early 20th centuries, plenty of Europeans, particularly citizens of the so-called an excellent Powers (Britain, France and Germany) had persuaded themselves the the cultural, economic and also military supremacy of your nation. According to chronicler Lawrence Rosenthal, this emotion was:

“…a brand-new and aggressive nationalism, different from that is predecessors, involved the fierce us-them group emotions – loyalty inwards, aggression outwards – that characterise human being relations at simpler sociological levels, prefer the family or the tribe.”

The impacts of this cultivation nationalism to be an inflated confidence in one’s nation, that government, economy and also military power. Numerous nationalists also became blind to the faults the their own nation. In problem of foreign affairs or global competition, lock were persuaded that their country was fair, righteous and beyond fault.

In contrast, nationalists criticised rival nations to the allude of demonisation, caricaturing them together aggressive, scheming, deceitful, behind or uncivilised. Nationalist press reports convinced many reader the interests of their country were being intimidated by the plotting, scheming and hungry imperialism the its rivals.

Sources of nationalism

The origins of this extreme European nationalism are a matter of debate. Nationalism is most likely a product of Europe’s complex modern history. The increase of renowned sovereignty (the joining of world in government), the development of empires and periods of financial growth and social transformation all added to conference sentiments.

Some chroniclers suggest that nationalism was encouraged and harnessed by European elite to encourage loyalty and compliance. Others believe that nationalism to be a by-product of economic and also imperial expansion. Growth and also prosperity were taken by some as a authorize of destiny. Other nations and empires, in contrast, to be dismissed together inferiors or rivals.

Politicians, diplomats and royals added to this nationalism in their speeches and also rhetoric. Nationalist sentiment was likewise prevalent in press reporting and also popular culture. The pages of many newspapers to be filled with nationalist rhetoric and provocative stories, such together rumours about rival nations and also their evil intentions. Nationalist ideas could likewise be discovered in literature, music, theatre and art.

In each country, nationalism to be underpinned by different attitudes, themes and events. Nationalist emotion was sustained by a sense of historical destiny and, therefore, closely tied to the background and breakthrough of every nation.

Military over-confidence

Nationalism was carefully linked to militarism. It fostered delusions around the relative armed forces strength of europe nations. Plenty of living in the good Powers considered their countries to be militarily exceptional and better equipped to win a future war in Europe.

The British, because that example, believed their naval power, coupled through the size and resources of the british Empire, would give them the top hand in any war. Being an island additionally isolated britain from intrusion or international threat.

German leaders, in contrast, placed an excellent faith in Prussian army efficiency, the nation’s powerful industrial base, her brand-new armaments and her expanding fleet the battleships and U-boats (submarines). If battle erupted, the German high command had good confidence in the Schlieffen Plan, a preemptive armed forces strategy for defeating France prior to Russia can mobilise to assistance her.

In Russia, Tsar Nicholas II believed his realm was sustained by God and protected by a substantial standing military of 1.5 million men, the biggest peacetime land pressure in Europe. Russian commanders thought the country’s enormous populace gave that the whip hand end the smaller countries of western Europe.

The French inserted their belief in the country’s heavy industry, i beg your pardon had broadened rapidly in the late 1800s. Paris additionally played great stock in the defences, specifically a wall of concrete barriers and also fortresses running the size of its east border.

Attitudes come war

Nationalist and militarist rhetoric assured Europeans the if battle did erupt, their nation would emerge as the victor. In addition to its danger brothers, imperialism and also militarism, nationalism sustained a continental delusion that added to the cultivation mood for war.

By 1914, Europeans had grown apathetic and dismissive around the risks of war. This was understandable. Aside from the Crimean battle (1853-56) and also the Franco-Prussian war (1870-71), the 1800s to be a century of comparative peace in Europe. Through the exception of France, beat by the Prussians in 1871, the an excellent Powers had not proficient a far-reaching military loss for much more than fifty percent a century.

For most Europeans, the experiences of war were distant and also vague. The British and French had actually fought early american wars in Africa and Asia yet they were brief conflicts against disorganised and also underdeveloped opponents in faraway places. Militarism and also nationalism revived the future of a european war, and also naivety and overconfidence around its likely outcomes.

‘Invasion literature’

The battle of Dorking, usual of anti-German intrusion fiction

By the late 1800s, some Europeans were nearly drunk with nationalist sentiment. In some respects, this to be a product that overconfidence fuelled by decades of relative peace and also prosperity.

Britain, because that example, had enjoyed two centuries of imperial, commercial and also naval dominance. The British realm spanned one-quarter the the globe and the lyrics of a well-known patriotic song, Rule, Britannia!, trumpeted that “Britons never, never ever will be slaves”. London had spent the 19th century progressing her imperial and also commercial interests and also avoiding wars. The marriage of Germany, the rate of German armament and also the bellicosity the Kaiser Wilhelm II, however, caused concern amongst British nationalists.

England’s ‘penny press’ (a cumulative term because that cheap, serialised novels) intensified nationalist rivalry by publishing significant fictions about foreign intrigues, espionage, future war and also invasion. The fight of Dorking (1871), among the best-known instances of ‘invasion literature’, was a wild tale around the occupation the England through German forces. By 1910, a Londoner could buy dozens that tawdry novellas warning the German, Russian or French aggression.

Invasion literature often employed racial stereotypes or innuendo. The German was shown as cold, emotionless and also calculating; the Russian to be an uncultured barbarian, offered to wanton violence; the Frenchman to be a leisure-seeking layabout; the Chinese to be a race of murderous, opium-smoking savages.

Penny novelists, cartoonists and also satirists additionally mocked foreign rulers. The German Kaiser and the Russian Tsar, both regular targets, to be ridiculed for their arrogance, ambition or megalomania.

German nationalism

Attitudes and also overconfidence in Germany was no much less intense. German nationalism and xenophobia, however, had various origins to those in Britain.

Unlike Britain, Germany was a comparatively young nation, developed in 1871 after ~ the marriage of 26 German-speaking states and territories. The belief that every German-speaking peoples should be joined in a single empire, or ‘Pan-Germanism’, to be the politics glue that bound these states together.

The leader of post-1871 Germany work nationalist sentiment to consolidate the new country and get public support. German culture – native the poetry of Goethe come the music of Richard Wagner – was promoted and celebrated.

German nationalism was likewise bolstered through German militarism. The stamin of the nation, German leaders believed, was reflected through the strength of its army forces.

The nationalist Kaiser

The new Kaiser, Wilhelm II, came to be the personification the this new, nationalistic Germany. Both the Kaiser and his nation were young and also ambitious, i heard with army power and also imperial expansion, proud of Germany’s success but envious of various other empires.

To Wilhelm and also other German nationalists, the key obstacle come German growth was Britain. The Kaiser envied Britain’s substantial empire, advertising enterprise and naval power – yet he believed the brother avaricious and hypocritical. London oversaw the world largest empire yet manoeuvred versus German colonial expansion in Africa and also Asia.

As a consequence, Britain ended up being a renowned target in the pre-war German press. Britain was painted as expansionist, selfish, greedy and obsessed through money. Anti-British emotion intensified during the Boer war of 1899-1902, Britain’s war versus farmer-settlers for manage of southern Africa. Ernst Lissauer’s 1914 ‘Hassgesang gegan England’ (‘Song of dislike for England’) is just one of the best-known instances of anti-English sentiment.

Independence movements

Nationalism was also emerging in far-off colonies. This cartoon depicts climbing Chinese nationalism

As the great Powers that Europe beat their chests, another type of nationalism to be on the rise in southern and also eastern Europe. This nationalism to be not about supremacy or empire but the best of ethnic teams to independence, autonomy and also self-government.

With the human being divided into big empires and also spheres the influence, countless regions, races and spiritual groups sought liberty from their imperial masters. In Russia, an ext than 80 ethnic groups in eastern Europe and also Asia had actually been forced to speak the Russian language, praise the Russian tsar and also practice the Russian Orthodox religion.

For lot of the 19th century, China had actually been ‘carved up’ and also economically exploited by european powers. The failed Boxer Rebellion of 1899-1900 was an effort to expel foreigners from components of China. Later, resentful Chinese nationalists formed an enig groups come wrest earlier control of their country.

Nationalist groups added to the weakening of the Ottoman empire in eastern Europe by search to litter off Muslim rule.

Balkan nationalism

None of this nationalist motions contributed much more directly to the outbreak of battle than Slavic groups in the Balkans. Pan-Slavism, a belief that the Slavic peoples of east Europe should have actually their very own nation, to be a powerful force in the region. Slavic nationalism was strongest in Serbia, whereby it had risen substantially in the so late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Pan-Slavism was specifically opposed come the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its control and also influence over the region. Aggravated by Vienna’s annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numerous young Serbs joined radical nationalist groups like the ‘Black Hand’ (Crna Ruka).

These teams hoped to journey Austria-Hungary indigenous the Balkans and also establish a ‘Greater Serbia’, a unified state for all Slavic people. It to be this pan-Slavic nationalism that influenced the assassination the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June 1914, an event that led directly to the outbreak of human being War I.


1. Nationalism was an intense kind of patriotism. Those with nationalist tendencies celebrated the culture and success of their own country and also placed that is interests above those of various other nations.

2. Pre-war nationalism was sustained by wars, imperial conquests and rivalry, politics rhetoric, newspapers and popular culture, such together ‘invasion literature’ created by penny press novelists.

3. British nationalism was fuelled by a century of to compare peace and prosperity. The British empire had flourished and also expanded, its naval strength had actually grown and Britons had known only early american wars.

4. German nationalism to be a new phenomenon, arising from the unification of Germany in 1871. It ended up being fascinated through German imperial growth (securing Germany’s ‘place in the sun’) and resentful of the British and also their empire.

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5. Climbing nationalism was likewise a aspect in the Balkans, whereby Slavic Serbs and also others sought independence and autonomy native the political supremacy of Austria-Hungary.