The lion, a prize of brothers nationalism and strength

Nationalism was a prominent pressure in at an early stage 20th century Europe and also a far-ranging cause of civilization War I. Nationalism is an intense form of patriotism or commitment to one’s country. Nationalists exaggeration the importance or virtues of their residence country, place its interests over those of various other nations.

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Feelings of supremacy

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, numerous Europeans, an especially citizens of the so-called good Powers (Britain, France and Germany) had persuaded themselves of the cultural, economic and military prominence of their nation. According to chronicler Lawrence Rosenthal, this emotion was:

“…a brand-new and wild nationalism, various from that is predecessors, engaged the fierce us-them group emotions – commitment inwards, aggression outwards – that characterise human relations at much easier sociological levels, favor the household or the tribe.”

The effects of this cultivation nationalism were an inflated to trust in one’s nation, its government, economy and military power. Numerous nationalists additionally became blind to the faults the their very own nation. In matters of foreign affairs or global competition, castle were encouraged that their nation was fair, righteous and also beyond fault.

In contrast, nationalists criticised rival countries to the suggest of demonisation, caricaturing them together aggressive, scheming, deceitful, backward or uncivilised. Nationalist push reports encouraged many readers the understanding of their country were being endangered by the plotting, scheming and also hungry imperialism that its rivals.

Sources of nationalism

The beginnings of this extreme European nationalism space a issue of debate. Nationalism is likely a product that Europe’s complicated modern history. The climb of well-known sovereignty (the joining of human being in government), the development of empires and periods of economic growth and also social change all added to nationalist sentiments.

Some historians suggest that nationalism to be encouraged and also harnessed by European elites to encourage loyalty and compliance. Others think that nationalism to be a by-product the economic and also imperial expansion. Growth and also prosperity were interpreted by some as a authorize of destiny. Other nations and also empires, in contrast, to be dismissed as inferiors or rivals.

Politicians, diplomats and also royals contributed to this nationalism in their speeches and rhetoric. Nationalist emotion was likewise prevalent in push reporting and also popular culture. The pages of numerous newspapers were filled v nationalist rhetoric and provocative stories, such as rumours about rival nations and also their evil intentions. Nationalist principles could likewise be discovered in literature, music, theatre and art.

In every country, nationalism was underpinned by various attitudes, themes and events. Nationalist sentiment was fuelled by a sense of historical destiny and, therefore, carefully tied to the background and advancement of each nation.

Military over-confidence

Nationalism was very closely linked to militarism. It fostered delusions around the relative armed forces strength of europe nations. Countless living in the an excellent Powers considered their nations to be militarily superior and much better equipped to win a future war in Europe.

The British, for example, believed their naval power, coupled with the size and resources of the british Empire, would provide them the top hand in any type of war. Being an island likewise isolated brother from invasion or foreign threat.

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

In Russia, Tsar Nicholas II thought his empire was continual by God and protected through a massive standing military of 1.5 million men, the largest peacetime land force in Europe. Russian commanders believed the country’s enormous population gave that the whip hand over the smaller countries of western Europe.

The French put their faith in the country’s hefty industry, i m sorry had broadened rapidly in the late 1800s. Paris also played an excellent stock in the defences, particularly a wall surface of concrete barriers and also fortresses running the size of its eastern border.

Attitudes come war

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

By 1914, Europeans had grown apathetic and dismissive around the threats of war. This was understandable. Aside from the Crimean war (1853-56) and the Franco-Prussian battle (1870-71), the 1800s to be a century that comparative tranquility in Europe. With the exception of France, beat by the Prussians in 1871, the good Powers had actually not skilled a significant military loss for an ext than half a century.

For many Europeans, the experiences of battle were distant and also vague. The British and French had fought early american wars in Africa and Asia but they were quick conflicts against disorganised and underdeveloped adversaries in faraway places. Militarism and nationalism restored the prospects of a europe war, and also naivety and overconfidence about its most likely outcomes.

‘Invasion literature’

The fight of Dorking, usual of anti-German invasion fiction

By the so late 1800s, part Europeans were virtually drunk through nationalist sentiment. In some respects, this to be a product the overconfidence sustained by decades of loved one peace and also prosperity.

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

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

Invasion literature frequently employed gyeongju stereotypes or innuendo. The German was shown as cold, emotionless and also calculating; the Russian to be an uncultured barbarian, given 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 satirists additionally mocked foreign rulers. The German Kaiser and the Russian Tsar, both regular targets, to be ridiculed for their arrogance, ambitious or megalomania.

German nationalism

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

Unlike Britain, Germany to be a comparatively young nation, formed in 1871 after the unification of 26 German-speaking states and territories. The id that all German-speaking peoples need to be united in a single empire, or ‘Pan-Germanism’, to be the political glue the bound these says together.

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

German nationalism was also bolstered through German militarism. The toughness of the nation, German leader believed, to be reflected through the stamin of its army forces.

The nationalist Kaiser

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

To Wilhelm and also other German nationalists, the key obstacle to German expansion was Britain. The Kaiser envied Britain’s substantial empire, commercial enterprise and also naval strength – however he thought the brother avaricious and also hypocritical. London managed the world’s largest realm yet manoeuvred versus German early american expansion in Africa and also Asia.

As a consequence, Britain ended up being a well-known target in the pre-war German press. Britain was painted together expansionist, selfish, greedy and also obsessed with money. Anti-British sentiment intensified during the Boer war of 1899-1902, Britain’s war versus farmer-settlers for control of south Africa. Ernst Lissauer’s 1914 ‘Hassgesang gegan England’ (‘Song of dislike for England’) is among the best-known instances of anti-English sentiment.

Independence movements

Nationalism was additionally emerging in distant colonies. This cartoon depicts climbing Chinese nationalism

As the an excellent Powers the Europe beat their chests, another form of nationalism was on the increase in southern and also eastern Europe. This nationalism was not around supremacy or empire yet the right of ethnic groups to independence, autonomy and also self-government.

With the world divided into big empires and spheres of influence, numerous regions, races and spiritual groups sought freedom from their royal masters. In Russia, more than 80 ethnic teams in east Europe and Asia had been required to speak the Russian language, worship the Russian tsar and practice the Russian Orthodox religion.

For much of the 19th century, China had actually been ‘carved up’ and also economically exploited by european powers. The fail Boxer Rebellion the 1899-1900 was an effort to expel however, from components of China. Later, resentful Chinese nationalists formed secret groups to wrest ago control of your country.

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

Balkan nationalism

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

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

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


1. Nationalism was an intense form of patriotism. Those through nationalist tendencies celebrated the culture and achievements of their very own country and also placed that interests over those of other nations.

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

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

4. German nationalism was a new phenomenon, arising from the marriage of Germany in 1871. It came to be fascinated with German imperial expansion (securing Germany’s ‘place in the sun’) and resentful of the British and also their empire.

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5. Increasing nationalism was likewise a factor in the Balkans, wherein Slavic Serbs and also others search independence and also autonomy indigenous the political supremacy of Austria-Hungary.