Europe’s history

In the 19th Century: Rise of Nationalism

In the 19th century, European history underwent transformation. This was caused by the rise of nationalism at that time. The French Revolution with Napoleon and Napoleon's code influencing lawmakers and resulting in political transformations was the primary cause of nationalism. (Samson, 752).

Causes of Opposition: Liberalism and National Self-Determinism

The liberalism and national self-determinism of the movement were the two main causes of opposition. The nationalism led to the union of both Germany and Italy. Fortunately, the union of the two nations brought about permanent transformation in each. Stronger nationalism, economic expansion, and independence were the results of the unification. However, attaining unification was difficult because the majority of the nations faced significant obstacles like racial segregation, bloody wars, and political control. This paper will compare and contrast the unification of Germany and unification of Italy.

Similarities in Unification

Some similarities can be noted in the unifications of both countries. To begin with, Napoleon sparked nationalism and emphasized on the importance of unity to both the countries. He spread the ideas throughout Europe. In addition, the Napoleonic code affected the politicians leading to political transformations. Some of the works of Napoleon in Germany included reduction of landowners powers giving workers improved lives, dissolving the Holy Roman Empire, among others. Despite his efforts, most of the Germans opposed his rule, and the Prussians felt humiliated. The opposition of Napoleon sparked patriotism among the Germans. In Italy, the same happened and this sparked nationalism.

Subdivision and Frustration

Secondly, following the congress of Vienna in 1815, Italy became subdivided; Austria ruled the provinces of Venetia and Lombardy, the pope ruled the Papal States, and the Two Sicilies were ruled by the Spanish Bourbon family. This subdivision frustrated most Italians. On the other hand, the German Confederation resulted from the congress of Vienna and was under the rule of Austria. Patriots protested and acted against the dominance of Austria and the Congress of Vienna. Nationalists and Liberals from both countries fought against the Congress of Vienna. This led to a great revolution by 1848.

Significant Figures in Unification

In both countries, certain people had significant roles in unification. Mazzini, Garibaldi, and Count Cavour led the unifications of Italy. In 1832, Mazzini brought together nationalists and named their rebel group "Young Italy." Mazzini was optimistic about ending foreign rule and achieving unity in Italy. He made a lot of attempts, even though none of them succeeded. In 1848, Mazzini was driven to exile (Samson, 759). However, Mazzini's contribution was very significant. Garibaldi, the leader of the Red Shirts nationalists, conquered both Sicily and Naples with his Red Shirts and handed them over to King Victor Emmanuel II. Count Cavour was appointed as the prime minister by King Victor Emmanuel II in 1852. Cavour had to play real politics through the first constitution of Italian unification. Cavour also organized the new Italy following the unification.

Unified State

Thirdly, after unification, a unified state was obtained. For Italy, the Kingdom of Sardinia which was led by Count Cavour became the center of power, and later became the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. In Germany, Prussia became the strongest military force after all states unified.

Differences in Economic Success

The unification of both countries had many differences, which are discussed below. The first was the Economic success, Prussia founded the Zollverein, a German customs union in 1834, and its success came to raise Prussia's status with the success of Zollverein. The people realized the possibility of economic benefits that would follow unification encouraging them to accept Unity in Germany. In Italy, however, there was no such thing as Zollverein except in Piedmont where Cavour had some economic policies making the state developed economically (Samson, 762). As Germany's success is evident up to date, Italy lagged behind and crossed into the 20th century in poverty.

Differences in Setting of Boundaries

Another difference was observed in the setting of boundaries. After unification, both countries had to mark their boundaries. Italy had an easy task setting their borders since the country is surrounded by seas and high mountains, marking natural boundaries. On the other hand, Germany had a rough task setting their borders owing to the geographical features of the country. Germany has endless plains and lacks land that is open to seas.

Foreign Intervention

Unification of Italy involved foreign intervention, which had a significant role under the leadership of Cavour. To get the Austrians out of Italy, Cavour allied with France but later used the Franco-Prussian war to rid France out of Rome. On the contrary, in Germany, there was no foreign intervention whatsoever. It was Bismarck’s and Prussia’s military power that made the unification be a success.


In conclusion, the French revolution made Germany and Italy seek unification, changing both countries forever. Unification was enabled by the nationalistic feeling that was on the rise during the times Cavour and Bismarck were in the leadership of both Italy and Germany. Unification of Germany was actuated by Prussia and Bismarck. Although it can be seen as if Cavour actuated unification of Italy, contributions of liberals like Garibaldi and Mazzini should be owed. It is also evident that the German unification was much more organized than that of the Italians, which would explain the differences in success after their unification.

Works cited

Samson, Steven Alan. "Nineteenth-Century Nationalism." (1987).

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