Through a focus on any two countries, explain how nations developed over the nineteenth century.
The development of the German and Italian nation states in the nineteenth century
Political fragmentation: Till the middle of the nineteenth century, the present-day nations of Germany and Italy were fragmented into separate regions and kingdoms ruled by different princely houses.
Revolutionary uprisings: Nineteenth-century Europe was characterised by both popular uprisings of the masses and revolutions led by the educated, liberal middle classes. The middle classes belonging to the different German regions came together to form an all-German National Assembly in 1848. However, on facing opposition from the aristocracy and military, and on losing its mass support base, it was forced to disband.
In the Italian region, during the 1830s, revolutionaries like Giuseppe Mazzini sought to establish a unitary Italian Republic. However, the revolutionary uprisings of 1831 and 1848 failed to unite Italy.
Unification with the help of the army: After the failure of the revolutions, the process of German and Italian unification was continued by the aristocracy and the army. Germany was united by the Prussian chief minister Otto von Bismarck with the help of the Prussian army and bureaucracy. The German empire was proclaimed in 1871.
The Italian state of Sardinia-Piedmont played a role similar to that played by Prussia. Count Camillo de Cavour (the Chief Minister) led the movement to unite the separate states of nineteenth-century Italy with the help of the army and an alliance with France. The regions annexed by Giuseppe Garibaldi and his Red Shirts joined with the northern regions to form a united Italy. The italian nation was proclaimed in 1861. The papal states joined in 1870.