The lion, a price of british nationalism and also strength

Nationalism was a prominent pressure in early 20th century Europe and also a significant cause of civilization War I. Nationalism is one intense type of patriotism or loyalty to one’s country. Nationalists exaggerate the importance or virtues the their residence country, place its interests above those of various other nations.

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Feelings the supremacy

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, plenty of Europeans, an especially citizens the the so-called an excellent Powers (Britain, France and Germany) had encouraged themselves of the cultural, economic and military dominance of their nation. According to historian Lawrence Rosenthal, this emotion was:

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

The results of this growing nationalism to be an inflated to trust in one’s nation, that is government, economy and also military power. Many nationalists additionally became remote to the faults of their very own nation. In matters of foreign affairs or worldwide competition, castle were convinced that their country was fair, righteous and beyond fault.

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

Sources the nationalism

The beginnings of this extreme European nationalism room a matter of debate. Nationalism is most likely a product of Europe’s complex modern history. The climb of popular sovereignty (the involvement of world in government), the formation of empires and also periods of financial growth and also social revolution all contributed to nationalist sentiments.

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

Politicians, diplomats and royals contributed to this nationalism in your speeches and rhetoric. Nationalist sentiment was also prevalent in press reporting and also popular culture. The pages of numerous newspapers were filled with nationalist rhetoric and also provocative stories, such as rumours around rival nations and also their angry intentions. Nationalist ideas could likewise be discovered in literature, music, theatre and also art.

In every country, nationalism was underpinned by various attitudes, themes and also events. Nationalist sentiment was sustained by a sense of historic destiny and, therefore, very closely tied to the background and advance of each nation.

Military over-confidence

Nationalism was carefully linked come militarism. It fostered delusions about the relative army strength of european nations. Numerous living in the great Powers thought about their nations to be militarily superior and far better equipped to win a future battle in Europe.

The British, for example, thought their navy power, coupled v the size and also resources that the brother Empire, would give them the upper hand in any kind of war. Being an island additionally isolated britain from intrusion or foreign threat.

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

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

The French placed their belief in the country’s hefty industry, i m sorry had broadened rapidly in the so late 1800s. Paris additionally played great stock in the defences, an especially a wall surface of concrete barriers and fortresses to run the length of its eastern border.

Attitudes come war

Nationalist and militarist rhetoric assured Europeans that if war did erupt, their nation would arise as the victor. Along with its attention brothers, imperialism and also militarism, nationalism sustained a continental delusion that added to the farming mood for war.

By 1914, Europeans had grown apathetic and dismissive around the threats of war. This to be understandable. Aside from the Crimean battle (1853-56) and the Franco-Prussian war (1870-71), the 1800s was a century the comparative tranquility in Europe. Through the exemption of France, beat by the Prussians in 1871, the good Powers had not skilled a significant military loss for more than half 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 but they were brief conflicts against disorganised and also underdeveloped enemies in faraway places. Militarism and nationalism revived the future of a european war, and also naivety and also overconfidence about its most likely outcomes.

‘Invasion literature’

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

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

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

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

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

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

German nationalism

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

Unlike Britain, Germany to be a comparatively young nation, developed in 1871 after the marriage of 26 German-speaking states and also territories. The id that every German-speaking peoples have to be united in a solitary empire, or ‘Pan-Germanism’, was the politics glue that bound these claims together.

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

German nationalism was also bolstered by German militarism. The toughness of the nation, German leader believed, to be reflected by the strength of its military forces.

The nationalist Kaiser

The brand-new Kaiser, Wilhelm II, became the personification of this new, nationalistic Germany. Both the Kaiser and also his nation were young and ambitious, i heard with military power and imperial expansion, proud the Germany’s accomplishments but envious of various other empires.

To Wilhelm and also other German nationalists, the key obstacle come German development was Britain. The Kaiser envied Britain’s huge empire, advertisement enterprise and naval power – however he believed the brother avaricious and also hypocritical. London oversaw the world largest empire yet manoeuvred against 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 to be painted as expansionist, selfish, greedy and obsessed with money. Anti-British sentiment intensified during the Boer war of 1899-1902, Britain’s war against farmer-settlers for regulate of south 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 additionally emerging in distant colonies. This cartoon depicts increasing Chinese nationalism

As the good Powers that Europe beat their chests, another kind of nationalism was on the increase in southern and also eastern Europe. This nationalism was not around supremacy or empire but the best of ethnic groups to independence, autonomy and also self-government.

With the world divided into large empires and also spheres of influence, plenty of regions, gyeongju and religious groups sought flexibility from their imperial masters. In Russia, much more than 80 ethnic groups in east Europe and also Asia had actually been compelled to speak the Russian language, prayer the Russian tsar and also practice the Russian Orthodox religion.

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

Nationalist groups added to the weakening that the Ottoman empire in east Europe by seeking to throw off Muslim rule.

Balkan nationalism

None of these nationalist activities contributed an ext directly to the outbreak of war than Slavic groups in the Balkans. Pan-Slavism, a belief that the Slavic peoples of eastern Europe should have their very own nation, to be a powerful force in the region. Slavic nationalism was strongest in Serbia, whereby it had risen significantly in the so late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Pan-Slavism was particularly opposed to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and also its control and influence end the region. Aggravated by Vienna’s annexation of Bosnia and also Herzegovina, countless young Serbs join radical nationalist teams like the ‘Black Hand’ (Crna Ruka).

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


1. Nationalism was an intense type of patriotism. Those with nationalist tendencies commemorated the culture and success of their very own country and also placed the interests above those of other nations.

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

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

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

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5. Rising nationalism was additionally a factor in the Balkans, wherein Slavic Serbs and also others search independence and also autonomy native the political domination of Austria-Hungary.