Introduction: This chapter tries to explain the meaning of nationalism and how nationalism evolved in mankind’s history. Starting with French Revolution the nationalism spread to other parts of Europe and later on paved the way for development of modern democratic nations across the world.
Meaning of Nationalism: Nationalism is the idea of a sense of common identity and a sense of belongingness to a particular geographical area. Apart from this it is also a sense of attachment to a particular culture. It should be kept in mind that culture encompasses a variety of factors, like language, cuisine, costumes, folklores, etc.
The Rise of Nationalism in Europe
The concept and practices of a modern state had been developing over a long period of time in Europe. The state in which, a centralised power exercised sovereign control over a clearly defined territory. But a nation-state was one in which the majority of its citizens, and not only its rulers, came to develop a sense of common identity and shared history or descent. This commonness did not exist from time immemorial. Rather it was forged through struggles, through the actions of leaders and the common people. During the nineteenth century, nationalism emerged as a force which brought about sweeping changes in the political and mental world of Europe. The end result of these changes was the emergence of the nation-state in place of the multi-national dynastic empires of Europe.
The French Revolution and the Idea of the Nation
The first clear expression of nationalism came with the French Revolution in 1789. France was a full-fledged territorial state in 1789 under the rule of an absolute monarch. The political and constitutional changes that came in the wake of the French Revolution led to the transfer of sovereignty from the monarchy to a body of French citizens. The revolution proclaimed that it was the people who would henceforth constitute the nation and shape its...