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Italian And German Unification Crash Course European History

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Italian And German Unification Crash European Ap John Green Empire Austro Prussian War World Crashcourse Vlogbrothers Prussia Europe Franco Whap Otto Bismarck

If you look at Europe today, you’ll note that two of the EuropeaNinthhe llargesseconomies Italy and Germany have not existed as unified kingdoms or sovereign states during our first 26 episodes. We tend to think of Europe’s nation states as static and longstanding, but one of my great-grandfathers was born before Italy became a unified country. Now, I know that I’m old, but I’m not that old. What’s that? Oh, our script supervisor Juliet informs me that I am that old.

At any rate, a -ll the stereotypes we have of these national identities that Italians talk with their hands, that Germans have extremely punctual public transport are quite new, because in 1850, most Italians wouldn’t have called themselves Italians. They would’ve been Genoese, or Sicilian, or Veronese. The post-revolutionary European world became one of dramatic nation-building that ultimately set the stage for 20th century nationalistic fervor. But before we can get nationalist passions riled up, we need to make some more nations. INTRO The first of the disruptive nation-builders was Napoleon III Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew, who on December 2, 1851, declared himselemperor48 years to the day after his uncle had done the same. He set out to create a lavish court, boost the economy, create banks, build railroads, and otherwise modernize France.

Politically, he set up a rubber-stamp legislature, meaning that mostly they just existed to agree with him. He also outlawed worker activism. Napoleon III’s modus operandi was war, as it would be for many of the nation-builders of the mid 19th-century. He helped provoke the Crimean War, a short, miserable, and especially deadly war. In it, France, Britain, and the Ottoman Empire fought Russia, which had been challenging Britain across Asia.

And the special genius of Napoleon III was to get Austria to not come to the aid of Russia and instead to remain neutral. This cracked the Holy Alliance of Russia, Prussia, and Austria that had been set up to stabilize Europe. And Russia’s defeat in the war ensured that it would not help squash revolution as it had in 1848. Instead, Russia reeled from its military and other shortcomings. By the 1860s, the tsar recognized the need to free the serfs, reform the military, and set up modern judicial procedures in order to save its autocratic system.

Or to save it for another 50 years anyway. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble.

1. Napoleon III used the peace after the Crimean War to remake Paris into a modern world capital.

2. And to the south, Camilla di Cavour aimed to create a unified Italian state.

3. Like Napoleon, he was an economic modernizer who set up steamship companies, experimented in agriculture, and traveled to see the latest in modernization projects.

4. Cavour became prime minister for the king of Piedmont-Sardinia, who allowed him to move forward with his modernization plans.

5. Napoleon III saw advantages in supporting Cavour, so he signed on as an ally in defeating Austria, which controlled northern Italy.

6. Napoleons idea was that Piedmont would get Austria’s territory in northern Italy, Napoleon would get the center, and the pope would rule kind of an Italian confederation.

7. So, in accordance with this plan, in 1859, Piedmont provoked Austria into declaring war and gained quick victories.

8. But Cavour and his army looked so good in victory that Italians rallied behind him,

9. And were like, I think we want to be Italian and not French, thus thwarting Napoleons plans.

10. In 1860, the revolutionary and democrat Giuseppe Garibaldi gathered a thousand volunteers mostly teenagers clad them in red shirts,

11. And headed by ship to Sicily, where revolts against aristocratic landlords were already underway.

12. He planned to capture the south for a united Italy.

13. And in 1860, he and his forces succeeded in doing so,

14. Then they moved northward to unite with the forces of Piedmont.

15. And in 1861, the kingdom of Italy was declared. Thanks Thought Bubble.

So a small pause is necessary here. Why is Garibaldi, a pro-republic, romantic leader, working on behalf of a monarch like the king of Piedmont? Why is Cavour, the modernizer and prime minister of a monarchy, joining the likes of Garibaldi? Well, by the 1850s, romantic dreams of national unification and the rule of the people gave way to what is known as realpolitik or power politics or realism in politics. Gone were the heartfelt assertions that political actions were the will of God or that they achieved some divine or romantic destiny on behalf of the nation. Better, it was argued, to be realistic and get things done. German politician Otto von Bismarck expressed realpolitik best when he said Germany looks not to Prussia’s liberalism. The great questions of the day will not be settled by speeches and majority decisions. But by blood and iron. Bismarck became one of the most successful practitioners of realpolitik and in the process created the modern German Empire. As a young adult, Bismarck’s life had virtually no seriousness of purpose. I had one of those young adulthood as well. Born a well-to-do landed aristocrat or Junker, he was a carouser, imbiber, and generally a lout as a university student.

Boy, this is familiar. He built up so many debts that he gave up a career in the civil service to return home and help run the family farms. All right. Finally, our lives are diverging. And I guess they’re about to diverge further, since he was arguably the most important European politician of the second half of the nineteenth century, and I’m. You know.

On the other hand, I’ve never started a war! Bismarck’s life got more serious after he met and marrieJohanner, a devout Lutheran, who gave him a more peaceful home life to balance the political turmoil that he came to embrace. His ultimate ambition was to leave estate management and become a major player in German and international politics, but I’ve known a lodrunkenlyed heavily indebted parties, and they all have big dreams. What makes Bismarck so astonishing is the extent to which he succeeded. He made his return to the political scene as Prussia’s delegate to assemblies of the German states and then as ambassador to Russia. And through these roles, the staunchly monarchist Bismarck learned lessons about diplomacy, and international affairs, and about economic liberals and their constitutional values.

He came not to oppose a constitution per se nor to oppose economic progress. What he did above all else was support Prussian King William I. So we shouldn’t see Bismarck so much as opposed to this or that kind of reform so much as strongly in favor of a unified Germany under the leadership of a king. In 1862 William I wanted army reform and modernization as did some liberals, but William refused to budge on certain other provisions, especially a three-year term for recruits. And Bismarck promised not to budge either, and then he went ahead with the kings’ version of reform, bypassing the parliament altogether by simply collecting taxes and dispensing them as the king wanted.

This among many other actions made Bismarck enemies of all kinds, partly because of his bullying manner, but he continued to be supported by the one person who counted the Prussian king. So, for several decades, but most pressingly in the post-1848 atmosphere, a major question was who would lead the Germans Austria or Prussia. Serving King William I loyally was Bismarck’s key to promoting Prussia as the dominant power for Germans. Sometimes people interpret Bismarck as like, an all-seeing visionary who carefully plotted every step he took on behalf of Prussia. But historians have now mostly come to believe that Bismarck’s political moves were not part of some pre-planned game of 4D chess to outmaneuver Austria; instead, he just had a wonderful gift for improvisation. For example, in 1864, he made an alliance with Austria to settle the status of two contested provinces Schleswig and Holstein.

So, Bismarck persuaded Austria to join Prussia in war against Denmark to resolve the contested rule of Schleswig-Holstein. Their victory gave Prussia administration of Schleswig and Austria got Holstein. Two years later, Prussia and Austria went to war again, this time with each other over the same two provinces. The Austro-Prussian war lasted just over six weeks, thanks to Prussia’s aforementioned commitment to the professionalism and modernization of its army. So this whole affair was masterfully handled by Bismarck; first, get your enemy Austria to help you defeat your other enemy Denmark, then defeat Austria and boom, congratulations, you’ve got Schleswig-Holstein, which only sounds like a disease. But it likely wasn’t planned that way.

Did the center of the world just open? Is there a magic 8-ball in there? All right magic 8-ball, is the European Union going to hold up OK? It is certain! The thing about history is that it always feels certain because, you know, it already happened. So when we in the present look at Bismarck in the past and the unification of Germany, it all feels, like, extraordinarily strategic. But I would argue that, in the multiverse, there’s a bunch of worlds where it doesn’t work out the way it worked out for us. History is what happens to have happened, and we are all making that together, just as Bismarck and everyone else in nineteenth century Europe was making it. But back to Bismarck. So, following the big victory, Prussia’s King William wanted to keep going, to capture Vienna and maybe even Hungary, but Bismarck, with his usual astuteness in international affairs, encouraged the king to pull back and consolidate, as Prussia was now the leading German nation.

Bismarck had drawn the northern German kingdoms and states into the North German Confederation, while also aiming to draw in the German states that were still resisting joining Prussia. And how he did this was kind of brilliant in a dark artsy sort of way. Bismarck deeply understood the growing power of mass market media like newspapers, and he knew how to feed rumors to them. For instance, there was a battle over who would take the throne of tiny Luxembourg someone allied with Prussia, or someone allied with Napoleon III. As the contest heated up, Bismarck got a personal quote in the papers to the effect that the French were not the fine people they are usually considered to be, and were in fact loudmouthed people given over to bold, violent behavior. Meanwhile, he also doctored a telegram sent from the Prussian king to make it appear insulting to the French.

And then in August 1870, the French National Assembly, outraged at these characterizations, declared war. The French were handily defeated, with Napoleon III and an army of 150,000 people captured on September. The Bavarians along with smaller states had had to join Prussia. And in January 1871, the German Empire was declared in the Hall of Mirrors of the Versailles palace, and all because of Luxembourg Although much of the earlier opposition to Bismarck died down at this point, he still had to forge a nation from these disparate states one with its own institutions and its own culture. This was a fraught task, which he did in his signature style: more experimentally than surefooted.

Bismarck’s specific moves to unite the many German states into a consolidated entity are now called negative integration that is building a community or nation by finding enemies or targeting certain categories of individuals to be outcasts. Negative integration is opposed to positive integration based on acts like sharing values and building consensus among citizens. In the 1870s, Bismarck chose to harass, disadvantage and insult Catholics, with the idea of turning citizens against them and uniting Germany in opposition to Catholicism. The cluster of policies against Catholics was called the Kulturkampf and eventually Bismarck abandoned it because of the outrage among all Germans, including Protestants, at the idea of upending religious toleration and making fellow citizens outcasts. Next Bismarck targeted workers, especially Social Democrats AKA socialists.

Social Democrats were increasing their numbers in elections; and also there were two assassination attempts on William Is life which Bismarck used an excuse for outlawing the Social Democratic Party. Obviously, It’s very important to understand how negative integration works, and how the systematic dehumanization of another to unite a country can become not just problematic, but indeed catastrophic. And I want to be clear that Bismarck didn’t invent negative integration or anything, but he did use it. He also put into effect the first social welfare program in the West, which included accident and sickness protection for workers and also unemployment benefits, which were crucial, because beginning in 1873, Europe and the world experienced an economic downturn that started in industry, not in agriculture as had been the case in the past. In a letter to his wife, Bismarck had called Prussia’s defeat of France a great event in world history.

As in Italy and some would say the United States, victories of professional armies had created unified nations. And It’s important to understand that nations were not inevitable or natural forms. Some were built on creating shared beliefs in constitutions, or a common culture or having the same blood. In others, negative integration was key to nation-building, as countries identified themselves in opposition to others or by clearly defining what they weren’t. In Germany the aristocratic, landowning officer corps became demigods to the citizenry that believed in them and in military might, while industrialists and economic innovators fell behind in political influence. And when you think about your own communities, whether that’s a nation-state or a fandom, I think It’s interesting to consider primarily by what you share or by what you are, or are defined primarily by what you are not, or what you are opposed to.

Well see how the many ingredients of nation building evolved, in ways both promising and terrifying, as Crash Course heads toward the twentieth century.

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