4 thoughts on “Honors World Regional #13

  1. Unification of European States
    After the Renaissance and Reformation in Europe, many of the countries we see there today began to solidify. These places now need a national identity of unity. Religion, language, culture, and shared history were key ingredients. But one of the greatest factors was power; power to enforce and language or religion, power to cover up/ change unwanted history. Once these nations became unified, us against them mentality became country-to-country rather than village-to-village.
    Otto von Bismarck successfully unified the 13 different regions of modern day Germany under Prussia in 1871. He used this unification as the foundation of economic growth. If everyone is unified, trade becomes easier. This also gave Prussia an opportunity on the world stage. With shared money and military, colonies were created. Otto used these new identities to keep peace in Europe and within his young, prospering nation. The greatness of the idea of German rather than Bavarian or Saxon or Westphalian created the German nationalism that continued throughout World War I and World War II.
    In England, religion was the key factor of alliance. King Henry VIII created the Church of England which united most of the isle through common faith, sometimes by force. After King James (of Scotland) took the English throne, the two kingdoms were united. This created the concept of “Britain”. Ireland, unlike England and Scotland, was Catholic. Ireland, unlike North England and Scotland, didn’t have much in the way of natural resources, so industry wasn’t a hug factor. Ireland did not fit the British mold, yet it didn’t have the sovereignty to self-govern until 1922 when the Irish Free State was formed. As time goes by, Scotland is feeling less and less “British” and holding cultural identity closer than religious. This will eventually break down Great Britain. Great Britain worked well during the industrial revolution because it was more united than most European countries. London could access the raw materials needed for textiles and manufacturing. The Empire was also successful during the age of exploration. Being a part of Great Britain gave incredible economic opportunities in the New World and Africa to those who may not have had that much privilege at home. As Britain becomes less of an empire, I believe it will slowly break up into the original states, as religion and conquest are no longer important as a culture.
    Belgium is united almost entirely by the Catholic faith. The North and South are divided by language. The capitol, Brussels basically lets each area rule themselves as much as possible. This is an example of how unity on one thing can cause “othering” in a different area. National identity is not as important to the common people as regional/language identity.
    As Europe unified, country began to fight each other over ethnicity, language, religion, and culture. Most wars, including both World Wars, were fought over national identity. After these battles, Europe has tried to slow the process of radical nationalism by countries by means of super state unification. This only creates more unrest with smaller levels of identity. Identity is key to survival. If you take it away in one form, people will find it another.

  2. This images represent the unification of the medieval European kingdoms into modern nations. Even though the landscape of these countries has changed since the time of their formation, they still represent the coming of the modern Era as small kingdoms were united into stronger nations with the hope of obtaining more power.

    During my class of International Relations I learned of the concept of the “Leviathan”, according to my teacher the theory of the “Leviathan” was that a stronger power forced the people to comply with its rules due to fear of reprisals. In the case of international countries this Leviathan came in the form of stronger nations, thus weaker nations were forced to come together in hopes of matching nations in their power. This as well as the beginning of industrialization and colonization led small kingdoms, to realize that there was more than that could be achieved as a nation, than as separate regions.

    Thus small kingdoms gave birth to the modern state, with the birth of the modern French and Italian republics, and the unified UK and Germany. Yet very few of these new nations still maintained the same territory they once had, due to strong nationalistic movements across their regions.
    In the case of the United Kingdom, while Scotland and England came together by choice, with the signing of a treaty in search of power, as they realized that together they could compete with other nations, instead of fighting among each other for control of great Britain; Ireland was forced to become part of this union, thus while Wales, England and Scotland remained part of the union, the large majority of Ireland fought a war to break apart from the Union as they didn’t want to be part of it in the first place.

    Germany saw a similar development in that most of the territories, that used to be part of the German Reich, became independent as soon as the German state was weakened one way or the other. This was due to the fact that while some regions of Germany came together under their own accord, some regions were annexed by force into the new nation, or even taken from other modern nations. Thus after the German state was weakened such as following WW1 or WW2 these regions would break away from the rest of the nation. Such as the regions of the Czech Republic, Austria or Slovakia, that were annexed by Germany several times, yet keep breaking away as soon as the German state was weakened, or the regions of Prussia and Alsace-Lorraine, that have been “invaded” by the Germans and liberated” from the Germans by Russia, Poland and France several times through history.

    In contrast even though Belgium, France and Italy were also unified by force, their territories have seen less dramatically changes trough history and have remained more or less the same during the modern era, showing a more unified national identity. Showing that even though Europe was the birthplace of the modern state, it also saw the birth of Banal nationalism.

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