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Unit 7 - The Age of Nationalism, Realism, and Imperialism

Nationalism/La Belle Epoque 1850-1914

In this chapter, you will notice the physical transition of Europe as it enters the modern world- this is the first time that actual photographs, rather than paintings or drawings, are shown in the textbook. The balance of power shifts tremendously in Europe, thanks to both diplomatic crises and changing populations and economies of European states. The Concert of Europe essentially falls apart after the Crimean War, leaving behind a legacy of resentments and exposes weaknesses in the great Eastern powers. After the revolutions of 1848, in which the bourgeoisie class ceased to be revolutionary and instead became the new elite ruling class, politics began to shift in Europe. Conservative monarchs and leaders realized that they could not stop change from occurring- but they could control how, when, and where it happened. This came to characterize a concept known as realpolitik- a German term that means "politics based on reality and practical means, rather than strong ideology". In other words, conservative national leaders realized they could no longer ignore the demands of the working class. The working class was far too numerous and powerful, and national economies depended on their labor in order to 

survive. The working class also now had a political ideology to unify them: socialism. However, conservatives still reigned in Europe, and were learning to reckon with the working classes while also bolstering their own power and popularity. In France, Napoleon II's Second Empire transforms the city of Paris into a modern metropolis, while plunging France into a series of international crises.

The Age of Western Imperialism, 1840-1914

The last decades of the 19th century marked the beginning of an increasingly globalized and inter-dependent world due to Western imperialism. Imperialism is the act of one nation dominating another nation's government, economy, and culture. While imperialism is not a new concept (the Greeks, Romans, Spanish, French, and British all had empires throughout Western history), this era was characterized by so-called "new imperialism" because it was driven mainly by industrial and economic expansion and notions of national strength. The last quarter of the nineteenth century saw the nearly complete conquest of the non-Westernized world, including the brutal conquest of Africa, China, Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East. All the main Western powers- Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Italy, and now even the United States, set out to gain colonies in an effort to expand their markets, exploit resources and labor, set up military and naval bases, and convert souls to Christianity. Various tactics were used to create these empires- some inhumane and brutal, others conniving and Machiavellian. Either way, the result was a Western-dominated world that could not be set up for permanent harmony and sustainability, and tensions and resentment reverberated throughout the globe. The effects of European colonization are alive today and continue to be felt, often very deeply, by people around the world. 

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