3-7: Nationalism: Collateral Damage

Part 1 of 1: Read the following excerpt about destructive nationalism and complete the questions that follow.

In 1800, the Hapsburg’s were the longest-reigning family in Europe. Their Austrian empire was home to many ethnic ·groups, including German-speaking Austrians, Slavs, Hungarians, and Italians. By the 1840’s, the empire faced many problems associated with industrial life. Also, nationalism threatened the empire. The Hapsburg’s ignored these issues as long as they could.  When revolts broke out in 1848, the government crushed them. During this time of unrest, 18-year-old Francis Joseph came to the Hapsburg throne. In an attempt to strengthen the empire, he granted some limited-reforms. He also created a constitution, – but the majority of power remained with German-speaking Austrians. This did not satisfy most of the other ethnic groups.

Austria’s defeat in the 1866 war with Prussia brought even more pressure for change, especially from Hungarians within the empire. Ferenc Deak helped work out a compromise known as the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. Under the agreement, Austria and Hungary became separate states. Each had its own constitution. However, Francis Joseph still ruled both nations. Hungarians welcomed the compromise, but other groups resented it. Unrest grew among the Slavs. Some nationalists called on fellow Slavs to unite in “fraternal solidarity.” By the early 1900’s, nationalist unrest often kept the government from addressing political and social problems.

The Ottomans ruled an empire that stretched from Eastern Europe and the Balkans, to the Middle East and North Africa. It also included many different ethnic groups. During the 1800’s, various peoples revolted against the Ottomans. They wanted their own independent states. With the empire weakened, European powers scrambled to divide up the Ottoman lands. A series of crises and wars occurred in the Balkans. By the early 1900’s, that region became known as the “Balkan powder keg.”

Nationalism had created movements in Eastern Europe, in which national groups agitated for independence. Nationalism had united Germany and Italy which had linguistic, religious and ethnic similarities. However in more diverse empires Nationalism created tremendous strain on the existing governmental structures. The Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary would both eventually succumb to nationalism and dissolve shortly into the 20th century.



  1. What impact did the ascension of Francis Joseph have on Austria-Hungary?
  2. How did Austria’s war with Prussia change Austria-Hungary’s government?
  3. What impact did Nationalism have on the Ottoman Empire?
  4. Why was Nationalism a unifying force in Italy and Germany but a divisive one in Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire?