The French Revolution had repercussions that continued for over a century. Napoleon's rapid rise to power in post-revolutionary France changed the shape of Europe. After his failed attempt to unify the continent, Europe tried to return to the political/social divisions of the pre-Napoleonic Europe. Napoleon's legacy (Napoleonic Code and Nationalism) changed Europe forever. Meanwhile, Great Britain actually expanded political rights (most notably by ending slavery in the British Empire).
Legacy of Napoleon
- Unsuccessful attempt to unify Europe under French domination
- Napoleonic Code
- Awakened feelings of national pride and growth of nationalism
Legacy of the Congress of Vienna
- “Balance of power” doctrine
- Restoration of monarchies
- New political map of Europe
- New political philosophies (liberalism, conservatism)
National pride, economic competition, and democratic ideals stimulated the growth of nationalism.
- The terms of the Congress of Vienna led to widespread discontent in Europe (especially in Italy and the German states.)
- Unsuccessful Revolutions of 1848 increased nationalistic tensions.
- In contrast to continental Europe, Great Britain expanded political rights through legislative means and made slavery illegal in the British Empire.
Unification of Italy
- Count Cavour unified Northern Italy.
- Giuseppe Garibaldi joined southern Italy to northern Italy.
- The Papal States (including Rome) became the last to join Italy.
Unification of Germany
- Otto von Bismarck led Prussia in the unification of Germany through war and by appealing to nationalist feelings.
- Bismarck’s actions were seen as an example of Realpolitik, which justifies all means to achieve and hold power.
- The Franco-Prussian War led to the creation of the German state.