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'National consciousness' in Germany between 1815 and 1848…

Yeah I got this essay question over the holidays ‘To what extent was there a real growth of national consciousness in Germany between 1815 and 1848?’ and I really shouldn’t have left it so late. I actually have no idea how to address it, or even how to define ‘national consciousness’.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance.
Oh and it’s for Scottish Higher History, if that helps.


  1. As Germany was NOT a unified country until around 1870 under the leadership of Otto Von Bismarck there was no possibility of a national consciousness during the years you mentioned. What idiot teacher asked you this? Tell them to go learn some history before they attempt to teach it.

  2. The previous answer is too adamant. There was a strong desire for National Unity which grew during those years.
    German history with a dash of Scotch. Mmnn? 1815 Saw Napoleon defeated and sent to St. Helena. There was the Congress of Vienna which drew up the map of Europe to be. A German Confederation was formed which pleased the princes. They still had their bits of that country. The nationalists weren’t happy but when are they? They wanted a Fatherland not a fragmented series of fiefdoms. Ah zo. Er check out the customs union-that’s all I can recall from a little schooling a long time ago. Make mine a gin and tonic.

  3. National identity is usually linked to a common language. Sometimes there is a religious element, and sometimes it depends on a common history. You have to look at greater German and lesser German nationalism – including or not including Scandinavia and the Netherlands for instance.. You have also to look for signs of a national consciousness in German literature. Check out the Holy Roman Empire, and the Kingdom of Westphalia> Look at the involvement of Austria and the Hapsburgs. During your period the aristocratic ruling houses of Germany regarded nationalism as democratic and thus to be stamped out. Note that, while the german convention that met in 1848 offerd the crown of Germany to the King of Prussia he ‘refused to pick up something from the gutter’. Despite what the answerer says about germany not existing until after the Franco Prussian war, in fact there was national feeling long before this. In fact, you could do worse than Wiki ‘German nationalism’. Years ago Agatha Ram, who was a presiding officer at my Viva, wrote a well thought of book on the subject, which may still be in print.

  4. I agree the 2nd answer has it wrong. There was, in fact, a move for Germany unity – led of course by Prussia – at the Congress of Vienna 1814/1815. Napoleon had, to some extent, reorganised the chaotic German system by sweeping away many of the tiny states – some no more than a single Abbey – and had created the Confederation of the Rhine. The real objections to full unity came not from the ordinary man in the street, but from the vested interests of the Kings and Dukes who ruled the separate states. Such as the enormously fat and despotic King of Westphalia


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