THEMATIC ESSAY QUESTIONS FOR REACTION, ROMANTICISM AND NATIONALISM
1. "The European State System established by the Congress of Vienna gave the world a hundred-year
peace." Discuss the validity of this statement.
2. "The reactionary agreements signed at the Congress of Vienna made the revolutions of 1848
predictable. Discuss this statement and the philosophy of history it represents.
3. How did Great Britain avoid the convulsions that shook continental Europe in 1848?
4. Was industrialization a factor that promoted or impeded revolution? Discuss this question from the
point of view of a Liberal and a Marxist of the period.
5. Discuss the influence, if any, of the Romantic Movement in art and music on revolution in the period
6. Discuss the ideas of the Utopian Socialists.
7. "If the eighteenth century was dominated by French thought, the nineteenth century can be considered
the German century" Discuss this statement paying particular attention to the period 1815-1848.
8. Contrast the revolutions of 1848 in France and Germany.
9. Although divided by class and nationality, the revolutionary movements of the years 1830-1848 shared
many common characteristics. Describe the features held in common by revolutionary movements of the
period in eastern and Western Europe.
10. "The Romantic artist was inspired by his love of the French Revolution and his abhorrence of the
Industrial Revolution." Discuss this statement from the point of view of two different forms of art.
11. "The Romantic Movement was a reaction of youth against age." Citing specific references, discuss the
validity of this statement.
12. How was nineteenth century nationalism a force for revolution?
13. Was the nationalism of the nineteenth century a progressive or a regressive force?
14. Discuss the relationship between nationalism and liberalism in the continental Europeans revolutions
15.Compare and contrast the effect of nationalism upon the eventual unification of Germany and Italy. To
what actions and factors do you attribute the differences?
16. In 1849, Russian troops poured into Hungary in order to crush the nationalist rebellion there and aid
the Emperor of Austria. In 1914, a mere 60 years later, Russia would be one of the greatest supporters of
Panslavic nationalist operations. Explain and analyze the reasons for this shift in policy.
17. Analyze the relationship between, and effects of, nationalism in France, Italy and Germany.
18. To what extent was the surge of nationalism during the mid-nineteenth century a consequence of
industrialism and the growth of the middle class?
19. Nationalism in England tended to be a unifying influence and strengthened not only the position of the
government but also the economic position of British industry, whereas, in Austria and to some degree in
Germany, nationalism would be a de-stabilizing factor. To what factors do you attribute this
20. Discuss the effects of the nationalist movements of the revolutions of 1848 upon the future
governments of Austria, Italy, and Germany.
21. Explain and discuss the reasons for the aversion of the Roman Catholic Church under Pope Pius IX to
liberalism and nationalism.
22. What effect did the nationalism of the mid-nineteenth century have upon the socialist and Marxist
movements in the various European nations, particularly England, France, Italy, Germany and Austria?
23. In what way did the process and results of German unification in the nineteenth century affect the
political future of Europe and the Germany of the twentieth century?
24. How has imperialism been attacked and defended?
25. Analyze and compare the effects of nationalism on Italian and Austro-Hungarian politics between
1815 and 1914.
26. Between 1815-1848 the conditions of the laboring classes and the problem of political stability were
critical issues in England. Describe and analyze the reforms that social critics and politicians of this
period proposed to resolve these problems.
27. Discuss the effects of the industrial economy on Western European peasant women and working-class
women from 1830-1914.
28. Describe the ways in which conservative political and social views shaped the peace settlement of the
Congress of Vienna. Explain the consequences of the peace settlement for the period 1815-1848.
29. Discuss the ways in which European Jews were affected by and responded to liberalism, nationalism
and anti-Semitism in the 19th century.
30. Nationalism has been one of the great driving forces in modern history. How may it be defined? What
contributions to national ideas and movements were made by the a) French Revolution and the
Napoleonic era, b) the years 1815-1848, c) the revolutions of 1848, d) the years 1859-1871? Of what
continuing importance has nationalism been in the 20th century?
31. Compare and contrast the movements for national unification in Italy and Germany in the years 1815-
1871 and their results. Of what special significance was political leadership in each case? How did
Realpolitik apply in each instance?
32. What similar developments in national consolidation and nation-building may be observed over the
years 1859-1871 in a) Italy, b) Germany, c) Austria-Hungary, d) Russia, e) the United States, f) Canada,
33. Explain how, from the Age of Metternich to the beginning of World War I, democracy in England and
France reached much the same place over decidedly different routes.
34. To what extent and in what ways did the move towards unification in mid-19th-century Germany fall
out of the hands of the constitutionalists and into the hands of the Prussian militarists?
35. "Austria's suppression of Slavic autonomy within the Empire created more dissolution that unity."
Defend or refute this statement.
36. Evaluate the achievements of Napoleon III.
37. Compare and contrast the methods of Cavour and Bismarck in unifying their respective
38. To what extent and in what ways did Mazzini break new ground for Cavour's program of unification?
Did Garibaldi help complete it?
39. Explain why the political situation in Italy in the decade before unification prompted Piedmont-
Sardinia to take the lead in the movement.
40. Analyze Bismarck's use of war to achieve unification.
41. "Germany did not unite itself; rather it was conquered by Prussia." Assess the validity of this
42. Evaluate Bismarck as chancellor of the new German Empire.
43. Analyze the policies of three European colonial powers regarding Africa between 1871 and 1914.
44. Discuss some of the ways in which Romantic artists, musicians and writers responded to political and
socioeconomic conditions in the period from 1800-1850. Document your response with specific examples
from discussions of at least two of the three disciplines: visual arts, music and literature.
45. Assess the role of nationalism in the unification of Germany and Italy from 1860-1871.
46. What political, social and economic changes in France made possible the rise and success of Emperor
47. Was Napoleon III the fooler or the fooled in France between 1848-1871?
48. Describe and compare the origins and proposals of the utopian socialists, the Marxists, the anarchists
and the revisionists during the 19th century.
49. Karl Marx made a number of assertions regarding how the governments would respond to the
industrialization of society and expanding capitalism. Discuss the basic theses upon which he
predicated these assertions and the specific nature of his assertions. Having done this, discuss
Marx’s record as a “prophet” indicating the extent to which his predictions proved valid.
50. “The Crimean War, 1852-1856, was one of the silliest wars ever fought; yet its consequences were
extraordinarily important for Russia and for Europe as a whole…”
----William H. McNeill, A History of the World Community
Discuss the origins of this “silly war” and, having done so, indicate the “extraordinarily
important” consequences of it on Russia and Europe.
51. Discuss and analyze the differences between Marxism and Utopian Socialism and relate them to
changes in the Zeitgeist between 1815 and 1870.
52. Describe and analyze the important cultural and intellectual movements in Europe between 1848-
53. How did the rise of industrialism affect society in England and the continent between 1760-1848?
54. What factors led to the rise of the middle class in England and on the continent between 1760-1848
and how did they differ?
55. How did the goals of the 18th century industrialists backfire, creating the “isms” of the 19th century?
56. Compare and contrast the changing political ideologies of England and the continent from 1760-
57. How did the Industrial Revolution, Romanticism and Nationalism affect government stability in
England and on the continent?
58. How did the interaction of ideology and industrialism lead to stability in England and turmoil in the
59. How did industrialism lead to ideologies that supported both individualism and nationalism in early
19th century Europe?
60. Analyze the ways in which England and the continent differed in their political and economic ideas
and practices between 1815-1848.
61. To what extent did the predominant ideological trends of the early 19th century contribute to the rise
of the middle class in England compared to the continent?
62. Analyze three examples of the relationship between Romanticism and nationalism before 1850.
63. How did social, political and economic changes in the early 19th century make England different from
64. The rise of the middle class and concomitant industrialization was necessary for a modern liberal
government in mid 19th century England. Defend or refute.
65. How did romanticism, nationalism and the Industrial Revolution affect government stability in mid
19th century England and on the continent?
66. How did the Industrial Revolution, liberalism, romanticism, nationalism and the rise of the middle
class combine to shape 19th century Europe?
67. How did different patterns of industrialization lead to political, social and economic differences
between Europe and England in the early 19th century?
68. What factors in the first half of the 19th century lead to the rise of the middle class and the increasing
isolation of England from the rest of Europe?
69. Why was England able to institute social, political and economic reforms more peacefully than its
70. Contrast the impact of nationalism in Germany and the Austrian Empire from 1848-1914.
THEMATIC ESSAY QUESTIONS FOR LATE 19TH CENTURY POLITICAL AND SOCIAL
1. Since the 1880's what efforts have Europe's rulers made to try to integrate the working class into the
larger national society?
2. How was political reform achieved in nineteenth century England? Compare and contrast with similar
reforms in France.
3. "Peaceful change, not armed revolution, was responsible for the growth of democracy in Britain during
the nineteenth century." Assess the validity of this generalization. Cite specific references to the major
legislative reforms between 1832 and 1884.
4. "The Whig interpretation of history is no longer, if it ever had been, valid." With specific reference to
nineteenth century Britain, discuss this statement.
5. During most of the nineteenth century, Europeans believed firmly in science and in progress. By the
end of the century, they were no longer so sure. Describe the most significant aspects of scientific and
technological advances in the nineteenth century and the cause for change over time.
6. Discuss the origins of the Third Republic in France. How did the conflict between Church and State
during the period 1875-1905 affect the growth of democratic institutions in France? Compare the results
of this conflict in France with the Kulturkampf in Germany. Discuss any other crisis for the Third
Republic during its first thirty years.
7. Analyze Europe's demographic development during the period 1850-1914. How did the Great
Migration affect this development? How were these demographic changes viewed in France and
8. Explain the strange demise of classical liberalism in Britain.
9. Choose any two areas of social reform during the nineteenth century from the following list: religion,
education, public health, temperance, women's rights, welfare. Describe the tensions that led to change in
one of the following countries: Britain, France or Germany.
10. Discuss changes in art and literary styles during the period 1825-1885. How can changes in these
fields be related to political and social changes in the larger society?
11. What is the significance of the term fin de siecle? How is it different from belle epoque? In what sense
was the late 19th c. a fin de siecle in Europe?
12. Describe the private life of the middle class in late 19th c. France, Britain, Germany, or Austria.
13. Discuss the effects of the increase of mass transportation and the department store on the development
of Paris, London, or any other major European city.
14. How did leisure time become a matter of concern during the late 19th c? What methods of social
control were instituted to deal with the "problem" of leisure time?
15. Discuss the origins of mass political parties in France and England during the late 19th century, "from
mystique to politique."
16. What economic, political and social reforms were sought by women's groups during the period of the
turn of the century? Refer to specific countries and events.
17. How did the new art styles of the turn of the century reflect changing attitudes and perceptions? Refer
specifically to Art Nouveau, Fauvism and Futurism.
18. How did the working class organize itself during the last decade of the 19th c. and the first decade of
19. How did the Irish Question in Britain remain unsolved at the turn of the century?
20. "The end of the 19th c. was, on the surface, a time of peaceful progress. Not far below the surface,
questions that would ultimately result in a world war were present." Discuss the validity of this statement.
21. How did the widespread popularity of the bicycle in France during the 1890's reflect changing social
22. Assess Napoleon III as a modern dictator, a reformer or a buffoon. Pay particular attention to his
23. Identify and explain the similarities and differences between socialism and liberalism in 19th Europe.
24. To what extent and in what ways did intellectual developments in Europe in the period 1880-1920
undermine confidence in human rationality and in a well-ordered, dependable universe?
25. Describe the steps taken between 1832 and 1918 to extend the suffrage in England. What groups and
movements contributed to the extension of the vote?
26. To what extent did Marx and Freud each challenge the 19th c. belief in rationality and progress?
27. Evaluate the effectiveness of collective responses by workers to industrialization in Western Europe
during the course of the 19th century.
28. Assess the extent to which the unification of Germany under Bismarck led to authoritarian
government there between 1871 and 1914.
29. In February 1848 the middle classes and workers in France joined to overthrow the government of
Louis Philippe. By June the two groups were at odds in their political, economic and social thinking.
Analyze what transpired to divide the groups and describe the consequences for French politics.
30. How and in what ways were economic and political factors responsible for intensifying European
imperialist activity in Africa from the mid-19th c. to the beginning of the First World War?
31. Discuss the ways in which European Jews were affected by and responded to liberalism, nationalism
and anti-Semitism in the 19th century.
32. Analyze the key developments that characterized the European economy in the second half of the
33. Describe the physical transformation of European cities in the second half of the nineteenth century
and analyze the social consequences of this transformation.
34. Explain how, from the Age of Metternich to the beginning of World War I, democracy in England and
France reached much the same place over decidedly different routes.
35. "Austria's suppression of Slavic autonomy within the Empire created more dissolution than unity."
Defend or refute this statement.
36. Compare and contrast the growth and suppression of democracy in 19th century Europe.
37. Analyze the various motives for the "New Imperialism" and their relative importance.
38. Contrast and compare the Old Imperialism (colonialism) with the New Imperialism.
39. "By the end of the 19th century, European nations had divided the rest of the world among themselves." Assess
the validity of this statement.
40. Contrast and compare the responses of China and Japan to Western encroachment.
41. Evaluate the New Imperialism.
42. Why did "liberalism" not develop in France?
43. Explain how from the Age of Metternich to World War I democracy in England and France reach much the
same place by decidedly different routes.
44. "The single biggest factor in 19th century social, political and cultural affairs is the rise of Universal Male
45. "Bismarck and his policies were Europe’s last hope to avoid World War I and subsequent catastrophe in the
20th century" Discuss.
46. Describe and assess the role of the British policy of “splendid isolation” in balance-of-power diplomacy in 19th
47. Describe the development of democracy in Great Britain in the 19th and 20th centuries.
48. Historians speak of the “Old Imperialism” that of the period between roughly 1500 and 1750, and the “New
Imperialism” of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Compare and contrast these, indicating differences and
similarities that may have existed and the reasons for changes that might have occurred.
49. Assess the extent to which the overseas empires impacted upon European economic and political life from
50. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the long-held concept of the fundamental rationality of man come
under attack: there were those who perceived man as being driven by forces other than those of a conscious (i.e.
rational) nature. Discuss the reasons for this intellectual, yet anti-rational, movement, and indicate some of its
51. Evaluate how the ideas of Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud challenged Enlightenment assumptions about
human behavior and the role of reason.
52. Man for the field and woman for the hearth:
Man for the sword and for the needle she:
Man with the head and women from the heart:
Man to command and woman to obey:
How accurately do the lines of poetry above reflect gender roles for European men and women in the late 19th