Analyse the problem of the national question with regard to Germany and Italy.
The political map of nineteenth century Europe was very different to the one which people are now familiar with, for the majority of nations that exist now ceased to exist then. The majority of contemporary nations were either part of the multi-ethnic and linguistic Austrian Empire or were small independent monarchical states or even both. This change in the European map is due to the concept of nationalism which emerged from the French revolution in 1789, to become the most successful political force of the nineteenth century. Events like the Napoleonic wars, the improvement of communications, the revival of languages and social and economic changes paved the way for the development of national consciousness: this is clearly evident in the case of Germany and Italy. The former had become a loosely bonded confederation of thirty nine independent states, which was known as the German Confederation, whereas the latter was merely a geographical expression'. Both these nation-states experienced a rise in nationalism in the nineteenth century, which led to their desire to be unified. However, the wish of their national movements encountered a series of problems that they had to overcome to create a unified state. Impediments like the lack of international support, divisions among the people and the lack of a structured national movement were the cause of the inability to create a nation, something which is highlighted in the failures of the revolution of 1848. .
The problem of the national question with regard to Germany and Italy is interesting for historians, because it allows them to use this study as an example for core historical debates which surround nations and nationalism, in particular, that how of nations and nationalism developed. Moreover, the German and Italian question raises key issues concerning the evolution of nationalism from its early existence as a political force until now.