National consciousness within German States 1815

by Ben Alford

In 1815 Europe had just defeated Napoleon. Germany, as we know it, did not exist. There were 39 German states, each ruled by its own prince. They joined in the German Confederation (Bund) which aimed to protect its members and give Germany a stronger voice in Europe. It had a parliament or Diet but it did not achieve much because decisions had to be unanimous and political divisions meant this was hard to achieve.

Throughout the nineteenth century, the populations of these separate states began to develop a sense they were not just citizens of their own individual states but part of a German volk (people). They realised they had much in common.


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