Teacher | Student
Originally produced in: Polska
Also available in: en

Curricular level

Third class of Compulsory Secondary Education, (History): “Origins of conspiracy and revolutionary movements in Europe, 1830-1848”, “National uprisings in the territories of the former Republic of Poland”, “The unification of Italy and Germany in the nineteenth century”, 15-16 years, Poland. Polska


The Spring of Nations is a sequence of events in European history. Within a few months of 1848 and 1849, almost in all countries of the continent there was violent and armed rising of people against the existing political and social order. Citizens of France demanded civil rights and equal access to power for representatives of all social classes. Italians and Germans, who lived in the politically divided countries, manifested the desire to unite and create a common, state. Hungarians, Czechs, Poles, and the Slavic nations of the Balkans, which lived under domination of the foreign dynasties, raised the weapon in the struggle for independence. The Spring of Nations, as no movement before it, claimed the right of peoples to self-determination, i.e. the possibility for each nation to have their own, separate and free country. Although this idea was impracticable in the nineteenth century, the Spring of Nations highlighted the emerging problem of nationalism. It showed also the need to organize a new policy of coexistence of communities with different languages, cultures and religions within the framework of the European continent. The thoughts and ideas that emerged at that time are particularly important for us, because they also lie at the root of the European Union.

The European revolutions of 1848 and 1849 (called by historians the Spring of Nations) were essential to further history of Europe. Though they resulted in failure in all the countries where people were rising in defence of civil rights and the right to self-determination. Many historians (M. Kornat, 2006) point out that it was the year 1848 that demonstrated the existence in Europe of two new phenomena, which sooner or later had to trigger profound transformations both in the structure of societies and in the political order in the countries of the continent. We mean here socialism (announcing the Communist Manifesto in February 1848 is considered the symbolic beginning of this movement in the concept of modern political doctrine) and nationalism, which was expressed by national liberation revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. It can also be considered (metaphorically) that the process of shaping of modern Europe began in 1848. The nations, which at that time began to loudly express their aspirations for independence, today form the body of the European Union. The right of nations to self-determination is now the basis of international relations. But in the nineteenth century, it only began to be clearly and distinctly formulated by the societies with a developed sense of linguistic, cultural, religious and historical distinction. These nations, however, were operating within the states ruled by powerful monarchies that did not respect the minority rights.

The materials are prepared in a way to emphasize this aspect of the Spring of Nations as a multidimensional phenomenon. By analyzing character of the struggle for national liberation, students develop an attitude of openness and understanding of multi-ethnic and multicultural nature of the national community in which we live. After all, the European Union was established as a "Europe of homelands" and "Europe of regions".

Conceptual Objectives

  • Student is able to characterize causes and consequences of social movements that took place across Europe during the Spring of Nations.
  • Student is able to define terms such as nationalism, conservatism, striving for independence, and the right to self-determination.
  • Student analyzes and understands the reasons of conflicts that arise in the multinational countries.
  • Student is able to relate knowledge about the formation of national consciousness of Europe to issues of cultural diversity of the European Union.
  • Student draws conclusions about the principles of peaceful and friendly coexistence between communities of different cultures, religions and traditions.
  • Student knows the value and importance of a tolerant attitude especially in the modern world, with its ethnic, religious and cultural conflicts.

Methodological Objectives and Skills

  • Using a map, student locates the place of residence of individual European nations in the nineteenth century and today.
  • By analysing a map, student draws conclusions about the impact of geopolitical location of a country on its history.
  • Student knows the concept and application of caricature. Student interprets iconography also in terms of its propaganda impact.
  • Student examines the source of epistolary character. He or she understands the specific character of this type of sources (e.g. compared to the normative ones) and can relate the conclusions to the wider background of political events.

Suggestion of Activities

The activities developed for students in this module should put emphasis on combining pay special attention to combine historical knowledge about the Spring of Nations with the students’ awareness of complexity and complicated conditionings of the processes of unification of Europe today. Students should relate conclusions drawn from the lesson on the causes of political and social conflicts that led to the revolutionary events in 1948 and 1849 with the knowledge of the contemporary challenges facing the united Europe. One of the goals of the EU is organizing a consistent and peaceful coexistence of peoples with different history, tradition and culture within the political entity of the EU. The sentences below can be used to achieve the goal of this module:

Specify a catalogue of 10 principles that should apply in the multinational state in order to prevent conflicts that took place during the Spring of Nations. Consider if these principles are respected in the European Union?

Suggestion of Evaluation

It seems obvious that the degree of student’s mastery in skills included in the conceptual and methodological objectives should be evaluated. Apart from that, the final grade should also specifically refer to the student’s ability to relate historical knowledge to the today’s issues. A very good student should be able to analyse a national and political map of Europe in the nineteenth century in context of the present borders of the countries on the continent. A student should apply knowledge about the reasons of the emergence of the nationalism to the contemporary problems of the separatist aspirations of ethnic minorities in European Union.

Further Information and Interdisciplinarity

Recommended pages referring to the Krakow Uprising and the Galician Slaughter in 1846:






http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/504489/Risorgimento – Encyclopaedia Britannica page that contains information not only about the Risorgimento movement, but also references to the people, events, works of art related to the Unification of Italy.

http://www.victorianweb.org/history/risorgimento/1.html – website dedicated to the Unification of Italy in the vertical portal dedicated to the whole Victorian era.

http://www.regione.piemonte.it/cultura/risorgimento/iindex.htm – page of Museum of the Risorgimento in Turin.

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-214397236.html – article on the relationship between the Risorgimento movement and cultural unification of Italy.

http://encyklopedia.pwn.pl/haslo.php?id=3945094 – encyclopaedic explanation of the term nationalism.

http://wyborcza.pl/1,75517,659111.html – interesting article about the use of nationalist threads in the communist propaganda after 1945.

http://www.kaczmarski.art.pl/tworczosc/wiersze_alfabetycznie/kaczmarskiego/j/jesienna_wiosna_ludow_1989.php – song by Jacek Kaczmarski (a Polish poet called "the bard of Solidarity”) which compares events in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989 to the Spring of Nations from the nineteenth century.

Pages on multinational states: