65 Ap Euro Chapter 21

AP Euro CH 21 Rise of Napoleon
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Chapter 21 of the Advanced Placement European History (AP Euro) curriculum delves into a crucial period in European history. This chapter covers the period from 1850 to 1914, which witnessed significant political, social, and economic transformations. In this article, we will explore the key topics covered in AP Euro Chapter 21 and gain a deeper understanding of the events and ideas that shaped Europe during this time.

The Rise of Nationalism

Nationalist Movements

During the mid-19th century, nationalist movements emerged across Europe, driven by the desire for self-determination and the establishment of independent nation-states. These movements challenged the existing political order and sought to unite people based on shared language, culture, and history.

Unification of Italy

One of the most significant nationalist movements was the unification of Italy, led by figures like Giuseppe Garibaldi and Count Camillo di Cavour. Through a series of military campaigns and diplomatic maneuvers, Italy was finally united under the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

Unification of Germany

In parallel, Germany also experienced a process of unification, spearheaded by Otto von Bismarck. Bismarck skillfully used realpolitik and military force to consolidate various German states into the German Empire, proclaimed in 1871.

Effects of Nationalism

The rise of nationalism had profound consequences for Europe. It led to the redrawing of political boundaries, the formation of new nation-states, and the strengthening of national identities. However, it also fueled rivalries and conflicts, as different national groups clashed over territory and resources.

Imperialism and Global Expansion

European Colonial Empires

The late 19th century saw European powers engage in a race for colonies and territories around the world. Countries like Britain, France, Germany, and Belgium established vast colonial empires in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. This expansion was driven by economic interests, the desire for strategic advantages, and ideas of racial and cultural superiority.

Scramble for Africa

The "Scramble for Africa" refers to the rapid and aggressive partitioning of the African continent by European powers. This process, which took place between 1884 and 1914, resulted in the colonization of almost the entire continent. European powers exploited Africa's resources, imposed their own political systems, and disrupted indigenous societies.

Justifications for Imperialism

European powers justified their imperialism using various ideologies. The concept of "White Man's Burden" argued that Europeans had a civilizing mission to bring progress and development to the so-called "backward" societies. Social Darwinism, on the other hand, asserted that European dominance was a result of natural selection and survival of the fittest.

Resistance to Imperialism

Not all societies passively accepted European domination. Resistance movements, led by figures like Samori Touré in West Africa and Mahatma Gandhi in India, emerged to challenge colonial rule. These movements fought for independence, cultural preservation, and the restoration of sovereignty.

The Industrial Revolution

Industrialization in Europe

The Industrial Revolution transformed Europe during this period. New technologies, such as steam power and mechanized production, revolutionized the manufacturing process. Industrialization led to urbanization, the growth of working-class populations, and the rise of capitalist economies.

Social Impact of Industrialization

Industrialization had profound social consequences. It created a stark divide between the wealthy industrialists and the working class, leading to social inequalities, poor working conditions, and labor unrest. The rise of socialism and trade union movements reflected the growing discontent among workers.

Technological Innovations

The Industrial Revolution brought forth a wave of technological innovations. This period saw the development of the telegraph, the expansion of railway networks, the invention of the telephone, and advancements in the fields of medicine and transportation. These innovations revolutionized communication, transportation, and daily life.

Impact on the Environment

The rapid industrialization also had a detrimental impact on the environment. The burning of fossil fuels, the pollution of rivers, and the destruction of natural habitats led to concerns about the long-term sustainability of industrial practices. This period marked the beginning of environmental awareness and the birth of the conservation movement.

The Age of Mass Politics

Political Reforms

During this time, several political reforms were implemented to address the growing demands for democracy and popular participation. Countries like Britain, France, and Germany expanded suffrage rights, introduced social welfare policies, and embraced parliamentary systems. These reforms aimed to incorporate larger segments of society into the political process.

Socialism and Marxism

The rise of industrialization and social inequalities led to the emergence of socialist movements and the popularity of Marxist ideas. Figures like Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels called for the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of a classless society. Socialism gained traction among workers and intellectuals, influencing political movements and labor organizations.

Women's Suffrage Movement

The late 19th and early 20th centuries witnessed the rise of the women's suffrage movement. Activists like Emmeline Pankhurst and Susan B. Anthony fought for women's right to vote and gender equality. The struggle for suffrage reflected broader demands for women's rights and challenged traditional gender roles.

Nationalism and Populism

Nationalism and populism also gained momentum during this period. Leaders like Giuseppe Mazzini and Theodore Herzl advocated for national self-determination and the creation of independent states. Populist movements, characterized by appeals to the common people against elites, emerged in various European countries, reflecting the desire for political change.


AP Euro Chapter 21 encompasses a transformative period in European history, marked by the rise of nationalism, imperialism, industrialization, and mass politics. These developments shaped the political, social, and economic landscape of Europe and laid the groundwork for the conflicts and transformations that would follow in the 20th century. Understanding this chapter is crucial for gaining a comprehensive understanding of European history and its impact on the world.