14.8 Nationalism in Eastern Europe and Russia

In Eastern and Central Europe, the Austrian Hapsburgs and the Ottoman Turks ruled lands that included diverse ethnic groups. During the 1800s, nationalist feelings spread among these subjected people, which contributed to tensions in Europe. Nationalism, which had brought unity to countries like Germany and Italy, would undermine multi-ethnic empires like that of the Austrian Hapsburgs and the Ottoman Turks. Why did nationalism bring new strength to some countries and weaken others?

Illustration of a group of city buildings on fire, while soldiers in the street fire cannon and yell.

Nationalist revolts broke out in 1848 across the multinational Austrian Hapsburg empire. Vienna burns during the fighting in October of that year.


  • Explain how nationalism challenged Austria and the Ottoman Empire.
  • Summarize major obstacles to progress in Russia.
  • Describe the cycle of absolutism, reform, and reaction followed by the tsars.
  • Explain how industrialization contributed to the outbreak of revolution in 1905.

Key Terms

  • Francis Joseph
  • Ferenc Deák
  • Dual Monarchy
  • colossus
  • Alexander II
  • Crimean War
  • emancipation
  • zemstvo
  • pogrom
  • refugee
  • Duma
  • Peter Stolypin

Nationalism Endangers Old Empires

The Lands of the Hapsburg Empire

The Hapsburgs were the oldest ruling house in Europe. In addition to their homeland of Austria, over the centuries they had acquired the territories of Bohemia and Hungary, as well as parts of Romania, Poland, Ukraine, and northern Italy. By the 1800s, ruling such a vast empire made up of many nationalities posed a challenge for the Hapsburg monarchs, especially as the tide of nationalism rose.

Austrian Hapsburgs Face Challenges

Since the Congress of Vienna, the Austrian emperor Francis I and his foreign minister Metternich had upheld conservative goals against liberal forces. “Rule and change nothing,” the emperor told his son. Under Francis and Metternich, newspapers could not even use the word constitution, much less discuss this key demand of liberals. The government also tried to limit industrial development, which would threaten traditional ways of life.

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments