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The Napoleonic era, from 1799 to 1815, saw the rise of a dominant empire that would unite Europe in a paradoxical contrast. The citizens of the conquered continent would at times rally in coalition against an observed threat, parrying the French ruler; alternatively, they would sober under Napoleon’s prolonged control and begin to subscribe to the ruler’s proposed reforms. Thus, all nations would find unity under their self-conceptualization of nationalism, as Bonaparte acted as an outlet for the imbued self-superiority within his French nationals. Nationalism, an idea describing the congruence of ideals within a nation-state and its people, united under a colloquial “common cause,” would enamour much of Europe struggling to find stability under the conquest of the disruptive Napoleonic hegemony. The French, with the “Bourbon monarchy of old,” began to reject Catholic ideals in striding towards solidarity, and served as “bastions of republicanism” throughout a myriad of apprehensive nations that feared the ruthlessness and inevitable reformations of the French. Napoleon’s unrelenting war efforts meant conscription and fear were the basis of his regime. This typically resulted in much resentment in his colonies; peaceful cooperation was a rarity in Napoleon’s era. Yet, when stability was available in the Lower Countries, such as the regions of northern Italy and western Germany, Napoleon’s newfound citizens would generally become infatuated with the granted freedoms under the Napoleonic Code; this ostensible affection, however, was typically instilled by the fear inspired by his ravenous army. Considering the undesired aegis of French rule, certain nations would yearn for self-determination and freedom from Napoleon’s despotic reign, such as what occured in Germany, Prussia, and Spain. Whether it be through the idea of volkstum in the former two or through guerrilla in the latter, the states defied in fervent, unified resistance. Napoleon also unintentionally reinvigorated certain states by establishing a defined border for the Grand Duchy of Warsaw and provided a unifying structure across Europe that would achieve his desired l’agglomeration far after Napoleon he was exiled. The Napoleonic Era saw the rise of a paradoxical nationalism that would be either coerced by the dominant regime or unintentionally inspired through Napoleon’s short-sighted diplomacy; whether it arose due to an abborhence of the French, or a passion for their liberal ideals and vast reforms, nationalism overwhelmed nearly the entirety of Europe during the Napoleonic era. Prior to the conception of Napoleon’s ruthless reign, Germany was partaking in a “cultural renaissance” championed by revolutionary thinkers and artists such as Goethe, Schiller, Herder, Kant, Hegel, and Beethoven. Resentment and anti-Napoleonic nationalism was brewing across Europe due to tax increases in response to the Continental System and British Blockade; these effects were most apparent in a German state where thought-leaders inspired a movement of romanticism centered around volkstum that sought individual morality or “spirit.” J.G. Herder and Rousseau instigated the notion of Romantic nationalism which favored geography as being the natural curator of sovereign nations, implicating a culture and political structure to match. These ideas would be pronounced in Prussia by J.G. Fichte, who stated, “those who speak the same language are joined to each other by a multitude of invisible bonds by nature herself, long before any human art begins. … They belong together and are by nature one and an inseparable whole.” When Napoleon finally collapsed the Holy Roman Empire, and thus the political sphere of influence exerted by the Habsburgs which had divided Germany, it provided Germans both the political reasoning and opportunity for establishing themselves as a unified German state. This collapse of the Empire began with the annexation of the German states west of the Rhine in the 1801 Treaty of Luneville. This allowed for the affected German states to be compensated for prior losses through the sacrifice of certain ecclesiastical states. Napoleon desired to further diminish the pull of the Habsburgs, the current house holding the throne of the Holy Roman Empire, and accomplished this through redrawing the German border to drastically reduce the number of states, instead forming a cluster of satellite states. Finally, the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved after the battle of Austerlitz. Talleyrand, Napoleon’s secondary, endorsed a French-Austrian alliance; instead, Napoleon dominated the Prussians in the 1801 Battle of the Jena. With the victory he reaffirmed his aforementioned destructive economic policies, such as the British Blockade, gave the newly conceived Kingdom of Westphalia to his brother, and urged the German states to join the confederation, to which Saxony readily obliged. Napoleon casually noted that the German states were always “becoming, not being.” The statement’s irony would only be revealed in the 20th century, when a united German force would trample a feeble French state. While the Germans embraced intellectual graces to coalesce under Napoleon’s restructuring, the Spanish turned to uncompromising and dogged war-minded mantra to resist French rule. Their ruthless tactics made them impossible to target, as one Prussian officer phrased: “They had no tangible center which could be attacked.” Spanish liberalism surged in this wave of guerilla warfare during the Spanish War of Independence. Historian José Álvarez Junco defined it as an “ethnic movement” against their non-Spanish counterparts, called afrancesados. The feverish nationalism that overshadowed the nation would inevitably be ratified with constitution of 1812; Austrian deputy Agustín Argüelles presented it and stated “Spaniards, you now have a homeland.” Nationalism is particularly visible within the united battle against an observed threat, but became more prominent in Spain when numerous partidas, or guerrilla bands, refused to reintegrate with the gradually returning Spanish society. An economic recession and a poor harvest had wreaked havoc on the nation and the meager administration present led to intense chaos, chiefly conducted by the partidas.

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