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Subject History » Military History

Key-Topics nationalism

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631168485.1994.x


This entry only covers the question of nationalism in so far as it relates to military history. At first sight, it may seem that national sentiment gives an added dimension and, often, a greater degree of violence to wars between states. For a French writer, it would have been easier to attempt to define nationalism or patriotism around the year 1880, at a point when a variety of elements and some occasionally contradictory notions were coalescing around the idea that the fatherland had received a bad battering. These ideas had acquired the status of a universally accepted dogma and Maurras was able to speak of ‘Revenge, queen of France’. In current usage, the terms ‘fatherland’ and ‘nation’ are often used interchangeably when referring to the reality of different states as they exist and are recognized by the international community, such as France, for example, even though some of these states may be regarded as heteroclite, if not indeed artificial constructions. Without any further qualification, patriotism and nationalism might simply be taken to mean attachment to the state of which one is a national. Below, we shall examine to what degree these notions actually correspond to cultural or emotional realities. ‘Fatherland’ and ‘nation’ are not, however, synonymous. The word ‘Fatherland’ carries an emotional charge which, beyond the mere sense of the land of one's ancestors, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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