Politically speaking, nationalism is the master-idea of the last century and a half. Its first great triumps came in Europe. Between 1815 , when the Congress of Vienna resettled the European system, and 1919, when the Peace Conference of Paris tried to do so again, the map of Europe was so redrawn that from end to end, the continent was formally organised as a collection of nation-states. Not all of them were viable; some where to prove inadequate solutions to the problems nationality posed. 1939 was to bring a new war - by 1919 the national principal had triumphed in Europe. Greece had been the first ‘new nation’ to emerge (from Ottoman Europe) after 1815. Belgium separated itself from the Netherlands in 1830. Italy completed its national unification in 1870, and Germany the following year. By then, Romania had emerged as an autonomous entity within the Ottoman empire: by 1914, Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria had all come into being. By then, too, Norway had separated herself from Sweden. The first great war was meant to be the final settlement. Poland rose from the tomb of the eighteenth-century partitions; Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Austria and Hungary purported to provide a national structure amid the chaos left by the disappearance of the Habsburg and Ottoman empires. From the Tsarist empire there broke away Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania (and, for a time, it seemed likely that there would be others). The patchwork Europe which resulted was studded with irredentist enclaves, areas of mixed population, potential trouble for the future. Nevertheless, formal nationalism had triumphed. It had replaced dynasticism as the organising principle of the European system.
Roberts, J. M. 1985. The Triumph Of The West.
p. 289. London: British Broadcasting Corporation.