Nationalism was an important factor in the history of 19th century Europe. During this time period, a wave of what was known as “romantic nationalism” swept over the continent, transforming the map of Europe and the borders of many different countries. New countries formed, such as Germany and Italy, because of the common national identity of the inhabitants of the smaller nations that formed them. Others, like Greece and Bulgaria, were formed when they won their independence from protracted struggles with other empires.
Multinational empires fell to pieces all over Europe and were soon replaced by modern nation-states. Monarchies were reduced to dust as ideas of republicanism and liberal intellectualism spread across Europe, popularizing ideas such as democracy.
German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel argued that nationality was the cement that held the modern nation together in an age where religious and dynastic rule was declining. As the church and nobility lost power, something had to replace them, and that something was nationalism. It helped cement the loyalty of Europeans by focusing on regional similarities and patriotism.