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The Process of Nationbuilding in Medieval Germany. A Brief Overview

By Raphaela Averkorn

Nations and Nationalities in Historical Perspective, edited by Gudmunður Hálfdanarson and Ann Katherine Isaacs (University of Pisa, 2001)

Introduction: It is widely acknowledged that nation-states in the modern sense did not exist in pre-modern times, in our case in the Middle Ages. Many historians see the beginning of the existence of nation-states in the 17th century, after the end of the Thirty Years War whereas others argue that the period of greatest interest is the 19th century, the so-called “age of nationalism”, when nation-states and nations were emerging in a more concrete way and the Europe of the nations was created definitely. But what was the meaning of “nation” in the Middle Ages in Europe? Can the term “nation” be linked to the so-called process of integration of larger groups that built up the medieval regna? Can we detect the beginning of the process of nationbuilding already in the post-Carolingian medieval times and even in Germany? Can we prove the existence of a certain German “identity” in the Middle Ages?