Nationalizing Anthems


Like flags, songs have long been associated with different countries and their traditions. At the end of the eighteenth century, melodies and songs became anthems, which served to establish and express loyalty to monarchs and dynasties. These songs became increasingly “national” in character, reflecting both the influence of the French Revolution and the spirit of nationalism. This multiplicity is expressed, for example, in the various uses of the melody to Britain’s “God Save the King/Queen.” But anthems achieve impact when they appeal to different constituencies, all of whom interpret the anthem in their own way. In the German-speaking lands, anthems had to navigate evolving ideas about political Germanness; they were used to drum up support for the Hohenzollerns and Habsburgs, to emphasize liberal democratic ideas, to express feelings of national superiority or a desire for national independence, and finally to demonstrate support for socialism.


  1. < The Rhine before and after 1800: From Common Border Region to Symbol of National Difference
  2. Being Prussian-German after 1800: Christian Men Fighting for the Nation >