Irredentism refers to political or popular movements whose members claim and seek to occupy (usually on behalf of their nation) territory they consider "lost" (or "unredeemed") to their nation, based on history or legend.[1][2] The scope of this definition is occasionally subject to terminological disputes about underlying claims of expansionism, owing to lack of clarity on the historical bounds of putative nations or peoples.

The 1887 painting La Tache Noire ('The Black Spot') by Albert Bettannier, depicting schoolboys in France being taught about the province of Alsace–Lorraine, which was lost in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War and which is depicted by black colouring on a map of France.

This term also often refers to revanchism, though the difference between these two terms is, according to Merriam-Webster, that the word "irredentism" means the reunion of politically or ethnically displaced territory, along with a population having the same national identity. On the other hand, "revanchism" evolved from the French word "revanche" which means revenge. In the political realm, "revanchism" refers to such a theory that intends to seek revenge for a lost territory.


The word (from Italian irredento for "unredeemed") was coined in Italy from the phrase Italia irredenta ("unredeemed Italy").[3] This originally referred to rule by Austria-Hungary over territories mostly or partly inhabited by ethnic Italians, such as Trentino, Trieste, Gorizia, Istria, Fiume and Dalmatia during the 19th and early 20th centuries.[4] An area liable to be targeted by a claim is sometimes called an "irredenta".[5]

A common way to express a claim to adjacent territories on the grounds of historical or ethnic association is by using the adjective "Greater" as a prefix to the country name e.g. Greater Germanic Reich, Greater Hungary, Greater Serbia, Greater Albania etc. This conveys the concept and image of national territory at its maximum conceivable or claimed extent, with the country "proper" at its core. The use of "Greater" does not always equate, however, to irredentism; an example of such situation is Greater Poland, the region containing the historical nucleus of the Polish statehood, which bears the adjective “Greater” in order to distinguish it from the region of Lesser Poland, and is unrelated to any concept of Polish territorial claims.[citation needed]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kornprobst, Markus (2008). Irredentism in European Politics: Argumentation, Compromise and Norms. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-89558-3.
  2. ^ "Irredentism". Merriam Webster dictionary. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  3. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Irredentists" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 14 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 840.
  4. ^ Bozeman, Adda Bruemmer (1949). Regional Conflicts Around Geneva: An Inquiry Into the Origin, Nature, and Implications of the Neutralized Zone of Savoy and of the Customs-free Zones of Gex and Upper Savoy. Geneva. ISBN 9780804705127.
  5. ^ "Irredenta". Free Dictionary.

Further readingEdit

  • Willard, Charles Arthur (1996). Liberalism and the Problem of Knowledge: A New Rhetoric for Modern Democracy, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-89845-2; OCLC 260223405

External linksEdit