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A Detailed Summary Of The Franco-Prussian War and The Unification Of Germany

Referencing Styles : APA | Pages : 1

The consequences of the Austro – Prussian war in the year 1866, led to annexation of many territories by Prussia and formation of the North German Confederation. This newly acquired power, made the European balance of power unstable, which was set by the Congress of Vienna in the year 1815, after the Napoleonic Wars. The King of France was Napoleon the third. He wanted compensations in Belgium and on the left bank of the river Rhine, to secure the strategic position of France. This demand of Napoleon the third, was turned down by Otto von Bismarck, who was the chancellor of Prussia. Prussia was focused to the south of Germany. There he wanted to incorporate southern German kingdoms, Wurttemberg, Hesse – Darmstadt, Bavaria and Baden, into a united Prussia – dominated Germany. The further alliance of German states would have strengthened the military of Prussia. France strongly opposed this alliance.

Some officials in Prussia thought war against France as vital and unavoidable to arouse German nationalism in all those states. That would help in uniting the empire of Germany. Otto von Bismarck, the chancellor of Prussia knew that France would revolt, as that would provide superiority numerically to Germany. He was sure that France would not get any allies by its side against Germany.

A Prussian prince, Leopold of Hohenzollern – Sigmaringen, was the candidate to the throne of Spain. This was the immediate cause of the war. If there is an alliance between Prussia and Spain, then France would be surrounded by them. France feared encirclement. The candidacy of the prince of Hohenzollern was withdrawn due to the pressure given by French diplomats. Otto van Bismarck provoked the French into declaring war by sending a changed summary of the Ems Dispatch. Ems Dispatch was a telegram sent by Wilhelm the first the King of Prussia to Otto van Bismarck in Berlin, from Kurpark in Ems. The French wanted guarantee by the Prussian king that no member from his family of Hohenzollern would ever be a candidate for the Spanish Throne.

On 13th July 1870, the king of Prussia, Wilhelm the first had a conversation, with the French ambassador, Count Vincent. He was been instructed by his superior, Agenor, the Duc de Gramont, the foreign minister to present the demand of France that the King should guarantee that he would not allow the candidacy of a Hohenzollern prince to the Spanish throne. They had an informal meeting. With the politeness that never let him down, he rejected the idea to bind himself to any course of action in the indefinite future. The secretary of the King, Heinrich Abeken, wrote an account of the meeting and passed it to Otto van Bismarck in Berlin. Benedetti was described by the King as annoyingly persistent. The King gave permission to Bismarck to release an account of the events. Bismarck changed the report and used sharp language. He erased the conciliatory phrases of the King and highlighted the vital issue. The French had made few demands under the fear of war and the King had refused them. It was presented to France in such a way that made impression that King Wilhelm the first had insulted Count Benedetti. The other version which was presented to the Germans was interpreted as the Count insulted the king. Pressurized by the hostile press and public opinion, Napoleon the third wanted war in reply to the diplomatic failure of France to get territory from the Austro – Prussian War. People in the court like Empress Eugenie, wanted a victorious war to resolve growing domestic political problems and to re –establish France as the only leading power in Europe. The leader of the monarchists in Parliament, Adolphe Thiers, spoke for moderation. He argued that France had won the diplomatic battle and there was no reason for war. But the public did not pay attention to him and labeled  him as a traitor and a Prussian. The new Prime Minister, Emile Ollivier, declared that France had done all that it could humanly and honorably do to prevent the war. A crowd of 15000 to 20000 people, carrying flags and patriotic banners, marched through the streets of Paris, demanding war. On 19th July 1870, a declaration of war was sent to the Government of Prussia.

Germany was politically and administratively integrated into one nation on 18th January 1871. This was done in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles in France. All the princes of the German states, except Austria, met together there to declare William the first of Prussia as German Emperor after France was defeated in the Franco- Prussian War. Without any official notice, most of the German speaking nations, through some kind of alliances of both formal and informal started a federated organization of states. The self interest of different groups acted as a barrier for a century of autocratic experimentation. That began from the time of Napoleonic War, which dissolved the Holy Roman Empire in the year of 1806. Then there was rise of nationalism in Germany. The Holy Roman Empire included more than 500 independent states. It was dissolve when Emperor Francis the second resigned during the War of the Third Coalition. There was legal political and administrative disruption when the Empire ended. The population of the German speaking regions of the old Empire had common culture, linguistic and legal tradition added their shared experience in the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. European liberalism offered an intellectual basis for unification by challenging absolutist and dynastic models of social and political organization. Its German manifestation highlighted the importance of education, linguistic and traditional unity of population in a geographic location. In 1818, Prussian Zollverein was created to manage tariffs and economic policies within the boundaries. It was further extended to other states of the German Confederation to reduce competition within and among the states. Development in transportation helped business and provided recreational travel which led to contact among German speakers from the entire Central Europe.

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