Unification of Germany – Prussia, French Revolution and More

Germany, officially known as the Federal Republic of Germany, is Europe’s second-most populous country after Russia. Germany is well-known for its beer, cathedrals and monuments, automobiles, and free education, among many other things.

Germany was formally unified on January 18, 1871, in the Palace of Versailles in France. The following are some realities that everyone should be aware of:

  • Napoleon Bonaparte acquired almost half of the territory of Prussia (the legal predecessor of the unified German Rhine) in 1806 during the War of the Fourth Coalition.
  • But then, Napoleon was defeated at Leipzig in 1813 and Waterloo in 1815, thereby ending the Rhine Confederation (a league of 16 German states).
  • The German states were dispersed, with Prussia being the largest and most powerful.
  • The French Revolution infused German nationalism, and demands for the German union grew stronger.
  • In 1815, the Austrian and Prussian empires, as well as certain German states, formed the German Confederation. They were unable to operate efficiently due to the revolution in the German states (1830 and 1848 uprising between Austria and Prussia).
  • After 1848, a constituent assembly was organised with the intention of uniting all Germans and seizing power, but the Prussian king refused.

Unification of Germany under Bismarck policy of Blood and Iron:

  • Otto Von Bismarck, Prussia’s military commander, wished to safeguard the aristocracy’s interest and the army’s dominance in governmental affairs. He used the blood and iron policy to compel many German states into unification.

What is the Blood and Iron Policy?

The principle of ‘blood and iron’ suggested being cruel to opponents, wielding a sword, being severe and rigorous, and shedding blood. The policy adopted a violent terrorism strategy against enemies. Bismarck put down various internal revolts and kept the Sultanate safe from external invaders.

To implement the policy:

  • In 1864, he conducted a war against Denmark in collaboration with Austria and conquered the majority of the German confederation’s territory.
  • Then, in 1866, he united with Italy to defeat Austria and expel it from the German Confederation.
  • He founded the North German Confederation in 1867, which unified 22 German states. The Prussian king was declared the state’s head.
  • The France-Prussian War in 1870 resulted in the complete unification of all south German nations, while France was humiliated (via signing the treaty of Versailles in France and taking some part of France).

With the emergence of a large, wealthy, and powerful nation-state in central Europe, the unification of Germany significantly upset the delicate “balance of powers” established by the Congress of Vienna.

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