Background • Four southern states remained independent and not part of the North German Confederation - Hesse-Darmstodt, Bavaria, Wurtemberg and Baden. (See map P64 Cameron). • Bismarck knew that he could not simply annexe these states. • He also knew, however, that a potential threat from France would stir up German nationalism in the southern states and that these states, deprived of Austria, would then look to Prussia as a ‘big brother’.
Secret Alliances • Bismarck engineered secret alliances between Prussia and the four southern states before the Treaty of Prague had been signed at the end of the Austro-Prussian War. • These alliances stated that in the event of war the south German states would fight with Prussia and also place their armies under direct Prussian control.
The Spanish Candidacy • In 1868, Queen Isabella of Spain was deposed and the Spanish parliament sought to appoint a new monarch. • Wilhelm I’s nephew – Leopold Hohenzollern was proposed as a potential candidate by Bismarck. • Bismarck knew that France would not accept this proposal as it would threaten French security, so he hoped to have the proposal approved before the French found out. • The French did find out, however, and were outraged. • See your sheets for an explanation of the Ems telegram and the outbreak of war.
Bismarck was always on the lookout for an opportunity to expand Prussian power and influence. Initially that is what he was attempting to do with the Spanish Candidacy. As the crisis developed, however, it is clear that Bismarck’s aims changed and he planned to exploit the mistakes of the French and anti-French feeling to stir up German nationalism. This would possibly bring the four remaining states into Germany.
Why did the French fight alone? • Once again, Bismarck made sure that his enemy was isolated. • The Austrians were grateful for the lenient Treaty of Prague. • The British were hostile to the French because Bismarck had leaked details of Napoleon’s interest in Belgium. • The Italians were happy with their territorial gains at the end of the Franco Prussian War. They were also hostile to the French because of the presence of a French army in Rome, which was preventing Italian unification.
Why did the Prussians win the war? • The Southern states fought with the North German Confederation, because of Bismarck’s secret alliances. • The German armies mobilised in 18 days and the Germans invaded France, so the French were always fighting a defensive war. • Once again the Prussian military proved to be decisive. The French suffered heavy defeats at Metz and Sedan. Napoleon’s government was overthrown and a republic was declared. • Paris was besieged for several months until the French surrendered in January 1871. • See your sheets for details of the proclamation of the German Empire.
The Treaty of Frankfurt • This was far harsher than the peace treaty with Austria had been. • France was forced to pay an indemnity of £200 million within 4 years. • Territory was annexed, most notably Alsace and Lorraine. • The German army triumphantly marched through Paris.