Austro-Prussian War
Part of the wars of German unification and the Austria–Prussia rivalry
An oil painting of a battlefield, with several mounted cavalry in black; an indistinct city burning on the horizon.
Battle of Königgrätz, by Georg Bleibtreu. Oil on canvas, 1869
Date14 June – 22 July 1866
(1 month and 8 days)

Prussian-led German states and Italian victory

  • Prussia annexes Hanover, Holstein, Schleswig, Hesse-Kassel, Nassau, Frankfurt and fringe possessions of Bavaria and Hesse-Darmstadt
  • Italy completely annexes Venetia and part of Friuli
  • Belligerents

    Prussian-led German states

    Kingdom of Italy Italy

    Austrian-led German Confederation states

    Commanders and leaders



    Casualties and losses
    • [3]
    •  Prussia: 40,000
      • 11,765 battle deaths
      • c.7,000 disease deaths
      • c.25,000 wounded
      • c. 1,100 missing
      • 910 captured
    •  Italy: 11,197
      • 2,314 battle deaths
      • c. 4,500 wounded
      • 553 missing
      • c.5,000 captured
    • [2]
    •  Austria: 106,796
      • 24,431 battle deaths
      • 19,134 disease deaths
      • c.40,000 wounded
      • 12,365 missing
      • c.40,000 captured
    •  Hanover: c.25,000
      • 3,456 battle deaths
      • c.5,500 wounded
      • 16,263 captured or missing
    •  Bavaria: c.20,000
      • 5,500 battle deaths
      • c.1,200 wounded
      • 1,397 captured or missing
    •  Saxony: 7,000
      • 1,341 battle deaths
      • 4,678 wounded
      • 580 captured or missing
    •  Hesse: 3,500
      • 767 battle deaths
      • 2,321 wounded
      • 546 captured or missing
    •  Württemberg: 2,300
      • 452 battle deaths
      • 1,679 wounded
      • 198 captured or missing
    •  Baden: 500
      • 112 battle deaths
      • c.300 wounded
      • 57 captured or missing

    The Austro-Prussian War, also by many variant names such as Seven Weeks' War, German Civil War, Brothers War or Fraternal War, known in Germany as Deutscher Krieg ("German War"), Deutscher Bruderkrieg (pronounced [ˌdɔʏtʃɐ ˈbʁuːdɐkʁiːk] ; "German war of brothers") and by a variety of other names, was fought in 1866 between the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia, with each also being aided by various allies within the German Confederation. Prussia had also allied with the Kingdom of Italy, linking this conflict to the Third Independence War of Italian unification. The Austro-Prussian War was part of the wider rivalry between Austria and Prussia, and resulted in Prussian dominance over the German states.

    The major result of the war was a shift in power among the German states away from Austrian and towards Prussian hegemony. It resulted in the abolition of the German Confederation and its partial replacement by the unification of all of the northern German states in the North German Confederation that excluded Austria and the other southern German states, a Kleindeutsches Reich. The war also resulted in the Italian annexation of the Austrian realm of Venetia.

    Outbreak of war

    The war erupted as a result of the dispute between Prussia and Austria over the administration of Schleswig-Holstein, which the two of them had conquered from Denmark and agreed to jointly occupy at the end of the Second Schleswig War in 1864. The crisis started on 26 January 1866, when Prussia protested the decision of the Austrian Governor of Holstein to permit the estates of the duchies to call up a united assembly, declaring the Austrian decision a breach of the principle of joint sovereignty. Austria replied on 7 February, asserting that its decision did not infringe on Prussia's rights in the duchies.[4] In March 1866, Austria reinforced its troops along its frontier with Prussia.[4] Prussia responded with a partial mobilization of five divisions on 28 March.[5]

    The Prussian Minister President Otto von Bismarck made an alliance with Italy on 8 April, committing it to the war if Prussia entered one against Austria within three months, which was an obvious incentive for Bismarck to go to war with Austria within three months so that Italy would divert Austrian strength away from Prussia. Austria responded with a mobilization of its Southern Army on the Italian border on 21 April. Italy called for a general mobilization on 26 April and Austria ordered its own general mobilization the next day.[6] Prussia's general mobilization orders were signed in steps on 3, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 12 May.[7]

    When Austria brought the Schleswig-Holstein dispute before the German Diet on 1 June and also decided on 5 June to convene the Diet of Holstein on 11 June, Prussia declared that the Gastein Convention of 14 August 1865 had thereby been nullified and invaded Holstein on 9 June. When the German Diet responded by voting for a partial mobilization against Prussia on 14 June, Bismarck claimed that the German Confederation had ended. The Prussian Army invaded Hanover, Saxony and the Electorate of Hesse on 15 June. Italy declared war on Austria on 20 June.


    See also: Austria-Prussia rivalry

    For several centuries, Central Europe was split into a few large- or medium-sized states and hundreds of tiny entities, which while ostensibly being within the Holy Roman Empire ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor, operated in a largely independent fashion. When an existing Emperor died, seven secular and ecclesiastical princes, each of whom ruled at least one of the states, would elect a new Emperor. Over time the Empire became smaller and by 1789 came to consist of primarily German peoples (aside from Bohemia, Moravia, the southern Netherlands and Slovenia). Aside from five years (1740–1745), the Habsburg family, whose personal territory was Austria, controlled the Emperorship from 1440 to 1806, although it became increasingly ceremonial only as Austria found itself at war at certain times with other states within the Empire, such as Prussia, which in fact defeated Austria during the War of Austrian Succession to seize the province of Silesia in 1742. While Austria was traditionally considered the leader of the German states, Prussia became increasingly powerful and by the late 18th century was ranked as one of the great powers of Europe. Francis II's abolition of the office of Holy Roman Emperor in 1806 also deprived him of his imperial authority over most of German-speaking Europe, though little true authority remained by that time; he did, however, retain firm control of an extensive multi-ethnic empire (most of it outside the previous boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire). After 1815, the German states were once again reorganized into a loose confederation: the German Confederation, under Austrian leadership.[8] Prussia had been contesting Austria's supremacy in Germany since at least 1850, when a war between the two powers had nearly erupted over Prussia's leadership of the Erfurt Union, though at that time Prussia had backed down.


    Map depicting deployment and advance of Austrian (red) and Prussian (green) troops and their allies.
    Depiction of Prussian and Austrian troop movements and maneuvers during the Battle of Königgrätz
    Movements of the Prussian Army near the Main river

    At the time of the war, there was no strong national consciousness in Germany.[9] Michael Hughes notes that in regards to Germany, "nationalism was a minority movement, deeply divided and with only a marginal impact on German political life".[10] German newspapers were almost exclusively concerned with local affairs or their respective state governments, and the individual German states cultivated loyalty towards themselves. While rivalry with France was an important element of German nationalist myth-making, many Germans cooperated with France during the Napoleonic Era, and those who resisted France did not do so out of nationalist sentiment.[11] According to John Breuilly, any sense of a common German identity "was weakly developed and confined to particular groups" and "there was very little demand, certainly at popular level, for unification".[12] The liberal-nationalist concept of a united Germany had also become unpopular following the fall of the Frankfurt Parliament in 1849.[13] One of the strongest social forces in Germany at the time was religion, which provided Germans with common confessional values and identities that transcended national boundaries. This led to a strong confessional rivalry between the southern Catholic and northern Protestant states. Breuilly remarks that the confessional rivalry was so strong that "a Hamburg Lutheran had more in common with a Swedish Lutheran than with an Austrian Catholic".[11] The minor nations of Germany valued their independence and believed that their ability to remain sovereign depended on Austro-Prussian dualism, with neither side allowed to become too powerful. Confessional division also played an important role in German dualism, and there was a strong pressure in Catholic states to support Austria.[14] In the absence of nationalist sentiment, a united German state could only be created through external force.[9] Bismarck recognised this, remarking in 1862 that a united German state could not be forged through "speeches and majority decisions" but only through "blood and iron".[15]


    There are many interpretations of Otto von Bismarck's behaviour before the Austrian-Prussian war, which concentrate mainly on the fact that he had a master plan that resulted in this war, the North German Confederation and the unification of Germany. Bismarck maintained that he orchestrated the conflict in order to bring about the North German Confederation, the Franco-Prussian War and the eventual unification of Germany.[16]

    On 22 February 1866, Count Károlyi, Austrian ambassador in Berlin, sent a dispatch to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Count Alexander Mensdorff-Pouilly. He explained to him that Prussian public opinion had become extremely sensitive about the Duchies issue and that he had no doubt that "this artificial exaggeration of the danger by public opinion formed an essential part of the calculations and actions of Count Bismarck [who considered] the annexation of the Duchies ... a matter of life and death for his political existence [and wished] to make it appear such for Prussia too."[17]

    Possible evidence can be found in Bismarck's orchestration of the Austrian alliance during the Second Schleswig War against Denmark, which can be seen as his diplomatic "masterstroke". Taylor also believes that the alliance was a "test for Austria rather than a trap" and that the goal was not war with Austria, contradicting what Bismarck later gave in his memoirs as his main reason for establishing the alliance. It was in the Prussian interest to gain an alliance with Austria to defeat Denmark and settle the issue of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. The alliance can be regarded as an aid to Prussian expansion, rather than a provocation of war against Austria. Many historians believe that Bismarck was simply a Prussian expansionist, rather than a German nationalist, who sought the unification of Germany. It was at the Gastein Convention that the Austrian alliance was set up to lure Austria into war.[18][page needed]

    The timing of the Prusso-Italian alliance of 8 April 1866 was perfect, because all other European powers were either bound by alliances that forbade them from entering the conflict, or had domestic problems that had priority. The reason why none of the great powers of Europe intervened is listed below:

    Britain: Britain had no stake economically or politically in the war between Prussia and Austria, thus, was not going to intervene.

    Russia: Russia was unlikely to enter on the side of Austria, due to ill will over Austrian support of the anti-Russian alliance during the Crimean War and Prussia had stood by Russia during the January Uprising in Poland, signing the Alvensleben Convention of February 1863 with Russia, whereas Austria had not.[19]

    France: France was also unlikely to enter on the side of Austria, because Bismarck and Napoleon III met in Biarritz and allegedly discussed whether or not France would intervene in a potential Austro-Prussian war. The details of the discussion are unknown but many historians think Bismarck was guaranteed French neutrality in the event of a war. Bismarck was aware of his numerical superiority but still "he was not prepared to advise it immediately even though he gave a favourable account of the international situation".[20]

    When the Prussian victory became clear, France attempted to extract territorial concessions in the Palatinate, Rhenish Hesse and Luxembourg. In his speech to the Reichstag on 2 May 1871, Bismarck said:

    It is known that even on 6 August 1866, I was in the position to observe the French ambassador make his appearance to see me in order, to put it succinctly, to present an ultimatum: to relinquish Mainz, or to expect an immediate declaration of war. Naturally I was not doubtful of the answer for a second. I answered him: "Good, then it's war!" He travelled to Paris with this answer. A few days after one in Paris thought differently, and I was given to understand that this instruction had been torn from Emperor Napoleon during an illness. The further attempts in relation to Luxemburg are known.[21]

    Italy: Italy had already allied itself with Prussia because it wanted Lombardy-Venetia. This meant that Austria would be fighting both Italy and Prussia, without any non-German allies of its own.

    Military factors

    The memorial to the Battery of the dead in Chlum (modern Czech Republic) commemorates some of the heaviest fighting during the Battle of Königgrätz.

    Bismarck may well have been encouraged to go to war by the advantages of the Prussian army against the Austrian Empire. Taylor wrote that Bismarck was reluctant to pursue war as it "deprived him of control and left the decisions to the generals whose ability he distrusted". (The two most important personalities within the Prussian army were the War Minister Albrecht Graf von Roon and Chief of the General Staff Helmuth Graf von Moltke.) Taylor suggested that Bismarck was hoping to force Austrian leaders into concessions in Germany, rather than provoke war. The truth may be more complicated than simply that Bismarck, who famously said that "politics is the art of the possible", initially sought war with Austria or was initially against the idea of going to war with Austria.

    Rival military systems

    In 1862, von Roon had implemented several army reforms that ensured that all Prussian citizens were liable to conscription. Before this date, the size of the army had been fixed by earlier laws that had not taken population growth into account, making conscription inequitable and unpopular for this reason. While some Prussian men remained in the army or the reserves until they were forty years old, about one man in three (or even more in some regions where the population had expanded greatly as a result of industrialisation) was assigned minimal service in the Landwehr, the home guard.[22]

    Introducing universal conscription for three years increased the size of the active duty army and provided Prussia with a reserve army equal in size to that which Moltke deployed against Austria. Had France under Napoleon III attempted to intervene against the Prussians, they could have faced him with equal or superior numbers of troops.[23]

    Prussian conscript service was one of continuous training and drill, in contrast to the Austrian army where some commanders routinely dismissed infantry conscripts to their homes on permanent leave soon after their induction into the army, retaining only a cadre of long-term soldiers for formal parades and routine duties.[24] Austrian conscripts had to be trained almost from scratch when they were recalled to their units on the outbreak of war. The Prussian army was thus better trained and disciplined than the Austrian army, particularly in the infantry. While Austrian cavalry and artillery were as well trained as their Prussian counterparts, with Austria possessing two elite divisions of heavy cavalry, weapons and tactics had advanced since the Napoleonic Wars and cavalry charges had been rendered obsolete.[citation needed]

    Speed of mobilization

    Prussian Prince Friedrich Karl is cheered on by his troops.

    The Prussian army was locally based, organized in Kreise (military districts, lit.: circles), each containing a Korps headquarters and its component units. Most reservists lived close to their regimental depots and could be swiftly mobilized. Austrian policy was to ensure that units were stationed far from home to prevent them from taking part in separatist revolts. Conscripts on leave or reservists recalled to their units during mobilization faced a journey that might take weeks before they could report to their units, making the Austrian mobilization much slower than that of the Prussian Army.

    Speed of concentration

    The railway system of Prussia was more extensively developed than that within Austria. Railways made it possible to supply larger numbers of troops than hitherto and allowed the rapid movement of troops within friendly territory. The more efficient Prussian rail network allowed the Prussian army to concentrate more rapidly than the Austrians. Moltke, reviewing his plans to Roon stated, "We have the inestimable advantage of being able to carry our Field Army of 285,000 men over five railway lines and of virtually concentrating them in twenty-five days. ... Austria has only one railway line and it will take her forty-five days to assemble 200,000 men."[25] Moltke had also said earlier, "Nothing could be more welcome to us than to have now the war that we must have."

    The Austrian army under Ludwig von Benedek in Bohemia (the present-day Czech Republic) might previously have been expected to enjoy the advantage of the "central position", by being able to concentrate on successive attacking armies strung out along the frontier, but the quicker Prussian concentration nullified this advantage. By the time the Austrians were fully assembled, they would be unable to concentrate against one Prussian army without having the other two instantly attack their flank and rear, threatening their lines of communication.

    Armaments and tactics

    The Prussian Dreyse needle gun

    Prussian infantry were equipped with the Dreyse needle gun, a bolt-action rifle which could be fired faster than the muzzle-loading Lorenz rifles of the Austrian army. In the Franco-Austrian War of 1859, French troops took advantage of poorly trained enemies who did not readjust their gunsights as they got closer – thus firing too high at close range. By rapidly closing the range, French troops came to close quarters with an advantage over the Austrian infantry. After the war, the Austrians adopted the same methods, which they termed the Stoßtaktik ("shock tactics"). Although they had some warnings of the Prussian weapon, they ignored these and retained Stoßtaktik.

    The Austrians were equipped with breech-loading rifled cannon, which was superior to the Prussian muzzle loading smooth bore cannon. The Austrian Artillery used a unique rifling system invented by Wilhelm Lenk von Wolfsberg called the Lenk system. The Prussians, however, by this point had replaced up to 60% of their smooth bore artillery with the technologically superior C64 (field gun), which had been in production since 1859. However, due to tactical reluctance on the part of Prussian high command to utilise relatively unfamiliar technology, and doctrinal stagnation in the Artillery Corps, the modern Krupp guns were either sent to reserve units or used in tandem and to the same effect as their smooth bore counterparts, something that massively throttled their effectiveness in the war, and many of the guns that saw combat were the old smooth bore muzzle loaders. The Austrians too, while having standardised the Lenk system of rifling in their cannon, did not use their artillery to full effect. They specifically targeted the Prussian artillery with their own batteries, limiting their impact on the battlefield in regards to Prussian infantry. One notable exception is the use of Austrian artillery to good effect against infantry at Battle of Königgrätz.[26]

    The Generals of the Prussian army realized that, in order to stay ahead of their Austrian enemies, they needed to explore new military tactics. They sent officers to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to go and observe the American Civil War. These officers met with high ranking commanders and recorded both Union and Confederate tactics. They wrote about troop movements, artillery positioning, and new methods of attack that worked well for the Americans. These officers then travelled back to Prussia and briefed their generals about these observations. Some officers, such as Justus Scheibert, published their adventures in America for the public to enjoy.

    Economic factors

    The Battle of Königgrätz

    In 1866, the Prussian economy was rapidly growing, partly as a result of the Zollverein, which gave Prussia an advantage in the war. Prussia could equip its armies with breech-loading rifles and later with new Krupp breech-loading artillery but the Austrian economy was suffering from the effects of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 and the Second Italian War of Independence. Austria had only one bank,[citation needed] the Creditanstalt, and the state was heavily in debt. Historian Christopher Clark wrote that there is little to suggest that Prussia had an overwhelming economic and industrial advantage over Austria and wrote that a larger portion of the Prussian population was engaged in agriculture than in the Austrian population and that Austrian industry could produce the most sophisticated weapons in the war (rifled artillery). The Austro-Prussian War ended quickly and was fought mainly with existing weapons and munitions, which reduced the influence of economic and industrial power relative to politics and military culture.[27]


    Prussian artillery at the Battle of Langensalza. Oil painting by Georg von Boddien

    Before the war started, both the Austrian and Prussian governments sought to rally allies in Germany. On 15 June Bismarck offered territorial compensation in the Grand Duchy of Hesse to the Electorate of Hesse, if Elector Frederick William were to ally with Prussia. The proposition grievously offended Frederick William's "legitimist sensibilities" and the monarch joined the Austrians, despite the Hessian Landtag voting for neutrality.[28] King George V of Hanover during the spring of 1866 was contacted by Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph about establishing a coalition against the Prussians, but his success took some time. The Hanoverian monarch concluded that his kingdom would fall if it were to fight against the Prussian armies.[28]

    Most of the southern German states sided with Austria against Prussia. Those that sided with Austria included the Kingdoms of Bavaria and Württemberg. Smaller middle states such as Baden, Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel), Hesse-Darmstadt, and Nassau also joined with Austria. Many of the German princes allied with the Habsburgs principally out of a desire to keep their thrones.[28]

    Most of the northern German states joined Prussia, in particular Oldenburg, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and Brunswick. The Kingdom of Italy participated in the war with Prussia, because Austria held Venetia and other, smaller territories wanted by Italy to further the process of Italian unification. In return for Italian aid against Austria, Bismarck agreed not to make a separate peace until Italy had obtained Venetia.

    Notably, the other foreign powers abstained from this war. French Emperor Napoleon III, who expected a Prussian defeat, chose to remain out of the war to strengthen his negotiating position for territory along the Rhine, while the Russian Empire still bore a grudge against Austria from the Crimean War.

    Alliances of the Austro-Prussian War, 1866
    Map of alliances in the Austro-Prussian War
    Kingdom of Prussia Kingdom of Prussia Austrian Empire Austrian Empire Neutral/passive
    Disputed Territory

    Course of the war

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    Cavalry clash at the Battle of Nachod

    The first war between two major continental powers in seven years, it used many of the same technologies as the Second Italian War of Independence, including railways to concentrate troops during mobilization and telegraphy to enhance long-distance communication. The Prussian Army used von Dreyse's breech-loading needle gun, which could be rapidly loaded while the soldier was seeking cover on the ground, whereas the Austrian muzzle-loading rifles could be loaded only slowly, and generally from a standing position.

    The main campaign of the war occurred in Bohemia. Prussian Chief of General Staff Helmuth von Moltke had planned meticulously for the war. He rapidly mobilized the Prussian army and advanced across the border into Saxony and Bohemia, where the Austrian army was concentrating for an invasion of Silesia. There, the Prussian armies, led nominally by King William I, converged, and the two sides met at the Battle of Königgrätz (Hradec Králové) on 3 July. The Prussian Army of the Elbe advanced on the Austrian left wing, and the First Army on the center, prematurely; they risked being counter-flanked on their own left. Victory therefore depended on the timely arrival of the Second Army on the left wing. This was achieved through the brilliant work of its Chief of Staff, Leonhard Graf von Blumenthal. Superior Prussian organization and élan decided the battle against Austrian numerical superiority, and the victory was near total, with Austrian battle deaths nearly seven times the Prussian figure. An armistice between Prussia and Austria came into effect at noon on 22 July.[29] A preliminary peace was signed on 26 July at Nikolsburg.[30]

    Austrian victory at the naval Battle of Lissa

    Except for Saxony, the other German states allied to Austria played little role in the main campaign. Hanover's army defeated Prussia at the Second Battle of Langensalza on 27 June 1866, but, within a few days, they were forced to surrender by superior numbers. Prussian armies fought against Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden and the Hessian states on the river Main, reaching Nuremberg and Frankfurt. The Bavarian fortress of Würzburg was shelled by Prussian artillery, but the garrison defended its position until armistice day.

    The Austrians were more successful in their war with Italy, defeating the Italians on land at the Battle of Custoza (24 June), and on sea at the Battle of Lissa (20 July). However, Italy's "Hunters of the Alps" led by Garibaldi defeated the Austrians at the Battle of Bezzecca on 21 July, conquered the lower part of Trentino, and moved towards Trento. The Prussian peace with Austria forced the Italian government to seek an armistice with Austria on 12 August. According to the Treaty of Vienna, signed on 12 October, Austria ceded Veneto to France, which, in turn, ceded it to Italy.

    Major battles

    Austrian uhlans under Colonel Rodakowski attack Italian Bersaglieri during the Battle of Custoza

    Aftermath and consequences

    Reception of Prussian troops in Berlin on 21 September 1866
    Map of Europe in 1867

    In order to prevent "unnecessary bitterness of feeling or desire for revenge" and forestall intervention by France or Russia, Bismarck pushed King William I of Prussia to make peace with the Austrians rapidly, rather than continue the war in hopes of further gains.[31] William had "planned to install both the crown prince of Hanover and the nephew of the elector of Hesse as titular grand dukes in small territorial residuals of their dynastic inheritance" due to opposition in the government cabinet, including Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia, to the annexation of several German states.[28] The Austrians accepted mediation from France's Napoleon III. The Peace of Prague on 23 August 1866 resulted in the dissolution of the German Confederation, Prussian annexation of four of Austria's former allies, and the permanent exclusion of Austria from German affairs. This left Prussia free to form the North German Confederation the next year, incorporating all the German states north of the Main River. Prussia chose not to seek Austrian territory for itself, and this made it possible for Prussia and Austria to ally in the future, since Austria felt threatened more by Italian and Pan-Slavic irredentism than by Prussia. The war left Prussia dominant in German politics (since Austria was now excluded from Germany and no longer the top German power). The northern states protested against their annexation to Prussia, and both the dethroned rulers and the local population lamented the loss of their nation's sovereignty.[32]

    Local resistance and regional loyalty led Hans von Hardenberg, the civil commissioner who oversaw the integration of Hanover into Prussia, to remark that "As a whole the Hanoverians are a tougher, less accommodating tribe than the Saxons. Their particularism rests not solely on Prussophobia .. . but above all on a deep-rooted conviction that life is nowhere better than in Hanover. Theirs is a solid ... national feeling".[32] The protests of George V of Hanover and the local population proved to be an effective obstacle to Hanover's assimilation into Prussia, and led to the founding of the German-Hanoverian Party, which received 46.6% of the Hanoverian vote in the March 1871 Reichstag election.[33] Hostility to annexation was also felt in smaller annexed kingdoms such as Hesse, where the dethroned Prince Frederick William of Hesse-Kassel strongly condemned "the usurpation of the Electorate of Hesse by the crown of Prussia".[34] Anti-annexationist petitions were organised and reached a significant number of signatures, with a separatist petition in Hanover reaching half a million signatures.[35] In Nassau, Prussian soldiers were reportedly attacked by locals "with stones and axes"; according to Jasper Heinzen, "brawls between occupation troops and local veterans soon became so prevalent that one historian has called these incidents the most distinctive inaugural feature of the Prussian era".[36]

    Anti-Prussian and separatist sentiment in newly annexed kingdoms continued into 1871, as local Prussian authorities complained about "a not insignificant number" of deserters from Hanover and Schleswig, and the population reacted to the Franco-Prussian War with "recurrent acts of sabotage on telegraph lines, latent French sympathies, and a widespread disinterest in the establishment of armed home guards".[37] Nevertheless, the formed North German Confederation would go on to win the war and annex Bavaria, Baden and Württemberg in 1871. According to Geoffrey Wawro, the political and military power accumulated by Prussia allowed it to annex the northern German states in 1866 and then "force the Catholic states very much against their will into a federal union" in 1871.[38] The resulting German Empire would become one of the most influential European powers.

    For the defeated parties and Schleswig-Holstein

    In addition to war reparations, the following territorial changes took place:

    For the neutral parties and Liechtenstein

    The North German Confederation (red), the South German states (golden) and the exposed Alsace-Lorraine (paler) after the war

    The war meant the end of the German Confederation. Those states who remained neutral or passive during the conflict took different actions after the Prague treaty:

    Austrian desire for revenge

    The Austrian Chancellor Count Friedrich Ferdinand von Beust was "impatient to take his revenge on Bismarck for Sadowa". As a preliminary step, the Ausgleich with Hungary was "rapidly concluded". Beust "persuaded Francis Joseph to accept Magyar demands which he had until then rejected",[41] but Austrian plans fell short of French hopes (e.g. Archduke Albrecht, Duke of Teschen proposed a plan which required the French army to fight alone for six weeks in order to allow Austrian mobilisation).[42] Victor Emmanuel II and the Italian government wanted to join this potential alliance, but Italian public opinion was bitterly opposed so long as Napoleon III kept a French garrison in Rome protecting Pope Pius IX, thereby denying Italy the possession of its capital (Rome had been declared capital of Italy in March 1861, when the first Italian Parliament had met in Turin). Napoleon III was not strictly opposed to this (in response to a French minister of State's declaration that Italy would never lay its hands on Rome, the Emperor had commented "You know, in politics, one should never say 'never'."[43]) and had made various proposals for resolving the Roman Question, but Pius IX rejected them all. Despite his support for Italian unification, Napoleon could not press the issue for fear of angering Catholics in France. Raffaele de Cesare, an Italian journalist, political scientist, and author, noted that:

    The alliance, proposed two years before 1870, between France, Italy, and Austria, was never concluded because Napoleon III ... would never consent to the occupation of Rome by Italy. ... He wished Austria to avenge Sadowa, either by taking part in a military action, or by preventing South Germany from making common cause with Prussia. ... If he could ensure, through Austrian aid, the neutrality of the South German States in a war against Prussia, he considered himself sure of defeating the Prussian army, and thus would remain arbiter of the European situation. But when the war suddenly broke out, before anything was concluded, the first unexpected French defeats overthrew all previsions, and raised difficulties for Austria and Italy which prevented them from making common cause with France. Wörth and Sedan followed each other too closely. The Roman question was the stone tied to Napoleon's feet—that dragged him into the abyss. He never forgot, even in August 1870, a month before Sedan, that he was a sovereign of a Catholic country, that he had been made Emperor, and was supported by the votes of the conservatives and the influence of the clergy; and that it was his supreme duty not to abandon the Pontiff. ... For twenty years Napoleon III had been the true sovereign of Rome, where he had many friends and relations ... Without him the temporal power would never have been reconstituted, nor, being reconstituted, would have endured.[44]

    Another reason that Beust's supposedly desired revanche against Prussia did not materialize is seen in the fact that, in 1870, the Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Andrássy was "vigorously opposed".[45]

    See also


    1. ^ Clodfelter 2017, p. 182.
    2. ^ a b Clodfelter 2017, p. 183.
    3. ^ Clodfelter 2017, pp. 183–184.
    4. ^ a b Prussian General Staff 1872, p. 4.
    5. ^ Prussian General Staff 1872, p. 5.
    6. ^ Prussian General Staff 1872, p. 7.
    7. ^ Prussian General Staff 1872, p. 12.
    8. ^ Wawro 2003, p. 16.
    9. ^ a b Stoetzler, Marcel (2003) Liberalism, nationalism and anti-semitism in the 'Berlin anti-semitism dispute' of 1879/1880. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. p. 47
    10. ^ Michael Hughes (1988). Nationalism and society, Germany 1800–1945. London: Hodder Arnold. p. 106. ISBN 0713165227.
    11. ^ a b John Breuilly (1996). The Formation of the First German Nation-State, 1800–1871. Red Globe Press. pp. 24–25. ISBN 0333527186.
    12. ^ John Breuilly (1996). The Formation of the First German Nation-State, 1800–1871. Red Globe Press. pp. 10, 24. ISBN 0333527186.
    13. ^ Bodie A. Ashton (2017). The Kingdom of Württemberg and the Making of Germany, 1815–1871. Bloomsbury 3PL. p. 183. ISBN 978-1350000070.
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