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Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg (1 April 1815 – 30 July 1898), simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was aPrussian-German statesman who unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept the world at peace after 1871.Sony VAIO VGN-NS50B/W Battery

As Minister President of Prussia from 1862–1890, he oversaw the unification of Germany. In 1867 he became Chancellor of the North German Confederation. Bismarck designed the German Empire in 1871, becoming its first Chancellor and dominating its affairs until he was removed by Kaiser (Emperor) Wilhelm II in 1890. Sony VAIO VGN-NS51B/L Battery

His diplomacy of Realpolitik and powerful rule gained him the nickname the "Iron Chancellor". As Henry Kissinger has noted, "The man of 'blood and iron' wrote prose of extraordinary directness and lucidity, comparable in distinctiveness to Churchill's use of the English language."Sony VAIO VGN-NS51B/P Battery

As the leader of what historians call "revolutionary conservatism" Bismarck became a hero to German nationalists; they built hundreds of monuments glorifying the symbol of powerful personal leadership. Historians praised him as a statesman of moderation and balance who was primarily responsible for the unification of the German states into a nation-state.Sony VAIO VGN-NS51B/W Battery

He used balance-of-power diplomacy to keep Europe peaceful in the 1870s and 1880s. He created a new nation with a progressive social policy, a result that went beyond his initial goals as a practitioner of power politics in Prussia. Bismarck, a devoutLutheran who was loyal to his king (who in turn gave Bismarck his full support), Sony VAIO VGN-NS52JB/L Battery

promoted government through a strong, well-trained bureaucracy with most decisions in the hands of a Junker elite representing the rural aristocracy in the east.

Bismarck had recognized early in his political career that the opportunities for national unification would exist and he worked successfully to provide a Prussian structure to the nation as a whole.Sony VAIO VGN-NS52JB/P Battery

While the new nation had universal male suffrage, the elected officials did not have full control of the government. His anti-Catholic and anti-Socialist programs in the 1870s and 1880s left a devastating legacy of distrust and fragmentation in German political culture.Sony VAIO VGN-NS52JB/W Battery

Early years

Bismarck was born in Schönhausen, a wealthy family estate situated west of Berlin in the Prussian Province of Saxony. His father, Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand von Bismarck (Schönhausen, 13 November 1771 – 22 November 1845), was a Junker estate owner and a former Prussian military officer;Sony VAIO VGN-NS70B/W Battery

his mother, Wilhelmine Luise Mencken (Potsdam, 24 February 1789 – Berlin), the well-educated daughter of a senior government official in Berlin. A. J. P. Taylor later remarked on the importance of this dual heritage: although Bismarck physically resembled his father, Sony VAIO VGN-NS71B/W Battery

and appeared as a Prussian Junker to the outside world—an image which he often encouraged by wearing military uniform, even though he was not a regular officer—he was also more cosmopolitan and highly educated than was normal for men of such background.Sony VAIO VGN-NS72JB/W Battery

Bismarck spoke and wrote English,[5] French,[5] and Russian[6] fluently, and as a young man he would often quote William Shakespeare or Lord Byron in letters to his wife.Sony VAIO VGN-NS90HS Battery

Bismarck was educated at Johann Ernst Plamann's elementary school,[7] and the Friedrich-Wilhelm and Graues Kloster secondary schools. From 1832 to 1833 he studied law at the University of Göttingen where he was a member of the Corps Hannovera before enrolling at the University of Berlin (1833–35).Sony VAIO VGN-NS92JS Battery

Whilst at Göttingen, Bismarck became friends with the American student John Lothrop Motley. Motley later became an eminent historian and diplomat, and one of Bismarcks closest friends, and also wrote a poorly received novel, Morton's Hope, or the Memoirs of a Provincial (published in 1839), about life in a German university. Sony VAIO VGN-NS92XS Battery

In this work he described Bismarck, "thinly disguised as Otto von Rabenmarck", as a reckless and dashing eccentric, but also as an extremely gifted and charming young man. 

Although Bismarck hoped to become a diplomat, he started his practical training as a lawyer in Aachen and Potsdam, and soon resigned, Sony VAIO VGN-NW11S/S Battery

having first placed his career in jeopardy by taking unauthorized leave to pursue two English girls, first Laura Russell, niece of the Duke of Cleveland, and then Isabella Loraine-Smith, daughter of a wealthy clergyman. He did not succeed in marrying either.Sony VAIO VGN-NW11S/T Battery

He also served in the army for a year and became an officer in the Landwehr (reserve), before returning to run the family estates at Schönhausen on his mother's death in his mid-twenties.

Around the age of thirty Bismarck had an intense friendship with Marie von Thadden, newly married to a friend of his. Sony VAIO VGN-NW11Z/S Battery

Under her influence, he became a PietistLutheran, and later recorded that at Marie's deathbed (from typhoid) he prayed for the first time since his childhood. Bismarck married Marie's cousin, the noblewomanJohanna von Puttkamer (Reinfeld, 11 April 1824 – Varzin, 27 November 1894) at Alt-Kolziglow (modern Ko?czyg?owy) on 28 July 1847.Sony VAIO VGN-NW11Z/T Battery

Their long and happy marriage produced three children, Herbert (b. 1849), Wilhelm (b. 1852) and Marie (b. 1847). Johanna was a shy, retiring and deeply religious woman—although famed for her sharp tongue in later life—and in his public life Bismarck was sometimes accompanied by his sister Malwine ("Malle") von Arnim.Sony VAIO VGN-NW21EF/S Battery

Early political career

In the year of his marriage, 1847, at age 32, Bismarck was chosen as a representative to the newly created Prussian legislature, the Vereinigter Landtag. There, he gained a reputation as a royalist and reactionary politician with a gift for stinging rhetoric; he openly advocated the idea that the monarch had a divine right to rule.Sony VAIO VGN-NW21JF Battery

His selection was arranged by the Gerlach brothers, who were also Pietist Lutherans and whose ultra-conservative faction was known as the "Kreuzzeitung" after their newspaper, which featured an Iron Cross on its cover.

In March 1848, Prussia faced a revolution (one of the revolutions of 1848 in various European nations), which completely overwhelmed King Frederick William IV. Sony VAIO VGN-NW21MF Battery

The monarch, though initially inclined to use armed forces to suppress the rebellion, ultimately declined to leave Berlin for the safety of military headquarters at Potsdam (Bismarck later recorded that there had been a "rattling of sabres in their scabbards" from Prussian officers when they learned that the King would not suppress the revolution by force). Sony VAIO VGN-NW21MF/W Battery

He offered numerous concessions to the liberals: he wore the black-red-and-gold revolutionary colors (as seen on the flag of today's democratic Germany), promised to promulgate a constitution, agreed that Prussia and other states should merge into a single nation, and appointed a liberal, Ludolf Camphausen, as Minister-President.Sony VAIO VGN-NW21ZF Battery

Bismarck had at first tried to rouse the peasants of his estate into an army to march on Berlin in the King's name. He traveled to Berlin in disguise to offer his services, but was instead told to make himself useful by arranging food supplies for the Army from his estates in case they were needed.Sony VAIO VGN-NW31EF/W Battery

The King's brother Prince William (the future King and Emperor William I) had fled to England, and Bismarck intrigued with William's wife Augusta to place their teenage son (the future Frederick III) on the Prussian throne in King Frederick William IV's place—Augusta would have none of it,Sony VAIO VGN-NW31JF Battery

and detested Bismarck thereafter, although Bismarck did later help to restore a working relationship between the King and his brother, who were on poor terms. Bismarck was not yet a member of theLandtag—the lower house of the new Prussian legislature. The liberal victory perished by the end of 1848; Sony VAIO VGN-NW320F/B Battery

the movement became weak due to internal fighting, while the conservatives regrouped, formed an inner group of advisers—including the Gerlach brothers—known as the "Camarilla" around the King, and retook control of Berlin. Although a constitution was granted, its provisions fell far short of the demands of the revolutionaries.Sony VAIO VGN-NW320F/TC Battery

In 1849, Bismarck was elected to the Landtag. At this stage in his career, he opposed the unification of Germany, arguing that Prussia would lose its independence in the process. He accepted his appointment as one of Prussia's representatives at the Erfurt Parliament, an assembly of German states that met to discuss plans for union, but only in order to oppose that body's proposals more effectively.Sony VAIO VGN-NW35E Battery

The Parliament failed to bring about unification, for it lacked the support of the two most important German states, Prussia and Austria. In 1850, after a dispute over Hesse, Prussia was humiliated and forced to back down by Austria (supported by Russia) in the so-called Punctation of Olmütz;Sony VAIO VGN-NW380F/S Battery

a plan for the unification of Germany under Prussian leadership, proposed by Prussia's Prime Minister Radowitz, was also abandoned.

In 1851, Frederick William appointed Bismarck as Prussia's envoy to the Diet of the German Confederation in Frankfurt. Bismarck gave up his elected seat in the Landtag, but was appointed to thePrussian House of Lords a few years later. Sony VAIO VGN-NW380F/T Battery

In Frankfurt he engaged in a battle of wills with the Austrian representative Count Friedrich von Thun und Hohenstein, insisting on being treated as an equal by petty tactics such as insisting on doing the same when Thun claimed the privileges of smoking and removing his jacket in meetings.Sony VAIO VGN-NW50JB Battery

This episode was the background for an altercation in the Frankfurt chamber with Georg von Vincke which lead to a duel between Bismarck and Vincke and Carl von Bodelschwingh as impartial party, which ended without injury.

Bismarck's eight years in Frankfurt were marked by changes in his political opinions, detailed in the numerous lengthy memoranda which he sent to his ministerial superiors in Berlin. Sony VAIO VGN-NW51FB/N Battery

No longer under the influence of his ultraconservative Prussian friends, Bismarck became less reactionary and more pragmatic. He became convinced that in order to countervail Austria's newly restored influence, Prussia would have to ally herself with other German states. Sony VAIO VGN-NW51FB/W Battery

As a result, he grew to be more accepting of the notion of a united German nation. Bismarck also worked to maintain the friendship of Russia and a working relationship with Napoleon III's France—the latter being anathema to his conservative friends the Gerlachs, but necessary both to threaten Austria and to prevent France allying herself to Russia.Sony VAIO VGN-NW70JB Battery

In a famous letter to Leopold von Gerlach, Bismarck wrote that it was foolish to play chess having first put 16 of the 64 squares out-of-bounds. This observation was ironic as after 1871 France would indeed become Germany's permanent enemy and would indeed eventually ally with Russia against Germany in the 1890s.Sony VAIO VGN-NW71FB/N Battery

Bismarck was also horrified by Prussia's isolation during the Crimean War of the mid-1850s (in which Austria sided with Britain and France against Russia; Prussia was almost not invited to the peace talks in Paris). In the Eastern crisis of the 1870s, fear of a repetition of this turn of events would later be a factor in Bismarck's signing the Dual Alliance with Austria-Hungary in 1879.Sony VAIO VGN-NW71FB/W Battery

However, in the 1850s Bismarck correctly foresaw that by failing to support Russia (after Russian help in crushing the Hungarian Revolt in 1849, and at Olmütz in 1850, the Austrian leader Schwarzenberg had said that "Austria would astonish the world by the depth of her ingratitude")Sony VAIO VGN-NW91FS Battery

Austria could no longer count on Russian support in Italy and Germany, and had thus exposed herself to attack by France and Prussia.

In 1858, Frederick William IV suffered a stroke that paralyzed and mentally disabled him. His brother, William, took over the government of Prussia as regent.Sony VAIO VGN-NW91GS Battery

At first William was seen as a moderate ruler, whose friendship with liberal Britain was symbolised by the recent marriage of his son (the future Frederick III) to Queen Victoria's eldest daughter; their son (the future Wilhelm II) was born in 1859. As part of William's "New Course" he brought in new ministers, moderate conservatives known as the "Wochenblatt" party after their newspaper.Sony VAIO VGN-NW91VS Battery

Soon the Regent replaced Bismarck as envoy in Frankfurt and made him Prussia's ambassador to the Russian Empire. In theory this was a promotion as Russia was one of the two most powerful neighbors of Prussia (the other was Austria). In reality Bismarck was sidelined from events in Germany, watching impotently as France drove Austria out of Lombardy during the Italian War of 1859.Sony VAIO VGN-SR11M Battery

Bismarck proposed that Prussia should exploit Austria's weakness to move her frontiers "as far south as Lake Constance" on the Swiss border; instead Prussia mobilised troops in the Rhineland to deter further French advances into Venetia. As a further snub, the Regent,Sony VAIO VGN-SR11MR Battery

who scorned Bismarck as a "Landwehrleutnant" (reserve lieutenant), had declined to promote him to the rank of major-general, normal for the ambassador to Saint Petersburg (and important as Prussia and Russia were close military allies, whose heads of state often communicated through military contacts rather than diplomatic channels). Sony VAIO VGN-SR140D Battery

Bismarck stayed in Saint Petersburg for four years, during which he almost lost his leg to botched medical treatment and once again met his future adversary, the Russian Prince Gorchakov, who had been the Russian representative in Frankfurt in the early 1850s.Sony VAIO VGN-SR140D/B Battery

The Regent also appointed Helmuth von Moltke as the new Chief of Staff for the Prussian Army, and Albrecht von Roon as Prussian Minister of War and to the job of reorganizing the army. These three people over the next twelve years transformed Prussia. Bismarck later referred to this period as "the most significant of my life."Sony VAIO VGN-SR140D/P Battery

Despite his lengthy stay abroad, Bismarck was not entirely detached from German domestic affairs. He remained well-informed due to his friendship with Roon, and they formed a lasting political alliance. In 1862 Bismarck was offered a place in the Russian diplomatic service after the Czar misunderstood a comment about his likelihood of missing Saint Petersburg. Sony VAIO VGN-SR140D/S Battery

Bismarck courteously declined the offer. In May 1862, he was sent to Paris, so that he could serve as ambassador to France. He also visited England that summer. These visits enabled him to meet and get the measure of his adversaries Napoleon III,Sony VAIO VGN-SR140E Battery

and the British Prime Minister Palmerston and Foreign Secretary Earl Russell, and also of the British Conservative politician Disraeli, later to be Prime Minister in the 1870s—who later claimed to have said of Bismarck's visit "Be careful of that man—he means every word he says".Sony VAIO VGN-SR140E/B Battery

Ministerpräsident (Prime Minister) of Prussia

The regent became King Wilhelm I upon his brother's death in 1861. The new monarch was often in conflict with the increasingly liberal Prussian Diet. A crisis arose in 1862, when the Diet refused to authorize funding for a proposed re-organization of the army.Sony VAIO VGN-SR140E/P Battery

The King's ministers could not convince legislators to pass the budget, and the King was unwilling to make concessions. Wilhelm threatened to abdicate (though his son was opposed to his abdication) and believed that Bismarck was the only politician capable of handling the crisis. Sony VAIO VGN-SR140E/S Battery

However, Wilhelm was ambivalent about appointing a person who demanded unfettered control over foreign affairs. When, in September 1862, the Abgeordnetenhaus (House of Deputies) overwhelmingly rejected the proposed budget, Wilhelm was persuaded to recall Bismarck to Prussia on the advice of Roon. Sony VAIO VGN-SR140N/S Battery

On 23 September 1862, Wilhelm appointed Bismarck Minister-President and Foreign Minister.[16]

Bismarck, Roon and Moltke took charge at a time when relations among the Great Powers—Great Britain, France, Austria and Russia—had been shattered by theCrimean War of 1854–55 and the Italian War of 1859. Sony VAIO VGN-SR165E/B Battery

In the midst of this disarray, the European balance of power was restructured with the creation of the German Empire as the dominant power in Europe. This was achieved by Bismarck's diplomacy, by Roon's reorganization of the army, and by Moltke's military strategy.Sony VAIO VGN-SR165E/P Battery

Despite the initial distrust of the King and Crown Prince, and the loathing of Queen Augusta, Bismarck soon acquired a powerful hold over the King by force of personality and powers of persuasion. Bismarck was intent on maintaining royal supremacy by ending the budget deadlock in the King's favour, even if he had to use extralegal means to do so.Sony VAIO VGN-SR165E/S Battery

He contended that, since the Constitution did not provide for cases in which legislators failed to approve a budget, he could merely apply the previous year's budget. Thus, on the basis of the budget of 1861, tax collection continued for four years.

Bismarck's conflict with the legislators grew more heated during the following years. Sony VAIO VGN-SR190EBJ Battery

Following the Alvensleben Convention of 1863, the House of Deputies passed a resolution declaring that it could no longer come to terms with Bismarck; in response, the King dissolved the Diet, accusing it of trying to obtain unconstitutional control over the ministry. Bismarck then issued an edict restricting the freedom of the press; Sony VAIO VGN-SR190EBQ Battery

this policy even gained the public opposition of the Crown Prince, Friedrich Wilhelm (the future Emperor Friedrich III). Despite attempts to silence critics, Bismarck remained a largely unpopular politician. His supporters fared poorly in the elections of October 1863, in which a liberal coalition (whose primary member was the Progress Party) won over two-thirds of the seats in the House.Sony VAIO VGN-SR190EEJ/C Battery

The House made repeated calls to the King to dismiss Bismarck, but the King supported him as he feared that if he dismissed Bismarck, a liberal ministry would follow.

Blood and Iron speech

German unification had been one of the major objectives during the widespread revolutions of 1848–49,Sony VAIO VGN-SR190NAB Battery

when representatives of the German states met in Frankfurt and drafted a constitution creating a federal union with a national parliament to be elected by universal male suffrage. In April 1849, the Frankfurt Parliament offered the title of Emperor to the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm IV. Sony VAIO VGN-SR190NBB Battery

The Prussian king, fearing the opposition of the other German princes and the military intervention of Austria and Russia, refused to accept this popular mandate. Thus, the Frankfurt Parliament ended in failure for the German liberals. On September 30, 1862, Bismarck made a speech to the Budget Committee of the Prussian Chamber of Deputies, Sony VAIO VGN-SR190NDB Battery

which included Bismarck's emphasis on using "iron and blood"—that is, military power to achieve his goals.

Prussia must concentrate and maintain its power for the favorable moment which has already slipped by several times. Prussia's boundaries according to the Vienna treaties are not favorable to a healthy state life.Sony VAIO VGN-SR190NEB Battery

The great questions of the time will not be resolved by speeches and majority decisions—that was the great mistake of 1848 and 1849—but by iron and blood.

Defeat of Denmark

Germany prior to the 1860s consisted of a multitude of principalities loosely bound together as members of the German Confederation. Sony VAIO VGN-SR190NGB Battery

Bismarck used both diplomacy and the Prussian military to achieve unification, excluding Austria from unified Germany. Not only did he make Prussia the most powerful and dominant component of the new Germany, but also he ensured that Prussia would remain an authoritarian state, rather than a liberal parliamentary regime.Sony VAIO VGN-SR190PAB Battery

Bismarck faced a diplomatic crisis when Frederick VII of Denmark died in November 1863. Succession to the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein was disputed; they were claimed by Christian IX (Frederick VII's heir as King) and by Frederick von Augustenburg (a German duke). Sony VAIO VGN-SR190PCB Battery

Prussian public opinion strongly favoured Augustenburg's claim, as Holstein and southern Schleswig were (and are) German-speaking. Bismarck took an unpopular step by insisting that the territories legally belonged to the Danish monarch under the London Protocol signed a decade earlier. Sony VAIO VGN-SR190PFB Battery

Nonetheless, Bismarck did denounce Christian's decision to completely annex Schleswig to Denmark. With support from Austria, he issued an ultimatum for Christian IX to return Schleswig to its former status; when Denmark refused, Austria and Prussia invaded, commencing the Second war of Schleswig and Denmark was forced to cede both duchies. Sony VAIO VGN-SR19VN Battery

According to Harold Temperley "Britain was humiliated and left impotent, as it was unwilling to commit ground troops to Denmark and failed to receive support from France".

At first this seemed like a victory for Frederick of Augustenburg, but Bismarck soon removed him from power by making a series of unworkable demands, namely that Prussia should have control over the army and navy of the Duchies. Sony VAIO VGN-SR19VN Battery

Originally, it was proposed that the Diet of the German Confederation (in which all the states of Germany were represented) should determine the fate of the duchies; but before this scheme could be effected, Bismarck induced Austria to agree to the Gastein Convention. Sony VAIO VGN-SR19VRN Battery

Under this agreement signed 20 August 1865, Prussia received Schleswig, while Austria received Holstein. In that year he was made Graf (Count) von Bismarck-Schönhausen.

Defeat of Austria

In 1866, Austria reneged on the prior agreement by demanding that the Diet determine the Schleswig-Holstein issue.Sony VAIO VGN-SR19XN Battery

Bismarck used this as an excuse to start a war with Austria by charging that the Austrians had violated the Convention of Gastein. Bismarck sent Prussian troops to occupy Holstein. Provoked, Austria called for the aid of other German states, who quickly became involved in the Austro-Prussian War. Sony VAIO VGN-SR19XN Battery

With the aid of Albrecht von Roon's army reorganization, the Prussian army was nearly equal in numbers to the Austrian army. With the organizational genius of Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, the Prussian army fought battles it was able to win. Bismarck had also made a secret alliance with Italy, who desired Austrian-controlled Venetia. Sony VAIO VGN-SR210J/S Battery

Italy's entry into the war forced the Austrians to divide their forces.

As the war began, a German radical named Ferdinand Cohen-Blind attempted to assassinate Bismarck in Berlin, shooting him five times at close range. Sony VAIO VGN-SR21M/S Battery

Cohen-Blind was a democrat who hoped that killing Bismarck would prevent a war among the German states. Bismarck survived with only minor injuries. Cohen-Blind committed suicide while in custody.

To the surprise of the rest of Europe, Prussia quickly defeated Austria and its allies, at the Battle of Königgrätz (aka "Battle of Sadowa"). Sony VAIO VGN-SR21RM/H Battery

The King and his generals wanted to push on, conquer Bohemia and march to Vienna, but Bismarck, worried that Prussian military luck might change or that France might intervene on Austria's side, enlisted the help of the Crown Prince (who had opposed the war but had commanded one of the Prussian armies at Sadowa) to change his father's mind after stormy meetings.Sony VAIO VGN-SR21RM/S Battery

As a result of the Peace of Prague (1866), the German Confederation was dissolved; Prussia annexed Schleswig, Holstein, Frankfurt, Hanover, Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel), and Nassau; and Austria promised not to intervene in German affairs.Sony VAIO VGN-SR220J/B Battery

To solidify Prussian hegemony, Prussia and several other North German states joined the North German Confederation in 1867; King Wilhelm I served as its President, and Bismarck as its Chancellor. From this point on begins what historians refer to as "The Misery of Austria", Sony VAIO VGN-SR220J/H Battery

in which Austria served as a mere vassal to the superior Germany, a relationship that was to shape history up to the two World Wars. Bismarck had originally managed to convince smaller states like Saxony, Hesse-Kassel, and Hanover to join Prussia against Austria, after promising them protection from foreign invasion, morale unity, and fair commercial laws.Sony VAIO VGN-SR240J/B Battery

Bismarck, who by now held the rank of major in the Landwehr, wore this uniform during the campaign, and was at last promoted to the rank of major-general in the Landwehr cavalry after the war. Although he never personally commanded troops in the field, he usually wore a general's uniform in public for the rest of his life, as seen in numerous paintings and photographs.Sony VAIO VGN-SR240N/B Battery

He was also given a cash grant by the Prussian Landtag, which he used to buy a new country estate, Varzin, larger than his existing estates combined.

Military success brought Bismarck tremendous political support in Prussia. In the elections to the House of Deputies in 1866, liberals suffered a major defeat, losing their large majority. Sony VAIO VGN-SR290JTH Battery

The new, largely conservative House was on much better terms with Bismarck than previous bodies; at the Minister-President's request, it retroactively approved the budgets of the past four years, which had been implemented without parliamentary consent.Sony VAIO VGN-SR290JTJ Battery

German unification

Following the 1866 war, Prussia annexed the Kingdom of Hanover, which had been allied with Austria against Prussia. An agreement was reached whereby the deposed King George V of Hanover was allowed to keep about 50% of the crown assets. Sony VAIO VGN-SR290JTQ Battery

The rest were deemed to be state assets and were transferred to the national treasury. Subsequently Bismarck accused George of organizing a plot against the state and sequestered his share (16 million thalers) in early 1868. Bismarck used this money to set up a secret fund (the "Reptilienfonds" or Reptiles Fund), which he used to bribe journalists and to discredit his political enemies. Sony VAIO VGN-SR290JVB/C Battery

In 1870 he used some of these funds to win the support of King Ludwig II of Bavaria for making Wilhelm I German Emperor.

Bismarck also used these funds to place informers in the household of Crown Prince Friedrich and his wife Victoria.Sony VAIO VGN-SR290JVH/C Battery

Some of the bogus stories that Bismarck planted in newspapers accused the royal couple of acting as British agents by revealing state secrets to the British government. Frederick and Victoria were great admirers of her father Albert, Prince Consort, prince consort of Queen Victoria. Sony VAIO VGN-SR290NTB Battery

They planned to rule as consorts, like Albert and Victoria. Friedrich described the Imperial Constitution as "ingeniously contrived chaos." The office of Chancellor responsible to the Kaiser would be replaced with a cabinet based on the British style, with ministers responsible to the Reichstag. Government policy would be based on the consensus of the cabinet.Sony VAIO VGN-SR29VN/S Battery

The Crown Prince and Princess shared the outlook of the Progressive Party, and Bismarck was haunted by the fear that should the old Emperor die—and he was now in his seventies—they would call on one of the Progressive leaders to become Chancellor.Sony VAIO VGN-SR29XN/S Battery

He sought to guard against such a turn by keeping the Crown Prince from a position of any influence and by using foul means as well as fair to make him unpopular.

In order to undermine the royal couple, when the future Kaiser William II was still a teenager, Bismarck would separate him from his parents and would place him under his tutelage.Sony VAIO VGN-SR2RVN/S Battery

Bismarck planned to use Wilhelm as a weapon against his parents in order to retain his own power. Bismarck would drill Wilhelm on his prerogatives and would teach him to be insubordinate to his parents. Consequently, Wilhelm II developed a dysfunctional relationship with his father and especially with his English mother.Sony VAIO VGN-SR390NAB Battery

In 1892, after Bismarck's dismissal, Kaiser Wilhelm II stopped the use of the fund by releasing the interest payments into the official budget.

Franco-Prussian War 1870–71

Prussia's victory over Austria increased tensions with France. Sony VAIO VGN-SR390NAH Battery

The French Emperor, Napoleon III, feared that a powerful Germany would change the balance of power in Europe (the French opposition politician Adolphe Thiers had correctly observed that it had really been France who had been defeated at Sadowa). Bismarck, at the same time, did not avoid war with France. Sony VAIO VGN-SR41M/P Battery

He believed that if the German states perceived France as the aggressor, they would unite behind the King of Prussia. In order to achieve this Bismarck kept Napoleon III involved in various intrigues whereby France might gain territory from Luxembourg or Belgium – France never achieved any such gain, but was made to look greedy and untrustworthy.Sony VAIO VGN-SR41M/S Battery

A suitable premise for war arose in 1870, when the German Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was offered the Spanish throne, which had been vacant since a revolution in 1868. France blocked the candidacy and demanded assurances that no member of the House of Hohenzollern become King of Spain. Sony VAIO VGN-SR49VN/H Battery

To provoke France into declaring war with Prussia, Bismarck published the Ems Dispatch, a carefully edited version of a conversation between King Wilhelm and the French ambassador to Prussia, Count Benedetti. This conversation had been edited so that each nation felt that its ambassador had been disrespected and ridiculed, thus inflaming popular sentiment on both sides in favor of war.Sony VAIO VGN-SR51B/P Battery

France mobilized and declared war on 19 July, five days after the dispatch was published in Paris. It was seen as the aggressor and German states, swept up by nationalism and patriotic zeal, rallied to Prussia's side and provided troops. After all, it came as a sort of déjà vu:Sony VAIO VGN-SR51B/S Battery

current French public musings of the river Rhine as "the natural French border" and the memory of the French revolutionary/Napoleonic wars 1790/1815 (many German territories were devastated serving as theatres of war and the sacking the old German empire by Napoleon) was still alive. Sony VAIO VGN-SR51MF Battery

Russia remained aloof and used the opportunity to remilitarise the Black Sea, demilitarised after the Crimean War of the 1850s. Both of Bismarck's sons served as officers in the Prussian cavalry. The Franco-Prussian War (1870) was a great success for Prussia.Sony VAIO VGN-SR51MF/P Battery

The German army, under nominal command of the King but controlled by Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, won victory after victory. The major battles were all fought in one month (7 August till 1 September), and both French armies were captured at Sedan andMetz, the latter after a siege of some weeks. Sony VAIO VGN-SR51MF/S Battery

(Napoleon III was taken prisoner at Sedan and kept in Germany for a while in case Bismarck had need of him to head a puppet regime; he later died in exile in England in 1873.) The remainder of the war featured a siege of Paris, the city was ”ineffectually bombarded”;Sony VAIO VGN-SR51MF/W Battery

the new French republican regime then tried, without success, to relieve Paris with various hastily assembled armies and increasingly bitter partisan warfare.

Bismarck acted immediately to secure the unification of Germany. He negotiated with representatives of the southern German states, offering special concessions if they agreed to unification. Sony VAIO VGN-SR51MR Battery

The negotiations succeeded; while the war was in its final phase King Wilhelm of Prussia was proclaimed German Emperor on 18 January 1871 in the Hall of Mirrors in the Château de Versailles.The new German Empire was a federation: each of its 25 constituent states (kingdoms, grand duchies, duchies, principalities, and free cities) retained some autonomy. Sony VAIO VGN-SR59VG Battery

The King of Prussia, as German Emperor, was not sovereign over the entirety of Germany; he was only primus inter pares, or first among equals. But he held the presidency of the Bundesrat, which met to discuss policy presented from the Chancellor (whom the president appointed).Sony VAIO VGN-SR59VG/H Battery

At the end, France had to surrender Alsace and part of Lorraine, because Moltke and his generals insisted that it wa

s needed as a defensive barrier. Bismarck opposed the annexation because he did not wish to make a permanent enemy of France.[31] France was also required to pay an indemnity.Sony VAIO VGN-SR70B/S Battery

Chancellor of the German Empire

In 1871, Otto von Bismarck was raised to the rank of Fürst (Prince) von Bismarck. He was also appointed Imperial Chancellor of the German Empire, but retained his Prussian offices (including those of Minister-President and Foreign Minister). Sony VAIO VGN-SR72B/P Battery

He was also promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general, and given another country estate, Friedrichsruh, near Hamburg, which was larger than Varzin, making him a very wealthy landowner. Because of both the imperial and the Prussian offices that he held, Bismarck had near complete control over domestic and foreign policy. Sony VAIO VGN-SR72B/S Battery

The office of Minister-President (M-P) of Prussia was temporarily separated from that of Chancellor in 1873, when Albrecht von Roon was appointed to the former office. But by the end of the year, Roon resigned due to ill health, and Bismarck again became M-P.

Anti-Catholic Kulturkampf

Bismarck launched an anti-Catholic Kulturkampf ("culture struggle") in Prussia 1871.Sony VAIO VGN-SR73JB/S Battery

In its course all the Prussian bishops and many priests were imprisoned or exiled. Prussia's population greatly expanded in the 1860s and now was one-third Catholic. Bismarck believed that the Catholic Church held too much political power; he was further concerned about the emergence of the Catholic Centre Party (organised in 1870). Sony VAIO VGN-SR74FB/S Battery

With support from the anticlerical National Liberal Party, which had become Bismarck's chief ally in the Reichstag, he abolished the Catholic Department of the Prussian Ministry of Culture. That left the Catholics without a voice in high circles. In 1872, the Jesuits were expelled from Germany. Sony VAIO VGN-SR90FS Battery

More severe anti-Roman Catholic laws of 1873 allowed the Prussian government to supervise the education of the Roman Catholic clergy, and curtailed the disciplinary powers of the Church. In 1875, civil ceremonies were required for weddings, which could hitherto be performed in churches.Sony VAIO VGN-SR90NS Battery

The Catholics reacted by organizing themselves; they strengthened the Centre Party. Bismarck, a devout pietistic Protestant, was alarmed that secularists and socialists were using the Kulturkampf to attack all religion. He abandoned the Kulturkampf in 1878 to preserve his remaining political capital;Sony VAIO VGN-SR90S Battery

indeed, he needed the Centre Party votes in his new battle against socialism. Pius IX died that same year, replaced by a more pragmatic Pope Leo XIII who negotiated away most of the anti-Catholic laws.

Economy

In 1873, Germany and much of Europe and America entered the Long Depression beginning with the crash of the Vienna Stock Exchange in 1873, the Gründerkrise. Sony VAIO VGN-SR90US Battery

A downturn hit the German economy for the first time since industrial development began to surge in the 1850s. To aid faltering industries, the Chancellor abandonedfree trade and established protectionist tariffs (taxes on imports), which alienated the National Liberals who demanded free trade. Sony VAIO VGN-SR91NS Battery

The Kulturkampf and its effects also stirred up public opinion against the party that supported it, and Bismarck used this opportunity to distance himself from the National Liberals. This marked a rapid decline in the support of the National Liberals, and by 1879 their close ties with Bismarck had all but ended. Sony VAIO VGN-SR91PS Battery

Bismarck instead returned to conservative factions—including the Centre Party—for support. He helped foster support from the conservatives by enacting several tariffs protecting German agriculture and industry from foreign competitors in 1879.Sony VAIO VGN-SR91S Battery

Poles

To prevent the Austro-Hungarian problems of different nationalities within one state, the government tried to Germanize the state's national minorities, situated mainly in the borders of the empire, such as the Danes in the North of Germany, the French of Alsace-Lorraine and the Poles in the East of Germany.Sony VAIO VGN-SR91US Battery

His policies concerning the Poles of Prussia were generally unfavourable to them,furthering enmity between the German and Polish peoples. The policies were usually motivated by Bismarck's view that Polish existence was a threat to the German state; Bismarck, who himself spoke Polish, wrote about Poles: "One shoots the wolves if one can."Sony VAIO VGN-SR92NS Battery

He also said: "Beat Poles until they lose faith in a sense of living. Personally, I pity the situation they're in. However, if we want to survive—we've got only one option—to exterminate them.

Socialism

Bismarck worried about the growth of the socialist movement—in particular, that of the Social Democratic Party. Sony VAIO VGN-SR92PS Battery

In 1878, he instituted the Anti-Socialist Laws. Socialist organizations and meetings were forbidden, as was the circulation of socialist literature. Socialist leaders were arrested and tried by police courts. But despite these efforts, the movement steadily gained supporters and seats in the Reichstag. Sony VAIO VGN-SR92S Battery

Socialists won seats in the Reichstag by running as independent candidates, unaffiliated with any party, which was allowed by the German Constitution.

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