The Franco-Prussian War, the end of German unification

The Franco-Prussian War, the end of German unification

The Franco-Prussian war It was the last war conflict that led to Prussia to finalize its German unification process. After having defeated Austria in the seven week war, Prussia and France were the only candidates to dominate the European political landscape.

After the Battle of Sadowa, in which the French remained neutral, Napoleon III demanded: the cession of the Rhineland territories, Bavaria and Hesse; the freedom to annex the kingdom of Belgium and the purchase of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg from the Netherlands.

Bismarck turned a deaf ear to these requests but launched the Prussian information apparatus to turn public opinion against Napoleon III. Taking advantage of the fact that the climate of the war was favorable to the Prussians, the pretext came with the overthrow of the Spanish Queen Elizabeth II in the revolution of 1868.

Prim offered the position as monarch to Leopold of Hohenzollern but he rejected it. However, from Paris they saw this issue as an offense and demanded guarantees from Prussia that they would never support a similar candidacy. William I and Bismarck responded with a harsh criticism of Napoleon III, who felt threatened and declared war on July 19, 1870.

France was diplomatically isolated, since all the countries declared themselves neutral. But Bismarck succeeded, thanks to the exaltation of national sentiment, that the southern German states adhered to Prussia, making available to Moltke his troops. The war had two stages that were separated by the Battle of Sedan.

On the one hand, the first stage occurred from August 4 to September 2, 1870. The Prussian troops were led by Moltke, while the French were commanded by Bazaine and Mac-Mahon. The Germans managed to defeat the French in Alsace, so they controlled the region. At Lorraine, after the Gallic defeat at Forbach, there was a great battle at Metz which Bazaine lost.

Mac-Mahon tried to come to his aid, but by clever strategy Moltke managed to encircle him at Sedan. After a hard confrontation and losing 17,000 soldiers, France decided to capitulate. But the most important thing about that battle is that Napoleon III was captured, leading Paris to proclaim a republic.

On the other hand, the second stage took place between September 4, 1870 and February 1, 1871. The French government restarted the war but quickly lost again. They offered peace to Bismarck, but he was clear that the objective was to recover Alsace and part of Lorraine. In a few days the Prussians were planted in front of the French capital. They besieged it and put it under extreme pressure until it capitulated in January 1871.

The new French government signed the treaty of Frankfurt on May 10, 1871, by which Prussia obtained Alsace and the eastern part of Lorraine, in addition to an indemnity for the war of 5,000 million francs.

This victory finally brought Germany together.. A few months before the signing of the Treaty of Frankfurt, William I proclaimed the German Empire in the Hall of Mirrors of the Palace of Versailles. It was the beginning of the period of power of the II Reich over Europe, since France and Austria were completely defeated and subjugated to their rule.

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.

Video: Franco-Prussian War. Animated History