Franco-Prussian War, widely known as the War of 1870 in France was a conflict between the 2nd French empires against the German States of the North German Confederation which was led by the Prussia kingdom. Napoleon I had managed to smash through the German states easily during Napoleonic wars. A generation later, the roles were reversed.
Though the war lasted for a short duration, it changes the history of Egypt in a dramatic way. The overwhelming and rapid victory of German states under Prussia leadership in the conflict lead to the Unification of German. This in turn led to fall of the French empire under the leadership of Napoleon III. It was replaced by the 3rd republic.
The war marked the last step in Germany’s rise to the position of a major power. As part of settlement, the Alsace-Lorraine territory was taken over by Germany which retained it till after the end of World War I.
The causes of Franco-Prussian War were deeply rooted to events that surrounded unification of Germany. During the aftermath of Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Prussia annexed numerous territories and formed North German Confederation. European power balance that was established in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna was destabilized by the new power after Napoleonic Wars.
The emperor of France, Napoleon III demanded compensations on the left bank of the Rhine and Belgium to secure the strategic position of France. However, the request was flatly refused by Otto von Bismarck, the Prussian chancellor.
Prussia turned its attention to the South of Germany where it intended to incorporate Southern German kingdoms like Hesse-Darmstadt, Bavaria, Wurttemberg and Baden into one unified Prussia that would be dominated by Germany. France was however opposed to annexation of southern German states as it would strengthen Prussian military.
Some officials in Prussia were convinced that war against France was necessary and inevitable for purposes of arousing German nationalism in those states and allowing unification of one great German empire. The immediate cause of Franco-Prussian war was attributed to the candidacy of Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (Prussian prince) to the throne of Spain.
France was afraid of encirclement if an alliance between Spain and Prussia was formed. The candidacy of the price was withdrawn under the pressure of French diplomacy but Otto von Bismarck managed to goad the French to declare war by altering a telegram that was sent by William I. he released the Ems Dispatch to the public and made it sound like the king has treated the French envoy in a fashion that was demeaning this inflaming the public opinion.
Napoleon III on his part sought war for the 1866 diplomatic defeat by leveraging on the benefits of Austro-Prussian war and he also believed he could win the conflict with Prussia. He also had expectations that it would resolve the growing domestic political problems. 6 days later though, France declared War on Prussia and Southern German states sided with Prussia immediately.
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