Foundation of the German Reich
After the revolution of 1848/49The Revolutions of 1848 were a series of political upheavals throughout Europe in 1848. Aim was to remove the old feudal structures and the creation of independent national states Germany existed solely as a bond of sovereign individual states. The claims for a national state with a liberal constitution were not met for the following years. As Prussia and Austria remained as major powers within the German confederation, rivalry concerning the supremacy in Germany arose. BismarckOtto von Bismarck served as Prime minister of Prussia since 1862 and created the German Empire with himself as Chancellor in 1871, who acted as Prussian governor since 1862, saw this equilibrium between both states as a decisive impediment for the foundation of a German national state.
The military clash was a debate concerning a new military budget as well as the claim to power between sovereign and parliament. The Prussian government demanded an increase in the military budget and the reinforcement of those troops alleged to the king. This resolution lead to criticism from the Prussian parliament as it refused to muster the required funds. Essentially this conflict illustrated who was the head in the government. Bismarck resolved this conflict by henceforth reigning without official budgeting and thus depriving parliament of its power1.
Wars of German unification
To resolve domestical issues Bismarck attempted to overcast the domestical dissatisfaction with success in foreign affairs. His approach against parliament met with distrust in most small states of the German confederation. However the Wars of German unification were an important basis for Bismarck to gain support from society, that had already called for a German national state in the revolution of 1848. The wars against DenmarkThe Second Schleswig War (1864) was a military conflict for the Duchy of Schleswig between the German Confederation and the Kingdom of Denmark, AustriaThe Austro-Prussian War (1866) was fought for supremacy in the German lands. Prussia assumed political supremacy over Austria amongst the German nations and founded the North German Confederation and France inspired a hitherto unknown solidarity in Germany. When Denmark extended its constitution onto Schleswig-Holstein and thereby breached all valid treaties Prussian and Austrian troops invaded and alleged the conquered territory to their administration. Two years later the decision about the supremacy in the north was made in the inner German war when Prussia conquered Austrian troops.
This lead to the resolution of the German confederation, as the northern states were combined in the North German confederationThe North German Confederation (founded in 1867) was a federation of 22 independent states of northern Germany. It was the basis for the later German Empire, separated from the south. Bismarck devised a peace treaty with Austria, which can be seen as a diplomatic feat in retro perspective2.
After the conflict between Prussia and Austria had arisen, the French emperor Napoleon III. hoped to conquer the states on the left shore of the river Rhine. Bismarck rejected this and alleged those areas to the Prussian king. The situation escalated when the Prussian king denied abdicating from further candidateship for the Prussian throne in the so called Ems dispatch. The French government considered this decision as a diplomatic indignity, resulting in the German-French war in 1870. Finally German troops defeated France, imprisoning Napoleon III. and the German empire was proclaimed in the hall of mirrors in Versailles on the 18th of January 1871, before a ceasefire had been proclaimed3.