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We believe that it is a travesty to simply throw away a used book when there is nothing wrong with it - we believe in giving each book the chance of finding a new home. Binding: Hardcover See More. Good amount of views. Great seller with very good positive feedback and over 50 ratings. Headlam- ID Like us on Facebook. See Details on eBay Amazon. Recent Feedback. See Details. His ability and success as an agriculturist made a deep impression on his neighbours. As years went on he became much occupied in local business; he was appointed as the representative of his brother, who was Landrath for the district; in he was elected one of the members for the Provincial Diet of Pomerania.
He also had a seat in the Diet for the Saxon province in which Schoenhausen was situated. These local Diets were the only form of representative government which existed in the rural districts; they had little power, but their opinion was asked on new projects of law, and they were officially regarded as an efficient substitute for a common Prussian Parliament. Many of his friends, including his brother, urged him again to enter the public service, for which they considered he was especially adapted; he might have had the post of Royal Commissioner for Improvements in East Prussia.
He did make one attempt to resume his official career. At the beginning of he returned to Potsdam and took up his duties as Referendar, but not for long; he seems to have quarrelled with his superior. The story is that he called one day to ask for leave of absence; his chief kept him waiting an hour in the anteroom, and when he was admitted asked him curtly, "What do you want? From this time he nourished a bitter hatred of the Prussian bureaucracy. This did not, however, prevent him carrying out his public duties as a landed proprietor.
In we find him taking much interest in proposals for improving the management of the manorial courts; he wished to see them altered so as to give something of the advantages of the English system; he regrets the "want of corporate spirit and public feeling in our corn-growing aristocracy"; "it is unfortunately difficult among most of the gentlemen to awake any other idea under the words 'patrimonial power' but the calculation whether the fee will cover the expenses.
The same year he was appointed to the position of Inspector of Dykes for Jerichow. The duties of this office were of considerable importance for Schoenhausen and the neighbouring estate; as he writes, "it depends on the managers of this office whether from time to time we come under water or not. As Bismarck grew in age and experience he associated more with the neighbouring families. Pomerania was at this time the centre of a curious religious movement; the leader was Herr von Thadden, who lived at Triglaff, not many miles from Kniephof.
He was associated with Herr von Semft and three brothers of the family of Below. They were all profoundly dissatisfied with the rationalistic religion preached by the clergy at that time, and aimed at greater inwardness and depth of religious feeling. Herr von Thadden started religious exercises in his own house, which were attended not only by the peasants from the village but by many of the country gentry; they desired the strictest enforcement of Lutheran doctrine, and wished the State directly to support the Church. This tendency of thought acquired greater importance when, in , Frederick William IV succeeded to the throne; he was also a man of deep religious feeling, and under his reign the extreme Lutheran party became influential at Court.
Among the ablest of these were the three brothers von Gerlach. One of them, Otto, was a theologian; another, Ludwig, was Over-President of the Saxon province, and with him Bismarck had much official correspondence; the third, Leopold, who had adopted a military career, was attached to the person of the King and was in later years to have more influence upon him than anyone except perhaps Bunsen.
The real intellectual leader of the party was Stahl, a theologian. From about the year Bismarck seems to have become very intimate with this religious coterie; his friend Moritz v. Blankenburg had married Thadden's daughter and Bismarck was constantly a visitor at Triglaff. It was at Blankenburg's wedding that he first met Hans v. Kleist, who was in later years to be one of his most intimate friends. He was, we are told, the most delightful and cheerful of companions; in his tact and refinement he shewed an agreeable contrast to the ordinary manners of Pomerania.
He often rode over to take part in Shakespeare evenings, and amused them by accounts of his visit to England . He was present occasionally at the religious meetings at Triglaff, and though he never quite adopted all the customs of the set the influence on him of these older men was for the next ten years to govern all his political action. That he was not altogether at one with them we can understand, when we are told that at Herr von Thadden's house it would never have occurred to anyone even to think of smoking.
Bismarck was then, as in later life, a constant smoker. The men who met in these family parties in distant Pomerania were in a few years to change the whole of European history. Here Bismarck for the first time saw Albrecht von Roon, a cousin of the Blankenburgs, then a rising young officer in the artillery; they often went out shooting together.
The Belows, Blankenburgs, and Kleists were to be the founders and leaders of the Prussian Conservative party, which was Bismarck's only support in his great struggle with the Parliament; and here, too, came the men who were afterwards to be editors and writers of the Kreuz Zeitung. The religious convictions which Bismarck learnt from them were to be lasting, and they profoundly influenced his character.
He had probably received little religious training from his mother, who belonged to the rationalistic school of thought. It was by them that his monarchical feeling was strengthened. It is not at first apparent what necessary connection there is between monarchical government and Christian faith. For Bismarck they were ever inseparably bound together; nothing but religious belief would have reconciled him to a form of government so repugnant to natural human reason. He was not the man to be beguiled by romantic sentiment; he was not a courtier to be blinded by the pomp and ceremony of royalty; he was too stubborn and independent to acquiesce in the arbitrary rule of a single man.
He could only obey the king if the king himself held his authority as the representative of a higher power. Bismarck was accustomed to follow out his thought to its conclusions. To whom did the king owe his power? There was only one alternative: to the people or to God. If to the people, then it was a mere question of convenience whether the monarchy were continued in form; there was little to choose between a constitutional monarchy where the king was appointed by the people and controlled by Parliament, and an avowed republic.
This was the principle held by nearly all his contemporaries. He deliberately rejected it. He did not hold that the voice of the people was the voice of God. This belief did not satisfy his moral sense; it seemed in public life to leave all to interest and ambition and nothing to duty. It did not satisfy his critical intellect; the word "people" was to him a vague idea. The service of the People or of the King by the Grace of God, this was the struggle which was soon to be fought out.
Bismarck's connection with his neighbours was cemented by his marriage. He announced the engagement to his sister in a letter containing the two words, "All right," written in English. Before the wedding could take place, a new impulse in his life was to begin. As representative of the lower nobility he had to attend the meeting of the Estates General which had been summoned in Berlin. From this time the story of his life is interwoven with the history of his country.
Bismarck was a subject of the King of Prussia, but Prussia was after all only one part of a larger unit; it was a part of Germany. At this time, however, Germany was little more than a geographical expression. The medieval emperors had never succeeded in establishing permanent authority over the whole nation; what unity there had been was completely broken down at the Reformation, and at the Revolution the Empire itself, the symbol of a union which no longer existed, had been swept away. At the restoration in the reorganisation of Germany was one of the chief tasks before the Congress of Vienna.
It was a task in which the statesmen failed. All proposals to restore the Empire were rejected, chiefly because Francis, who had taken the style of Emperor of Austria, did not desire to resume his old title. Germany emerged from the Revolution divided into thirty-nine different States; Austria was one of the largest and most populous monarchies in Europe, but more than half the Austrian Empire consisted of Italian, Slavonic, and Hungarian provinces. The Emperor of Austria ruled over about 20,, Germans.
The next State in size and importance was Prussia. By the principles adopted in the negotiations which preceded the Congress of Vienna, every one of these States was recognised as a complete independent monarchy, with its own laws and constitutions. The recognition of this independence made any common government impossible.
All that could be done was to establish a permanent offensive and defensive alliance between these States. For the management of common concerns, a Diet was appointed to meet at Frankfort; the Diet, however, was only a union of diplomatists; they had to act in accordance with instructions from their governments and they had no direct authority over the Germans; each German was officially regarded as a subject, as the case might be, of the King of Prussia, the Prince of Reuss, the Grand Duke of Weimar. There was no German army, no German law, no German church. No development of common institutions was possible, for no change could be introduced without the universal consent of every member of the Confederation.
This lamentable result of the Congress of Vienna caused much dissatisfaction among the thinking classes in Germany. A very strong national feeling had been aroused by the war against Napoleon. This found no satisfaction in the new political institutions. The discontent was increased when it was discovered that the Diet, so useless for all else, was active only against liberty.
Prince Metternich, a very able diplomatist, knew that the Liberal and National ideas, which were so generally held at that time, would be fatal to the existence of the Austrian Empire; he therefore attempted to suppress them, not only in Austria, but also in Germany, as he did in Italy. The two great powers when combined could impose their will on Germany; they forced through the Diet a series of measures devoted to the restriction of the liberty of the press, the control of the universities, and the suppression of democratic opinion.
The result of this was great discontent in Germany, which was especially directed against Prussia; in the outbreak of revolution in Paris had been followed by disturbances in many German States; Austria and Prussia, however, were still strong enough to maintain the old system. The whole intellect of the country was diverted to a policy of opposition; in the smaller States of the south, Parliamentary government had been introduced; and the great aim of the Liberals was to establish a Parliament in Prussia also.
There could be no sympathy between him and the men who took their politics from Rousseau and Louis Blanc, and their religion from Strauss. It had been hoped that he would at once introduce into Prussia representative institutions. He long delayed, and the delay took away any graciousness from the act when at last it was committed. By a royal decree published in it had been determined that no new loan could be made without the assent of an assembly of elected representatives; the introduction of railways made a loan necessary, and at the beginning of Frederick William summoned for the first time the States General.
The King of Prussia had thereby stirred up a power which he was unable to control; he had hoped that he would be able to gather round him the representatives of the nobles, the towns, and the peasants; that this new assembly, collecting about him in respectful homage, would add lustre to his throne; that they would vote the money which was required and then separate.
How much was he mistaken! The nation had watched for years Parliamentary government in England and France; this was what they wished to have, and now they were offered a modern imitation of medieval estates. They felt themselves as grown men able and justified in governing their own country; the King treated them as children. The opening ceremony completed the bad impression which the previous acts of the King had made.
While the majority of the nation desired a formal and written Constitution, the King in his opening speech with great emphasis declared that he would never allow a sheet of paper to come between him and God in heaven. Bismarck was not present at the opening ceremony; it was, in fact, owing to an accident that he was able to take his seat at all; he was there as substitute for the member for the Ritterschaft of Jerichow, who had fallen ill. He entered on his Parliamentary duties as a young and almost unknown man; he did not belong to any party, but his political principles were strongly influenced by the friends he had found in Pomerania.
They were soon to be hardened by conflict and confirmed by experience; during the first debates he sat silent, but his indignation rose as he listened to the speeches of the Liberal majority. Nothing pleased them; instead of actively co-operating with the Government in the consideration of financial measures, they began to discuss and criticise the proclamation by which they had been summoned. There was indeed ample scope for criticism; the Estates were so arranged that the representatives of the towns could always be outvoted by the landed proprietors; they had not even the right of periodical meetings; the King was not compelled to call them together again until he required more money.
They not only petitioned for increased powers, they demanded them as a right; they maintained that an assembly summoned in this form did not meet the intentions of previous laws; when they were asked to allow a loan for a railway in East Prussia, they refused on the ground that they were not a properly qualified assembly. This was too much for Bismarck: the action of the King might have been inconclusive; much that he said was indiscreet; but it remained true that he had taken the decisive step; no one really doubted that Prussia would never again be without a Parliament.
It would be much wiser, as it would be more chivalrous, to adopt a friendly tone and not to attempt to force concessions from him. He was especially indignant at the statement made that the Prussian people had earned constitutional government by the part they took in the war of liberation; against this he protested:. The ablest of the Liberal leaders was George v. Vincke; a member of an old Westphalian family, the son of a high official, he was a man of honesty and independence, but both virtues were carried to excess; a born leader of opposition, domineering, quarrelsome, ill to please, his short, sturdy figure, his red face and red hair were rather those of a peasant than a nobleman, but his eloquence, his bitter invective, earned the respect and even fear of his opponents.
Among these Bismarck was to be ranged; in these days began a rivalry which was not to cease till nearly twenty years later, when Vincke retired from the field and Bismarck stood triumphant, the recognised ruler of the State. At this time it required courage in the younger man to cross swords with the experienced and powerful leader.
Vincke was a strong Liberal, but in the English rather than the Prussian sense; his constant theme was the rule of law; he had studied English history, for at that time all Liberals prepared themselves for their part by reading Hallam or Guizot and Dahlmann; he knew all about Pym and Hampden, and wished to imitate them. The English Parliament had won its power by means of a Petition of Right and a Bill of Rights; he wished they should do the same in Prussia; it escaped him that the English could appeal to charters and ancient privileges, but that in Prussia the absolute power of the King was the undisputed basis on which the whole State had been built up, and that every law to which they owed their liberty or their property derived its validity from the simple proclamation of the King.
Bismarck, if he had read less, understood better the characteristics of England, probably because he knew better the conditions of his own country. He rose to protest against these parallels with England; Prussia had its own problems which must be settled in its own way. It shows how strong upon him was the influence of his friends in Pomerania that his longest and most important speech was in defence of the Christian monarchy.
The occasion was a proposal to increase the privileges of the Jews. He said:. We can well understand how delighted Herr von Thadden was with his pupil. Among his opponents, too, he had made his mark; they were never tired of repeating well-worn jests about the medieval opinions which he had sucked in with his mother's milk. At the close of the session, he returned to Pomerania with fresh laurels; he was now looked upon as the rising hope of the stern and unbending Tories.
His marriage took place in August, and the young Hans Kleist, a cousin of the bride, as he proposed the bridegroom's health, foretold that in their friend had arisen a new Otto of Saxony who would do for his country all that his namesake had done eight hundred years before. Careless words spoken half in jest, which thirty years later Kleist, then Over-President of the province, recalled when he proposed the bridegroom's health at the marriage of Bismarck's eldest daughter. The forecast had been more than fulfilled, but fulfilled at the cost of many an early friendship; and all the glory of later years could never quite repay the happy confidence and intimacy of those younger days.
Followed by the good wishes of all their friends, Bismarck and his young wife started on their wedding tour, which took them through Austria to Italy. At Venice he came across the King of Prussia, who took the opportunity to have more than one conversation with the man who had distinguished himself in the States General. At the beginning of the winter they returned to Schoenhausen to settle down to a quiet country life. Fate was to will it otherwise. The storm which had long been gathering burst over Europe. Bismarck was carried away by it; from henceforth his life was entirely devoted to public duties, and we can count by months the time he was able to spend with his wife at the old family house; more than forty years were to pass before he was able again to enjoy the leisure of his early years.
The revolution which at the end of February broke out in Paris quickly spread to Germany; the ground was prepared and the news quickly came to him, first of disorder in South Germany, then of the fall of the Ministry in Dresden and Munich; after a few days it was told that a revolution had taken place in Vienna itself. The rising in Austria was the signal for Berlin, and on the 18th of March the revolution broke out there also. The King had promised to grant a Constitution; a fierce fight had taken place in the streets of the city between the soldiers and the people; the King had surrendered to the mob, and had ordered the troops to withdraw from the city.
He was himself almost a prisoner in his castle protected only by a civilian National Guard. He was exposed to the insults of the crowd; his brother had had to leave the city and the country. It is impossible to describe the enthusiasm and wild delight with which the people of Germany heard of these events. Now the press was free, now they also were going to be free and great and strong.
All the resistance of authority was overthrown; nothing, it seemed, stood between them and the attainment of their ideal of a united and free Germany. They had achieved a revolution; they had become a political people; they had shewn themselves the equals of England and of France. They had liberty, and they would soon have a Constitution. Bismarck did not share this feeling; he saw only that the monarchy which he respected, and the King whom, with all his faults, he loved and honoured, were humiliated and disgraced.
This was worse than Jena. A defeat on the field of battle can be avenged; here the enemies were his own countrymen; it was Prussian subjects who had made the King the laughing-stock of Europe. Only a few months ago he had pleaded that they should not lose that confidence between King and people which was the finest tradition of the Prussian State; could this confidence ever be restored when the blood of so many soldiers and citizens had been shed? He felt as though someone had struck him in the face, for his country's dishonour was to him as his own; he became ill with gall and anger.
He had only two thoughts: first to restore to the King courage and confidence, and then—revenge on the men who had done this thing. He at least was not going to play with the revolution. He at once sat down and wrote to the King a letter full of ardent expressions of loyalty and affection, that he might know there still were men on whom he could rely. It is said that for months after, through all this terrible year, the King kept it open by him on his writing-table. Then he hurried to Berlin, if necessary to defend him with the sword.
This was not necessary, but the situation was almost worse than he feared; the King was safe, but he was safe because he had surrendered to the revolution; he had proclaimed the fatal words that Prussia was to be dissolved in Germany. At Potsdam Bismarck found his old friends of the Guard and the Court; they were all in silent despair. What could they do to save the monarchy when the King himself had deserted their cause?
Some there were who even talked of seeking help from the Czar of Russia, who had offered to come to the help of the monarchy in Prussia and place himself at the head of the Prussian army, even if necessary against their own King. There was already a Liberal Ministry under Count Arnim, Bismarck's old chief at Aachen; the Prussian troops were being sent to support the people of Schleswig-Holstein in their rebellion against the Danes; the Ministers favoured the aspirations of Poland for self-government; in Prussia there was to be a Constituent Assembly and a new Constitution drawn up by it.
Bismarck did what he could; he went down to Schoenhausen and began to collect signatures for an address of loyalty to the King; he wished to instil into him confidence by appealing to the loyalty of the country against the radicalism of the town. Then he hurried back to Berlin for the meeting of the Estates General, which had been hastily summoned to prepare for the new elections.
An address was proposed thanking the King for the concessions he had made; Bismarck opposed it, but he stood almost alone. Two men alone voted against the address—Bismarck and Herr von Thadden. Courage it did require; Berlin was terrorised; the new National Guard was unable to maintain order; men scarcely dared to appear in the streets in the ordinary dress of a gentleman.
The city was full of Polish insurgents, many of whom had only just been released from prison. When the National Assembly came together, it became the organ of the extreme Republican party; all the more moderate men and more distinguished had preferred to be elected for that general German Assembly which at the same time was sitting at Frankfort to create a new Constitution for the whole Confederation.
How quickly had the balance of parties altered: Vincke, until a few months ago the leader of the Liberals, found himself at Frankfort regarded as an extreme Conservative; and Frankfort was moderate compared to Berlin.
Bismarck and the Foundation of the German Empire (Illustrated Edition) (Dodo Press)
At this time an ordinary English Radical would have been looked upon in Germany as almost reactionary. Bismarck did not seek election for either of the Assemblies; he felt that he could do no good by taking part in the deliberations of a Parliament, the very meeting of which seemed to him an offence against the laws and welfare of the State. He would indeed have had no logical position; both Parliaments were Constituent Assemblies; it was the duty of the one to build up a new Germany, of the other a new Prussia; their avowed object was the regeneration of their country.
Bismarck did not believe that Prussia wanted regenerating; he held that the roots for the future greatness of the State must be found in the past. What happened to Germany he did not much care; all he saw was that every proposal for the regeneration of Germany implied either a dissolution of Prussia, or the subjection of the Prussian King to the orders of an alien Parliament.
During the summer he did what he could; he contributed articles to the newspapers attacking the Polish policy of the Government, and defending the landlords and country gentry against the attacks made on them. As the months went by, as the anarchy in Berlin increased, and the violence of the Assembly as well as the helplessness of the Government became more manifest, he and some of his friends determined to make their voices heard in a more organised way.
It was at the house of his father-in-law at Rheinfeld that he, Hans Kleist, and Herr von Below determined to call together a meeting of well-known men in Berlin, who should discuss the situation and be a moral counterpoise to the meetings of the National Assembly; for in that the Conservative party and even the Moderate Liberals were scarcely represented; if they did speak they were threatened by the mob which encumbered the approaches to the House. Of more permanent importance was the foundation of a newspaper which should represent the principles of the Christian monarchy, and in July appeared the first number of the New Prussian Gazette , or, as it was to be more generally known, the Kreuz Zeitung , which was to give its name to the party of which it was the organ.
Bismarck was among the founders, among whom were also numbered Stahl, the Gerlachs, and others of his older friends; he was a frequent contributor, and when he was at Berlin was almost daily at the office; when he was in the country he contributed articles on the rural affairs with which he was more specially qualified to deal. These steps, of course, attracted the attention and the hostility of the dominant Liberal and Revolutionary parties; the Junker , as they were called, were accused of aiming at reaction and the restoration of the absolute monarchy.
As a matter of fact, this is what many of them desired; they were, however, only doing their duty as members of society; it would have been mere cowardice and indolence had they remained inactive and seen all the institutions they valued overthrown without attempting to defend them. It required considerable courage in the middle of so violent a crisis to come forward and attempt to stop the revolution; it was a good example that they began to do so by constitutional and legal means.
They shewed that Prussia had an aristocracy, and an aristocracy which was not frightened; deserted by the King they acted alone; in the hour of greatest danger they founded a Conservative party, and matters had come to this position that an organised Conservative party was the chief necessity of the time. At first, however, their influence was small, for a monarchical party must depend for its success on the adhesion of the King, and the King had not yet resolved to separate himself from his Liberal advisers.
Bismarck was often at Court and seems to have had much influence; both to his other companions and to the King himself he preached always courage and resolution; he spoke often to the King with great openness; he was supported by Leopold von Gerlach, with whom at this time he contracted a close intimacy. For long their advice was in vain, but in the autumn events occurred which shewed that some decision must be taken: the mob of Berlin stormed the Zeughaus where the arms were kept; the Constitution of the Assembly was being drawn up so as to leave the King scarcely any influence in the State; a resolution was passed calling on the Ministers to request all officers to leave the army who disliked the new order of things.
It is said that Bismarck suggested to him the names of the Ministers to whom the task should be entrusted. The most important were Count Brandenburg, an uncle of the King's, and Otto v. Manteuffel, a member of the Prussian aristocracy, who with Bismarck had distinguished himself in the Estates General.
He seems to have been constantly going about among the more influential men, encouraging them as he encouraged the King, and helping behind the scenes to prepare for the momentous step. Gerlach had suggested Bismarck's name as one of the Ministers, but the King rejected it, writing on the side of the paper the characteristic words, "Red reactionary; smells of blood; will be useful later. Count Beust, the Saxon Minister, was at this time in Berlin and met Bismarck for the first time; they were discussing the conduct of the Austrian Government in shooting Robert Blum, a leading demagogue who had been in Vienna during the siege.
Beust condemned it as a political blunder. The event fully justified Bismarck's forecast that nothing was required but courage and resolution. After Brandenburg had been appointed Minister, the Prussian troops under Wrangel again entered Berlin, a state of siege was proclaimed, the Assembly was ordered to adjourn to Brandenburg; they refused and were at once ejected from their meeting-place, and as a quorum was not found at Brandenburg, were dissolved.
The Crown then of its own authority published a new Constitution and summoned a new Assembly to discuss and ratify it. Based on the discipline of the army the King had regained his authority without the loss of a single life. Bismarck stood for election in this new Assembly, for he could accept the basis on which it had been summoned; he took his seat for the district of the West Havel in which the old city of Brandenburg, the original capital of the Mark, was situated. He had come forward as an opponent of the Revolution.
He appealed to the electors as one who would direct all his efforts to restore the old bond of confidence between Crown and people. He kept his promise. In this Assembly the Extreme Left was still the predominant party; in an address to the Crown they asked that the state of siege at Berlin should be raised, and that an amnesty to those who had fought on the 18th of March should be proclaimed.
Bismarck did not yet think that the time for forgiveness had come; the struggle was indeed not yet over. He opposed the first demand because, as he said, there was more danger to liberty of debate from the armed mob than there was from the Prussian soldiers. In one of the most careful of his speeches he opposed the amnesty. Who that has read the history of Europe during this year can doubt the justice of the remark? Then he continues:. These words were greeted with applause, not only by the men who sat on his side of the House, but by those opposite to him.
The truth of them was to be shewn by the events which were taking place at that very time. They were spoken on the 22d of March. The next day was fought the battle of Novara and it seemed that the last hopes of the Italian patriots were shattered. Within a few months the Austrian army subdued with terrible vengeance the rising in Lombardy and Venetia; Hungary was prostrate before the troops whom the Czar sent to help the young Austrian Emperor, and the last despairing outbreak of rebellion in Saxony and in Baden was to be subdued by the Prussian army.
The Revolution had failed and it had raised up, as will always happen, a military power, harder, crueller, and more resolute than that it had overthrown. In Prussia the King used his power with moderation, the conflict of parties was continued within legal limits and under constitutional forms. The Prussian cavalry pursued the defeated French in the evening of 18 June, sealing the allied victory. After Napoleon's defeat, the Congress of Vienna established a new European political-diplomatic system based on the balance of power.
This system reorganized Europe into spheres of influence , which, in some cases, suppressed the aspirations of the various nationalities, including the Germans and Italians. The Congress established a loose German Confederation — , headed by Austria, with a "Federal Diet " called the Bundestag or Bundesversammlung , an assembly of appointed leaders that met in the city of Frankfurt am Main. In recognition of the imperial position traditionally held by the Habsburgs, the emperors of Austria became the titular presidents of this parliament. Problematically, the built-in Austrian dominance failed to take into account Prussia's 18th century emergence in Imperial politics.
Ever since the Prince-Elector of Brandenburg had made himself King in Prussia at the beginning of that century, their domains had steadily increased through war and inheritance. Prussia's consolidated strength had become especially apparent during the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years' War under Frederick the Great.
Austrian-Prussian dualism lay firmly rooted in old Imperial politics. Those balance of power manoeuvers were epitomized by the War of the Bavarian Succession , or " Potato War " among common folk. Even after the end of the Holy Roman Empire, this competition influenced the growth and development of nationalist movements in the 19th century. Despite the nomenclature of Diet Assembly or Parliament , this institution should in no way be construed as a broadly, or popularly, elected group of representatives.
Many of the states did not have constitutions, and those that did, such as the Duchy of Baden , based suffrage on strict property requirements which effectively limited suffrage to a small portion of the male population. Although the Prussian army had been dramatically defeated in the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt , it had made a spectacular comeback at Waterloo. Consequently, Prussian leaders expected to play a pivotal role in German politics. The surge of German nationalism , stimulated by the experience of Germans in the Napoleonic period and initially allied with liberalism , shifted political, social, and cultural relationships within the German states.
Furthermore, implicit and sometimes explicit promises made during the German Campaign of engendered an expectation of popular sovereignty and widespread participation in the political process, promises that largely went unfulfilled once peace had been achieved. Agitation by student organizations led such conservative leaders as Klemens Wenzel, Prince von Metternich , to fear the rise of national sentiment; the assassination of German dramatist August von Kotzebue in March by a radical student seeking unification was followed on 20 September by the proclamation of the Carlsbad Decrees , which hampered intellectual leadership of the nationalist movement.
Metternich was able to harness conservative outrage at the assassination to consolidate legislation that would further limit the press and constrain the rising liberal and nationalist movements. Consequently, these decrees drove the Burschenschaften underground, restricted the publication of nationalist materials, expanded censorship of the press and private correspondence, and limited academic speech by prohibiting university professors from encouraging nationalist discussion.
Another institution key to unifying the German states, the Zollverein , helped to create a larger sense of economic unification. Over the ensuing thirty years and more other German states joined. The Union helped to reduce protectionist barriers between the German states, especially improving the transport of raw materials and finished goods, making it both easier to move goods across territorial borders and less costly to buy, transport, and sell raw materials.
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This was particularly important for the emerging industrial centers, most of which were located in the Prussian regions of the Rhineland , the Saar , and the Ruhr valleys. Not being a member mattered more for the states of south Germany, since the external tariff of the Customs Union prevented customs-free access to the coast which gave access to international markets. Thus, by , all states to the south of Prussia had joined the Customs Union, except Austria. In contrast, the coastal states already had barrier free access to international trade and did not want consumers and producers burdened with the import duties they would pay if they were within the Zollverein customs border.
The external tariffs on finished goods and overseas raw materials were below the rates of the Zollverein. Brunswick joined the Zollverein Customs Union in , while Hanover and Oldenburg finally joined in  After the Austro-Prussian war of , Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg were annexed by Prussia and thus annexed also to the Customs Union, while the two Mecklenburg states and the city states of Hamburg and Bremen joined late because they were reliant on international trade. The Mecklenburgs joined in , while Bremen and Hamburg joined in By the early 19th century, German roads had deteriorated to an appalling extent.
By , Heinrich von Gagern wrote that roads were the "veins and arteries of the body politic Water transportation also improved. The blockades on the Rhine had been removed by Napoleon's orders, but by the s, steam engines freed riverboats from the cumbersome system of men and animals that towed them upstream.
By , steamers plied German rivers and Lake Constance , and a network of canals extended from the Danube , the Weser , and the Elbe rivers. As important as these improvements were, they could not compete with the impact of the railway. German economist Friedrich List called the railways and the Customs Union "Siamese Twins", emphasizing their important relationship to one another.
Although it was 6 kilometres 3. Lacking a geographically central organizing feature such as a national capital , the rails were laid in webs, linking towns and markets within regions, regions within larger regions, and so on. As the rail network expanded, it became cheaper to transport goods: in , 18 Pfennigs per ton per kilometer and in , five Pfennigs.
The effects of the railway were immediate. For example, raw materials could travel up and down the Ruhr Valley without having to unload and reload. Railway lines encouraged economic activity by creating demand for commodities and by facilitating commerce. In , inland shipping carried three times more freight than railroads; by , the situation was reversed, and railroads carried four times more. Rail travel changed how cities looked and how people traveled. Its impact reached throughout the social order, affecting the highest born to the lowest.
Although some of the outlying German provinces were not serviced by rail until the s, the majority of the population, manufacturing centers, and production centers were linked to the rail network by As travel became easier, faster, and less expensive, Germans started to see unity in factors other than their language. The Brothers Grimm , who compiled a massive dictionary known as The Grimm , also assembled a compendium of folk tales and fables, which highlighted the story-telling parallels between different regions.
His guides also included distances, roads to avoid, and hiking paths to follow. The words of August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben expressed not only the linguistic unity of the German people but also their geographic unity. Schneckenburger wrote "The Watch on the Rhine" in a specific patriotic response to French assertions that the Rhine was France's "natural" eastern boundary.
In , Alexander von Humboldt argued that national character reflected geographic influence, linking landscape to people. Concurrent with this idea, movements to preserve old fortresses and historic sites emerged, and these particularly focused on the Rhineland, the site of so many confrontations with France and Spain. During this period, European liberalism gained momentum; the agenda included economic, social, and political issues.
Their "radicalness" depended upon where they stood on the spectrum of male suffrage : the wider the definition of suffrage, the more radical. Despite considerable conservative reaction, ideas of unity joined with notions of popular sovereignty in German-speaking lands. Celebrants gathered in the town below and marched to the ruins of Hambach Castle on the heights above the small town of Hambach, in the Palatinate province of Bavaria. Carrying flags, beating drums, and singing, the participants took the better part of the morning and mid-day to arrive at the castle grounds, where they listened to speeches by nationalist orators from across the conservative to radical political spectrum.
The overall content of the speeches suggested a fundamental difference between the German nationalism of the s and the French nationalism of the July Revolution : the focus of German nationalism lay in the education of the people; once the populace was educated as to what was needed, they would accomplish it. The Hambach rhetoric emphasized the overall peaceable nature of German nationalism: the point was not to build barricades, a very "French" form of nationalism, but to build emotional bridges between groups.
As he had done in , after the Kotzebue assassination, Metternich used the popular demonstration at Hambach to push conservative social policy. The "Six Articles" of 28 June primarily reaffirmed the principle of monarchical authority. On 5 July, the Frankfurt Diet voted for an additional 10 articles, which reiterated existing rules on censorship, restricted political organizations, and limited other public activity.
Furthermore, the member states agreed to send military assistance to any government threatened by unrest. Several other factors complicated the rise of nationalism in the German states. The man-made factors included political rivalries between members of the German confederation, particularly between the Austrians and the Prussians, and socio-economic competition among the commercial and merchant interests and the old land-owning and aristocratic interests.
Natural factors included widespread drought in the early s, and again in the s, and a food crisis in the s. Further complications emerged as a result of a shift in industrialization and manufacturing; as people sought jobs, they left their villages and small towns to work during the week in the cities, returning for a day and a half on weekends.
The economic, social and cultural dislocation of ordinary people, the economic hardship of an economy in transition, and the pressures of meteorological disasters all contributed to growing problems in Central Europe. Those in authority were concerned about the growing unrest, political and social agitation among the working classes, and the disaffection of the intelligentsia. No amount of censorship, fines, imprisonment, or banishment, it seemed, could stem the criticism.
Furthermore, it was becoming increasingly clear that both Austria and Prussia wanted to be the leaders in any resulting unification; each would inhibit the drive of the other to achieve unification. Crucially, both the Wartburg rally in and the Hambach Festival in had lacked any clear-cut program of unification. At Hambach, the positions of the many speakers illustrated their disparate agendas. Held together only by the idea of unification, their notions of how to achieve this did not include specific plans but instead rested on the nebulous idea that the Volk the people , if properly educated, would bring about unification on their own.
Grand speeches, flags, exuberant students, and picnic lunches did not translate into a new political, bureaucratic, or administrative apparatus. While many spoke about the need for a constitution, no such document appeared from the discussions. In , nationalists sought to remedy that problem. The widespread—mainly German— revolutions of —49 sought unification of Germany under a single constitution.
The revolutionaries pressured various state governments, particularly those in the Rhineland , for a parliamentary assembly that would have the responsibility to draft a constitution.
SparkNotes: Europe The Balance of Power in Europe ()
Ultimately, many of the left-wing revolutionaries hoped this constitution would establish universal male suffrage , a permanent national parliament, and a unified Germany, possibly under the leadership of the Prussian king. This seemed to be the most logical course since Prussia was the strongest of the German states, as well as the largest in geographic size.
Generally, center-right revolutionaries sought some kind of expanded suffrage within their states and potentially, a form of loose unification. Their pressure resulted in a variety of elections, based on different voting qualifications, such as the Prussian three-class franchise , which granted to some electoral groups—chiefly the wealthier, landed ones—greater representative power. He refused for a variety of reasons. Publicly, he replied that he could not accept a crown without the consent of the actual states, by which he meant the princes.
Privately, he feared opposition from the other German princes and military intervention from Austria or Russia. He also held a fundamental distaste for the idea of accepting a crown from a popularly elected parliament: he would not accept a crown of "clay". While the liberals failed to achieve the unification they sought, they did manage to gain a partial victory by working with the German princes on many constitutional issues and collaborating with them on reforms.
Scholars of German history have engaged in decades of debate over how the successes and failures of the Frankfurt Parliament contribute to the historiographical explanations of German nation building. One school of thought, which emerged after The Great War and gained momentum in the aftermath of World War II , maintains that the failure of German liberals in the Frankfurt Parliament led to bourgeoisie compromise with conservatives especially the conservative Junker landholders , which subsequently led to the so-called Sonderweg distinctive path of 20th-century German history.
Hitler often called on the German public to sacrifice all for the cause of their great nation, but his regime did not create German nationalism: it merely capitalized on an intrinsic cultural value of German society that still remains prevalent even to this day. More recent scholarship has rejected this idea, claiming that Germany did not have an actual "distinctive path" any more than any other nation, a historiographic idea known as exceptionalism.
Many of their ideas and programs were later incorporated into Bismarck's social programs e. In addition, the notion of a distinctive path relies upon the underlying assumption that some other nation's path in this case, the United Kingdom's is the accepted norm. Nor did it develop particularly early, being rather a largely mid-to-lateth-century phenomenon. This limited union under Prussia would have almost entirely eliminated Austrian influence on the other German states.
In November , the Prussians—specifically Radowitz and Frederick William—agreed to the restoration of the German Confederation under Austrian leadership. The question became not a matter of if but rather when unification would occur, and when was contingent upon strength. We cannot conceal the fact that the whole German question is a simple alternative between Prussia and Austria.
In these states, German life has its positive and negative poles—in the former, all the interests [that] are national and reformative, in the latter, all that are dynastic and destructive. The German question is not a constitutional question but a question of power; and the Prussian monarchy is now wholly German, while that of Austria cannot be. Unification under these conditions raised a basic diplomatic problem. The possibility of German or Italian unification would overturn the overlapping spheres of influence system created in at the Congress of Vienna.
The principal architects of this convention, Metternich , Castlereagh , and Tsar Alexander with his foreign secretary Count Karl Nesselrode , had conceived of and organized a Europe balanced and guaranteed by four " great powers ": Great Britain, France, Russia, and Austria, with each power having a geographic sphere of influence. France's sphere included the Iberian Peninsula and a share of influence in the Italian states. Russia's included the eastern regions of Central Europe and a balancing influence in the Balkans.
Austria's sphere expanded throughout much of the Central European territories formerly held by the Holy Roman Empire. Britain's sphere was the rest of the world, especially the seas. This sphere of influence system depended upon the fragmentation of the German and Italian states, not their consolidation. Consequently, a German nation united under one banner presented significant questions. There was no readily applicable definition for who the German people would be or how far the borders of a German nation would stretch. There was also uncertainty as to who would best lead and defend "Germany", however it was defined.
Different groups offered different solutions to this problem. In the Kleindeutschland "Lesser Germany" solution, the German states would be united under the leadership of the Prussian Hohenzollerns ; in the Grossdeutschland "Greater Germany" solution, the German states would be united under the leadership of the Austrian Habsburgs.
This controversy, the latest phase of the German dualism debate that had dominated the politics of the German states and Austro-Prussian diplomacy since the creation of the Kingdom of Prussia , would come to a head during the following twenty years. Other nationalists had high hopes for the German unification movement, and the frustration with lasting German unification after seemed to set the national movement back. Revolutionaries associated national unification with progress. As Giuseppe Garibaldi wrote to German revolutionary Karl Blind on 10 April , "The progress of humanity seems to have come to a halt, and you with your superior intelligence will know why.
The reason is that the world lacks a nation [that] possesses true leadership. Such leadership, of course, is required not to dominate other peoples but to lead them along the path of duty, to lead them toward the brotherhood of nations where all the barriers erected by egoism will be destroyed. We need a nation courageous enough to give us a lead in this direction.
It would rally to its cause all those who are suffering wrong or who aspire to a better life and all those who are now enduring foreign oppression. German unification had also been viewed as a prerequisite for the creation of a European federation, which Giuseppe Mazzini and other European patriots had been promoting for more than three decades:. In the spring of , while at Berne , Mazzini and a dozen refugees from Italy, Poland and Germany founded a new association with the grandiose name of Young Europe.
Its basic, and equally grandiose idea, was that, as the French Revolution of had enlarged the concept of individual liberty, another revolution would now be needed for national liberty; and his vision went further because he hoped that in the no doubt distant future free nations might combine to form a loosely federal Europe with some kind of federal assembly to regulate their common interests. In practice Young Europe lacked the money and popular support for more than a short-term existence.
Nevertheless he always remained faithful to the ideal of a united continent for which the creation of individual nations would be an indispensable preliminary. King Frederick William IV suffered a stroke in and could no longer rule. Von Roon and William who took an active interest in military structures began reorganizing the Prussian army, while Moltke redesigned the strategic defense of Prussia by streamlining operational command. Prussian army reforms especially how to pay for them caused a constitutional crisis beginning in because both parliament and William—via his minister of war—wanted control over the military budget.
Bismarck resolved the crisis in favor of the war minister. In the aftermath of this disarray, the convergence of von Moltke's operational redesign, von Roon and Wilhelm's army restructure, and Bismarck's diplomacy influenced the realignment of the European balance of power. Their combined agendas established Prussia as the leading German power through a combination of foreign diplomatic triumphs—backed up by the possible use of Prussian military might—and an internal conservativism tempered by pragmatism, which came to be known as Realpolitik.
Bismarck expressed the essence of Realpolitik in his subsequently famous "Blood and Iron" speech to the Budget Committee of the Prussian Chamber of Deputies on 30 September , shortly after he became Minister President: "The great questions of the time will not be resolved by speeches and majority decisions—that was the great mistake of and —but by iron and blood.
There is, in political geography, no Germany proper to speak of. There are Kingdoms and Grand Duchies, and Duchies and Principalities, inhabited by Germans, and each [is] separately ruled by an independent sovereign with all the machinery of State. Yet there is a natural undercurrent tending to a national feeling and toward a union of the Germans into one great nation, ruled by one common head as a national unit. By , when Bismarck made his speech, the idea of a German nation-state in the peaceful spirit of Pan-Germanism had shifted from the liberal and democratic character of to accommodate Bismarck's more conservative Realpolitik.
Bismarck sought to link a unified state to the Hohenzollern dynasty, which for some historians remains one of Bismarck's primary contributions to the creation of the German Empire in This opportunity arose with the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in Historians have long debated Bismarck's role in the events leading up to the war.
The traditional view, promulgated in large part by late 19th and early 20th century pro-Prussian historians, maintains that Bismarck's intent was always German unification. Post historians, however, see more short-term opportunism and cynicism in Bismarck's manipulation of the circumstances to create a war, rather than a grand scheme to unify a nation-state.
Three episodes proved fundamental to the unification of Germany. Finally, France—fearing Hohenzollern encirclement—declared war on Prussia in , resulting in the Franco-Prussian War. Through a combination of Bismarck's diplomacy and political leadership, von Roon 's military reorganization, and von Moltke 's military strategy, Prussia demonstrated that none of the European signatories of the peace treaty could guarantee Austria's sphere of influence in Central Europe, thus achieving Prussian hegemony in Germany and ending the dualism debate.
Otto and the Empire
The first episode in the saga of German unification under Bismarck came with the Schleswig-Holstein Question. The German Confederation saw this act as a violation of the London Protocol of , which emphasized the status of the Kingdom of Denmark as distinct from the independent duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. The populations of Schleswig and Holstein, furthermore, valued their separate status. The German Confederation could use the ethnicities of these duchies as a rallying cry: large portions of both Schleswig and Holstein were of German origin and spoke German in everyday life though Schleswig had a sizable Danish minority.
Diplomatic attempts to have the November Constitution repealed collapsed, and fighting began when Prussian and Austrian troops crossed the border into Schleswig on 1 February Initially, the Danes attempted to defend their country using an ancient earthen wall known as the Danevirke , but this proved futile. The Danes were no match for the combined Prussian and Austrian forces, and they could not rely on help from their allies in the other Scandinavian states because Denmark had nullified its alliance by violating the London Protocol.
The Needle Gun , one of the first bolt action rifles to be used in conflict, aided the Prussians in both this war and the Austro-Prussian War two years later. The rifle enabled a Prussian soldier to fire five shots while lying prone, while its muzzle-loading counterpart could only fire one shot and had to be reloaded while standing. The Second Schleswig War resulted in victory for the combined armies of Prussia and Austria, and the two countries won control of Schleswig and Holstein in the concluding peace of Vienna , signed on 30 October The second episode in Bismarck's unification efforts occurred in In concert with the newly formed Italy , Bismarck created a diplomatic environment in which Austria declared war on Prussia.
The dramatic prelude to the war occurred largely in Frankfurt, where the two powers claimed to speak for all the German states in the parliament. In April , the Prussian representative in Florence signed a secret agreement with the Italian government, committing each state to assist the other in a war against Austria. The next day, the Prussian delegate to the Frankfurt assembly presented a plan calling for a national constitution, a directly elected national Diet, and universal suffrage. German liberals were justifiably skeptical of this plan, having witnessed Bismarck's difficult and ambiguous relationship with the Prussian Landtag State Parliament , a relationship characterized by Bismarck's cajoling and riding roughshod over the representatives.
These skeptics saw the proposal as a ploy to enhance Prussian power rather than a progressive agenda of reform. The debate over the proposed national constitution became moot when news of Italian troop movements in Tyrol and near the Venetian border reached Vienna in April The Austrian government ordered partial mobilization in the southern regions; the Italians responded by ordering full mobilization. Despite calls for rational thought and action, Italy, Prussia, and Austria continued to rush toward armed conflict.
On 1 May, Wilhelm gave von Moltke command over the Prussian armed forces, and the next day he began full-scale mobilization. These individual governments rejected the potent combination of enticing promises and subtle or outright threats Bismarck used to try to gain their support against the Habsburgs. The Prussian war cabinet understood that its only supporters among the German states against the Habsburgs were two small principalities bordering on Brandenburg that had little military strength or political clout: the Grand Duchies of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
They also understood that Prussia's only ally abroad was Italy. Opposition to Prussia's strong-armed tactics surfaced in other social and political groups. Throughout the German states, city councils, liberal parliamentary members who favored a unified state, and chambers of commerce—which would see great benefits from unification—opposed any war between Prussia and Austria. They believed any such conflict would only serve the interests of royal dynasties. Their own interests, which they understood as "civil" or "bourgeois", seemed irrelevant. Public opinion also opposed Prussian domination.
Catholic populations along the Rhine —especially in such cosmopolitan regions as Cologne and in the heavily populated Ruhr Valley—continued to support Austria.