The following is a brief historical account of how the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) led to the unification of the mighty German Empire.
Causes behind the Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War began in 1870 and ended in 1871.
The combatant countries were France, the German States and Prussia.
The main cause behind the war was Prince Otto Edward Leopold Von Bismarck’s determination to unify the German states under the leadership of Prussia.
Bismarck also intended to liberate Germany from French influence.
Another principal reason for the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War was that Napoleon III, emperor of France from 1852 to 1870, sought to restore France’s notoriety after suffering significant diplomatic setbacks on behalf of Prussia during the Austro-Prussian War of 1866.
The outbrake of the war and the Battle of Sedan
Outbreak of the war
History-World.org indicated that France declared war on Prussia on 19 July 1870. The German states rapidly joined King William I of Prussia to fight against France.
The French army consisted had nearly 200,000 troops, while the Germans had a superior army with 400,000 troops.
The German army responded to King William I, and was under the command of the prominent strategist Helmuth Karl Bernhard, Graf von Moltke. General Karl Friedrich Von Steinmetz, Prince Frederick Charles and Crown Prince Frederick Williams (who became Frederick III of Prussia and German emperor) led three different armies into France and defeated it. The Battle of Sedan The Battle of Sedan decided the outcome of the Franco-Prussian War. During this decisive battle, Napoleon III ordered the surrender of his troops after realizing that he could not defeat the German-Prussian armies.
At Sedan, Napoleon III and 83,000 of his men surrendered to the Germans.
After resisting siege and bombardment for some time, Paris had no choice but to surrender in 1871.
According to Francoprussianwar.com, this incident marked the fall of the French Empire and the beginning of the Third Republic.
What is more important, the victory of the German states, leaded by Prussia, provoked the unification of Germany, which became the most powerful country in Europe.
The Treaty of Frankfurt
The Treaty of Frankfurt
The Franco-Prussian war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Frankfurt on 10 May 1871.
The French lost the territory of Alsace-Lorraine to the new German Empire. What is more, France was expected to pay five billion gold francs as an indemnity for the war. German troops occupied French territories until 1873, when the indemnity was discarded.