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Forum LockedOrigins of the Franco-Prussian War

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Winterhaze13 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Origins of the Franco-Prussian War
    Posted: 15-Mar-2005 at 11:17
I was wondering if anyone knew anything about the origins of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71. This topic is largely uncertain and I myself have heard a number of different theories. Also, who could be seen as the agressor? Was it Napoleon III's France or Bismarck's Prussia? What were the consequences of this war? 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tobodai Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Mar-2005 at 14:44

Bismark was the aggresor behind the scenes, but to peopoel at the time it looked like France was.  Of course the long term consequences have to do with France hating Germany, Germany getting to powerful and thus bringing the enemies of Russia and Britain together and ruining any balance of power they may have been.

I view it more as a scheme to unify Germany and strenghten Prussia than anything specifically targeted at France.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Winterhaze13 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Mar-2005 at 17:57

The Prussians nominated a Hohenzollern King to marry a princess in Spain. Napoleon III saw this as Prussian intervining in the French sphere of influence and deliberately provoked a war. However, Bismarck must have known that his actions would have angered the French. And keep in mind Prussian influence and prestige was at an all time high after the Six-weeks war against Austria. Perhaps Napoleon III was afraid of their growing power. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tobodai Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Mar-2005 at 00:01
perhaps but I still think he was duped, he wasnt exactly the France;s brightest monarch anyway, and at the end of the war he seemed to want to die, manning a gun at the front and feeling the ill effects of roiling gall stones.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Winterhaze13 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Mar-2005 at 11:20

Originally posted by Tobodai Tobodai wrote:

perhaps but I still think he was duped, he wasnt exactly the France;s brightest monarch anyway, and at the end of the war he seemed to want to die, manning a gun at the front and feeling the ill effects of roiling gall stones.

Are you talking about Napoleon III?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tobodai Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Mar-2005 at 17:36
yes
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Winterhaze13 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Mar-2005 at 11:14
Well, France had always prided its self on being the dominant military power on the continent and I think the Spanish fiasco convinced Napoleon III that Prussia was a thread to that hegemony.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote heikstheo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Apr-2007 at 12:47
Originally posted by Winterhaze13 Winterhaze13 wrote:

I was wondering if anyone knew anything about the origins of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71. This topic is largely uncertain and I myself have heard a number of different theories. Also, who could be seen as the agressor? Was it Napoleon III's France or Bismarck's Prussia? What were the consequences of this war? 
That Modern European History class I took with Christopher M. Holloway at Mesa State College was 24 years ago, but I seem to recall that when the Spanish invited a Hohenzollern prince to sit on their throne, Napoleon III's France sent a telegram which was then "edited" in such a way as to inflame the German people. Basically, Otto von Bismarck needed a second good war to unite Germany. The first war, the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, knocked out the only other German principality that could compete with Prussia for hegemony in Germany. This united the Protestant north German states behind Prussia. Now Bismarck needed another good war to unite the Catholic south German states into a new united Germany, and the Franco-Prussian War just happened to be it.   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ChickenShoes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Apr-2007 at 15:25
Originally posted by Winterhaze13 Winterhaze13 wrote:

The Prussians nominated a Hohenzollern King to marry a princess in Spain. Napoleon III saw this as Prussian intervining in the French sphere of influence and deliberately provoked a war. However, Bismarck must have known that his actions would have angered the French. And keep in mind Prussian influence and prestige was at an all time high after the Six-weeks war against Austria. Perhaps Napoleon III was afraid of their growing power. 

 
this is what I always thought was the cause of the war
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kapikulu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Apr-2007 at 11:00

That cause was absolutely a pretext..It is said that Bismarck has used that event to provoke the French and create a good alibi for the war which would unite Germany under one flag. If Prussia had been the declarer of the war itself, that German unification might not have been that easy.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Justinian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Jul-2007 at 00:19
My understanding of the origins of the war are the spanish asked for a german prince to become king, the hohenzollerns agreed, France got very upset, the prince in question relented and declined the spanish offer, egos and the threat of losing face got involved, besides pride, the french sent a telegram bismark manipulated it...france declares war. (If I am mistaken by all means let me know)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote heikstheo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2007 at 14:40
Originally posted by Justinian Justinian wrote:

the french sent a telegram bismark manipulated it...france declares war. (If I am mistaken by all means let me know)
Ahem, Bismarck then used manipulated telegram to get Germans whipped up to declare war on France!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jul-2007 at 12:34
Quote My understanding of the origins of the war are the spanish asked for a german prince to become king, the hohenzollerns agreed, France got very upset, the prince in question relented and declined the spanish offer, egos and the threat of losing face got involved, besides pride, the french sent a telegram bismark manipulated it...france declares war. (If I am mistaken by all means let me know)
 
I always thought that In a nutshell, it was to scare the southern states into joining Prussia. They could then declare the German empire in the 1870s.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Justinian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Jul-2007 at 23:44
Originally posted by heikstheo heikstheo wrote:

Originally posted by Justinian Justinian wrote:

the french sent a telegram bismark manipulated it...france declares war. (If I am mistaken by all means let me know)
Ahem, Bismarck then used manipulated telegram to get Germans whipped up to declare war on France!
 
Thanks for clarifying it, I couldn't remember if the prussians declared war on the french or vice versa.
 
Originally posted by aster thrax eupator aster thrax eupator wrote:

I always thought that In a nutshell, it was to scare the southern states into joining Prussia. They could then declare the German empire in the 1870s.
 
I think you're right, though that was more bismark's grand strategic plans than anyone else.


Edited by Justinian - 24-Jul-2007 at 23:48
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote heikstheo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Jul-2007 at 00:12
Another interesting (and little-noticed) aspect of this whole mess was that the Hohenzollern who was chosen to become the Spanish king was of a more senior branch of the Hohenzollern family than the kings of Prussia. Thus, Prussia was in no position to dictate to this Hohenzollern prince one way or the other whether or not to take the Spanish throne.

Edited by heikstheo - 25-Jul-2007 at 00:12
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Jul-2007 at 08:54
Originally posted by heikstheo heikstheo wrote:

Another interesting (and little-noticed) aspect of this whole mess was that the Hohenzollern who was chosen to become the Spanish king was of a more senior branch of the Hohenzollern family than the kings of Prussia. Thus, Prussia was in no position to dictate to this Hohenzollern prince one way or the other whether or not to take the Spanish throne.
 
While princes of "royal" or aristocratic blood were comparitively free to consider or to accept offers of kingship, politics was always a consideration.
 
The Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (Swabian) branch of the family had acknowledged the paramount position of the Brandenburg (Franconian) branch in 1848-1850 after the liberal disorders of 1848 had been suppressed.  The Brandenburg branch had, after all, been kings since 1701.  A mobilizable army of 400 or 500,000 didn't hurt either. 
 
King William I had disapproved of the Hohenzollern candidacy for political reasons, and worked against it behind Bismarck's back in July, 1870.  One also assumes that the Spanish cortes could have chosen a prince from another German family as their presumptive king....or a Habsburg, who were nominal French "partners" in the later 1860s.
 
In actual fact, by 1870 the Sigmaringen branch were subjects of the King of Prussia, their major estate having been sold to the Brandenburg branch and incorporated into that kingdom.  The prospective candidate, Prince Leopold, and his father Karl Antony, who was approached by Spain, were both serving officers in the Prussian army, and the king was their commander-in-chief.
 
 
 
 


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 25-Jul-2007 at 11:52
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Jul-2007 at 11:59
Originally posted by heikstheo heikstheo wrote:

Originally posted by Justinian Justinian wrote:

the french sent a telegram bismark manipulated it...france declares war. (If I am mistaken by all means let me know)
Ahem, Bismarck then used manipulated telegram to get Germans whipped up to declare war on France!
 
The French declared war first on 19 July, and only the King of Prussia could declare war with other princes in tow.  The king was not going to abide by French demands regardless of Bismarck's actions.  It was French ineptitude more than Prussian (read Bismarck's) machinations that led to the war.  Bismarck was a tricky, manipulative SOB, but Napoleon III was the victim of his uncle's military reputation.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Jul-2007 at 12:12
Originally posted by Aster Thrax Eupator Aster Thrax Eupator wrote:

Quote My understanding of the origins of the war are the spanish asked for a german prince to become king, the hohenzollerns agreed, France got very upset, the prince in question relented and declined the spanish offer, egos and the threat of losing face got involved, besides pride, the french sent a telegram bismark manipulated it...france declares war. (If I am mistaken by all means let me know)
 
I always thought that In a nutshell, it was to scare the southern states into joining Prussia. They could then declare the German empire in the 1870s.
 
Actually Prussia already had secret military agreements with the south German principalities.  Bavaria was the one that mattered, and Bismarck had managed to bribe King Ludwig into agreeing, and into persuading the others.
 
All this came out during the Luxembourg affair in 1867, and was a major shock to France.  The French had not only ceased to be a war-like nation, they had become diplomatically inept, as the Spanish candidacy in 1870 showed.
 
Believe it or not, the proclamation of the Empire was only arranged in the euphoria of victory in 1871, and was not universally popular among the princes...who were the one's who proclaimed it, not "the Germans."
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Jul-2007 at 13:14
couldn't have said it better!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Jul-2007 at 10:01
As another comment about proclaiming William I as "German Emperor," there were many German princes not that happy about it.  William himself was uneasy about subordinating Prussia to a greater Germany.  His interests consisted mostly of his kingdom, the army (the army of Frederick the Great, not western/southern Germany) and friendship with and support for Russia.  His wife, the new Kaiserin, hated the idea (she hated Bismarck like the plague anyway).
 
The Catholic princes of south Germany were not all that wild about the empire either, being then outnumbered by Protestant components in the new "federal" uber state.  Bismarck distrusted Catholics, Catholicism, the Pope and the "Jesuit conspiracy" to weaken the primacy of the state.
 
The anti-Prussian Hanoverian Guelphs, the Saxons, many "Western" Germans, Catholics in the Rhineland, etc. were uneasy about all of it.  The crown prince feared the empire would make Prussia, and all Germany hated.
 
Even Bismarck wasn't happy about the way it had to be done.  France had not surrendered; Paris was still besieged, but it had to be engineered while all the princes and their troops were assembled and focused, before the idea cooled off after the war ended.
 
The princes were really the only ones who mattered, and the jingoistic middle classes then became drunk with "German" military success.  The princes, and the Junkers, became victory's victims....though that wasn't appreciated until the 20th century.
 
 
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