Prussia had a very
strong economy, partly
due to the success of the
This financial success
gave Prussia the ability
to build a strong army.
Stronger Prussian army
King Wilhelm wanted to build
a bigger, stronger army but
was blocked by the Prussian
Bismarck simply defied them
and took the taxes to make
War with Denmark
In 1863, Denmark took control of
Schleswig and Holstein, two
states with German populations.
Prussia persuaded Austria to
support them in a war against
Denmark in 1864. Germany easily
won this war.
Bismarck took steps to isolate
Austria, including blocking
their access to Holstein.
He persuaded France to not
support Austria. Italy backed
Prussia and Russia refused to
In June 1866, Austria declared war
on Prussia, and gained some
support from smaller states.
Prussia easily and quickly defeated
Austria (it is known as the Seven
Weeks War). However Bismarck
did not want to humiliate Austria.
Austro-Prussian War outcomes
• Austria was expelled from the
• 21 states north of the River Main
formed the North German
Confederation (led by Prussia)
• Southern German states had to
pay money to Prussia and enter
military alliances with them
The northern German states
were united; Bismarck
believed the south would do
so if they faced a major enemy.
Bismarck took steps to
provoke France and isolate
them from the rest of Europe.
Spanish Candidature and Ems
Bismarck proposed that a
Prussian prince take the
Spanish throne, meaning
France would be surrounded.
Bismarck also published the
‘Ems Telegram’ which greatly
His Majesty the King has written to me:
Count Benedetti intercepted me on the promenade and ended by demanding of
me, in a very importunate manner, that I should authorize him to telegraph at
once that I bound myself in perpetuity never again to give my consent if the
Hohenzollerns renewed their candidature.
I rejected this demand somewhat sternly, as it is neither right nor possible to
undertake engagements of this kind [for ever and ever]. Naturally, I told him that
I had not yet received any news and, since he had been better informed via Paris
and Madrid than I was, he must surely see that my government was not
concerned in the matter.
[The King, on the advice of one of his ministers], decided, in view of the above-
mentioned demands, not to receive Count Benedetti any more, but to have him
informed, by an adjutant, that His Majesty had now received [from Leopold]
confirmation of the news which Benedetti had already had from Paris and had
nothing further to say to the ambassador.
His Majesty suggests to Your Excellency, that Benedetti's new demand and its
rejection might well be communicated both to our ambassadors and to the Press.
After the news of the renunciation
of the Prince von Hohenzollern
had been communicated to the
Imperial French government by the
Royal Spanish government, the
French Ambassador in Ems made a
further demand on His Majesty the
King that he should authorize him
to telegraph to Paris that His
Majesty the King undertook for all
time never again to give his assent
should the Hohenzollerns once
more take up their candidature.
His Majesty the King thereupon
refused to receive the Ambassador
again and had the latter informed
by the Adjutant of the day that His
Majesty had no further
communication to make to the
Real version Bismarck’s version
France declared war on Prussia in
1870. The southern German states
joined the north to fight. Germany
easily defeated France and took
land, including Alsace-Lorraine.
Wilhelm was declared Emperor of
Germany in January 1871.
Arguments for importance
Prussia’s military strength was
vital in keeping control of
their own country.
Although many members of
the Prussian Landtag opposed
army changes, they could not
rebel due to army strength.
Loyalty from other states
Prussia’s ability to stand up to
Denmark showed other
German states that its army
could protect them all.
It also made clear to other
states the problems with
opposing Prussian wishes.
Prussia’s military strength was
important in achieving
unification – but it was really
due to Bismarck.
It was he who defied the
Prussian Landtag to collect
the taxes needed for the army.
Bismarck also helped engineer
the wars with Austria and
Many believe this is what he
planned for from the start
when he took steps to build a
strong Prussian army.