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Otto, Prince of Bismarck, Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen, Duke of Lauenburg (german: Otto Fürst von Bismarck, Graf von Bismarck-Schönhausen, Herzog zu Lauenburg ; 1 April 1815 – 30 July 1898), born Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck, was a conservative German statesman and diplomat. From his base in the upper-class of
Junker Junker ( da, Junker, german: Junker, nl, Jonkheer, en, Yunker, no, Junker, sv, Junker ka, იუნკერი (Iunkeri)) is a noble honorific An honorific is a title that conveys esteem, courtesy, or respect for position or rank when us ...
landowners, Bismarck rose rapidly in Prussian politics. He masterminded the
unification of Germany The unification of Germany into the German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Benningto ...
in 1871 and served as its first
chancellor Chancellor ( la, links=no, cancellarius) is a title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the ''cancellarii Cancelli are lattice-work, placed before a window, a door-way, the tribunal o ...
until 1890, in which capacity he dominated European affairs for two decades. He had served as the chancellor of the
North German Confederation The North German Confederation (german: Norddeutscher Bund) was the Germans, German federal state which existed from July 1867 to December 1870. The Confederation came into existence after the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 over the lordship of tw ...
from 1867 to 1871 and alongside the office of chancellor of Germany, he was
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-Europ ...
's
minister president A minister-president or minister president is the head of government in a number of European countries or subnational governments with a parliamentary system, parliamentary or semi-presidential system, semi-presidential system of government where t ...
and the
minister of Foreign Affairs A foreign affairs minister or minister of foreign affairs (less commonly minister for foreign affairs) is generally a cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawe ...
from 1862 to 1890. Before his rise to the
executive power The executive (short for executive branch or executive power) is the part of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, ...
, Bismarck was the Prussian ambassador to
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
and
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...
and served in both houses of the
Prussian Parliament The Landtag of Prussia (german: Preußischer Landtag) was the representative assemblyA representative assembly is a political institution in which a number of persons representing the population or privileged orders within the population of a state ...
. He cooperated with King Wilhelm I of Prussia to unify the various German states, a partnership that would last for the rest of Wilhelm's life. King Wilhelm granted Chancellor Bismarck the titles of Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen in 1865 and
Prince of Bismarck Prince of Bismarck (german: Fürst von Bismarck) is a title of the German nobility. The German word '' Fürst'' historically denotes a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is bo ...
in 1871. Bismarck provoked three short, decisive wars against
Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), hu ...
,
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked Eastern Alps, East Alpine country in the southern part of Central Europe. It is composed of nine States o ...
, and
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...
. Following the victory against Austria, he abolished the supranational
German Confederation The German Confederation (german: Deutscher Bund) was an association of 39 predominantly German-speaking sovereign states in Central Europe, created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 as a replacement of the former Holy Roman Empire, which had ...

German Confederation
and instead formed the North German Confederation as the first German national state, aligning the smaller North German states behind Prussia, and excluding Austria. Receiving the support of the independent South German states in the Confederation's defeat of France, he formed the
German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
– which also excluded Austria – and united Germany. With Prussian dominance accomplished by 1871, Bismarck skillfully used balance of power diplomacy to maintain Germany's position in a peaceful Europe. To historian
Eric Hobsbawm Eric John Ernest Hobsbawm (; 9 June 1917 – 1 October 2012) was a British historian of the rise of industrial capitalism Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership Private property is a legal designation for ...

Eric Hobsbawm
, Bismarck "remained undisputed world champion at the game of multilateral diplomatic chess for almost twenty years after 1871,
nd
nd
devoted himself exclusively, and successfully, to maintaining peace between the powers". However, his annexation of Alsace-Lorraine (Elsaß-Lothringen) gave new fuel to French nationalism and Germanophobia. Bismarck's diplomacy of ''
Realpolitik ''Realpolitik'' (from german: real; "realistic", "practical", or "actual"; and '; "politics", ) is politics or diplomacy based primarily on considerations of given circumstances and factors, rather than explicit ideological notions or moral and eth ...
'' and powerful rule at home gained him the nickname the Iron Chancellor. German unification and its rapid economic growth was the foundation to his foreign policy. He disliked colonialism but reluctantly built an overseas empire when it was demanded by both elite and mass opinion. Juggling a very complex interlocking series of conferences, negotiations and alliances, he used his diplomatic skills to maintain Germany's position. A master of complex politics at home, Bismarck created the first
welfare state The welfare state is a form of government in which the state (or a well-established network of social institutions) protects and promotes the economic and social well-being of its citizens, based upon the principles of equal opportunity Equal o ...
in the modern world, with the goal of gaining working class support that might otherwise go to his Socialist opponents. In the 1870s, he allied himself with the low-tariff, anti-
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic
Liberals and fought the Catholic Church in what was called the ''
Kulturkampf ''Kulturkampf'' (, 'culture struggle') was the conflict that took place from 1872 to 1878 between the government of the Kingdom of Prussia The Kingdom of Prussia (german: Königreich Preußen) was a German Monarchy, kingdom that constituted th ...
'' ("culture struggle"). He lost that battle as the Catholics responded by forming the powerful German Centre Party and using
universal male suffrageUniversal manhood suffrage is a form of voting rights Voting is a method for a group, such as a meeting or an electorate, in order to make a collective decision or express an opinion usually following discussions, debates or election campaigns. ...
to gain a bloc of seats. Bismarck then reversed himself, ended the ''Kulturkampf'', broke with the Liberals, imposed protective tariffs, and formed a political alliance with the Centre Party to fight the Socialists. A devout
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Jesus Christ and was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology ...
, he was loyal to his ruler, Kaiser Wilhelm I, who argued with Bismarck but in the end supported him against the advice of his wife Empress Augusta and his heir Crown Prince Frederick William. While Germany's parliament was elected by universal male suffrage, it did not have much control of government policy. Bismarck distrusted democracy and ruled through a strong, well-trained bureaucracy with power in the hands of a traditional
Junker Junker ( da, Junker, german: Junker, nl, Jonkheer, en, Yunker, no, Junker, sv, Junker ka, იუნკერი (Iunkeri)) is a noble honorific An honorific is a title that conveys esteem, courtesy, or respect for position or rank when ...
elite that consisted of the landed nobility in
eastern Prussia East Prussia (german: Ostpreußen, ; pl, Prusy Wschodnie; lt, Rytų Prūsija; la, Borussia orientalis; russian: Восточная Пруссия, Vostóčnaya Prússiya) was a Provinces of Prussia, province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773 ...
. In his role as chancellor, he largely controlled domestic and foreign affairs. The year 1888 saw a quick transition on the German throne from Wilhelm I to his son Frederick III to Frederick's son
Wilhelm II Wilhelm II (Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albert; 27 January 18594 June 1941), anglicised as William II, was the last German Emperor (german: Kaiser) and King of Prussia, reigning from 15 June 1888 until Abdication of Wilhelm II, his abdication on Nove ...

Wilhelm II
. The headstrong Kaiser Wilhelm II dismissed Bismarck from office. He retired to write his memoirs. Bismarck was strong-willed, outspoken and overbearing, but he could also be polite, charming and witty. Occasionally he displayed a violent temper – which he sometimes feigned to get the results he wanted – and he kept his power by melodramatically threatening resignation time and again, which cowed Wilhelm I. He possessed not only a long-term national and international vision but also the short-term ability to juggle complex developments. Bismarck became a hero to
German nationalists German nationalism is an ideological notion that promotes the unity of Germans and German-speakers into one unified nation state. German Nationalism also emphasizes and takes pride in the patriotism and national identity of Germans as one nation ...
; they built many monuments honoring the founder of the new ''
Reich ''Reich'' (; , English: ''Riche'') is a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nati ...

Reich
''. Many historians praise him as a visionary who was instrumental in uniting Germany and, once that had been accomplished, kept the peace in Europe through adroit diplomacy. Historian Robert K. Massie has noted Bismarck's popular image was as "gruff" and "militaristic", while in reality "Bismarck's tool was aggressive, ruthless diplomacy."


Early years

Bismarck was born in 1815 at
Schönhausen
Schönhausen
, a noble family estate west of Berlin in the Prussian
province of Saxony The Province of Saxony (german: Provinz Sachsen), also known as Prussian Saxony () was a provinces of Prussia, province of the Kingdom of Prussia and later the Free State of Prussia from 1816 until 1944. Its capital was Magdeburg. It was formed ...
. His father, Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand von Bismarck (1771–1845), was a
Junker Junker ( da, Junker, german: Junker, nl, Jonkheer, en, Yunker, no, Junker, sv, Junker ka, იუნკერი (Iunkeri)) is a noble honorific An honorific is a title that conveys esteem, courtesy, or respect for position or rank when ...
estate owner and a former Prussian military officer; his mother, Wilhelmine Luise Mencken (1789–1839), was the well-educated daughter of a senior government official in Berlin. In 1816, the family moved to its
Pomerania Pomerania ( pl, Pomorze; german: Pommern; Kashubian: ''Pòmòrskô'') is a historical region on the southern shore of the Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the , enclosed by , , , , , , northeast , , and the . The sea stretches fr ...

Pomerania
n estate, Kniephof (now Konarzewo, Poland), northeast of
Stettin Szczecin * sv, Stettin * Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Rom ...
(now
Szczecin Szczecin * sv, Stettin * Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the p ...

Szczecin
), in the then-Prussian province of Further Pomerania. There, Bismarck spent his childhood in a bucolic setting. Bismarck had two siblings: his older brother Bernhard (1810–1893) and his younger sister Malwine (1827–1908). The world saw Bismarck as a typical backwoods Prussian Junker, an image that he encouraged by wearing military uniforms. However, he was well educated and cosmopolitan with a gift for conversation, and knew English, French, Italian, Polish and Russian. Bismarck was educated at
Johann Ernst PlamannImage:Plamann 001.jpg, Plaque noting the Bismarck Tilia, linden in a garden where the Plamann Educational Institute (german: Plamannische Erziehungsanstalt) was located. Johann Ernst Plamann (22 June 1771, Karrenzin, Repzin3 September 1834, Berlin) w ...
's elementary school, and the Friedrich-Wilhelm and
Graues Kloster
Graues Kloster
secondary schools. From 1832 to 1833, he studied law at the
University of Göttingen The University of Göttingen, officially the Georg August University of Göttingen, (german: Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, known informally as Georgia Augusta) is a public research university in the city of Göttingen, Germany. Founded in ...
, where he was a member of the Corps Hannovera, and then enrolled at the
University of Berlin Humboldt University of Berlin (german: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, abbreviated HU Berlin) is a public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) ...
(1833–35). In 1838, while stationed as an army reservist in
Greifswald Greifswald (), officially the University and Hanseatic City of Greifswald (german: Universitäts- und Hansestadt Greifswald, Low German: ''Griepswoold'') is a city in northeastern Germany. It is situated in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, at ...

Greifswald
, he studied agriculture at the
University of Greifswald 's red town hall, the seat of the Lord Mayor, is situated in the historic city centre. As Greifswald is a small, coastal student town, the relationship between the university and the town has mostly been close. For instance, it was Heinrich Rube ...
. At Göttingen, Bismarck befriended the American student
John Lothrop Motley John Lothrop Motley (April 15, 1814 – May 29, 1877) was an American author, best known for his two popular histories ''The Rise of the Dutch Republic'' and ''The United Netherlands''. He was also a diplomat, who helped to prevent European interv ...

John Lothrop Motley
. Motley, who later became an eminent historian and diplomat while remaining close to Bismarck, wrote a novel in 1839, ''Morton's Hope, or the Memoirs of a Provincial'', about life in a German university. In it he described Bismarck as a reckless and dashing eccentric, but also as an extremely gifted and charming young man. Although Bismarck hoped to become a diplomat, he started his practical training as a lawyer in
Aachen Aachen ( ; Aachen dialect Aachen dialect (natively ''Öcher Platt'') is a dialect of Ripuarian language, Ripuarian Franconian spoken in the German Rhineland city of Aachen. This dialect, as part of the large West Germanic languages, West Ger ...

Aachen
and
Potsdam Potsdam () is the capital and largest city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Brandenburg. It directly borders the German capital, Berlin, and is part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the Havel, Ri ...

Potsdam
, and soon resigned, having first placed his career in jeopardy by taking unauthorized leave to pursue two English girls: first Laura Russell, niece of the Duke of Cleveland, and then Isabella Loraine-Smith, daughter of a wealthy clergyman. In 1838 Bismarck began a shortened
compulsory military service Conscription, sometimes called the draft in the United States, is the mandatory enlistment of people in a national service National service is a system of either compulsory or voluntary government service, usually military service. Conscription ...
in the
Prussian Army The Royal Prussian Army (1701–1919, german: Königlich Preußische Armee) served as the army of the Kingdom of Prussia. It became vital to the development of Brandenburg-Prussia as a European power. The Prussian Army had its roots in the cor ...
; actively serving as a
One-year volunteer A One-year volunteer, short EF (German language, de: ''Einjährig-Freiwilliger''), was, in a number of national armed forces, a Conscription, conscript who agreed to pay his own costs for the procurement of equipment, food and clothing, in return fo ...
before becoming an officer in the
Landwehr ''Landwehr'', or ''Landeswehr'', is a German language German ( Standard High German: , ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based o ...

Landwehr
(reserve). Afterwards he returned to run the family estates at Schönhausen on his mother's death in his mid-twenties. Around age 30, Bismarck formed an intense friendship with , newly married to one of his friends, . A month after her death, Bismarck wrote to ask for the hand in marriage of Marie's cousin, the noblewoman
Johanna von Puttkamer Johanna Friederike Charlotte Dorothea Eleonore, Princess of Bismarck, Duchess of Lauenburg (11 April 1824 – 27 November 1894) was a Kingdom of Prussia, Prussian noblewoman and the wife of the 1st Chancellor of Germany, Otto von Bismarck. Early l ...
(1824–94); they were married at Alt-Kolziglow (modern Kołczygłowy) on 28 July 1847. Their long and happy marriage produced three children: Marie (b. 1847), Herbert (b. 1849) and
Wilhelm Wilhelm may refer to: People * Wilhelm (name), list of people with this name * Wilhelm I, German Emperor (1797–1888), King of Prussia and German Emperor * Wilhelm II, German Emperor (1859–1941), grandson of the former, King of Prussia and Germ ...
(b. 1852). Johanna was a shy, retiring and deeply religious woman, although famed for her sharp tongue in later life.


Early political career


Young politician

In 1847, Bismarck, aged thirty-two, was chosen as a representative to the newly created Prussian legislature, the '' Vereinigter Landtag''. There, he gained a reputation as a royalist and reactionary politician with a gift for stinging rhetoric; he openly advocated the idea that the monarch had a divine right to rule. His selection was arranged by the Gerlach brothers, fellow Pietist Lutherans whose ultra-conservative faction was known as the "Kreuzzeitung" after their newspaper, the '' Neue Preußische Zeitung'', which was so nicknamed because it featured an Iron Cross on its cover. In March 1848, Prussia faced a revolution (one of the
revolutions of 1848 The Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Springtime of the Peoples or the Springtime of Nations, were a series of political upheaval A political revolution, in the Trotskyist Trotskyism is the political ideology and branch o ...
across Europe), which completely overwhelmed King
Frederick William IV Frederick William IV (german: Friedrich Wilhelm IV.; 15 October 17952 January 1861), the eldest son and successor of Frederick William III of Prussia, reigned as King of Prussia from 7 June 1840 to his death. Also referred to as the "romanticis ...
. The monarch, though initially inclined to use armed forces to suppress the rebellion, ultimately declined to leave Berlin for the safety of military headquarters at Potsdam. Bismarck later recorded that there had been a "rattling of sabres in their scabbards" from Prussian officers when they learned that the King would not suppress the revolution by force. He offered numerous concessions to the liberals: he wore the black-red-gold revolutionary colours (as seen on the flag of today's Germany), promised to promulgate a constitution, agreed that Prussia and other German states should merge into a single nation-state, and appointed a liberal,
Gottfried Ludolf Camphausen Gottfried Ludolf Camphausen (10 January 1803 in Geilenkirchen Geilenkirchen () is a town in the Heinsberg (district), district Heinsberg, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is situated near the border with the Netherlands, on the river Wurm, ...
, as
Minister President A minister-president or minister president is the head of government in a number of European countries or subnational governments with a parliamentary system, parliamentary or semi-presidential system, semi-presidential system of government where t ...
. Bismarck had at first tried to rouse the peasants of his estate into an army to march on Berlin in the King's name. He travelled to Berlin in disguise to offer his services, but was instead told to make himself useful by arranging food supplies for the Army from his estates in case they were needed. The King's brother,
Prince Wilhelm
Prince Wilhelm
, had fled to England; Bismarck tried to get Wilhelm's wife
Augusta Augusta may refer to: Places Australia * Augusta, Western Australia Brasil * Rua Augusta (São Paulo) Canada * Augusta, Ontario * North Augusta, Ontario * Augusta Street (Hamilton, Ontario) France * Augusta Suessionum ("Augusta of the Suessii" ...
to place their teenage son Frederick William on the Prussian throne in Frederick William IV's place. Augusta would have none of it, and detested Bismarck thereafter, despite the fact that he later helped restore a working relationship between Wilhelm and his brother the King. Bismarck was not yet a member of the ''Landtag'', the lower house of the new Prussian legislature. The liberal movement perished by the end of 1848 amid internal fighting. Meanwhile, the conservatives regrouped, formed an inner group of advisers—including the Gerlach brothers, known as the "
Camarilla A camarilla is a group of courtier A courtier () is a person who is often in attendance at the court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes betw ...

Camarilla
"—around the King, and retook control of Berlin. Although a constitution was granted, its provisions fell far short of the demands of the revolutionaries. In 1849, Bismarck was elected to the ''Landtag''. At this stage in his career, he opposed the
unification of Germany The unification of Germany into the German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Benningto ...
, arguing that Prussia would lose its independence in the process. He accepted his appointment as one of Prussia's representatives at the Erfurt Parliament, an assembly of German states that met to discuss plans for union, but he only did so to oppose that body's proposals more effectively. The parliament failed to bring about unification, for it lacked the support of the two most important German states, Prussia and
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked Eastern Alps, East Alpine country in the southern part of Central Europe. It is composed of nine States o ...
. In September 1850, after a dispute over Hesse (the Hesse Crisis of 1850), Prussia was humiliated and forced to back down by Austria (supported by Russia) in the so-called
Punctation of OlmützThe Punctation of Olmütz (german: Olmützer Punktation), also called the Agreement of Olmütz, was a treaty between Kingdom of Prussia, Prussia and Austrian Empire, Austria, dated 29 November 1850, by which Prussia abandoned the Erfurt Union and acc ...
; a plan for the unification of Germany under Prussian leadership, proposed by Prussia's Minister President Radowitz, was also abandoned. In 1851, Frederick William IV appointed Bismarck as Prussia's envoy to the Diet of the German Confederation in Frankfurt. Bismarck gave up his elected seat in the ''Landtag'', but was appointed to the
Prussian House of Lords The Prussian House of Lords (german: Preußisches Herrenhaus) in Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as ...
a few years later. In Frankfurt he engaged in a battle of wills with the Austrian representative Count Friedrich von
Thun und Hohenstein The Thun und Hohenstein family, also known as ''Thun-Hohenstein'', belonged to the historical Austrian and Bohemian nobility. One branch of the family lived at Děčín (Tetschen), Bohemia Bohemia ( ; cs, Čechy ; ; hsb, Čěska; szl, Czec ...
. He insisted on being treated as an equal by petty tactics such as imitating Thun when Thun claimed the privileges of smoking and removing his jacket in meetings. This episode was the background for an altercation in the Frankfurt chamber with
Georg von Vincke Georg may refer to: * ''Georg'' (film), 1997 *Georg (musical) Georg may refer to: * ''Georg'' (film), 1997 *Georg (musical) Georg may refer to: * ''Georg'' (film), 1997 *Georg (musical) Georg may refer to: * ''Georg'' (film), 1997 *Georg ...

Georg von Vincke
that led to a duel between Bismarck and Vincke with Carl von Bodelschwingh as an impartial party, which ended without injury. Bismarck's eight years in Frankfurt were marked by changes in his political opinions, detailed in the numerous lengthy memoranda, which he sent to his ministerial superiors in Berlin. No longer under the influence of his ultraconservative Prussian friends, Bismarck became less reactionary and more pragmatic. He became convinced that to countervail Austria's newly restored influence, Prussia would have to ally herself with other German states. As a result, he grew to be more accepting of the notion of a united German nation. He gradually came to believe that he and his fellow conservatives had to take the lead in creating a unified nation to keep from being eclipsed. He also believed that the middle-class liberals wanted a unified Germany more than they wanted to break the grip of the traditional forces over society. Bismarck also worked to maintain the friendship of Russia and a working relationship with
Napoleon III Napoleon III (Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte; 20 April 18089 January 1873) was the first President of France The president of France, officially the President of the French Republic (french: Président de la République française), is t ...

Napoleon III
's France, the latter being anathema to his conservative friends, the Gerlachs, but necessary both to threaten Austria and to prevent France allying with Russia. In a famous letter to Leopold von Gerlach, Bismarck wrote that it was foolish to play chess having first put 16 of the 64 squares out of bounds. This observation became ironic, as after 1871, France indeed became Germany's permanent enemy, and eventually allied with Russia against Germany in the 1890s. Bismarck was alarmed by Prussia's isolation during the
Crimean War The Crimean War, , was a military conflict fought from October 1853 to February 1856 in which Russian Empire, Russia lost to an alliance of Second French Empire, France, the Ottoman Empire, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, ...
of the mid-1850s, in which Austria sided with Britain and France against Russia; Prussia was almost not invited to the peace talks in Paris. In the Eastern Crisis of the 1870s, fear of a repetition of this turn of events would later be a factor in Bismarck's signing the Dual Alliance with Austria-Hungary in 1879.


Ambassador to Russia and France

In October 1857, Frederick William IV suffered a paralysing
stroke A stroke is a medical condition A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function (biology), function of all or part of an organism, and that is not due to any immediate external injury. Di ...

stroke
, and his brother Wilhelm took over the Prussian government as Regent. Wilhelm was initially seen as a moderate ruler, whose friendship with liberal Britain was symbolised by the recent marriage of his son Frederick William to
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of En ...

Queen Victoria
's
eldest daughter
eldest daughter
. As part of his "New Course", Wilhelm brought in new ministers, moderate conservatives known as the ''Wochenblatt'' after their newspaper. The Regent soon replaced Bismarck as envoy in Frankfurt and made him Prussia's ambassador to the Russian Empire. In theory, this was a promotion, as Russia was one of Prussia's two most powerful neighbors. But Bismarck was sidelined from events in Germany and could only watch impotently as France drove Austria out of
Lombardy (man), (woman) lmo, lombard, links=no (man), (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = ...
during the Italian War of 1859. Bismarck proposed that Prussia should exploit Austria's weakness to move her frontiers "as far south as
Lake Constance Lake Constance (german: Bodensee, ) refers to three bodies of water A body of water or waterbody (often spelled water body) is any significant accumulation of water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorl ...

Lake Constance
" on the Swiss border; instead, Prussia mobilised troops in the Rhineland to deter further French advances into Venetia. Bismarck stayed in St Petersburg for four years, during which he almost lost his leg to botched medical treatment and once again met his future adversary, the Russian Prince Gorchakov, who had been the Russian representative in Frankfurt in the early 1850s. The Regent also appointed Helmuth von Moltke as the new Chief of Staff of the Prussian Army, and
Albrecht von Roon Albrecht Theodor Emil Graf von Roon (; 30 April 1803 Pleśna, West Pomeranian Voivodeship, Pleushagen, Kingdom of Prussia, Prussia23 February 1879) was a Prussian soldier and statesman. As Minister of War from 1859 to 1873, Roon, along with Ot ...

Albrecht von Roon
as Minister of War with the job of reorganizing the army. Over the next twelve years, Bismarck, Moltke and Roon transformed Prussia. Despite his lengthy stay abroad, Bismarck was not entirely detached from German domestic affairs. He remained well-informed due to Roon, with whom Bismarck formed a lasting friendship and political alliance. In May 1862, he was sent to Paris to serve as ambassador to France, and also visited England that summer. These visits enabled him to meet and take the measure of several adversaries: Napoleon III in France, and in Britain, Prime Minister
PalmerstonPalmerston may refer to: People * Christie Palmerston (c. 1851–1897), Australian explorer * Several prominent people have borne the title of Viscount Palmerston ** Henry Temple, 1st Viscount Palmerston (c. 1673–1757), Irish nobleman and Br ...

Palmerston
, Foreign Secretary
Earl Russell Earl Russell, of Kingston Russell Kingston Russell is a settlement and civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government. It is a territorial designation which is the lowest tier of local ...

Earl Russell
, and Conservative politician
Benjamin Disraeli Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, (21 December 1804 – 19 April 1881), was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government ...

Benjamin Disraeli
.


Minister President of Prussia

Prince Wilhelm became King of Prussia upon his brother Frederick Wilhelm IV's death in 1861. The new monarch often came into conflict with the increasingly liberal Prussian Diet (''Landtag''). A crisis arose in 1862, when the Diet refused to authorize funding for a proposed re-organization of the army. The King's ministers could not convince legislators to pass the budget, and the King was unwilling to make concessions. Wilhelm threatened to abdicate in favour of his son Crown Prince Frederick William, who opposed his doing so, believing that Bismarck was the only politician capable of handling the crisis. However, Wilhelm was ambivalent about appointing a person who demanded unfettered control over foreign affairs. It was in September 1862, when the ''Abgeordnetenhaus'' (House of Deputies) overwhelmingly rejected the proposed budget, that Wilhelm was persuaded to recall Bismarck to Prussia on the advice of Roon. On 23 September 1862, Wilhelm appointed Bismarck
Minister President A minister-president or minister president is the head of government in a number of European countries or subnational governments with a parliamentary system, parliamentary or semi-presidential system, semi-presidential system of government where t ...
and
Foreign Minister A foreign affairs minister or minister of foreign affairs (less commonly minister for foreign affairs) is generally a cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawe ...
. Bismarck, Roon and Moltke took charge at a time when relations among the Great Powers (Great Britain, France, Austria and Russia) had been shattered by the Crimean War and the Italian War. In the midst of this disarray, the European balance of power was restructured with the creation of the
German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
as the dominant power in continental Europe apart from Russia. This was achieved by Bismarck's diplomacy, Roon's reorganization of the army and Moltke's military strategy. Despite the initial distrust of the King and Crown Prince and the loathing of Queen Augusta, Bismarck soon acquired a powerful hold over the King by force of personality and powers of persuasion. Bismarck was intent on maintaining royal supremacy by ending the budget deadlock in the King's favour, even if he had to use extralegal means to do so. Under the Constitution, the budget could be passed only after the king and legislature agreed on its terms. Bismarck contended that since the Constitution did not provide for cases in which legislators failed to approve a budget, there was a "legal
loophole A loophole or loop hole is an ambiguity or inadequacy in a system, such as a law or security, which can be used to circumvent or otherwise avoid the purpose, implied or explicitly stated, of the system. Originally, the word means an arrowslit, a ...
" in the Constitution and so he could apply the previous year's budget to keep the government running. Thus, on the basis of the 1861 budget, tax collection continued for four years. Bismarck's conflict with the legislators intensified in the coming years. Following the
Alvensleben Convention The Alvensleben Convention was a treaty between the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia, named after general Gustav von Alvensleben. It was signed in St. Petersburg on 8 February 1863 by Alvensleben and Alexander Gorchakov. The Convention ...
of 1863, the House of Deputies resolved that it could no longer come to terms with Bismarck; in response, the King dissolved the Diet, accusing it of trying to obtain unconstitutional control over the ministry—which, under the Constitution, was responsible solely to the king. Bismarck then issued an edict restricting the freedom of the press, an edict that even gained the public opposition of the Crown Prince. Despite (or perhaps because of) his attempts to silence critics, Bismarck remained a largely unpopular politician. His supporters fared poorly in the elections of October 1863, in which a liberal coalition, whose primary member was the
Progress PartyProgress Party may refer to: Active parties * Progress Party (Denmark) * Progress Party of Equatorial Guinea *Progress Party (Grenada) * Gabonese Progress Party * Progress Party (Jersey) * Progress Party (Norway) * Progress Party (Russia) Former pa ...
, won over two-thirds of the seats. The House made repeated calls for Bismarck to be dismissed, but the King supported him, fearing that if he did dismiss the Minister President, he would most likely be succeeded by a liberal.


Blood and Iron speech

German unification had been a major objective of the revolutions of 1848, when representatives of the German states met in Frankfurt and drafted a constitution, creating a federal union with a national parliament to be elected by universal male suffrage. In April 1849, the
Frankfurt Parliament The Frankfurt Parliament (german: Frankfurter Nationalversammlung, literally ''Frankfurt National Assembly'') was the first freely elected parliament for all of Germany, including the German-populated areas of Austria-Hungary, elected on 1 May 18 ...
offered the title of Emperor to King Frederick William IV. Fearing the opposition of the other German princes and the military intervention of Austria and Russia, the King renounced this popular mandate. Thus, the Frankfurt Parliament ended in failure for the German liberals. On 30 September 1862, Bismarck made a famous speech to the Budget Committee of the Prussian Chamber of Deputies in which he expounded on the use of " iron and blood" to achieve Prussia's goals:


Defeat of Denmark

Prior to the 1860s, Germany consisted of a multitude of principalities loosely bound together as members of the
German Confederation The German Confederation (german: Deutscher Bund) was an association of 39 predominantly German-speaking sovereign states in Central Europe, created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 as a replacement of the former Holy Roman Empire, which had ...

German Confederation
. Bismarck used both diplomacy and the Prussian military to achieve unification, excluding Austria from a unified Germany. This made Prussia the most powerful and dominant component of the new Germany, but also ensured that it remained an authoritarian state and not a liberal parliamentary democracy. Bismarck faced a diplomatic crisis when
King Frederick VII of Denmark
King Frederick VII of Denmark
died in November 1863. The succession to the
duchies A duchy is a medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe s ...
of
Schleswig The Duchy of Schleswig ( da, Hertugdømmet Slesvig; german: Herzogtum Schleswig; nds, Hartogdom Sleswig; frr, Härtochduum Slaswik) was a duchy in Southern Jutland () covering the area between about 60 km (35 miles) north and 70 km ( ...
and
Holstein Holstein (; nds, label=Northern Low Saxon, Holsteen; da, Holsten; Latin and historical en, Holsatia, italic=yes) is the region between the rivers Elbe and Eider (river), Eider. It is the southern half of Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost S ...
was disputed; they were claimed by
Christian IX
Christian IX
, Frederick VII's heir as King, and also by Frederick von Augustenburg, a Danish duke. Prussian public opinion strongly favoured Augustenburg's claim, as the populations of Holstein and southern Schleswig were primarily German-speaking. Bismarck took an unpopular step by insisting that the territories legally belonged to the Danish monarch under the London Protocol signed a decade earlier. Nonetheless, Bismarck denounced Christian's decision to completely annex Schleswig to Denmark. With support from Austria, he issued an ultimatum for Christian IX to return Schleswig to its former status. When Denmark refused, Austria and Prussia invaded, sparking the
Second Schleswig War The Second Schleswig War ( da, Krigen i 1864; german: Deutsch-Dänischer Krieg) also sometimes known as the Dano-Prussian War or Prusso-Danish War was the second military conflict over the Schleswig-Holstein Question File:Herzogtümer.png, Schl ...
. Denmark was ultimately forced to renounce its claim on both duchies. At first this seemed like a victory for Augustenburg, but Bismarck soon removed him from power by making a series of unworkable demands, namely that Prussia should have control over the army and navy of the duchies. Originally, it had been proposed that the Diet of the German Confederation, in which all the states of Germany were represented, should determine the fate of the duchies; but before this scheme could be effected, Bismarck induced Austria to agree to the Gastein Convention. Under this agreement signed on 20 August 1865, Prussia received Schleswig, while Austria received Holstein. In that year Bismarck was given the title of Count (''
Graf (feminine: ) is a historical title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In some language ...

Graf
'') of Bismarck-Schönhausen.


Defeat of Austria

In 1866, Austria reneged on the agreement and demanded that the Diet determine the Schleswig–Holstein issue. Bismarck used this as an excuse to start a war with Austria by accusing them of violating the Gastein Convention. Bismarck sent Prussian troops to occupy Holstein. Provoked, Austria called for the aid of other German states, who quickly became involved in the
Austro-Prussian War The Austro-Prussian War or Seven Weeks' War, known in Germany as ("German War") and by a variety of other names, was fought in 1866 between the Austrian Empire The Austrian Empire (german: Kaiserthum Oesterreich, modern spelling ') was ...
. Thanks to Roon's reorganization, the Prussian army was nearly equal in numbers to the Austrian army. With the strategic genius of Moltke, the Prussian army fought battles it was able to win. Bismarck had also made a secret alliance with Italy, who desired Austrian-controlled
Veneto it, Veneto (man) it, Veneta (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = , demographics1_info1 = ...

Veneto
. Italy's entry into the war forced the Austrians to divide their forces. Meanwhile, as the war began, a German radical named
Ferdinand Cohen-Blind Ferdinand Cohen-Blind (March 25, 1844 – May 8, 1866) was a Jewish people, Jewish German people, German student who attempted to assassinate Otto von Bismarck, then the Minister President of Prussia. He committed suicide shortly after his arrest. ...
attempted to assassinate Bismarck in Berlin, shooting him five times at close range. Bismarck had only minor injuries. Cohen-Blind later committed suicide while in custody. The war lasted seven weeks. Austria had a seemingly powerful army that was allied with most of the north German and all of the south German states. Nevertheless, Prussia won the decisive
Battle of Königgrätz The Battle of Königgrätz (or Sadowa) was the decisive battle of the Austro-Prussian War in which the Kingdom of Prussia defeated the Austrian Empire. It took place on July 3, 1866, near the Bohemia, Bohemian towns of Königgrätz, (now Hradec ...
. The King and his generals wanted to push onward, conquer Bohemia and march to Vienna, but Bismarck, worried that Prussian military luck might change or that France might intervene on Austria's side, enlisted the help of Crown Prince Frederick Wilhelm, who had opposed the war but had commanded one of the Prussian armies at Königgrätz, to dissuade his father after stormy arguments. Bismarck insisted on a "soft peace" with no annexations and no victory parades, so as to be able to quickly restore friendly relations with Austria. As a result of the
Peace of Prague (1866) The Peace of Prague (german: Prager Frieden) was a peace treaty signed by the Kingdom of Prussia The Kingdom of Prussia (german: Königreich Preußen) was a German Monarchy, kingdom that constituted the state of Prussia between 1701 and 1918. ...
, the German Confederation was dissolved. Prussia annexed Schleswig, Holstein,
Frankfurt Frankfurt, officially Frankfurt am Main (; Hessian dialects, Hessian: , "Franks, Frank ford (crossing), ford on the Main (river), Main"; french: Francfort-sur-le-Main), is the most populous city in the States of Germany, German state of Hess ...

Frankfurt
,
Hanover Hanover (; german: Hannover ; nds, Hannober) is the capital and largest city of the German States of Germany, state of Lower Saxony. Its 534,049 (2020) inhabitants make it the List of cities in Germany by population, 13th-largest city in Germa ...
,
Hesse-Kassel The Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel (german: Landgrafschaft Hessen-Kassel), spelled Hesse-Cassel during its entire existence, was a state in the Holy Roman Empire that was imperial immediacy, directly subject to the Emperor. The state was created in ...

Hesse-Kassel
, and Nassau. Furthermore, Austria had to promise not to intervene in German affairs. To solidify Prussian hegemony, Prussia forced the 21 states north of the
River Main The Main () is the longest tributary A tributary or affluent is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or main stem (or parent) river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean. Tributaries and the main stem r ...
to join it in forming the
North German Confederation The North German Confederation (german: Norddeutscher Bund) was the Germans, German federal state which existed from July 1867 to December 1870. The Confederation came into existence after the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 over the lordship of tw ...
in 1867. The confederation was governed by a
constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...
largely drafted by Bismarck. Executive power was vested in a president, an hereditary office of the kings of Prussia, who was assisted by a chancellor responsible only to him. As president of the confederation, Wilhelm appointed Bismarck as chancellor of the confederation. Legislation was the responsibility of the
Reichstag is a German word generally meaning parliament, more directly translated as ''Diet (assembly), Diet of the Realm'' or ''National diet'', or more loosely as ''Imperial Diet''. It may refer to: Buildings and places is the god specific German word ...
, a popularly elected body, and the Bundesrat, an advisory body representing the states. The Bundesrat was, in practice, the stronger chamber. Bismarck was the dominant figure in the new arrangement; as Foreign Minister of Prussia, he instructed the Prussian deputies to the Bundesrat. Prussia had only a plurality (17 out of 43 seats) in the Bundesrat despite being larger than the other 21 states combined, but Bismarck could easily control the proceedings through alliances with the smaller states. This began what historians refer to as "The Misery of Austria" in which Austria served as a mere
vassal A vassal or liege subject is a person regarded as having a mutual obligation to a lord Lord is an appellation for a person or deity who has authority, control, or power (social and political), power over others, acting as a master, a chief ...
to the superior Germany, a relationship that was to shape history until the end of the First World War. Bismarck had originally managed to convince smaller states like Saxony, Hesse-Kassel, and Hanover to join with Prussia against Austria, after promising them protection from foreign invasion and fair commercial laws. Bismarck, who by now held the rank of major in the Landwehr, wore this uniform during the campaign and was at last promoted to the rank of major-general in the Landwehr cavalry after the war. Although he never personally commanded troops in the field, he usually wore a general's uniform in public for the rest of his life, as seen in numerous paintings and photographs. He was also given a cash grant by the Prussian Landtag, which he used to purchase a country estate in Varzin, now part of Poland. Military success brought Bismarck tremendous political support in Prussia. In the elections of 1866 the liberals suffered a major defeat, losing their majority in the House of Deputies. The new, largely conservative House was on much better terms with Bismarck than previous bodies; at the Minister President's request, it retroactively approved the budgets of the past four years, which had been implemented without parliamentary consent. Bismarck suspected it would split the liberal opposition. While some liberals argued that constitutional government was a bright line that should not be crossed, most of them believed it would be a waste of time to oppose the bill, and supported it in hopes of winning more freedom in the future.
Jonathan Steinberg Jonathan Steinberg (8 March 1934 – 4 March 2021) was the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of European History Emeritus and Chair of the Department of History at the University of Pennsylvania The University of Pennsylvania (Penn or UPenn) ...
says of Bismarck's achievements to this point:
The scale of Bismarck's triumph cannot be exaggerated. He alone had brought about a complete transformation of the European international order. He had told those who would listen what he intended to do, how he intended to do it, and he did it. He achieved this incredible feat without commanding an army, and without the ability to give an order to the humblest common soldier, without control of a large party, without public support, indeed, in the face of almost universal hostility, without a majority in parliament, without control of his cabinet, and without a loyal following in the bureaucracy. He no longer had the support of the powerful conservative interest groups who had helped him achieve power. The most senior diplomats in the foreign service ... were sworn enemies and he knew it. The Queen and the Royal Family hated him and the King, emotional and unreliable, would soon have his 70th birthday. ... With perfect justice, in August 1866, he punched his fist on his desk and cried "I have beaten them all! All!"


Franco-Prussian War 1870–71

Prussia's victory over Austria increased the already existing tensions with France. The Emperor of France,
Napoleon III Napoleon III (Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte; 20 April 18089 January 1873) was the first President of France The president of France, officially the President of the French Republic (french: Président de la République française), is t ...

Napoleon III
, had tried to gain territory for France (in Belgium and on the left bank of the
Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many s ...

Rhine
) as a compensation for not joining the war against Prussia and was disappointed by the surprisingly quick outcome of the war. Accordingly, opposition politician
Adolphe Thiers Marie Joseph Louis Adolphe Thiers ( , ; 15 April 17973 September 1877) was a French statesman and historian. He was the second elected President of France The president of France, officially the president of the French Republic (french: Pré ...

Adolphe Thiers
claimed that it was France, not Austria, who had really been defeated at Königgrätz. Bismarck, at the same time, did not avoid war with France, though he feared the French for a number of reasons. First, he feared that Austria, hungry for revenge, would ally with the French. Similarly, he feared that the Russian army would assist France to maintain a balance of power. Still, however, Bismarck believed that if the German states perceived France as the aggressor, they would then unite behind the King of Prussia. To achieve this he kept Napoleon III involved in various intrigues, whereby France might gain territory from Luxembourg or Belgium. France never achieved any such gain, but it was made to look greedy and untrustworthy. A suitable pretext for war arose in 1870, when the German Prince
Leopold Leopold may refer to: People * Leopold (given name) ;Crime * Nathan Leopold (1904–71), convicted of the kidnap and murder of Bobby Franks ;Literature * Aldo Leopold (1887–1948), American author, ecologist, forester, and environmentalist * J. H ...
of
Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was a principality in Southwestern Germany. Its rulers belonged to the senior House of Hohenzollern#Swabian branch, Swabian branch of the House of Hohenzollern. The Swabian Hohenzollerns were elevated to princes in 1623. Th ...

Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
was offered the Spanish throne, vacant since a revolution in 1868. France pressured Leopold into withdrawing his candidacy. Not content with this, Paris demanded that Wilhelm, as head of the House of Hohenzollern, assure that no Hohenzollern would ever seek the Spanish crown again. To provoke France into declaring war with Prussia, Bismarck published the
Ems Dispatch The Ems Dispatch (french: Dépêche d'Ems, german: Emser Depesche), sometimes called the Ems Telegram, was published on 13 July 1870 and incited the Second French Empire The Second French Empire (), officially the French Empire (), was the E ...

Ems Dispatch
, a carefully edited version of a conversation between King Wilhelm and the French ambassador to Prussia, Count Benedetti. This conversation had been edited so that each nation felt that its ambassador had been slighted and ridiculed, thus inflaming popular sentiment on both sides in favor of war. Langer, however, argues that this episode played a minor role in causing the war. Bismarck wrote in his Memoirs that he "had no doubt that a Franco-German war must take place before the construction of a united Germany could be realised." Yet he felt confident that the French army was not prepared to give battle to Germany's numerically larger forces: " If the French fight us alone they are lost." He was also convinced that the French would not be able to find allies since " France, the victor, would be a danger to everybody – Prussia to nobody." He added, "That is our strong point." France mobilized and declared war on 19 July. The German states saw France as the aggressor, and—swept up by nationalism and patriotic zeal—they rallied to Prussia's side and provided troops. Both of Bismarck's sons served as officers in the Prussian cavalry. The war was a great success for Prussia as the German army, controlled by Chief of Staff Moltke, won victory after victory. The major battles were all fought in one month (7 August to 1 September), and both French armies were captured at
Sedan Sedan may refer to: Transportation * Sedan (automobile), a passenger car in a three-box configuration * Litter (vehicle), or sedan chair, a human-powered, wheelless device for transport of persons * Franklin Sedan, built by H. H. Franklin Manufa ...
and
Metz Metz ( , , lat, Divodurum Mediomatricorum, then ) is a city in northeast France located at the confluence of the Moselle (river), Moselle and the Seille (Moselle), Seille rivers. Metz is the Prefectures in France, prefecture of the Moselle (de ...
, the latter after a siege of some weeks. Napoleon III was taken prisoner at Sedan and kept in Germany for a time in case Bismarck had need of him to head the French regime; he later died in exile in England in 1873. The remainder of the war featured a siege of Paris, the city was "ineffectually bombarded"; the new French republican regime then tried, without success, to relieve Paris with various hastily assembled armies and increasingly bitter partisan warfare. Bismarck quoted the first verse lyrics of "
La Marseillaise "La Marseillaise" is the national anthem A national anthem is a Patriotism, patriotic musical composition symbolizing and evoking eulogies of the history and traditions of a country or nation. The majority of national anthems are March (mu ...

La Marseillaise
", amongst others, when being recorded on an
Edison phonograph
Edison phonograph
in 1889, the only known recording of his voice. A biographer stated that he did so, 19 years after the war, to mock the French.


Unification of Germany

Bismarck acted immediately to secure the unification of Germany. He negotiated with representatives of the southern German states, offering special concessions if they agreed to unification. The negotiations succeeded; patriotic sentiment overwhelmed what opposition remained. While the war was in its final phase, Wilhelm I of Prussia was proclaimed German Emperor on 18 January 1871 in the
Hall of Mirrors The Hall of Mirrors (french: Grande Galerie, Galerie des Glaces, Galerie de Louis XIV) is a grand Baroque architecture, Baroque style gallery and one of the most emblematic rooms in the royal Palace of Versailles near Paris, France. The grandio ...

Hall of Mirrors
in the
Château de Versailles A château (; plural: châteaux) is a manor house or residence of the lord of the manor, or a country house of nobility or gentry, with or without fortifications, originally, and still most frequently, in French language, French-speaking regions ...

Château de Versailles
. The new
German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
was a federation: each of its 25 constituent states (kingdoms, grand duchies, duchies, principalities, and free cities) retained some autonomy. The King of Prussia, as German Emperor, was not sovereign over the entirety of Germany; he was only ''
primus inter pares ''Primus inter pares'' is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...
'', or first among equals. However, he held the presidency of the Bundesrat, which met to discuss policy presented by the Chancellor, whom the emperor appointed. In the end, France had to cede
Alsace and part of Lorraine
Alsace and part of Lorraine
, as Moltke and his generals wanted it as a buffer. Historians debate whether Bismarck wanted this annexation or was forced into it by a wave of German public and elite opinion. France was also required to pay an
indemnity In contract law, indemnity is a contractual obligation of one Party (law), party (''indemnifier'') to Financial compensation, compensate the loss incurred to the other party (''indemnity holder'') due to the acts of the indemnitor or any other p ...
; the indemnity figure was calculated, on the basis of population, as the precise equivalent of the indemnity that Napoleon I had imposed on Prussia in 1807. Historians debate whether Bismarck had a master plan to expand the
North German Confederation The North German Confederation (german: Norddeutscher Bund) was the Germans, German federal state which existed from July 1867 to December 1870. The Confederation came into existence after the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 over the lordship of tw ...
of 1866 to include the remaining independent German states into a single entity or simply to expand the
power Power most often refers to: * Power (physics) In physics, power is the amount of energy In , energy is the that must be to a or to perform on the body, or to it. Energy is a ; the law of states that energy can be in form, bu ...
of
the Kingdom of Prussia The Kingdom of Prussia (german: Königreich Preußen) was a German kingdom Kingdom may refer to: Monarchy * A type of monarchy * A realm ruled by: **A king, during the reign of a male monarch **A queen regnant, during the reign of a female ...

the Kingdom of Prussia
. They conclude that factors in addition to the strength of Bismarck's ''
Realpolitik ''Realpolitik'' (from german: real; "realistic", "practical", or "actual"; and '; "politics", ) is politics or diplomacy based primarily on considerations of given circumstances and factors, rather than explicit ideological notions or moral and eth ...
'' led a collection of early modern
polities A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between ind ...
to reorganize political, economic, military, and diplomatic relationships in the 19th century. Reaction to Danish and French nationalism provided foci for expressions of German unity. Military successes—especially those of Prussia—in three regional wars generated enthusiasm and pride that politicians could harness to promote unification. This experience echoed the memory of mutual accomplishment in the Napoleonic Wars, particularly in the War of Liberation of 1813–14. By establishing a Germany without Austria, the political and administrative unification in 1871 at least temporarily solved the problem of dualism.
Jonathan Steinberg Jonathan Steinberg (8 March 1934 – 4 March 2021) was the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of European History Emeritus and Chair of the Department of History at the University of Pennsylvania The University of Pennsylvania (Penn or UPenn) ...
said of Bismarck's creation of the German Empire that:
the first phase of great career had been concluded. The genius-statesmen had transformed European politics and had unified Germany in eight and a half years. And he had done so by sheer force of personality, by his brilliance, ruthlessness, and flexibility of principle. ... marked the high point of career. He had achieved the impossible, and his genius and the cult of genius had no limits. ... When he returned to Berlin in March 1871, he had become immortal ...


Chancellor of the German Empire

In 1871, Bismarck was raised to the rank of ''
Fürst ' (, female form ', plural '; from Old High German ', "the first", a translation of the Latin ') is a German language, German word for a ruler and is also a princely title. ' were, since the Middle Ages, members of the highest nobility who ruled ...
'' (Prince). He was also appointed as the first Imperial Chancellor (''Reichskanzler'') of the German Empire, but retained his Prussian offices, including those of Minister-President and Foreign Minister. He was also promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general, and bought a former hotel in
Friedrichsruh Friedrichsruh () is a district in the municipality of Aumühle, Herzogtum Lauenburg district, Schleswig-Holstein, in northern Germany. Friedrichsruh manor is known as a residence of the princely House of Bismarck, mainly of Chancellor Otto von Bis ...

Friedrichsruh
near Hamburg, which became an estate. He also continued to serve as his own foreign minister. Because of both the imperial and the Prussian offices that he held, Bismarck had near complete control over domestic and foreign policy. The office of Minister President of Prussia was temporarily separated from that of Chancellor in 1873, when Albrecht von Roon was appointed to the former office. But by the end of the year, Roon resigned due to ill health, and Bismarck again became Minister-President.


''Kulturkampf''

Bismarck launched an anti-Catholic ''
Kulturkampf ''Kulturkampf'' (, 'culture struggle') was the conflict that took place from 1872 to 1878 between the government of the Kingdom of Prussia The Kingdom of Prussia (german: Königreich Preußen) was a German Monarchy, kingdom that constituted th ...
'' ("culture struggle") in Prussia in 1871. This was partly motivated by Bismarck's fear that
Pius IX Pope Pius IX ( it, Pio IX, ''Pio Nono''; born Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti; 13 May 1792 – 7 February 1878) was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the , with 1.3 billio ...

Pius IX
and his successors would use
papal infallibility Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3  ...
to achieve the "papal desire for international political hegemony.... The result was the Kulturkampf, which, with its largely Prussian measures, complemented by similar actions in several other German states, sought to curb the clerical danger by legislation restricting the Catholic church's political power." In May 1872 Bismarck thus attempted to reach an understanding with other European governments to manipulate future papal elections; governments should agree beforehand on unsuitable candidates, and then instruct their national cardinals to vote appropriately. The goal was to end the pope's control over the bishops in a given state, but the project went nowhere. Bismarck accelerated the ''Kulturkampf''. In its course, all Prussian bishops and many priests were imprisoned or exiled. Prussia's population had greatly expanded in the 1860s and was now one-third Catholic. Bismarck believed that the pope and bishops held too much power over the German Catholics and was further concerned about the emergence of the Catholic Centre Party, organised in 1870. With support from the anticlerical National Liberal Party, which had become Bismarck's chief ally in the Reichstag, he abolished the Catholic Department of the Prussian Ministry of Culture. That left the Catholics without a voice in high circles. Moreover, in 1872, the
Jesuits The Society of Jesus ( la, Societas Iesu; abbreviated SJ), also known as the Jesuits (; la, Iesuitæ), is a religious order (Catholic), religious order of the Catholic Church headquartered in Rome. It was founded by Ignatius of Loyola and six co ...
were expelled from Germany. In 1873, more anti-Catholic laws allowed the Prussian government to supervise the education of the Roman Catholic clergy and curtailed the disciplinary powers of the Church. In 1875, civil ceremonies were required for civil weddings. Hitherto, weddings in churches were civilly recognized. ''Kulturkampf'' became part of Bismarck's foreign-policy, as he sought to destabilize and weaken Catholic regimes, especially in Belgium and France, but he had little success. The British ambassador Odo Russell reported to London in October 1872 that Bismarck's plans were backfiring by strengthening the
ultramontane An image of Church. Ultramontanism is a clerical political conception within the Catholic Church that places strong emphasis on the prerogatives and powers of the Pope. History The term's origins are in ecclesiastical language from the Middle Ag ...
(pro-papal) position inside German Catholicism: "The German Bishops, who were politically powerless in Germany and theologically in opposition to the Pope in Rome, have now become powerful political leaders in Germany and enthusiastic defenders of the now infallible Faith of Rome, united, disciplined, and thirsting for martyrdom, thanks to Bismarck's uncalled for antiliberal declaration of War on the freedom they had hitherto peacefully enjoyed." The Catholics reacted by organizing themselves and strengthening the Centre Party. Bismarck, a devout pietistic Protestant, was alarmed that secularists and socialists were using the ''Kulturkampf'' to attack all religion. He abandoned it in 1878 to preserve his remaining political capital since he now needed the Centre Party votes in his new battle against socialism. Pius IX died that year, replaced by the more pragmatic
Pope Leo XIII Pope Leo XIII ( it, Leone XIII; born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci; 2 March 1810 – 20 July 1903) was the head of the Catholic Church from 20 February 1878 to his death in 1903. He was the oldest pope (living till the age of 93), w ...

Pope Leo XIII
who negotiated away most of the anti-Catholic laws. The Pope kept control of the selection of bishops, and Catholics for the most part supported unification and most of Bismarck's policies. However, they never forgot his culture war and preached solidarity to present organized resistance should it ever be resumed.
Steinberg Steinberg Media Technologies GmbH (trading as Steinberg) is a German musical software and hardware company based in Hamburg with satellite offices in Siegburg and London. It develops music writing, recording, arranging, and editing software, mos ...
comments:
The anti-Catholic hysteria in many European countries belongs in its European setting. Bismarck's campaign was not unique in itself, but his violent temper, intolerance of opposition, and paranoia that secret forces had conspired to undermine his life's work, made it more relentless. His rage drove him to exaggerate the threat from Catholic activities and to respond with very extreme measures. ... As Odo Russell wrote to his mother, ady Emily Russell,"The demonic is stronger in him than in any man I know." ... The bully, the dictator, and the "demonic" combined in him with the self-pity and the hypochondria to create a constant crisis of authority, which he exploited for his own ends. ... Opponents, friends, and subordinates all remarked on Bismarck as "demonic," a kind of uncanny, diabolic personal power over men and affairs. In these years of his greatest power, he believed that he could do anything.


Economy

In 1873, Germany and much of Europe and America entered the
Long Depression The Long Depression was a worldwide price and economic recession In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economic ...
, the ''Gründerkrise''. A downturn hit the German economy for the first time since industrial development began to surge in the 1850s. To aid faltering industries, the Chancellor abandoned free trade and established protectionist import-tariffs, which alienated the National Liberals who demanded free trade. The ''Kulturkampf'' and its effects had also stirred up public opinion against the party that supported it, and Bismarck used this opportunity to distance himself from the National Liberals. That marked a rapid decline in the support of the National Liberals, and by 1879 their close ties with Bismarck had all but ended. Bismarck instead returned to conservative factions, including the Centre Party, for support. He helped foster support from the conservatives by enacting several tariffs protecting German agriculture and industry from foreign competitors in 1879.


Germanisation

Imperial and provincial government bureaucracies attempted to Germanise the state's national minorities situated near the borders of the empire: the
Danes Danes ( da, danskere, ) are a North Germanic The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a lang ...
in the North, the Francophones in the West and Poles in the East. As minister president of Prussia and as imperial chancellor, Bismarck "sorted people into their linguistic nd religious'tribes'"; he pursued a policy of hostility in particular toward the Poles, which was an expedient rooted in Prussian history. "He never had a Pole among his peasants" working the Bismarckian estates; it was the educated Polish bourgeoisie and revolutionaries he denounced from personal experience, and "because of ''them'' he disliked intellectuals in politics." Bismarck's antagonism is revealed in a private letter to his sister in 1861: "Hammer the Poles until they despair of living ..I have all the sympathy in the world for their situation, but if we want to exist we have no choice but to wipe them out: wolves are only what God made them, but we shoot them all the same when we can get at them." Later that year, the public Bismarck modified his belligerence and wrote to Prussia's foreign minister: "Every success of the Polish national movement is a defeat for Prussia, we cannot carry on the fight against this element according to the rules of civil justice, but only in accordance with the rules of war."


Socialism

Bismarck viewed the growing international socialist movement and the non-violent German Social Democratic Party (SDP), in particular, with alarm. Since the SDP's existence was protected by the terms of the German constitution, Bismarck found ways to weaken it, short of an outright ban. In 1878 he instituted the first of a series of repressive
Anti-Socialist Laws The Anti-Socialist Laws or Socialist Laws (german: Sozialistengesetze; officially ''Gesetz gegen die gemeingefährlichen Bestrebungen der Sozialdemokratie'', approximately "Law against the public danger of Social Democratic endeavours") were a serie ...
forbidding socialist organizations and meetings, outlawing trade unions, closing newspapers, and banning the circulation of socialist literature. The SPD continued to take part in the elections, but police officers were now empowered to stop, search, and arrest SDP members and their leaders, numbers of whom were then tried by police courts. (One way socialists used to get around these harsh measures was to run as independent candidates, unaffiliated with any party.) Despite, or possibly because of the laws, the SDP steadily gained supporters and seats in the Reichstag. During the 1880s, Bismarck also tried to win the allegiance of working classes to the conservative regime by implementing positive social benefits, such as accident and old-age insurance, as well as pioneering a form of socialized medicinereforms which are now grouped under the label
State Socialism State socialism is a Political ideology, political and economic ideology within the socialist movement advocating state ownership of the means of production, either as a temporary measure or as a characteristic of socialism in the transition from ...
. Bismarck himself called it that, in addition to referring to them as "practical Christianity."
"The whole problem is rooted in the question: does the state have the responsibility to care for its helpless fellow citizens, or does it not? I maintain that it does have this duty, and to be sure, not simply the Christian state, as I once permitted myself to allude to with the words “practical Christianity,” but rather every state by its very nature. . . . There are objectives that only the state in its totality can fulfill. . . . Among the last mentioned objectives f the statebelong national defense the general system of transportation. . . . To these belong also the help of persons in distress and the prevention of such justified complaints as in fact provide excellent material for exploitation by the Social Democrats. That is the responsibility of the state from which the state will not be able to withdraw in the long run. ["Bismarck’s Reichstag Speech on the Law for Workmen’s Compensation," p. 4 (March 15, 1884), see website German History in Documents and Images https://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/pdf/eng/429_BismarckWorker's%20Comp_130.pdf.
Yet, notwithstanding these strategies, Bismarck did not completely succeed in crushing socialism. Support for the SDP increased with each election.


Foreign policies

One of the secrets of Bismarck’s success was his careful in-depth study of the national interest of all the other states. He thereby avoided the pitfall of misunderstandings that led to conflicts. Even more important he identified opportunities whereby the national interest of another state was congruent to that of Germany, and a deal could be achieved to the benefit of both. Summarizing Bismarck's mastery of diplomacy,
Jonathan Steinberg Jonathan Steinberg (8 March 1934 – 4 March 2021) was the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of European History Emeritus and Chair of the Department of History at the University of Pennsylvania The University of Pennsylvania (Penn or UPenn) ...
argues: :In international relations, it meant absolutely no emotional commitment to any of the actors. Diplomacy should, he believed, deal with realities, calculations of probabilities, assessing the inevitable missteps and sudden lurches by the other actors, states, and their statesmen. The chessboard could be overseen and it suited Bismarck's peculiar genius for politics to maintain in his head multiple possible moves by adversaries....He had his goals in mind and achieved them. He was and remained to the end master of the finely tuned game of diplomacy. He enjoyed it. In foreign affairs he never lost his temper, rarely felt ill or sleepless. He could outsmart and outplay the smartest people in other states. The powerful German army was under the control of Bismarck's close ally Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke the Elder. It was a model of professionalism although it fought no wars. The navy was small under Bismarck. After fifteen years of warfare in the Crimea, Germany and France, Europe began a period of peace in 1871. With the founding of the German Empire in 1871, Bismarck emerged as a decisive figure in European history from 1871 to 1890. He retained control over Prussia and as well as the foreign and domestic policies of the new German Empire. Bismarck had built his reputation as a war-maker but changed overnight into a peacemaker. He skillfully used balance of power diplomacy to maintain Germany's position in a Europe which, despite many disputes and war scares, remained at peace. For historian
Eric Hobsbawm Eric John Ernest Hobsbawm (; 9 June 1917 – 1 October 2012) was a British historian of the rise of industrial capitalism Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership Private property is a legal designation for ...

Eric Hobsbawm
, it was Bismarck who "remained undisputed world champion at the game of multilateral diplomatic chess for almost twenty years after 1871,
nd
nd
devoted himself exclusively, and successfully, to maintaining peace between the powers". Historian Paul Knaplund concludes: :A net result of the strength and military prestige of Germany combined with situations created or manipulated by her chancellor was that in the eighties Bismarck became the umpire in all serious diplomatic disputes, whether they concerned Europe, Africa, or Asia. Questions such as the boundaries of Balkan states, the treatment of Armenians in the Turkish empire and of Jews in Rumania, the financial affairs of Egypt, Russian expansion in the Middle East, the war between France and China, and the partition of Africa had to be referred to Berlin; Bismarck held the key to all these problems. Bismarck's main mistake was giving in to the Army and to intense public demand in Germany for acquisition of the border provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, thereby turning France into a permanent, deeply-committed enemy (''see''
French–German enmity French–German (Franco-German) enmity (french: Rivalité franco-allemande, german: Deutsch–französische Erbfeindschaft) was the idea of unavoidably hostile relations and mutual revanchism between Germans The Germans (german: Deutsche) are ...
). Theodore Zeldin says, "Revenge and the recovery of Alsace-Lorraine became a principal object of French policy for the next forty years. That Germany was France's enemy became the basic fact of international relations." Bismarck's solution was to make France a pariah nation, encouraging royalty to ridicule its new republican status, and building complex alliances with the other major powers – Austria, Russia, and Britain – to keep France isolated diplomatically. A key element was the League of the Three Emperors, in which Bismarck brought together rulers in Berlin, Vienna and St. Petersburg to guarantee each other's security, while blocking out France; it lasted 1881–1887.


Early relations with Europe

Having unified his nation, Bismarck now devoted himself to promoting peace in Europe with his skills in statesmanship. He was forced to contend with French
revanchism Revanchism (french: Revanchisme, from ''revanche'', "revenge") is the political manifestation of the will to reverse territorial losses incurred by a country, often following a war or social movement. As a term, revanchism originated in 1870s Fran ...
, the desire to avenge the losses of the Franco-Prussian War. Bismarck, therefore, engaged in a policy of diplomatically isolating France while maintaining cordial relations with other nations in Europe. He had little interest in naval or colonial entanglements and thus avoided discord with Great Britain. Historians emphasize that he wanted no more territorial gains after 1871, and vigorously worked to form cross-linking alliances that prevented any war in Europe from starting. By 1878 both the Liberal and Conservative spokesmen in Britain hailed him as the champion of peace in Europe.
A. J. P. Taylor Alan John Percivale Taylor (25 March 1906 – 7 September 1990) was a British historian A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, ...
, a leading British diplomatic historian, concludes that, "Bismarck was an honest broker of peace; and his system of alliances compelled every Power, whatever its will, to follow a peaceful course." Well aware that Europe was skeptical of his powerful new Reich, Bismarck turned his attention to preserving peace in Europe based on a balance of power that would allow Germany's economy to flourish. Bismarck feared that a hostile combination of Austria, France, and Russia would crush Germany. If two of them were allied, then the third would ally with Germany only if Germany conceded excessive demands. The solution was to ally with two of the three. In 1873 he formed the League of the Three Emperors (''Dreikaiserbund''), an alliance of Wilhelm, Tsar
Alexander II of Russia Alexander II ( rus, Алекса́ндр II Никола́евич, r=Aleksandr II Nikolayevich, p=ɐlʲɪˈksandr ftɐˈroj nʲɪkɐˈlajɪvʲɪtɕ; 29 April 181813 March 1881) was the Emperor of Russia The emperor or empress of all the ...

Alexander II of Russia
, and Emperor
Francis Joseph
Francis Joseph
of Austria-Hungary. Together they would control Eastern Europe, making sure that restive ethnic groups such as the Poles were kept under control. The Balkans posed a more serious issue, and Bismarck's solution was to give Austria predominance in the western areas, and Russia in the eastern areas. This system collapsed in 1887. In 1872, a protracted quarrel began to fester between Bismarck and Count Harry von Arnim, the imperial ambassador to France. Arnim saw himself as a rival and competitor for the chancellorship, but the rivalry escalated out of hand, and Arnim took sensitive records from embassy files at Paris to back up his case. He was formally accused of misappropriating official documents, indicted, tried and convicted, finally fleeing into exile where he died. No one again openly challenged Bismarck in foreign policy matters until his resignation.


France

France was Bismarck's main problem. Peaceful relations with France became impossible after 1871 when Germany annexed all of the province of Alsace and much of Lorraine. Public opinion demanded it to humiliate France, and the Army wanted its more defensible frontiers. Bismarck reluctantly gave in—French would never forget or forgive, he calculated, so might as well take the provinces. (That was a mistaken assumption—after about five years the French did calm down and considered it a minor issue.) Germany's foreign policy fell into a trap with no exit. "In retrospect it is easy to see that the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine was a tragic mistake." Once the annexation took place the only policy that made sense was trying to isolate France so it had no strong allies. However France complicated Berlin's plans when it became friends with Russia. In 1905 a German plan for an alliance with Russia fell through because Russia was too close to France. Between 1873 and 1877, Germany repeatedly manipulated the internal affairs of France's neighbors to hurt France. Bismarck put heavy pressure on Belgium, Spain, and Italy hoping to obtain the election of liberal, anticlerical governments. His plan was to promote
republicanism Republicanism is a political ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use ...
in France by isolating the clerical-monarchist regime of President MacMahon. He hoped that surrounding France with liberal states would help the French republicans defeat MacMahon and his reactionary supporters. The bullying, however, almost got out of hand in mid-1875, when an editorial entitled "''Krieg-in-Sicht''" ("War in Sight") was published in a Berlin newspaper close to the government, the ''Post''. The editorial indicated that highly influential Germans were alarmed by France's rapid recovery from defeat in 1875 and its announcement of an increase in the size of its army, as well as talks of launching a preventive war against France. Bismarck denied knowing about the article ahead of time, but he certainly knew about the talk of preventive war. The editorial produced a war scare, with Britain and Russia warning that they would not tolerate a preventive war against France. Bismarck had no desire for war either, and the crisis soon blew over. It was a rare instance where Bismarck was outmaneuvered and embarrassed by his opponents, but from that he learned an important lesson. It forced him to take into account the fear and alarm that his bullying and Germany's fast-growing power was causing among its neighbors, and reinforced his determination that Germany should work in proactive fashion to preserve the peace in Europe, rather than passively let events take their own course and reacting to them.


Italy

Bismarck maintained good relations with
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...
, although he had a personal dislike for Italians and their country. He can be seen as a marginal contributor to
Italian unification The unification of Italy ( it, Unità d'Italia ), also known as the ''Risorgimento'' (, ; meaning "Resurgence"), was the 19th-century political and social movement that resulted in the Merger (politics), consolidation of List of historic stat ...

Italian unification
. Politics surrounding the 1866
Austro-Prussian War The Austro-Prussian War or Seven Weeks' War, known in Germany as ("German War") and by a variety of other names, was fought in 1866 between the Austrian Empire The Austrian Empire (german: Kaiserthum Oesterreich, modern spelling ') was ...
allowed Italy to annex Venetia, which had been a ''kronland'' ("crown land") of the Austrian Empire since the 1815
Congress of Vienna The Congress of Vienna (, ) of 1814–1815 was an international diplomatic conference to reconstitute the European political order after the downfall of the French Emperor Napoleon I Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) w ...

Congress of Vienna
. In addition, French mobilization for the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871 made it necessary for Napoleon III to withdraw his troops from Rome and The Papal States. Without these two events, Italian unification would have been a more prolonged process.


Russia

After Russia's victory over the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
in the
Russo-Turkish War The Russo-Turkish wars (or Ottoman–Russian wars) were a series of twelve wars fought between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire between the 16th and 20th centuries. It was one of the longest series of military conflicts in History of Europe ...

Russo-Turkish War
of 1877–78, Bismarck helped negotiate a settlement at the
Congress of Berlin The Congress of Berlin (13 June – 13 July 1878) was a to reorganise the states in the after the , which had been won by Russia against the . Represented at the meeting were Europe's then six : Russia, Great Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, ...
. The Treaty of Berlin revised the earlier
Treaty of San Stefano The 1878 Treaty of San Stefano (russian: Сан-Стефанский мир; Peace of San-Stefano, ; Peace treaty of San-Stefano, or ) was a treaty between the Russian and Ottoman empires signed at San Stefano, then a village west of Constanti ...

Treaty of San Stefano
, reducing the size of newly independent Bulgaria (a pro-Russian state at that time). Bismarck and other European leaders opposed the growth of Russian influence and tried to protect the integrity of the Ottoman Empire (see
Eastern Question In diplomatic history, the Eastern Question was the issue of the political and economic instability in the Ottoman Empire from the late 18th to early 20th centuries and the subsequent strategic competition and political considerations of the Europea ...
). As a result, Russo-German relations further deteriorated, with the Russian chancellor Gorchakov denouncing Bismarck for compromising his nation's victory. The relationship was additionally strained due to Germany's protectionist trade policies. Some in the German military clamored for a
preemptive war A preemptive war is a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (ne ...
with Russia; Bismarck refused, stating: "Preemptive war is like committing suicide for fear of death." Bismarck realized that both Russia and Britain considered control of central Asia a high priority, dubbed the "
Great Game "The Great Game" was a political and diplomatic confrontation that existed for most of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century between the British Empire and the Russian Empire, over Afghanistan and neighbouring territories in Central ...
". Germany had no direct stakes, however its dominance of Europe was enhanced when Russian troops were based as far away from Germany as possible. Over two decades, 1871–1890, he maneuvered to help the British, hoping to force the Russians to commit more soldiers to Asia.


Triple Alliance

The League of the Three Emperors having fallen apart, Bismarck negotiated the Dual Alliance with Austria-Hungary, in which each guaranteed the other against Russian attack. He also negotiated the Triple Alliance in 1882 with Austria-Hungary and Italy, and Italy and Austria-Hungary soon reached the "Mediterranean Agreement" with Britain. Attempts to reconcile Germany and Russia did not have a lasting effect: the Three Emperors' League was re-established in 1881 but quickly fell apart, ending Russian-Austrian-Prussian solidarity, which had existed in various forms since 1813. Bismarck therefore negotiated the secret
Reinsurance Treaty The Reinsurance Treaty, was a diplomatic agreement between the German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle wrote in September 1881 that the term "Reich" does not literally connote an empire as ...
of 1887 with Russia, in order to prevent Franco-Russian encirclement of Germany. Both powers promised to remain neutral towards one another unless Russia attacked Austria-Hungary. However, after Bismarck's departure from office in 1890, the Treaty was not renewed, thus creating a critical problem for Germany in the event of a war.


Colonies and imperialism

Bismarck had opposed colonial acquisitions, arguing that the burden of obtaining, maintaining, and defending such possessions would outweigh any potential benefit. He felt that colonies did not pay for themselves, that the German formal bureaucratic system would not work well in the easy-going tropics, and that the diplomatic disputes colonies brought would distract Germany from its central interest, Europe itself. As for French designs on
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
,
Chlodwig, Prince of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst Chlodwig Carl Viktor, Prince of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, Prince of Ratibor and Corvey (german: Chlodwig Carl Viktor Fürst zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, Prinz von Ratibor und von Corvey) (31 March 18196 July 1901), usually referred to as the Pr ...
wrote in his memoirs that Bismarck had told him that Germany "could only be pleased if France took possession of the country" since "she would then be very occupied" and distracted from the loss of Alsace-Lorraine. However, in 1883–84 he suddenly reversed himself and overnight built a colonial empire in Africa and the South Pacific. The
Berlin Conference The Berlin Conference of 1884–1885, also known as the Congo Conference (german: Kongokonferenz) or West Africa Conference (), regulated European colonization The historical phenomenon of colonization is one that stretches around the gl ...
of 1884–85 organized by Bismarck can be seen as the formalization of the
Scramble for Africa The Scramble for Africa, also called the Partition of Africa, or the Conquest of Africa, was the invasion, occupation, division, and colonisation of Africa, colonization of most of Africa by seven Western Europe, Western European powers during a ...
. Historians have debated the exact motive behind Bismarck's sudden and short-lived move. He was aware that public opinion had started to demand colonies for reasons of German prestige. He also wanted to undercut the anti-colonial liberals who were sponsored by the Crown Prince, who—given Wilhelm I's old age—might soon become emperor and remove Bismarck. Bismarck was influenced by Hamburg merchants and traders, his neighbors at Friedrichsruh. The establishment of the
German colonial empire The German colonial empire (german: Deutsches Kolonialreich) constituted the overseas colonies, dependencies and territories of . Unified in the early 1870s, the chancellor of this time period was . Short-lived attempts at by had occurred in ...
proceeded smoothly, starting with
German New Guinea German New Guinea (german: link=no, Deutsch-Neuguinea) consisted of the northeastern part of the island of New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu: ''Niu Gini''; id, Papua, historically ) is the List of islands by area, world's second-larges ...

German New Guinea
in 1884. Other European nations, led by Britain and France, were acquiring colonies in a rapid fashion (see
New Imperialism In historical History (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past. Events occurring before the History of writing#Inventions of writing, invention of writing sy ...
). Bismarck therefore made the decision to join the
Scramble for Africa The Scramble for Africa, also called the Partition of Africa, or the Conquest of Africa, was the invasion, occupation, division, and colonisation of Africa, colonization of most of Africa by seven Western Europe, Western European powers during a ...
. Germany's new colonies included
Togoland Togoland was a German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle wrote in September 1881 that the term "Reich" does not literally connote an empire as has been commonly assumed by English-speaking p ...
(now
Togo Togo (), officially the Togolese Republic (french: République togolaise), is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of Benin ...

Togo
and part of
Ghana Ghana (), officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as well as .Paul R. ...

Ghana
),
German Kamerun Kamerun was an African colony In political science, a colony is a territory subject to a form of foreign rule. Though dominated by the foreign colonizers, colonies remain separate from the administration of the original country of the col ...
(now
Cameroon Cameroon (, french: Cameroun), officially the Republic of Cameroon (french: République du Cameroun, links=no), is a country in west 250px, A compass rose with west highlighted in black West or Occident is one of the four cardinal direc ...

Cameroon
and part of
Nigeria Nigeria (), officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as we ...

Nigeria
),
German East Africa German East Africa (german: Deutsch-Ostafrika) (GEA) was a German colony in the African Great Lakes The African Great Lakes ( sw, Maziwa Makuu) are a series of lakes constituting the part of the Rift Valley lakes in and around the East Afri ...

German East Africa
(now
Rwanda Rwanda, officially the Republic of Rwanda, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's b ...

Rwanda
, Burundi, and the mainland part of
Tanzania Tanzania (; ), officially the United Republic of Tanzania ( sw, Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania), is a country in East Africa East Africa or Eastern Africa is the eastern subregion of the Africa Africa is the world's second-larges ...

Tanzania
), and
German South-West Africa German South West Africa (german: Deutsch-Südwestafrika) was a colony of the German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biogr ...

German South-West Africa
(now
Namibia Namibia (, ), officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa Southern Africa is the south South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east a ...

Namibia
). The
Berlin Conference The Berlin Conference of 1884–1885, also known as the Congo Conference (german: Kongokonferenz) or West Africa Conference (), regulated European colonization The historical phenomenon of colonization is one that stretches around the gl ...
(1884–85) established regulations for the acquisition of African colonies; in particular, it protected free trade in certain parts of the
Congo Basin The Congo Basin (french: Bassin du Congo) is the sedimentary basin Sedimentary basins are regions of the Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth's surface ...
. Germany also acquired colonies in the Pacific, such as
German New Guinea German New Guinea (german: link=no, Deutsch-Neuguinea) consisted of the northeastern part of the island of New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu: ''Niu Gini''; id, Papua, historically ) is the List of islands by area, world's second-larges ...

German New Guinea
.
Hans-Ulrich Wehler Hans-Ulrich Wehler (September 11, 1931 – July 5, 2014) was a German left-liberal historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person w ...
argues that his imperialistic policies were based on internal political and economic forces; they were not his response to external pressure. At first he promoted liberal goals of free trade commercial expansionism in order to maintain economic growth and social stability, as well as preserve the social and political power structure. However he changed, broke with the liberals, and adopted tariffs to win Catholic support and shore up his political base. Germany's imperialism in the 1880s derived less from strength and instead represented Bismarck's solution to unstable industrialization. Protectionism made for unity at a time when class conflict was rising. Wehler says the chancellor's ultimate goal was to strengthen traditional social and power structures, and avoid a major war.


Avoiding war

In February 1888, during a Bulgarian crisis, Bismarck addressed the Reichstag on the dangers of a European war: Bismarck also repeated his emphatic warning against any German military involvement in Balkan disputes. Bismarck had first made this famous comment to the Reichstag in December 1876, when the Balkan revolts against the Ottoman Empire threatened to extend to a war between Austria and Russia: A leading diplomatic historian of the era, William L. Langer sums up Bismarck's two decades as Chancellor:
Whatever else may be said of the intricate alliance system evolved by the German Chancellor, it must be admitted that it worked and that it tided Europe over a period of several critical years without a rupture.... there was, as Bismarck himself said, a premium upon the maintenance of peace.
Langer concludes:
His had been a great career, beginning with three wars in eight years and ending with a period of 20 years during which he worked for the peace of Europe, despite countless opportunities to embark on further enterprises with more than even chance of success.... No other statesman of his standing had ever before shown the same great moderation and sound political sense of the possible and desirable.... Bismarck at least deserves full credit for having steered European politics through this dangerous transitional period without serious conflict between the great powers."


Social legislation


Early legislation

In domestic policy, Bismarck pursued a conservative state-building strategy designed to make ordinary Germans—not just his own Junker elite—more loyal to throne and empire, implementing the modern welfare state in Germany in the 1880s. According to Kees van Kersbergen and Barbara Vis, his strategy was: Bismarck worked closely with large industry and aimed to stimulate German economic growth by giving workers greater security. A secondary concern was trumping the Socialists, who had no welfare proposals of their own and opposed Bismarck's. Bismarck especially listened to Hermann Wagener and Theodor Lohmann, advisers who persuaded him to give workers a corporate status in the legal and political structures of the new German state. In March 1884, Bismarck declared: Bismarck's idea was to implement welfare programs that were acceptable to conservatives without any socialistic aspects. He was dubious about laws protecting workers at the workplace, such as safe working conditions, limitation of work hours, and the regulation of women's and child labor. He believed that such regulation would force workers and employers to reduce work and production and thus harm the economy. Bismarck opened debate on the subject in November 1881 in the Imperial Message to the Reichstag, using the term ''practical Christianity'' to describe his program. Bismarck's program centred squarely on insurance programs designed to increase productivity, and focus the political attentions of German workers on supporting the Junkers' government. The program included sickness insurance, accident insurance, disability insurance, and a retirement pension, none of which were then in existence to any great degree. Based on Bismarck's message, the Reichstag filed three bills to deal with the concepts of accident and sickness insurance. The subjects of retirement pensions and disability insurance were placed on the back-burner for the time being.Holborn, Hajo. ''A History of Modern Germany – 1840–1945''. Princeton UP, 1969. pp. 291–93. The social legislation implemented by Bismarck in the 1880s played a key role in the sharp, rapid decline of German emigration to America. Young men considering emigration looked at not only the gap between higher hourly "direct wages" in the United States and Germany but also the differential in "indirect wages", social benefits, which favored staying in Germany. The young men went to German industrial cities, so that Bismarck's insurance system partly offset low wage rates in Germany and further reduced the emigration rate.


Sickness Insurance Law of 1883

The first successful bill, passed in 1883, was the Sickness Insurance Bill. Bismarck considered the program, established to provide sickness insurance for German industrial laborers, the least important and the least politically troublesome. The health service was established on a local basis, with the cost divided between employers and the employed. The employers contributed one third, and the workers contributed two-thirds. The minimum payments for medical treatment and sick pay for up to 13 weeks were legally fixed. The individual local health bureaus were administered by a committee elected by the members of each bureau, and this move had the unintended effect of establishing a majority representation for the workers on account of their large financial contribution. This worked to the advantage of the Social Democrats who, through heavy worker membership, achieved their first small foothold in public administration. According to a 2019 study, the health insurance legislation caused a substantial reduction in mortality.


Accident Insurance Law of 1884

Bismarck's government had to submit three draft bills before it could get one passed by the Reichstag in 1884. Bismarck had originally proposed that the federal government pay a portion of the accident insurance contribution. Bismarck wanted to demonstrate the willingness of the German government to reduce the hardship experienced by the German workers so as to wean them away from supporting the various left-wing parties, most importantly the Social Democrats. The National Liberals took this program to be an expression of State Socialism (Germany), State Socialism, against which they were dead set. The Centre Party was afraid of the expansion of federal power at the expense of states' rights. As a result, the only way the program could be passed at all was for the entire expense to be underwritten by the employers. To facilitate this, Bismarck arranged for the administration of this program to be placed in the hands of ''Der Arbeitgeberverband in den beruflichen Korporationen'' (the Organization of Employers in Occupational Corporations). This organization established central and bureaucratic insurance offices on the federal, and in some cases the state level to actually administer the program whose benefits kicked in to replace the sickness insurance program as of the 14th week. It paid for medical treatment and a pension of up to two-thirds of earned wages if the worker were fully disabled. This program was expanded, in 1886, to include agricultural workers.


Old Age and Disability Insurance Law of 1889

The old age pension program, insurance equally financed by employers and workers, was designed to provide a pension annuity for workers who reached the age of 70. Unlike the accident and sickness insurance programs, this program covered all categories of workers (industrial, agrarian, artisans and servants) from the start. Also, unlike the other two programs, the principle that the national government should contribute a portion of the underwriting cost, with the other two portions prorated accordingly, was accepted without question. The disability insurance program was intended to be used by those permanently disabled. This time, the state or province supervised the programs directly.


Downfall


Final years and forced resignation

In 1888 Kaiser Wilhelm I died, leaving the throne to his son, Frederick III, German Emperor, Friedrich III. The new monarch was already suffering from cancer of the larynx and died after reigning for only 99 days. He was succeeded by his son, Wilhelm II of Germany, Wilhelm II, who opposed Bismarck's careful foreign policy, preferring vigorous and rapid expansion to enlarge Germany's "place in the sun". Bismarck was sixteen years older than Friedrich; before the latter became terminally ill, Bismarck did not expect he would live to see Wilhelm ascend to the throne and thus had no strategy to deal with him. Conflicts between Wilhelm and his chancellor soon poisoned their relationship. Their final split occurred after Bismarck tried to implement far-reaching anti-socialist laws in early 1890. The ''Kartell'' majority in the Reichstag, including the amalgamated Conservative Party and the National Liberal Party, was willing to make most of the laws permanent. However, it was split about the law granting the police the power to expel socialist agitators from their homes, a power that had been used excessively at times against political opponents. The National Liberals refused to make this law permanent, while the Conservatives supported only the entirety of the bill, threatening to and eventually vetoing the entire bill in session because Bismarck would not agree to a modified bill. As the debate continued, Wilhelm became increasingly interested in social problems, especially the treatment of mine workers during their strike in 1889. Keeping with his active policy in government, he routinely interrupted Bismarck in Council to make clear his social views. Bismarck sharply disagreed with Wilhelm's policies and worked to circumvent them. Even though Wilhelm supported the altered anti-socialist bill, Bismarck pushed for his support to veto the bill in its entirety. When his arguments could not convince Wilhelm, Bismarck became excited and agitated until uncharacteristically blurting out his motive to see the bill fail: to have the socialists agitate until a violent clash occurred that could be used as a pretext to crush them. Wilhelm countered that he was not willing to open his reign with a bloody campaign against his own subjects. The next day, after realizing his blunder, Bismarck attempted to reach a compromise with Wilhelm by agreeing to his social policy towards industrial workers and even suggested a European council to discuss working conditions, presided over by the Emperor. Still, a turn of events eventually led to his breaking with Wilhelm. Bismarck, feeling pressured and unappreciated by the Emperor and undermined by ambitious advisers, refused to sign a proclamation regarding the protection of workers along with Wilhelm, as was required by the German constitution. His refusal to sign was apparently to protest Wilhelm's ever-increasing interference with Bismarck's previously unquestioned authority. Bismarck also worked behind the scenes to break the Continental labour council on which Wilhelm had set his heart. The final break came as Bismarck searched for a new parliamentary majority, as his ''Kartell'' was voted from power as a consequence of the anti-socialist bill fiasco. The remaining forces in the Reichstag were the Catholic Centre Party and the Conservative Party. Bismarck wished to form a new block with the Centre Party and invited Ludwig Windthorst, the parliamentary leader, to discuss an alliance. That would be Bismarck's last political maneuver. Upon hearing about Windthorst's visit, Wilhelm was furious. In a parliamentary state, the head of government depends on the confidence of the parliamentary majority and has the right to form coalitions to ensure their policies have majority support. However, in Germany, the Chancellor depended on the confidence of the Emperor alone, and Wilhelm believed that the Emperor had the right to be informed before his minister's meeting. After a heated argument in Bismarck's office, Wilhelm—to whom Bismarck had shown a letter from Tsar Alexander III describing Wilhelm as a "badly brought-up boy"—stormed out, after first ordering the rescinding of the Cabinet Order of 1851, which had forbidden Prussian Cabinet Ministers from reporting directly to the King of Prussia and required them instead to report via the Chancellor. Bismarck, forced for the first time into a situation that he could not use to his advantage, wrote a blistering letter of resignation, decrying Wilhelm's interference in foreign and domestic policy. The letter, however, was published only after Bismarck's death. Bismarck resigned at Wilhelm II's insistence on 18 March 1890, at the age of seventy-five. He was succeeded as Imperial Chancellor and Minister President of Prussia by Leo von Caprivi. shows that Friedrich von Holstein was a key player After his dismissal he was promoted to the rank of "Colonel-General with the Dignity of Field Marshal", so-called because the German Army did not appoint full Field Marshals in peacetime. He was also given a new title, Duke of Lauenburg, which he joked would be useful when traveling incognito. He was soon elected to the ''Reichstag'' as a National Liberal in Bennigsen's old and supposedly safe Hamburg seat, but he was so humiliated by being taken to a second ballot by a Social Democrat opponent that he never actually took up his seat. Bismarck entered into resentful retirement, lived in
Friedrichsruh Friedrichsruh () is a district in the municipality of Aumühle, Herzogtum Lauenburg district, Schleswig-Holstein, in northern Germany. Friedrichsruh manor is known as a residence of the princely House of Bismarck, mainly of Chancellor Otto von Bis ...

Friedrichsruh
near Hamburg and sometimes on his estates at Varzin, and waited in vain to be called upon for advice and counsel. After his wife's death on 27 November 1894, his health worsened and one year later he finally became a full-time wheelchair user.


Death

Bismarck spent his final years composing his memoirs (''Gedanken und Erinnerungen'', or ''Thoughts and Memories''), a work lauded by historians. In the memoirs Bismarck continued his feud with Wilhelm II by attacking him, and by increasing the drama around every event and by often presenting himself in a favorable light. He also published the text of the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia, a major breach of national security, for which an individual of lesser status would have been heavily prosecuted. Bismarck's health began to fail in 1896. He was diagnosed with gangrene in his foot, but refused to accept treatment for it; as a result he had difficulty walking and often used a wheelchair. By July 1898 he was a full-time wheelchair user, had trouble breathing, and was almost constantly feverish and in pain. His health rallied momentarily on the 28th, but then sharply deteriorated over the next two days. He died just after midnight on 30 July 1898, at the age of eighty-three in
Friedrichsruh Friedrichsruh () is a district in the municipality of Aumühle, Herzogtum Lauenburg district, Schleswig-Holstein, in northern Germany. Friedrichsruh manor is known as a residence of the princely House of Bismarck, mainly of Chancellor Otto von Bis ...

Friedrichsruh
, where he is entombed in the Bismarck Mausoleum. He was succeeded as Prince Bismarck by his eldest son, Herbert. Bismarck managed a posthumous snub of Wilhelm II by having his own sarcophagus inscribed with the words, "A loyal German servant of Emperor Wilhelm I".


Legacy and memory


Reputation

Historians have reached a broad consensus on the content, function and importance of the image of Bismarck within Germany's political culture over the past 125 years. According to Steinberg, his achievements in 1862–71 were "the greatest diplomatic and political achievement by any leader in the last two centuries." Bismarck's most important legacy is the unification of Germany. Germany had existed as a collection of hundreds of separate principalities and Imperial Free City, Free Cities since the formation of the Holy Roman Empire. Over the centuries various rulers had tried to unify the German states without success until Bismarck. Largely as a result of Bismarck's efforts, the various German kingdoms were united into a single country. Following unification, Germany became one of the most powerful nations in Europe. Bismarck's astute, cautious, and pragmatic foreign policies allowed Germany to peacefully retain the powerful position into which he had brought it, while maintaining amiable diplomacy with almost all European nations. France was the main exception because of the Franco–Prussian War and Bismarck's harsh subsequent policies; France became one of Germany's most bitter enemies in Europe. Austria, too, was weakened by the creation of a German Empire, though to a much lesser extent than France. Bismarck believed that as long as Britain, Russia and Italy were assured of the peaceful nature of the German Empire, French belligerency could be contained. His diplomatic feats were undone, however, by Kaiser Wilhelm II, German Emperor, Wilhelm II, whose policies unified other European powers against Germany in time for World War I. Historians stress that Bismarck's peace-oriented, "saturated continental diplomacy" was increasingly unpopular because it consciously reined in any expansionist drives. The German public turned to an expansionist stance instead. In dramatic contrast to Bismarck's approach stands the ambition of Wilhelm II's ''Weltpolitik'' to secure the Reich's future through expansion, leading to World War I. Likewise, Bismarck's policy to deny the military a dominant voice in foreign political decision making was overturned by 1914 as Germany was increasingly under military control. During the war the Oberste Heeresleitung established a virtual military dictatorship, largely ignoring chancellor, emperor and Reichstag. Bismarck was a conservative or "white revolutionary". He taught conservatives to be nationalists and supporters of welfare programs, thereby enlarging their base of support and weakening the socialist movement. After working closely with liberals and fighting the Catholics, he switched and added the conservative Catholics to his base while opposing the liberals. However, Henry Kissinger notes the dangers of this legacy for Germany in the 20th century. He so thoroughly undermined liberalism that Weimar Germany never could make liberalism succeed: "Nationalism unleavened by liberalism turned chauvinistic, and liberalism without responsibility grew sterile." According to historian Norman Rich:
Nevertheless, the success of Bismarck's diplomacy–and I think it was on the whole successful–did not depend on any system but on his qualities as a diplomat. Of these the most important was not his genius but his attention to ...the fundamentals of diplomacy: a dispassionate evaluation of national interests; care to avoid challenging the national interests of other great powers; and an awareness of the quality of national power and its limitations. It was the neglect of these fundamentals which, more than anything else, brought disaster to his successors.
Bismarck's psychology and personal traits have not been so favourably received by scholars. The historian Jonathan Steinberg portrays a demonic genius who was deeply vengeful, even toward his closest friends and family members:
[Bismarck's friend, German diplomat Kurd von Schlözer] began to see Bismarck as a kind of malign genius who, behind the various postures, concealed an ice-cold contempt for his fellow human beings and a methodical determination to control and ruin them. His easy chat combined blunt truths, partial revelations, and outright deceptions. His extraordinary double ability to see how groups would react and the willingness to use violence to make them obey, the capacity to read group behavior and the force to make them move to his will, gave him the chance to exercise what [Steinberg has] called his "sovereign self".
Evans says he was "intimidating and unscrupulous, playing to others' frailties, not their strengths." British historians, including Steinberg, Evans, Taylor, and Palmer, see Bismarck as an ambivalent figure, undoubtedly a man of great skill but who left no lasting system in place to guide successors less skilled than himself. Being a committed monarchist himself, Bismarck allowed no effective constitutional check on the power of the Emperor, thus placing a time bomb in the foundation of the Germany that he created. Jonathan Steinberg, in his 2011 biography of Bismarck wrote that he was:
a political genius of a very unusual kind [whose success] rested on several sets of conflicting characteristics among which brutal, disarming honesty mingled with the wiles and deceits of a confidence trick, confidence man. He played his parts with perfect self-confidence, yet mixed them with rage, anxiety, illness, hypochrondria, and irrationality. ... He used democracy when it suited him, negotiated with revolutionaries and the dangerous Ferdinand Lassalle, the socialist who might have contested his authority. He utterly dominated his cabinet ministers with a sovereign contempt and blackened their reputations as soon as he no longer needed them. He outwitted the parliamentary parties, even the strongest of them, and betrayed all those ... who had put him into power. By 1870 even his closest friends ... realized that they had helped put a demonic figure into power.
During most of his nearly thirty-year-long tenure, Bismarck held undisputed control over the government's policies. He was well supported by his friend
Albrecht von Roon Albrecht Theodor Emil Graf von Roon (; 30 April 1803 Pleśna, West Pomeranian Voivodeship, Pleushagen, Kingdom of Prussia, Prussia23 February 1879) was a Prussian soldier and statesman. As Minister of War from 1859 to 1873, Roon, along with Ot ...

Albrecht von Roon
, the war minister, as well as the leader of the Prussian army Helmuth von Moltke. Bismarck's diplomatic moves relied on a victorious Prussian military, and these two men gave Bismarck the victories he needed to convince the smaller German states to join Prussia. Bismarck took steps to silence or restrain political opposition, as evidenced by laws restricting the freedom of the press, and the anti-socialist laws. He waged a culture war (''
Kulturkampf ''Kulturkampf'' (, 'culture struggle') was the conflict that took place from 1872 to 1878 between the government of the Kingdom of Prussia The Kingdom of Prussia (german: Königreich Preußen) was a German Monarchy, kingdom that constituted th ...
'') against the Catholic Church. He was losing when he realized the conservatism of the Catholics made them natural allies against the Socialists. He then switched positions, winning Catholic/Centre support and opposing the liberals. His king Wilhelm I rarely challenged the Chancellor's decisions; on several occasions, Bismarck obtained his monarch's approval by threatening to resign. However, Wilhelm II intended to govern the country himself, making the ousting of Bismarck one of his first tasks as Kaiser. Bismarck's successors as Chancellor were much less influential, as power was concentrated in the Emperor's hands.


Memorials

Immediately after he left office, citizens started to praise him and established funds to build monuments like the Bismarck Memorial or Bismarck tower, towers dedicated to him. Throughout Germany, the accolades were unending; several buildings were named in his honour, portraits of him were commissioned from artists such as Franz von Lenbach and Christian Wilhelm Allers, C.W. Allers and books about him became best-sellers. The first monument built in his honour was the Bismarck Monument (Bad Kissingen), one at Bad Kissingen erected in 1877. Numerous statues and memorials dot the cities, towns, and countryside of Germany, including the famous Bismarck Memorial in Berlin and numerous Bismarck towers on four continents. The only memorial depicting him as a student at University of Göttingen, Göttingen University (together with a dog, possibly his ''Reichshund'' Tyras) and as a member of his Corps Hannovera was re-erected in 2006 at the Rudelsburg. The gleaming white 1906 Bismarck Monument (Hamburg), Bismarck Monument in the city of Hamburg, stands in the centre of the St. Pauli district, and is the largest, and probably best-known, memorial to Bismarck worldwide. The statues depicted him as massive, monolithic, rigid and unambiguous. Two warships were named in his honour, the of the Kaiserliche Marine, German Imperial Navy, and the from the World War II–era.


Bismarck: memory and myth

Bismarck was the most memorable figure in Germany down to the 1930s. The dominant memory was the great hero of the 1860s, who defeated all enemies, especially France, and unified Germany to become the most powerful military and diplomatic force in the world. Of course, there were no monuments celebrating Bismarck's devotion to the cause of European peace after 1871. But there were other German memories. His fellow Junkers were disappointed, as Prussia after 1871 became swallowed up and dominated by the German Empire. Liberal intellectuals, few in number but dominant in the universities and business houses, celebrated his achievement of the national state, a constitutional monarchy, and the rule of law, and forestalling revolution and marginalizing radicalism. Social Democrats and labor leaders had always been his target, and he remained their bête noire. Catholics could not forget the Kulturkampf and remained distrustful. Especially negative were the Poles who hated his Germanization programs. Robert Gerwarth shows that the Bismarck myth, built up predominantly during his years of retirement and even more stridently after his death, proved a powerful rhetorical and ideological tool. The myth made him out to be a dogmatic ideologue and ardent nationalist when, in fact, he was ideologically flexible. Gerwarth argues that the constructed memory of Bismarck played a central role as an antidemocratic myth in the highly ideological battle over the past, which raged between 1918 and 1933. This myth proved to be a weapon against the Weimar Republic and exercised a destructive influence on the political culture of the first German democracy. Frankel in ''Bismarck's Shadow'' (2005) shows the Bismarck cult fostered and legitimized a new style of right-wing politics. It made possible the post-Bismarckian crisis of leadership, both real and perceived, that had Germans seeking the strongest possible leader and asking, "What Would Bismarck Do?" For example, Hamburg's memorial, unveiled in 1906, is considered one of the greatest expressions of Imperial Germany's Bismarck cult and an important development in the history of German memorial art. It was a product of the desire of Hamburg's patrician classes to defend their political privileges in the face of dramatic social change and attendant demands for political reform. To those who presided over its construction, the monument was also a means of asserting Hamburg's cultural aspirations and of shrugging off a reputation as a city hostile to the arts. The memorial was greeted with widespread disapproval among the working classes and did not prevent their increasing support for the Social Democrats.


Place names

A number of localities around the world have been named in Bismarck's honour. They include: * Bismarck Archipelago, near the former German colony of New Guinea. * Bismarck, Illinois * Bismarck, North Dakota, the only U.S. state capital named for a foreign statesman. * Bismarck, Missouri, a city in Missouri. * Bismarck Sea * Bismarck Strait, a channel in Antarctica. * Cape Bismarck, NE Greenland.


Titles, styles, honours and arms


Titles and styles

* 1815–1865: ''
Junker Junker ( da, Junker, german: Junker, nl, Jonkheer, en, Yunker, no, Junker, sv, Junker ka, იუნკერი (Iunkeri)) is a noble honorific An honorific is a title that conveys esteem, courtesy, or respect for position or rank when us ...
'' Otto von Bismarck * 1865–1871: ''Hochgeboren, His Illustrious Highness'' The Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen * 1871–1890: ''His Serene Highness'' The Prince of Bismarck, Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen * 1890–1898: ''His Serene Highness'' The Prince of Bismarck, Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen, Duke of Lauenburg Bismarck was created ' ("Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen") in 1865; this comital title is borne by all his descendants in the male line. In 1871, he was further created ' ("Prince of Bismarck") and accorded the style of ' ("Serene Highness"); this princely title descended only to his eldest male heirs.


Duke of Lauenburg

In 1890, Bismarck was granted the title of ' ("Duke of Lauenburg"); the duchy was one of the territories that Prussia seized from the king of Denmark in 1864. It was Bismarck's ambition to be assimilated into the German mediatisation, mediatized houses of Germany. He attempted to persuade Kaiser Wilhelm I that he should be endowed with the sovereign duchy of Lauenburg, in reward for his services to the imperial family and the German empire. This was on the understanding that Bismarck would immediately restore the duchy to Prussia; all he wanted was the status and privileges of a mediatized family for himself and his descendants. This novel idea was rejected by the conservative emperor, who thought that he had already given the chancellor enough rewards. There is reason to believe that he informed Wilhelm II of his wishes. After being forced by the sovereign to resign, he received the purely honorific title of "Duke of Lauenburg", without the duchy itself and the sovereignty that would have transformed his family into a mediatized house. Bismarck regarded it as a mockery of his ambition, and he considered nothing more cruel than this action of the emperor. Upon Bismarck's death in 1898 his dukedom, held only for his own lifetime, became extinct.


Honours

Domestic orders and decorations Foreign orders and decorations ;Military appointments * ''À la suite'' of the 7th (Magdeburg) Cuirassiers "von Seydlitz", ''18 October 1868''; Colonel-in-chief, ''26 April 1894''


In popular culture

Literature * Bismarck is one of the principal characters in ''Royal Flash'', the second novel in the Harry Flashman, Flashman series written by George MacDonald Fraser. Film * Bismarck, portrayed by Curd Jürgens, appears as a major character in the 1974 British television series ''Fall of Eagles''. * In the 2014 Danish series ''1864 (TV series), 1864'', Bismarck is portrayed by Rainer Bock. Games * Bismarck appears as the leader of the German civilization in the computer strategy games, ''Civilization III'', ''Civilization IV'' and ''Civilization V''.


See also

* Conservatism in Germany * Gerson von Bleichröder, Bismarck's banker and economics advisor * House of Bismarck * Landtag of Prussia * Bismarck towers


References


Further reading


Biographies

* Abrams, Lynn. ''Bismarck and the German Empire, 1871-1918'' (1995), 75 pages
online
* ; **Rich, Norman (1982
"Sinking the Bismarck Legend" (very negative review)
''The Washington Post'' * * *
online
* * * ;
online
* * for middle school students * * * * *
popular biography
* * * * Quinault, Roland. "Bismarck and Gladstone Beyond Caricature" ''History Today'' (Nov 2013) 63#11 pp 21-28 online; compares the two in terms of private and public lives *
online review calls it best study in any language
* ** * *
online


Surveys

* * * * * * * * ** Highly detailed diplomatic history of all major European powers. * * * *


Specialized studies

* * * * * * * * * * * * Kissinger, Henry A. "The white revolutionary: Reflections on Bismarck." ''Daedalus'' (1968): 888-92
online
* * * * * Rich, Norman. "The Question Of National Interest In Imperial German Foreign Policy: Bismarck, William II, and the Road to World War I." ''Naval War College Review'' (1973) 26#1: 28-41
online
* * * * * Thomson, Henry. "Landholding Inequality, Political Strategy, and Authoritarian Repression: Structure and Agency in Bismarck’s 'Second Founding' of the German Empire." ''Studies in Comparative International Development'' 50.1 (2015): 73-97
cites
* Vagts, Alfred. "Land and Sea Power in the Second German Reich." ''Journal of Military History'' 3.4 (1939): 210
online
* * * * * *


Historiography and memory

* Andrews, Herbert D. "Bismarck's Foreign Policy and German Historiography, 1919-1945" ''Journal of Modern History'' (1965) 37#3 pp. 345–35
online
* Barkin, Kenneth. "Bismarck in a Postmodern World." ''German Studies Review'' 18.2 (1995): 241-251
online
* * * * Gerwarth, Robert, and Lucy Riall. "Fathers of the nation? Bismarck, Garibaldi and the cult of memory in Germany and Italy." ''European History Quarterly'' 39.3 (2009): 388-413. * , popular history * * Geyer, Michael, and Konrad H. Jarausch. "Great Men and Postmodern Ruptures: Overcoming the" Belatedness" of German Historiography." ''German Studies Review'' 18.2 (1995): 253-273
online
* * * * * Spencer, Frank. "Bismarck And The Franco-Prussian War" ''History'' 40#140 (1955), pp. 319–2
online
historiography * * *


Primary sources

* * * *


External links

*
"Bismarck"
BBC Radio 4 discussion with Richard J. Evans, Christopher Clark and Katharine Lerman, ''In Our Time'', 22 March 2007 * {{DEFAULTSORT:Bismarck, Otto Von Otto von Bismarck, 1815 births 1898 deaths 19th-century Chancellors of Germany 19th-century Prussian military personnel Ambassadors of Prussia Bismarck family, Otto Colonel generals of Prussia Conservatism in Germany Dukes of Saxe-Lauenburg German Lutherans German monarchists German nationalists German non-fiction writers German people of the Franco-Prussian War Grand Croix of the Légion d'honneur Grand Crosses of the Order of the Dannebrog Grand Crosses of the Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary Grand Crosses of the Order of the Star of Romania Humboldt University of Berlin alumni Independent politicians in Germany Knights of the Golden Fleece of Spain Kulturkampf Members of the 8th Reichstag of the German Empire Members of the Prussian House of Lords Members of the Prussian House of Representatives Foreign ministers of Prussia People from the Province of Saxony People from Stendal (district) Prime Ministers of Prussia Princes of Bismarck, Otto Recipients of the Order of the Netherlands Lion Recipients of the Order of St. Anna, 1st class Recipients of the Order of the White Eagle (Russia) Recipients of the Order of Saint Stanislaus (Russian), 1st class University of Göttingen alumni University of Greifswald alumni Recipients of the Pour le Mérite (military class) Recipients of the Iron Cross (1870), 1st class Recipients of the Iron Cross (1870), 2nd class Knights Grand Cross of the Order of Chula Chom Klao