Loh Yong Sheng
HIS103Y reading summary for Napoleon III and the wars of National Unification
Time Period: 1863-1871
Characters: Bismarck, Napoleon III,
Main events: Bismarck reorder of Prussia, War against Danes, War against Austria, War against France.
-Prussia played no direct part in the Crimean conflict but certainly profited from the collapse of the post
Crimean system. Prussia seek to reverse her submission to the Austrians at Olmutz and pushed for
Prussia dominance in the future.
-Prussia at that time was rich and powerful, with a strong economy. Military reforms in the late 1850s to
1860s which introduced modern technology to armaments production made Prussia’s military power an
efficient instrument of state policy. Bismarck did not have to fear the financial strains of war which was
the stalling point of many previous conflicts.
-Bismarck was not only faced with oppositions from within his own state (middle-class liberals), he also
had to contend with the Confederation Austria wand other German princes who were strongly opposed to
-In 1864, Bismarck desire of a non- German enemy came at the expense of Denmark. Under a new king,
the Danes signed a document redefining the relationship between them and the duchies of Schleswig and
Holstein. The intended incorporation of the two duchies constituted a breach of the Treaty of London of
1852 which was signed by all the powers. It gave Prussia a good cause to launch military action against the
small state of Denmark.
-He was fearful that if Prussia did not initiate the opposing of Denmark, other German nationalist would
rush in and compound Danish treaty breaking with German treaty breaking. However dualism in
Germany require that the two powers be seen as acting together in defense of German interest.
In 1864, they concluded an agreement to defend the Treaty of London. Within a month, Austrian and
Prussian troops occupied the two duchies and started the invasion of Denmark. The British called for a
conference of the five power at London to hope to resolve this issue. Failure to reconcile any issue led to the
British cabinet to decide on not taking action to defend the Danish rights to the duchies, due to no support
from France and Russia( who were still bitter with her for her stand in the Polish revolt. Within the next
three weeks Denmark was defeated and she had made the fundamental mistake of not ensuring that she
had the support of other great powers before defying Austria and Prussia.
-The differing views and opinions of the outcome of the two duchies led to the renewal of rivalry between
Austria and Prussia. Bismarck felt that only France and Italy would be able to affect decisively a struggle
between the two German powers. England and Russia will be of no part in the war.
-The British could not shape decisively events in central Europe without her allies. France and Russia
would not interfere in the affairs, if there were not of importance to their state and security.