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Why had Prussia, rather than Austria, emerged as the dominant German power by 1871?

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Why had Prussia, rather than Austria, emerged as the dominant German power by 1871? By Diederik ten Brink At the beginning of the 19th century, the Austrian Empire was the strongest of German speaking countries, both military and economically (Gordeeva). The Austrian Empire was seen as the most influential country in central Europe, politics in German speaking countries were dominated by the Austrian Empire (Young). 70 years later, the entire picture had changed, Prussia had become the dominant German power. So, why had Prussia rather than Austria, emerged as the dominant German power by 1871. By 1871, Prussia had become the dominant German power, due to its economic and military power. Prussia enjoyed a lot of economic development during the 18th century thanks to several factors, one of these was the Zollverein. The Zollverein was an agreement between German states (lead by Prussia) to simplify customs. It was similar to the European Union now, it made it easier to trade between countries. ...read more.


Prussia had conquered land with a lot of natural resources, just before the industrial revolution. For example, in 1740 Prussia conquered Silesia, a region that later would produce a lot of coal, lead, zinc and copper (1911 ). These natural resources enabled Prussia to industrialize very quickly. On the contrary, the Austrian empire had little resources, as it had lost the areas containing a lot of resources to Prussia in the century before (although it was not known yet that these areas had a lot of resources). Prussia also had a lot of chemicals, and using the good scientists that they had, they were very good in processing it. "Austrian Empire" The infrastructure of Prussia was excellent. It had more railroads than Austria, while having less territory. By 1870, Prussia had 18876 kilometres of railroad in operation, while Austria only had 9589 (Farmer). By geographical situation Prussia also had an advantage over Austria. Austria's large cities, such as Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest all lay in, or north of the Alps. ...read more.


Militarically seen, Prussia was very strong. It fought and won wars against Denmark, Austria and in 1870, France. The beating of so many important countries made Prussia really feared and respected, making it the most important country in the German speaking sphere. Prussia's location and more liberal government enabled the economy to expand very rapidly. The strong economy gave the opportunity to build a modern, well trained and well led army. In the contrary, Austria was very conservative and reactionary, causing it not to keep up with the rest of Europe, and more importantly with Prussia. Sources "The Zollverein." Historyhelp. Historyhelp. Web. 02 Oct. 2011. <http://pmaci.customer.netspace.net.au/zo.htm>. Richman, Sheldon L. Separating School & State: How to Liberate America's Families. Fairfax, VA: Future of Freedom Foundation, 1994. Print. Gordeeva, Tatyana. "Austria and Prussia: German History." German Culture. Web. 05 Oct. 2011. Young, Chris. "Prussian vs. Austrian Leadership in German Unification." UCSB Department of History. 2009. Web. 05 Oct. 2011. <http://www.history.ucsb.edu/faculty/marcuse/classes/133p/papers/096YoungPrussiaAustriaUnification.htm>. Farmer, Alan. An Introduction to Nineteenth-century European History, 1815-1914. London: Hodder & Stoughton Educational, 2001. Print. "Coal." 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica. The 1911 Classic Encyclopedia. Web. 05 Oct. 2011. <http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Coal>. Austrian Empire. Photograph. Atlassen.info. Web. <http://www.atlassen.info/atlassen/flemming/sohha04/picslarge/sohha1850k011.jpg>. ...read more.

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