• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent was Bismarck responsible for the unification of Germany?

Extracts from this document...


Example essay on Bismarck To what extent was Bismarck responsible for the unification of Germany? Before 1871 Germany did not exist as a country. It was a collection of small independent states the two largest of course being Austria and Prussia, the states came together to form the German Confederation, a loose political association with no real power. When Bismarck became chancellor in 1862, calls for unification went largely unheeded. This was simply because of internal and external pressures. The rulers of individual states suppressed the demands of the nationalists. France was another major obstacle, it was in her interests to see Germany divided. Yet ten years after his appointment Bismarck was at the helm of a united Germany, all of the obstacles to unification had been overcome. Historians, however, are still divided as to how much of a role Bismarck actually played and more recently point to other significant factors that would have made unification inevitable. These factors are of course social, political and economic. Probably the most important factor in the process towards political union was economic factors. Trade was an absolute necessity between states like Prussia and Bavaria if they were to make the transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy. This interdependence was further enhanced by the creation of the Zolverein in 1830. This helped to facilitate economic growth, industrial output and brought states closer together through common currencies, weights and measures and a rapid growth of the railway network that encouraged travel between the states. ...read more.


Even within the Bund Austrian influence was being slowly eroded in favour of Prussia. The Prussian army reforms were also an essential element leading to unification. Bismarck's handling of the constitutional crisis in 1861 not only gained him promotion but it gave the Prussians the opportunity to reform their army to such an extent that it would become, in time, the most powerful in Europe. The army was doubled in strength, conscription increased to three years, and new weapons introduced. It can be argued that the reform of the army was Bismarck's first step on the path towards unification. This was essential if unification was to be achieved through force. Bismarck set Prussia on a war footing. The first of his wars was to be against Denmark in 1864. Historians argue that he used this war in order to manoeuvre and then manipulate Austria into a future war with Prussia. The war began over the provinces of Schleswig and Holstein. The Danish king wanted to incorporate them into Denmark. The problem was that they were members of the Bund and both had substantial German populations this caused an outcry among the members of the confederation. Prussia and Austria defeated the Danes in a short war.. The Austrians reluctantly agreed to take over the province of Holstein, manipulated of course by the Prussians. ...read more.


Bismarck used his diplomatic skills to isolate France from the rest of Europe. War began over the issue of the Spanish succession when Bismarck changed the Ems telegram to make it look as if the French ambassador had been snubbed. This was the last straw for the French and they declared war in July 1870. Thus Bismarck succeeded in making France look like the aggressor. The southern states quickly rushed to support the confederation, especially since they themselves were very hostile to the French. The French were defeated easily and during the war Germany was finally unified at the palace of Versailles in 1871. Clearly then Bismarck's contribution towards unification is very significant in that unification may not have taken place when it did without him at the helm. The German states had clearly indicated their diastase for unification in 1848 yet less than 25 years later Bismarck used Prussian military strength to achieve unification. However without the vital building blocks of economic integration, cultural ties, and of course nationalist elements there would have been very little if any calls for unification. Finally one cannot dismiss the importance of Austria's decline without which any hope of unification would be lost. It is fair to say that although Bismarck's contribution was essential in achieving unification at that time it may not have been a decisive factor in the process of unification. In other words unification would have been achieved without him, how and when is still a matter for debate. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree 1800-1899 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree 1800-1899 essays

  1. Historical Investigation -- How did the Southern States succession from the Union enable the ...

    The Habeas Corpus Act passed by this body, specifically granted the right to suspend habeas corpus to the executive branch, something which had been ambiguous in the wording of the Constitution. Along with this Act, other of the legislative (Emancipation Proclamation, Confiscation Acts, and Iron Clad Oath)

  2. Causes of the civil war. The American civil war was a war that was ...

    to be freed soon, to those like Abraham Lincoln, who strongly desired to stop not just the spread, but also the influence of slavery15. The abolitionists simply wanted slavery to be abolished. They called it a peculiar institution and came up with campaigns to end it.

  1. Liberal Divisions and the 1870 Education Act

    In his speech, Forster made the point quite clear: '...there will be compulsory provision where it is wanted...but not otherwise ...The School Boards are to provide the education. Who are to pay for it?...Shall we give up the school fees?...I at once say the government are not prepared to do

  2. What interpretations can be made as to the extent of brigandage and also the ...

    One can put this criminal element down to both the geography of the nation and also the economic situation of the country as a whole. The country boasted a host of mountainous areas and hillside retreats that functioned as the perfect breeding grounds for such brigand groups.

  1. Did Kaiser Wilhelm II at any time exercise real power?

    take care of the day to day affairs in Germany, rather than exercise his own power. After Chlodwig's resignition on the 17th of October 19009, Kaiser Wilhelm II appeared to relinquish more of his power on to his Chancellor when Bernhard von B´┐Żlow became Chlodwig's successor.

  2. How did economic and social experiences differ between the southern and northern regions of ...

    Following on from this, an essential element for successful industrialisation is having a market for the produce; a business cannot make a profit if it does not have a place to sell what it makes. Finally, advances in technology help speed up the process and provide better transport, communication links and improved methods of production.

  1. Why did Britain industrialise earlier than Germany?

    (Gildea, 2003, 7). This massive influx of people to cities eager to work (even for poor wages) created a new industrial workforce of a grand scale. The agrarian reforms supported this unprecedented population growth for Britain, enabling the effective growth of the industrial workforce.

  2. By creating categories of enemies within was Bismarck successful in uniting Germans?

    of Catholic subversion of the new national state'6 as being present, and this would appear to provide the key as to why such policies were, initially at least, met by such support. These were people and fears that could be present in any of the pre-Empire states, and so it

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work