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The Process Of The Unification And Founding Of The German Empire In A European Context: Otto Von Bismarck

2316 words - 9 pages

There were a number of events that occurred before eventually resulting in the reunification of Germany in 1871. The first steps towards the unification of Germany began in 1814 after the downfall of Napoleon’s ‘Rheinbund’ this began the period of restoration, where princes and knights etc. reclaimed their political control over their territory that they had under the old ‘Reich’ before 1789 (Mark Allinson, 2002).
Rulers of areas in Europe (including Germany) attended the ‘Wiener Kongress’ from October 1814 to June 1815 in order to adjust Europe post Napoleon. (Only the states of Germany that survived Napoleon attended Vienna.) The main aim of this conference was to reward the states and countries which were most successful in defeating Napoleon, not to consider democratic ideas. The areas rewarded were Russia, Prussia, Austria and Great Britain. These countries/states were rewarded by gaining land/territories. As well as gaining territories some areas also lost and e.g. although it expanded Prussia lost areas of Poland to Russia however the outcome of this loss was that Prussia became ‘a more coherently German state.’ (Mark Allinson 2002) Once the conference was over Germany was made up of 39 states, markedly fewer than before. Each state kept their own independence in the form of currency, laws and Armies.
A German confederation ‘Deutscher Bund’ was agreed to by the states of Germany in the ‘Bundesakte’ of 1815. This was because the leaders of the new territories did not want to give up their power over their land they had recently reclaimed, to another source of power, i.e. Austria or Prussia the two dominant German states. The ‘Deutscher Bund’ was an alliance between the 39 states of Germany and had no head of state or central government and there was no common citizenship. (Mark Allinson 2002) The Budestag, the central mechanism of the Deutscher bund, was under Austria’s control however each state had a form of independence and their own rights. The Chancellor of Austria, Klemens von Metternich, the dominant member of the ‘Bund’ wanted a form of monarchical Authority to be in power post French revolution, as did the King of Prussia. (Mark Allinson 2002) This mutual wish meant Prussia and Austria began to work together politically, becoming a stronger force against the rulers of territories and states who did not wish to give up their power.
Despite rulers wanting to keep power, states began to allow cracks in the fight against absolutist rule. There was a rise in state officials (Beamten) who played a role in states beginning to change in structure. (Mark Allinson 2002) State officials were well educated and brought new policies on education helping the growth of universities, this occurred in 1820 in Prussia. (Mark Allinson, 2002) The new changes introduced by the State officials limited the amount of power that sovereigns had. Austria, Northern states of Germany and Duchies refused changes to the constitution and government remained...

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