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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Was compelled to transfer Venetia to Italy



In the spring of 1867, Napoleon III. took advantage of the circumstance that Luxemburg was practically detached from Germany by the downfall of the old Diet, and offered to buy it of Holland. The agreement was nearly concluded, when Bismarck in the name of the North-German Union, made such an energetic protest that the negotiations were suspended. A conference of the European Powers in London, in May, adjudged Luxemburg to Holland, satisfying neither France nor Germany; but Bismarck's boldness and firmness gave immediate authority to the new Union. The people, at last, felt that they had a living, acting Government, not a mere conglomeration of empty forms, as hitherto.




Changes in Austria. --Rise of Prussia. --Irritation of the French. --Napoleon III.'s Decline --War demanded. --The Pretext of the Spanish Throne. --Leopold of Hohenzollern. --The French Ambassador at Ems. --France declares War. --Excitement of the People. --Attitude of Germany. --Three Armies in the Field. --Battle of Woerth. --Advance upon Metz. --Battles of Mars-la-Tour and Gravelotte. --German Residents expelled from France. --Mac Mahon's March northwards. --Fighting on the Meuse.

--Battle of Sedan. --Surrender of Napoleon III. and the Army. --Republic in France. --Hopes of the French People. --Surrenders of Toul. Strasburg and Metz. --Siege of Paris. --Defeat of the French Armies. --Battles of Le Mans. --Bourbaki's Defeat and Flight into Switzerland. --Surrender of Paris. --Peace. --Losses of France. --The German Empire proclaimed. --William I. Emperor.

[Sidenote: 1869. CHANGES IN AUSTRIA.]

The experience of the next three years showed how completely the new order of things was accepted by the great majority of the German people. Even in Austria, the defeat at Koeniggraetz and the loss of Venetia were welcomed by the Hungarians and Slavonians, and hardly regretted by the German population, since it was evident that the Imperial Government must give up its absolutist policy or cease to exist. In fact, the former Ministry was immediately dismissed: Count Beust, a Saxon and a Protestant, was called to Vienna, and a series of reforms was inaugurated which did not terminate until the Hungarians had won all they demanded in 1848, and the Germans and Bohemians enjoyed full as much liberty as the Prussians.

The Seven Weeks' War of 1866, in fact, was a phenomenon in history; no nation ever acquired so much fame and influence in so short a time, as Prussia. The relation of the king, and especially of the statesman who guided him, Count Bismarck, towards the rest of Germany, was suddenly and completely changed. Napoleon III. was compelled to transfer Venetia to Italy, and thus his declaration in 1859 that "Italy should be free, from the Alps to the Adriatic," was made good,--but not by France. While the rest of Europe accepted the changes in Germany with equanimity, if not with approbation, the vain and sensitive people of France felt themselves deeply humiliated. Thus far, the policy of Napoleon III. had seemed to preserve the supremacy of France in European politics. He had overawed England, defeated Russia, and treated Italy as a magnanimous patron. But the best strength of Germany was now united under a new Constitution, after a war which made the achievements at Magenta, Solferino and in the Crimea seem tame. The ostentatious designs of France in Mexico came also to a tragic end in 1867, and her disgraceful failure there only served to make the success of Prussia, by contrast, more conspicuous.

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