Prussian and German Chancellor
Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck without a doubt was the mastermind of German unification, which was achieved in 1871.
The Emergence of the Iron Chancellor
Otto von Bismarck was born in the German state of Prussia in 1815, and was of noble birth. Bismarck was born during a turbulent period when the autocratic power of the Prussian monarchy was been challenged by liberalism, pan - German nationalism, and even socialism to make political concessions. Political instability reached its peak in the revolutions of 1848 that convulsed much of central, eastern and western Europe with the notable exception of Great Britain.
The Prussian government was forced to make concessions yet the Prussian King was able to avoid abdication or the permanent loss of power that some of his counterparts had failed to do. For instance France became a republic and Austria changed its emperor. The turmoil of 1848 gave Bismarck the opportunity to gain political office and to make him invaluable to the Prussian state. He finally achieved power in 1862 when Wilhem I made him the Prussian Chancellor. He used this political power to stunning affect, ultimately reshaping the balance of power within Europe and eventally beyond. Domestically he sought to further Prussian economic growth whilst maintaining political stability.
Bismarck’s Greatest Success - A United Germany
Bismarck would leave his mark on history with significant military successes between 1864 and 1871. Bismarck was determined to achieve a united Germany dominated by Prussia and had to overcome Denmark, Austria, and France to do so. The unification of Germany under the auspices of Prussian military power was brilliantly masterminded by the diplomatic and administrative skills of Bismarck alongside the effectiveness of the Prussian army.
Firstly Bismarck provoked Denmark into fighting Prussia, and the Prussian army quickly took the Duchy of Schsweg Holstein and shattering the Danish army. Bismarck then decided to break Austrian domination of the German Confederation with the Austro - Prussian War of 1865 - 66. Although the Austrians put up stiff resistance the Prussian army won in the end. It was victory in the Franco - Prussian War of 1870 -71 that led to German unification and Bismarck's finest hour. Not only did Prussia dominate the new German Empire, it gained the provinces of Alsace Lorraine from France.
German Chancellor and His Fall from Office
Otto von Bismarck effortlessly became the first German chancellor as well as the Prussian one, with no threat to his position until Wilhelm II became the Kaiser in 1888. Indeed after German unification Kaiser Wilhelm I had even made him an honoury prince to reward his achievements. Bismarck was careful to ensure that Germany gained friendly relations with Austria - Hungry as well as Russia in order to keep a France desperate for revenge after 1871 diplomatically and militarily isolated. Above all he aimed to prevent the French forming an alliance with the Russians if the event of another war with France. Wilhelm II rashlessly dismissed Bismarck in 1890 to pursue his own domestic and foreign policies, which inadvertently led to Britain alongside Russia forming an alliance with France.
Clarke C, (2006) Iron Kingdom - The Rise and Fall of Prussia 1600 - 1947, Penguin, London
Crystal, D. - The Cambridge Biographical Encyclopedia 2nd edition (1998) Cambridge
Hobsbawm, E. -The Age of Capital 1848-1875 (1975) Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London
Hobsbawm, E. - The Age of Empire 1875-1914 (1987) Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London
Palmowski J, (2008) Oxford Dictionary of Contemporary World History, Oxford
Roberts J.M, (1996) A History of Europe, Penguin, London