Several Other South German States
|Commanders and leaders|
Otto von Bismarck
Helmuth von Moltke
The war began over the candidacy of Leopold, Prince of Hohenzollern, a relative of King Wilhelm of Prussia, to the vacant Spanish throne following Isabella II's deposition in 1868. Leopold was strongly opposed by France, which issued an ultimatum to the King to have the candidacy withdrawn. King William complied. Aiming to humiliate Prussia, Emperor Napoleon III of France then required Wilhelm to apologise and renounce any future Hohenzollern candidacy to the Spanish throne. King Wilhelm, surprised at his holiday resort by the French ambassador, denied the French request. Prussia's prime minister Otto von Bismarck allegedly edited the King's account of his meeting with the French ambassador to make the encounter more heated than it really was. Known as the Ems Dispatch, it was released to the press. It was designed to give the French the impression that Wilhelm had insulted the French Count Benedetti, and to give the Prussian people the impression that the Count had insulted the King. It succeeded in both of its aims.
The French people and their parliament reacted with outrage; Napoleon III mobilised and declared war on Prussia only, but effectively also on the states of southern Germany. The German armies quickly mobilized and within a few weeks controlled large amounts of land in eastern France. Their success was due in part to rapid mobilization by train, to Prussian General Staff leadership and to innovative Krupp artillery. Napoleon III was captured with his whole army at the Battle of Sedan, yet this did not end the war, as a republic was declared in Paris on 4 September 1870, marking the creation of the Third Republic of France under the Government of National Defense and later the "Versailles government" of Adolphe Thiers. The immediate result was an extension to the war as the Republic proclaimed a continuation of the fight.
Over a five-month campaign, the German armies defeated the newly recruited French armies in a series of battles fought across northern France. Following a prolonged siege, the French capital Paris fell on 28 January 1871. Ten days earlier, the German states had proclaimed their union under the Prussian King, uniting Germany as a nation-state, the German Empire. The final peace Treaty of Frankfurt was signed on 10 May 1871, during the time of the bloody Paris Commune of 1871.
Franco-Prussian War in Southern VictoryEdit
Prussia's victory in Franco-Prussian War and the subsequent unification of the German Empire in 1871 upset the balance of power in Europe. It resulted in the abdication of Emperor Napoleon III. France and Britain had insinuated themselves in the affairs of North America, supporting the Confederate States against the United States in the War of Secession in 1862. When Britain and France again supported the CSA against the US in the Second Mexican War, Germany presented itself to the United States as an obvious ally against and counter-balance to Britain and France.