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 Short Essay on the Franco-Prussian War in 1870

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Chalukya

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Join date : 2012-06-01

PostSubject: Short Essay on the Franco-Prussian War in 1870   Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:25 pm

The year 1866, in which Austria was defeated by Prussia in the battle of Sadowa, was a turning point in the history of Prussia, Austria, France and the whole of Europe. It had profound effects upon the balance of power of the continent.

On the one side, Prussia, as a result of its great success, had surprised European powers by the evidence of her strength, while on the other, the reputation and prestige of Napoleon III was seriously affected due to his weak and vacillating policy.

He could neither extend the frontiers of the empire, nor could he help Austria against Prussia. It was a diplomatic victory for Bismarck. Napoleon might have prevented the astonishing success of Prussia against Austria but he could not do so.

It proved his inadequacy in foreign affairs. A feeling of alarm spread throughout the country.

The people of France were so irritated with the failures of Napoleon III in the external affairs, that they demanded declaration of war against Prussia, in order to avenge the defeat and insult of Sadowa.

'Revenge for Sadowa' was the only desire of the Frenchmen. There was no way out for Napoleon III other than war against Prussia in order to restore the lost glory of the country and to remove the feeling of alarm and dissatisfaction which had spread throughout the country.

Bismarck, on the other hand, also considered the inevitability of war against France. The southern states of Germany were still under the domination of France and the unification of Germany could not be completed without including these states in the new confederation of Germany.

Thus, both France and Prussia wanted war. The clouds were gathering day-by-day around the throne of Napoleon III.

Bismarck had achieved success, on the basis of his diplomacy, to isolate France in Europe. The question of the Spanish throne was the immediate cause of Franco-Prussian war in 1870.

In 1868, the people of Spain revolted against their autocratic monarch, Queen Isabella. She fled the country and Leopold of the House of Hohenzollern was requested to accept the throne of Spain.

As soon as this news reached Paris, Napoleon III bitterly opposed the proposed offer. He made it clear that France would in no case tolerate the influence of the House of Hohenzollern of Prussia, on the throne of Spain.

The proposal of Hohenzollern candidacy was withdrawn after a few days. But Napoleon III again made an additional demand that the King of Prussia should promise that no candidate of the House of Hohenzollern would be seated again on the throne of Spain.

In this reference, talks were arranged between the King of Prussia and the ambassador of France in a city, named Ems. William I, the King of Prussia sent the description of the talks to Bismarck by 'Ems Telegram'.

Bismarck got the best opportunity to instigate the people of France to declare war against Prussia. He published the contents of the telegram in such a way that it aroused the indignation of both countries.

The people of Prussia and France felt that the king of the former and the ambassador of the latter were insulted by each other. The French people were highly excited and clamored for war. At last, France had to declare war against Prussia on July 15, 1870.

Napoleon III himself led the French army. He again committed a serious mistake in underestimating the military strength of Prussia.

The army of France was poorly equipped and the commanders of the French Army were inferior to the Prussians. On September 11, 1870, the French army was finally defeated by Prussian army in the battle of Sedan. Napoleon III surrendered before the Prussians on September 2.
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