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HIST2086 Bismarck: The Iron Chancellor Prussias New Era and Bismarck s appointment to Minister-President, 1861-2 Lecture 9 5 October 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "HIST2086 Bismarck: The Iron Chancellor Prussias New Era and Bismarck s appointment to Minister-President, 1861-2 Lecture 9 5 October 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 HIST2086 Bismarck: The Iron Chancellor Prussias New Era and Bismarck s appointment to Minister-President, Lecture 9 5 October 2010

2 The New Era Crown prince William as regent for his mentally ill brother Frederick William IV, Oct 1858, since Jan 1861: William I., King of Prussia New cabinet + reform-oriented policy but no commitment to liberalism Great success for Left liberals at Prussian Diet election, Nov 1861: 48 (1855) 151 seats Conservatives: 181 (1855) 47 seats: Left Liberals + Right Liberals: ca. 200 seats = absolute majority in Prussian Diet

3 Prussias deadlock (1) New Era government unsuccessful: Foreign policy: Proposal to create German federal state under Prussias leadership with Austria only connected by international law strongly rejected by Austria + 7 German larger states Domestic policy: Proposals with more liberal ideas rejected by highly-conservative Junker- dominated House of Lords (Herrenhaus)

4 Prussias deadlock (2) Liberals: Deadlock exploited to press King + government for further reforms British-style parliamentary monarchy as final goal Conservatives: Deadlock exploited to press King + government to stop reforms Preservation of traditional political system as final goal

5 Constitutional Crisis (1) Kings + War Minister Roons military reform plan, Feb 1860: To bring army on equal footing with other powers Prussia: – France: – Austria: Russia: 1 million troops by expansion up to troops To reduce and abolish territorial units (Landwehr) of 50,000 untrained soldiers

6 Constitutional Crisis (2) Military reform rejected by Liberals: To oppose abolition of Landwehr = Symbol of civilians in uniform Junkers army To block government by denying budget for reform Temporary grants only To get influence on Kings prerogative in military matters To enforce political development into British-style parliamentary monarchy

7 Constitutional Crisis (3) Split of Liberals, 1861: Foundation of left-liberal Progressive Party (Fortschrittspartei) demanding fast reforms Prussian Diet elections, 1861 P.P.: 119 seats: Absolute majority of liberal camp = 260 of 352 seats Disaster for King, government, army Dissolution of Diet + new elections = Prussian Diet elections, 1862 New absolute majority of liberal camp = 292 of 353 seats

8 Constitutional Crisis (4) Possible options for King: 1) Permanent dissolution of Diet = Break of constitution 2) New government compromising with Diet = Defeat of King 3) Bismarck government to struggle with Diet Kings tactical announcement to abdicate to break resistance of Queen + crown prince against Bismarcks appointment Bismarcks appointment to minister president on 8 Oct 1862 after showing readiness to govern even in opposition to the constitution and the Diet

9 Constitutional Crisis (5) Strong support of king absolutely necessary in Bismarcks domestic struggle Liberals interested in continuing + intensifying constitutional crisis Closing of diet by king + Bismarcks announcement of governing without a budget Bismarcks theory of the gap (Lückentheorie), : In absence of clear definition of a disputed point, the interest of state must prevail

10 Bismarcks foreign politics (1) Polish national rebellion vs. Russian rule (Jan 1863): Reaction to systematic Russification of Congress PL + strive for independent PL Strongly supported by Napoleon III: To weaken Russia + to make PL ally of F

11 Bismarcks foreign politics (2) Russia undecided: Tsarist group: Suppression of Poles Korsakov group: Liberate Poles + alliance with F Bismarck strongly opposed to independent PL: Fear of Fs satellite state at eastern border Possible Two-Front-War for Prussia Possible Polish claims on Posen (Prussias part of PL) Austria as multi-national Habsburg Empire: Fear of any national movements + uprisings Britain opposed to Fs political expansion in Europe

12 Bismarcks foreign politics (3) Convention of Alvensleben (Feb 1863) = Promise of Prussia (Bismarck) + Russia (tsarist group) to cooperate vs. any revolutions Korsakovs pro-French-Polish group totally defeated: No alliance between Russia + France Bismarcks major diplomatic success: Strongly criticised by Prussias pro-Polish Liberals = First crucial precondition for Prussias future offensives in Central Europe

13 National question (1) Austrias initiative to reform German Confederation (Aug 1863): Re-strengthening Austrias position in GC Overplaying Prussia + dominating Third Germany Uniting Germany by monarchical alliances + joint deputy chamber staffed by single German states Circumventing German national-liberal movement + idea of creating German national parliament

14 National question (2) Bismarcks 3 crucial preconditions for agreeing to Austrias reform initiative: Strict parity of Prussia-Austria in GC chairmanship Prussias power of veto in case of declarations-of- war by GC Directly-elected national parliament instead of deputy chamber (strongly supported by German national-liberal movement)

15 National question (3) Results: Third Germany not prepared to close ranks with Austria without Prussia No reform of GC Bismarck successful: Austria forced to change politics vs. Prussia + to search for common interests with Prussia = Second crucial precondition for Prussias future offensives in Central Europe


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