The history of the German states is very complicated. Some like Prussia and Austria are well-known and were at the heart of European history for centuries. Other smaller principalities ar virtually unknown outside of Germany. The territory and ruling families were determined in large part by major and smaller military engagements. The German states were in particular affected by the Napoleonic Wars (1800-15), the German Civil War/Ausro-Prussian War (1866), Franco-Prussian War (1870-71), and World War I (1914-18). World War I ended with the removal from office of the German and Austian ruling families.
Many of the major battles of the Napoleonic Wars were fought in Germany and Austria. Napoléon had surrendered the Kingdom of Hanover to Prussia in 1805, but the Prussians had to return it after their defeat at Jena and Auerstedt in 1806. Napoleon then combined Hanover withHessen-Kassel and Braunschweig to form the Kingdom of Westphalia. One of Napoléon's brothers was made king.
The Crimean War was a belicose interlude in a uncharacteristically long period of peace under which Europe flourished and prospered. The war is one of the least studies of the wars between the main European powers. Russian efforts to expand south brought it into conflict with the two great European powers, England and France. Notable is the fact that
Prussia abstained from involvement. This was due to Bismark's efforts to separate the Russians and French which was later to lead to German unificatuion. This policy was later was abandoned by Wilhelm II, leading to dissaster in World War I. The Crimean War proved to be the first step in changing Prussia (soon to be Germany) from an English ally to an
enemy. The Crimea was the only time the British and Russian's fought--although there was tension growing out of the Great Game in Afganistan and northern India. There was great suffering on both sides. In Russia, war with the European powers brought great strains. Taxes were needed to finance the War. The huge casualties required forced levies. Both mean increased hardship for the already exploited Russian serfs. There were serf
uprisings everywhere. Intelectual ferment is oftn stimulated by war and social upheaval. Fashion and art are often affected. It is at this time that Russian blouse styles
begin to appear in Europe. Many styles such as balaklava (ski mask), cardigan sweaters, and raglan sweaters coats later appeared. Russia was also affected. The
conditions of Russian serfs worsened from their already exploited condition. The aftermath of war and rebelion appears to have enlived the previously rather static
artistic life of Russia. It is in this period that the new school of critical realism is founded. The founder of critical realism is Vasily Perov.
Danish King Friedrich VII died in 1864. Many European royals were the soverign of more than one kingdom or principality. Often these territorities were not united and were separated phyically and by differentlaws, customs, and even lnguage. When Friedrich died,
the personnell union of Schleswig-Holstein with the Danish crown had to end, because his successor Christian IX was not a direct descended and, as a result, not entitled to inherit the principality of Schleswig-Holstein.
The Prussian stategy in the War was mastemined by Wilhelm IV/I's Chancllor, the Count Otton von Bismarck. He used the
War as an opportunity to rearrange the map of Germany and establish itself The Prussiand not only declared war on Austria,
but all of the German states in the Federation that had remained neutral. (Some Germans thus call the War th German Civil War
or the Prusso-German War.)
The Franco-Prussian War is the 1870-71, conflict between France and Prussia that permitted the unification of a united Germany under the Prussian kingdom, overwealming the more liberal traditions of some other German states. The War was largely provoked by Chancellor Otto von Bismarck (the Iron Chancellor) as part of his carefully crafted plan to unify German under Prussian leadership. This result was a huge, poweful state imbued with Prussian militarism and with the power to aggressively persue the new Germany's imperial ambitions. This fundmentally changed the European power ballance. The resulting defeat of Louis Napoleon by the Prussians in 1870 brought the Third Republic to power in 1871. One of the reforms they introduced were smocks for schoolboys, part of the new Republican ideal to reduce the influence of class and privlidge. The two northeastern provinces of France, Alsace-Loraine, were ceded to Germany in the Treaty of Frankfurt. These were both border provinces and there were already large numbers of German-speakers in both provinces, especially Alsace. The population was, however, largely French orientened--even some of the German families. The loss to France was so heart-felt in France that it almost made another war inevitable. One impact on boys' clothing was that when the Third Republic in 1871 mandated smocks in French schools, Alsace-Loraine were no longer part of France.
Russian and the Ottomans fought a series of Balkan Wars. In each the Russians gained ground. The Ottoman Empire would have collpased early in the 19th century, had the major European powers not differed on how to carve it up. Concerned about the Russian succeeses, Britain and France intervened in the Crimean War to support Turkey. The last
Russo-Turkish War occurred in 1877-78. It was also the most important one. Tsarist Russia in 1877 came to the aid of its fellow Christian Orthodox ally Serbia as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bulgaria in local rebellions against Ottoman rule. The Russians attacked diretly through Bulgaria toward Turkey and gained considerable success. After
completing the Siege of Pleven, the Russians advance into Thrace, taking Adrianople (now Edirne, Turkey) in January 1878. The Ottomans conceded and in March 1878 agree to the Treaty of San Stefano with Russia. This treaty liberated Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro from
Ottoman rule. It granted autonomy to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and created a Bulgaria (much larger than modern Bulgaria) under Russian protection. The great powers, especially Britain and Austria-Hungary, were concerned with the massive Russian gains confirmed by the treaty. Here the British were coflicted. Public opinion had been aroused against Ottoman attricities against Christians in the Balkans, yet Queen Victorian was stongly anti-Russian and many officials were concerned about the Russians mocing south toward Suez. The great powers this compelled Russia to accept more limited gains under the Treaty of Berlin (July
1878). Russia's gains from the war were sharply reduced.
Terroism was at the heart of World War I in a chilling reminder to our modern age. War had been brewing in Europe for decades. It was a terrorist act that was the actual catalyst. Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip (June, 28, 1914) assasinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. The Austrians were incorporating Bosnia into their Empire and had chosen the most sacred day in Serbian history, their defeat by the Ottoman Turks on the plains of Kosovo, for the Archduke's visit. The Austrians decided to punish the Serbs. The German
Government (July 6) gave its support for Austro-Hungary's plan to punish the Serbs. Germany and Austria-Hungary became known as the Central Powers. When Austria-Hungary with German backing declared war on Serbia, Russia and France began to mobilize its troops. As a result of Kaiser Wilhem's bumbling, France had succeeded in signing a mutual defense treaty. Germany felt impelled to strike at France before Russia could mobilize. Germany declaring war on Russia (August 1) and France (August 3). The German Army entered neutral Belgium (August 4), in an effort to go around the strong French border defenses. Britain declared war on Germany over the violation of Belgian neutrality. Britain, France, and Russia became known as the Allied countries. The Germans were convinced they could take Paris before either th British or Russians could intervene. Miraculously the French Army managed to stop the Germans at the Marne and the Western Front became a brutal war of attrition. Italy had signed a treaty with Germany and Austria Hungary, decided not to honor it and later entered the War. Turkey had signed a defensive alliance with Germany in July 1914 and seeing an opportuity to make major gains against their historic enemy Russia joined the Central Powers. Making another effort to win the War, Germany in 1917 reimplemented unrestricted submarine warfare, bringing America into the War. Despite German victories on the Eastern Front agaist Russia, the added resources and man power America provided enabled the Allies to break the German's on the Western Front. The Kaiser was forced to abdicate and a new government had to seak an armistace. World War I ended with the removal from office of the German and Austian ruling families.
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