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The Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871

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Beth Moore

on 4 September 2012

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Transcript of The Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871

How did it lead to the First World War? The Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871 The war was one of the largest in a series of mini wars leading towards the unification of the German empire. It was fought between France and Prussia, Prussia being then one of the larger and more influential German states. Who did it involve? Before 1870, the country that we now know as Germany was split into several German speaking states. The most powerful and influential of these was Prussia. Prussia, lead by their Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck and their king Kaiser Wilhelm II, launched on a campaign from the late 1860's to unite all German speaking states into one united German Empire but under one condition- that it would be under Prussian rule and influence. Why did it start? Prussia started to declare war on the many northern german states, uniting them through a series of wars and battles into a collective empire, ruled by Prussia. The only states left to join the empire were the Southern states, such as Bavaria. Bismarck decided against taking them by force- he instead would pressure them into joining the empire through war with France. If Prussia were at war with the country neighboring the southern states, they would be forced to join the empire for protection. Were there other reasons for the Franco-Prussian war? European Balance of Power Through Bismarck's invasion of the German states and the unification of the German empire, Germany became one of the more powerful European countries. Having such a powerful neighbor directly next door threatened the French people and had them call for war, putting pressure on French leader Napoleon III, the grandson of Napoleon Bonaparte. This pressure increased even more in 1868, when Queen Isabella II of Spain became indisposed. The Spanish government offered the throne to Leopold Von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, Kaiser Wilhelm of Prussia's nephew. After initially declining , Leopold was persuaded by Bismarck to take the throne. This was seen in France as direct meddling in Spain's affairs, and as a threat as France now sat between two Prussia influenced countries. France was already looking overshadowed in the face of Bismarck's success. Their foreign policies in Mexico had recently failed, and the authoritarian government lead by Napoleon III was becoming more and more unpopular. Politicians called for reform, and the people were hungry for war with Prussia in order to protect themselves and once again become powerful. The land that could be gained from war with Prussia, such as the Rhineland and Luxembourg, would also add to the government's popularity. Politics in France Prussian leader Bismarck All this tension and ambition exploded into war when Napoleon finally succumbed to pressure and declared war in July 1870. The southern German states immediately swore alleigence to Prussia, creating the German Empire. The war continued until February of 1871, with France's defeat and the newly united German Empire taking the area of Alsace-Lorraine. The most prinicipal reason for France's eventual defeat against Germany was the Empire's new found sense of strength- They had the combined armies of all the German states at their side. Also, in the negotiations before the war, France had originally avoided confrontation with Prussia by vowing not to intervene to help Austria from Prussian attack. This lost possibly the only ally that France had, leaving them to fight alone. Why did France lose the war? The German Empire became THE most powerful empire in Europe.
As a new Empire, Germany felt the need to secure itself by making treaties with other countries. These treaties and countries pledging to support each other built up the tension and rivalries between countries that led to the First World War
Germany also felt the need to secure itself by arming itself and building a strong navy, starting an arms race with Britain and alarming other countries. They also started to rearm themselves be protected against the threat posed by Germany. How did this lead to the First World war?
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