Modern History Essay

QUESTION: To what extent can Bismarck be credited with Prussia’s victory over the French empire in 1871?

In order to assess the impact of Otto Von Bismarck in Prussia’s victory in the Franco-Prussian War, it is essential to understand what was happening in Prussia and France prior to the war. While it can be said Bismarck played an integral role, France were also under political upheaval. Otto Von Bismarck’s influence in the Prussian annihilation of France was one of the major reasons if not the main reason for the victory. Having aimed to prevent the rise of liberalism in Prussia and maintain authority of the King, Bismarck set it upon himself to stamp Prussia as a major power.

Bismarck was such an imposing figure in Prussia, it was his altering of the conversation between the Prussian King and Count Benedetti which led to France declaring War on Austria. This formed a situation where France fought on its own where its allies Denmark and Austria both refused to participate. Bismarck should be credited for making the France declare war although it lay in the midst of political instability. In this way Bismarck was able to fight on his own terms having forced the French into swift action and this enabled the Prussians to outnumber the French in a two to one ratio. Bismarck should be credited because it did not seem clear that he had a clear plan to enforce Prussian domination as quoted by historian W.G. Shreeves "In fact, Bismarck had no master plan but was, like Cavour, brilliant at making use of whatever opportunities came his way." Shreeves’ statement most supports the idea that Bismarck was clever by brutally exposing the mistakes of the French in attacking Prussia but lacking intent or purpose.

When an army is disorganised and showing no-discipline, it is virtually impossible to win any war that they participate in. The French clearly had a disorganised army and this was deficiency was brutally exposed by Bismarck. The...

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