Causes[change | edit source]
The causes of the Franco-Prussian War are mostly due to France being nervous of a Protestant country on their border. While France had helped Prussia beat Austria in the Austro-Prussian War (1866), France would not let the North and South German states unify. In 1869, the throne of Spain was offered to a prince of the Catholic branch of the Prussian Hohenzollern royal family.
France found out about the offer, and demanded that Prussia reject it, since France did not want two Prussia-backed states on her borders. The prince said no, but the French wanted Prussia to say no also. The Prussian king sent the Ems telegram assuring the French Emperor, Napoleon III, that the prince would not become king of Spain. Otto von Bismarck, the Chancellor of Prussia, publicly released a version that he edited to make it seem that his king had insulted the emperor's ambassador. The two sides exchanged angry words, France declared war, and in July 1870 the war started with Prussia fully supported by the angry South German states.
Results[change | edit source]
With her German allies and universal conscription, Prussia was able to bring together a bigger army than the French. The Prussian army's weapons, training and leadership were better, too. They won. French Republicans overthrew the French Empire and made peace.
After this war, France had to give to Prussia some German speaking regions under its control. These were Alsace and Lorraine. Prussia took steps to unite the independent German states into one country, the German Empire. The historical term for this is the Unification of Germany.