This conflict paralleled the Third Independence War of Italian unification. It saw the abolition of the German Confederation and its replacement by a North German Confederation that excluded Austria. The war resulted in the Italian annexation of the Austrian province of Venetia, for centuries, Central Europe was split into a few large states and hundreds of tiny entities, each maintaining its independence with the assistance of outside powers, particularly France. After 1815, the German states were again reorganized into a loose confederation. When Austria brought the dispute before the German Diet and decided to convene the Diet of Holstein, when the German Diet responded by voting for a partial mobilization against Prussia, Bismarck claimed that the German Confederation was ended. Crown Prince Frederick was the member of the Prussian Crown Council to uphold the rights of the Duke of Augustenberg. Although he supported unification and the restoration of the medieval empire, the ultimate aim of most German nationalists was the gathering of all Germans under one state.
Two ideas of national unity eventually came to the fore – once including, US newspaper The New York Times summarized its views of German nationalism shortly after the outbreak of the war, There is, in political geography, no Germany proper to speak of. There are Kingdoms and Grand Duchies, and Duchies and Principalities, inhabited by Germans, yet there is a natural undercurrent tending to a national feeling and toward a union of the Germans into one great nation, ruled by one common head as a national unit. Bismarck maintained that he orchestrated the conflict in order to bring about the North German Confederation, the Franco-Prussian War, taylor thinks Bismarck manipulated events into the most beneficial solution possible for Prussia. On 22 February 1866, Count Karolyi, Austrian ambassador in Berlin, sent a dispatch to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, possible evidence can be found in Bismarcks orchestration of the Austrian alliance during the Second Schleswig War against Denmark, which can be seen as his diplomatic masterstroke.
It was in the Prussian interest to gain an alliance with Austria to defeat Denmark and settle the issue of the duchies of Schleswig, the alliance can be regarded as an aid to Prussian expansion, rather than a provocation of war against Austria. Many historians believe that Bismarck was simply a Prussian expansionist, rather than a German nationalist and it was at the Gastein Convention that the Austrian alliance was set up to lure Austria into war. The timing of the declaration was perfect, because all other European powers were bound by alliances that forbade them from entering the conflict. Britain had no stake economically or politically in war between Prussia and Austria, the details of the discussion are unknown but many historians think Bismarck was guaranteed French neutrality in the event of a war. Italy was already allied with Prussia, which meant that Austria would be fighting both with no major allies of its own, Bismarck was aware of his numerical superiority but still he was not prepared to advise it immediately even though he gave a favourable account of the international situation.
When the Prussian victory became clear, France attempted to extract concessions in the Palatinate. Naturally I was not doubtful of the answer for a second, I answered him, its war
Merit Cross for War Aid
The Merit Cross for War Aid was a war decoration of Prussia awarded during World War I. Instituted 5 December 1916, the cross was awarded for patriotic war aid service, the Merit Cross for War Aid is in the shape of a Maltese cross, typically found made of blackened Kriegsmetall alloy. The obverse of the bears a circular central medallion with the crowned cipher of King Wilhelm II. On the reverse the central medallion is inscribed FÜR KRIEGS-HILFSDIENST above an oak wreath, to the upper arm is attached a loop for suspension from its ribbon
Military Honor Medal
The Military Honor Medal was a two-class military decoration awarded by the Kingdom of Prussia. The medal was awarded to personnel from the rank of sergeant. Initial award criteria meant that in order to be awarded the 1st Class cross a recipient must have been awarded the 2nd Class medal first, the Military Honor Medal and General Honor Decoration developed in a side-by-side manner in their first years of award. They utilized the same cross and medal for their first few years until the General Honor Decoration, the Military Honor Medal was typically awarded during wars when the Iron Cross was not. These conflicts included the wars of German Unification such as the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states, Second Schleswig War in 1864, awards for military conflicts in the German colonial empire were made from 1896-1906. The Military Honor Medal could be awarded to foreign troops, the 1814 version of the cross and medal shared the same design as the Honor Decoration, the only difference between the awards at that time was the color of ribbon suspending the cross.
The General Honor Decoration for civil merit was suspended from a white with orange striped ribbon, the 1st class was a silver 36 mm cross pattée with a center medallion. The obverse of the medallion bore the inscription VERDIENST UM DEN STAAT in three lines, while the reverse bore the crowned cypher of Friedrich Wilhelm III, the founder of the award. This design change ended the identical paralleling of the designs of the General Honor Decoration, in 1864, King Wilhelm I reauthorized the Military Honor Medal for award with a redesign of the 1st class cross and a 2nd class medal. This came about at the time as the higher ranking Military Merit Cross. This new authorization changed the criteria of the medal, meaning it was no longer necessary to be awarded the 2nd class medal before the 1st class cross. The 1st class cross was still in the form of a silver cross pattée, the obverse now bore the inscription KRIEGS VERDIENST (War Merit above a spray of laurel leaves, while the reverse bore the crowned cypher of King Wilhelm.
The 2nd class medal was still in the form of a medal but gained the updated obverse inscription KRIEGS VERDIENST
Order of the Black Eagle
The Order of the Black Eagle was the highest order of chivalry in the Kingdom of Prussia. The order was founded on 17 January 1701 by Elector Friedrich III of Brandenburg, in his Dutch exile after World War I, deposed Emperor Wilhelm II continued to award the order to his family. He made his wife, Princess Hermine Reuss of Greiz. The statutes of the order were published on 18 January 1701, membership in the Order of the Black Eagle was limited to a small number of knights, and was divided into two classes, members of reigning houses and capitular knights. Before 1847, membership was limited to nobles, but after that date, capitular knights were generally high-ranking government officials or military officers. The Order of the Black Eagle had only one class, by statute, members of the order held the Grand Cross of the Order of the Red Eagle, and wore the badge of that order from a ribbon around the neck. From 1862, members of the Prussian royal house, upon award of the Order of the Black Eagle, the badge of the Order was a gold Maltese cross, enameled in blue, with gold-crowned black eagles between the arms of the cross.
The gold center medallion bore the monogram of Friedrich I. This badge was worn either a broad ribbon or a collar. The ribbon of the Order was an orange moiré sash worn from the shoulder to the right hip. The sash color was chosen in honor of Louise Henriette of Nassau, daughter of the prince of Orange, the star of the Order was a silver eight-pointed star, with straight or faceted rays depending on the jewelers design. The center medallion displayed a black eagle on a background, surrounded by a white enamelled ring bearing a wreath of laurels. At meetings of the chapter of the Order of the Black Eagle and at certain ceremonies, embroidered on the left shoulder of each cape was a large star of the Order. From its founding in 1701 to 1918, the Order of the Black Eagle was awarded 407 times, subjects of the Prussian King receiving the order which was only given in one class were promoted to the peerage and received hereditary title. The Order was conferred upon Prussian queens, though other members of the royal family usually received the Order of Louise instead.
Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn – Kaiser Wilhelm IIs uncle, Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland – Prince of Sweden Carol I of Romania – King of Romania, member of the Princely House of Hohenzollern. Louis XVIII – King of France, ludwig II of Bavaria – King of Bavaria. Emperor Meiji – Emperor of Japan, mozaffar al-Din Shah – Shah of Persia –29 May 1902 – during the visit to Berlin of the Shah Naser al-Din Shah Qajar – Shah of Persia
The conflict was caused by Prussian ambitions to extend German unification and French fears of the shift in the European balance of power that would result if the Prussians succeeded. On 16 July 1870, the French parliament voted to declare war on the German Kingdom of Prussia, the German coalition mobilised its troops much more quickly than the French and rapidly invaded northeastern France. The German forces were superior in numbers, had training and leadership and made more effective use of modern technology, particularly railroads. The German states proclaimed their union as the German Empire under the Prussian king Wilhelm I, the Treaty of Frankfurt of 10 May 1871 gave Germany most of Alsace and some parts of Lorraine, which became the Imperial territory of Alsace-Lorraine. French determination to regain Alsace-Lorraine and fear of another Franco-German war, along with British apprehension about the balance of power, the causes of the Franco-Prussian War are deeply rooted in the events surrounding the unification of Germany.
In the aftermath of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Prussia had annexed numerous territories and this new power destabilized the European balance of power established by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 after the Napoleonic Wars. France was strongly opposed to any further alliance of German states, in Prussia, some officials considered a war against France both inevitable and necessary to arouse German nationalism in those states that would allow the unification of a great German empire. Bismarck knew that France should be the aggressor in the conflict to bring the southern German states to side with Prussia, many Germans viewed the French as the traditional destabilizer of Europe, and sought to weaken France to prevent further breaches of the peace. The immediate cause of the war resided in the candidacy of Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, France feared encirclement by an alliance between Prussia and Spain. The Hohenzollern princes candidacy was withdrawn under French diplomatic pressure, releasing the Ems Dispatch to the public, Bismarck made it sound as if the king had treated the French envoy in a demeaning fashion, which inflamed public opinion in France.
They argue that he wanted a war to resolve growing domestic political problems, other historians, notably French historian Pierre Milza, dispute this. According to Milza, the Emperor had no need for a war to increase his popularity, the Ems telegram had exactly the effect on French public opinion that Bismarck had intended. This text produced the effect of a red flag on the Gallic bull, the French foreign minister, declared that he felt he had just received a slap. Napoleons new prime minister, Emile Ollivier, declared that France had done all that it could humanly and honorably do to prevent the war, a crowd of 15–20,000 people, carrying flags and patriotic banners, marched through the streets of Paris, demanding war. On 19 July 1870 a declaration of war was sent to the Prussian government, the southern German states immediately sided with Prussia. The French Army consisted in peacetime of approximately 400,000 soldiers, some of them were veterans of previous French campaigns in the Crimean War, the Franco-Austrian War in Italy, and in the Mexican campaign.
Under Marshal Adolphe Niel, urgent reforms were made, universal conscription and a shorter period of service gave increased numbers of reservists, who would swell the army to a planned strength of 800,000 on mobilisation. Those who for any reason were not conscripted were to be enrolled in the Garde Mobile, the Franco-Prussian War broke out before these reforms could be completely implemented
Ladies Merit Cross
The award was ranked just behind the Order of Louise. To be awarded the first class, a member must have held the class for ten years. In exceptional cases, this requirement could be waived, the insignia were returnable upon death. The badge is made of gold in the first class and of silver for the second class medallion, in the center is a cross fleury with stylized cornflowers between the arms of the cross. The medallion is framed by a string of pearls and is surmounted by a crown, on the edge of the medallion is the blue enameled inscription FÜR VERDIENSTE. On the lower half of the edge are laurel branches flanking the intertwined letters AV, the insignia of the order was worn on a white bow on the left chest. Jörg Nimmergut, Deutsche Orden und Ehrenzeichen bis 1945, zentralstelle für wissenschaftliche Ordenskunde, München 1997, ISBN 3-00-001396-2
William I, German Emperor
William I, or in German Wilhelm I, of the House of Hohenzollern was the King of Prussia and the first German Emperor, as well as the first Head of State of a united Germany. Under the leadership of William and his Minister President Otto von Bismarck, Prussia achieved the unification of Germany and the establishment of the German Empire. Contrary to the domineering Bismarck, William was described as polite, gentlemanly and, while a staunch conservative, the future king and emperor was born William Frederick Louis of Prussia in the Kronprinzenpalais in Berlin on 22 March 1797. As the second son of Prince Frederick William, himself son of King Frederick William II and his grandfather died the year he was born, at age 53, in 1797, and his father Frederick William III became king. He was educated from 1801 to 1809 by Johann Friedrich Gottlieb Delbrück, who was in charge of the education of Williams brother, at age twelve, his father appointed him an officer in the Prussian army. William served in the army from 1814 onward, like his father he fought against Napoleon I of France during the part of the Napoleonic Wars known in Germany as the Befreiungskriege, and was reportedly a very brave soldier.
He was made a Captain and won the Iron Cross for his actions at Bar-sur-Aube, the war and the fight against France left a lifelong impression on him, and he had a long-standing antipathy towards the French. In 1815, William was promoted to Major and commanded a battalion of the 1 and he fought under Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher at the Battles of Ligny and Waterloo. He became an excellent diplomat by engaging in diplomatic missions after 1815, in 1816, William became the commander of the Stettiner Gardelandwehrbataillon and in 1818 was promoted to Generalmajor. The next year, William was appointed inspector of the VII. and this made him a spokesman of the Prussian Army within the House of Hohenzollern. He argued in favour of a strong, well-trained and well-equipped army, in 1820, William became commander of the 1. Gardedivision and in 1825 was promoted to commanding general of the III, in 1829, William married Princess Augusta von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach after Princess Elisa Radziwill, his cousin whom he had been attracted to, was deemed an inappropriate match by his father.
William had been forced to abandon the relationship with Elisa in 1826, Augusta was the daughter of Grand Duke Karl Friedrich von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach. Their marriage was stable, but not a very happy one. In 1840 his older brother became King of Prussia, since he had no children, William was first in line to succeed him to the throne and thus was given the title Prinz von Preußen. Against his convictions but out of loyalty towards his brother, in 1847 William signed the bill setting up a Prussian parliament and took a seat in the upper chamber, the Herrenhaus. During the Revolutions of 1848, William successfully crushed a revolt in Berlin that was aimed at his elder brother, the use of cannon made him unpopular at the time and earned him the nickname Kartätschenprinz. Indeed, he had to flee to England for a while and he returned and helped to put down an uprising in Baden, where he commanded the Prussian army
The insignia of the Order consisted of a golden medal with the portrait of William I, surrounded by a golden wreath and suspended from a heavy golden collar. This collar with a weight of 222 grams bore the words WIRKE IM ANDENKEN AN KAISER WILHELM DEN GROSSEN and was designed by the jewellers Emil Weigand en Otto Schultz, one of the first to be decorated was Otto von Bismarck. Also among the recipients were, Heinrich von Stephan, General Post Director -1896, count Arthur von Posadowsky-Wehner, politician -27 January 1900 - on the occasion of the Emperor´s birthday. Princess Marie Elisabeth of Saxe-Meiningen and composer -28 August 1913 - the last recipient of the Order, media related to Wilhelm-Orden at Wikimedia Commons Picture on
General Honor Decoration (Prussia)
The General Honor Decoration was a decoration of Prussia. The decoration can trace its origin back to awards established in 1793 by King Frederick William III of Prussia, the various levels of the decoration recognized peacetime merit to Prussia. These awards were often to commemorate long and particularly meritorious service or for contributions from people who would not be considered for appointment to an order due to their rank. In general, recipients were lower and mid-level officials and officers, the General Honor Decoration originally consisted of a First Class medal in gold, and a Second Class medal in silver. After 1814, the medal was discontinued being replaced by a silver cross for the First Class. In January 1830, the cross was made into the Fourth Class of the Order of the Red Eagle, in 1890, a gold medal was reestablished as a higher level class
Order of Louise
The Order of Louise was founded on 3 August 1814 by Frederick William III of Prussia to honor his late wife, the much beloved Queen Luise. This order was chivalric in nature, but was intended strictly for women whose service to Germany was worthy of high national recognition. Its dame companion members were limited to 100 in number, and were intended to be drawn from all classes, though the Prussian king was technically the Sovereign of the Orders of the realm, the Chief of the Order of Louise was the reigning queen. The Order of Louise was renewed with each successive king or emperor and it was, issued from its founding in 1814, renewed in 1850, in 1865, and in 1890. Faith and hope gave the mothers and daughters of the country the power… for the grand purpose and it is impossible to honor or for what they have accomplished, but We find it justified to lend them an honor, whose are especially acknowledged. We decree therefore hereby following,1, the honor shall bear the meaningful name, L u i s e n - O r d e n Establish that we with this, a small, black-enameled golden cross.
The on both sides will be of sky blue enamel, with the letter “L”, surrounded by a wreath of stars and this order is worn a bow of the white ribbon of the Iron Cross on the left breast. The award without consideration of position or rank, however only such persons can receive it, are. The number is restricted to one hundred, to its selection lets decree hereby a Capitel, under the chair of the woman princess Wilhelm Königl. Highness, out of four women …6, the bestowal / conferral of the award results then, after Our confirmation, under the signature of the Princess Wilhelm Königl. We hereby order the management of the membership to the field marshal count v. d, at its initial creation, in 1814, the Order was only available in one class. A second class was added during the reign of Wilhelm I, First Class, wore the black-enameled cross with its blue-enameled, medallion centerpiece, suspended from a predominantly white ribbon, with three black stripes, as tied in a bow. Though the statutes indicate that the badge was to be worn on the left breast, Second Class, wore a similarly-designed silver cross, minus the black enamel, which was worn suspended from the white and black bow.
The Prussian State Handbook of 1907 indicates further variants and subsets of the Second Class of the order, II.1 with silver crown, II.1, Saxony, Georg Joachim Goeschen,1819. Handbuch über den Königlich Preußischen Hof und Staat für das Jahr 1874, handbuch über den Königlich Preußischen Hof und Staat für das Jahr 1883. Handbuch über den Königlich Preußischen Hof und Staat für das Jahr 1907
Red Cross Medal (Prussia)
The Red Cross Medal was a German medal set up on 1 October 1898 by Wilhelm II. It had three classes and could be awarded to all those who carried out service to the sick in peace or wartime. The Red Cross Medal was awarded in three classes, the Second and Third classes being worn as circular medals suspended from a red ribbon with white, the First Class was a red enameled Geneva Cross with gilded Prussian Royal Crowns at the ends of the arms. This award was worn as a steckreuz on the breast like the Iron Cross, recipients could be promoted to the next class of the medal with five years time in service, with the first level anyone could be initially appointed to being the Second Class. The Red Cross Medal, First Class was a Steckkreuz in the form of the red enameled Geneva cross in gilded silver, at the ends of the cross arms are gilded Prussian Royal Crowns. The red enamel bears a hatch pattern, the back is plain gilded silver except for the single vertical attachment pin on the back. The cross is 46.6 to 48.8 mm high, the Red Cross Medal, Second Class is a round, silver medal,33 mm in diameter.
On the obverse is a Geneva cross with Prussian royal crowns at the ends the arms of the cross, the Geneva cross is enabled in red. Between the arms of the cross are the initials W and R at the top, on the reverse is the inscription in four lines FUER / VERDIENSTE / UM DAS / ROTHE KREUZ. To the left of the inscription is an oak branch. The Red Cross Medal, Third Class is a bronze medal,33 mm in diameter. The design is identical to the silver medal except it lacks the red enameling of the cross on the obverse, in 1900, clasps for the medals were created to recognize service in war. Three were awarded, Südafrika 1899-1900 Ostasien 1900/01 Südwestafrika 1904/06
Warrior Merit Medal (Prussia)
The Warrior Merit Medal German, Krieger-Verdienstmedaille) was a military decoration of Prussia. Established by Friedrich Wilhelm III, it was awarded to troops not in Prussian service. The first recipients were members of the Imperial Guard grenadier company guarding the Russian imperial residence during Friedrich Whilhelms visit to St. Petersburg in 1835, both versions of the medal are circular and silver,25 mm in diameter. The first version depicts the crowned cypher of Friedrich Wilhelm III on the obverse of the medal, the reverse bears the inscription KRIEGER VERDIENST surrounded by a wreath of two laurel sprigs, tied at its base with a bow. The medal is suspended by a suspension and hangs from the ribbon of the Order of the Red Eagle. The version of the medal depicts the crowned cipher of King Wilhelm I on the obverse, the reverse is inscribed KRIEGER VERDIENST and surrounded by a thicker laurel wreath than the early version. The medal is suspended by a suspension and hangs from the black with white stripes kämpferband or the white with black stripe nichtkämpferband.
Friedrich Wilhelm III version of medal, Deutsches Historisches Museum