Unification of Germany Timeline

by Ben Alford








1815 Congress of Vienna created German Confederation, c39 states, kept weaker than Austria by Austrian chief minister Metternich.  
1818 Prussian Customs Union created, abolishing internal tariffs in Prussia and allowing her to develop her economy. Prussia’s economy grows
1819 Carlsbad Decrees – laws used by Metternich to restrict press and University freedoms, stopping spread of nationalist ideas.
1834 Zollverein created – a customs union of German states (not including Austria) that eventually allowed Prussia to dominate the German states economically. Started with 18 states.
1836 Zollverein now includes 25 states (26 million people).
1844 Zollverein now includes c34 states. Austria stays out of the union.
1847 Food prices and unemployment increase due to crop failures. Failed attempts at Unification
1848 March 13th– Metternich forced to resign in Austria.March – Riots in Berlin. Initially these radical revolutionaries were supported by King of Prussia, Frederick Wilhelm IV.May – Frankfurt Parliament (aka National Assembly) begins – 596 liberals elected from the German Confederation meet to plan a constitution for a unified Germany.Nov – Frederick Wilhelm IV rejected revolutions (became a conservative/ reactionary) and regained control of Berlin.
1849 March – Frankfurt Parliament agree on a constitution for Germany (‘Kleindeutschland’, without Austria), led by the King of Prussia.April – Wilhelm IV, King of Prussia rejects the offer of a ‘crown from the gutter’.June – Frankfurt Parliament ends.Erfurt Union – Prussia proposed leading a German Union, excluding Austria.
1850 Nov 29th – Capitulation of Olmutz. A meeting at Olmutz were Prussia was forced to back down from Erhurt Union plan by pressure from Austria.
1851 May – The German Confederation is re-established.
1860 New Prussian Minister of War Von Roon introduces military reforms; longer military service, Army twice as big, etc. Steps to Unifying Germany
1861 Wilhelm I becomes King of Prussia.
1862 Otto von Bismarck made ‘Minister-President’ (Prime Minister/Chancellor) of Prussia.
1863 King Frederick VII of Denmark dies. Bismarck sees an opportunity to gain Schleswig and Holstein.
1864 Jan – Austria and Prussia go to war together against Denmark.April – London Conference fails to establish a peaceful solution.July – Denmark surrenders.
1865 Aug – Convention of Gastein – Austria gets Holstein (nearer to Prussia), Prussia gets Schleswig. Bismarck knows that this solution will eventually lead to conflict with Austria.
1866 Bismarck provokes disagreements between Austria and Prussia over Holstein.24thJune – Seven Weeks’ War begins between Austria and Prussia.3rdJuly – Austria badly defeated by Prussia at Battle of Sadowa.August – Peace of Prague ends the war.
1867 July – North German Confederation created by Bismarck, made Prussia the most powerful German state. Southern German states (e.g. Bavaria) still follow Austria’s lead.
1870 Feb – Hohenzollern Candidate crisis – Bismarck offends the French by attempting to place Leopold of Hohenzollern (a member of King Wilhelm’s family) on the throne of Spain.Jul 13th– The Ems Telegram is published, edited by Bismarck to look as if King Wilhelm was rude to the French Ambassador whilst discussing the Spanish throne issue.July 19th– France declares war – Franco-Prussian War begins.Sept 1st – French defeated by Prussia at Battle of Sedan, Napoleon III captured.Oct – French Army surrenders at Metz.

Nov – Southern German states (apart from Austria) agree to join a German Empire, influenced by nationalist excitement.

1871 Jan 18th – German Empire declared in Palace of Versailles – Germany created! Wilhelm I is Kaiser, Bismarck is Chancellor.Jan 28th– France signs an Armistice ending the war.May – Treaty of Frankfurt. France gives up Alsace and Lorraine and has to pay Germany £200 million.
1872 Kulturkampf begins against Catholic power in Germany; Jesuit priests expelled from Germany. Bismarck’s German Empire
1873 May Laws passed by Falk against Catholic Church; Priests had to attend a German University, Civil Marriage introduced.
1874 Centre Party (Catholics) won 91 seats in Reichstag.
1878 May – Max Hodel (an anarchist) tries to assassinate Wilhelm I. SPD (Socialist Party) unfairly blamed.Oct- Anti-Socialist law passed – Socialist meetings and publications banned.
1879 Kulturkampf against power of Catholic Church ends; Falk dismissed and some of the May Laws repealed.
1883 Sickness Insurance Act (example of State Socialism) passed.
1884 Accident Insurance Act (example of State Socialism) passed.
1888 Death of Kaiser Wilhelm I. New Kaiser Wilhelm II disagrees with Bismarck.
1889 Old Age Pensions (example of State Socialism) introduced. 
1890 SPD (Socialist Party) has increased support to 35 seats.Anti-Socialist laws ended.Bismarck forced to resign as Chancellor. 

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