Bismarck Germany

  • Created by: Jessica
  • Created on: 13-09-21 11:27

1848 - Germany consists of 39 independent states.

Northern States - More industrial development, protestant.

Southern States - catholic. 

Bismarck -

Otto von Bismarck was born an aristocratic, Junker, Prussian.

1847- He embraced lutheranism, and began his political career and gained reputation as ultra-conservative royalist.

1862- Prime Minister

"It is not by speeches and majority resolutions that the great questions of the time are decided...but by iron and blood"

Bismarck realised the nationalist movemnet could be manipulated to enhance Prussian control. 

Realpolitik: He meant to achive conservative ends by means that were far from conservative.

Unification -

  • Bismarck expanded the prussian army to capture Schleswig and Holstein from Denmark. 
  • He then escalated a quarrel with Austria leading to 'the war of brothers' leaving Prussia victorious. 
  • He was unable to persude the southern states to unify with the northern states and he provoked France to encourage the southern states to join the Northern German Confederation. 
  • The German victory of the Franco-Prussian war won over the southern states and they joint the Northern German Confederation in 1871. 
  • Wilhelm I became Emperor. 


Constitution: set of fundemental principles according to which a state is governed. 

Democracy: Elective government

Autocracy: A leader with absolute power.

  • Reichstag elected by universal male sufferage.
  • Multiple political parties. 

"A fig leaf covering the nakedness of absolutism"

Kaiser Wilhelm

Chancellor Bismarck

Bundesrat (25 states)

Reichstag (397 members)

Political Parties-

National Liberals (NL)

Zentrum (Centre Party)

Social Democratic Party (SPD)

German Conservative Party (DKP)

Free Conservatives (FKP)

Progressives (DFP)

Allience with the National Liberals-

  • National Liberals were the strongest party in the reichstag in 1871 with 125 seats.
  • Bismarck could use the NL to undermine the Centre party and later on the SPD, to get his won way within the Reichstag. 
  • Bismarck and the National liberal party didn't always get on due to differing ideologies. 
  • Bismarck had to agree to Septinnial law in 1874, he felt this compromise weakened his position as chancellor, NL equally lost power and could only vote on military spending every 7 years. 


Kulturkampf: was a policy introduced by Bismarck directed against the Catholic Church. It consisted of a number of measures designed to weaken the power of the Catholic Church in Germany and lasted from 1871 to 1878.

  • Bismarck wanted to ensure the domination of Prussia within the new Reich.  A key characteristic of being a Prussian was being a Protestant – by weakening the Catholic Church he hoped to strengthen Prussia.
  • Bismarck believed in the German monarchy totally and felt that all Germans should give the Emperor their loyalty.  Many German Catholics owed their loyalty to the Pope – Bismarck thought this was wrong. 

  • The largest party in the Reich were the National Liberals. Their philosophy opposed all institutions that placed restraints on the freedom of the individual. In 1864 the Pope Pius IX had strongly condemned Liberalism throughout Europe.

  • Many of the Southern German States still looked towards Austria for leadership – Bismarck wanted all to look towards Berlin.

1871 – Catholic


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