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OTamtritrgc J^istorical S>mts 


OF king's college, CAMBRIDGE 



Volume II 1852— I 87 1 

C. F. CLAY, Manager 


Fetter Lane, E.C. 4 


100 Princes Street 





All rishts reserved 





F.B.A., Litt.D. 

Master of Peterhouse, Hon. LL.D., Litt.D., Ph.D. 

Volume II 1852— 1871 

With Sections by 


Cbichele Professor of Military History, Oxford 

Cambridge : 

at the University Press 


\3 /^ 



The ai>/i of this series is to sketch the histo?y of Modern 
Europe, with that of its chief colonies and co?iquests, from about 
the end of the fifteenth century dozen to the presetit time. In one 
or two cases the story commences at an earlier date: in the case 
of the colonies it generally begins later. The histories of the 
different countries are described, as a rule, separately ; for it is 
believed that, except in epochs like that of the French Revolution 
and Napoleon I, the connection of events will thus be better under- 
\ stood and' the continuity of historical development more clearly 

The series is intended for the iise of all persons anxious to 

j-^j understand the nature of existi?ig political conditions. " The roots 

'^ of the present lie deep in the past" ; atid the i-eal significance of 

contemporary events cannot be grasped unless the historical causes 

ivhich have led to them are k/iown. The plan adopted makes it 

possible to treat the history of the last four ceiituj'ies in cofisider- 

able detail, and to embody the most importaftt results of ?noderfi 

research. It is hoped therefore that the series will be useful 7iot 

only to beginners hut to studetits ivho have already acquired some 

v^ general knowledge of European Histoiy. For those who wish 

rs^jV/i? carry their studies further, the bibliography appended to each 

N volume will act as a guide to original sources of information and 

works of a 7nore special character. 

Considerable attention is paid to political geography ; and 
each volu?ne is furnished with such ?naps and plans as fnay be 
requisite for the illustration of the text. 





" I ^HE Syndics of the Press having, with the approval of 
-^ the Editor of this Series, allowed me to modify and, 
in a measure, to extend the plan of this book, it will, if 
I live to complete it, consist of three volumes. The second 
of these, now published, comprises not quite two decades ; 
but it covers the period in which the new German Empire 
was made — mainly by arms and the man. I have, there- 
fore, as already announced in the preface to my first volume, 
for the preparation of its successor sought the assistance of 
my friend Professor Spenser Wilkinson. He is the writer 
of chapter ii, pp. 149-170 and 179-183, of chapter iv, to 
p. 298, and of chapter vii, part i, in the present volume. 
He is, likewise, responsible for the maps which illustrate his 
text, as well as for the brief war bibliographies (C) ; while 
he has, also, given me the benefit of his advice in other 
parts of this History. 

My account of the later developments of the Schleswig- 
Holstein question is largely based on the papers of my 
father, the late Mr John Ward, C.B., who was accredited 
to the Hanse Towns from i860 to 1870, and who had 
exceptional opportunities for watching the progress of the 
transactions in question. My other authorities are men- 
tioned in the foot-notes and in the bibliography. Readers 

viii Preface 

of Sybel's great work, Die Grundung des Deutschen Retches, 
are aware that its last two volumes (vi and vii) were not, 
like their predecessors, based upon a study of the archives 
of the Foreign Office at Berlin. 

Vol. Ill of this work I propose, as announced, to carry 
on, though no longer in annalistic fashion, to the fall of 
Bismarck, while indicating, in a concluding chapter, some 
of the currents of polic}^ and action noticeable in the sub- 
sequent period of German history. For this volume I also 
reserve some notice of the literary and social phenomena 
of the beginnings of the new empire, together with a 
brief bibliography of works on ecclesiastical history, and of 
others, illustrating the chief literary and artistic currents, 
and the educational, economical and social life, of Germany 
during the latter half of the nineteenth century. 

I have again to thank my friend the Editor Qi this 

Series for the attention and care with' which, in the midst 

of many pressing and important engagements, he has, 

greatly to their advantage, revised the proofs of this 


A. W. W. 


March, 191 7. 



Austria, Prussia and the Germanic Confederation, 

The revived Confederation after Olmiitz — The processes of Reaction 
in Austria, Hesse-Cassel and Hanover — Commercial Treaty 
between Austria and Prussia, and renewal of the Zollverein — 
The German Great Powers and Russia — The Bethmann- 
HoUweg Party — Alliance between Austria and Prussia — The 
Bambergers — Prussia holds back from the Alliance between 
Austria and the Western Powers — The Paris Peace Congress 
— The coup de main of the Neufchatel Loyalists, and its 
sequel — The dechne of Frederick William IV — The Regency of 
William Prince of Prussia — His administrative changes : the 
end of Manteuffel's Ministry — The 'New Era' — The Italian 
War and Prussia — The Peace of Villafranca — The National- 
verein : Rudolf von Bennigsen — Its operations and its difficulties 
— The W^iirzburgers — German fears of France — The Baden 
meeting and the German Governments — Roon's scheme of 
Army Reorganisation — The Reorganisation Bills and the 
'Conflict' — Its effect on German Politics — End of Bach's 
Ascendancy in Austria — Rechberg and Schmerling — Liberalism 
prevails in Baden : Roggenbach — The Grossdeutschen and the 
Furstentag Design — The constitutional troubles at Berlin and 
at Cassel — Prussian Commercial Treaty with France — Bismarck 
Minister : his antecedents and first Ministerial experiences — 
Insurrection in Russian Poland — Russia, Prussia and Austria 
— The Furstentag scheme started : Prussian refusal to attend 
— The Congress and its failure .... Page i 

X Contents 


The Schleswig-Holstein Qxiestion and the Danish 
War, 1864 

The political situation in Germany towards the close of 1863 — 
Rapprochement between Austria and Prussia : the Schleswig- 
Holstein question — Retrospective summary : the Succession 
and the Nationalities — The 'Open Letter' of Christian VIII — 
The constitutional conflict of 1848 — The War of 1848-50 — 
The Proclamation of January 28th, and the London Protocol 
of May 8th, 1852 — The Augustenburg Compensation — The 
new Constitutions — Popular grievances in the Duchies — 
Action of the Frankfort Diet — Austrian protest — Lord Russell's 
Proposals — The Danish Patent of March 30th, 1863 — Federal 
Execution approved — Death of Frederick VII and Augusten- 
burg manifesto — German support of Augustenburg — The Diet, 
Austria and Prussia — Federal Execution decreed — Attitude 
of Great Britain, France and Russia — The Federal troops and 
the Duke of Augustenburg in Holstein — The two Great Powers 
and the Diet — Austro-Prussian ultimatum to Denmark and 
invasion of Schleswig — Bismarck, Roon and Moltke — Moltke's 
training — His analysis of a war against Denmark — The Danish 
army — Advance of the Allied army into Schleswig — Evacuation 
of the Dannevirke — Wiirzburg Conference of February i8th — 
Death of Maximilian II of Bavaria — Effects of the Danish 
retreat — Invasion of Jutland — Storming of Diippel — The Lon- 
don Conference — The German Powers declare the Treaty of 1852 
at an end — British proposal of the partition of Schleswig — 
Breakdown of the Conference — End of the Armistice — Landing 
in Alsen and occupation of Jutland — The Rendsburg brawl — 
Peace negotiations at Vienna — Fall of Rechberg — The Peace 
of Vienna ......... 99 


The Rupture between Austria and Prussia 

New Phase of the Schleswig-Holstein question — Biegeleben's and 
Bismarck's Dispatches — The Prussian demands of February 
22nd, 1865 — Resistance of Austria and the Diet — Augustenburg 
or emnexation ? — Austrian Ministerial changes : the Belcredi 

Contents xi 

Ministry — The expulsion of the Duke of Augustenburg de- 
manded-^The Prussian Crown — Syndicate on the Succession — • 
The Gastein negotiations — Convention of Gastein — The Biarritz 
interviews — Proposed peaceable cession of Venetia — Further 
friction in Holstein — Ministerial Council of February 28th, 
1866, at Berlin — Prusso-Italian Treaty of Alliance — German 
National Assembly proposed by Bismarck — Austrian Mobilisa- 
tion — Negotiations with Hesse-Cassel and Hanover — Mobilisa- 
tion of the south-western states — Bisrnarck's position — Policy 
of Napoleon III — Scheme of Anton von Gablenz — Proposed 
European Congress — Napoleon's Letter of June 15th — Austrian 
and Prussian statements to the Diet — Austrian evacuation of 
Holstein — Austrian Motion for Federal Mobilisation — Out- 
break of the War 190 


The Austr'o-Prussian War 

1866. King William I and the Prussian army — Moltke's studies of a 
war against Austria — He is hampered by the King's hesitation 
— Prussian army moved to the frontier — Its positions on June 
18th — The Austrian army — Its preparations for war — Benedek 
— Krismanic — Austrian army in Moravia — Lack of cooperation 
between Austria and her Allies — Prussia's ultimatum at Dres- 
den, Hanover and Cassel — The Hanoverian army — Invasion of 
Hanover and Hesse — Hanoverian army retreats to Gottingen — 
Battle of Langensalza — King George capitulates — Campaign 
against Austria — Prince Frederick Charles — The Crown-prince 
of Prussia — Moltke keeps to his own plan and orders both 
armies to advance towards Gitschin — Position of Prussian 
armies on June 25th and 26th — Benedek at Olmiitz — Urged 
by Emperor to advance, he adopts the scheme of Krismanic 
for a march to Koniginhof and abides by it — Reaches Josef- 
stadt — Critical position — Disagreement between Benedek and 
Krismanic — Half-measures — Austrian victory at Trautenau — 
Prussian victory at Nachod — Benedek's hesitation — Prussian 
victories at Skalitz and Burkersdorf — Benedek throws over 
Krismanic and orders the Crown-prince of Saxony to fall back 
■ — Action at Koniginhof — The Crown-prince of Saxony and 
Count Clam-Gallas on the Iser — Action at Podol— Prussians at 

xii Contents 

Turnau — Crown-prince of Saxony retires to Gitschin — His rear- 
guard attacked at Munchengratz — Prince Frederick Charles 
requires urging on — Battle of Gitschin — Disastrous retreat — 
Benedek falls back to Koniggratz — His despair — Determiries 
to stand and fight — The battlefield of Koniggratz — The Prussian 
headquarters at Gitschin — Prince Frederick Charles resolves to 
attack — Moltke orders up the Second army — Battle of Konig- 
gratz — Retreat to Olmiitz — Archduke Charles orders the whole 
army to Vienna — Prussians intercept it at Tobitschau — ^Action 
near Pressburg — Armistice — Prussian campaign against South 
German States — Prince Charles of Bavaria — Prince Alexander 
of Hesse — Falckenstein interposes between them — Action at 
Dermbach — Prince Charles retreats — Prince Alexander retreats — 
Falckenstein defeats Prince Charles on the Saale, but marches on 
Frankfort — Defeats Prince Alexander at Lauffach and Aschaffen- 
burg — Occupies Frankfort — Is superseded by Manteufiel — 
Prince Alexander marches to the Tauber — Manteuffel defeats him 
at Werbach, at Tauberbischofsheim and Gerchsheim — ^Defeats 
Prince Charles at Hettstadt and Rossbriinn — Battle of Hett- 
stadt — Bombardment of Wiirzburg — Armistice — Causes of suc- 
cess and failure — Campaign of Custoza — Battle of Lissa — 
Moral effect of Koniggratz — Austrian cession of Venetia to 
Napoleon — French offer of mediation between Prussia and 
Austria — Bismarck's proposals — Basis of Preliminaries ar- 
ranged by Napoleon and von der Goltz — Negotiations with 
Austria — Proposals made through Giskra at Vienna — The 
Prussian demands — Armistice — Negotiations at Nikolsburg — 
Preliminaries of Nikolsburg — Prusso-French treaty proposed 
through Benedetti rejected — Manteuffel in Petersburg — Prussian 
Treaties of Peace with the south-western states — Austro-Italian 
Treaty of Peace — The Prussian achievement . . .241 


The North-German Confederation 
The Federal Constitution : Preliminary discussions — Opening of 
the Prussian Diet — The Indemnity question — Address of the 
Chamber of Deputies to the King — The Indemnity Bill passed 
— Negotiations with the small states allied with Prussia — - 
The Annexation Bill passed — The Prussian Constitution 

Contents xiii 

extended to the entire monarchy — The first Reichstag of the 
North-German Confederation, elected by universal suffrage, 
to be constituent only — Financial and military arrangements 
in Prussia — Settlement with Saxony — Relations with Austria : 
Beust appointed Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs and 
Chancellor — The states of the south-west : Bavaria — Fluctua- 
tions of Bavarian opinion — King Lewis II and Richard Wagner 
• — Wiirttemberg and the Prussian alliance — National feeling 
in Baden — The Prussian Diet and the War Dotations — The 
annexed lands;:=A»fei-PrTis5idn agitaliOii iri-HanoJe&seDi vision 
of opiniatf— Bennigsen and the National-Liberal^^Adminis- 
trative rp^vr-gan^ satinn ; -| 1 1 r] Fill rimlTr ""r-inl Thr Guelfic 
Legion — Meeting of the North-German Reichstag — Debates on 
the Federal Constitution — The Constitution as finally settled : 
limits ; legislation ; presidency ; Bundesrat and Federal 
Chancellor ; Reichstag ; military system ; finance ; relations 
with the south-western states — Conferences on military 
matters and on renewal of the Zollverein — The Zollverein 
Treaties approved by Bavaria, Wiirttemberg and Baden — 
Baden's application for immediate entry into the North- 
German Confederation declined — Elections for the Zollparla- 
ment — Financial and social legislation of the Reichstag — Von 
der Heydt succeeded by O. Camphausen — Close of the Zoll- 
parlament — Hohenlohe and the Oecumenical Council . 324 


Franco-German Relations, 1866-1870 

France and the Peace of Prague — Change in the policy of Napoleon 
III: the Circular of September i6th, 1866 — Benedetti's 
Memorandum after conversation with Bismarck on Luxemburg 
and Belgium — The Luxemburg question — Antecedents of the 
French project as to Belgium — German policy as to Luxem- 
burg — Attitude of the Dutch Government — Question of the 
Prussian Garrison — Period of suspense ended by Napoleon III 
— Bismarck's explanation to the Reichstag — Germany accepts 
a Conference — Bismarck's action in the Luxemburg affair 
reviewed- — King William and Bismarck at Paris — The French 
and Austrian Emperors at Salzburg — Austrian rights in 
Schleswig-Holstein transferred to Prussia — Failure of French 

xiv Contents 

proposal of a Congress — Oecumenical Council summoned : 
Holienlohe's Circular — Prince Charles of Hohenzollern- 
Sigmaringen and the Roumanian throne — The Triple Alliance 
project shelved again — The Belgian Railways dispute — The 
Disarmament scheme resumed and abandoned — Archduke 
Albrecht's Visit to Paris — Meeting of the Oecumenical Council 
— Gramont French Foreign Minister — Le Boeuf Minister of 
War — General Lebrun at Vienna — France without support — 
Final condition of Franco-German relations — The Hohen- 
zollern candidature for the Spanish throne — Proposed can- 
didature of Prince Leopold — Salazar at Weinburg — Bismarck, 
King William and the proposal — Bismarck's agents in Spain 
— King William at Ems — French protests — The French 
Government's declaration to the Chamber (July 6th) — Efforts 
to bring about withdrawal of Prince Leopold — Benedetti's 
mission to Ems — His first audience — Strat at Sigmaringen — 
Withdrawal of Prince Leopold by his Father — Further French 
demand — Benedetti's final meeting with the King (July 13th) 
— The 'Ems telegram' and its effect — French Ministerial 
Councils and Declaration (July 15th) — Mobilisation of North- 
German army (same date) — And of south-western armies — 
Declarations of War and Neutrality — Austrian and Italian 
Declarations — The Responsibility for the War . . 381 

The Franco-German War, i 870-1 
1870. Expansion of the German army — Moltke's view of a war 
against France — The French army since 18 15 — Its reorganisa- 
tion by Marshal Niel — The French plan — The Navies — Move- 
ment of the French army to the frontier — Napoleon III at 
Metz — Reconnaissance at Saarbriicken — Transport of the 
German army to the frontier — Its advance — Weissenburg, 
Worth, Spicheren — Dismay at Paris— Palikao Minister of War 
— German right wheel — Borny — Mars-la-Tour — Gravelotte 
and St Privat — Moltke invests Metz and moves two armies 
towards Chalons — Napoleon and MacMahon at Chalons — 
Palikao insists on a junction with Bazaine — MacMahon moves 

Contents xv 

to Reims and starts thence for iMontmedy — Hesitates but is 
urged on by Palikao — Moltke hears of MacMahon's movement 
and wheels to the right — Beaumont — Sedan — Surrender of 
Napoleon and of MacMahon's army — Revolution at Paris — 
Defences of the capital — Chatillon — German investment of 
Paris, where French Government remains — The Francstireurs — 
Ducrot's plan — Forces in the provinces — Fall of Strassburg — 
Werder disperses levies in the East — Levies at Orleans de- 
feated at Artenay — Gambetta and the new armies — Freycinet 
— D'Aurelle de Paladines — Surrender of Bazaine — Sets free 
the German troops investing Metz — Le Bourget — Negotiations 
for an Armistice break down — Coulmiers — Prince Frederick 
Charles marches against D'Aurelle — Freycinet's interference — 
Beaune la Rolande — Loigny and Poupry — Orleans — Amiens — 
Champigny — Werder invests Belfort and defeats Garibaldi — 
Freycinet divides the army of the Loire — Chanzy's fine defence 
— His retreat to Le Mans — Bourbaki's retreat to Bourges — 
Freycinet plans a diversion against Werder — The Hallue — Le 
Bourget — Nuits — Prince Frederick Charles against Chanzy — 
Le Mans — Peronne — Bombardment of Paris — Bourbaki moves 
against Werder and Manteuffel against Bourbaki — Villersexel — 
Werder's retreat behind the Lisaine — Bourbaki's inaction — 
His advance to the Lisaine, attack on Werder and failure — 
His retreat to Besan9on and attempted suicide-^St Quentin — 
Mont Valerien — Armistice at Paris — Clinchant with Bourbaki's 
army retreats- to Pontarlier — Is attacked by Manteuffel and 
withdraws into Switzerland — Fate of Belfort — Causes of success 
and failure . . . . . . . . .451 


The Neutrality of the Great Powers — The 'League of Neutrals' — 
German national feeling : Cession of Alsace-Lorraine an 
essential condition of peace — Thiers at the chief neutral 
Courts — Breakdown of the peace negotiations at the front — 
Regnier — Russian Denunciation of the Black Sea Clause 
{1856) and new Peace Negotiations — Bismarck and Jules Favre 
— Armistice concluded — The Bordeaux National Assembly — 
Thiers and the negotiations at Versailles — Preliminaries of 
Peace signed — German troops enter Paris — Conferences at 
Brussels — Negotiations at Frankfort — Peace of Frankfort — 



Cession of Alsace-Lorraine — The south-western states and the 
question of Union — The Bavarian demands — The Treaties 
with Wiirttemberg and Bavaria — The Imperial Crown and 
Title — King Lewis's invitation to King William — Proclamation 
of the German Empire at Versailles — Problems of the 

future 535 

Bibliography to Vol. II ...... . 562 

Index 579 





The theatre of war 
Dannevirke, Diippel, 


The theatre of war 
Campaign against Hanover .^ 
Campaign in Bohemia . 
The Battlefield of Koniggratz 
Campaign in Southern Germany 
Custoza .... 

Weissenburg to Gravelotte 

Weissenburg and Worth 

Battles round Metz 

Metz to Sedan 

Beaumont and Sedan 


The theatre of war 

Orleans, Le Mans . 

Amiens, Bapaume, St Quentin 

Eastern Campaign 

Map of the North-German Confederation (1866) 
OF THE German Empire (1871) 









ai end 


Vol. I 

p. 115 1. 20 for 1914 read 1814. 

p. 192 1. 10 from bottom (and Index) /or Prince read Count. 

p. 226 1. 8 from bottom for armada read force. 

p. 511 (Index, Biegeleben) for J. M. read L. M. 

p. 58S (Index) read Simon, Heinrich (Prussian politician), 435 

Simson, Eduard von (Prussian politician), 487 


CONFEDERATION, 1 852-1 863 

In the struggle for ascendancy between the two German 
Great Powers, on the ultimate issue of which, in the middle 
of the nineteenth century, everything had come to depend 
for the political future of Germany, the Punctation of 
Olmiitz (November 29th, 1850) is justly regarded as marking 
the close of an epoch. Prussia renounced her Federal 
policy, embodied in the Union of German states under 
her leadership, in favour of the restoration of the Germanic 
Confederation, and she gave up the attempt to carry 
either the Schleswig-Holstein or the Hesse-Cassel question 
to an issue by force of arms. The only concession made 
to her in return was the holding of the Dresden Conferences 
for the revision of the constitution of the Confederation, 
which in point of fact deprived the Austrian design, to a 
certain extent, of its completeness. At the same time 
(May 1851), a secret treaty was concluded between the 
two Great Powers, which safeguarded their territories from 
any outside attack. 

Within the revived Confederation everything now lay 
open to the processes of the Reaction. The palladium of 
national and Liberal aspirations, the Reichsverfassung of 
1849, was abandoned, as it seemed, for ever ; and in the 
several states constitutional life had either already been 
extinguished or was impotent to assert itself against 

W. M.G. II. I 

2 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

administrative control or oppression. In the Austrian 
empire, the aboHtion of the constitution, on March 4th, 
1852, ushered in eight years of absolute government, 
identified above all with the name of Bach, and associated 
with the ascendancy of a Church free within the limits of 
its concordat with the state (1855). Bach had been the 
guiding spirit of the home administration even before the 
death of Schwarzenberg (April 3rd, 1852) ; while the interests 
of the Church had a strong supporter in Count Leo Thun ; 
and the Emperor's adjutant-general, Count Griinne, was 
a most influential friend of the Government, which was 
distinguished by much administrative ability. In Prussia, 
the forms of constitutionalism were kept up under 
Manteuffel, one of the most pliable, yet, at the same time, 
one of the most tenacious of Prussian statesmen. But 
the preservation of these forms was partly accommodated 
to the reactionary romanticism of the King by the trans- 
formation of the First Chamber into a House of hereditary 
nobles and landowners, partly accompanied by a restoration 
of jurisdictions and representative systems dating from 
earlier days. In the lesser states, the constitutions granted 
before or in the years of political revolution (1848-9) had 
either already disappeared, or carried on a more or less 
precarious existence under the vigilant observation of the 
revived Diet, which had actualty appointed a committee 
for the purpose. The Hesse-Cassel quarrel had, in 1852, 
seemed to have come to a conclusion by the return of the 
Elector Frederick William I to his capital, and the imposi- 
tion by him upon his subjects of a new constitution, that 
of 183T having been declared by the Diet incompatible 
with Federal law. The constitution of 1852 was, however, 
at no time completely accepted by the Chambers, which 
repeatedly protested against it ; and the relations between 
the Elector and his subjects remained essentially unaltered. 
In 1855 - the Elector's unwillingness to accept certain 

i] Austria and the Zollverein 3 

changes in the ecclesiastical system of the electorate 
proposed by Hassenpflug's colleague, the ultra-Lutheran 
Vilmar, led to the dismissal of the whole of the Ministry, 
with Hassenpflug at its head ; but the conflict was not 
closed by his quitting the scene. Yet more long-lived, 
and of far more wide-reaching importance, was the 
Schleswig-Holstein problem, which continued to press on 
the Diet and to demand the attention of the two Great 
Powers. But of this, the progress to its close will be 
most fitly summarised in our next chapter. So far as the 
internal affairs of Germany are concerned, the course of 
events in the decade which preceded the outbreak of the 
last Schleswig-Holstein War may seem to us visibly 
tending to a predestined end — widely different from that 
imagined by many contemporaries. 

In the first instance, however, we have to recall an 
aspect of German affairs, which had not, like the pohtical 
situation, reached a definite stage at the time of the 
Olmiitz settlement. It was seen^ how, before the death of 
Schwarzenberg in April 1852, the Austrian Government, 
which had achieved a complete victory over the political 
pretensions of the rival Great Power, had, in conformitv with 
the enterprising commercial policy of Freiherr von Bruck 
(who held office as Minister of Commerce from 1840 to 185 1, 
and again from 1855 to i860), shown itself desirous of over- 
throwing the ascendanc}' which, in matters of trade, Prussia 
had, by means of the Zollverein, gradually established among 
the German secondary states. This ascendancy had bidden 
fair to be notably heightened by the treaty (September 
7th, 1851) in which, notwithstanding the reactionary views 
of King Ernest Augustus and of King George V (who 
succeeded him two months later), Hanover, with Oldenburg, 
had agreed to join the Zollverein on January ist, 1854, 
under conditions highly favourable to these two states; 
^ Vol. I, p. 539, note, ante. 

4 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

and the secret negotiation of this treaty had provoked 
much jealousy among the other members of the Customs 
Union. Schwarzenberg and Bruck had not been slow to 
take advantage of this feeling, by anticipating the conference 
as to the renewal of the Zollverein, which all the states now 
included in it had been summoned to attend at Berlin in 
April 1852. Representatives of all the German Governments 
except the Prussian and the Thuringian, accordingly, met 
at Vienna in the preceding January. Here, proposals were 
brought forward intended as preliminary to an ultimate 
customs union between Austria and Germany at large ; 
while, at the same time, a secret agreement was submitted 
to Bavaria, Wiirttemberg, Saxony, the two Hesses and 
Nassau, for the formation by these states — should Prussia 
decline to modify the terms of the Z.ollverein in a pro- 
tectionist sense — of a separate customs union with Austria. 
This scheme was afterwards discussed afresh at Darmstadt ; 
but, though negotiations were set on foot with Prussia, she 
broke them off, and, thanks more especially to the strong 
free-trade feeling in Saxony, which overpowered the political 
friendliness of that Government to Austria, succeeded in 
maintaining the enlarged Zollverein on the old basis. After 
Schwarzenberg's death, his successor, Count von Buol- 
Schauenstein — an experienced diplomatist whose energy was 
to prove valuable in his dealings with the great political pro- 
blems which awaited him — endeavoured to maintain a high 
tone in the commercial controversy, insisting on Austria's 
claim to the establishment of a customs union of which she 
should form part. But this was not accomplished, though 
Bruck, who was charged with a special mission to Berlin, sue 
ceeded in bringing about an equitable commercial treaty for 
twelve years between Austria and Prussia (February 19th, 
1853) , which, on the renewal of the Zollverein (April 4th) , was 
joined by its other members. It was well that this solution 
of the difference between the two Great Powers was reached 

i] King George V of Hanover 5 

in time ; for the determination of the new King of Hanover 
to maintain his sovereign autonomy to the full, more 
especially as against Prussia, might, at the last, have 
interfered with his adherence to the renewed Zollverein, 
and serious European complications were imminent which 
would have rendered the continuance of tension between 
the two German Great Powers highly inopportune. 

The accession of King George V to the Hanoverian 
throne was in itself the reverse of favourable to the progress 
of constitutional life or the furtherance of national aspira- 
tions in Germany. His father. King Ernest Augustus, 
although hating, from the bottom of his heart, the consti- 
tutional changes which, in 1848, had overthrown the old- 
established power of the Hanoverian nobilit}', had declined 
to favour their attempt at preventing the consummation 
of these changes; and they had, accordingly, become law 
in September 1851, two months before the old King's 
death. But his successor. King George V, whose autocratic 
notions were intensified by the mental isolation largely due 
to the blindness which had befallen him in his childhood, 
and who cherished, in addition to his belief in his right 
divine, an unbounded faith in the destinies of the House 
of Guelf, had from the first made common cause with the 
claims of his nobility. He was encouraged by an ' inhibi- 
torium,' passed, about the time of his father's death, by 
the Frankfort ' Committee of Reaction,' which bade the 
Hanoverian Government delay further proceedings till a 
satisfactory report should have been received as to the 
grievances of the Ritterschaft. Thus, King George's first 
step was to appoint as the head of his Ministry Freiherr 
Eduard von Scheie, the son of the Minister who had 
carried out the coup d'etat of 1837. During his tenure 
of office (November 1851 to October 1853), the younger 
Scheie made an honest effort to solve the problem before 
him by concessions to the nobility which should not be 

6 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

destructive of the framework of the constitution. But his 
labours were in vain; and, after consultation with Otto 
von Bismarck (whose share in these transactions has been 
exaggerated, but is not to be altogether overlooked), a 
bolder method of action was adopted. A new head of the 
Government was found in von Liitcken, who enjoyed the 
confidence of the nobility ; and the Federal Diet, having 
been informed of the validity of their grievances, was 
induced to demand from the Hanoverian Government a 
revision of the constitution practically amounting to its 
overthrow (April 1853). Hereupon, a new Ministry was 
called to power, consisting entirely of members of the 
extreme reactionary party, with Count von Kielmannsegg 
(very deaf) as its figure-head. Foreign Affairs were en- 
trusted to Count Platen, who suited the King so well as to 
remain in office while George V remained on the throne ; and 
the Home Office was taken by W. F. O. (afterwards Count) 
von Borries, an able and fanatical upholder of the right divine 
system of government — a miniature Strafford, some thought, 
in the service of a latter-day Charles the Martyr. The sway 
of this Government began with the dissolution of the Second 
Chamber and the issue of a royal ordinance (August ist, 
1855), promulgating one of the Federal decrees of the 
previous April and abolishing all the additions made to 
the constitution in 1848. With the coup d'etat of August 
1855, of which the responsibility falls on the reactionary 
Ministry, King George V and the Federal Diet at his back, 
a disastrous epoch set in for the Guelf dynasty, which, 
eleven years later, was to find a logical end^. In the 

1 At the root of the quarrel between the Kings of Hanover and 
their diets lay the question of the domains — as to whether these 
appertained to the sovereign's authority or were part of the national 
property. This question came to the front elsewhere (cf. vol. i, 
p. 113, ante), but was carried on with the greatest persistence in 
Hanover. For an account of the Hanoverian counter-revolution of 

i] The German Great Powers and Russia y 

meantime, the Hanoverian constitution had been thoroughly 
revised in a reactionary sense, with the aid of the Federal 
ordinances as to the press and public meetings, and further 
police measures of great stringency. 

But the chief point of view from which a friendly 
understanding, at all events, between the two German 
Great Powers seemed imperative, was that of the serious 
European complications which came to a head in 1854. 
Already by the autumn of the preceding year the outbreak, 
sooner or later, of war between the Western Powers and 
Russia had become a certainty; and the question as to the 
part which Austria and Prussia would take in the conflict was 
of great moment. The boast of Napoleon III (March 1854) 
was beyond the mark, that Austria was adverse to Russia, 
while he was himself on friendly terms with Prussia. But, 
though the Emperor Francis Joseph could not forget 
Russia's service to Austria in restoring Hungary to her 
rule, his Ministers could not be blind to the danger of 
allowing the power of Russia to establish itself on the 
eastern frontier of his empire and to be accepted by the 
Christian subjects of the Porte as their main support in 
a rising likely enough to spread to their fellow southern 
Slavs under Austrian rule. On the other hand, though 
German Liberalism both abhorred and feared the dominance 
of Russia, Prussia had no direct interest whatever in a 
quarrel which concerned neither herself nor Germany at 
large ; and, notwithstanding the cordial relations between 
the British and Prussian Courts, she had no wish to promote 
the political designs of the Emperor of the French, the 
leading partner in the Western alliance. Still, it was 

the years 1851-5 see H. Oncken's important work, Rudolf von 
Bennigsen, vol. i (1910), pp. 258-72. As Bennigsen demonstrated, 
the Federal Diet had no lawful authority for ordering the Hano- 
verian Government to change the constitution without consulting 
the Estates of the kingdom. 

8 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

Russia who had broken the peace ; and, in the first instance, 
the envoys of the four other Great Powers met in conference 
at Vienna to see whether the consequences of this step could 
still be averted. Then came the sudden blow of Sinope, 
and, in February 1854, the enquiry of the Western Powers 
whether Austria and Prussia would treat Russia's refusal 
to evacuate the Danubian Principalities as a casus belli. 
Austria replied that, should Russia refuse, with her must 
lie the consequences of her action, while that of Austria 
would be decided solely by considerations affecting herself. 
Prussia, on the other hand, resolved on neutrality. 

In political life, nations are little apt to ' put themselves 
in the place' of one another — least of all when their own 
interests are affected by the action, or inaction, of their 
neighbours. In 1852, British as well as Russian states- 
manship had ignored the wishes of the German people in 
the Schleswig-Holstein difficulty; but the soreness which 
then for the first time began to make itself felt between 
British and German popular feeling was as yet of slight 
importance. In 1854, the refusal of Prussia to take part 
in a conflict into which Great Britain herself had only 
reluctantly entered, and the wisdom of her participation 
in which remains, at this day, more doubtful than ever, 
called forth invective and insult such as could not be 
expected to remain wholly unremembered. Lord Claren- 
don, and with more bluntness Lord Palmerston, in the 
various stages of the conflict, made no secret of being in 
accord with the popular sentiment. Yet it may be well 
to place on record an expression of opinion that among 
the sins of omission which discredited Prussia, and the 
Manteuffel regime, in these inglorious years, should not be 
reckoned the refusal of the Prussian Government to take 
an active part in the war against Russia. 

Had the decision fallen otherwise, it would not have 
been without supporters. Apart from the rooted antipathy 

i] Prussian Sympathisers with Western Powers 9 

to Russia, which was one of the accepted marks of German 
middle-class Liberalism, there was a group of persons of 
high standing in the Prussian legal or diplomatic world 
who would have rejoiced had the opportunity been seized 
of freeing European politics from the incubus of the over- 
bearing personal influence of Tsar Nicholas I. They were 
known as the party of the (Preussische) Wochenhlatt, the 
name of their organ in the press^, or as that of Bethmann- 
Hollweg, who was for some years their leader. The scion 
of a wealthy family of bankers at Frankfort, he had gained 
high distinction as professor of law at Beriin and Bonn, 
of which University he afterwards became curator, and had 
taken the leading part in the first General Synod of the 
Prussian United Church in 1846. His devout evangelical 
churchmanship commended him to the King, though he was 
in favour of the separation of Church and state; but he 
and his followers were staunch upholders of the constitution 
of 1850 and of Prussia's responsibility towards Germany. 
Other members of this group of politicians were Count 
Albert Pourtales, in whose house at Berlin its meetings 
were held, and Count Robert von der Goltz, afterwards 
known by the cleverness and selfconsciousness displayed 
by him as ambassador at Paris. They were not without 
hopes of a general concurrence in their views on the part 
of the Prince of Prussia, who was in favour of reading a 
lesson to the Tsar without seeking to destroy his power. 
But, in the Prussian Government itself, and in the imme- 
diate surroundings of the King, these views met with no 

^ T\iQ Preussische Wochenhlatt a.^'pea.xeAivomiB^i to 1858; Beth- 
mann-HoUweg led the faction till 1855. In 1858, as will be seen, he 
joined the Schwerin-Auerswald Ministry; he resigned office early in 
1862 For an account of this interesting phase of German party 
history and of a group of politicians whose leaning to England and 
English constitutional ideas was one of their distinctive features, see 
Walter Schmidt, Die Partei Bethmann-Hollweg und die Reaktion in 
Preussen, 1850-8 {1910). 

10 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch. 

response; Manteuffel had no wish to break through the 
existing friendly relations with Austria ; but he was far from 
any thought of joining her in a declaration of war against 
Russia. By the spring of 1854, the plan of a fusion between 
the Wochenblatt part}^ and the supporters of the Government 
had broken down, and the triumph of the Kreuzzeitimg faction 
was assured. To the chief members of the Camarilla and 
their friends, who had the King's ear, and in many of whom re- 
ligious enthusiasm was blended with political sympathies, the 
idea of a war on behalf of Mohammedan Turkey and against 
the conservative Tsar seemed impious and unnatural. And 
there were others who, viewing the situation either on a 
broad historical basis, or with a f arsighted recognition of the 
tasks awaiting Prussia at no distant date nearer home, raised 
their voices in favour of neutrality. Ranke, who about this 
time was named a member of the reconstructed Staatsrat, 
was specially called upon for an opinion on the present acute 
stage of the Oriental question ; while Bismarck, at this time 
Prussian envo}^ at the Federal Diet, protested against the 
tame notion of merely saying ditto to Austria, and when 
(as he already frequently was) consulted by the King, 
declined to recommend Prussian intervention. 

In no responsible statesman of the day were the sym- 
pathies with the Western Powers stronger than in Bunsen, 
the British Minister at the Court of St James's; but his 
intimation to Clarendon (March 1854) of Prussia's desire 
for the humiliation of Russia in the Baltic only led to his 
recall^. He was succeeded b}' Count Albrecht von Bern- 
storff, who was in touch with the Woclienblait politicians, 
though not a member of their party^. 

^ As to his memorandum of April 1854, and the scheme of ob- 
taining, in return for active cooperation with the Western Powers, 
their approval of the annexation of Schleswig-Holstein to Prussia, 
see Bismarck, Gedanken, vol. i, pp. 112-3. 

- Count Bernstorff (a Lauenburger by birth, and hence frequently 

i] Austro-Prussian Alliance ii 

On March nth, 1854, I'^ii^g Frederick William IV, 
having learnt that Austria was not prepared to enter 
without Prussia into a declared alliance with the Western 
Powers, addressed a letter to the Emperor Francis Joseph, 
in which he pressed the conclusion of an offensive and 
defensive alliance between the two German Great Powers, 
which should take in the Germanic Confederation. Such 
an alliance was welcome to Austria, more especially as 
Prussia ultimately consented to the addition of an article 
guaranteeing the security of the dominions of Austria even 
if she should be obliged to enforce by arms the evacuation 
by Russia of the Danubian Principalities. On April 20th 
the alliance was, accordingly, concluded, with a supple- 
mentary military convention binding Prussia, if necessary, 
to assemble on her eastern frontier a force of 100,000 men 
and to raise the whole active strength of her army to double 
that number. But, though the two Governments invited 
the other states of the Confederation to adhere to this 
alliance, its purpose remained doubtful, and the attitude 
of the Prussian Government tended, more and more, to 
the preservation of neutrality. Bunsen, as has been seen, 
now retired into private life (June) ; the Minister of War, 
E. von Bonin, who had not been disinclined to a war in 
conjunction with the Western Powers against Russia, was 

decried as a Schleswig-Holsteiner by his political adversaries) was, 
by the insight as well as by the self-control marking his statesman- 
ship, worthy of his lineage. As Prussian Minister at Vienna, he had 
come into frequent collision with Schwarzenberg, whose hostility he 
incurred, while acquiring the reputation of steady opposition to 
Austria. After Olmiitz he was recalled by Manteuffel, with whose 
poUcy he was out of sympathy; and, after two years at Naples, 
was in May 185^ promoted to London, where he represented Prussia 
(and afterwards Germany) with remarkable ability and tact till his 
death in 1873, except during his brief tenure of the Foreign Office at 
Berlin, as to which see post. For a full account of his career see 
The Bernstorff Papers, a translation of K. Ringhoffer's biography, 
2 vols. (1908). He was misjudged by Disraeli {Life, vol. iv, p. 344). 

12 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

dismissed from his post ; and, most significant of all, the 
Prince of Prussia, who had strongly protested against this 
step, was himself relieved, for the present, from attendance 
on the duties of his military office and even threatened 
with internment in a fortress. 

The feeling in the secondary states, which was declared 
at fresh conferences, held at Bamberg (May 25th) — whence 
the term 'Bambergers' — was in favour of joining the 
Austro-Prussian alliance, but with a view to a genuine 
neutrality ; and a meeting between the Emperor of Austria 
and the King of Prussia at Tetschen (June) made no further 
change in the situation. Austria, however, now took steps 
of her own, concluding a treaty with the Porte as to a joint 
occupation of the Principalities, and, though in June the 
Russian troops returned to the left bank of the Danube, 
carried on negotiations with the Western Powers as to 
conditions of peace. The joint demands of the three 
Powers — the 'Four Points' — were hereupon communicated 
to the Russian Government, and at the same time made 
known to the Prussian. 

At the end of August, Russia rejected the Four Points ; 
and, early in the following month, the forces of the Western 
Powers landed in the Crimea and laid siege to Sebastopol. 
In France, as in England, the feeling against the German 
Powers rose to a great height ; and it needed only the false 
news of the fall of Sebastopol (which reached Vienna on 
September 28th) to impel Count Buol to try to mend his 
ways. An offensive alliance was concluded (December 2nd) 
by Austria and the Western Powers, which had now raised 
their demands upon Russia, and was communicated to 
Prussia for her acceptance. This alliance was all the more 
displeasing to the Prussian Government, since it had agreed 
(November 26th) to add to the April treaty a promise 
of adhesion to the Four Points and an extension of its 
guarantee to the Austrian troops in the Principalities. 

i] Prussia holds back 13 

Although the divergence between the two German Great 
Powers was for a time kept secret, and the Federal Diet, 
accordingly, agreed (December 9th) to adhere to the 
enlargement of the compact between them, the King of 
Prussia, in conformity with the judgment prevailing among 
his advisers, refused to join the Triple Alliance, at all 
events without further definition of the conditions of peace 
to be imposed on Russia. At the same time, he made 
a characteristic attempt to exercise a personal influence 
upon British policy by means of a special mission to Queen 
Victoria, which was to appeal to the Protestant sympathies 
between the two countries. Nothing came either of Count 
von Usedom's mission, though he spent some seven months 
in England^, or of a less notable one of General von Wedell, 
the Governor of Luxemburg, to the Emperor Napoleon III ; 
nor, on the other side, was Count Buol able to force Prussia's 
hand by proposing that, in view of the danger of a Russian 
attack upon the Austrian dominions, she should carry out 
the April treaty by placing 200,000 men under arms, the 
Confederation providing a proportionate force. Prussia 
declined to mobilise; and the secondary states, headed by 
Bavaria and Saxony, followed suit, an all but unanimous 
resolution being passed at the Diet (February 8th, 1855) 
that, in the absence of any danger of a Russian attack, 
only a modified mobilisation {Kriegsbereitschaft) should be 
ordered. Count Buol's forward policy had met with a very 
manifest rebuff; and the illhumour thus excited was 
heightened by the alliance concluded (December 26th) by 
the Western Powers with Austria's irreconcilable foe, 

Thus, Prussia, which had sent no plenipotentiary to the 
first Conference on the conditions of peace between the 

^ Very greatly to BernstorfE's annoyance (see Bernstorff Papers, 
vol. I, p. 258). Usedom, besides being known to entertain Liberal 
ideas, was married to a clever Englishwoman. 

14 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch. 

other four Powers (December 28th), was likewise unrepre- 
sented when their plenipotentiaries met again, with a fifth 
sent by the Porte, for the transaction of business (March 
i6th, 1855), a fortnight after the death of Tsar Nicholas I. 
Austria no longer urged terms certain, if insisted upon, 
to result in the prolongation of a war which neither of 
the Western Powers would be content to end prematurely ; 
and, though Russia still refused to listen to the proposal to 
neutralise the Black Sea, she was determined to make an 
earnest effort to meet the difficulties in the way of the 
conclusion of peace, among which that Black Sea question 
was the chief. Thus, the Conference of envoys was turned 
into one of leading European statesmen. Drouyn de 
Lhuys, who avowed that he had the alliance between France 
and Austria at heart even more than the conclusion of peace 
with Russia, now sought to gain over Austria by offering 
Russia better terms, yet such as he thought she would still 
refuse; but Buol made a counterproposal of conditions 
even less unfavourable (the limitation of the Russian fleet 
in the Black Sea to its numbers before the outbreak of the 
war). Though, however. Lord John Russell concurred, and 
it seemed for a moment as if the efforts of France and Austria 
must lead either to peace or to the participation of Austria 
in the war, neither the Emperor Napoleon nor Lord Palmer- 
ston was disposed to acquiesce in so lenient a course ; and 
the Vienna Conferences, together with the chance of an 
Austro-French alliance, came to an end together. 

So far, though isolated, Prussia had no reason to regret 
her isolation. She had avoided incurring the illwill of 
Russia, and her policy had been accepted by the lesser 
states of Germany in preference to that of Austria, whose 
peace policy, after costing her a war expenditure she could 
ill afford, had utterly broken down at Vienna^. Buol's 

^ Cf. the summary in Denkwiirdigkeiten von 0. von Manteuffel, 
vol. Ill, p. 21. 

i] The Paris Peace Congress and Prussia 15 

self-confidence had, however, not yet deserted him ; and he 
was encouraged by the assurances of the Western Powers 
that Austria's primacy in Germany would be at an end, 
if she were to follow the example of Prussia. When, after 
the fall of Sebastopol, in September 1855, the French 
Emperor began to show a disposition towards peace, it 
was once more Austria that came forward with mediatory 
proposals, which the new Tsar, Alexander II, attempted 
to meet halfway. But the lead had passed out of her 
hands, and on February 25th, 1856, the Peace Congress 
opened at Paris. 

At the first meeting of the Congress, Count Cavour put 
in an appearance for Sardinia ; but it was only at the second 
meeting (February 28th) that Austria and Russia proposed 
that Prussia should be invited to send two plenipotentiaries, 
it being resolved on the motion of Lord Clarendon not to 
summon them till the main points at issue should have been 
settled. Bismarck was almost beside himself with disgust^. 
Prussia's belated admission served no purpose except to 
mark formally her pretension to be regarded as one of the 
Great Powers, while it made her jointly responsible for 
decisions in which she had had no part. Neither in the 
discussion on Eastern affairs nor in that on Italian at Paris 
did Manteuffel, as joint Prussian plenipotentiary with Count 
Hatzfeldt, take any substantial share, though, as will be 
seen, he exerted himself actively in the Neufchatel business. 
So far as the main issues of the Peace Congress were con- 
cerned, there was a widespread, though not really well- 
founded feeling, that Prussia had suffered humiliation. 
Meanwhile, the German secondary states hugged the thought 
that, by not following Austria implicitly in the matter of 
war and peace, they had vindicated their own sovereign 
independence and the importance of their collective action 

^ See his letters to Gerlach in Gedanken und Erinnerungen, vol. i, 
p. 117. 

i6 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch. 

or inaction ; and Austria had failed either to inflict a 
momentous blow upon her eastern, or to assert a decisive 
control over the action of her German, rival. Although 
Prussia had entered late into the Congress, she had, at 
more than one point, proved indisposed to second, or even 
to support, Austrian action. Thus, there was no wish, on 
either side, to renew the alliance of April 1854, which 
Austria had at first hoped to conclude in perpetuum, but 
wliich, in accordance with the Prussian counterdraft, had 
been limited to the duration of the war. Nor did Prussia 
join in the triple agreement between Great Britain, France 
and Austria for the maintenance of the integrity of the 
Ottoman dominions (April 15th, 1856). In the meantime, 
thanks to the progress of the negotiations for the marriage 
of the Princess Royal to Prince Frederick William, the 
eldest son of the Prince of Prussia — a union at first anathe- 
matised by the leading English journaP — the general aspect 
of the relations between Prussia and Great Britain was 
brightening ; and there could be little doubt as to the direc- 
tion in which the political successes of Napoleon III, already 
partially disclosed at the Peace Congress, were tending. 
His wish to conciliate the goodwill of Prussia, while pur- 
suing a policy of which the result could hardly but be a 
conflict with Austria, was clearly shown in an episode which 
forms a curious postscript to relations noted earlier in this 

Since, in 1848, the Neufchatellois had thrown off the 
easy yoke of the King of Prussia's sovereignty, their com- 
munity had been thoroughly transformed. Within a few 
years, half of the inhabitants of the new canton had come 

- Cf. The Bernsiorff Papers, vol. i, p. 310. Duke Ernest II of 
Coburg-Gotha, Aus meinem Leben und aus meiner Zeit, vol. 11, p. 338, 
goes so far as to describe this comment as ' the hardest words ever 
uttered in the English press against Prussia and the Hohenzollerns,' 

2 Cf. vol. I, pp. 237 f. ; 431. 

i] The Neufchdtel Loyalist Coup de Main 17 

to consist of immigrants — citizens of only two years' stand- 
ing ; and the constitution had become a pure democracy, 
in which no class distinctions remained and the municipal 
authorities were elected by universal suffrage. As a matter 
of course, this state of things was intolerable to many of 
the earlier stock of inhabitants, and more especiahy to the 
old noble families, whose influence had hitherto been 
paramount in the rural districts of the principality. Their 
complaints met with a most sympathetic reception at 
Berlin, where the King, with a reiteration that would have 
been altogether pathetic, had there not been in it an element 
of the ludicrous, had persisted in dwelling upon his rights 
on Neufchatel and his affection for the loyalists remaining 
there. In the London Conferences of 1852, the Great 
Powers had, on the sagacious suggestion of Baron Brunnow, 
recognised the rights of the Prussian Crown to Neufchatel 
(which it had never surrendered) ; and at Paris in 1856, 
when the Prussian plenipotentiaries had been admitted to 
the Peace Congress, they had been instructed to recall 
those rights to the remembrance of the Great Powers— 
but this time without any result. The Neufchatel loyalists, 
accordingly, resolved upon a coup de main on their own 
account. A preliminary enquiry at Berlin was met, on the 
part of Manteuffel, by an urgent warning to desist ; the 
King's silence, however, was interpreted as consent. On 
September 3rd, 1856, the castle at Neufchatel was seized, 
and the municipal authorities were arrested by a band of 
insurgent loyalists ; but, elsewhere in the canton, the repub- 
lican majority rose in prompt self-defence; and, under the 
direction of two Federal commissioners, the canton was 
occupied by a body of Berne and Vaud militia, who were 
ruthlessly quartered on actual or suspected partisans of the 
rising. Many arrests took place, and a number of royalists 
were charged with high treason and ordered to be brought 
before the Federal state tribunal. 

W. M. G. II. 2 

1 8 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

King Frederick William IV, who, as was soon to become 
apparent, was mentall}' no longer able to bear any extreme 
agitation, was grievously affected by the tidings of these 
occurrences. What chiefly pressed upon his chivalrous 
spirit was the apprehension that the champions of his rights 
were to be arraigned as criminals and would probably be 
sentenced to long and harsh imprisonment. He, at once, 
caused representations for their unconditional release to be 
addressed to the Federal Government and the Great Powers. 
The latter replied in varying tones of sympathy, Buol 
requesting to know in what particular way Austria could 
be of service, and Palmerston advising the Prussian Crown 
to renounce its rights to Neufchatel, and thus secure the 
goodwill of the Swiss Federal authorities towards the 
prisoners. The Swiss Government, over which the radical 
Staempfli presided, would hear of nothing but renunciation ; 
and the legal proceedings against the prisoners were ordered 
to take their course. 

The King of Prussia, whose strangely compounded 
motives of action were once more exhibited in his treatment 
of the last important difficulty of his public life, was not 
unwilling to take into consideration the question of re- 
nouncing his rights on Neufchatel ; but he was resolved, in 
the first instance, to secure the release of the prisoners. And 
this he proposed to effect through an auxiliary whom in 
former days it had been his habit to regard with unmitigated 
distrust. Napoleon III had, in answer to the first Prussian 
dispatch, given it as his opinion that the Swiss Con- 
federation was likely to proceed in accordance with the de 
facto position, and that Prussia would do well to shake off 
the Neufchatel incubus altogether. Hereupon, Frederick 
William IV addressed an autograph letter to the Emperor, 
written, as it averred, 'in tears and with a bleeding heart,' 
appealing to a friendship which it only depended upon the 
Emperor to secure as a permanent possession, and stating 

i] The Neufchdtel Incident and its Sequel 19 

that, if the King could not obtain tlie release of the prisoners, 
he could not refrain from exacting it arms in hand. The 
royal letter proved a thorough diplomatic success. Napoleon, 
whose immediate policy nothing could have suited so well 
as to lay Prussia under a great obligation, answered that 
France could not without disquietude witness the appear- 
ance of a Prussian army on Swiss soil, and that he would 
do his best to secure the satisfaction of the King's wish by 
pacific means. But, on being pressed by the Emperor, the 
Swiss Federal Council either could not or would not credit 
the correctness of his advice, and was confirmed in its 
judgment by manifestations of goodwill on the part of the 
British Government, while the Austrian (though it advised 
the release of the captives) observed an attitude of calm. 
After two days' debate, the Council warily replied that the 
release must be preceded by the opening of a negotiation 
as to the renunciation of the Prussian rights on Neufchatel ; 
and from this position it was not to be moved when the 
Federal Diet at Frankfort resolved to support the Prussian 
demand for the release of the prisoners, though following 
Austria's lead in not encouraging Prussia to resort to military 
action. Unwilling to accept failure, the Emperor Napoleon 
now, having confidentially ascertained on what terms the 
King of Prussia would, after the release of the prisoners, 
renounce his Neufchatel rights, used his personal influence 
with General Dufour^ to bring about the desired result. 
At the same time, his advice herein agreeing with Bismarck's, 
he counselled the Prussian Government to begin military 
preparations. Prussia let it be known that January 2nd, 
1857, was the date at which, unless the release had previously 
taken place, the mobilisation of about 100,000 troops would 
begin — a term afterwards extended to January 15th. On 
December 17th, the Moniteur expressed approval of Prussia's 

^ The victorious commander of the Federal troops in the 
Sonderbiind War. 

20 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

action; and thus, on January 13th, the Swiss Federal 
Council, to which Great Britain was known to have made 
acceptable offers as to a guarantee of the King's re- 
nunciation by the Western Powers, gave way, and, on the 
i6th, confirmed the proposal made for quashing further 
proceedings against the prisoners and ordering their re- 

With the aid, above all, of his newly-made Western 
friend, King Frederick William IV had thus won the point of 
honour on which he had chivalrously insisted. To settle the 
rest of the problem — the future relations between Neufchatel 
and the Prussian Crown — a Conference was held at Paris, in 
March 1857, between plenipotentiaries of the four neutral 
Great Powers, who were afterwards joined by Count 
Hatzfeldt, for Prussia and (to the King's disgust) Dr Kern, 
for the Swiss Confederation. After a long series of dis- 
cussions, in which the Swiss side was energetically taken 
by Great Britain, a settlement was reached. The King of 
Prussia was to retain the title of Prince of Neufchatel and 
to receive a million dollars in compensation of his rights. 
A full amnesty was to be granted for all political offences, 
and the state was to retain the ecclesiastical property, 
though indemnifying the Church for it. When the Swiss 
Council had accepted these proposals, the King allowed 
himself to be persuaded — once more by the Emperor 
Napoleon — to approve them, with the exception of the 
pecuniary compensation, which he declined; and, on 
May 26th, the treaty was finally concluded between the 
four neutral Powers, Prussia and the Swiss Confederation. 
Such was the end of the Neufchatel affair, which, as Man- 
teuffel had complained in the middle of its course, 'would 
be the death of him^.' 

Sybel, of whose lucid narrative of these complicated 

^ Denkwiirdigkeiten von 0. von Manteuffel, vol. in, p. 130. 

i"; The Decline of Frederick William IV 21 

transactions^ the above is a condensed summaw, is of 
opinion that they moved and tortured the mind, heart and 
ner\'es of Frederick Wilham IV more violently than any 
other series of events since the days of March 1848. At 
home, his rule had become a more or less mechanical con- 
tinuance of the reactionary system which the prudence of 
Manteuffel preserved from running into sudden extremes, 
but which inspired no real confidence in any political party. 
The overwhelming majority obtained by the conservatives 
in the elections of 1855 encouraged the King to a revival 
of his visionary project of overthrowing the 'paper' con- 
stitution, and substituting for it another piece of paper, in 
the shape of a royal patent creating Estates with taxing, 
but not legislative, powers ; but even Gerlach was against 
the building of such castles in the air^. In the following 
year, there was talk of Ministerial changes ; and the King 
proposed that Bismarck should be made Minister of Finance, 
with a view to his afterwards exchanging this for the Foreign 
department^. But no such appointment was made, and, 
in spite of other personal difficulties, which must be here 
passed by, the Manteuffel Ministry continued unchanged, 
with the S3-stem of government which, aided by a power- 
fully organised police, it upheld^. As a matter of fact, the 
personal influence of Leopold von Gerlach and the Camarilla 
upon the King overpowered Manteuffel's; but the Minister 
was recognised by Gerlach as indispensable, and in return 

^ Die Begrundung des deutschen Reiches (popular edition), vol. ii, 
pp. 181-98. 

2 Denkwiirdigkeiten von Manteuffel, vol. iii, pp. 97-8. 

^ Bismarck laughed this proposal out of court, saying that the 
acceptance of it would prove him to be possessed of Lord John 
Russell's temerity. Ih., p. 119. 

* Its organiser and director was K. L. F. von Hinckeldey, an 
official of much personal power and ability, whose death, in 1856, 
in a duel provoked by his proceedings against the Berlin Jockey 
Club, made a profound sensation and called forth much sympathy. 

22 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch. 

regarded the Adjutant-general's dominating intimacy with 
the King as a necessary evil^. A personal difficulty be- 
tween the Prime Minister and the leader of the Camarilla, 
which arose out of a theft of letters written by Gerlach 
that found their way to the French embassy and to Man- 
teuffel (1855)2, had been gradually allayed. 

Unlike Prussia's relations with France, those with 
Austria had not been advanced in cordiality by the Neuf- 
chatel affair; and neither the long-lived controversy with 
regard to the garrisoning of the Federal fortress Rastadt, 
carried on at the Diet in 1856-7, nor the discussions there 
as to Federal reform proposals in the latter of these years, 
tended to bring about more cordial cooperation between 
the two German Great Powers. As to these proposals, 
devised by the unresting Saxon Minister Beust under the 
aegis of Buol, the vigilant criticisms of the Prussian pleni- 
potentiary at Frankfort, Otto von Bismarck, effectually 
prevented much progress being made. King Frederick 
William IV, never appearing to be at the end of his resources, 
but rareh^ able to bring them to any practical issue, now 
bethought himself of the expedient of a personal interview 
with the Emperor Francis Joseph, and paid him a visit at 
Vienna on July 8th, 1857. ^^ was on his return via Dresden 
that he fell seriously ill at Pillnitz. Although he still 
carried on his royal duties for a little longer, his mental 
powers proved to have broken down ; and, on October 3rd, 
an ordinance signed by him appointed his brother the 
Prince of Prussia his vicegerent {Sfellvertrcfer) in the govern- 
ment of the kingdom for a term of three months. 

This appointment was, in January 1858 (the month of 
the marriage of Prince Frederick William to the Princess 
Royal), renewed, as a matter of course, for a further three 
months, although there was little or no hope of the patient's 

1 Denkwurdigkeiten , vol. iii, p. 180. 

2 For a long account of it, see ib., pp. 83-97. 

i] The Regency in Prussia 23 

recovery and the constitution required the establishment of 
a regency in the event of the permanent incapacitation of 
the sovereign. But both the Queen, who naturally feared 
for the effect of such a step upon the King, and the 
Camarilla, who rightly apprehended the extinction of their 
political influence, favoured delay even after the vice- 
gerency had been once more prolonged, at the end of April, 
for three months. Manteuffel, who behaved with great 
propriety during this long-protracted crisis, though he 
could hardly be expected to press for prompt action, was 
kept as much as possible away from the King, who was, 
about midsummer, moved to Tegernsee. Here fresh 
intrigues began. An attempt was made to obtain the 
royal patient's signature to a letter in which he should 
express his desire to resume the exercise of his sovereign 
rights; and there was talk of a coregency of the Prince, and 
even of a joint regency between the Queen and himself. 
But the Prince, with his usual straightforwardness of judg- 
ment, perceived that neither the letter nor the spirit of the 
constitution would be satisfied by indefinitely prolonging 
the situation. Moreover, the Chambers would soon have 
to be dissolved, and a decision seemed unavoidable. Early 
in August, therefore, he called upon the Ministry for an 
opinion as to the requirements of the constitution; and 
Manteuffel showed insight as well as patriotism in recom- 
mending that a general election turning on the cry of ' King 
or regent' should be avoided. The majority of his col- 
leagues agreed, the reactionary Westphalen holding out 
stouth^ against a regency; and, after careful deliberation, 
the Prince informed the Queen that he concurred in the 
opinion of the Ministry. At the last, both the Queen and 
Leopold von Gerlach objected to the word regent; but in 
vain. In the end, she reluctantly took the opportunity of 
medical advice being given that the King should spend the 
winter in Italy, to advise him to appoint his brother Regent. 

24 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

The King signed the deed of appointment without a word, 
and then burst into tears (September 7th) i. 

The reign of Frederick William IV was virtually at an 
end, though his life lasted till January 2nd, 1861. Enough 
has been said in the course of this brief narrative to leave 
no doubt as to the charm of a personality which had in it 
at least this element of greatness : that it laid a spell upon 
the loyal service of some of the ablest and most single- 
minded public men of his day — of a Radowitz, a Bunsen, 
or, again, of conservatives such as Alvensleben and even 
the passionate enemy of revolution who was rapidly 
developing into the Bismarck of the future; not to speak 
of Alexander von Humboldt, who was one of the King's 
chosen associates, or of Ranke, whose posthumous estimate 
of his intellectual powers is as free from exaggeration as it 
is from flattery^. On the other hand, what has been said 
here of his inability to confront the great crises, and thus to 
meet the supreme opportunities, of his public life will have 
sufficed to show why he hopelessly broke clown before them. 
It was not because of any want of sympathy with great 
issues — above all, with the call upon him, as King of 
Prussia, to be the sword-arm of Germany in her great 
national effort; nor even because of his early romantic 

^ Sybel's relation of these transactions is supplemented by a long 
and highly interesting account in Manteuffel's Denkwurdtgkeiien, 
vol. Ill, pp. 256 ff., 294 ff. For the regency ordinance, see ib., 
p. 321. It seems as if Bernhardi {Aus dent Leben Theodor von Bern- 
hardis, vol. iii, p. 89) was right in saying that to Manteuffel belongs 
the credit of the regency being carried through. 

* See Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, and Werke, vols, li and lii. 
For a singularly sympathetic personal portrait, see Duke Ernest II 
of Coburg-Gotha's Aus meinem Leben, etc., vol. i, pp. 611-4, where 
particular stress is laid on the receptivity of the King's mind, which 
gave value to his judgment not only on questions of art, but even 
in military matters. Yet, as the same writer says elsewhere (vol. 11, 
p. 340), those who knew him had learnt to interpret what the King 
said by the influence upon him of momentary feeling. 

i] Frederick William IV and his Successor 25 

prejudices, his hatred of constitutionahsm as a paper inter- 
ference between a God-given king and his faithful people, 
and his abhorrence of revolution as the work of the devil. 
The movements of his mind were so quick, and the resources 
on which it was always able to fall back were so abun- 
dant, that he never seemed to be checkmated by the course 
of events, and, if he could not carry out his wishes in the 
way he preferred, often appeared to follow for a time where 
he had intended to lead. But, before long, he hardly ever 
failed to return to his aspirations, his fancies, his pre- 
dilections and his prejudices; and the doubtful labour of 
holding him down to the line of action which seemed in his 
own and in his monarchy's interest had to be begun over 
again. In a word, with his many and brilliant gifts, he 
lacked that of being able either to choose his own course 
of action resolutely, or to follow steadfastly what he had 
recognised as, in the circumstances, the most expedient 
counsel. Thus, his lot, as a king whose leadership had been 
necessary both for his own monarchy and for the nation 
whose future that monarchy was called upon to direct, was 
failure; and such remains the note of the reign of one of 
the most gifted, and one of the most unfortunate, of modern 

And now, in his place, there stood erect William Prince 
of Prussia, the son of the same father, and like him faithful 
to what he had, however slowly, come to recognise as his 
duty, and of the same mother, the incarnation of a people's 
aspirations for better days — but as different from his pre- 
decessor in character as he was in the destinies that awaited 
him. The fierce, and not unfrequenth^ false, light that 
beats upon a throne is wont to cast inimical rays upon a 
prince holding the position of heir-presumptive; and deep 
shadows of unpopularity fall, sometimes most unjustly, 
upon one whose subsequent occupancy of the throne is 
to bring him nothing but honour and affection from his 

26 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [en. 

subjects. More than one example of this double experience 
might be cited from German history in this period — a 
striking instance is that of the Prince of Prussia's intimate 
friend and correspondent Prince, afterwards King, John of 
Saxony. The Prince of Prussia himself, who at the time 
of his accession to royal authority was sixty years of age, 
was a soldier by early training, and made few pretensions 
of other sorts. In the troubles of 1848, this had sufficed 
to mark him out for the unreasoning hatred of the populace, 
in face of which there was nothing for him but to with- 
draw. After his return from England, he had, in 1849, 
done good service as commander-in-chief of the Prussian 
military forces in Baden, without incurring personal un- 
popularity by the success of the campaign. Although he had 
inherited something of his father's lack of self-confidence^, 
he was in the habit of thinking for himself in matters political ; 
but he avoided unnecessary utterances of opinions likely to 
conflict with the policy of the King and his Ministers. The 
influence of his consort, a Weimar princess of great quickness 
of mind and corresponding self-confidence, was unmistakably 
in favour of the constitutional principles formed on the 
English model and approved at more than one Thuringian 
Court ; and it was part of the Prince's nature and training 
never to go back from a promise made or an assurance 
given. The residence of the Prince and Princess at Coblenz, 
from the close of 1849 onwards, prevented their Court from 
taking up an attitude of opposition to that of Potsdam ; but 
there was little in common between the political ideas of 
the King and those of his destined successor, and, in the 
ultra-conservative spheres of influence near the throne, scant 
goodwill was felt towards the tendencies supposed to find 
favour with the Prince and his environment. 

In the earlier days, when the Hesse-Cassel difficulty had 
entered an acute stage, the Prince's Prussian pride had, 
^ Bernhardi, vol. iii, p. 69. 

i] The Regent and Administrative Changes 27 

naturally enough, resented the policy which ended in the 
humiliation of Olmiitz. Cordiality was out of the question 
between himself and the Manteuffel Ministr}^ in whose con- 
stitutionalism he put no trust. His own was of a practical 
rather than a doctrinaire kind ; he meant to keep his word, 
and to preserve the mean between the constitutionalism 
which in England seemed to him too wide, and in Hanover 
and Electoral Hesse too narrow, for the requirements of 
Prussia^. We have seen how, in the matter of Prussia's 
attitude in the Russian war, his sympathies had been so 
strongly suspected of lying in the direction of intervention 
as to cause the suspension of his military appointments. 
He had since been subjected to much calumny, at home as 
well as in England. On the German question, while, at 
the time of his accession to power he still shared his royal 
brother's feelings of friendship for the House of Habsburg, 
he had long been fully aware that Prussia could not acquire 
the leadership in German affairs without a struggle ; alreadv 
when, in 1849, he assumed the Baden command, he told 
General von Natzmer that 'whosoever desires to rule 
Germany, must first conquer it : the thing, manifestly, 
cannot be done a la Gagern^.' 

At the present moment, when he found himself actually 
at the head of the state, he was fully aware that the time 
had come for administrative changes to which the public 
had long been looking forward. Manteuffel himself was not 
discredited, but used up ; and, notwithstanding his loyalty 
to the Crown, and his administrati^^e ability and intelli- 
gence, his name had never been one to conjure with. Even 
a conservative like Savigny thought that, hard as it might 
seem, it would damage the Prince to keep Manteuffel in 

^ See the account of his conversation with King ]\IaximiUan 
of Bavaria (in i860), ap. Oncken, Rudolf von Bennigsen, vol. i, 
pp. 426-7. 

^ Sybel, vol. 11, p. 210. 

28 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch. 

office^. But it was by no means a Liberal Government of 
an advanced kind which, on the eve of his accession to royal 
authority, the Prince had in view. Previously to his ac- 
ceptance of the regency, he had thought of putting Alvens- 
leben into olhce, who in his turn had suggested Bismarck 
as Minister for Foreign Affairs ; but, before this combination 
was attempted, Alvensleben died (May 2nd, 1858) and the 
Prince bethought himself of advisers of a different type. 

The first act of the regency was the dismissal (October 
loth) of the Minister of the Interior, Westphalen, who had 
carried his legal doubts so far as to complain of a dis- 
crepancy between the ordinances signed by the King and 
the Prince-regent respectively. His place was taken by 
Chief-president von Flottwell^, who was too advanced in 
years for his appointment to have much significance. The 
Prussian diet met on October 20th, and was dissolved on 
the 26th, after the Regent had taken the oath to the con- 
stitution. The Ministry, with an absence of false delicacy 
much approved by Leopold von Gerlach^ (the day of the 
Camarilla had, of course, gone for ever), hereupon drew up 
a report in which they represented the public expediency 
of their continuance in office. But, on November 3rd, the 
Regent, in a perfectly straightforward statement to Man- 
teuffel, announced his intention of changing his Government ; 
and what it became the fashion to call the ' New Era' began. 

Of Manteuffel and his ten years' Ministry it is un- 
necessary to say more. The Regent's communication had 
been accompanied by a private letter, in which he expressed 
his gratitude for the Minister's long services, and offered 

1 Bernhardi, vol. iii, p. 93. 

2 Cf. vol. I, p. 233. As to Westphalen's audacious attempt to 
make the Regent appear responsible for the Government interfer- 
ence, which he disapproved, in elections, see Bernhardi, vol. iii, 
pp. 75-6. 

3 Denkwurdigkeiten von Manteuffel, vol, iii, pp. 333-4. 

i] End of Manteuffel's Ministry 29 

him the title of Count, with other honours. He respect- 
fully refused everything except the pension due to him, and 
asked only to be allowed to 'depart in peace.' While his 
conduct on this occasion was marked by unostentatious 
dignity, the address to his electors that followed some time 
later (May 23rd, i860) may be regarded as a valediction 
worthy of the services which he had rendered to Prussia and 
her monarchy. The passage describing the Olmiitz episode, 
which even among Prussian conservatives there were not 
wanting some to cast in his teeth, as ' one of those hard 
errands the accomplishment of which means true knight's 
service,' is devoid neither of veracity nor of pathos. With 
regard to his whole political career, we may agree with 
Leopold von Gerlach, that if, as the latter opines, Manteuffel 
followed the right track, it is futile to dweh persistently on 
his faults and weaknesses. Whether or not his own review 
of what was achie\'ed for Prussia under his conduct of affairs 
be accepted, it is certain that he accomplished the main 
object of his political life — the conservation of Prussia's 
strength for the efforts of the future^. 

Notwithstanding his unwillingness to put himself per- 
sonally forward, Manteuffel had been one of the earliest 
Minister-presidents who was such in fact as well as in name. 
As his successor in this office the Regent chose the Prince 
Karl Anton of HohenzoUern-Sigmaringen^, who, though a 
prince of great good sense, as he was to show on a later 
memorable occasion, and genuinely Liberal in his principles, 
remained more in the background than had been hoped. 
It was the opinion of excellent judges that the foreign 
affairs of Prussia could not have been in better hands than 
his; but the Regent objected to such an appointment. 

^ As to this address, see Denkwiirdigkeiten, vol. in, pp. 354 f. 

2 He had in December 1849 resigned his principality in favour 
of the King of Prussia, who, in 1850, took possession of both the 
HohenzoUern principaUties thus made over to him. 

30 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch. 

The most important member of his Ministry was Rudolf 
von Auerswald, Minister without portfoHo, who had from 
his youth up been intimately known to both the King and 
the Regent and who, as has been seen^, had by reason of his 
Liberal opinions been included in Hansemann's Ministry of 
1848. He had afterwards been Chief -president of the Rhine 
province, but was dismissed from this ofhce in 1852 as 
an opponent of the reactionary policy of the Manteuffel 
Ministry. In July 1859 Flottwell's place as Minister of 
the Interior was taken by Count Maximihan von Schwerin- 
Putzar, who as President of the Chamber of Deputies and 
a steady opponent of the Ministry of Reaction had long 
been regarded as one of the trustworthiest members of the 
Old Liberal party. His bluff manner, however, covered a 
curious unwillingness to put a stop to administrative abuses. 
Count Alexander von Schleinitz remained at the Foreign 
Office, where, though his cautious, not to say timid, conduct 
of affairs found little favour either with the Liberals or with 
Bismarck, he was held for a time by the confidence of the 
Regent and his consort ; and Bonin returned to the Ministry 
of War. Neither of these could be regarded as party 
politicians. Von der Heydt (Commerce) and Simons 
(Justice) remained in office; Bethmann-Hollweg (Worship 
and Education), though his Liberal political opinions were 
to a certain extent counterbalanced by his conservatism in 
matters affecting religion, and Freiherr von Patow (Finance) 
might be regarded as Liberal accessions. But, though a 
desire for reform began to show itself in the Government, 
the popular catchword of 'the Ministry of the New Era' 

1 Cf. Bernhardi, vol. iii, pp. 323, 335 ; and see also Duke Ernest II, 
Axis meinem Leben, vol. 11, pp. 390-4 and the Prince's letter, ib. It 
may be added that Max Duncker, a Liberal politician and historical 
scholar of much note (as to whom see Bernhardi passim, and the 
instructive article by H. von Petersdorff in Allg. D. Biogr. vol. xlviii), 
though a Councillor in the Foreign Office, was specially attached to 
the service of the Prince of Hohenzollern. 

i] The 'New Era' 31 

had overleap! the situation. Still, the glamour of the 
change was not dissipated at once, and even reacted upon 
public life in other states, more especially in Bavaria, where 
apprehensions of a design against the constitution, the 
result of long-continued friction between von der Pfordten's 
Government and the Second Chamber, were now allayed by 
King Maximilian's declaration that he 'desired peace with 
his people,' and by the substitution for the unpopular anti- 
Prussian Minister of the less aggressive Freiherr Karl von 
Schrenck. In Prussia itself, the elections of 1858 attested 
the trust of the people in the ' New Era ' and its blessings, 
although the Ministry had not yet had time to formulate 
its principles before fully showing its colours. Its chief 
legislative effort in the session of 1859, the restricted intro- 
duction of civil marriage, broke down, in consequence of the 
resistance with which it met in the Herrenhaus. 

The relations between Prussia and Austria once more 
called for immediate attention, in view of the critical 
position in which the latter found herself placed. The 
question was whether, since her conduct in the Crimean 
War had entirely estranged Russia, Austria could count 
upon the support of Prussia in the conflict which the French 
Emperor's designs against her rule in Italy threatened to 
bring upon her. The marriage of Prince Frederick William 
with the Princess Royal (January 1858) ^ had, as we saw, 
in a measure improved the relations between Great Britain 
and Prussia; both Queen Victoria and the conservative 
British Government were friendly to Austria, and the 
King of Hanover fully shared this feeling in her favour. 
The Government of the Regent, although maintaining 
friendly terms with the other German Great Power, was 
at the same time conscious of the necessitv of caution, 

1 His sister, Princess Louisa, had, in September 1856, married 
the new Grand-duke Frederick of Baden. 

32 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

and repeatedly had resort to the advice of Bismarck, the 
watchful observer at Frankfort of Austria's proceedings. 
Late in 1858, as will be seen, Prussia determined the 
Federal Diet to energetic action towards Denmark, in 
whose dilatory proceedings Austria and the south-German 
Governments were prepared to acquiesce; and thus, 
towards the close of this year, the relations between the 
two Great Powers, though they remained friendly, could 
hardly be said to be those of cordial cooperation. On 
New Year's day, 1859, Napoleon IH's memorable words 
to Freiherr von Hiibner announced to an alarmed public the 
imminence of war between Austria and France. 

Yet, if Austria, who at once massed 30,000 troops in 
Lombardy and speedily added further reinforcements, not 
only showed herself ready for war, but succeeded in ob- 
taining the support of the Germanic Confederation, and 
with it that of Prussia, the French attack might still be 
warded off, or, peradventure, diverted from the frontier of 
Lombardy to the Rhine. Everything depended on the 
proffer of the requisite aid, and a ready ear was lent in 
the south-German Courts, and a loud response made in 
the south-German press. (The voices were but few that 
echoed the denunciation of Austria at any cost which Karl 
Vogt launched from Geneva.) In northern Germany the 
case was different : there was here much sympathy (though 
not as much as in England) among Liberals with the Italian 
aspirations for unity; and, in the minds of Prussian poli- 
ticians who had forgotten neither Olmiitz nor the scheme 
of a Zollverein reorganised in the Austrian interests, there 
simmered a natural desire for revanche. Moreover, at 
present the French Emperor's demands, which proposed 
to go no further than a reform of the condition of things in 
Italy on the basis of the Treaties of 1815, could not be 
called unreasonable. On the other hand, Austria rejected 
British attempts at mediation, and would have nothing to 

l] The Italian War and Prussia 33 

say to a Conference. Schleinitz was opposed to any decided 
action; Bismarck was just at this time superseded at 
Frankfort by Usedom, a friend of Italian independence, and 
was liimself appointed to Petersburg. When Archduke 
Albrecht came to BerHn to announce the intention of the 
Emperor of Austria to send an tiUimatiim to Sardinia, the 
Regent promised to support him in the event of any viola- 
tion of the Treaties, but on the supposition that on the 
Austrian side everything had been done to preserve the peace. 
The Austrian tiltimatitm to Sardinia was, however, issued on 
April 17th, and Cavour's hopes were thus fulfilled that the 
adversary would take upon himself the responsibility of the 
actual outbreak of the war. The Prussian Government now 
(April 26th) issued a circular declaring that it would confine 
itself to protecting the Federal territory. But the French 
declaration of war against Austria (May 3rd) and Napoleon 
Ill's announcement that his object in drawing the sword 
was the liberation of Italy to the Adriatic, once more 
changed the situation. The Regent was now in favour of 
'armed mediation' and, as a preliminary step, placed the 
Prussian army on the halfway footing called Kriegsbereit- 
schaft. General (Adolf) von Willisen was sent on a special 
mission to Vienna, with instructions to ask that, in return 
for an undertaking by Prussia to aid in preserving to Austria 
her Italian dominions, Austria should either allow to Prussia 
the undivided command of the forces of the Germanic Con- 
federation, or charge herself with covering the Upper Rhine 
and, in this case, assume the command over the south- 
German troops. But these alternatives were very coldly 
received at Vienna; and it was intimated, in return, that 
far more was expected from Prussia and the other members 
of the Confederation — above all, a guarantee of the treaties 
giving Austria protective rights over the Italian duchies ; 
while it was further suggested that a joint effort should be 
made to overthrow the rule of Napoleon III — a design which 

W. M. G. II. 3 

34 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch. 

Willisen was well-advised in declining^. After the first 
serious Austrian reverse, however, these far-reaching schemes 
were abandoned, and the Prussian proposals accepted as the 
basis of further negotiation. Buol had retired from the 
Austrian Foreign Office, his place being taken by Count von 
Rechberg-Rothenlowen. The Prussian Government, here- 
upon, declared itself ready to take steps for an armed 
intervention, and for such action as was imposed upon 
Prussia by her duties as a European Great Power and by 
the claims of Germany. On June 14th, the Regent ordered 
the mobilisation of six arni}^ corps (180,000 men), besides 
the formation of an army of observation consisting of two 
south-German army corps (60,000 men). But the Austrian 
Government was not contented with these steps and, even 
after Magenta had been fought and lost, sent a dispatch 
to Berlin reaffirming the obligation of Prussia to uphold 
the treaties that placed the Italian duchies under the pro- 
tection of Austria, and reserving to her the right of free 
action at the Diet as to the command over the troops of 
the Confederation. The Regent now mobilised his whole 
army — a momentous step, as it proved, in view of the 
military reorganisation question which was soon to become 
so formidable to his Government. Communications were 
also opened with the neutral Great Powers as to the situa- 
tion in Italy. On the same day (June 24th), however, the 
Austrians were routed at Solferino. Both the victor and 
the vanquished were weary of the struggle ; and there can 
be no doubt as to the unwillingness of the latter, in par- 
ticular, that the intervention of Prussia should now become 
a decisive element in the problem. The Austrian Govern- 
ment, in a word, could not face the prospect, should victory 

^ As to this proposal by Rechberg, see Biederinann, Dreissig 
Jahre deutscher Geschichte, vol. 11, p. 228, where the authority cited 
is the pamphlet (by Aegidi), Preussen und der Friede von Villafranca 
(Berlin, 1859) {see post). 

i] The Peace of Villafranca 35 

attend the German arms, of Prussia definitely securing the 
leadership in Germany. To the Prussian motion at Frank- 
fort, that all the troops of the Confederation should be 
placed under the command of the Regent of Prussia, 
Austria moved an amendment proposing that, in accord- 
ance with the Federal Constitution, the Confederation 
should assert its supreme control by attaching Federal 
commissioners to headquarters. The phrase of Bernstorff's 
biographer^, that Austria was 'trifling away' Prussia's 
help, seems hardly too strong; for, on the day after that 
of the presentation of this amendment, a truce was 
concluded in the theatre of war, and three days later the 
two Emperors at Villafranca agreed on the terms of peace 
(July nth). 

To this strange peace, which, by the sacrifice of Lom- 
bardy, failed to secure to Austria either the continuance of 
her control of the Italian duchies or the enduring possession 
of Venetia, Prussia had in no sense been a party. Her 
forces were moving towards the Rhine when its defence 
was no longer in question. But, though the peace had come 
suddenly, there had, even before its actual conclusion, been 
time for popular demonstrations, in central as well as in 
southern Germany, in favour of Prussian leadership in the 
defence of Austria. At Wiesbaden, a lengthy declaration 
was published by members of the Nassau Chambers, to the 
effect that Germany should not leave Austria undefended at 
the present crisis, and a similar utterance came, at the end 
of June, from the Wiirttemberg Liberals at Stuttgart ; but, 
in both cases, reference was also made to the necessity for 
the summons of a German parliament. It is true that, in 
both instances, the Prussian command of the Federal troops 
was contemplated for the duration of the War only, and 
that, in Bavaria at all events, doubts were expressed as to 
the willingness of the Prussian Government to give loyal 
^ Bernstorff Papers, vol. ii, p. 76. 


36 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

assistance to Austria and to repudiate all dealings with 
France. But Villafranca changed the situation. Austria 
had made her choice, and accepted the peace proposed by 
Napoleon rather than concede to Prussia a military com- 
mand which might grow into a political hegemony. Were 
the hopes of those German patriots who regarded Prussian 
leadership as necessary for the attainment of national unity 
to be sacrificed in the process ? 

It was at this point that a new influence, which had for 
some time already been at work, but had not yet taken 
definite shape, began to assert itself in German politics. 
The endeavour of those who were the chief agents of that 
influence ultimately failed, or, rather, it was superseded by 
action of a different kind; but it is well that justice should 
not too soon have been done to the significance of the new 
movement in keeping alive the current of national feeling 
and in preparing a result which, without them, could hardly 
have been accepted as a national achievement. 

The work of the German Nationalverein (National 
Association), though not accomplished, or even initiated, by 
a single individual, was largely carried out and inspired 
by the principles of a politician whose biographer has thus 
legitimately become its historian, and of his immediate 
associates^. Rudolf von Bennigsen, a Hanoverian noble of 
ancient family and landed estate, was distinguished by 
some of the characteristic features of his birth and station 
— above all, by the habit of personal ascendancy and 
perfect self-possession in dealing with men or bodies of 
men — including kings and parliaments. Unlike most of 
the prominent Hanoverian politicians, he was a native of 
the principality of Calenberg, the old conservative nucleus 

^ The latter half of vol. i of H. Oncken's Rudolf von Bennigsen 
constitutes an enduring tribute to the movement of which the 
subject of this invaluable political biography was the recognised 

ij Rudolf von Bennigsen 37 

of the kingdom, where lay Bennigsen, the estate of which, 
in course of time, he became the owner. But his father's 
appointment as Hanoverian Mihtary Commissioner in 
Frankfort took the son out of the narrow environment of 
home. He early entered the official service of the kingdom 
(which was, practically, reserved for men of good family), 
but soon passed into its judicial branch, and, before settling 
down in life, abandoned the service altogether. He had 
speedily come to the conclusion that reform at home in 
Hanover was inseparable from German reform at large, 
herein differing from Stiive, the leader of the old Liberal 
party in the kingdom, who was a particularist at heart. 
But Bennigsen had, in these days, no wish for the annex- 
ation of Hanover to Prussia; what he advocated was the 
surrender to the latter of certain sovereign rights in return 
for inclusion in the new Germany under her leadership, and, 
as things stood, though this demand only gradually came 
into the foreground, the restriction of the relations between 
the Confederation proper and Austria to a league or wider 
alliance. With such views, Bennigsen entered upon active 
political life in 1855, when in Hanover the reactionary 
Government had settled itself in the saddle; and, by 1858, 
he had become the acknowledged head of the opposition 
against Borries. But, unlike the Prussian Liberals of the 
old school, he, from the first, identified himself with the 
popular aspirations for national unity and, in fact, had 
entered on his political career with this purpose, in 
confidential intercourse with a few intimate friends, and, 
more especially, with the eminent jurist Gottlieb Planck, 
and the Gottingen lawyer Johannes Miquel, whose powers 
in action the future was to display. Bennigsen's attacks 
upon Hanoverian misgovernment were explicitly directed 
against a reactionary system imposed by the Diet of the 
Confederation with the connivance of the Crown ; and this 
naturally suggested to him and his friends the organisation 

38 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch. 

of a movement which should at once supplement and, as it 
were, include the struggle against the reaction in Hanover 
and other particular states, by setting up a programme of 
German national policy. This, as a matter of course, could 
only be done by means of an association — the sovereign 
method of which history had proved the efficiency in both 
state and Church^. 

The growth of the Nationalverein and its influence 
forms, perhaps, a more interesting chapter in the history 
of the German movement for national unity than either 
its later experiences or its own positive achievements. 
We may pass by the earlier efforts of Duke Ernest of Saxe- 
Coburg-Gotha, whose sympathy with Liberal ideas, though 
not unmixed with personal ambition and afterwards diverted 
into unprofitable courses^, soon brought him into close 

^ The question on what model the German Nationalverein was 
actually formed is quite secondary. But it is tolerably obvious that 
this was, not so much the great Anti-Corn-Law League, which in 
England had recently carried to unexpected victory a great popular 
cause, but had done so without coming into conflict with the existing 
constitution, as the Italian Societa Nazionale, founded in 1856 for 
the purpose of calling into life a national unity that still remained 
an ideal towards the realisation of which no practical steps had been 
taken. This must not, as it was in some quarters, be held to imply 
that Prussia was from the first intended to play the part of Sardinia. 
In 1 861 King WiUiam I himself told the Emperor Napoleon, that 
he knew the Nationalverein to be desirous of tempting him to a 
policy like Victor Emmanuel's ; but that this was contrary to his 
political principles (Bernstorjf Papers, vol. 11, p. no). A sort of 
precedent had iDeen set to the Nationalverein by the Catholic associa- 
tions which, with their annual central assembly, had since 1848 been 
established in the interests of Rome, through the exertions, more 
especially, of Freiherr von Ketteler, afterwards Bishop of Mainz. 

2 Julius Frobel, Ein Lebenslauf, vol. 11, p. 73, attributes to the 
death of the Prince Consort (in December 1861) the disruption of 
the network of Coburg intrigue, of which the eventual elevation of 
his brother to the German throne was imagined to have formed 
part. As to Duke Ernest's share in the Fiirstentag scheme of 1863 

i] National Ideas 39 

contact with the Nationalverein. They were encouraged 
by his confidential adviser Gustav Freytag, who, like the 
Duke, was devoted to the principle of German unity under 
Prussian headship, but who preferred to play his part 
with his pen or behind the scenes. A step forward was 
taken by the meeting of political economists at Gotha in 
1858, which had the approval both of Bennigsen and of 
Schulze-Delitzsch, the pivot of the movement for the 
establishment of benefit societies and of other machinery 
for promoting association among the working-classes. The 
Gotha meeting tended signally, not only to rally Bennigsen 
and others to free-trade principles, but also to imbue them 
with a sense of the political importance of the Zollverein, 
and of the connexion between it and the development of 
German unity under Prussian leadership. These relations 
and possibilities were discussed at Gotha in a smaller meeting 
in which Bennigsen, Schulze-Delitzsch and the trustworthy 
Liberal leader Mathy took part. 

So far matters had proceeded in this wholly preparatory 
stage, when the war of 1859 brought a very practical issue 
into play in the minds of those who had been considering 
the uses of the contemplated association for moulding 
political opinion for national ends. We have seen how, 
already during the Italian War, manifestations of a desire 
for the maintenance of a national conduct of affairs had 
occurred, and that, simultaneously, the time-honoured 
demand for a German parliament had been raised once 
more. But, after Villafranca, there was no longer any 
question of Prussian leadership on behalf of Austria; the 
danger now was that no change would be made in the 

see below. His minioire of 1853 on the foundation of an earlier 
Verein whose principles had much in common with the Nationalverein 
of 1859 is printed in Aus meinem Leben, etc., vol. 11, pp. 532 ff. For 
a fine tribute to his generous patron the Duke, see Gustav Freytag, 
Erinnernngen aus meinem Leben (1899), p. 268. 

40 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [cH. 

conditions of the Confederation, and that another great 
war might find the problem of military leadership as much 
in abeyance as ever. It is a noteworthy fact that the 
earliest protest against such consequences came from a 
gathering of German democrats held at Eisenach, in the 
middle of July. It consisted chiefly of Thuringians, with 
the addition of a few Prussian politicians, among them 
Schulze-Delitzsch, upon whom the mantle of Waldeck had 
descended as leader of the advanced Liberals in the Prussian 
Chamber, and who deservedly exercised a great influence 
upon the working-classes as their true friend — outspoken, 
straightforward and practical. A vote was here passed 
insisting on the establishment of a permanent Central 
Authority for Germany, together with the convocation of 
a National Parliament ; meanwhile, the leadership of the 
German forces and the diplomatic representation of her 
Government were to be placed in the hands of Prussia. 
Two days later, advantage was taken of a meeting of 
north-west-German advocates at Hanover to send an 
address of very similar purport to the Hanoverian Chamber. 
It was signed by Bennigsen, Miquel and some sevenhundred 
other names, chiefly from the new Hanoverian provinces. 
On July 27th, Bennigsen delivered, in the Second Chamber, 
his first great public speech. It was based on letters 
addressed by Bennigsen to L. K. Aegidi, one of the ablest 
publicists of the new Liberalism, and was afterwards, at the 
request of the Prussian Government, elaborated by him into 
the pamphlet entitled Preussen und der Friede von Villa- 
franca, to which reference has been already made and which 
has been described^ as a point-blank letter of refusal to 
Austria. A second Olmiitz, Bennigsen declared in his 
speech — addressed to Germany rather than to his Hano- 
verian audience — was unthinkable. 

About the same time (August, 1859), ^^e citizens of 
1 By Duke Ernest II of Coburg. 

i] Beginning of the Nationalverein 41 

Stettin addressed a petition in favour of a new German 
Central Authority to the Regent, whose reply was a very 
qualified assent, dwelling chiefly on the primary necessity 
of the reorganisation of the Prussian army, on which his 
mind was then intent; and a similar representation was 
sent by the town of Gotha to its Duke, whose response 
was all sympathy. Thus, when, on August 14th, a second 
meeting of Liberals, this time including both moderates and 
radicals, was held at Eisenach, the demand was reiterated for 
Prussian leadership in both military matters and diplomatic 
action, in the event of another direct menace to Germany 
from without. An appeal was, at the same time, made to 
all German patriots to cooperate in obtaining for Germany 
a satisfactory constitution. To this end, it was agreed to 
take advantage of the present gathering for the formation 
of a German national party; and a smaU committee, con- 
sisting of Bennigsen, Unruh^ and two others, was appointed 
to take the necessary steps. These resolutions were made 
public, together with a commentary, apparently the work 
of the Darmstadt democrat August Metz, in which the 
hopes placed upon Prussia were, more circuitously than 
felicitously, expressed. In reply, Auerswald informed 
Unruh, through a memoire by the indefatigable Max 
Duncker, that the Prussian Government, though without 
entering into any definite understanding as to particular 
measures, recognised the necessity of reforms and expressed 
its willingness to cooperate in them. On the strength 
of this rather vague Prussian promise, it was now resolved 
to proceed. On September gth, countenanced by Duke 

^ Hans Victor von Unruh, a Liberal whose earUer career had 
ended with his being chosen President of the Prussian National 
Assembly in October 1848, had withdrawn from the Chamber on the 
imposition of the constitution of 1849. His Erinnerungen, edited by 
H. von Poschinger, describe his prominent share in the foundation 
of the Nationalverein. 

42 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch. 

Ernest, though Gustav Freytag and many of the Old 
Liberals still hesitated, Bennigsen, Schulze-Delitzsch, Unruh 
and a few others met at Coburg to discuss the organisation 
of the new national party and of the association which was 
to be its visible representative. At first, it had been in- 
tended to assemble at Frankfort, but the Duke's invitation 
was ultimately accepted; on the other hand, his wish for 
a more or less confidential body was, with Bennigsen's 
concurrence, rejected, and in its place Schulze-Delitzsch's 
plan of an open and comprehensive cooperation on a demo- 
cratic basis was approved. 

It was not to be expected that the Austrian Government 
should acquiesce in these proceedings, or in the offer 
volunteered by Duke Ernest in reply to an address from 
the citizens of Gotha, of resigning, in the interests of 
Germany at large, certain of his sovereign rights. Count 
von Rechberg was, indeed, less inclined than his prede- 
cessor Buol had been to enter into a direct contest with 
Prussia on the subject of Federal reform. While during 
the last four years Austrian envoy at the Diet, he had, 
on the whole, remained on good terms with Prussia's high- 
spirited representative at Frankfort, and would have 
preferred dealing directly with Prussia to courting the 
goodwill of the secondary states. He could not, however, 
approve of the design of the Nationalverein, and addressed 
what was almost a reprimand to Duke Ernest. But the ball 
had now been set rolling. On September 15th and i6th, 
a meeting was held at Frankfort (immediately after the 
second assembly of the Economic Congress) for the purpose 
of arriving at a conclusion with the representatives of 
southern Germany, who formed a considerable proportion 
of the 150 delegates in attendance from all parts of 
Germany. This meeting was the real constituent assembly 
of the new national party and of the Nationalverein which 
was to be its representative body, and of which Bennigsen 

i] Difficulty of the National verein 43 

was chosen first President. It formulated its statutes, 
declaring its object to be the union and free development 
of the entire fatherland, no mention being for the present 
made of either the inclusion or the exclusion of Austria, 
and nothing being laid down distinctly as to Prussian 
leadership. Bennigsen was also named chairman of a 
Committee of twelve, charged with conducting the affairs 
of the association. But public feeling in the south-west 
of Germany was by no means generally in accord with 
the principles which had been primarily laid down by 
Bennigsen and his friends, although among those who 
shared them was the Wiirttemberger A. L. Reysscher, an 
active member of the Committee; and, at a meeting held 
at Goppingen (December i8th), it was agreed, by an 
overwhelming majority, not to recommend the extension 
of the Nationalverein to Wiirttemberg ; while in Bavaria, 
where K. Brater acted as corresponding member, and in 
the remainder of the south-west the same opinion pre- 
vailed. At Frankfort, the Senate declined to permit the 
association to fix its domicile there, and, in accordance 
with the invitation of Duke Ernest, it was established at 

These signs of hesitancy, no doubt, weakened the 
position of the Nationalverein in its early days and, together 
with the Prince-regent's distrust, made the Prussian 
Government slow to enter into declared cooperation with 
it; but it, nevertheless, gradually extended its ramifica- 
tions over northern and central Germany, and attracted 
support even in the south-west. Great discretion as well 
as energy was, throughout, displayed by the president 
Bennigsen, whose most distinctive characteristic as a 
politician was his rooted belief in the necessity of acting 
through the people as well as for the people, and who thus, 
notwithstanding the difference in their personal antecedents, 
stood nearer to his most important associate Schulze- 

44 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

Delitzsch than was perhaps at times supposed. Yet he 
was very far from being a Realpolitiker in the sense of 
ignoring principle, and had prepared himself by a close 
theoretical study of political science for the public career 
on which he seemed suddenly to have entered. He and 
his immediate followers, in the words of his biographer, 
regarded themselves as the heirs of the old Frankfort party 
which had consistently contended for the establishment of 
a hereditary empire (Reichspartei) . Death, together with 
old age and weariness of a struggle which had to be carried 
on under new conditions, was thinning the ranks of the 
old members of this party as well as of the Liberals of the 
earlier school at large. Dahlmann, from whose historical 
writings as well as from his political services the friends of 
constitutional freedom had long derived inspiration, passed 
away in December i860 ; and Heinrich von Gagern, once 
the honoured President of the National Assembly, with 
the history of whose patriotic endeavours his name is more 
largely associated than any other, was about to end his 
public career as Hesse-Darmstadt charge d'affaires at 
Vienna, having for some time become virtually an adherent 
of the grossdeutsch party ^. Mathy, who was no doctrinaire, 
could not bring himself to recede from the broader and 
more comprehensive demands of the Reichsverfassting days ; 
on the other hand, the historians Gervinus, Hausser and 
Droysen were, in accordance with the ways of their genera- 
tion if not of their profession, unable to reconcile themselves 
to the acceptance of new programmes of action, or of new 
leaders. Yet others, such as Gustav Freytag, preferred, as 
has been seen, to remain, more or less, behind the scenes 
and in the personal confidence of the ducal 'protector* of 
the association. Of the younger generation of Liberals, 
however, there were few who did not stand in a direct 
personal relation towards it. Of Unruh and Miquel mention 
^ He died, half-forgotten, in 1880. 

i] Leaders of the Association 45 

has already been made ; among later leaders were two early 
luminaries of the new Fortschritt party, Max von Forcken- 
beck, an Elbing advocate of aspiring mind, and the West- 
Prussian Freiherr Leopold von Hoverbeck. Men of eminence 
in the academic as well as in the commercial world gave to 
the association the prestige of their support — among them 
Mommsen and Virchow, the banker Adalbert Delbriick 
and the publisher Franz Duncker. For the rest, the 
operations of the Nationalverein were not conducted on 
precisely the same party lines in its several spheres of 
activity. At Bremen, for instance, sincere support was 
accorded, but tempered with the conservative and practical 
tendencies of this important commercial city. In Hesse- 
Cassel, F. Oetker, the leading spirit of the struggle against 
Hassenpflug, was unable to become a member of the com- 
mittee of the association, but was, throughout, one of its 
most trusted advisers. The conduct of the business of the 
association was, for some time, in the busy, indeed over- 
busy, hands of F. Streit ; but, after it had become necessary 
to move this part of its work to Frankfort, it was committed 
to L. Nagel, an indefatigable worker and at the same time 
an idealist and religious thinker. The foremost publicist of 
the association was the editor of its weekly journal, the 
Brunswicker, A. L. von Rochau, who as editor of the 
Constitutionelle Zeitung had been expelled from Berlin 
under the Manteuffel Ministry, but who is better known 
as a patriotic historian of merit — a more famous historian 
and publicist, Treitschke, described him as 'one of the 
proudest Germans' whom he had ever met. In general, 
nothing distinguished the work of the Nationalverein more 
notably than the abundance of literary as well as journal- 
istic talent employed in its service — an abundance unsur- 
passed by any analogous efforts in the course of German 
history, from the days of Luther and Hutten onwards^. 

^ It may be added that the Nationalverein reached the maximum 

46 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch. 

How could the contributory efforts of the German 
national party and of the association representing it be 
most speedily and directly brought to bear upon the 
existing situation, so as to strengthen and consolidate the 
endeavour to bring about national unity under Prussian, 
as the only possible effective, leadership ? The old problems 
which had long occupied the attention of the Confederate 
Governments and their subjects still remained open ; and 
the secondary states continued as unwilling as ever to solve 
them by a free acceptance of the position which must be 
conceded to Prussia in the settlement. In November 1859, 
the Saxon Minister Beust had united the plenipotentiaries 
of Bavaria, Saxony, Wiirttemberg, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, 
Nassau, Saxe-Meiningen and Saxe-Altenburg in conferences 
held at Wiirzburg (whence the designation of 'the Wiirz- 
burgers^') for the purpose of an agreement as to Federal 
reform, and, more especially, in opposition to the idea of 
a simple partition of the military command of the Con- 
federate troops between Prussia and Austria in the event 
of a Federal war. In i860, after the foundation of the 
Nationalverein, the same ingenious statesman devised a 
project of his own which was to counteract the designs of 
that Association^. This was essentially a makeshift, it 
being proposed to leave at Frankfort only the members 

number of members (over 25,000) in October 1862, but after 1864 
failed to maintain anything like the same total. University students, 
though their goodwill was courted, were not admitted as members. 
Contingents were furnished by foreign countries, even by the United 
States, till the outbreak of the Civil War (1861). The Nationalverein 
wisely abstained from connecting itself in any way with religious 
propaganda, though ultramontane influences seem to have been 
very persistently exerted against it. 

1 The conference at the same city in February 1864 was attended 
by representatives of nearly all the above-named Governments, with, 
however, the addition of a kleindeutsch minority. 

2 See chapter xviii of vol. i of his Memoirs (Engl, tr., 1887). 

i] Foreign Policy and National Union 47 

of the Federal Administration, while providing for half- 
yearly meetings of the Federal Diet, one at Ratisbon and 
one at Hamburg, over which Austria and Prussia were, 
respectively, to preside, while a representative assembly of 
deputies from the several German diets was to be summoned 
from time to time. Like other projects of the same in- 
ventive brain, this fell stillborn to the ground. Meanwhile, 
the feeling had grown among the members of the National- 
verein that nothing but a question of foreign policy — that 
is to say, one calling into play the interests or, better still, 
the sentiments, of the whole nation as against foreign 
oppression, insult or menace — could give the necessary 
force and vitality to the national aspirations for union. 
The feeling was well-warranted, and derived support from 
the experience of other nations besides the German ; nor 
can there be any doubt that it was justified by the ultimate 
event. But, at the time now in question — the earlier part 
of the year i860 — the attempt to find such an opportunity 
in the action of France in the new phase of the Italian 
question was not very well chosen, and certainly premature. 
The annexation of Savoy and Nice by France (March i860), 
which had been openly censured by the British Government, 
though without being made a casus belli, had caused much 
immediate uneasiness in Switzerland. The menace to the 
Rhine and Belgium was more remote ; but in Liberal circles 
apprehensions were entertained, especially as there was little 
confidence in Schleinitz's management of foreign affairs, 
that Bismarck, whose appointment as his successor could 
not be far distant, had been moving in the direction of a 
bargain with France. Bennigsen, in a speech made at 
Berlin about this time, significantly referred to the fears 
called forth by Napoleon IIFs demand for a revision of the 
present frontiers of France^. But, before long, it became 

^ See Oncken, R. von Bennigsen, vol. i, p. 370. 

48 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

apparent that no adequate result was likely to follow from 
pressing these fears upon the German public. Bismarck, 
though there had been no tampering on his part with the 
integrity of Germany and the preservation of her frontiers, 
was of opinion that Napoleon Ill's present utterance, even 
taken together with his recent action, was not a fit occasion 
for throwing down the gauntlet to his ambition, or, as many 
southern Germans wished, for seeking to thwart the progress 
of Italy towards unity. Napoleon III himself, on the other 
hand, thought it worth his while to seek to calm the appre- 
hensions which he had excited in Germany by inducing the 
Regent to receive a visit from him during his summer sojourn 
at Baden. The sovereigns of the principal German states 
(except, of course, Austria), who, more or less fortuitously, 
took part in the meeting (June i860), were anxious that 
nothing should pass between the French Emperor and the 
Regent without their observation, and that they should 
then confront the latter with their views as to the affairs 
of Germany at large^. So far as the French Emperor was 
concerned, though his interviews with the German sove- 
reigns at Baden proceeded pleasantly and he even managed 
to gain the goodwill of the King of Hanover by his 
personal courtesies, he failed to inspire much confidence in 
the German Powers or to induce them to put faith in his 
assurances, as conveyed to them by the Regent, that he was 
not responsible for the course of events in Italy since the 
peace, and that he was far from cherishing further projects 
of annexation, by means of an arrangement with Prussia or 
otherwise^. Just before the Emperor's departure from Baden, 

^ See Duke Ernest of Coburg's account, given to Bernhardi, of 
the Baden meeting, Aus dem Lehen, etc., vol. iv, pp. 19 ff. ; and cf. 
the narrative, in the Duke's Memoirs, vol. iii, pp. 14 ff. 

2 In the transactions after the Emperor's departure, the 
Grand-dukes of Baden and Weimar, with Duke Ernest himself, 
acted on a common understanding; and this was confidentially 

i] The Baden Meeting and the Governments 49 

King Maximilian of Bavaria summoned a conference between 
those German sovereigns (the ' Wiirzburgers ') who had 
hitherto been adverse to the Prussian proposals for German 
reform, including the plan of excluding Austria from the 
Confederation proper; but they were unable to reach any 
conclusions on this head, and, by common consent, turned 
rather to the subject of the Nationalverein, which about 
this time was doing everything in its power to popularise 
its purpose by the formation of Wehrvereine of all sorts, 
Schleswig-Holstein demonstrations and the like. Among 
the Governments there was no division of opinion as to 
this activity ; and they had already endeavoured to prevent 
the spread of the association in their own states, so far as 
this was in their power. In Bennigsen's own native land — ■ 
Hanover — the indignation of the King and Borries against 
schemes which involved the Prussian headship of Germany 
knew no bounds^ ; and, from Heidelberg, the Nationalverein 
hurled back defiance at the head of the reactionary Minis- 
ters, who threatened all officials who should join the 
association with official punishment, and all tradesmen 
guilty of the same offence with a kind of official boycott. 
The Government of Electoral Hesse threatened any of its 
subjects who became members of the Verein with penal 
proceedings. Other police measures were taken in Saxony, 
where Beust opened the sluices of official indignation in 
Mecklenburg and in Wiirttemberg. Yet, notwithstanding 
this display of fury, the Regent of Prussia at Baden refused 
to enter into any discussion of the subject there. In a 
conversation which he shortly afterwards held with King 

communicated to the Prussian Prime-minister, Prince Anton of 
Hohenzollern, who was in attendance on the Prince-regent. 

^ Borries's chief pubHcistic champion was Oskar Meding, author 
ot the virulent Open Letter to Bennigsen (Hanover, i860), and well- 
known under the pseudonym of Gregor Samarow as a political 

W. M.G. U. A 

50 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch. 

Maximilian II of Bavaria at Munich, he sought to quiet the 
apprehensions of his host as to the Nationalverein, while 
announcing his own resolution to carry on a moderate con- 
stitutional government. At the same time, he declined to 
recede from the Prussian demands as to the military com- 
mand — in case of war — which Prussia and Austria must hold 
north and south of the river Main respectively, without any 
question of a third claimant. On these lines, he was ready 
to come to an understanding with Austria, if, after sacri- 
ficing a province rather than allowing to Prussia the credit 
of overcoming a foreign foe, she would no longer maintain 
an attitude of unfriendliness. At the end of July, an 
interview, accordingly, took place at Teplitz between the 
Emperor Francis Joseph and the Regent of Prussia ; where, 
however, the former proved unyielding on the question of 
the presidency of the Diet, while, as to the military com- 
mand, he would not go beyond consenting to a military 
conference on the subject. No guarantee for Venetia was, 
accordingly, forthcoming; and a meeting of the Emperor 
of Austria and the Regent of Prussia with Tsar Alex- 
ander II, which followed in October, likewise led to no 
very definite result. When the Emperor Napoleon pressed 
for a European Conference, neither of the two German Great 
Powers was willing to accept it — Austria declining quite 
decisively. Something — but not much — had thus been 
done to bring about a better understanding between them. 
The Nationalverein, at its meeting held at Coburg in the 
previous September, had dealt cautiously with contentious 
points, but had adhered steadfastly to the main principles 
of the national party — the establishment of a Federal state 
under Prussian leadership, with the convocation of a national 
parliament. With this programme, which was kleindeutsch 
in effect if not in profession, and against which, as we shall 
see, operations were soon to be set on foot at Vienna from 
the grossdetttsch point of view, the national party represented 

i] Prussian Opinion and the 'New Era' 51 

by the Nationalverein had now to meet the new difficulties 
arising from the momentous constitutional conflict which 
was at hand in Prussia. 

It is necessary to go back a little, in order to explain 
the political troubles in the Prussian monarchy itself, which 
were now beginning to interfere seriously with the hopes 
placed upon the leadership of Prussia in Germany — so much 
so as to discourage the national party that had steadfastly 
cherished these hopes, and to cause Austria to take fresh 
steps for maintaining her traditional primacy among the 
Confederate states. The 'New Era,' which had been hailed 
as opening with the regency, had, hitherto, proved a dis- 
appointment to the Liberals; and, although the more 
glaring abuses of the reactionary system had come to an 
end with Westphalen's administration of home affairs, even 
Schwerin had not made the expected clean sweep, especially 
in the matter of provincial Governments. Nor had the 
Herrenhaus been awed into the acceptance of the two chief 
Liberal reforms to which it had been invited — the legalisa- 
tion of civil marriage and the equalisation of the land-tax^. 
The policy of the Crown with regard to the Italian War, 
though prudent, could not be popular ; for it had involved 
considerable expenditure, met partly by a loan and partly 
by additional taxation, without leading to any result. 
First, it was clear, from the Regent's reply to the Stettin 
address, that the Government had not made up its mind 
to an active policy in German affairs such as was desired 
by the national party. Expectancy was giving way to 
disillusionment, and the 'New Era' seemed too like the 
old to deserve to be called by a name of so much 

^ The Duke of Coburg (vol. in, p. 25) pointedly observes that in 
i860 the Herrenhaus rejected two Government land-tax bills, 'on 
which the financial system of the reorganisation of the army was 
based.' Cf. Bernhardi, vol. in, p. 330. 


52 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

The Regent, however, was intent upon other things than 
the accompHshment of German unity under Prussian leader- 
ship : or, rather, he had resolved upon a course of action of 
which the order of sequence had long seemed to him im- 
perative. This conviction had been brought home to him, 
in the most direct way possible, by the experience of the 
Hesse-Cassel crisis of 1850, followed by that of Olmiitz, 
when the Prussian Government had in the end shrunk from 
risking war. Moreover, even at an earlier date, the Baden 
campaign had furnished him with an opportunity of noting 
the defects of the present regimental system in the field. 
Thus the reorganisation of the Prussian army, which, in 
its present condition, the most competent authorities held 
to be inadequate to the demands that might, at any time, 
be suddenly made upon it, had come to be very near to 
the heart and mind of the Prince of Prussia; and, if his 
accomplishment of this task be regarded as the historic 
foundation of the new German empire, he has a just claim 
to be called its founder, in substance as well as in outward 

Not less unmistakably, the intellectual author of the 
great military reform, which, in its ultimate consequences, 
was to secure to Prussia the leadership of Germany, and to 
make the new German empire the foremost military Power 
of the modern world, was Albrecht, afterwards Field-marshal 
Count, von Roon. No other military change of the kind — 
neither the setting-up of Cromwell's New Model, nor the 
transformation of the French army of the Bourbons into 
the Revolutionary army of 1792 and the following years (if 
these may be brought into comparison here) — is so directly 
and so completely traceable to the insight and persistence 
of individual administrative genius. For it is as an ad- 
ministrator, in both the conception and the execution of 
his design, that Roon rendered the services which were to 
secure to his name a place by the side of those of Bismarck 

i] Roon's Scheme of Army Reorganisation 53 

and Moltke^. For the sake of these services, he sacrificed 
the prospect of mihtary glory proper; as for party, and 
especially parliamentary, politics, he cared for them only 
in so far as his official responsibilities forced him to take 
part in the struggle which filled the critical years of his 
earlier Ministerial life. Yet such were his unyielding sense 
of duty and his ability to rise to the performance of it, that 
he not merely became the chief, and for a time the one 
prominent, champion of the proposed militar}^ reform, but 
a speaker and debater of remarkable power. It was a 
matter of indifference to him that he was hated even worse 
than Bismarck, who at last came to the rescue of the King 
and of his Minister of War — for Roon's public deliverances 
were devoid of the humour which in Bismarck even his 
adversaries at times found it difficult to resist. 

The force which lies in lucidity has never been shown 
more clearly than it is in the memorable preliminary state- 
ment which, in consequence of a previous conversation with 
the Regent (whose personal confidence he enjoyed from 
an early date^), Roon drew up and presented to him on 
July 22nd, 1858^. After a few opening words as to the 

1 Their literary monument is to be found in the Denkwiirdigkeiten 
by his son, Count Waldemar von Roon (3 vols., 4th ed., 1897). This 
edition contains, besides letters to and from Bismarck, Roon's 
almost equally interesting correspondence with his independent- 
minded friend Clemens Theodor Perthes, published separately (in 
1896) for the years 1864-7. 

2 After acting as Mihtary Governor to Prince Frederick Charles 
at Bonn, Roon had served as Chief of the General Staff at Coblenz 
during the residence there of the Prince of Prussia {1848-50), who 
would fain have persuaded him to become Governor of his eldest son, 
the future Emperor Frederick III. Roon, who began his career as 
instructor in geography at the Berlin Cadettenhaus, was one of those 
soldier-teachers to whom the Prussian army had owed so much, and 
whose place in its system he was continually striving to advance. 

* It is commented on in vol. i, and printed in full as an appendix 
to vol. II, of the Denkwiirdigkeiten. 

54 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch. 

significance of its military strength to a country where, as 
in Prussia, even industriahsm incarnate does not venture to 
join in 'Ehhu hymns^,' he enters at once into his subject — • 
the defects of the present Prussian mihtary organisation. 
He declares the Landwehr, supposed to represent a people 
in arms, to have been a makeshift, which served its original 
purpose, but which, as a permanent force, is a militia com- 
paring with a standing army as a Sunday compares with a 
week-day school. The Landwehr — or part of it — must, 
therefore, be blended with the line according to a plan which 
will ensure the greater efficiency, while at the same time 
increasing the numerical total, of the officers, non-com- 
missioned officers, and rank and file of the standing army. 
The plan proposed to this end was, substantially, that on 
which, as will be seen immediately, the Prussian army was 
actually reorganised two years after the presentation of this 
preliminary memorial. The Prince of Prussia, in later years, 
repeatedly recalled to its author the beginnings of the plan, 
without which the ensuing great political changes would 
have been impossible. 

The actual evolution of the great design into legislative 
proposals can only be traced here in broadest outline. 
After the Prince had assumed the regency and changed his 
Ministry, in October 1858, he lost no time in examining 
Roon's plan and calling upon General von Bonin, the 
Minister of War, for his report. The Commission on the 
subject appointed by the Regent early in January 1859, 
was, however, deferred, largely because of the hesita- 
tions of Bonin, and then in consequence of the political 

1 The allusion is of course to Elihu Burritt, the editor of The 
Herald of Peace, upon whose efforts it is impossible to look back 
without sympathy. In 1850, speaking of the recent peace congresses, 
Radowitz paid a tribute to their originator, declaring him to be, 
'per se, no fool.' (See Meinecke, Radowitz u. die deutsche Revolution 
(1913), pp. 372-3-) 

i] The Reorganisation Project 55 

complications which led to the mobilisation of the Prussian 
army. But this mobilisation had, more clearly than any- 
thing else could have done, demonstrated the insufficiency 
of the existing military system; and the demobilisation 
which speedily followed offered the most obvious of oppor- 
tunities for carrying out the most essential of the changes 
proposed. The discussion of the plan was, therefore, now 
seriously taken up ; the Commission met on October 
31st, and finished its work in a few days; when Bonin, 
although he approved in substance of the plan as now 
matured, recommended reductions which would have 
diminished its cost and thus have made it more palatable 
to the diet and the country. It was thought at the time 
that the Junker party had sought to raise this cost and 
thus to cause a dispute between the Regent (who would 
abate nothing) and his Ministers^; in any case, the end was 
Bonin's resignation and the appointment in his stead of 
Roon as Minister of War (December 5th, 1859). "^^ ^^^ 
speech from the throne with which the Regent opened the 
diet (January 12th, i860) he announced the intention of 
the Crown to submit the project of a law on general 
military servdce, accompanied by the requisite financial 
proposals ; adding, in words of the deepest solemnity, that 
no measure of so much importance for the defence and for 
the greatness of the fatherland had ever been proposed to 
its representatives 2. 

As to the scheme now brought forward, the following 
summary must suffice. The Prussian military system, 
which it was now definitely proposed to recast, was based 
on the famous law of September 3rd, 1814. This law had 

^ As to Bonin's resignation and appointment to Coblenz, see 
Meinecke, pp. 295-7. 

^ In private, he spoke passionately on the subject, and, early in 
i860, he let it be known that, if the proposals were not carried, he 
would resign the regency. Bernhardi, vol. in, p. 293. 

56 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch. 

fixed the period of general service under arms at three 
years in the line, with a further two years in the reserve, 
followed by a further seven years in the first, and by yet 
another seven years in the second, ban of the Landwehr'^. 
In war-time, the line and the reserve (men of 20 to 25) and 
the Landwehr of the first ban (men of 25 to 32) constituted 
the field-army, while of the second ban were formed the 
garrisons of the fortresses. In 1814, the annual levy of the 
recruits in the Prussian monarchy was reckoned at about 
38,000 out of a total population of between ten and eleven 
millions. This population had, by the year i860, risen to 
nearly eighteen millions, so that the annual number of those 
primarily liable to military service was now not far short 
of 65,000. But, as a matter of fact, the total of the 
annual levies remained nearly stationary: in other words, 
more than 25,000 young fellows annually remained exempt 
from what was still, in theory, 'universal service.' More- 
over, the most recent mobilisations had proved that of the 
first ban of the Landwehr more than half were married men, 
a large proportion of them with families, who were impeded 
by their military obligations in performing the ordinary 
duties of civil life; and its ranks were further thinned by 
death, physical deterioration and emigration. An increase 
in the numbers of the line was therefore requisite in the 
first instance; and this it was proposed to effect by a 
process sure to raise the standard of the whole military 
force, which was of even greater importance. 

In conformity with Roon's original design, but in 
certain respects modifying or extending it, the Government 
now proposed a plan which, while abolishing the Landwehr 
neither in fact nor in name, incorporated part of it with 

^ The Landsturm, consisting of men up to 45 years of age, who 
had passed through army, reserve and Landwehr, need not be 
noticed here. 

i] The Reorganisation Bills 57 

the line in the following fashion^. The period of sendee 
in the reserve was to be prolonged from two to four years, 
which would make a total service in the line of seven years : 
on the other hand, the period of service in the Landwehr 
was to be proportionately curtailed, and no use was to be 
made in future in the first line of any part of the Landwehr. 
This would necessitate the formation of a large number of 
new regiments (nearly double the existing number), while 
the peace-strength of the new battalions and of the old was 
to be to some extent restored. Thus, it was calculated that, 
while the peace-strength of the army, without the Landwehr, 
would amount to about 440,000 men, short only by 40,000 
of the total it had reached under the old system, it would 
henceforth, with the Landwehr, be increased by between 
200,000 and 300,000, while the efficiency of the first line 
would be augmented in a measure of which no doubt 
could exist. The basis of the whole plan was the definite 
restoration of the three years' service imposed by the law 
of 1814, but provisionally reduced by a cabinet order (of 
September 24th, 1833) to a service of two years, which in 
1852 and 1856 it had been found necessary to raise again 
to two-and-a-half and to three \^ears respectively^. The 
annual cost of carrying out these reforms was estimated at 
94 minion dollars ({1,425,000). 

After what were in fact two bills — one for the revision 
of the law as to military service, the other for the provision 
of the necessary supply — had been laid before the diet, a 
Committee was at once appointed to report on them. The 

^ What follows applies to the infantry. Differences in the case 
of other arms, and in that of the Guards, must be pretermitted here. 

^ For an account of these proposals, see Roon's Denkwurdigkeiten 
(vol. II, pp. 3 f.) and cf. the statement in Sybel (vol. ii, bk. vii, 
c. IV), who was himself a combatant in the 'conflict.' See also 
Oncken, Das Zeitalter WiUielms I (1888), bk. iv, c. i, and the figures 
in Egelhaaf Bismavcti, pp. 64-6. 

58 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch- 

chairman of the Committee was Vincke, whose name stood 
for the cause of constitutional freedom ; the reporter was 
General Stavenhagen, who had joined the Liberal party but 
who, naturally enough for a veteran of Ligny and Namur, 
was a conservative in military matters. Persisting, from 
motives which it is unnecessary to analyse, in treating the 
question from a political point of view, the Committee (by 
majorities of 13 to 7 and 14 to 6 respectively) rejected the 
three years' service and the amalgamation of part of the 
Landwehr with the line. There could be no doubt as to the 
Chamber following suit, and the Government now arrived at 
the conclusion that it would suffice for their object to pro- 
pose an addition of nine million dollars to the expenditure 
authorised in the ordinary budget for the period from 
May 1st, i860, to June 30th, 1861, in order to maintain and 
complete the measures taken for the increased efficiency of 
the army. On May 5th, a royal cabinet order directed the 
substitution, for 36 regiments of Landivehr'^ infantry, of the 
same number of 'combined infantr}^ regiments.' On the 
13th, the Minister of Finance, Reichsfreiherr von Patow, 
asked for a grant of nine millions. In committee, he had 
explained that the grant would only be asked provisionally ; 
but he now explained that by 'provisionally' he had 
meant 'till after a second definitive discussion.' The 
Chamber, however, in voting the sum asked, ignored this 
explanation and insisted on introducing into the vote the 
unambiguous word einstweilig (temporary) ; while the 
words with which on May 23rd the Regent closed the 
session of the diet, and still more his order for the actual 
formation, in the following July, of the new regiments with 
their cadres, made it manifest that he and his Government 
accepted 'temporary' or 'provisional' in the sense of 
'definitive' or 'permanent.' Thus each side came to be 

1 The application of the same procedure to the Landwehr cavalry- 
was to follow. 

i] Quarrel between Government and Chamber 59 

held chargeable by the other with illfaith ; and hence the 
bitter and, for a long time, utterly irreconcilable character 
of the quarrel between Crown and Chamber which ensued. 
In two supplementary elections held in the autumn of i860, 
the democratic leaders Waldeck and Schulze-Delitzsch were 
chosen members of the Chamber ; with the reopening of the 
diet in January 1861 a violent stage of the conflict must set in. 

The death of the unhappy King Frederick William IV 
on January 2nd, 1861, and the accession of King William I 
to the throne, only deepened the gravity of the situation. 
In his speech from the throne on the 14th, the new sovereign 
treated the reorganisation of the army as an accomplished 
fact ; and it soon appeared that, with regard to the foreign 
and the German policy of the Ministry, the Liberal party, 
which had hitherto hopefully supported them, favoured a 
more resolute course than they seemed disposed to adopt. 
Vincke carried a resolution declaring it to be against the 
interest of Prussia to oppose the consolidation of Italy; and, 
while the King was thanked for his endeavours to improve 
the military constitution of the Confederation, he was urged 
to take the steps necessary for bringing about such changes 
as would satisfy at once the needs of Germany and the just 
claims of Prussia. 

The story of the struggle that was now carried on, and 
that maybe said to have, till the appointment of Bismarck 
to the chief conduct of affairs, partaken of the nature of a 
Ministerial crisis, as well as of a parliamentary struggle, 
cannot be here told at length, more especially as regard 
must be had to its connexion with that of the general 
German question and the policy in this respect of Austria 
and Prussia. So far as the home quarrel with the Chamber 
was concerned, it was on the part of the Government con- 
ducted mainly by Roon, in circumstances of the utmost 
difficulty, and even of distress. It is true that the King was 
not only thoroughly loyal to what he had recognised as 

6o Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

his duty, and that, in the present case, he perfectly knew 
his own mind. Already, in the early summer of i860, he 
had thought of resigning the regency; and, in the early 
summer of 1861, the Ministerial pressure put upon him 
brought him almost to the brink of despair^. He had no 
full confidence in any of his Ministers with the exception 
of his Minister of War ; and he continued, to the last, un- 
willing to summon to his and Roon's aid the one politician 
to whom the latter persistently urged him to have resort, 
and for whom the King seems at the time to have enter- 
tained a feeling compounded of admiration and dread. Of 
Roon's colleagues, the majority were for holding on; but 
some were preparing to go. On the other hand, he had the 
nvaluable departmental support of General (afterwards 
Field-marshal) Edwin von Manteuffel as Chief of the Military 
Cabinet, of General von Peucker as Inspector-general, and 
of General Helmuth von Moltke as Chief of the Staff. 

In the session of 1861, the King's hesitation to approve 
of the constitutional reforms pressed upon the Crown by 
the Liberals and by the Liberal members of the Ministry — 
of which the demand for Ministerial responsibility was the 
sum and substance — seemed a fresh argument against the 
increased expenditure inseparable from the reorganisation 
of the arm^^ Though only the most advanced section of 
the Liberals, under Waldeck's leadership, urged the omission 
from the budget of any additional grant to meet the cost of 
the newly-formed regiments, the majority of the Chamber 
was in favour of maintaining these, but at the same time 
demanded legislation which should definitely establish the 
principles of the two years' service and of a retention of the 
Landwehr as part of the army in the field. The arguments 

^ See Roon's Denkwiirdigkeiten, vol. 11, p. 43. Cf. ih., p. 21, 
as to the trouble caused to the King by General von Manteuffel's duel 
with the Liberal deputy K. von Twesten ; and see below as to his 
intention of abdicating in September 1862. 

i] Effect of the Conflict on German Politics 6i 

by which this demand, adverse as it was to the very bases 
of the King's and Roon's reforms, was supported must be 
passed by here. The practical result was that, by a small 
majority, the Chamber, after making certain reductions, 
voted the requisite additional expenditure for 1861, but 
granted it as extraordinary expenditure only ; while at the 
same time the Government was called upon to produce in 
the next diet a bill laying down finally the future conditions 
of military service. The diet was closed on June 5th, and 
the elections which followed made it abundantly clear 
that, so far as public opinion went, the new was to be 
followed by a newest era. 

The conflict between Crown and Chamber in Prussia 
had not yet reached its full height; but its progress had 
already proved a most serious obstacle to the design of 
those who consistently adhered to the idea of a Prussian 
leadership of a united Germany. The Grossdeittschen, in 
accordance with the fundamental principle of their ex- 
istence as a party^ which had never ceased to oppose the 
scheme of excluding Austria from the closer Confederation, 
had, as will be seen below, begun to revive their manoeuvres 
more hopefully than before ; while divers reactionary Govern- 
ments did everything in their power to repress the National- 
verein, and King George V of Hanover even dreamt of 
turning the tables upon Prussia by excluding her from the 
Confederation. There was a more or less vague design, in 
which the able publicist Hermann Orges, of the Augsburg 
Allgenieine Zeitung, interested himself, of founding a uni- 
versal Germanic league which should, as it were, swallow 
up the Nationalverein ; and even the ambitious patron 
and protector of that association, Duke Ernest of Coburg, 
began to give sideglances towards Grossdeutschtum, and 
to weigh the advice of the sagacious patriarch of his 
House, King Leopold I, not to insist too strongly upon 
^ Cf. vol. I, p. 484, note. 

62 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch. 

Prussian leadership. In June 1861, the much-travelled 
Julius Frobel, who thirteen years earlier had only escaped 
his companion Robert Blum's fate at Vienna through the 
prescient lenity of Windischgratz, drew up at Kissingen 
the memorandum as to the ends and action of the Gross- 
deiitschen which he states to have been the fons et origo 
of their grand movement, and which was to make him 
for a time the confidant of Rechberg, Schmerling and 
Biegeleben^. The military conferences hereupon held at 
Teplitz by order of the Governments of the two Great 
Powers, which lasted till April 1861, came to nothing; as 
did the discussions on the organisation of German coast 
defence, in the course of which Hanover, aiming at a separate 
North-sea system under her own direction, was supported 
by Austria in frustrating the scheme of a flotilla of gunboats 
under supreme Prussian control 2. 

Such were some of the factors of the situation which in 
the Prussian elections of 1861 led to the conjunction of 
Prussian Liberalism with the aspirations of the National- 
verein, and to the manifesto sent forth, about midsummer, 
by the new parliamentary party which had begun to form 
itself and was to be known as the Fortschritt. The National- 
verein, which met, in August, at Heidelberg — in the one 
German state beside Coburg-Gotha where the Government 
(under Grand-duke Frederick's new Minister Freiherr Franz 
von Roggenbach) had openly testified to its acceptance of 
Prussian leadership — did its best to second the declarations 
of its Prussian allies. Throughout the lesser states, in 
central and south-western Germany in particular, the 

^ See the earlier half, passim, of vol. 11, of the Lebenslaiif of this 
extremely able and well-informed politician and publicist, whose 
criticisms of others are rarely wanting in point, while his apologia 
for his own inconsistencies is never of the repentant sort. 

2 There was much difference on the subject, even at Bremen. 
See Oncken, Bennigsen, vol. i, pp. 565 ff. 

i] Firm Attitude of King William I 63 

movement for German unity, and for united action in the 
Schleswig-Holstein and Hesse-Cassel difficulties, was actively 
carried on — under cover of endless gatherings of deputies, 
lawyers, merchants and so forth, and, in wider spheres, of 
the rifle-clubs {Sdiiitzenvereinc) which largely took the place 
of the gymnastic associations {Turnvereine), formerly of evil 
odour in the nostrils of authority. 

Meanwhile, the attitude of the King, fortified by the 
determined advice of Roon, was stiffening in face of the 
popular current. Notwithstanding his occasional mis- 
givings and the deliberate movement of his mind, he was 
of too brave a heart to be influenced by the attempt at 
assassination to which he was subjected at Baden (Juty 14th, 
1861) ; but he was vexed by the hesitation of his Ministers 
to further his wish that the traditional ceremony of heredi- 
tary homage {Erbhuldigiing) should be observed in his case 
as it had in his brother's before him. As usual, however, 
his good sense prevailed, and his solemn coronation (by his 
own hand), which took place at Konigsberg on October 
i8th, sufficed^. Shortly before his coronation, he had paid 
a return visit to Compiegne, and received friendly and 
pacific assurances from the Emperor. 

Meanwhile, the Ministry still held on, though in the 
Foreign Office a change had been made towards the end of 
this summer. Bismarck's time had not yet come, and Count 
Bernstorff took the place of Schleinitz, who became Minister 
of the Household. Bernstorff, whose northern solidity and 
loyalty of mind made him one of the trustworthiest as well 
as the most valued servants of the King, was at this time 
essentially in agreement with Bismarck as to the ultimate 
objects of Prussian policy, and had, in a note for the King's 
eye, firmly laid down the course which, at the time of his 
taking over the conduct of foreign affairs, he thought should 

^ Bismarck strongly approved of waiving the homage ceremony. 

64 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

be pursued at home and abroad 1. But he was a diplomat 
and not a parhamentary statesman, and his own preference 
was for his London post. Towards Austria he was desirous 
of pursuing a clear but conciliatory policy, and Rechberg 
seemed willing to meet him halfway. But, though this 
resulted, as has been already seen, in Austria's agreeing 
with Prussia both as to the treatment of that Hesse-Cassel 
difficulty which, but a few years before, had all but involved 
the two Powers in war, and as to their joint action in the 
new phase of the Schleswig-Holstein question, the policy 
of Austria at this time was without the consistency which 
springs from sincerity. 

The internal difficulties of the Austrian Government since 
Schwarzenberg's death (April 3rd, 1852) had, indeed, been 
enormous, and such as were only too likclj'to engender in the 
sovereign.upon whom the making and unmaking of Ministers, 
in the last resort, depended, a dangerous opportunism. 
After Schwarzenbcrg had passed awaj', the reorganisation 
of the Austrian monarchy had been carried on, in the spirit 
of absolutist centralisation which had animated that 
haughtiest of statesmen, by Bach, the leader among his 
lieutenants — if lieutenant he could be called — and by a 
body of hardworking Ministers. Schmerhng, who had a 
policy, and a past, of his own, had quitted the Ministry 
some time earlier. Bach was more than ever its ruling 
genius; though the Concordat of August 1855, the most 
favourable to the claims of the Holy See of any which 
it succeeded in negotiating in southern Germany^, was 
rather Schwarzenberg's and Count Leo Thun's work than 
Bach's, while the influence of the Archduchess Sophia was 

^ See the 'programme' in Bernstorff Papers, vol. 11, pp. 91-2. 
He was for Prussian headship both of the Federal army and of the 
future representative assembly, and for an alliance with Austria, on 
the basis of a guarantee of all her dominions. 

^ As to those with Wiirttemberg (1857) and Baden (1859), see post. 

i] End of Bach's Ascendancy in Austria 65 

steadily exerted in its favour. This compact, which on the 
whole produced less political effect than it had, no doubt, 
been designed to exercise, was not abrogated till 1870. 
Bach's influence, however, which had risen to its height in 
1856, soon afterwards began to wane, in face of an opposition 
that had regained much of its vigour. The supporters of 
Hungarian constitutional rights, of which the great-hearted 
and unfortunate Count Szechenyi was still able to stand 
forward as the literary champion (he died in i860, on a 
sudden return of his mental malady), were soon to be led 
by the steady hand of Francis Deak ; and in the German 
parts of the empire malcontent Liberalism was making its 
wishes and grievances more distinctly heard. While for 
a time Count Buol continued to conduct foreign affairs, 
the chief organ of the Emperor's absolute rule in the 
centralised monarchy had long been Count Griinne, the 
Emperor's adjutant -general. The era of Bach and cen- 
tralisation — the Austrian 'New Era,' as it was bitterly 
called by its impassioned Bohemian adversary Palacky — 
came to an end with the year of the Italian War (1859) ' 
and in the same year (August) Count Goluchowski, whose 
sympathies as a Polish noble were federalist and who was 
reputed unfriendly to the German interest, was placed at 
the head of the Ministry, and the overwhelming personal 
influence of Count Griinne came to an end. Some months 
earlier (May) , the conduct of Foreign Affairs had passed out 
of the hands of Count von Buol-Schauenstein into those of 
Count von Rechberg-Rothenlowen, hitherto, as has been 
seen, Austrian plenipotentiary at the Frankfort Diet. 

The year i860 brought further changes. An attempt was 
made to settle the constitutional question by means of the 
'October diploma,' a halfway measure establishing in the 
empire a semi-constitutional system on a federal basis. The 
return to office of Schmerling (December) was welcomed as 
a pledge of further constitutional progress ; and a written 

W. M.G. II. 5 

66 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch. 

constitution known as the ' February patent ' (1861), which 
included Hungary, marks his renewed pohtical ascendancy. 
The previous 3'ear had been one of great financial troubles, 
leading to the suicide of the enterprising Freiherr von 
Bruck, who was succeeded as Minister of Finance by the 
capable Ignaz von Plener. But the hopes which the return 
of Schmerling had excited were to be disappointed. The 
Liberal Archduke Rainer stood at the head of the Govern- 
ment, to which the Emperor for two years gave his full 
confidence. But the constitution on the basis of which 
Sclnnerling had intended to carry out his policy of Liberal 
centralisation failed to put an end to what may be described 
as the conservative constitutional agitation in Hungary ; 
and, though he called the Reichsrat into life, it proved, 
in a very literal sense, but a partial success. For it was 
passively ignored not only by the Magyars, but also by the 
Cisleithanian Cechs and Poles. Count Moritz Esterhazy, 
whom Schmerling had taken into the Government, and 
whose influence upon the Emperor was great, hated the 
German bureaucracy as thoroughly as he did the parlia- 
mentary system. In German aftairs, his line of action had 
been always determined by his desire to further Austrian 
interests; and he was probably suspected with reason of 
not being really grossdeutscJi at heart, but willing to accept 
a division of Germany by the line of the Main^. The con- 
stitutional unity of Austria was the ideal of his policy ; and, 
when, in December 1864, a general attack upon it was 
delivered by a combination of mutually opposed interests, 
the end of his political career was seen to be at hand 2. 

In the earlier years (186 1-3), of which we are now 
speaking, Schmerling's general conduct of affairs derived 

* Cf. J. Frobel, Ein Lebenslauf, vol. 11, p. 84. 

^ For a full account of Austrian affairs in this period see 
H. Friedjung, Der Kampf um die Vorherrschaft in Deuischland, 
1859 bis 1866, vol. I (1897), chapter n. 

i] Baden from 1849 ^^ i860 67 

little strength from Rechberg's German policy; which, 
indeed, had not much strength to supply. Conciliatory 
towards Prussia, as has been seen, in some respects, the 
Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs soon made it evident 
that he was far from disinclined to take advantage of the 
internal difficulties of Prussia. How conscious Prussia 
was of this fact, was shown on the occasion of an inter- 
view between the King and his son-in-law. Grand-duke 
Frederick I of Baden, at Ostend, in September 1861. 
It was noted above ^ that, not long before this a striking 
change had taken place in the spirit of the Baden 
Government. Since the overthrow of the revolt of 1849 
and the temporary occupation of the grand-duchy by 
Prussian troops, Liberal and national aspirations had here 
alike passed through a long period of depression. The 
Church of Rome had not been found wanting in her efforts 
to quiet the remains of popular agitation, and at the same 
time to carry on one of her own in favour of the long- 
standing claims of her episcopacy for autonomy as towards 
the state. Violent controversies ensued, which found ugly 
expression in the prohibition by the Archbishop of Freiburg 
(Vicari) of the funeral servdce ordered for the (Protestant) 
Grand-duke Leopold in May 1852, and, later, in the im- 
prisonment of the contumacious prelate. In the end, it 
was sought to regulate the relations between Church and 
state by means of a Concordat with the See of Rome; 
and such an agreement was actually concluded in 1859. 
Baden, however, was already on the eve of a great 
political change. In 1856, Grand-duke Frederick I, who 
since 1852 had been regent for his mentally incapable 
elder brother Lewis, married Princess Louisa, daughter of 
the Regent of Prussia, and, having, two years later, on his 
brother's death in 1858, succeeded as Grand-duke, before 

^ p. 62. 

68 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch. 

long addressed himself manfully to the sorely-needed work 
of reconciliation and reform. It was vigorously aided by 
the leading Liberal politicians of the state, both of the older 
and of the younger generation, from Mathy to Julius Jolly. 
They had not been able to prevent the conclusion of the 
Concordat ; but this short-lived success was the last gained 
by the clericals. In March i860, the Concordat was re- 
jected by the Second Chamber; though it should be added 
that the rights afterwards legislatively conceded to the 
Church were essentially the same as those agreed on in the 
Concordat. The Holy See was not content with this 
course, and some time passed before all points in the con- 
troversy were settled 1. In the same year, at Easter, the 
Grand-duke issued a much-applauded proclamation pro- 
mising a constitutional system of government that should 
unite the sovereign and his subjects; and in May 1861 
Freiherr Franz von Roggenbach, who had orobably inspired 
this proclamation, joined the liberal Ministry which had 
in i860 been summoned by the Grand-duke. Roggenbach 
(then in his 37th year) was the descendant of an ancient 
Black Forest famih'. and the son of devout Catholic parents, 
and his father had served in the Austrian army ; but he 
had trained himself by both study and experience to 
independence of judgment, and, from an early date, when 
he held a subordinate post in the Imperial Ministry at 
Frankfort, he had arrived at the conviction that the unity 
of Germany must be secured under the leadership of 
Prussia. Soon afterwards, he had been admitted to the 
intimacy of the Princess of Prussia, and had begun to take 

^ In Wiirttemberg ecclesiastical affairs pursued a somewhat 
similar course. The Concordat concluded with Rome in 1857 by 
the Minister of Public Worship, the Liberal-minded Protestant 
Riimehn, was rejected by the Estates; and it was not till 1862 that 
his successor Golther succeeded in passing a law based on the con- 
ditions of the Concordat. 

i] Baden Liberalism : Roggenbach 69 

a warm personal interest in her son, the future Emperor 
Frederick III. Very great confidence was therefore placed 
in him, even before his advent to power marked the be- 
ginning of a period of decided national as well as Liberal 
policy for Baden. Roggenbach's internal reforms, which 
set an example of Liberal progress to the German states at 
large, must be passed by here. It was the action of Baden 
in July 186 1 at the Frankfort Diet, where he had appointed 
the celebrated jurist Robert von Mohl envoy, that led 
to the subsequent action of Prussia in the Hesse-Cassel 
question, in which Austria thought it prudent to join and 
which ended with the assent of the Elector to the restora- 
tion of the constitution of 1831. In the general German 
question, too, Roggenbach did not let the grass grow under 
his feet ; he discussed it with Bismarck and others, always 
on the basis of a free union of German states acknow- 
ledging Prussian headship, and possessed of a national 
representative body. This programme he, towards the 
end of August, laid before King William and his hesitating 
Minister Schleinitz at Ostend^. The King advised that, if 
a movement to this end were set on foot among the 
German Governments, it should not be delayed until 
Austria had anticipated it. Further conferences, in which 
Bernstorff bore a part, hereupon took place at Berlin; 
and Roggenbach was requested to elaborate his plan of 
action before it was finally examined. On December ist, 
the Second Baden Chamber strengthened his hands by 
voting an address which identified it with the Ministerial 

The King of Prussia at Ostend had not spoken without 
foresight. Other influences were at work to move the 

^ See K. Samwer, Zur Erinnerung an Franz von Roggenbach 
{1909), p. 34. Samwer, wellknown as counsellor of both Duke 
Ernest II of Coburg and Duke Frederick of Augustenburg, was 
Roggenbach's intimate friend and correspondent. 

70 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

Austrian Government to enter upon a new course of action. 
Between Rechberg and Schmerling there was no mutual 
harmony ; but the German poHcy of the former had not been 
crowned with success, while Freiherr von Biegeleben, his 
right hand in this branch of affairs, was strongly anti- 
Prussian^. Thus, the idea commended itself at Vienna of 
taking into consideration schemes of reform beyond the 
framework of the existing Federal constitution, without, 
however, abandoning the axiom that the presidency of the 
Federal administrative and legislative organ belonged to 
Austria by prescriptive right. Hanover and Electoral 
Hesse consistently maintained the system of the present 
Confederation to be all that could be desired; on the 
other hand, a project of reform devised by Count 
Beust involved the danger of the Austrian ascendancy in 
German affairs being lowered if not altogether extinguished. 
For the existing Frankfort Diet he proposed to substitute 
Ministerial conferences between the several Governments, 
their sessions to last four weeks each and to be held twice 
a year, once at Hamburg under Prussian, and once at 
Ratisbon under Austrian, presidency. A representative 
assembly of delegates from the German parliaments was 
to meet from time to time under the same conditions^; 
and, finall}^ a Federal judicial tribunal was to be 
established for the decision of disputed constitutional 
points. The scheme, not one of its ingenious author's 
happiest inventions of the sort, was virtually declined in 
a Prussian dispatch of December the 20th, stating that 
the only reform Prussia could approve would be the 

^ For an admirable characterisation of Biegeleben, the last of the 
great Austrian state-paper writers from Bartenstein to Gentz, see 
Fried] ung, Vorherrschaft, vol. i, pp. 94 ff. The difference between 
his and Rechberg's views helped to bring about that Minister's 

2 See Beust's own account, Memoirs, vol. i, p. 199 (Engl. tr.). 

i] Origins of the Fiirstentag Design 71 

formation within the Confederation of a smaller association 
of states; and on January 28th, 1862, it was vigorously- 
denounced by Roggenbach in a circular dispatch to the 
German Governments. Neither, however, had it found 
favour at Munich, where, clinging to the long-lived vision 
of a Trias, the Government aspired to a permanent place 
in the new Federal directory; nor was it thought satis- 
factory even at Vienna. 

Here, since the spring of 1861, a design, alike persistent 
and fluid, had been in progress which may be roughly, but 
not, perhaps, incorrectly, described as an attempt to make 
the best bargain possible between the claims and interests 
of Austria, on the one hand, and the now irresistible demands 
for Federal reform, on the other. Various motives entered 
into the promoting of this design till it took final shape in 
the Congress of Priiices of 1863 ; but it was formed, in the 
first instance, on the basis of the principles of Grossdentsch- 
tum, which continued to be cherished in many quarters, 
notwithstanding the avowed policy of Prussia and the less 
clearly defined aims of the Nationalverein. The question 
of priority in the suggestion of the movement is of little 
importance. The decisive elements in the situation to 
which it owed its origin were, on the one hand, the an- 
tagonism aroused in the chief secondary states by the 
Federal reforms advocated by Prussia, largely in conse- 
quence of her own parliamentary troubles, but put forward 
by her without the requisite vigour ; and, on the other, the 
predisposition of the Austrian Government to a more 
active German policy. Earl}^ in 1861, Duke Ernest II 
of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha had, through the able publicist 
Hermann Orges, entered into a correspondence with Max 
von Gagern, now resident at Vienna, who, like that dis- 
tinguished writer, belonged to the Grossdeutschen and 
was, besides, a devout Catholic, and had communicated 
to him a long memoire on the Federal policy which it 

72 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

behoved Austria to pursued Whether or not there was 
any tnith in the rumour that the restlessly ambitious as 
well as patriotic Duke had aspired to the Imperial throne 
of the future, it must be allowed that soon afterwards 
he gave a convincing proof of his loyalty to the prin- 
ciple of Prussian leadership by inducing — it might almost 
be said, constraining — the Prussian Government to con- 
clude with him a military convention which placed his 
troops under Prussian control (June) 2. On his return 
from some months of travel in Africa^, he was much 
taken up, first with the meeting of the General German 
Riflemen's League at Frankfort (July), where he figured 
as president, and then with the vacancy on the Greek 
throne, for which his nephew the Duke of Edinburgh and 
himself were, in turn, taken into consideration as candidates. 
Meanwhile, Max von Gagern, and, through him, the leading 
Ministers at Vienna, had entered into communication with 
a politician better fitted than the Duke of Coburg to be the 
confidential instrument of their designs. This was no other 
than Julius Frobel, of revolutionary fame*, who now became 
the correspondent and, before long, the paid agent, of a 
Government out of the clutches of whose predecessors he 
had, thirteen years earlier, barely escaped with his life. 
It would take us too far to enquire into the genesis of 

^ For the text of it, see Ernest II, Aus nieinem Leben itnd aus 
meiner Zeit (1889), vol. iii, pp. 127 ff. 

^ See ib., pp. 107 ff. The idea had suggested itself to the Duke 
so far back as 1850; the negotiations were begun by his inde- 
fatigable Minister Freiherr von Seebach, in i860, but were carried 
on without enthusiasm by Schleinitz. 

^ As to the supposed reasons of the Duke for going away, see 
Bernhardi, vol. iv, p. 200. 

* Cf. p. 62, ante. For Frobel's negotiations 1 861-3, see the long 
account, of which there seems no reason for doubting the substantial 
veracity, in Ein Lehenslauf (1891), vol. 11, sec. vi, 'In the service of 
the Austrian Government.' 

i] Frobel's Scheme 73 

Frobel's own Grossdeutschtum, or into the influences, old 
and new, which aided its present developments. At first, 
he, too, fell in with the idea of a triple federation of states — 
the Austrian and the Prussian monarchies, and a third body 
formed by the lesser states, who should appoint a head of 
their own choice. But, on being afterwards made known to 
Rechberg and Schmerling, this scheme met with no warm 
approval from the former, whose attitude towards Prussia 
was friendly but guarded, and with hardly more than 
acquiescence from his colleague, whose interest in German 
reform was secondarj' only. The two Ministers were, as 
observed, on anything but cordial terms with one another. 
Hereupon, Frobel drew up at Kissingen (June), and sub- 
mitted to the Austrian statesmen (August), a memorandrun 
on the entire design, in which the Trias plan was relegated 
to the position of a pis aller. As the better way, it pro- 
posed the institution of an Imperial authority hereditary in 
the House of Austria, with a House of Princes [Furstenliaus), 
of which the King of Prussia was to be the first, and the 
King of Bavaria the second, president — assisted by a 
Council of State, into which the existing Federal Diet 
might with ease be converted, and a People's House 
{Volkshaus), consisting of deputies from the Chambers of 
the several German states. After confidentially visiting 
the principal Courts (exclusive of Prussia, but inclusive of 
Baden), the indefatigable Frobel, who soon afterwards ex- 
pounded his proposals in a pamphlet for public circula- 
tion^, submitted a revised edition of them to Rechberg, 
Schmerling and Biegeleben (December 13th). The result 
was that he was formally taken into the Government 
service as chief of the new propaganda, which was carried 
on, partly by journalistic advocacy (a paper called the 

^ Oesterreich und die Umgestaliung des deutschen Bundes (Austria 
and the Transformation of the Germanic Confederation). 

74 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

Botschafter being set up for the purpose), partly by public 
meetings 1. 

The pear seemed ripening ; and the attitude of unmoved 
expectancy maintained by the Prussian Government, and 
revealed in a dispatch of Bernstorff's (December 5th) in- 
sisting on Prussia's right to form a limited Confederation, 
which was surreptitiously published in the Augsburg paper^, 
served to stimulate interest in the design of the Gross- 
deutsche. Its ultimate success depended largely on the lead 
which would be given at Vienna, where it had as yet been 
only tentatively considered and not without hesitation as 
to its effect in Hungary on the one hand and Prussia on the 
other, and where the Emperor Francis Joseph had not j^et 
been sounded on the subject. Before the conjuncture had 
been reached for venturing on this final step, more than a 
year was to pass by. In the meantime, the Governments 
of Bavaria, Wiirttemberg, Saxony and Hanover, together 
with those of Nassau and Hesse-Darmstadt, had, through 
their plenipotentiaries, been again in conference at Wiirz- 
burg, and, on February 2nd, 1862, joined the Austrian 
Government in an identical note to the Prussian, deprecating 
any diminution of the sovereign rights of the lesser Princes, 
but calling for a conference on the establishment of a 
Federal directory and an assembly of delegates^. The 
first note of the scheme of a Fiii'stenta^ or Conference of 
Princes had not yet been sounded*; meanwhile, the Prussian 
Government promptly declined the suggested conference. 

^ At one held at Frankfort, so early as October 28th, 1861, in the 
interest of the cause and in reply to a meeting of Kleindeutschen at 
Weimar, Heinrich von Gagern — he, too, a convert — was present. 

^ See Bernstorff Papers, vol. 11, p. 114. 

^ 'The grossdeutsch devilry, hatched by the most recent Wiirz- 
burg changeling,' Roon calls this scheme, to which, he considered, 
the fit reply would be 'a few military conventions.' Denkwiirdig- 
keiten, vol. 11, p. 67. 

* Its first mention is claimed by Duke Ernest II for Count 

i] The Army Conflict at Berlin 75 

While the German constitutional question was thus 
advancing towards a new phase, the Prussian appeared to 
be unmistakably nearing its most critical stage. Early in 
December 1861, the results of the Prussian elections were 
decided; and, on January 14th, 1862, the new diet met. 
The conservative party in the Second Chamber numbered 
not more than 24 members while the Fortscliyitt had gained 
100. The Government, in accordance with the demand of 
the previous Chamber, immediately brought forward, to- 
gether with certain measures of a Liberal colour, a bill on 
militar^^ ser^dce, the conditions of which were substantially 
the same as those previously proposed, an effort being, how- 
ever, made for retrenchment in the requisite expenditure. 
But, while the Herrenhans at once accepted the military 
service bill, the Forischritt party was eager for the fray, 
and the mediatory endeavours of Vincke and other Old- 
Liberals were in vain. The Prussian answer to the identical 
note of Austria and the Wiirzburgers was pronounced in- 
sufficient ; and a Commission on the subject of Federal 
reform appointed by the new Chamber promptlv reported 
that the Germanic Confederation had been restored without 
consulting the representative assemblies of the several 
states, that the nation had a right to the reestablishment 
of the Reichsverfassung of 1849, ^^^ that a Federation 
under Prussian headship, with a Federal parliament, was 
indispensable. The deprecatory response of the Ministry 
confirmed the prevalent opinion that, with a Government 
so timorous in its German policy, legislative approval of 
the proposed (and already effected) changes in the army 
was out of the question. Another Commission, hereupon, 
declared the maintenance of the principles of a two years' 
service essential; and, finally, the conflict was narrowed 

K. F. Vitzthum von Eckstadt, in a pamphlet of 1862. See A us 
meinem Leben, vol. iii, p. 292, note. 

76 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

down to a vote on the motion of the Berhn deputy Hagen, 
proposed on March 6th and demanding a distinct speciahsa- 
tion of the items of receipts and expenditure under the 
different heads of the budget. It was in vain that the 
Minister of Finance, Patow, declared that this procedure 
(which would manifestly have deprived the militar}^ 
authorities of a free hand) could not be followed on the 
present, but should be on the next, occasion. The motion 
was carried by 177 against 143 votes, and the parliamentary 
victory had thus been gained. Whether it was in con- 
sequence of this vote, as has sometimes been assumed, or 
because no doubt could remain as to the decision at which 
the Chamber would arrive on the all-important issue of 
the military service question — the Ministry now resigned. 
Although the King refused to accept their resignation. 
Prince Anton von Hohenzollern (who had for some time 
been indisposed) persisted in the request, as did Bethmann- 
Hollweg, one of the most highminded of the politicians 
of his time, but unable, after he had successfully led ' the 
Malcontents,' to overcome in office the illwill of the con- 
servatives or to conciliate permanenth^ that of the Liberals. 
The remaining Ministers recommended the immediate dis- 
solution of the Chamber, which took place, accordingly, on 
March nth. On the same day, however, as if in reply to 
the declaration at once put forth by the Fortschritt with 
a view to the coming elections, and insisting, among other 
reforms, on that of the Herrenhaus, the King appointed 
the President of that body, Prince Adolf von Hohenlohe- 
Ingelfingen, in Hohenzollern's place. The Liberal majority 
of the much-disunited Ministry, with Schwerin and Auers- 
wald (who was incapacitated by constant illness) at their 
head, hereupon resigned, with the exception of the faithful 
Roon, who was prevailed upon to remain, and the indis- 
pensable von der Heydt, who became Minister of Finance. 
Conservatives of various shades (including, as Minister of 

i] The Hesse-Cassel Constitution 77 

Worship and Education, the pietistic H. von Miihleri) ^qq]^ 
their places ; and, once more, the advent of Bismarck was 
in the air. 

The new Ministry, conservative though it was, found itself 
constrained at once to take a step in full agreement with 
Liberal opinion. It has been seen^ how in Hesse-Cassel, 
both before and after the dismissal of Hassenpflug, things 
had continued to go from bad to worse. In 1859, Prussia 
proposed to the Federal Diet the reintroduction in the 
electorate of the 1831 constitution; and though, in the 
following year, the Diet provided the Elector with yet 
another constitution, this found no acceptance in any 
quarter; and, in the end, Austria joined in recommending 
the revival of that of 1831. When, being now called upon 
by both the Great Powers to insist upon the promulgation 
of the desired charter, the Diet proved true to itself by 
procrastinating a little further, the Prussian Government 
took the matter into its own hand by sending General 
A. von Willisen on a special mission to the Elector 
(May nth, 1862). The King's envoy having met with 
arrogant rudeness at the Elector's hands, the Federal Diet 
now put an end to its delays, and, on May 27th, ordered 
the restoration of the 1831 constitution by the Elector, 
who, on June 21st, gave way accordingly. In the mean- 
time, the Prussian Government had demanded the dis- 
missal of the Electoral Ministry of which the obsequious 
Abee was head, as a reparation for the insult to the 
King, and had ordered the mobilisation of two army corps 
to show that it was this time in earnest. There is no 
reason for supposing that Bernstorff, to whom the main 
credit of the settlement of this wretched quarrel is due, 

^ His reactionary educational policy made him one of the best- 
abused men of his day; but he maintained himself in office till 

^ Vol. I, p. 543, ante. 

78 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

would have shrunk from a warlike issue^ ; but it was not 
finally settled till after Bismarck had taken his place at 
the Berlin Foreign Office, and the Elector was brought to 
submission by the threat of the summons of a family 
council to control his rule in the interests of his dynasty 
(November). His chicanes were not yet at an end; but 
the final denunciation of his misrule by his Estates belongs 
to the fateful year 1866. 

The bitterness of the Prussian party conflict was, how- 
ever, such that the new Government obtained little general 
credit for its exertions in this interminable affair; though, 
in another question of far superior intrinsic importance, 
the Chamber could not refuse its support. In February 
1853, the Austrian designs of a general German Customs 
Union had ended in the conclusion, through the exertions 
of Bruck, of a commercial treaty for six years between 
Austria and Prussia, which was joined in April by the 
other states of the Zollvercin. It amounted to a postpone- 
ment of the hoped-for wider settlement, while providing 
for a considerable reduction of duties on both sides. In 
i860, Austria, accordingly, asked for a resumption of 
negotiations on the Customs Union question; but, in the 
same year, Prussia was invited by the French Government 
to discuss the project of a commercial treaty modelled on 
the celebrated Franco-British commercial treaty (Cobden's) 
of the same year and, in addition to other provisions, placing 
France and the Zollvercin mutually on the footing of the 
most favoured nation. Though the other members of the 
Zollvercin, on being consulted by Prussia, were for the most 
part favourable to the revisions of the tariff involved in the 
French proposal, Austria viewed it in a hostile light ; and 
Rechberg, who had not abandoned the hope that Austria 
might yet join the Zollvercin, insisted on the incompatibility 
between such a result and the conclusion by the Zollvercin 
1 See Bernstorff Papers, vol. 11, pp. 142-3. 

i] Commercial Treaty with France 79 

of a treaty securing to France all the concessions hitherto 
made by Austria. The difficulty, which opened the whole 
problem between the more or less free-trade policy of 
Prussia and the northern states and the more or less 
protectionist policy of Austria and the south-west, was very 
serious. Its issue was really decided by Saxony, which 
resolved to allow the interests of its flourishing manufac- 
turing industry to prevail over any political considerations, 
and, together with Baden and certain of the petty states, 
signified its adhesion to the conclusion of the commercial 
treaty with France, which was announced at Berlin on 
March 29th. On the other hand, the opportunity of a 
Ministerial Conference — summoned by Rechberg to Vienna, 
early in Juty 1862, for the discussion of the question of 
Federal reform, which Prussia had declined to attend and 
to which Baden had not been invited — was used by him to 
press the Austrian view of the French commercial treaty. 
The Prussian Chamber, hereupon (September 5th), approved 
the action of the Government in informing those of Bavaria 
and Wiirttemberg that, if they rejected the French treaty, 
Prussia would regard this as an expression of their desire 
to quit the Zollverein. This proved decisive. Early in 
August, the commercial treaty with France was signed; 
and, before long, all the Zollverein Governments adhered 
to it. The Vienna Conference separated after expressing 
itself in favour of an assembly of delegates, which Bernstorff 
had, on behalf of Prussia, repudiated as an inadequate sub- 
stitute for a real national assembly. 

But, in the main matter in dispute between the Prussian 
Government and the Chamber, no way at all could be made 
against the storm which the transformation of the Ministry 
of the new era into a conservative Administration had 
fanned into fresh fury. The result of the elections of May 
1862 was that all the parties in the new Chamber except 
the Fortschritt and the Left Centre (which were in the 

8o Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

main agreed on the army question) were reduced to numeri- 
cally insignificant fractions; and not one of the Ministers 
had obtained a seat. When the diet reassembled, an over- 
whelming majority of the Second Chamber speedily agreed 
to adopt the advice of the Budget Commission, where the 
FortschriU leaders had prevailed, and, on September 23rd, 
by a vote of 273 against 68, called upon the Government to 
strike the cost of the army reorganisation out of the budget 
for 1862, which was then passed in its reduced form, by 
308 to II (the last-named figure being the entire strength of 
the conservative party) . The money thus refused as either 
ordinary or extraordinary expenditure, and amoimting to 
nearly six million dollars (;^900,ooo), had, as a matter of 
fact, been already spent, and the new regiments duly formed ; 
so that the Government was left to find its own way out of 
the quagmire. In the course of the seven days' debate 
which had preceded this vote, every argument was employed 
to demonstrate the necessity of asserting the will of the 
parliamentary majority as decisive; and attempts at com- 
promise were waved aside, even one which proposed that 
the new regiments should be maintained, but the principle 
of a two years' service established^. Roon had at first 
seemed inclined to accept some such compromise ; but it 
had not been thought possible. By its vote the Chamber 
had asserted what the majority, supported by public 
opinion, regarded as its constitutional right ; and even 
the Minister of Finance, von der Heydt, feared that the 
end must be a coup d'etat, to which he was not prepared 
to be a party ; while Bernstorff seems to have taken up a 
similar position. The King, hesitating between what he 
regarded as his duty toweirds the army and the nation and 
what was represented to him as a course contrary to the 

^ The subsequent historian of the conflict, Sybel, was one of 
those who put forward an amendment to this end. (See op. cit., 
vol. II, p. 330.) 

i] Bismarck takes office 8i 

constitution which he had sworn to observe, for a moment 
thought of abdicating. Bernstorff besought him not to 
take this fatal step, and it was chivalrously resisted by the 
Crown-prince^. In the meantime, the King resolved upon 
consulting the strongest man to whose courage and loyalty 
he could make appeal. Bismarck's hour had struck. On 
September i8th, he received at Paris Roon's telegram : 
' Pericidum in mora. Depechez-vous.' On the morning of 
the 22nd, he waited on the King at Babelsberg near 

The statesman who, when at the climax of his career, 
was to exercise a commanding influence o\'er the affairs of 
Europe, second only to that of Napoleon in the early years 
of the century, and who, in the last two decades of his life, 
was to be looked up to, by the greater part of the German 
nation, vnih. an admiration approaching idolatry, was, at 
the time of which we write, an object of unmitigated dis- 
trust to Prussian Liberalism and to the great body of the 
middle-class, within and beyond the monarchy. During 
the first two years of his tenure of Ministerial office, this 
distrust and dislike deepened into detestation. Such a 
phenomenon, unparalleled in the history of modem political 
life, can only be explained by the fact that Bismarck was 
possessed of a genius which had gained for certain of its 
qualities the personal trust of two sovereigns in succession, 
as well as of a few among their most intimate counsellors, 
before he had achieved anj^'thing which could be said to 
justify full political confidence. King William I and Roon, 
like King Frederick William IV and the Gerlachs before 
them, knew Bismarck well enough to credit him with daunt- 
less courage in the hour of difficulty or danger and with a 
sense of loyalty, which had its deepest root in religious 
feeling. But, like his brother, the present King had not, as 
yet, been quite able to overcome his apprehensions of what 

1 Bernstorff Papers, vol. 11, p. 82; cf. Egelhaaf, Bismarck, p. 82. 

W. M. G. II. 6 

82 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch. 

seemed Bismarck's recklessness, or to grasp the full extent 
of his daring and understand the longsightedness with which 
he would run any immediate risk for the sake of his ultimate 
purpose. Yet this was not all. It was not the consistent 
pursuit of avowed political ideals which had hitherto been 
absent from German statesmanship; what it had lacked 
was the power in which Bismarck excelled to carry on 
the pursuit of his great political aims with a perfect insight 
into men and things as they were and presented themselves 
for treatment. Now, his chief political purpose was to bring 
into life a new Prussia, which implied that of establishing 
her as a real Great Power, instead of leaving her what, 
practically, she had been since the War of Liberation, a 
Great Power merely in name. Not by the acquisition of 
another province or two was her greatness to be achieved, 
but by her becoming the leader of a more or less united 
Germany. To the necessity of limiting conditions he never 
closed his eyes; and to a complete union under Prussian 
leadership he never saw Germany attain, or ever saw 
any prospect of her attaining, during the whole length of 
his political career. But a modified German unity under 
this leadership he did see consummated, and was thus able 
to conquer France and make Germany the first military 
Power in Europe. 

It has been very truly said that, while, without Bismarck, 
Prussia could never have achieved what she did achieve, 
Bismarck himself could only have been produced in and by 
Prussia. His personality in early manhood was that of a 
Junker of the Old Mark, well but not over-educated, en- 
joying life but not immersed in its pleasures, amenable to 
strong religious influences but not subdued bj' them. He 
had begun to serve the state (after an earlier impatient 
abandonment of its service) by hard work as a provincial 
drainage commissioner, and had then become known by 
his dauntless utterances as deputy in the Vereinigte 

i] Bismarck's Diplomatic Career 83 

Landtag and the Erfurt parliament. He had thus come 
into touch with the conservative party and the members of 
the Camarilla, and in 1851, at the terribly youthful age of 
36, had found himself Prussian envoy at the Frankfort Diet. 
It was here that, though he had taken an unimpassioned 
view of the Olmiitz breakdown, he began more clearly to 
understand the policy of the Austrian Government towards 
Prussia as well as towards Germany at large. His high 
spirit and his Brandenburg-Prussian pride, which had 
resented the bending of the royal authority in face of the 
Revolution, chafed under the policy of the Manteuffel 
regime, which virtually constrained the King and his 
diplomacy to take a lower seat. At the time of the 
Crimean War, this feeling helped to determine his wish to 
keep Prussia wholly independent of Austrian policy, if not 
adverse to it. He was now and for some time later on 
very friendly terms with the Emperor Napoleon HI, whose 
heart he thought better than his head^, and who, in return, 
was said to have considered him 'pas tin Jiomme serieiix' ; 
while for English ways and habits he was wont to aver a 
predilection which he regretted not to find always returned. 
But he refused to cooperate with the Prussian politicians who 
inclined to the Western Powers, and who were, accordingly, 
favoured by the Prince of Prussia and by his consort, with 
the latter of whom Bismarck could never agree. 'With 
France,' he said, ' Prussia would not succeed in keeping the 
peace ; but with Russia she never need be involved in war 
unless through Liberal fatuities or diplomatic blunders^.' 
Under the regency, though the Prince of Prussia, notwith- 
standing these differences, did not cease to consult him 
occasionally, he was, as he expresses it, 'put out to cool' 
at Petersburg, where he was skilful enough to conciliate, 

^ Gedanken und Erinnerungen, vol. i, p. i88. 
* Ibid., p. 229. 

84 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch. 

for a time, the goodwill of Prince Gortchakoff ; and, in 
May 1862, he was transferred to Paris. His personal inter- 
course with Napoleon III called forth much unwarranted 
suspicion at home, but served to make him aware of 
the uneasy desire of Austria to secure the goodwill of the 
French Emperor. Bismarck's own foreign policy was 
shaping itself more and more definitely, the nearer he 
approached to the tenure of power. 

Already in the spring of i860. Prince Anton of Hohen- 
zollern and Auerswald had suggested to the Regent the 
appointment of Bismarck as Minister for Foreign Affairs; 
but, so late as the summer of 1861, he had made no secret 
to Roon of his unwillingness to take upon himself the 
inheritance of the Liberal Ministers. Bernstorff, as we saw, 
was appointed; but Bismarck had hardly settled down to 
his duties at Paris when Roon returned to the charge, and, 
with Bernstorff's cordial concurrence, Bismarck was at last 
summoned by his sovereign. 

In the momentous interview which followed, the King 
revealed to his visitor his intention of abdicating the throne ; 
but, finding that Bismarck, if appointed Minister, was pre- 
pared to uphold the reorganisation of the army against the 
majority of the Chamber, to whatever action the latter 
might have recourse, he decided to carry on the struggle. 
In return, Bismarck promised, if at any future stage of the. 
now unavoidable conflict his own views of procedure should 
differ from those of the King, to make frank avowal of this, 
but, if necessary, to perish with his sovereign rather than 
abandon him in his difficulties. Hereupon, the King with- 
drew a long statement of conditions or safeguards which he 
had prepared for the interview; and on the same day the 
appointment was made. (The definite permanent appoint- 
ment as President of the Ministry and Minister of Foreign 
Affairs followed on October the 8th.) A more chivalrous 
compact was never made between a royal King and a loyal 

i] Bismarck's First Ministerial Experiences 85 

subject in a supremely critical hour^. Certain other 
Ministerial changes were made at the same time, Count 
Frederick Eulenburg, a Conservati\^e of remarkably quick 
intelligence, being appointed Minister of the Interior. 

Thus Bismarck faced the task which he had with so 
extraordinary a courage taken upon himself, fortified not 
only by the strength of his own character and his power of 
insight and foresight, but also, in part, by the confidence 
placed in him by his sovereign. This confidence was, as 
has been seen, not a plant of rapid growth ; but it lasted 
to the end of the reign of 'the Founder of the German 
Empire.' For the present, as Sybel says, the appointment 
of Bismarck was, by the world of Liberalism, judged to be 
the manifest preliminary to a coup d'etat in the style of the 
French despot with whom he had recently been comparing 
notes ; and a cry went up throughout the kingdom and its 
confines such as is hardly credible to those not old enough to 
remember its shrill vehemence. At first, indeed, the new 
Minister sought to secure a certain amount of support by 
offering office to some of the Old-Liberal leaders, and to 
gain time by promising to lay on the table, at the begin- 
ning of the new session in January, a law regulating the 
period of military service, a sufficient small vote of credit 
being granted in the meantime ; but the personal negotia- 
tion broke down on the two years' question, and the 
Chamber clinched matters by voting that the budget must, 
according to law, be submitted to it before the new year. 
On October i6th, the Herrenhmis approved the proposal of 
the leader of its majority, Count A. H. von Arnim-Boytzen- 
burg, that the enlarged budget as presented by the Govern- 
ment should be accepted; but, on the 12th, the Second 
Chamber had, without a single vote to the contrary, pro- 
nounced this intervention unconstitutional. In return, 
Bismarck, after signifying the intention of the Government 
^ Cf. Gedanken und Erinnerungen, vol. i, pp. 288-9. 

86 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

to maintain the reorganisation of the army, and to provide 
for the financial needs of the country without regard to the 
conditions imposed by the Constitution, in the King's name 
closed the session of the diet. A deadlock had thus been 
established, and the state was without a budget. 

It is futile to enquire what ought now to have been 
done. If no agreement could be reached between the 
three factors necessary to legislation, the one factor left 
to manage without it till a final solution was reached 
could only be the Crown; for the Second Chamber was 
not prepared to declare itself, like the House of Commons 
in 1649, supreme without any King or House of Lords. 
That nearly four years would pass before the solution — an 
act of indemnity — would at last be found, was, of course, 
known to neither the King nor Bismarck ; but, to the 
quick imagination of the latter, no phase or stage of 
political action was isolated from what might follow. 

As Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bismarck, in the first 
instance, brought to a final completion the struggle, which 
Bernstorff had all but carried through, with the Elector of 
Hesse^. The commercial controversy with Austria Bern- 
storff had carried to a successful issue before he returned to 
his diplomatic post in London 2. As to the general question 
of Federal reform, the Austrian proposal of conferences on 
the subject of a Federal Directory and an Assembly of 
Delegates from the Chambers of the several states^, which 
Bernstorff had contented himself with declining, furnished 
his successor with an early opportunity of making his 
standpoint clear. It was during the debate on the Budget 
Commission (September ^gth and 30th, 1863) that he first 
made public use of the tremendous phrase that the German 
question could hardly be solved by parliamentary declara- 
tions and would therefore have to be settled by 'iron and 
blood.' Opening his mind, in much the same sense, to the 
^ Cf. pp. 77 f., ante. ^ Cf. pp. 78 f., ante. ' Cf. vol. i, p. 134, ante. 

i] Insurrection in Russian Poland. 8y 

Austrian envoy at Berlin, Count Karolyi, with whom he 
was personally on terms of intimacy^, he made it clear 
that any attempt on the part of the Austrian Government 
to force through the Diet a resolution beyond the com- 
petence of that bod}^ would be treated by Prussia as violating 
the constitution of the Confederation, from which she would 
then be bound to secede. At the Diet, the Bavarian pleni- 
potentiary pressed the motion in favour of an Assembly of 
Delegates to a division, when it was rejected bj- a narrow 
majority of votes given on quite diverse grounds, the 
Prussian plenipotentiary adverting to the necessity of the 
alternative of a National Assembly elected by direct 
popular vote. But the country did not yet understand 
or believe that Bismarck was actually prepared to accept 
this alternative rather than allow the Austrian Government 
to play the game in which it had now begun to engage. 

A collision between Prussia and Austria had thus, 
practically, been deferred; and, meanwhile, the internal 
Prussian conflict continued. But, early in 1863, the two 
German Great Powers, and Prussia in particular, were 
confronted by a new phase of an old difficulty. The 
insurrection that, on the night of January 22nd, broke out 
at Warsaw and several other garrison-towns of Russian 
Poland was conducted by a secret organisation which had, 
for some time, carried on its work there notwithstanding 
measures of conciliation on the part of Tsar Alexander II, 
and which, after the outbreak, appealed to the Prussian 
and Austrian Poles to support the revolt. On the other 
hand, the Prussian Government, without loss of time, sent 
General Gustav von Alvensleben to concert action with the 
Government of the Tsar, and actually entered into a con- 
vention (February 8th, 1863) which provided for cooperation 
on the frontier and, eventually, for military aid. At the 

1 It was to Karolyi that Bismarck frankly said that Austria ought 
to shift her centre of gravity to Buda-Pest. 

88 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [ch. 

suggestion, however, of Gortchakoff, who was adverse to 
this compact, it was made revocable on either side, and was 
left unratified. It met with very strong disapproval in 
France, but Drouyn de Lhu^'s was unable to prevail upon 
Lord John Russell and the British Government to protest 
in an identical note to Berlin against Prussia's conclusion 
of it. The convention was, however, bitterly attacked in 
the Prussian Chamber, where it supplied the adversaries 
of Bismarck with a fresh weapon of offence, and where a 
vote was passed by a large majority calling upon the 
Government to maintain complete neutrality in the Polish 

The Western Powers continued their efforts to induce 
Austria to take joint steps at Petersburg in favour of 
Poland; and, though, as one of the Partitioning Powers, 
Austria could not easily dissociate herself from the two 
others, to her jealous}^ of Russia were now added the dis- 
crepancies between her own and Prussia's policy in both com- 
mercial and general Federal concerns. Moreover, Austria 
had, on religious and other grounds, always extended a 
kindlier treatment to her Polish subjects than their fellows 
under Russian or Prussian rule had received. Thus, revi\4ng 
the relations of the late Russian War, Rechberg was fain to 
accord some measure of support to the Polish policy of the 
Western Powers; and the notes addressed by them to 
Russia (April loth and 12th), protesting against the dis- 
regard of the responsibilities undertaken by Russia to Poland 
in 1815, were supplemented by an Austrian note, pointing 
out the ill-effects upon Galicia of the present condition of 
things in Russian Poland, and calling for the establishment 
of permanent tranquillity there. In reply, the Russian 
Government declined all intervention and insisted that the 
source of the evils complained of was the universal spread 
of the revolutionary propaganda. The Russian armament 
in Poland was in its full strength, and the terrorism now 

i] Relations of the Eastern Powers 8g 

exercised there was intensified b}' the enthusiasm of the 
Russian people. Tsar Alexander, hereupon, in an auto- 
graph letter addressed by him to King William (June ist), 
sought his help in an attempt to detach Austria from the 
Western Powers, and, in the event of failure, proposed to 
him a joint attack upon her before France could come to 
her aid. For this venture, however, neither the King nor 
Bismarck was as yet prepared^; and the reply to the 
Tsar which the Minister personally drafted for his master, 
urged amicable representations to Austria, extending if 
possible to a guarantee of Venetia. When (June 17th and 
1 8th) the Western Powers addressed further notes to 
Russia, an Austrian note, once more, went a long way in 
the same direction as theirs — but not all the wav. Thus, 
while declining all proposals for a European Conference on 
Polish reforms, and answering France in a tone of defiance, 
Gortchakoff could declare Russia ready for a consultation 
with the two other Eastern Powers on a subject of common 
interest to them (July 13th). But to this, again, Rechberg 
was, after all, found indisposed; and, in contrast with the 
unbroken confidence which had been maintained between 
Russia and Prussia, the relations of the former Power with 
Austria were again becoming uneasy, when Austria's action 
in the question of German Federal reform once more, de- 
liberately and unmistakably, provoked the jealous claims 
of her German rival. 

We have arrived at the period of the last attempt of 
Austria — confident in the support of grossdentsche sym- 
pathies both in her own dominions and in other parts of 
Germany, and on friendly terms with France — to settle the 
everlastmg German question by means of a constitutional 
change which should establish, on a new footing and a 

^ Russia, he said, would, in the case of such a conflict, be at the 
longer arm of the lever. See Sybel (vol. 11, p. 388), whose revised 
account of these transactions I follow. 

90 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

broad basis, the Austrian primacy of the days before the 
Revolution of 1848. During the spring and summer of 
1863, while the Polish difficulty was in progress, and 
Russia was suggesting to Prussia the chances of a joint war 
against Austria and France, success in which would have 
enabled Prussia to settle German affairs as she chose, the 
rupture between Go\-crnment and Chamber had been 
finally proclaimed. The address, voted by the Chamber 
on reassembling (January 14th) condemned the uncon- 
stitutional proceeding of the Government ; and Bismarck 
defiantly hurled back the charge of Virchow, that the 
Minister was speaking ' a Prussian language, which nobody 
here understood.' Later (May nth) one of the Vice- 
presidents of the Chamber, Bockum-Dolffs, a Left-centre 
Liberal, called the Minister of War to order, and adjourned 
the sitting. The written protest of the Ministers, who 
refused to return to their places, was countered by an 
address of the Chamber to the King, who declined to re- 
ceive it and (May 27th) closed the session of the diet^. 
Then ensued a period of official persecution, in which 
the Ministers of the Interior (Eulenburg) and of Justice 
(Count zur Lippe) left no stone unturned to bring back 
the entire body of Prussian officials to political servitude — 
more especially in the conduct of the elections — as well as 
to subject the press to an unprecedented S3^stem of tribula- 
tion^. The intensity of the political conflict at this time 
was further shown by a grave misunderstanding between 
the King and the Crown-prince, who openly dissociated 
himself from the action of the Ministry ; but, to the credit 

^ For a full account of this tragicomic affair, sec Roon, Denkwtir- 
digkeiten, vol. 11, pp. 132 ff. 

* Any journal whose general tone seemed open to objection 
might, after two warnings, be suspended or suppressed. As to the 
treatment of the Prussian Press by the Government, see O. Bandmann, 
Die deutsche Presse, etc., 1864-6 (Leipziger Histor. Abhandl., 1910), 
p. 4. In 1S6) there were 175 press prosecutions in Berlin alone. 

i] The Fiirstentag Scheme started 91 

of both, as well as of the sovereign's chief advisers, it was 
brought to a timely end. On September 4th (in view 
perhaps of the favourable effect of the Government firm- 
ness in the matter of the Fiirstentag, it was judged ex- 
pedient to dissolve the diet ; but the elections (October) 
made no essential change in the relations of parties — the 
conservatives in the Chamber, hovve\'er, contriving to raise 
their numbers from 11 to 37. In January 1864 the budget, 
again docked of its objectionable military provisions by 
the Second Chamber, was again thrown out in this form by 
the Herrenhaus, and the session was closed. 

We saw how, early in 1862, the Austrian Foreign Office 
had taken up the idea of a Conference between the German 
Governments, which should discuss the national problem, 
more especially from the point of view of the establishment 
of a Federal Director^' and of an Assembly of Delegates 
from the several Chambers. The project, rejected by 
Prussia, had lapsed; but, as the year 1862 went on, and 
the parliamentary conflict in Prussia became more and 
more hopeless, the design of placing the Austrian Govern- 
ment at the head of the movement for Federal reform took 
more definite shape ; and, alread}' in July, confidential 
Ministerial conferences on the subject were held at Vienna, 
in which most of the German Governments, except Prussia, 
took part, though hopes of her future participation in the 
movement were expressed. According to Frobel^, it was 
on returning from a meeting of the Grossdentschen at Frank- 
fort, late in October or early in November, that he first 
expressed a desire that the Emperor of Austria should 
be made acquainted with the notion of an Assembl}^ of 
Princes [Furstcntag), under the Imperial presidency, for 
the settlement of German affairs. A cryptic correspond- 
ence on the subject ensued, in which part was taken by 
Freiherr von Dornberg, who was in the confidence of the 
^ Lebenslauf, vol. ii, p. 236. 

92 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

Thurn and Taxis family and more especially of the Here- 
ditary Prince Maximilian, the Emperor Francis Joseph's 
brother-in-law. Whatever may be the truth as to the 
dynastic ambitions of the House of Thurn and Taxis and as 
to its hopes of a west-German kingdom formed in part at 
the expense of Prussia, there can be no doubt that the 
' Ratisbon ' interest was in favour of the ultramontane 
party and had access to the ear of the Emperor^. 

It was through these channels that, sometime in May, 
the scheme seems to have come before him, rather than 
through his Ministers, of whom Rechberg in particular 
for some time remained out of touch with it, while it was 
actively taken up by his assistant Biegeleben. Early in 
June, the Emperor's Ministers were apprised that his mind 
was made up. Rechberg offered to resign his ofhce, but 
was induced by the Emperor to retain it and, on condition 
of his attending his sovereign at the Congress, support the 
new plan of Federal reform. 

While the design was still a secret, the Duke of Coburg 
found his way to Vienna. He was out of heart with the 
Prussian Government, which in March had begun to per- 
secute the Nationalvercin by prohibiting the circulation of 
its weekly journal, and he had recently remonstrated with 
the King (through the Crown-prince) on Prussia's self- 
isolation in Germany^. But he was not, or was only half, 
initiated into the Austrian plan, and confesses that he had 
not the faintest influence upon the draft which was pre- 
pared for submission to the German Princes^. 

' Cf. as to the Ratisbon influence Friedjung, vol. i, pp. 52 fif. 

* See Aus dem Leben, vol. iii, pp. 278 ff., with the King's 

' lb., p. 298. Duke Ernest II's account of the transactions 
connected with the Fiirsientag, and of the proceedings there, have, 
together with the political character of the Duke himself, been sub- 
jected to severe criticism by K. Dorien in an essay published in 
the Munich Historische Bibliothek (vol. xxi, 1910). It may seem 

i] William I declines attending the Fiirstentag 93 

On August 2nd, the King of Prussia was visited during 
his stay at Gastein by the Emperor Francis Joseph, and 
informed by him that he proposed to invite, for August i6th, 
all the German sovereigns and free cities to a personal con- 
ference under his presidency on the subject of German 
constitutional reform. Though the King was not presented 
with a fully elaborated scheme, its main points were com- 
municated to him in writing, including (in accordance with 
Frobel's revised draft of December 1861) the establish- 
ment of a Federal Directory of five members and of a 
Federal Parliament consisting of delegates of the several 
German states, with consultative powers only. A perma- 
nent Federal Tribunal, and periodical Congresses of the 
German Princes were, also, to form part of the scheme (this 
last being, indeed, its most prominent novel feature). In 
replying to these proposals, which were prefaced by a de- 
scription of the Federal pact of the past as virtually extinct, 
the King, without formally declining to take part in a dis- 
cussion of them, at once raised certain objections to the 
proposals about to be made. He pointed out that, more 
especially as their failure must be attended by unfortunate 
consequences, the proposals ought to have been preceded 
by Ministerial conferences on the points contained in them ; 
and he dwelt particularly on the doubtfulness of the pro- 
visions for including in the Directory three members in 
addition to those representing Austria and Prussia, and for 
assembling Delegates sent from Chambers in many cases un- 
satisfactorily composed. But — and, as Bismarck afterwards 
justly pointed out^, herein lay Prussia's real grievance against 

surprising, that, for a time at least, the action of Austria should have 
taken captive the imagination of the sanguine Duke ; but his ex- 
pectations were widely shared, e.g. by British diplomacy. The Duke's 
diary shows that during the gathering at Frankfort he was in constant 
communication with the opposition and with Prince Anton of Hohen- 
zoUern, and therefore aware of the views of the Prussian Government. 
^ Duke Ernest II, Aus dent Leben, vol. in, p. 297. 

94 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. 

Austria — the Emperor had not taken any steps towards 
a previous discussion with the Prussian Government of the 
question of reforms ; indeed, he had not so much as waited 
for the King's reply, before he sent out liis invitations for 
the Congress (dated July 31st). King William now defini- 
tively declined participation in a conference on the purposes 
of which he had not been previously consulted, and repeated 
his fundamental objection to the proposed Directory, while 
declaring the consultative Assembly of Delegates valueless. 
Hereupon, on the Austrian side, certain amendments were 
made in the draft scheme : the King of Bavaria was accorded 
a fixed seat in the Directory, and the A'ssembly of Delegates 
was given legislative as well as consultative powers. On 
August 17th, amidst general jubilation, the city of Frank- 
fort beheld the assembling of the Congress of Princes. 
Whatever came of it, the continuance of the old Confedera- 
tion had once for all been declared impossible by Austria; 
but Prussia stood aloof, and what was now to ensue ? 

The proceedings, of which the protocol was • taken by 
Biegeleben, a lesser Gentz without a Metternich, were 
opened by a skilfully-prepared speech on the part of the 
Emperor of Austria, which was, more or less, echoed by the 
King of Bavaria. Hereupon, the Grand-duke of Mccklen- 
burg-Schwerin at once let in hght upon the situation by 
proposing that an invitation to attend the Congress should 
be sent to the King of Prussia. The King of Saxony then 
proposed that this invitation should be preceded b}' a two- 
fold resolution, affirming, first, that the imperial draft 
formed a satisfactory basis for discussion by the Congress, 
and, further, that this discussion should proceed, whatever 
reply might be given by the King of Prussia. This being 
carried, King John departed in person with the summons 
to his roval friend at Baden-Baden. King William hesitated 
for a moment — ' thirty rulers and a King as courier ! ' — but 
then returned a refusal. Bismarck had gained his first 

i] The Congress of Princes 95 

great victory over the scrupulous loyalty of his master, 
and had gained it both by the clearness of his view and 
the firmness of his bearing; he was ready to accompany 
the King to Frankfort, but would not return as his Minister 
to Berlin. 

At the Congress, it was now, after a rather informal 
discussion, agreed to treat all resolutions as, in the first 
instance, provisional, and then to take a final vote expressing 
the will of the assembly, so as to come as near as possible 
to unanimous decisions. The debates, over which the 
Emperor of Austria presided with remarkable ability and 
tact, were managed with much skill by the King of Saxony 
on behalf of the majority, which proved an assured one from 
the first, though it would be a mistake to regard it as 
' packed ' by Austria — the King of Hanover had only come 
for the sake of courtesy, and the Elector of Hesse to find 
food for his sarcasms. The Grand-duke of Baden found 
few to support his amendments — chiefly the Grand-dukes 
of Weimar and Oldenburg, and occasionally the more 
erratic Duke of Coburg, Waldeck and the Younger Reuss. 
Thus the project was rapidly worked into shape. It was 
not altogether lacking in improvements upon the existing 
Federal constitution. A Federal Judicial Tribunal was to 
be established, whose functions should include a settlement 
of differences between the Governments and the repre- 
sentative assemblies of the several states. Above all, the 
requirement of unanimity for resolutions of the Federal 
Diet — now to be called the Federal Council — was to be 
sufficiently restricted. All questions of war and peace were 
to be referred to the Directory, together with the ordering 
of mobilisation and the naming of the Federal Commander- 
in-chief : but an actual declaration of war was to require 
the approval of the Federal Council by a two-thirds' 
majority, and, ultimately, it was decided that the same 
rule should apply to questions of the defence of non- 

g6 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [cH. 

Federal territories belonging to a member of the Con- 

The one subject of discussion, however, which seemed 
to defy settlement, was that of the Directory itself, dealt 
with in the fifth article of the draft. Various proposals 
were brought forward as to the composition of the Directory ; 
but of these the compromise magnanimously proposed by 
the King of Saxony^ found most favour, though there were 
many reservations. The real crux however lay in the rider 
(alinea) to the article, which provided for the assignment 
to Austria of the presidency in both Directory and Council, 
while Prussia was merely to take Austria's place vicariously. 
After the article had been passed without its rider, on the 
motion of the King of Saxony, a long series of negotiations 
followed; and, at the very last meeting of the Conference 
(September ist) the Emperor Francis Joseph left the chair 
in order that the question might be settled in his absence. 
In the end, article and rider were carried against the vote 
for the omission of the latter proposed by the Grand-duke 
of Baden, and supported by his usual alHes (with Holland 
(Luxemburg) and Hamburg), while the reservation by which 
Coburg's affirmative vote was accompanied and which made 
it conditional upon any future discussion of the subject 
being unaffected by it, was not committed to paper, and, 
in point of fact, ignored^. 

^ Austria had originally demanded that these should be decided 
by simple majority. 

^ According to this, the six seats in the Directory were to be thus 
distributed : Austria, Prussia and Bavaria were each to have a per- 
manent seat; the three other kingdoms to rotate in every second 
year; the seven grand-duchies with the electorate, and the petty 
principalities with the Free Towns, to choose a representative re- 
spectively in every third year. 

" It is due to the honourable character of Duke Ernest to accept 
in substance his account of the part played by him in these trans- 
actions; but it is not the less evident that what he had at heart 

i] End of the Congress 97 

This matter having been, after a fashion, brought to a 
conclusion, the proposal of Hanover and Brunswick that 
the draft scheme should now be submitted in its entirety 
was carried unanimously (with a reservation on the part 
of Baden). The final resolutions as to the acceptance of 
the whole scheme, and as to the binding character of this 
acceptance, until the Federal states unrepresented at the 
Congress (i.e. Prussia) should have definitively rejected the 
scheme or offered counterproposals, were affirmed by 24 as 
against 6 votes (consisting of the Grand-duke of Baden 
and his supporters, without the Duke of Coburg). Here- 
upon, the communication of the result to the King of 
Prussia was approved, and the Congress closed after a 
speech from the Emperor. 

It should be added that, by the side of the Congress of 
Princes, a self-constituted assembly of deputies from the 
Chambers of all the German states except Austria had 
been holding meetings at Frankfort, and had voted the 
necessity of an Imperial parliament chosen by direct 
popular election, which should, jointly with the German 
Governments, settle the future national constitution on the 
basis of a concession of equal rights to the two Great Powers. 

Those who can remember the stir made by the assem- 
bling of the Frankfort Fiirstentag will also recall the in- 
difference with which the result of the gathering was 
received by the German public. As a whole, it had never 
deceived itself as to the hollowness of the whole proceeding. 
At Berlin, a reply was drafted to the last communication of 
the Congress, expressing the willingness of Prussia to enter 
into further discussion of Federal reform at Ministerial con- 
ferences, but laying down as indispensable conditions of 
their conclusions, the right of Prussia, as well as of Austria, to 
negative any declaration of Federal war, and the concession 

above everything else was to avoid a breakdown of the whole design 
on the rock of the Austrian presidency. 

W. M.G.II. 7 

98 Austria, Prussia and the Confederation [CH. i 

to Prussia of complete equality with Austria in the matter 
of the presidency over the supreme Federal authorities. 
In other words, Prussia demanded precisely what the 
Congress, and Austria through the Congress, had refused to 
her. This reply was communicated to the German Govern- 
ments, and all thought of Prussia's acquiescence in the 
final vote of the Congress was at an end. Rechberg, whose 
task it had now become to make the best of a failure 
which he had from the first half-feared, could not even 
induce the secondary Governments to press on the Austrian 
scheme approved by them without the concurrence of 
Prussia. At a Ministerial Conference held by 'the Wiirz- 
burgers' at Niirnberg (October 23rd), it was prudently 
agreed that the Austrian Government should charge itself 
with a reply to the last Prussian communications; but 
Rechberg's subsequent demand that the changes approved 
by the Congress should at once be put in execution — in 
other words, that no concession should be made to Prussia 
by Austria — was declined on all sides ; so that failure was 
now written across the adopted draft. While Queen Vic- 
toria's imagination had, by the glamour of the Fiirstentag, 
been misled into apprehensions for ' her children at Berlin ' 
on whose behalf she appealed to the omnipotent Emperor of 
Austria when she met him on his way home from Frankfort^, 
the Austrian attempt to settle the future of Germany with- 
out Prussia had broken down, and Austria's diplomacy had 
to hark back to the old ways. Once more, resort must be 
had to cooperation, at all events for the time, between 
the two German Great Powers. The acute stage at which 
the perennial Schleswig-Holstein question had once more 
arrived seemed to furnish a suitable opportunity; but 
the final consequence of the temporary conjoint action 
between Austria and Prussia to which it led was to be the 
outbreak of the decisive conflict between them. 

1 Duke Ernest II, Aus dem Leben, vol. in, p, 351. 



When 1863 drew towards its close, to be followed by 
a year destined to exercise a far-reaching effect upon the 
political future of Europe, the two German Great Powers, 
as was seen in the preceding chapter, were still full of 
anxiety concerning their own political prospects; nor was 
either of them free from suspicious jealousy of the other. 
Austria's ascendancy in the Confederation had, in some 
measure, suffered from the unconfessed breakdown of a 
project of Federal reform which, could it have carried the 
day, would have secured to her a new lease of leadership 
among the German states, but which had actually brought 
her nothing beyond the transient support of grossdeutsche 
sympathies and inflated personal ambitions. In her turn, 
Prussia had not omitted to take the opportunity of asserting 
her claims to a due share in the discussion and settlement 
of any scheme of national reorganisation. But the aims 
of her statesmanship lay in other directions, and for the 
present her tentative suggestions towards Federal reform 
remained in the vague. Meanwhile, the deadlock in her 
constitutional life was left complete; and the conflict 
between Government and parliament, further embittered by 
the Polish policy (of which the self-restraint shown towards 
Russia's ulterior proposals was kept secret), seemed to be 
passing all bounds. The highminded judgment of Bennigsen 
was at one with the ardour of Treitschke in condemning, for 
Prussia's own sake and for that of Germany, the policy of the 
Prussian Government. In the autumn of 1863, it was re- 
ported that the King himself met with scant respect in the 


100 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [ch. 

streets of his capital ; and the army was involved in the 
popular odium which surrounded the Ministerial champions 
of its efficiency^. The condition of public affairs seemed 
irremediable; or, rather, it was at this very time that a 
prophetic voice made itself heard at Berlin, recommending 
the application of a remedy never dreamt of by the parlia- 
mentary politicians of the Second Chamber and, indeed, 
intended to sweep them away with their imposed con- 

^ See the section 'The beginnings of Bismarck's Ministry' in 
vol. V of the Diaries of T. von Bernhardi, already cited. Bernhardi's 
political (and military) knowledge and judgment were based on 
researches which have secured to him a lasting name among 
investigators of modern political history, and he was an observer 
of great shrewdness, as he showed in his letters from London, where 
early in 1864 he sought without much effect to advance the Augusten- 
burg cause, and still more in those from Florence, whither he was 
sent by Bismarck in 1866, and again in 1867, to supplement the 
dispatches of Usedom and to make himself generally useful. 
Occasionally, he attached too much importance to his private 
information, and, occasionally, to his own insight. But as to the 
general correctness of his account of the state of public feeling in 
Prussia in 1863 there can be no doubt; and it is not wonderful that 
he should have hailed the death of Frederick VII of Denmark as 
'an invaluable piece of good fortune.' (Cf. op. cit., p. 145.) 

2 A notable incident (though only a passing reference can be 
made to it here) in the course of the 'conflict' was the appearance 
on the scene at Berlin, in the autumn of 1863, of Ferdinand Lassalle. 
This socialist philosopher and agitator, the founder of the General 
Association of Working-men (Allgemeiner Arbeiterverein) was as far 
as possible from wishing to play the part of a mediator between 
the Government and the Chamber. As a contributor to the first 
volume of the Demokratische Jahrbiicher (i860), he had advocated 
German unity under Prussian leadership, though not on a federal 
ba.sis ; now, he had advanced to the further paradox that the 
Prussian constitution, about which Parliament and Fortschritt were 
making so much ado, was a usurpation, arbitrarily imposed, selfishly 
accepted in the interests of a class, and of no value to the people 
at large. He, therefore, demanded the introduction of universal 

ii] Austria and Prussia draw together loi 

Thus it had come to pass that, with x\ustria uncertain 
of her position in Germany, and Prussia and the Minister 
now at the head of her affairs, not\\ithstanding his self- 
confidence, unwilling to risk isolated action, neither of the 
two Powers could at present seek to advance its own ends 
independently of the other, and least of all to do so in 
deference to the wishes or counsels of any non-German 
Power, Hence, they responded without cordiality, though 
Prussia after a conciliatory fashion, to the invitation 
addressed, on November 4th, by Napoleon III to the 
Governments of Europe — including those of the German 
secondary states, Bavaria, Saxony, Wiirttemberg and 
Hanover — to a Congress to be held in Paris for the purpose 
of a general re\dsion of the Treaties of 1815. It seemed safer, 
to sa}' the least,- — more especially since there was no reason 
for supposing the French Emperor's political sentiments 
towards Austria and Prussia to be at an}^ given moment 

suffrage, unlawfully withheld from the masses. It is extremely 
unUkely that Lassalle, the gradual unfolding of whose political 
philosophy was disturbed only by an inordinate selfconsciousness 
and by that dependence on popular applause which is essential to 
demagogues, was in these utterances influenced by the Prussian 
Government, although it suited the Liberal press to decry him as 
a tool of the Reaction. Bismarck received him more than once 
and (as is far from surprising) was attracted by his vivid personality. 
But official prosecutions were allowed to run their course against 
him ; nor did he live to see the adoption of the principle of 
universal suffrage, urged by him in the address to the Berlin work- 
men in October 1863, which subjected him to a trial for high treason. 
Before he met with a tragic death (August 31st, 1864), he had 
completed the Uterary exposition of the ideas which brought about 
the new, though not the ultimate, development of German socialism. 
What concerns us here is that the policy which, in 1867, was applied 
in a wider sphere of action, had been openly suggested while the 
Prussian parliamentary conflict was at its height, and declared by 
Lassalle to be certain of ultimate adoption. (See the long and 
instructive article on Lassalle, by E. Plener, in Allgemeine Deutsche 
Biographie, vol. xvii.) 

102 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [CH. 

the same — in other words, since it was transparently his 
purpose to play off each one of these Powers against the 
other — that, as to the main issues now before Europe, 
they should act in mutual conjunction only, at all events 
in the first instance. 

These, then, were the conditions under which at this 
time Austria and Prussia essayed to bring to an issue the 
Sclileswig-Holstein question, once more, but this time 
with irresistible urgency, pressing on them for attention. 
Neither could refuse to take action upon it ; but the 
difference between them was that, while Austria, more 
especially after her recent rebuff, engaged in this task only 
lest Prussia should seek to carry it through without her, 
Prussian policy had now, though not within the knowledge 
of the Prussian parliament and people, or of German 
Liberalism in general, fallen under the guidance of a will 
sure of its final aims, and firm in carrying out, step by 
step, the process by which it had resolved upon accomplish- 
ing them. While the doctrinaires of the Nationalverein 
and the hotspurs of the Fortschritt still looked forward to 
the overthrow of Bismarck as the indispensable prelude to 
a forward German policy on the part of Prussia, he had no 
intention of preparing a second Olmiitz for her by following 
public opinion with all its paraphernalia of Chambers, 
associations and the like, and by breaking with Austria so 
as to provoke a hostile combination of other Powers^. 
Yet few things are more certain than that the way of 
settling the Schleswig-Holstein question actually adopted 
in the end was, although he had not invented it^, in his 

^ See his letter to Count R. von der Goltz (December 24th, 
1863), Gedanken unci Erinnerungen, vol. 11, p. 10. 

2 As to the earlier history of the idea of the annexation of the 
duchies to Prussia, see Gebauer, Herzog Friedrich VIII von Schleswig- 
Holstein, p. 73. Cf. also Beust (Engl, tr.), vol. i, p. 244, as to Savigny's 
prunouncenient when envoy at Dresden ' shortly after i860.' 

ii] Bismarck' s Ulterior Aims 103 

mind from the first. Whether the settlement was intended 
by him merel}^ as a stepping-stone to subserve the achieve- 
ment of designs of a wider scope, is a question which cannot 
be put or answered after the same fashion. But, as to 
Schleswig-Holstein, he was, within the Hmits of the feasible, 
resolved upon his course. Within the limits of the feasible 
— for in his constant recognition of those limits lay much 
of the strength of Bismarck's statesmanship both now and 
in the greater issues w^hich awaited it. Neither were all 
the turns to which he had resort in his treatment of this 
particular problem premeditated ; nor was he from the first 
definiti\-ely resolved upon insisting on the decision which 
commended itself to him. Nor, finally, was the number large 
of those who were throughout consciouslj- determined to do 
their utmost towards furthering his plan of action, or who 
were even in general agreement with its purpose^. 

With the death of King Frederick VII of Denmark on 
November 15th, 1863, the Schleswig-Holstein question, 
which some survive to remember as an abiding heritage 
of modern politics^, entered into a new phase. Or, to 

^ One of these was Roon. ' Believe me,' he wrote to C. T. 
Perthes so early as January 17th, 1864, 'in one respect you are 
bitterly unjust to Bismarck ; on this head, he has never been unclear, 
uncertain or unstable in will; nor have I myself, since, within the 
first four-and-twenty hours after the death of Frederick VII, the 
delusive bubble burst of a popularity to be gained only at the cost 
of principles and monarchical interests.' The whole passage (Denk- 
wiirdigkeiten, vol. 11, p. 180), though too long to cite here, is of great 

^ Almost as I write, a reprint (November, 1915) reaches me of 
two articles contributed, from opposite points of view, to The 
Nineteenth Century, May and December, 1897, by the late Professor 
Max-Miiller and by Dr A. D. Jorgensen, formerly Keeper of the 
Danish Archives. Max-Miiller's article was based on Jansen- 
Samwer's work, published in 1897, which, at that date, might have 
been left to speak for itself. The Danish reply could not be called 

104 Schleswig-Holstcin and the Danish War [CH. 

speak more exactly, the acuteness of the stage which it had 
already reached was rendered more acute by the intro- 
duction of a succession dispute of which it had long stood 
on the brink, but which the European Concert chose to 
regard as permanently averted. This revival of inherited 
claims, which had been held superseded by an incomplete 
international compact, was necessarily inseparable from 
renewed insistence upon historical state rights more than 
ever imperilled; and, finally, the whole conflict was 
dominated by the struggle between nationalities, inten- 
sified, to an unprecedented degree, by a decade of oppressive 
local rule. 

It may be well, before examining ratht.i- more precisely 
the operation of those elements in the problem which brought 
about the war of 1864, to take this opportunity of recalling, 
in their general connexion, and in as few words as possible, 
the chief data in the earlier stages of the question. 

Before 1459 the duchy of Schleswig was held as a fief 
of Denmark, and the duchy of Holstein as a fief of the 
Empire. But the elective capitulation, whereby in 1460 
King Christian I of Denmark (renouncing his countship of 
Oldenburg and Delmenhorst) became Duke of Schleswig 
and Count of Holstein — titles consolidated, fourteen years 
later, into that of Duke of Schleswig-Holstein — laid down 
the following principles, to which the King swore as essential 
to his compact with the Estates of the two duchies and 
fundamental in his and his successors' tenure of the lordship 
over them. The two duchies were to be for ever united; 
their rights and liberties were to remain intact ; the power 
of taxation was to belong to the Estates ; and these Estates 
were to be obliged to elect their future Dukes from among 
the male descendants of Christian I or his rightful heirs. 
In 1616, the Estates surrendered their privilege of election, 
and the rights of the male heirs became absolute, to be 
asserted in due order of sccjuence. 

ii] The Succession in Schleswig and Holstein 105 

In 1544, however, with the consent of the Estates, a 
partition was made in the case of both duchies, which 
finally resulted in the two portions of each, called severally 
the ducal-royal and the ducal-Gottorp portions, being 
respectively vested in King Christian III of Denmark and 
in Duke Adolphus of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp and their 
descendants, though they were administered in common 
{zu gesammter Hand). Further partitions followed, which 
must be neglected ; but, ultimately, the right of succession 
to the whole of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein 
belonged to the male heirs of the elder royal line, the 
descendants of King Christian III, with reversion to those 
of the younger royal or Sonderburg line, comprising the 
Augustenburgi and the Beck-Gliicksburg branches, and 
after these to those of the ducal-Gottorp line, which com- 
prised the Russian, the Swedish and the ducal-Oldenburg 

But, in the case of Schleswig, it was afterwards alleged 
that the law of succession had been merged in that of the 
Danish kingdom. This latter had been promulgated on a 
new basis by King Frederick III of Denmark in 1665, by 
virtue of the absolute power acquired by the Danish 
sovereigns through the change in the constitution of the 
kingdom made in 1665. This lex regia, as it was called, 
permitted the succession to the Danish throne of female 
descendants of King Frederick III, or of males inheriting 
through them. In itself, of course, the law of succession 
in the duchies remained unaltered by the lex regia ; nor 
could the law of succession in one of the duchies have been 
modified independently of that in the other. But, at the 
Peace of Frederiksborg (1720) King Frederick IV of 
Denmark, who had for the second time made himself 
master of these territories, was acknowledged by Sweden as 

^ The particular objections afterwards raised to the claims of 
the Augustenburg line are noted below. 

io6 Schlesimg-Holstein and the Danish War [ch. 

the possessor of the ducal-Gottorp portion of Schleswig, 
which had up to that date belonged to the Dukes of 
Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp, though (as has been seen) 
under a system of joint administration ; and a guarantee of 
this transfer was at the same time given by the mediating 
Powers, Great Britain and France. In the following year 
(172 1), a royal proclamation of their acquisition was issued 
by Frederick IV. Danish historians represent this trans- 
action as the restoration of these districts by force of arms 
to the mother-country^ ; but, whether or not this description 
of the transaction be warranted, there was and could be no 
incorporation at this date of the ducal-Gottorp portion of 
Schleswig, and still less of the whole duchy of Schleswig, 
in the Danish kingdom. After the royal patent of 1721 
had proclaimed that the King had become possessed of 
this portion of the duchy, the Estates of the portion took 
the oath secundum tenorem legis regiae. Whatever may be 
the meaning of this 'still-vext' clause, neither the oath 
nor the guarantees of the two Foreign Powers in any way 
touched the question of the succession to the entire duchy 
of Schleswig. This question could not, either by treaty or 
by proclamation, be treated separately from that of the 
succession to both the duchies; moreover, it involved the 
rights of other parties and could not therefore be made the 
subject of an international guarantee. It may be added 
that the oath taken on this occasion by Duke Christian 
August of Augustenburg in respect of his lands in the 
ducal-Gottorp portion of Schleswig, in no way, as was 
afterwards pretended at Copenhagen, affected the eventual 
right of succession of himself or his descendants in both 
the duchies. 

Appeal was, also, afterwards made to the treaties con- 
cluded in 1767 and 1773, between Denmark and Russia, in 

1 For instance, C. F. Allen in his History of Denmark (French 
translation, 1878, vol. 11, p. 139). 

ii] The Succession in the Duchies 107 

which the rights of the Russian or eldest branch of the 
Gottorp hne to the ducal-Gottorp portion of Sclileswig, and 
to the ducal-Gottorp portion of Holstein, were ceded to 
King Christian VII of Denmark by Tsarina Catharine II 
and her son Paul (afterwards Tsar Paul I), Duke of Holstein- 
Gottorp, in return for the counties of Oldenburg and 
Delmenhorst, which were immediately transferred to 
Prince Frederick Augustus of the younger Gottorp line 
(whereupon an imperial decree created a duchy of Holstein- 
Oldenburg). This cession, the object of which was the 
legal completion of the Danish title to the Gottorp portions 
in both duchies, had, again, no reference to the rights to 
the succession to both duchies as a whole, which the 
Russian like the other agnati might eventually claim. 

Finally, the established law of succession in the duchies 
was not, and could not be, affected by the circumstances, 
however important politically, that Schleswig belonged in 
full sovereignty to its duke, whereas Holstein, like Lauen- 
burg, formed part of the Germanic Empire till 1806, and 
from 1815 of the Germanic Confederation^. Indeed, 
when in 1806 King Christian VH renounced allegiance to 
the moribund Empire, he declared that the law of succession 
in Holstein remained unchanged, and, in 1815, King 
Frederick VI gave a solemn assurance that the nexus 
socialis between the duchies should remain as before. As 
to the duchy of Lauenburg — ceded by Hanover by the Act 
of the Congress of Vienna and immediately afterwards 
exchanged in a separate treaty by Prussia to Denmark for 
Swedish Pomerania^ — all earlier claims had been extin- 
guished by the final cession. Whether the law of succession 
in Lauenburg had been merged with the sovereignty over the 
duchy in authority of the Danish Crown, is a disputed point. 

^ At the Peace of Kiel in January 1817 Denmark had received 
Swedish Pomerania in exchange for Norway ; now, she had to 
exchange it for Lauenburg. 

io8 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [ch. 

If from the d^'nastic we pass to the general relations 
affecting the duchies and the Danish kingdom, there seems 
no necessity, in the present connexion, for going back 
be3'ond the European settlement of 1815. It should, 
however, be added, though the grievance cannot be said 
to have assumed an international aspect, that, towards the 
close of the eighteenth and in the early years of the nine- 
teenth century, the advance of the German language in the 
mixed or Danish districts of Schleswig was promoted by 
methods which gave rise to much complaint, and which, in 
1 810, called forth a royal decree for the restoration of the 
use of Danish in a number of churches and schools where it 
had been suppressed. Conversely, and in a wider theatre, 
the part played by Denmark in the Napoleonic wars added 
to the unpopularity of Danish rule in the duchies. In the 
final struggle with Napoleon Denmark was his solitary 
northern ally, while the enthusiasm of the War of Liberation 
was largely shared on the other side of the Eider. In the 
pacification which followed, the loss of Norway, while 
diminishing the importance of the Danish monarchy as a 
whole, necessarily reduced the hitherto overwhelming pre- 
ponderance within its area of the Scandinavian over the 
German element of population^. 

Thus, the period that followed could not but exhibit 
a constantly increasing tension between Denmark and the 
duchies, which at first showed itself in a continuous conflict 
waged by them on behalf of their constitutional rights 
against the centralising designs of an absolute, before long 
to become a democratic, monarchy, and which, in accord- 
ance with the general tendencies of the age, became a 

1 A quarter of a century later — in 1840 — the census reckoned 
the total of inhabitants of the kingdom of Denmark (entirely- 
Danish) at 1,283,000; of those of Holstein and Lauenburg (entirely 
German) at 455,000 plus 45,000; and of those of Schleswig (more 
than half German) at 348,000. 

ii] Increase of Tension 109 

movement of nationality against nationality. It has been 
already seen that nothing came either of the promises of 
Frederick VI or of the appeal, in 1822, of the Schleswig- 
Holstein Estates and prelates to the Frankfort Diet ^ ; and 
how the wider and more popular current of resistance to 
Danish ascendancy (not yet to Danish rule), which set in 
as part of the movement consequent upon the French 
Revolution of 1830, seemed likewise to have spent itself in 
vain. This time, the strength of feeling, stimulated more 
especially in the middle-class, by Lornsen's pamphlets 
already mentioned^, was such that King Frederick VI, 
who had resisted the Estate of Knights, gave way so far 
as to approve the siunmoning of representative assemblies 
in the several parts of the monarchy, including Schleswig 
and Holstein. But the functions of these assemblies were 
to be consultative only; and the Estates of Holstein and 
Lauenburg were convened, at Itzehoe (1835), separately from 
those of Schleswig, which met at Schleswig (1836). Thus, in 
point of fact, the concession, so far as the duchies were 
concerned, proved more than futile. Public opinion at 
Copenhagen, while indulging in Pan-Scandinavian visions 
(against which, in 1837, the Swedish Government thought 
it necessary to protest), came more and more to regard the 
political union of Denmark and Schleswig as an established 
axiom, and tq do all in its power to make it an established 
fact. Hence, the continued efforts of the Eider-Danes — 
the name given, in contrast with the party desirous of 
preserving the entirety of the monarchy, to those politicians 
who were prepared to sacrifice Holstein, as incontro- 
vertibly belonging to the Germanic Confederation, and as 
altogether German in nationality, in order to bring about 
the consoHdation of Schleswig with the kingdom. Hence, 
too, a movement, from about 1836, in favour of the use 

^ Cf. vol. I, pp. 150 ff., ante. 
2 Cf. vol. I, pp. 286 ff., ante. 

no Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [cii. 

of the Danish language in churches, schools and adminis- 
tration in parts of Schleswig, which is described as a 
'reaction' by Danish apologists^, and which, though it 
obtained the transitory' approval of the Schleswig diet, met 
with a resolute resistance, steadily continued even after 
it had been approved eight years later, by King Christian 
VIII, and revived more vigorously than ever. 

By this time (1846), the King's mind seems to have been 
at last made up with regard to his policy in the matter of 
the duchies and their relation to Denmark. His Danish 
subjects had long suspected him of favouring the duchies 
by reason of his marriage with an Augustenburg princess^. 
Now, however, he had shaken himself free from these 
influences. The 'open letter' issued by him on Jub/ 8th, 
1846, first announced his intention of preventing the dis- 
memberment of his dominions by altering the succession in 
the duchies in conformity with that in the kingdom^. 
The patent declared the law of succession in Schleswig (and 
in Lauenburg) to be identical with that obtaining in Den- 
mark. As to Holstein, its terms were more guarded ; but 
it held (lUt a prospect of the difficulties in this case being 
successfully overcome. The full significance of the royal 

1 Cf. the appendix 'On the Nationality of Schleswig' in C. A. 
Gosch, Denmark and Germany since 1815 (1862), p. 446. 

- Caroline Amalia. 

3 Cf. vol. I, pp. 289 ff., ante. The converse expedient, suggested 
by Metternich, of abolishing the lex regia by an exercise of the 
royal authority which had given it validity, was of course out of 
the question. According to the lex regia, the heir to the Danish 
throne, after the Crown-prince Frederick (afterwards King Frederick 
VII), who had been twice divorced and was childless, and King 
Christian's younger brother Prince Ferdinand, who was likewise (he actually died in 1863), would, on the supposition that 
their sisters Princess Juliana of Hesse-Philippsthal and Landgravine 
Charlotte of Hesse-Cassel renounced their rights, be the son of the 
younger of the pair, Landgrave Frederick. 

ii] Effects of the 'Open Letter' iii 

manifesto — the consummation of political by means of 
dynastic union — was self-evident ; and the agnati, whose 
interests were imperilled by the patent, the Dukes of 
Augustenburg and Gliicksburg, and the Grand-duke of 
Oldenburg, as well as the Estates of both duchies, recorded 
their protests. The Holstein Estates, as in duty bound, 
laid their complaint before the Frankfort Diet ; where the 
explanation of the Danish envoy that there was no 
intention of interfering with the constitutional, legislative 
or administrative independence of the several parts of the 
monarchy was regarded as inadequate; but, though the 
Diet passed a resolution calling upon the Danish Govern- 
ment to respect the rights of the Confederation, the agnati 
and the Holstein Estates, it interfered no further except by 
reserving to itself its own eventual 'constitutional com- 
petence' (September 1846). The meeting of the Schleswig 
Estates, before collapsing (December) through the secession 
of Duke Christian i\ugust of Augustenburg and the majority 
in consequence of the refusal to the Estates by the Govern- 
ment of the right of petition, passed a vote in favour of the 
incorporation of the duchy in the Germanic Confederation. 
The following year (1847) was, accordingly, a time of 
eager expectancy on both sides, with a view to the pursuance 
of the policy announced in the 'open letter,' and of the 
resistance certain to be offered to it. The personal changes 
in the administration of the duchies — above all the dismissal 
of Prince Frederick of Noer (the younger brother of Duke 
Christian August of Augustenburg and of Queen Caroline 
Amalia) from the offices of Governor-general and Com- 
mander-in-chief in Schleswig-Holstein, to which he had been 
appointed in 1842 — had exercised no decisive effect; and 
in Schleswig the conflict of nationalities displayed more 
vehemence than ever in the elections for a new diet. King 
Christian VIII, however, had set his hopes upon a venture 
which, as he had persuaded himself, might reconcile to the 

112 Schleszi'ig-Hol stein and the Danish War [CH. 

maintenance of the integrity of the entire monarchy even 
the Sclileswig-Holstein enthusiasm for the indivisibiUty of 
the two duchies, and supply a surer guarantee than the 
goodwill of the Great Powers which he had been so long 
intent upon securing for his succession scheme. This was 
the design of a constutition whose Liberal breadth should 
satisfy both his Danish and his German subjects. To 
whatever extent King Christian VIII was presumably 
responsible for the draft which, as elaborated by State- 
councillor Bang, he early in January summoned the 
Rigsraad to discuss, his statesmanship, though he was both 
well-informed and able, was neither strong nor self-reliant 
enough for the scheme to have fared better in his hands 
than it did in those of his son, who, on the 28th of the 
same month, succeeded him on the throne. Frederick VII 
was conspicuously wanting in energy, and notoriously 
prone to self-indulgence; but he enjoyed a popularity to 
which his father had never attained with his Danish 
subjects, who liked to regard their sovereign as one of 

The draft constitution left behind him by Christian VIII 
was published a few days after the accession of Frederick 
VII, who at the same time followed his father's advice by 
naming Count Charles von Moltke-Niitschau, a skilful man 
of affairs. Minister of State to carry through the scheme. It 
represents an attempt both sincere and conciliatory to 
settle the Schleswig-Holstein question and the future of the 
monarchy on the corporate state basis. Inspired, perhaps, 
by the example of the Prussian United Diet of 1847^, ^^^ 
draft proposed to create a General Diet for the whole Danish 
monarchy, which was to consist of the same number of 
deputies chosen from the kingdom and from the duchies 
respectively ; while by its side the Estates or representative 
bodies in each of the component parts of the monarchy 

^ Cf. vol, I, p. 341, ante. 

ii] The Constitutional Conflict 113 

were to continue to assemble. All laws or other measures 
that concerned the monarchy as a whole, including matters 
appertaining to taxation and financial administration, were 
to be dealt with by the General Diet ; while business con- 
cerning either the kingdom or the duchies only was to be 
left to their own representative assemblies. Provision was 
made for the protection in Schleswig of both the German 
and the Danish language. The draft constitution was to 
be submitted to a committee of experts, composed of 18 
elected representatives of the kingdom and the duchies, to 
whom the Crown proposed to add 16 nominees of its own. 

At Copenhagen, the proposed gift of a constitution, 
devised on Liberal lines, could not fail to attract demo- 
cratic sympathies ; but the consideration shown to the 
duchies in the contemplated composition of the General 
Diet aroused resentment, and the insistence of the Eider- 
Danes on the incorporation of Schleswig, whatever might 
become of Holstein, speedily prevailed. In the duchies 
there was general mistrust of the proffered gift, and opinion 
was divided even as to the expediency of taking part in 
the election of the proposed experts. Soon, however, the 
constitution itself was as dead as its author. In the midst 
of these discussions came the news of the February revolu- 
tion at Paris, which, as everywhere else, intensified public 
excitement. On March i8th, a meeting of delegates from 
the Estates of both the duchies was held at Rendsburg, 
where it was resolved, before adopting extreme measures, 
to send an address to the King, demanding a joint con- 
stitution for Schleswig-Holstein and the entrance of 
Schleswig into the Germanic Confederation. On the 21st the 
counterstroke was delivered at Copenhagen. On the previous 
day, as the result of an inflammatory speech delivered by 
Orla Lehmann, the leader of the Eider-Danes, a public 
petition had been presented to the King ; and, in obedience 
to its demands, he now informed the Rigsraad that he had 

W. M. G. II. 8 

114 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [CH. 

resolved to effect the incorporation of Schleswig in the 
kingdom of Denmark. On the same day a new Ministry was 
appointed, which included Orla Lehmann. The Schleswig- 
Holstein deputation which had brought the Rendsburg ad- 
dress was sent home with a royal proclamation in its hands, 
announcing the impending incorporation of Schleswig, and 
the grant of a separate constitution to Holstein. 

Revolution now responded to revolution. Already on 
the 20th, Duke Christian August of Augustenburg had 
taken his departure for Berlin, in order to ascertain how far 
the Prussian Government was prepared to support the 
wishes of the ducliies and his own claims. They were in 
his name laid before King Frederick William IV, who — 
for it was the morrow of the Berlin insurrection — expressed 
himself in favour of the demands for union and independ- 
ence, and for the maintenance of the Schleswig-Holstein 
succession in the male line. On his return, the wary 
claimant found that the movement in the duchies had 
passed beyond his guidance, and that a Provisional Govern- 
ment had been appointed, of which his younger brother, 
Prince Frederick of Noer, formed part. Without renouncing 
the authority of King Frederick VH as Duke of Schleswig- 
Holstein, Duke Christian August identified himself with this 
Government so far as to take up his residence at its seat. 
Rendsburg, and to declare himself in favour of resistance to 
the action of the sovereign while the latter was 'unfree.' 

To the war of 1848-50 there is no necessity for returning 
here^. The part played in it by Prussia was not one entitling 
her either to the gratitude of the duchies or to the confidence 
of the supporters of what was regarded as a national cause 
in Germany at large. Troops were, at first, sent in aid of 
the Schleswig-Holsteiners by the Prussian Government, and 
foUowed by others despatched, at the instance of the 
Vorparlament, by the Confederation ; but the invasion of 
^ Cf. vol. I, pp. 465-7; 519-21, ante. 

ii] The War of 1848-50 115 

Jutland was arrested by peace negotiations into which the 
Prussian Government had entered at the instance of the 
Russian. On August 26th, a truce was concluded with 
the Danes at Malmo. Before the National Assembly at 
Frankfort had been finally induced — not without the aid 
of the Duke of Augustenburg, who was anxious, at any 
cost, to avoid a rupture with Prussia— to approve this 
compact, the Provisional Government in the duchies had 
resigned, and its place had been taken by an administration 
carried on in the name of the reigning King-Duke and 
countenanced by the Danish Government. Hostilities, 
however, reopened with the close of the winter, and success 
attended the German campaign by both sea and land. 
But the Prussian Government had resolved to cease anj- 
cooperation in a struggle which was regarded with uncon- 
cealed disfavour by Russia and disapproved by Great 
Britain, besides being repugnant to the principles of the 
conservative party at Berlin, and little to the taste of 
King Frederick William IV himself. Thus, even before the 
defeat of General von Bonin at Fredericia (July 6th, 1849) 
negotiations had begun at Berlin, and, a few days later 
{]u\y loth), a truce and peace preliminaries had been con- 
cluded there. For the Schleswig-Holstein Government and 
Estates nothing remained but to assent to the withdrawal 
of the troops still under their control behind the Eider. 

While Holstein nominally retained a Government of its 
own, Schleswig was now placed under an administration of 
three — a Dane, a Prussian, and a British official^ ; but the 
sequel was known to be only a matter of time. On July 
2nd, 1850, Prussia concluded peace with Denmark, simply 
putting an end to any obligations undertaken by herself 
towards the duchies, and leaving them and the war in 
Denmark's hands. A separate agreement provided for the 

1 Colonel Hodges, our charge d'affaires at Hamburg, of whose 
Danish sympathies there was no doubt. 

ii6 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [CH. 

evacuation of all but the southernmost part of Schleswig ; 
and the duchy was during the winter occupied by Danish 
troops. In the resistance carried on during the year 1850 
by the Schleswig-Holstein army under the command of 
General Freiherr Wilhelm von Willisen, a few Prussian 
officers, who like him had given up their Prussian com- 
missions for the purpose, took part. But, before it finally 
broke down, the Prussian Government had signed the 
Olmiitz punctation, by which it was agreed to set up an 
Austro-Prussian 'commission of pacification' in Holstein. 
In the meantime, the Schleswig-Holstein army was to be 
reduced — if necessary, by the use of force — ^to one-third of 
its existing total of more than 40,000 men, with a view to 
its subsequent entire disbandment. An Austrian force 
entered the duchy; the Germanic Confederation declared 
its wish to carry out the peace with Denmark; and, on 
January nth, 1851, the Holstein Estates gave way. Their 
'ducal' Government resigned its powers into the hands of 
the Commissioners; and the army was scattered to the 
winds. A few months more, and the interim, in its turn, was 
at an end, and the direct authority of the King-Duke was 
reestablished in the whole of his dominions. 

Yet, notwithstanding the success which had ultimately 
attended the Danish Government in both war and negotia- 
tion, it was manifest that the lasting maintenance of the 
integrity of the monarchy depended on finding a solution 
of the constitutional problem which should satisfy its 
component parts and be accepted by the German Great 
Powers on their own behalf and on that of the Confederation. 
To the permanent establishment of a merely 'personal' 
union the temper of the Danish democracy would not allow 
the Crown to agree; was a federal settlement still possible 
which would to some extent meet the demands of the 
Eider-Danes and the public opinion which they controlled, 
while possessing that measure of fixity upon which Austria, 

ii] The Bluhme Ministry and its Policy 117 

with Prussia in her wake and Russia in the background, 
was primarily intent ? The new Danish Minister of Foreign 
Affairs, C. A. Bluhme, a statesman of much ability and 
considerable personal influence, made the attempt ; and, on 
December 8th, 1851, a scheme or programme was trans- 
mitted to the Courts of Vienna and Berlin, of which the 
purport was that the Danish Government undertook to effect 
an organic and homogeneous union of the monarchy by legal 
and constitutional means, i.e. by consulting the Estates of 
the duchies of Schleswdg and Holstein (and the Knights and 
landowners of Lauenburg) as well as the Danish Rigsdag 
at Copenhagen. As to Schleswig, the King repeated his 
promise to refrain from any steps towards its incorporation 
in Denmark; as to Holstein, on the other hand, he could 
not approve of a closer union between it and Schleswig 
than that which existed between either of the duchies and 
the kingdom. The Austrian and Prussian Governments, 
hereupon, signified their assent to these proposals, provided 
that the King of Denmark declared them to be binding 
upon himself, so that they might commend them for 
acceptance to the Germanic Confederation ; and it was 
partly with the view of meeting this demand, and placing 
his undertakings on record, that King Frederick VII, on 
January 28th, 1852, his Ministry having been reconstructed 
under the presidency of Bluhme, issued a proclamation, on 
the explicit pledge in which the next, or penultimate, stage 
in the history of the Schleswig-Holstein question virtually 
turns. According to the design which it was now proposed 
to call into life, the existing constitution of the kingdom 
of Denmark was to be preserved intact, while the duchies 
(and Lauenburg) were to receive separate constitutions of 
their own, and their governments to be conducted by 
separate Ministers responsible to the sovereign only. In 
addition, however, there was to be established a constitution 
common to the monarchy at large, which would regulate the 

ii8 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [CH. 

treatment of matters of general concern, such as foreign 
affairs, war, navy and, in part, finance. The settlement of 
this constitution, and the discrimination between affairs of 
common and those of separate interest, was to be submitted 
to the existing Estates of the duchies. For the rest, care 
was to be taken that these Estates should, with regard to 
the affairs brought before them, not merely exercise a 
consultative voice, but possess the power of resolving. 
Holstein was to be governed by the restored Duke according 
to its own laws, which were not to be altered except in a 
constitutional way ; and, as to Schleswig, the new constitu- 
tion was to contain all provisions necessary for securing to 
both the Danish and the German nationalities respectively 
'perfectly equal rights and powerful protection.' A note 
sent to Vienna and Berlin with copies of this manifesto 
expressed the King of Denmark's conviction, as based on 
a recent Austrian communication, that the two Govern- 
ments were in agreement as to the intentions now declared 
by him, more especially with regard to the non-incorporation 
of Schleswig in the kingdom. The Frankfort Diet, on July 
29th, following, placed on record its approval of Frederick 
VII's prockmiation, and expressed its hope that he would 
govern his German dominions in the spirit which it dis- 
played. So early as Februar3^ the Diet had recalled the 
Confederate troops from Holstein ; and it seemed as if 
Bluhmc's move in the game had not been made in vain, 
and the constitutional side of the question had for the 
present been laid to rest. 

But there was another side to the problem which, with 
the accession of King Frederick VII, had once more become 
prominent and which was inseparable from any attempt to 
settle the future of the Danish monarchy on a permanent 
footing. The question of the order of succession to be fol- 
lowed on the extinction of the reigning male line of Christian I 
had played a considerable part in the recent war, and Duke 

ii] The London Protocol of 1852 119 

Christian August of Augustenburg had identified his claims 
to the succession in the duchies with their rising on behalf 
of their constitutional rights. On the other hand, Danish 
diplomacy had been active in promoting an international 
agreement, b^^ which the integrity of the existing Danish 
monarchy should be maintained and the succession newlv 
regulated. In August 1850, immediately after the Prussian 
peace with Denmark, the representatives of Great Britain, 
France, Russia and Sweden had signed a protocol in London, 
to which Austria acceded before the end of the month, 
which, besides pronouncing in favour of the integrity of the 
Danish monarch^^ approved of the intention of the King 
of Denmark to prepare a new order of succession for 
recognition by the Powers. Now, after the proclamation 
of January 28th, 1852, had sought to safeguard the integrity 
of the monarch}' by a common constitution, no time was 
to be lost in establishing this order of succession also. 
The motives inducing the European Powers to give their 
assent to the settlement which was actually effected by the 
new London Protocol of May 8th of this year, and by which, 
on the extinction of the reigning line. Prince Christian of 
Gliicksburg and his descendants in the male line were 
recognised as next in the succession, cannot be discussed 
here. Tsar Nicholas, who up to 1850 had entertained the 
design of securing the acquisition of the entire Danish 
monarchy by the Hereditary Grand-duke Peter of Olden- 
burg, had in 1851 finally given up pressing the claims of 
Oldenburg, nor were they urged by his kinsman (who 
succeeded as Grand-duke in 1853) as applying to the duchies 
in their entirety. The Russian goodwill to the Gliicksburg 
succession sufficed to incline the British Tory Cabinet, 
which was particularly desirous of avoiding renewed friction 
with Russia, to follow suit in this matter; nor was any 
opposition to be looked for from France. The real obstacles 
to a summary settlement lay elsewhere. Were the rights 

120 Schleswig-H olstein and the Danish War [CH. 

of the Germanic Confederation to be ignored in the settle- 
ment of the succession to Holstein, and were the Augusten- 
burg claims to be overriden in both duchies? The latter 
difficulty was the more pressing. From the Danish point 
of view, the share taken by the House of Augustenburg in 
the insurrectionary war had placed it out of court, if, indeed, 
it had not rendered the Duke and his brother liable to a charge 
of high treason. Moreover, their claims were in themselves not 
considered altogether flawless, and to those of their descend- 
ants further objections might be taken^. But the settle- 
ment was to be pacific, and the goodwill of the duchies 
was, if possible, to be conciliated. The pretensions of the 
eldest of the agnatic lines had been steadily upheld by 
Duke Christian August, in tenacity of will at least a fit 
representative of his fellow-countrymen ; and he had gained 
their respect, if not their attachment, even before he and his 
brother had risked everything in the crisis of the fortunes 
of the duchies and their own. He stood at once for the 
cause of the legal right, thus commanding the sympathy 
of the German Princes, and for that of national aspira- 
tions. In Duke Ernest II of Coburg he had found a 
thoroughgoing supporter of his rights. King Frederick 
William IV of Prussia, to whom the cause of legitimacy 
never appealed in vain, had, from the first, shown himself 
alive to their strength; and the Duke, in his turn, had 
shrewdly taken every care to conciliate the King's goodwill. 
Nor was it without significance that Queen Victoria was 
strongly interested in the claims of which her husband's 
brother was the most conspicuous champion. Accordingly, 
the Danish Government arrived at the conclusion that the 

^ Cf. p. 52, ante. No further reference seems needed to the 
marriages of Duke Christian August and Prince Frederick of Noer, 
which, having been sanctioned by the King of Denmark as head 
of the whole House, were, according to the lex loci, not to be con- 
sidered 'morganatic' 

ii] The Aiigustenhurg Compensation 121 

Duke of Augustenburg had to be reckoned with, instead of 
his pretensions being contemptuously thrust aside. A long 
negotiation began even before the substance of the proposed 
London protocol was known to the Duke; and, after 
passing through several stages in which the chief part was 
played, with admirable tact^, by Bismarck, then Prussian 
envoy at Frankfort, came to a close towards the end of 
April — just in time for the signing of that instrument. 

The Duke was paid a sum variously reckoned at two 
millions and a quarter and two millions and a half of 
Prussian dollars (£340,000 or 375,000) for the surrender to 
the Danish Crown of the whole of his landed possessions in 
Schleswig, undertaking in return to acquire no further 
landed property in the duchy and at no time to take up 
his residence within the Danish monarchy ; while promising, 
for himself and for his family, to do nothing against the 
proposed regulation of the succession and organisation of 
the Danish dominions. 

Under the angry light of later events, this transaction 
was subjected to severe censure as representing, in a word, 
the sale of his rights and those of his House by the Duke of 
Augustenburg. In point of fact, whatever may be thought 
of the pecuniary bargain he made, he had found himself 
face to face with the choice between it and the loss of all 
his estates. The alternative he chose was not heroic; but 
it was not dishonest. For himself, he henceforth abstained 
from any political action ; his two sons, who were of age and 
therefore did not legally belong to his 'family,' his promise 
was not intended to bind'^ Whether they would have done 
better to protest at once is a different question ; but there 
is evidence to show that their father was not of opinion 

^ See, however, Oncken, Rudolf von Bennigsen, vol. i, p. 629. 

2 Their assent was actually asked and given with regard to a 
different transaction, which had reference to the setting-up of an 
entailed estate for the family in Prussia, 

122 Schleswig-Hol stein and the Danish War [CH. 

that he was renouncing their rights; and that in truth 
he was, properly speaking, renouncing nothing but his 
Schleswig estates^. 

The London Protocol of May 8th, 1852, in which the 
Great Powers and Sweden pronounced the integrity of the 
Danish monarchy a European necessity, and gave practical 
expression to this conviction by recognising the succession 
in the whole monarchy of Prince Christian of Gliicksburg 
and his descendants in the male line, had neither in form 
nor in substance the character of a European guarantee. 
As a measure of policy, it gave no satisfaction in Denmark, 
where the Eider-Danes' hopes of the simple absorption of 
Schleswig, or South Jutland, as they were fain to call it, 
had been disappointed — not to speak of the wider aspira- 
tions for a general Scandinavian union — and where the rule 
of a Prince of German birth over a federation of constitu- 
tionally governed states was not regarded as a satisfactory 
prospect. Nor, on the other hand, was the protocol liked 
in Germany, drawn up as it had been with complete dis- 
regard of the Federal Diet, the only existing Federal 
organ, and in defiance of the desires of the secondary and 
petty states and their dynasties^. But no reopening of the 
question between the two German Great Powers was at 
this time possible ; and the Danish Government waited for 
more than a year, before, on July 31st, 1853, it promulgated 
the new order of succession as a law valid for the entire 
monarchy. It was not laid before the Estates of the 
duchies; and the question as to their competence to give 
or refuse their assent to it remained unraised. The future 
must take care of itself ; meanwhile, it would be seen how 
the Danish Government proposed to redeem the promises 

^ Gebauer, Christian August, p. 330. 

2 It was, however, afterwards approved by Electoral Hesse, 
Hanover, Saxony and Wiirttemberg. K. Kliipfel, Geschichte der 
deutschen Einheitsbestrebungen, etc., vol. i (1872), p. 318. 

ii] Separate Constitutions for the two Duchies 123 

by which it had received the assent of the German Great 
Powers — for the Confederation had been left out of the 
bargain — to the unguaranteed recognition of the integrity 
of its dominions. 

In view of the heav}^ penalty which Denmark had to 
pay for her proceedings in the next decade, and of the 
excuse afforded to her action by the impotence of German 
national policy in this period, and the consequent disregard 
of its claims b\^ the other Powers, there is no necessity for 
dwelling on the results of a treaty, of which, if of any, it 
might be asserted that it was made only to be broken. 
Suffice it therefore to say, as to the constitutional side of 
the transaction, that in 1852 the drafts of separate con- 
stitutions prepared by the Danish Government for Schleswig 
and Holstein were submitted to the Estates of the respective 
duchies with a direction not to consider the relations 
between the different parts of the monarchy, but only 
those paragraphs which referred to the future composition 
of the several Estates themselves and to their competence 
to regulate the affairs of the duchy represented by them. 
When, in consequence, the Holstein Estates refused their 
assent to the draft submitted to them, and the Schleswig 
Estates approved that laid before them only subject to 
important modifications, the King was advised to impose 
(octroyer) the new separate constitutions by his own 
authority; and this he proceeded to do — in Schleswig in 
February, and in Holstein in June 1854 — without regarding 
either the disapproval with which the draft proposals had 
met in the Holstein, or the amendments which had been 
adopted in the sister, duchy. In addition to the two 
separate constitutions, and in connexion with them, a 
constitution for the common affairs of the monarchy was 
imposed (July), without being submitted to the representa- 
tive bodies of its component parts ; but, as this corporate 
constitution never came into operation, its provisions need 

124 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [ch. 

not be enumerated here. It failed to satisfy popular feeling 
at Copenhagen ; and before long, the Minister who was 
chiefly responsible for it, A. S. Oersted, was overthrown and 
a new Ministry was formed by L. N. von Scheie, a Holstein 
landowner and official, who was prepared to administer his 
native duchy (of which he was appointed special Minister) 
in accordance with the requirements of the Danish demo- 
crac}^ He was primarily responsible for the new constitu- 
tion for the common affairs of the monarchy, which in 
October 1855 took the place of that of the previous year, 
and which forms the definitive attempt to settle the 
constitutional system of the monarchy in the sense of 
Danish predominance. Its most conspicuous feature was 
the establishment of a council of state (Rigsraad) of not 
less than 80 members, of whom 20 were to be nominated 
by the King and 30 by the representative bodies of the 
kingdom and duchies, for different periods of years, while 
30 were to be elected by a direct popular vote. Of the 
King's nominees 12 were to be taken from Denmark, and 
8 from Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg ; of the delegates 
of representative bodies 18 were to be sent by the Danish 
diet and 12 by the Estates of the duchies; of the directly 
elected, 17 were to be chosen in Denmark and 13 in the rest 
of the monarchy. 

Without entering into the details of an electoral law 
which followed, and the immediate object of which was to 
render the assurance of a Danish ascendancy still more 
sure^, we cannot feel surprised at the results of legislation 
so transparent in its purpose. Partly as the result of 
abstention in the duchies, the first elections to the new 
Rigsraad resulted in an overwhelming Danish majority; 
and a motion made there by the influential Holsteiner 

1 Part of this law afterwards acquired a certain celebrity, as 
designed to protect the rights of minorities — where any such 

ii] Popular Grievances in Schleswig-Holstein 125 

Freiherr Karl von Scheel-Plessen and his friends, declaring 
the new corporate constitution invalid till it should have 
been submitted to the Estates of the duchies, found not 
more than fourteen supporters. The Holstein Estates, 
hereupon, attempted judicial proceedings against the 
obnoxious author of the new constitution ; but the Supreme 
Court declared itself incompetent in the matter. Though, 
in April 1857, Scheie withdrew from office, being succeeded 
as head of the Ministry by his colleague C. C. Hall, the consti- 
tutional question made no progress in his more supple hands, 
and soon led to the intervention of the Germanic Diet. 

Meanwhile, the grievances which came home directly 
to the populations of the duchies — held fast as these were by 
the roots {wurzelfest)'^ to their inherited institutions — con- 
tinued to add fuel to the flame of mutual jealousy and illwill. 
These grievances were of various kinds, and some of them ap- 
pealed very strongly to the sympathetic indignation of the 
German people at large^. Of a more special kind were those 
referring to the application of the income derived from the 
domain lands in the duchies to purposes common to the 
monarchy as a whole, and, on the other hand, to the 
exclusion of Schleswig and Holstein from a share in the 
profits accruing to the kingdom from the redemption of 
the Sound dues. There were other matters, more or less 
petty, concerning customs, coinage and circulation of 

^ An expression of Theodor Storm's, who was himself about this 
time driven into exile. 

- It must not be forgotten that this age was marked by a 
collision of nationalities in Europe at large, and that the conflict 
which declared itself in Schleswig might in other circumstances 
have blazed forth on the opposite shores of the Baltic. Early in 
1862, a movement arose in the Baltic provinces of Russia for the 
establishment of a united diet of these lands in self-defence against 
early Panslavistic schemes ; but the conditions of the problem were 
very different here, and it was not allowed to become a German 
question. (Cf. Aus dem Lehen T. von Bernhardt' s, vol. iv, pp. 249 ff.) 

126 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [ch. 

paper-money. But the whole administrative system was 
pervaded by an attempt on the part of the Government to 
take every advantage of its position ; both the duchies were 
filled with Danish officials, and in every sphere of pro- 
fessional life, judicial and financial as well as clerical and 
educational, Germans were forced to give way to Danes more 
especially by the process of leaving unconfirmed, contrary to 
custom, appointments made in the previous reign. In the 
same way, concessions for printing and publishing were with- 
drawn ; and, while at Copenhagen, since 1848, journalistic 
liberty had been allowed to grow into extreme licence, the 
duchies were as a matter of fact not allowed to have a 
press of their own, and were unable to vent their grievances 
except through the journals of German states. The right 
of assemblage and public discussion was similarly cut off. 
In addition to these and other abuses of power which were 
felt in both duchies, and others, such as those affecting the 
University of Kiel, which applied particularly to Holstein, 
there was the old trouble of the repression of the German 
language in Schleswig. The responsibility for such a 
persecution is never easy to bring home to an offending 
Government ; but the processes in this instance were gross 
and palpable, and the whole design is probably not mis- 
represented by the statement that it amounted to a 
deliberate attempt to facilitate the incorporation of 
Schleswig in Denmark by forcing the use of the Danish 
tongue in school and in church upon a population of 
which far the larger half spoke German as their native 
language^ Nor was the system merely applied in localities 
where the nationalities were mixed ; but on many exclusively 

^ According to Mr \V. R. Prior, North Sleswicli under Prussian 
Rule, 18O4-1914 (Oxford, 1914), a census tiiken in the duchy in 1855 
had shown that out of a population of about 400,000 there were wIk) spoke German only, 150,000 who spoke Danish only, 
while the remainder were bilingual. We may leave aside, as two- 

ii] Action of the Frankfort Diet 127 

German parishes in Angeln and elsewhere Danish clergymen 
were forced, and the Danish language alone was used there 
in both churches and schools^. 

As against tliis condition of things, the German Great 
Powers long hesitated in resolving upon a decided line of 
action, and this chiefly because they had not agreed upon 
a common policy. When, in 1856, the Holstein Estates 
consulted the Prussian Government as to the expediency' 
of protesting at the Diet, Bismarck, who as Prussian envoy 
at Frankfort was consulted on the subject by Manteuffel, 
recommended caution and, above all, abstinence from any 
action without the approval of Austria. Thus, the two 
Powers at first contented themselves with diplomatic 
representations at Copenhagen, wiiich appealed to the 
promises of 1852 ; and it was not till February 1858 that 
they countenanced the passing of a resolution by the 
Diet, refusing to recognise the corporate constitution of 
1855 as valid for Holstein and Lauenburg, and calling 
upon the Danish Government to declare its intentions as 
to the promises of 1852. When the Danish Government 
replied that the common constitution of the Danish 
monarchy, and consequently the place of Holstein in it, 
was no concern of the Confederation, Bismarck was ordered 
by the Regent to bring about a resolution of the Diet 
threatening Federal execution. This was passed (July) ; 
and, on reflexion, the Danish Government took up the 
logical position (November 6th, 1858) of issuing a royal 
patent abrogating the common constitution so far as it 
affected Holstein and Lauenburg, and summoned the 
Holstein Estates to meet at Itzehoe in order to discuss the 
situation. They, in their turn, persisted in their opposition 

edged, the argument that the Danish spoken in North-Schleswig — 
the ' ravens' Danish ' as it was called — was very different from that 
of Copenhagen. 

1 This applied to 24 Angeln parishes with 40,000 German in- 

128 Schlcswig-Hohtein and the Danish War [CH. 

to the treatment of the principle of a common constitution 
adopted by the Danish Government, and prepared, instead 
(March nth, 1859), ^ federal scheme of their own, which 
provided that no constitutional alterations concerning the 
whole monarchy should at any time take place without 
the consent of the four separate legislatures (Denmark, 
Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg). It is noticeable, as 
showing how the question of the succession was bound up 
with that of constitution, that the Holstein Estates took 
occasion to protest expressly against the law of July 31st, 
1853, which newly regulated the succession in the monarchy, 
witliout having been previously approved by the representa- 
tive bodies in the duchies. 

Since the Danish Government refused to agree to the 
counter-suggestions of the Holstein Estates, the only way 
out of the deadlock was a temporary arrangement ; and this 
was favoured by the absorbing interest taken by the German 
Powers at this time in Italian affairs. On September the 
23rd, 185Q, the Rigsraad at Copenhagen issued a.provisorium, 
or interim constitution, for the duchy of Holstein, which 
granted a slight increase of the linancial powers previously 
conceded to the Estates of the duchy, but stopped far short 
of the equahty of functions they had demanded. And, on 
November the 2nd, the Danish envoy at the Frankfort Diet 
promised that a conference should be summoned between 
deputies from the Holstein Estates and from the Rigsraad, 
in equal numbers, to settle a definitive scheme as to the 
treatment of the common affairs of the monarchy, in lieu 
of the corporate constitution abrogated, so far as Holstein 
was concerned, on October 2nd, 1855. 

The provisorium was too mucli like a leaf out of the 
Germanic Confederation's own book to lead to any pre- 
cipitate interference of that body on behalf of the duch}' 
whose rights it was under the obligation of protecting. 
On March 8th, i860, the Diet resolved further to delay 
Federal execution, unless the Danish Government should 

ii] Rechberg's Protest to Hall 129 

promulgate any law or budget dealing with the common 
affairs of the monarchy without approval by the Holstein 
Estates; but, when the Danish budget was pubhshed 
without such approval in July i860, nothing further was 
done at Frankfort. On the other hand, the dispute between 
the Holstein Estates and the Copenhagen Government 
became more embittered ; and, in deference to British 
representations more especially. Hall, the very capable 
head of the Danish Ministry, was at last found willing to 
enter into a diplomatic discussion of the situation with the 
German Great Powers. 

Towards the close of 1861, as has been seen^, the German 
policy of Austria was both to be on good terms with Prussia 
and to take advantage of her internal difficulties; and 
nothing therefore could have suited the Austrian Govern- 
ment better than to play a prominent part in the Schleswig- 
Holstein question, as to which it had hitherto been well- 
content to remain in the background. Rechberg's memo- 
randum in reply to Hall, dated August 26th, 1862, was 
therefore decided in tone. It protested against the con- 
tinued validity of the common constitution for Sclileswig 
as obviously aiming at the incorporation of the duchy 
in Denmark, and thus amounting to an open violation of 
the promises of 1852. Why, now that the integrity of 
the monarchy and the regulation of the succession had 
been secured, should not the historic union of the two 
duchies be restored, and an end be made of the whole strife ? 

It was at this point in the history of the Schleswig- 
Holstein difficulty that, to the surprise of both sides in the 
quarrel, a way out of it was suggested by the British 
Foreign Secretary, Lord Russell. In a sense, nothing could 
be altogether unexpected that proceeded from this par- 
ticular quarter; and the British Government had since 
1857 been in possession of full information as to the state of 

^ p. 67, ante. 
w. M. G. II. 9 

130 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [CH. 

things in the duchies, although it had been judged expedient 
to withhold this information from Parliament and the public^. 
Lord Russell, however, based his viewson knowledge which he 
had the best opportunity of amplifying when in attendance 
on Queen Victoria during her visit in the autumn of this 
year to Coburg, the centre of the Schleswig-Holstein move- 
ment in Gcrmanv--. Lord Russell perceived that the common 
constitution of 1855, ha\'ing never been approved by either 
of the two duchies, could have no validity in either of them. 
He further perceived that, in 1852, Denmark had promised 
not to incorporate Schlcswig and to protect the rights of 
the German part of its population. Inasmuch as there 
could be no supervision of the maintenance of these rights 
by the Germanic Confederation, the only way remaining 
seemed to Lord Russell to be the grant of perfect autonomy 
to Schleswig, which left the decision of all matters proper 
to the duchy (including the language to be used in churches 
and schools) to its own representative body^, and at the 
same time implied the dissolution of the old organic con- 
nexion with Holstein. As to the common constitution, 
since the simultaneous discussion of every law or budget 
by three (or, with Lauenburg, four) representative bodies 
was obviously impracticable, Lord Russell suggested, as a 
compromise, a normal budget, to be fixed every ten years 

^ Sec the letter to Manteuflel from Dr von Quehl, Prussian 
Consul-general at Copenhagen, as to the substance of Consul- 
general Ward's report of 1857 in iNIanteuffel's Denkwiirdigkeiten, 
vol. Ill, pp. 225-6. 

'^ Sir Robert Morier, who attended Lord Russell as private 
secretary at Coburg, regarded himself as ' the moral author ' of the 
famous dispatch of September 24th, 1802. As to this, and Morier's 
explanatory pamphlet of the following year, see his Memoirs and 
Letters, vol. i (1911), chapters xv and xvi. 

' This characteristic suggestion had been made by Lord John 
Kussell so early as August i860. See S. Walpole, Life of Lord John 
Russell (1891), vol. II, p. 388. 

ii] Lord Rttssell's Proposals 131 

by these assemblies and applied by a council of state, 
composed of Danes and Germans in equal numbers. 

These proposals — for diplomacy has its moments of 
naivete, and the main objection to Lord Russell's scheme 
lay in its ignoring both what Denmark wanted and what to 
the duchies was the substance and the symbol of their 
resistance — were at once approved in Petersburg, and at 
Berlin (where Bismarck had just taken office) were still 
more decisively accepted as a suitable basis for a settle- 
ment. But the courage of the Danes was equal to with- 
standing this appeal to the pacific desires of Europe, which 
seemed so fair and was yet so fallacious ; and, in a series of 
dispatches. Hall asserted the right of Denmark to settle 
her own affairs, and to maintain the connexion of Schleswig, 
as a Danish land, with the monarchy. Austria's earlier 
suggestion of a union of the duchies was emphatically 
declined. On January 21st, 1863, the Landsthing voted an 
address to the King demanding a definitive constitution for 
Denmark and Schleswig — i.e. the incorporation of the duchy 
in the kingdom ; and, on March 30th following, there 
appeared the royal patent which, while declaring the 
necessity of settling the constitution of the monarchy 'so 
far as possible' in accordance with the demands of the 
Germanic Confederation, promulgated a new constitution 
for Holstein. This constitution practicall}- excluded 
Holstein from representation in the Rigsraad, leaving 
Schleswig to her fate under its control. The financial 
arrangements which accompanied these provisions were 
calculated to place a heavy additional burden (of more than 
2 million dollars) upon the duchies. With the patent of 
March 30th, 1863, if it were allowed to remain valid, a new 
era of Eider-Danism had been set on foot, while Lord 
Russell's project of conciliation had gone the way of all 
previous compromises. 

The issue of the Danish patent of March 30th, 1863 — of 


T32 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [ch. 

this there could be no doubt^ — made it necessary for Austria 
to take speedy action, unless she was prepared to let Prussia 
proceed by herself; while the far-sighted statesman now 
in charge of Prussian affairs modified the attitude of caution 
which he had hitherto observed. The patent had, in direct 
contravention of the promises of 1852, been promulgated 
without consulting the Holstein Estates, and, though it 
enlarged their powers, entailed serious financial losses upon 
the duchy. Hence, a decree of Federal execution on the 
part of the Frankfort Diet seemed no longer avoidable, 
and, in answer to Rechberg's enquiry, the Prussian Govern- 
ment expressed itself in favour of proposing to the Diet the 
execution required. 

But to Germany at large those diplomatic provisions 
seemed all too slow. The Nationalverein was, indeed, chiefly 
preoccupied at this time with the progress of the parlia- 
mentary' conflict in Prussia, which had risen to an unpre- 
cedented degree of vehemence, while the attention of political 
controversialists was, also, diverted by the Austrian scheme 
of Federal reform. But some of the lesser states sought to 
hasten the action of the Great Powers ; and, while Hanover 
and Baden made energetic declarations to the Diet, 
Oldenburg (more directly interested) brought forward a 
motion there, purporting that, since Denmark had broken 
the Treaties of 1852, the ancient rights of the duchies 
should be restored. Though, on April 17th, Bismarck 
disdainfully opposed a motion to the same effect in the 
Prussian Chamber, declaring that if the Government con- 
sidered war with Denmark necessary, it would be declared 
with or without the Chamber's approval, the Grand-duke 
pressed his motion in the Diet. In the end, a resolution 
was passed there, offering the Danish Government a term 
of six months within which to withdraw the patent of 
March the 30th, and to open negotiations for a new common 
constitution on the basis of the settlement of 1852 or of 

ii] Federal Execution Approved 133 

the British mediatory proposals of 1862. At the same time, 
dehberations continued as to the composition of the force 
which would be required for the Federal execution, in the 
event of a Danish refusal. 

In the menacing aspect which matters had at last 
assumed, the courage of the Danes was kept up by a visit 
of the King of Sweden to the Danish Court, and by the 
bluster — for it can hardly be described otherwise — of Lord 
Palmerston in the House of Commons. Lord Russell's 
attempt to understand the Sclileswig-Holstein question 
had not been largely imitated in this country; and T. von 
Bernhardi's visit, made for the purpose of enlightening 
English public opinion, began too late and was conducted 
on too restricted a scale ^. On August 26th, the Danish 
answer arrived at Frankfort. It refused the withdrawal of 
the March patent and treated the sending of a Federal 
execution as a casus belli. The Ftirstentag was sitting at 
the time; and never had it seemed more expedient that 
Austria should espouse a cause dear to the mind and heart 
of the German nation. Beust was at hand with a proposal 
that the Congress of Princes should be asked to make a 
suitable reply to the provocation contained in the Danish 
answer; but Rechberg thought that Prussia — which had 
declined attending the Congress — should first be consulted^. 
So it was left to the Diet to reply, and, a further note of 
defiance having been sounded at Copenhagen by the 
announcement of a new constitution for Denmark and 
Schleswig (September 2Sth), a vote approving the recom- 
mendation of Federal execution, made by the Committees 
appointed on the subject, was, all but unanimously, passed 

^ He crossed quite at the close of the year. See Aus dem Leben, 
vol. V, p. 285. He was then in the Augustenburg interest, and 
believed that Bismarck meant ultimately to restore the duchies to 

2 Memoirs of Count Beust (Engl, tr.), vol. i, pp. 231-2. 

134 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [CH. 

at Frankfort (October ist). The execution, it may be well 
to remember, was to be against King Christian IX as Duke 
of Holstein, and he was thus to be forced to reconsider 
constitutional changes by which he had jeopardised the 
future of the duchy. Lord Russell's offer of mediation 
had fallen through, not, it must be allowed, by Bismarck's 
fault, but through the unwillingness of the Danish Govern- 
ment to shut itself up to this course except in the case of 
extremity^. The British Foreign Secretary's remonstrance 
to the Diet at the last moment was waved aside. 

Bismarck, then, of whose diplomacy rashness at no 
time actually formed part, was still unwilHng to venture on 
the final throw, and to provoke the illwill of the Western 
Powers, already aroused against Prussia's ally Russia, at 
a time when the Fiirsientag policy of Austria had inevitably 
caused tension between her and Prussia herself. He there- 
fore continued to maintain a conciliatory attitude towards 
Denmark ; and here it was only natural that he should be 
met by some pacific tendencies. They found an influential 
representative in Baron von Blixen-Finecke, a large Jutland 
landowner, brother-in-law to Prince Christian of Gliicksburg, 
the heir to the throne under the new law of succession. King 
Frederick VII himself was understood to be in favour of a 
middle course. But when, with the aid of Blixen-Finecke and 
of Sir Andrew Buchanan, British ambassador-extraordinary 
at Berlin, communications with a view to averting Federal 
execution by concessions had been opened with the Danish 
Government, it was not to be moved from its purpose of 
carrying out the incorporation of Schleswig before taking 
any steps towards the withdrawal of the obnoxious March 
patent. Thus, though not without difficulty, the necessary 
two-thirds' majority was kept up in the Rigsraad for the 
acceptance of the new constitution for Schleswig and 
Denmark promised by the King, which signified the 

1 See S. Walpolc, Life of Lord John Russell, vol. ii, pp. 396-7. 

ii] Death of Frederick VII 135 

breaking-up of the compact of 1852, on which the mainte- 
nance of the integrity of the monarchy depended. Neither 
Great Britain nor even Sweden could support so defiant 
a pohcy; but Hall and the Eider-Danes, encouraged by 
what they interpreted as the fears of Prussia, stood firm, 
and on November 13th the new constitution was passed in 
the Rigsraad by 40 against 16 votes. On the same day, 
Hall repaired to Gliicksburg, in order to secure the signature 
of Frederick VH to the document. He found the King 
dangerously ill, though not without moments of conscious- 
ness and intelligence. In one of these, the constitution was 
submitted to him for his signature ; but he refused, saying 
that he left this business to his successor. On November 
15th, 1863, King Frederick VH died. Prince Ferdinand, 
the King's uncle and heir-presumptive, had predeceased 
him in the previous July. The time had come, as Bishop 
Monrad writes in his journal, for bombs to burst 1. 

A few days before this, a 'bomb,' of which the destina- 
tion could not be stated with certainty, had been thrown 
by a skilful hand into the midst of the European family of 
nations. On November 5th, Napoleon IH had opened his 
legislature with a speech announcing that, 'inasmuch as 
the Treaties of 1815 had ceased to exist, nothing could be 
more reasonable than to summon the Powers of Europe to 
a Congress which should form a supreme tribunal for the 
decision of all doubtful questions.' His invitations to 
such a Congress, as has been seen, had been issued on the 
previous day. Undoubtedly, the meeting, could it have taken 
place, would have overtrumped the gathering of Princes at 
Frankfort; but neither as to the Danish difficulty, nor as 
to German affairs at large, could there be any wish on the 
part of Austria and Prussia to discuss the situation with 
any such tribunal. That Austria should shrink from taking 
part in a revision of the Treaties of 1815 was a matter of 
^ Deltagelse i Begivenhederne 1864 {1914), p. 47. 

136 SchlescC'ig-Holstem and the Danish War [CH. 

course ; in the meantime, the imphed menace of the French 
announcement could not but inchne her to maintain as 
good an understanding as possible with Prussia, who had 
no corresponding interest in those Treaties, and with 
whom Napoleon III continued to show himself disposed to 
remain on friendly terms. 

The first, and unavoidable, consequence of the adoption 
of the new constitution by the Danish Rigsraad and of the 
death of King Frederick VII was not long in announcing 
itself. On November i6th Prince Christian of Gliicksburg 
was proclaimed at Copenhagen as King Christian IX; 
and, for the present, the Eider-Dane Ministry under Hall 
remained in ofhce as a matter of course. But, on the same 
day, an open letter of Duke Frederick (hitherto Hereditary 
Prince) of Augustenburg announced that, by virtue of his 
hereditary right as the first, in order of sequence, of the 
agnati, Duke Christian August having abdicated his rights 
in his elder son's favour, he had assumed the government of 
Schles wig-Hoist ein as Duke Frederick VIII, and promised 
to maintain the constitution of the duchies and the rights of 
his subjects. He appealed at the same time to the Germanic 
Confederation to protect the lawful order of succession in 
the duchies. 

No purpose would be served at this point by once more 
discussing the Augustenburg claims, and their defects; 
since before long, they were espoused, for better or worse, 
not only by the large majority of the population of the 
duchies, but, it is not too much to say, by Germany at 
large^. Prince Frederick of Sondcrburg- Augustenburg, like 

^ The legal faculties of not less than sixteen German universities 
are stated to have expressed themselves in favour of these claims. 
A different decision was that of the Crown-syndicate consulted by 
the Prussian Government in 1865 ; which body consisted of eighteen 
leading legal authorities, with few exceptions independent of the 
Crown. According to their opinion, to which we shall have to 

ii] Manifesto of Prince Frederick 137 

his brother Prince Christian, who devotedly seconded his 
efforts, was a man of high honour and a sense of duty which 
he obeyed imphcitly, whether he thought it bade him stand 
forward or hold his peace. After his father had redeemed 
his Schleswig estates by undertaking that nothing should be 
done by himself or his family against the new order of 
succession in the Danish monarchy, the brothers, who, 
being of age, had a right to act for themselves, had by 
Duke Christian August's wish refrained from any protest, 
until, in January 1859, the elder put forth a reservation 
of his rights, which met with little attention. For the rest, 
the appeal or proclamation of Duke Frederick VIII, as he 
now styled himself, made no mention of any doubts as to 
his claims to the succession ; and he at once betook himself 
to Gotha, the residence of his staunchest friend among the 
German Princes. Here it was that, at this critical time 
(November 1863), he was visited by T. von Bernhardi, who 
agreed to lend his persuasive pen for an appeal to the goodwill 
of Napoleon III, and who then passed on to England, to gain 

return in a different connexion, the Augustenburg claims by the 
London Protocol of 1852 became inferior to those of King Christian 
IX and his male descendants. And by eleven to seven (one of the 
minority, however, being the President, Professor Heffter), the 
Syndics decided that, being bound for all time by his father's 
promise, the present Duke of Augustenburg had lost his claim to 
the succession to the duchies. See Sybel, vol. iv, pp. loi ff. It must 
be remembered that Duke Christian August (of Schleswig-Holstein- 
Sonderburg) had in 1852 not formally renounced even his own claims 
to the succession (of Schleswig-Holstein), but only promised to 
undertake nothing against the present settlement. He now re- 
nounced or abdicated the claims themselves. Since the title of his 
elder son Frederick, as Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, was never 
recognised by the Great Powers, they continued to style him 
Hereditary Prince, the title by which he had hitherto been called, 
the younger members of the family being styled Princes, though 
legally Dukes. It would, however, be pedantry not to call him 
Duke in the text, though his father survived till 1869. 

13^^ Schlesicig-Holstein (Did the Danish War [CH. 

support for it thcre^. A more important visitor was Ben- 
nigsen, the president of the Naiionalvcrein, who hereupon 
drew up an eloquent appeal to the German nation and its 
princes, on the broadest of bases, to stand by the rit^ht'-. 
The Duke of Coburg lent Duke Frederick the aid of 
two Schleswig-Holsteiners, who had entered into his own 
ser\-ice on having to quit the duchies — Karl Samwer, who 
ultimateh' became the historian of the whole movement, 
and the Councillor of State, K. P. Francke, than whom 
no prince or pretender ever had more devoted and capable 
agents and adherents. To Samwer Duke Frederick's 
'foreign' relations, and to Francke his financial affairs were 
specially committed. Colonel du Plat, who in 1848 had 
exchanged the Danish for the Schleswig-Holstein service, 
acted as military adviser to the Duke, who wished his 
'subjects' to have a share in their own liberation. 

As yet, however, the uncertainty of the situation was 
great. In Schleswig, where since 1852 the Augustenburgs 
had become little more than the shadow of a name, the 
hopes of the German part of the population rested mainly 
on the Prince whom Denmark and the Powers had chosen 
as successor to the throne, and whose kindly nature and 
German descent seemed full of promise, not to speak of his 
family connexion (his eldest daughter Princess Alexandra 
had in March, 1863, been married to the Prince of Wales). 
With Holstein, on the other hand, Duke Christian August 
had taken care to remain in touch ; and immediately after 
the death of King Frederick VII a 'committee of action' 
was set up just across the border at Hamburg, which in 
journals and pamphlets reiterated the cry 'Away from 
Denmark, under the guidance of our hereditary duke^.' 

^ Cf. p. 133, note I, ante, and see Aks dem Lcbeii, vol. v, pp. 175 ff. 
For a characterisation of Samwer and Francke see Reminiscences of 
Sir Joseph Crowe (1895), pp. 404 ff. 

* See Oncken, Rudolf von Bennigsen, vol. i, pp. 623-4. 

' Among these pamphleteers were H. von Treitschke, L. K. 

ii] The Crisis 139 

At a meeting of ' men of confidence ' from both duchies 
held at Kiel on November i6th, the Schleswigers still hesi- 
tated about voting with the Holsteiners for Augustenburg 
and the expulsion of all Danish officials, when news from 
Copenhagen put an end to all doubt. 

It was the action of King Christian IX of Denmark 
which was to prove decisive — though no sovereign could 
ever have been more desirous of postponing a decision. 
On November i8th he signed the new constitution — 
whether in obedience to Ministerial, mob, or family pressure 
it matters little ; for there can be little doubt that his 
throne — perhaps more than his throne — was in danger if 
he refused, whereas for the moment there could be no fear of 
armed resistance in the duchies, where 30,000 Danish troops 
were quartered to overawe an unarmed population. 

The moral effect of the King's, in the circumstances 
scarcely avoidable, decision was extraordinary. The issue 
had all at once (though, of course, the suddenness was only 
apparent) become broad and clear. Through the length 
and breadth of Germany there seemed no thought of any 
result but the severance of both duchies from the Danish 
monarchy, or of any way of bringing this about except 
by establishing in them the Augustenburg succession. 
Governments and legislatures vied with one another in 
giving expression to the popular enthusiasm. The Baden 
Government was first in the race with an authorisation to 
its envoy (Mohl) to accept powers as representative at the 
Diet of Duke Frederick of Schleswig-Holstein, and to 
protest there against any infraction of his rights (November 
i6th). On the following day Oldenburg protested against 
the succession of Christian IX in the duchies. To this 
point of view Grand-duke Peter consistently adhered; on 
the other hand, he considered his own claims better than 

Aegidi and Konstantin Rossler. Cf. Gebauer, Herzog Friedrich VIII , 
Herzog von Schleswig-Holstein (191 2), p. 66. 

140 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [ch. 

the Augustenburg, but promised, and fulfilled his promise, 
not to raise the former till after matters had been settled 
with Denmark^. On November i8th, the legislative body 
of the city of Frankfort moved its Senate to recognise Duke 
Frederick VIII of Schleswig-Holstein ; and on the following 
day he was formally recognised by his faithful friend the 
Duke of Coburg-Gotha. Nor were the representative 
bodies of the Great Powers far behindhand. An interpella- 
tion on the subject at Vienna on November 20th was 
followed on the 23rd by motions for the recognition of the 
Duke from the Liberal side of the Chamber at Berlin. 
Here, as will be seen, there was no hurr\^; but, in the 
Second Saxon Chamber, Beust announced, on November 
24th, that the Government would propose at the Frankfort 
Diet that admission should be refused to the envoy of the 
King of Denmark as Duke of Holstein, and that an aug- 
mented Federal force should be sent into that duch}^ 
till the question of the legal succession should have been 
decided by the Government. The Hesse-Darmstadt and 
the Wiirttemberg Government and Chambers followed suit, 
and an endless number of associations, assemblies and 
committees joined in, the Nationalverein once more coming 
to the front with its proffered homage; subscription-lists 
were opened, and the formation of armed bodies 'of volun- 
teers was talked of. The unanimity of all classes and 
parties was unexampled, and comprehended everybody 
except social democrats and republicans, who could not 
bring themselves, even by joining in so general a burst of 
enthusiasm, to imply that they put their trust in princes'^. 

1 See below as to the use made of these claims by Bismarck, and 
their definitive abandonment by Grand-duke Peter; and cf. H. 
Oncken, Grossherzog Peter von Oldenburg, in Historisch-politische 
Aufsatze und Reden (1914), vol. 11, pp. 68 ff. 

2 Sybel's admirable account is followed in the above; but the 
present writer well remembers one of the most striking outbursts 
of national feeling it has ever been his lot to witness. 

ii] The Great Powers and the Diet 141 

Neither Rechberg nor Bismarck could mistake the fact 
that King Christian IX's acceptance of the obnoxious 
constitution had advanced the quarrel with Denmark into 
a new stage, of which the issue might prove to be the 
severance of the duchies from the Danish monarchy. The 
Prussian Minister, to whom the Austrian at the present 
moment looked for his cue, had resolved, instead of defying 
the non-German Great Powers at once, to leave the onus 
of provoking the conflict with the Danish King, and, instead 
of tearing up the Treaty of 1852, to demand at present 
nothing beyond the revocation of the new constitution. 
Should war break out, all previous settlements with the 
Danish Government would lapse; in the meantime, the 
future of the duchies (which the King of Prussia at present 
showed no desire to annex) must be held over, and no new 
petty state should be created in the Germanic Confederation, 
without a pre\dous reform of the Federal constitution at large. 
Rechberg, in the first instance, was content to follow the 
Prussian initiative ; and the envoys of the two Great Powers 
at Frankfort joined in urging upon the Diet the continuation 
of the Federal execution against Holstein, and a protest 
against the new constitution accepted by the King of Den- 
mark. The date of its actual introduction had been fixed for 
January ist, 1864, and Rechberg easily induced Bismarck 
to leave Denmark time till then to furnish the casus belli. 

But the Diet, which for once in its histor}^ felt that it 
had the nation at its back, was not to be persuaded. The 
'third Germany' was this time, as the phrase runs, 'out 
for action ' ; and the declaration of von der Pfordten was 
widely applauded, that there could no longer be any question 
of pressing either execution or withdrawal of the constitu- 
tion upon Christian IX, as if he had been acknowledged 
Duke of Holstein and amenable to the demands of the 
Diet. And, on November 28th, the Diet emphasised this 
view by a vote, on which the two Great Powers found 

142 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [cii. 

themselves in a minority of two against fourteen, suspending 
for the present the vote of King Christian's envoy for 
Holstein-Lauenburg, and thus, though not reaching a 
definitive resolution, declining to accept the Austro- 
Prussian \-iew of the continued validity of the Treaty of 1852. 
The supporters of the Augustenburg claim were encouraged 
to raise their demands ; and Roggenbach presciently insisted 
that the duchies should be occupied as a security for the 
claims of their lawful Duke. 

Bismarck's line of policy could not but benefit b\/ the 
obstinacy of Denmark and the wrath of the partisans of 
Augustenburg; and on December ist he made a speech 
to the Second Chamber at Berlin explaining the line of 
action of the Prussian Government, and putting the whole 
case of the German Powers in a nutshell. It was the first 
full revelation of his political genius^ ; but a revelation still 
very little understood. The Prussian Government, the 
Minister declared, still adhered to the Protocol — but on 
condition that Denmark adhered to the obligations which 
formed part of the compact. Should Denmark renounce 
these obligations, the Prussian Government must reserve to 
itself the right of renouncing the London Treaty, without 
referring the matter to the Germanic Confederation or 
entering into further declarations concerning it. The 
speech ended with a statement of the military measures 
and the consequent financial demands which would become 
necessary. After an agitated two days' debate, the Chamber 
by a majority of 231 against 63 votes, resolved that the 
recognition of Duke Frederick VIII by all the states of the 
Confederation was indispensable, together with an effective 
support of his assertion of his rights. 

If the vote of the Prussian Chamber exercised any 

^ See E. OUivier, L'Empire Liberal, vol. vii, p. 36, in a section 
of the work singularly lucid and impartial, though perhaps not 
quite fair to Duke Frederick. 

ll] The Federal Execution Decreed 143 

effect at all, it was to weaken the inclination of King 
William I to do what was in his power for the Augusten- 
burgs, and to increase the \\illingness of Rechberg to follow 
the lead of so prudent an ally. In opposition to the 
Hesse-Darmstadt motion at Frankfort for the occupation 
of Holstein ' in order to protect all rights,' the Great Powers, 
on December 7th, carried, though only by the narrow 
majority of eight to seven, a vote requiring that the 
execution should proceed with all due speed. By desire of 
the Austrian en\'o\', a clause was added providing that this 
motion should be without prejudice to any action with 
regard to the succession within the competence of the 
Diet; but, even so, the result was a grievous disappoint- 
ment to those who had intended to bring about an immediate 
separation of the duchies from the Danish monarchy. 

However, the Federal execution against Christian IX as 
Duke of Holstein, obliging him to carry out the resolutions 
passed by the Diet in i860 (March) and 1863 (October) as 
to the constitutional treatment of the duchies, was now 
actually decreed; and the Military Commission (in which 
Moltke was the Prussian Commissioner) brought up its 
revised recommendations, which were at once accepted by 
the Governments concerned. 6000 Saxons and the same 
number of Hanoverians were at once to occupy Holstein, 
wliile a first reserve of 5000 Austrians and as many Prussians 
was to be stationed on the frontier, with a further force 
of 20,000 Austrians and 31,000 Prussians, to be held in 
readiness for the event of armed resistance. The execution, 
which did not at present necessarily mean war, was placed 
under the command of the Saxon General von Hake. 

The two German Great Powers having thus decided on 
their course, it remained to be seen what would be that of 
the other Great Powers. The relations between France 
and Great Britain were not at this time favourable to 
effective joint action. In common with the Austrian 

144 Schlesicig-Holstein and the Danish War [CH. 

Government, the British had, in the previous summer, 
dechned the propositions of France which tended to a war 
with Russia for the dehverance of Poland^; and, after 
hereupon the French Emperor had taken refuge in the 
proposal for a European Congress, Lord Russell had, on 
November 25th, taken the mortifying step of declining— 
or virtually declining participation in it^, with the result 
that the Austrian Government had followed the same course. 
When, about this time, the Augustenburg claimant 
appealed to Napoleon III for his countenance, the Emperor 
vouchsafed a vague but not unsympathetic reply ; and, in 
order to show his annoj'ance at the British reception of 
his Congress proposal, suggested a Ministerial Conference 
between the chief continental Powers. The Prussian 
Government, again, declared its willingness to participate, 
though blandly pointing out that it would be difhcult to 
induce other Powers to deal with any questions but the 
Danish, or to treat this without bringing in the British 
Government. Russia, too, being evidently disposed to 
exert pressure upon Denmark to accept the German 
view of the compact of 1852, the Danish Government 
thought it expedient to withdraw the March patent — a 
concession of little meaning so long as the November 
Constitution remained valid (December 4th). Lord Russell 
now made yet another attempt at mediation, sending 
Lord Wodehouse to Copenhagen, but on a useless errand. 
Pressure being put on the Danish Prime-minister Hall to 
bring about the revocation of the constitution, he resigned, 
and the King tried to form a Ministry of moderate men; 
but the Eider-Danes were too strong for him ; and Bishop 
D. G. Monrad, formerly Minister of Public Worship, 
who took Hall's place, was resolute against revocation. 
Denmark had made up her mind for war, trusting to 
British support, of which, in the event of the invasion of 
1 S. Walpole, p. 383. * lb. p. 395- 

ii] The Augustenburg Movement 145 

Schleswig, Palmerston had 'unofficially' assured Wode- 

In Germany, meanwhile, a storm of indignation had 
been called forth by the resolution of the Diet of December 
7th, decreeing execution against King Christian as Duke of 
Holstein. The Nationalverein and the Reformverein, the 
adherents of the principle of Prussian hegemony and the 
Grossdeutschen, united in a meeting of nearly five hundred 
members of German Landtage at Frankfort (December 21st) 
to elect a Committee of thirty-six, which was henceforth to 
assume the guidance of the Schleswig-Holstein movement 
and, in a word, to take it out of the hands of the Great 
Powers and of the mistrusted Bismarck in particular^. 
Several of the lesser Governments fell in once more with 
the popular current. The Baden Ministry obtained from 
its Chambers a substantial mobilisation grant; and the 
Duke of Coburg, always glad to be a step in advance, 
allowed the levy of soldiers within his duchy for the Duke 
of Augustenburg. King Maximilian of Bavaria was urged, 
only half against his will, to place himself at the head 
of the movement and thus once more realise the old and 
irrepressible Trias programme. On December i8th, the 
Second Chamber at Berlin, after a haughty speech from 
Bismarck^, passed an address imploring the King to 
withdraw from the Treaty of 1852 and to recognise 
Augustenburg as Duke of Schleswig-Holstein. It was 
answered with grave determination in a royal message 
signed by the whole Ministry. 

The time for debate was past. 

^ See his letter ap. Walpole, vol. ii, p. 401. 

^ Cf . Oncken, Rudolf von Bennigsen, vol. i, p. 626. 

* This was the occasion on which he said that to him Virchow's 
and his friends' opinion on a grave diplomatic question was worth 
as much as his own opinion on an important anatomical problem 
would be to Virchow. 

w. M. G. II. ro 

146 ScJilesivig-Holstein and the Danish War [CH. 

On December 12th, the customary seven days' notice had 
been served, by the four German Governments charged with 
the execution in Holstein, on the Danish Government to 
withdraw its troops; two Civil Commissioners having 
been appointed for the administration of the duchy, the 
Saxon and Hanoverian troops had crossed the frontier ; and, 
by January 8th, the whole duchy was occupied by them^. 
As the troops marched on, the population acclaimed Duke 
Frederick VIII of Sclileswig-Holstein, and (notwithstanding 
prohibitions from the Commissioners) expelled obnoxious 
officials and clerg}', and placed trusty adherents of Duke 
Frederick in their places. The Duke himself established his 
small court and Ministry at Kiel ; and it is not wonderful 
that neither in England nor elsewhere did the 'execution' 
seem to differ from an occupation. 

The question now was as to the further step of occupy- 
ing Schleswig, where there could be no question of an 
occupation. On December 19th Rechberg had proposed to 
Bismarck, unless Lord Wodehouse could obtain a suspension 
of the new Danish constitution by January ist, 1864, a 
joint occupation of Schleswig, which would anticipate any 
intervention in that duchy by Augustenburg and his 
supporters, together with the acceptance of a London 
Conference on the whole question. Bismarck, in a 
memorandum to the King, urged the same line of action 
still more clearly. The two Powers, with or without the 
assent of the Confederation, should on Januar}^ ist issue 
an itUimatum, threatening Denmark, if the constitution 
were still unrevoked, with the occupation of Schleswig by 
way of a pledge for the fulfilment of the obligations of 1852. 

The prospects of a motion embodying this policy being 

carried at the Diet were far from favourable. Bavaria, 

on December 23rd, proposed a speedy settlement of the 

succession question, and Hesse-Darmstadt a Federal 

1 F. W. Jahns, Fchlmarschall Moltke (1894), vol. 11, p. 341. 

ii] The Austro-Prussian Ultimatum 147 

occupation of Schleswig for the protection of all rights ; 
while a British note insisting on a Conference between the 
signatory Powers of the Treaty of 1852 was received at 
Frankfort with angry derision. On December 31st, the 
two Great Powers having moved at the Diet that the Duke 
of Augustenburg should be called upon to quit Holstein, 
the resolution was rejected by nine to seven votes. None 
of the lesser states adhered to the Great Powers except the 
Mecklenburgs and Hesse-Cassel, and even these without 
fervour. The assembly was under the sway of von der 
Pfordten, who held that neither was the Confederation 
bound by the London Protocol — which, it will be remem- 
bered, it had not signed — nor was the settlement then 
attempted now any longer possible. About the same 
time, the Berlin Chamber — for the continuous concurrence 
of the Prussian parliamentary quarrel with the Schleswig- 
Holstein trouble should at no point be overlooked — refused 
to accede to a mobilisation loan (of 12 million dollars) 
unless the Government would recognise Duke Frederick. 

On January 5th, 1864, Bismarck took the decisive step 
of asking Austria to agree to the policy of presenting 
Denmark with an ultimatum, limited to 48 hours; should 
she refuse to withdraw the constitution within that time, 
Schleswig was to be occupied by the two Powers without 
further delay. The Conference was to be accepted only if 
preceded by the revocation of the constitution, or accom- 
panied by the continued occupation of Schleswig. After 
much consideration a punctation to this effect was drawn 
up between the two Powers, according to which they 
reserved to themselves the right, after the outbreak of 
hostilities, of coming to an agreement as to the future of 
the duchies other than the stipulations of 1851-2, adding 
that in no case would either of them, except in pursuance 
of a mutual understanding, renounce the principle of the 
preservation of the Danish monarchy as at present existing, 

148 Schleswig-Hol stein and the Danish War [CH. 

or the obligation of recognising the succession of King 
Christian IX in all its si>ctions. On January 14th, the day 
on wliich the Diet met to vote on the Hesse-Darmstadt 
motion, the Austrian and Prussian envoys proposed, in 
lieu of the occupation of Schleswig in the name of Duke 
Frederick, its occupation as a pledge for the fulfilment of 
Denmark's obligations ; and, when tliis motion was rejected 
by a vote of 11 to 5, they announced their intention to take 
the process into their own hands. Indignant protests were 
raised by the Bavarian and Saxon Governments, and loudly 
echoed by the populations of the south-west ; at Munich a 
popular meeting called upon King Maximilian to throw his 
sword into the scale. On the other hand, Austria and Prussia 
now (January i6th) concluded their convention, as finally 
drafted by Bismarck\ and, on the same day, sent a telegram 
to Copenhagen demanding the revocation of the consti- 
tution within 48 hours. Monrad now asked for a delay, 
but was informed that he was too late; whereupon he 
rejected the demand (January i8th). Inasmuch as the 
Danes declined to evacuate Sclileswig without resistance 
(as they had evacuated Holstein), this refusal meant war. 
The Austrian and Prussian troops were in readiness at their 
bases in Hamburg and Liibeck; some difficulty raised by 
Hanover against a Prussian march-through was peremptorily 
overcome; on January 20th, Field-marshal von Wrangel 
assumed the supreme command over the forces of the allies ; 
and on the following day they entered Holstein and began 
their march towards the Eider. 

Inasmuch as the Saxon and Hanoverian Governments 
could not bring themselves to place their troops under 
Wrangel's command, they were reduced to the uncomfort- 
able position of lookers-on. Among the Great Powers who 
were not directly concerned in the conflict. Great Britain 

1 This was the secret compact j)ubhshed by Bismarck, more sua, in 
the Staatsanzeiger in June i86(j, on the eve of the war with Austria. 

ii] Invasion of Schleswig 149 

found herself isolated, Russia remained motionless, and the 
French Emperor neither now nor later responded to Lord 
Russell's enquiries whether he would support Great Britain 
in upholding the integrit}^ of the Danish monarchy and the 
succession of Christian IX. The British Foreign Secretary's 
eager efforts with the Great German Powers and with the 
Danish Government were equally unsuccessful; his re- 
newed proposals (Januaiy 20th) for a conference and 
truce were accepted by Austria and Prussia only on con- 
dition that Schleswig (including Alsen and Diippel) should 
be placed in their hands as a security; and his final 
proposal to them to substitute for this material pledge a 
protocol signed by all the Powers who had been parties 
to that of 1852, and promising, on the part of Denmark, the 
exclusion of Schleswig from the new constitution, was at 
once refused. 'We have not abandoned the engagements 
of 185 1-2, though Austria and Prussia may do so.' Lord 
Russell wrote so late as February 24th. But he and 
Lord Palmerston had reckoned without their cabinet ; and 
the war began as it ended, without British interference 
by anything beyond words. Bismarck, as he wrote on 
Januar}^ 31st, agreed that a definitive settlement was 
impossible without the cooperation of the Powers who had 
signed the Treaty of 1852 ; but he knew that the outbreak 
of war had left the two German Powers with their hands 
free. Early on February ist the first Austrians, and 
immediately afterwards the first Prussians, entered the 
duchy of Schleswig^. 

The campaign which now began illustrates the chief 
difficulty that besets the conduct of a war — how to obtain 
and preserve harmony between the statesman and the 
strategist; a difficulty to which in the case of allies is 

^ Der Deutsch-Ddnische Krieg, 1864. Hrgbn. vom Grossen 
Generalstabe (Berlin, 1866-7), vol. i, pp. 128 and 123. 

150 Schleswig-Hol stein and the Danish War [ch. 

added the necessity for agreement between their Govern- 
ments, in the absence of which the strategist is paralysed. 
It has been seen how, from the time of his regency onwards, 
King WilHam had devoted himself to the task of strength- 
ening his army, in order that Prussia might not again 
suffer humiliation such as had befallen her at Olmiitz. His 
first step — the appointment, in October 1857, of General 
von Moltke to succeed General von Reyher as Chief of the 
General Staff — was a happy inspiration. The reorganisation 
of the army, b}^ which its striking-power was doubled, and 
which had been carried out through the instrumentality of 
Roon as Minister of War, had been completed by the begin- 
ning of 1861, when the Regent became King; and the 
appointment of Bismarck as Minister-president was made 
with a view to securing a Minister who would guard the 
new army against parliamentary attacks and carry on the 
government even when the rejection of budgets rendered 
the requisite expenditure unconstitutional. As a matter 
of fact, it placed at the head of the King's Government 
a statesman who had set before himself a great aim, the 
establishment of Prussia as the ruling power in Germany. 

Bismarck's first opportunity presented itself in the 
crisis that had arisen from the new political development 
in the Danish monarchy. The military possibilities of the 
situation he was able to discuss with his intimate friend 
Roon, who was possessed of the judgment expressed on 
this subject by Moltke, the Chief of the General Staff (at 
this time a subordinate of the Minister of War). In Moltke 
Prussia possessed the strategist whom she required, though 
in 1864 his powers were not fully appreciated and the King 
was influenced by other advisers. 

Freiherr Helmuth von Moltke was a student rather than 
a man at arms. Born in Mecklenburg in 1800, he was by 
turns a schoolboy in Holstein, a cadet at Copenhagen, a 
page at the Danish Court and a lieutenant in the Danish 

ii] Moltke's Earlier Life 151 

army. At 22, he resigned his Danish commission to enter 
the Prussian service, which as a German he preferred. Then, 
he devoted the hours he could spare from his mihtary duties 
and from the claims of court and society to Ms favourite 
studies of history and geography. While a Prussian 
lieutenant, he translated the whole (or nearly the whole) 
of Gibbon into German. 

As a captain, he set out to see the Mediterranean world ; 
but his plan was changed at Constantinople b}" an in\dtation 
to take service under the Sultan. As a Turkish ofhcer he 
surveyed and mapped Constantinople, the Bosphorus and 
the Dardanelles, as well as large regions of Roumelia and 
Armenia. He trained an army and was the adviser of its 
commander; but his bold plan of campaign was beyond 
the intelligence of his Pasha ; and, when he could not avert 
defeat, he fought until the army had dispersed ; whereupon 
he made his way back to report to the Sultan, who by this 
time was dead. In 1839, he was at home again. His early 
writings on Turkey are masterpieces of description and 
of military criticism. For man}^ years he was employed 
as a staff-officer at Coblenz, Magdeburg and Berlin. In 
1845-6, he resided at Rome as adjutant to Prince Henry 
of Prussia and occupied his spare time with making an 
admirable map of Rome and its neighbourhood. In 1855, 
he was appointed adjutant to Prince Frederick William, 
afterwards Crown-prince, and in that capacity frequently 
visited the British, French and Russian Courts. He was 
happily married and found his chief delight at home, his 
favourite recreation being music. He looked on the world 
with the e^^e of a statesman, and nothing was further from 
him than the pedantry of soldiering. The extreme poverty 
of his early 3^ears and the hardships and trials of his 
life in Turkey had given his will the temper of steel ; his 
quick decision and firm resolve never degenerated into 
misplaced stubbornness. With the imperturbable courtesy 

The Theatre of War 

CH. ii] Moltke's Plan of Campaign 153 

and serenity of an oriental he combined the tranquil humour 
of a mind in perfect equipoise 1. 

In December 1862, Moltke (who spoke Danish like a 
Dane and was familiar with both the country and its 
people) had, in replj^ to an enquiry from Roon, set forth 
in writing the conclusions reached by him on the subject 
of a new war against Denmark. In 1850, he had been 
thought of as a possible commander for the Schleswig- 
Holstein army, and, earlier in 1862, he had, by way of a 
preparatory study, written the history of the Danish 
campaign of 1848. The conclusions which he now con- 
fidentially laid before Roon were drawn, in part, from 
geographical conditions. The continental territory of the 
Danish monarchy consisted of the Jutish peninsula, about 
300 miles long from the Elbe to its northernmost point 
Skagen (the Skaw), and from 30 to go miles wide. Its 
eastern fringe along the Baltic is a land of hills from 150 
to 400 feet high, indented by deep inlets of the sea, and 
separated only by narrow channels from the islands of 
Fehmern, Alsen and Fiinen. The rest of the country is 
a belt of land so flat on the western side, where it borders 
the North Sea, that it has to be protected by dykes from the 
sea, which, in the southern half of the peninsula, composed 
of Schleswig and Holstein, forms a long lagoon interspersed 
with islands. The low and marshy western coastland is 
unsuited for the movements of troops, while the fiords of 
the east coast confine through-communication to the 
inland edge of the hill country and to the sandy plains 
between the hills and the marshland. 

Moltke thought that the difficulty in a war with 
Denmark lay in delivering a decisive blow which would 
induce the Danes to give up their resistance. As he 

1 See Spenser Wilkinson, The Early Life of Moltke. (Lecture 
delivered before the University of Oxford, 1913.) 

154 SchlesK'ig-Hol stein and the Danish War [CH. 

afterwards^ phrased it, the crux lay, not in carrying on the 
war with so much larger a force, but in ending it. In presence 
of the greatly superior Danish fleet it was not practicable to 
land a Prussian army in the island of Zealand, so as to 
dictate peace at Copenhagen. The lirst object must be 
to annihilate the Danish army, which would be possible 
if that army should attempt to hold the position of the 
Dannevirke, a line of forts erected south of the town of 
Schleswig, between the fiord of the Schlei and the inunda- 
tions of the river Treene. Within a month from the first 
order, the Danes might have 25,000 infantry holding the 
central part of this position. The best course for Prussia 
would be to take the field with 60,000 men including 50,000 
infantr}^ of whom half would approach the Dannevirke, 
while the rest, in two bodies, would tr}^ to turn it b}^ crossing 
the Schlei and the Treene. The Danes would perhaps not 
wait till they were turned, but would retreat, through 
Flensburg, to their fortified position of Diippel, which 
covered the crossing to and from the island of Alsen. If 
the Danish arm}- should thus evade the blow, the only 
course open to Prussia would be the occupation of all 
Jutland for the purpose of exacting contributions from 
its people. This occupation, if prolonged, might induce 
the Danish Government to accept Prussia's terms. It 
would be easily accomplished, provided that the Prussians 
left behind forces sufficient to screen their advance against 
attack from Diippel, the bridgehead of Alsen, and from the 
fortress of Fredericia, the bridgehead of Fiinen. In any 
case, Prussia must achieve quickly whatever she might 
undertake, so as to meet with a fail accompli any wish on 
the part of the Great Powers to interfere. For that purpose, 
she must place in the field an army double the strength of 

^ Kurze Obersicht des Feldzuges 1864 gegen Danemark in Moltke's 
KriegsgeschichtUche Arbeiten (Militarischc Werke. iii), part 11 (1899), 
p. 70. 

ii] The Danish Army 155 

the whole Danish army, and must be ready at an}'' moment 
to call out her whole army to resist French or other inter- 

The Danish army was based upon universal ser^dce from 
the age of 21 to 45, one year and one-third being spent 
with the colours, six years and two-thirds in the reser\^e and 
six years in a second reserve, after which, at 35, the men 
passed into a further or final reserve. The normal peace 
strength of the army was 7500 men. For the war against 
Austria and Prussia the first and second reserves were called 
out, in order to bring the army up to a strength of 60,000 
(the strength actually reached was 54,000) ; so that there 
were called out seven reservists for each man who would 
have been with the colours in time of peace. A battalion 
was thus increased from 224 to 1550 rank and file, and 
required a large niunber of additional officers and non- 
commissioned officers, who were necessarily imperfectly 
trained, if indeed the\^ had any previous training at all. 
Troops so constituted cannot possess the cohesion of troops 
with stronger cadres and fewer reservists. The artiller}^ 
which was in process of rearmament with rifled guns, in 
peace had only two guns horsed in each battery, so that 
in this arm too the mobilised units resembled improvised 
troops rather than regulars. One-third of the troops were 
in peace recruited in Schleswdg-Holstein ; and, since these 
could not be employed against a German invasion, such of 
them as were retained in the service were quartered in 

At the end of January, the expanded Danish field-army 
consisted of three infantry divisions of three brigades each, 
an infantry reserve of two brigades, a cavalry division of 
two brigades and an artillery reserve of 48 guns. After 
the withdrawal from Holstein, these forces were posted, as 
Moltke had anticipated, on the line, about 45 miles long, 
from Friedrichstadt on the Treene to Kappeln on the 

156 Schlesicig-Hohtein and the Danish War [CH. 

Schlei. The first division guarded the Schlei along its 
northern bank and the bridgehead at Missunde. The 
second division held the right wing from Friedrichstadt to 
Hollingstedt, which was covered by the inundation of the 
Treene, with one brigade, while its other two brigades and 
the third division were posted in the central position known 
as the Dannevirke, between the Treene and Schleswig. 
This part of the front was protected by thirt3^-three forts, 
of which the parapets were as high as 27 feet and the 
ditches 15 feet deep. The reserve brigade was posted at 
Schleswig, and each division had outposts about half a 
march to its front. 

The allied army assembled in January in Holstein 
under the command of Field-marshal von Wrangel was 
composed at this time of the 1st corps (Prussian), 25,000 
men and 96 guns, under Prince Frederick Charles, the 
Ilnd corps (Austrian), 20,000 men and 148 guns, under 
Field-marshal-lieutenant von Gablenz; the Ilird corps 
(Prussian), 10,000 men and 14 guns, of the new regiments 
of the Guard. This force of 55,000 men and 258 guns was 
afterwards reinforced by the 9th, loth and 21st Prussian 
brigades, making a further 15,000 men, as well as by 
numerous siege and field guns. Moltke had written 
out a project for the capture of the Danish, army in 
the Dannevirke position, laying stress on turning the 
left wing by crossing the Schlei at Missunde or further 
east, without scaring the Danes from the position before 
the completion of the turning movement. This project 
was communicated to Wrangel as a suggestion, but not 
as a binding order. 

On February ist, Wrangel crossed the Eider canal at 
various points between Kiel and Rendsburg, the Ist 
(Prussian) corps on the right, the Ilnd (Austrian) on the 
left, and advanced six or seven miles into Schleswig, the 
Danish outposts falling back before the invaders. On the 

ii] Advance of the Allies 157 

2nd, Prince Frederick Charles, with the 1st corps, pushed 
on through Eckernforde and Kochendorf to Missunde, 
where he attacked the forts on the southern bank, employing 
for the purpose 8000 infantry and y^ guns. The action 
lasted about six hours, costing the Prussians 193 casualties, 
and, in the evening, Prince Frederick Charles reported that 
he could not hope to drive the Danes out of their forts. 
Wrangel kept him halting in front of Missunde for the next 
three days. On the 3rd, the Ilnd (Austrian) corps moved 
towards the Dannevirke, while the Ilird (Prussian), which 
had been brought on the ist by railway from Altona, came 
up from Rendsburg on the left of the Austrian and marched 
side by side with it. The Austrian advance-guard vigorously 
attacked a Danish post at Oberselk and drove it from the 
Konigsberg, while the advance-guard of the Ilird corps 
drove a Danish party out of Jagel. The Danes were thus 
made aware that an attack on the centre of their position 
by 30,000 Austrians and Prussians was to be expected, 
while 25,000 Prussians were in the peninsula of Schwansen, 
ready to cross the Schlei. The 4th was spent by the allies 
in reconnaissance, and, on the 5th, Prince Frederick Charles 
was allowed b}' Wrangel to march his corps down the 
peninsula, so as to force a crossing on the 6th at Amis, 
near the point where the Schlei opens into the Baltic. 
Wrangel's project was to begin his assault on the forts 
between Schleswig and the Treene in the afternoon of the 
6th, when it was expected that the Ist corps, after crossing 
the Schlei at Amis, would have marched to Missunde. But, 
on the morning of the 6th, the Danish troops were nowhere 
to be seen. They had retreated in the night from the 5th 
to the 6th by order of their capable commander-in-chief 
General de Meza, who saw that, if he were to await an 
assault or a turning movement, the existence of his army 
would be endangered. Prince Frederick Charles threw his 
bridge over the Schlei without opposition and marched 

158 ScJilesK'ig-Holsfehi and the Danish War [CH. 

halfway to Flensburg without meeting an enemy. Field- 
marshal von Gablenz pushed on through Schleswig and 
came up at Oeversee with the Danish rearguard, which he 
attacked and drove back, but could not pursue. The start 
they had gained during the night and the resistance of the 
rearguard at Oeversee enabled the first three Danish divisions 
to reach Diippel on the evening of February 7th, when the 
4th (cavalry) division under General Hegermann-Linden- 
crone, which retreated northwards towards Jutland, reached 
Apenrade. The allied forces, after reaching Flensburg, 
divided, so as to follow the divided enemy. The 1st 
(Prussian) corps moved towards Diippel, where its advance 
parties touched the Danish outposts on the 9th. The 
Illrd (Prussian) corps marched northwards towards 
Hadersleben, while the Ilnd (Austrian), halting at Flens- 
burg, formed a reserve for cither Prussian corps. 

Even at this early stage of the war, the course of events 
had not failed to reveal the consequences of the opposition 
between the policy pursued by Bismarck and for the present 
supported by Austria, and the wishes of the lesser German 
Governments, wliich coincided with those of the nation at 
large. It was part of Bismarck's design to estrange Austria 
from the secondary and lesser states by obliging her to 
follow a pohcy opposed to theirs (and much disliked even 
in Austria itself), because she could not place herself at 
their head in pressing the Augustenburg solution of the 
Schleswig-Holstein problem, so long as she sought to main- 
tain the understanding with Prussia expressed in the treaty 
between them of January i6th. 

When, in November 1863, the Hanoverian Government 
had agreed to send a brigade to take part, with the Saxon 
brigade, in the Federal execution in Holstein, orders had been 
issued to the Hanoverian troops not to cross the Elbe unless 
and until the Austrian and Prussian brigades were assembled 
north of that river. Again, in January 1864, when the 

ii] The Prussian and the Federal Troops 159 

Prussian Government requested the Hanoverian to au- 
thorise the transport by rail of the 13th division across 
Hanoverian territory from Minden to Harburg, the reply 
was delayed. This caused uneasiness at Berlin, and the 
King consulted Moltke as to what should be done in case 
Hanover should refuse its permission. Moltke replied that, 
in this event, the 13th division must take possession of 
Hanover, and be reinforced by a division of the Guards: 
any resistance could be crushed in a few days without 
substantially delaying the invasion of Schleswig^. At the 
same time, Wrangel, in taking command of the Austrian 
and Prussian reserve brigades in Holstein, invited the 
Federal commander. General von Hake, to put himself and 
the Saxon and Hanoverian brigades under his command. 
This Hake declined; but he agreed to withdraw his two 
brigades from eastern Holstein to the road Altona-Itzehoe- 
Rendsburg and so leave the eastern region free for the 
Austro-Prussian advance. Wrangel then asked for more 
Prussian troops, in order to be able, if need were, to deal 
with the troops of the Confederation. He was promised 
the twelve new battalions of the Guard, 10,000 men, which 
were accordingly sent to Hamburg, to form the Hlrd 
(Prussian) corps, immediately after the Austrian army 
corps. On February loth, Wrangel required Hake to admit 
Prussian garrisons into the towns of Kiel, Rendsburg, 
Neumiinster and Altona ; and, on the 12th and the following 
days, Prussian troops occupied these places. The Federal 
commander had refused to agree to this operation without 
orders; but the Prussians carried it out, fortunately not 
coming to a collision with the Federal garrisons. Saxony then 
proposed at the Diet that a protest should be made, the 
withdrawal of the Prussian garrisons demanded, and the 
Saxons and Hanoverians strengthened by other Confederate 
troops. Prussia replied by putting the Vlth army corps 
^ Moltke, Militdrische Korvespondenz, Krieg 1864 (1892), p. 77. 

i6o Schleswig-Hol stein and the Danish War [CH. 

(Silesian) on a war footing, by sending General von Man- 
teuffel to give explanations at Dresden and Hanover^, and 
by moving at the Diet that Hake's troops should be put 
under Wrangel's command. This proposal was rejected 
on March 3rd, and Prussia mobilised a further brigade 
(the 9th). 

Meanwhile, the Bavarian Government, which, with those 
of the other states in agreement with it, had held another 
conference at Wiirzburg on February i8th, had on the 25th, 
at Frankfort, failed to carry a vote declaring the London 
Treaty of 1852 invalid, but had succeeded in passing a 
motion declaring that the question of the succession in 
the ducliies called for immediate decision. An attempt to 
strengthen the Federal forces in Holstein by the dispatch 
of Bavarian and Wiirttemberg troops came to nothing; 
and the whole endeavour of Bavaria to secure the leadership 
of the policy of the secondary states and oppose it success- 
fully to that of the two Great Powers — after being supported 
by Saxony with reservations imposed by the loyalty of King 
John — broke down with the rather sudden death (March 
loth) of King Maximilian II, to whom Archduke Albrecht 
had only recently been sent by the Austrian Emperor. On 
March 12th von der Pfordten obtained a small majority at 
the Diet in favour of the recognition of Duke Frederick 
of Schleswig-Holstein ; but no further step was taken at 

The death of King Maximilian II was a loss to the 
Wiirzburg associates ; he had overtaxed his strength in the 
effort to which he had succumbed. The King had combined 
with Liberal and anti-clerical political tendencies the wish 
to realise the idea of the Trias by assuming the leadership 

* Sybel thinks Ranke's hand recognisable in the pro mentor id 
which Mantculfel took with him to Dresden, and which demonstrated 
the future awaiting the seconchir)' slates, if they persisted in 
opposing Austria and Prussia. 

ii] Effect of the Danish Retreat i6i 

of the lesser states. He was a true friend of scientific 
research, more especially in the field of history, and sought 
to make Munich a centre of German academical, as his 
father had made it a chosen home of German artistic, life. 
Summoned by him to his capital, a band of scholars from 
northern Germany, in the words of his intimate Dollinger, 
founded a school of learning which the home growth of the 
next generation was to supplement and sustain. This was 
his truest service to German unity. His son and successor 
King Lewis H had, at the outset, to leave the conduct 
of affairs entirely to his Ministers, and was then hampered 
by peculiar difficulties. 

The retreat of the Danish army and the sacrifice of the 
Dannevirke gave rise, in the first instance, to an outburst 
of wrath at Copenhagen and to a manifestation of regret in 
the capitals of the Powers friendly to Denmark. While the 
Emperor Napoleon HI sent congratulations of a not wholly 
unmixed kind, Palmerston turned savagely upon Bernstorff ; 
but, though the press was virtually unanimous in its outcry, 
no responsible politician in either party showed a disposition 
to plunge Great Britain into the war. Gortchakoff, though 
he continued to preach the maintenance of the London 
Protocol, plainly intimated that Russia would never take 
up arms against Prussia. Even in Sweden, popular and 
parliamentary feeling was still for neutrality, though 
Manderstrom deferred to the royal wish so far as to declare 
that, if France and Great Britain would furnish aid to 
Denmark, Swedish troops would not be wanting. In 
Copenhagen itself, the retreat of the Danish army startled 
the party in power and the general public, who had regarded 
the position of the Dannevdrke as an impregnable bulwark. 
General de Meza was recalled to Copenhagen, subjected to an 
enquiry as to his retreat, and disgraced ; and the command 
of the army was given to General J. D. Gerlach. But 
de Meza was undoubtedly right in his withdrawal from the 

W. M.G. II. II 

i62 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [ch. 

Dannevirke — a movement which, for the time, baffled the 
alHes, as it took away their hope of ending the war by a de- 
cisive blow at the outset. In Berhn there was a wish that 
the position of Diippel should be attacked ; but the Prussian 
strategists knew this to be impracticable without the siege- 
train, for which Moltke had asked, but which Roon had not 
provided, and thought that the right course was to invade 
Jutland, leaving the 1st corps to observe Diippel. 

Accordingly on February loth, Wrangel issued orders 
for the advance northwards of the Ilnd and Ilird corps, 
while the 1st was to continue its operations against Diippel. 
The Ilird corps moved towards the frontier of Jutland, 
followed by the Ilnd. But, on the 15th, Karolyi expressed 
to Bismarck the hope that there would be no invasion of 
Jutland without a previous agreement between the two 
Powers ; the Emperor of Austria had already written an 
autograph letter to King William in this sense. On the same 
evening, Roon telegraphed to Wrangel the King's com- 
mand that the frontier of Jutland should not be crossed 
until further orders. This was received next morning by 
Wrangel, who gave no hint to his subordinates of the pro- 
hibition he had received. On the i8th, the Prussian 
advance-guard, approaching Kolding in Jutland, found the 
Danes retiring and pushed on after them through the 
town, which they occupied before receiving a belated order 
from Wrangel not to cross the frontier. Next day, the 
Crown-prince, who was present at headquarters, insisted 
that there should be no going back. This disregard of 
an ally and of the orders of the Government is justified 
by the Prussian official historian on the ground of military 
necessity, for which he accounts by the impossibility, at 
the time, of storming Diippel or taking Alsen. Manteuffel 
was sent to Vienna with a letter from the King to the 
Emperor, explaining that the occupation of Jutland was 
necessary as a reprisal for the seizure of German ships 

ii] The Duppel Position 163 

by the Danes, which was Hkely to be followed by a blockade. 
The Confederate states must be taught, once for all, that, 
if they desired to subordinate the European policy of 
Austria and Prussia to their wishes, the days of the Con- 
federation were at an end. Some little time passed before 
Francis Joseph's hesitation, his unwilhngness to offend 
the neutral Powers and his distrust of France, in particular, 
gave way ; but, on March ist, Manteuffel and Rechberg 
arrived at the understanding desired by Prussia. 

Meanwhile, the Austrian opposition to the invasion of 
Jutland made the authorities at Berlin anxious for some 
feat of arms to be achieved by the new Prussian army, the 
more so as the popular mind attributed the retreat from the 
Dannevirke to the prowess of the Austrian corps, which 
had fought well at Oeversee. An attack on the position 
of Diippel was therefore urged. But that position was not 
to be taken by assault. It consisted of ten strong forts on 
a commanding site, stretching from the Alsen sound on a 
line about two miles long to the bay called the Wenningbund 
and covering two bridges over the sound to the island of 
Alsen. Until a sufficient number of heavy guns could be 
brought up, little more was possible than to push back 
the Danish and to advance the Prussian outposts. On 
February i8th. Prince Frederick Charles seized the peninsula 
of Broacker to the south of the Wenningbund and prepared 
to mount guns at Gammelmark, whence the southern 
forts of Diippel could be enfiladed. The earliest guns were 
not in position until March 15th, when the southern forts 
were first bombarded, as well as the town of Sonderburg, 
which received no notice of the bombardment, so that the 
non-combatant inhabitants suffered much hardship. 

The Austro-Prussian agreement, signed at Berlin on 
March 6th, defined the purpose of the allies, in the first 
instance, as the capture of the Danish positions at Diippel 
and on the island of Alsen ; and it was settled that Wrangel 

164 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [ch. 

might advance so far into Jutland as he should think 
necessar}^ for guarding against Danish enterprises based 
upon Fredericia. The two Powers were willing to accept 
an armistice and a Conference on the basis either of the 
reciprocal evacuation of Alsen and of Jutland or of the lUi 
possidetis (provided the Danes would stop their blockade 
of the German seaports and return the captured merchant- 
ships). In accordance with their treaty of January i6th — 
or, more correctly, in development of it — they regarded the 
agreements of 185 1-2 as having lost their binding character 
through the state of war with Denmark, and intended to 
propose jointly to the Conference a new settlement of the 
position of the duchies in the Danish monarchy. 

Wrangel was at once informed that he was now at 
liberty to enter Jutland. He had under his command, at 
Kolding and in northern Schleswig, the Ilird (Prussian) and 
Ilnd (Austrian) corps. The wish was expressed by the 
King^ that the Prussian Guards (the Ilird corps) might 
have an opportunity of showing their mettle; and it was 
accordingly arranged that, while the Austrians should 
invade Jutland, the Prussian corps should attack Fredericia. 
Both corps set out from Kolding on March 8th, the Ilird 
crossing the Elbodal in the direction of Fredericia, the 
Ilnd taking the road towards Veile, where General Heger- 
mann with 5000 men was holding the heights north of the 
town. His left rested on the fiord, and his right could be 
turned only by a long march. The Austrian brigade sent 
to turn the Danish left was delayed in the crossing of a 
swollen river, and the attack of the Austrian main body on 
the strong Danish centre was resisted until dark, when the 
Danes withdrew in good order. The Austrians were so 
exhausted as to be unable to pursue until next day ; by 
whicli time General Hegermann's force had disappeared 
into the wide expanse of Jutland. Gablenz, after a few 
' iMoltke, op. cit., p. 100. 

ii] operations against Alsen and Dilppel 165 

days' advance of part of his force, which failed to discover 
the Danish troops, collected his corps at Veile and Horsens, 
in order to be at hand to support the attack on Fredericia. 
This was delivered on March 19th by the Ilird corps on 
the left and half the Ilnd corps on the right. The Danish 
outposts were driven in, and the German outposts advanced 
towards the fortress, to cover the building of batteries during 
the night. On the 20th and 21st, the place was bombarded 
by 42 guns. The result convinced the allied commanders 
that, for an effective bombardment, siege-guns would be 
required. Thereupon, the Prussian troops were withdrawn 
to Diippel (March 25th) and the Austrians left in observation 
of Fredericia, where they remained, covered against Jutland 
by a brigade at Veile, till April 20th. 

Meanwhile, it was thought in Berlin that Prussian honour 
required the capture of Diippel, though the strategists with 
the army were convinced by Colonel von Blumenthal that 
the best way to deal with the Danish army was by a landing 
on Alsen, the success of which would depend partly on 
surprise and partly on the erection of shore batteries to 
keep away any Danish men-of-war. The project, first 
mooted in the first week of March, may have seemed more 
likely to be practicable after the capture of the island of 
Fehmern on March 15th by a Prussian company that had 
rowed across during the night from the mainland, a mile 

The landing on Alsen and the operations for the siege 
of Diippel were prepared simultaneously. The attack on 
the forts at Diippel was to be delivered to the south of the 
Flensburg-Sonderburg road and to be directed against the 
six southern forts. The Danish advance posts had been 
pushed back and a reconnaissance made in a sharp engage- 
ment at Rackebiill-Diippel on March 17th; but a second 
engagement at Diippel on March 28th did not bring the 
Prussians to the ground on which they meant to open the 

i66 Schleswig-Hohtein and the Danish War [CH. 

first parallel. A parallel was however opened, on ground 
not so far advanced, in the night of March 3oth-3ist, and 

Dannevirke, Diippel, Alsen 

siege artillery continued to be sent on from Prussia. Mean- 
time boats and pontoons were collected for crossing over 

ii] Storming of Diippel. Danish Persistency 167 

to Alsen. The plan was to launch the boats and pontoons 
at Ballegaard and to row across the Augustenburg Fohrde, 
a mile ^^ide, to the peninsula of Meels. It was calculated 
that 1500 men could be landed in each voyage, and that 
the landings could follow one another at inter\-als of an 
hour and a half. 

April 3rd was fixed for the enterprise. All was ready 
on the previous evening; but, during the night, a storm 
arose and produced a high sea, in which no boat could be 
launched. This was fatal to the project, which depended 
upon surprise ; and, since it was thought impossible to main- 
tain secrecy as to preparations of which the inhabitants 
were aware, the enterprise was for the time abandoned. 

By April loth, siege-guns had arrived. That night the 
second parallel was opened and the guns mounted. On the 
1 2th, 28 batteries opened a fire which proved overwhelming. 
Many Danish guns were dismounted, the parapets of the 
forts were badly damaged and the ramps rendered useless, 
so that the Danes could not bring fresh guns into position. 
General von Gerlach brought back from Fredericia a brigade 
which had been sent there at the time of the first advance 
of the allies towards Jutland, so that he had, in Alsen and 
at Diippel, seven brigades. But four of them had to be quar- 
tered in Alsen, too far away to be brought up in time to 
resist a sudden attack. In the night of April I3th-i4th, 
the Prussians pushed forward and established their third 
parallel at a distance of less than 400 yards from the forts. 

General von Gerlach considered that the position of 
Diippel had become untenable and proposed its evacuation to 
his Government. But the Danish Ministry was hoping great 
things from the Conference in London, of which the opening 
had been originally fixed for April 20th, though it did not 
actually meet till April 25th, and believed that it would 
be an advantage, when the Conference assembled, to be 
able to point to a successful resistance at Diippel. General 

i68 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [CH. 

von Gerlach was therefore, on April 14th, ordered to hold the 
position to the last. He replied that it would be better to 
leave in it a small force which could be withdrawn in case 
of serious attack, after which he could still defend the line 
of the Alsen sound. But to this suggestion he received no 
reply. On April i8th, the Prussians delivered their long- 
prepared assault, in wliich the 1st corps was supported by 
the Guards, brought back from Jutland, and by the loth 
brigade. During the night, some 8000 men, formed into 
six storming-columns, were moved into the front trenches, 
with a reserve of two brigades ready in the rear, while a 
brigade at Rackebiill was in waiting to attack the works 
on the Danish right, with the Ilird corps not far behind 
it, and another brigade was kept, at the north end of the 
sound, ready to make a feint of crossing, or even to attempt 
an actual crossing. 

The Danes had hardly more than 2000 men in and near 
the six forts selected for attack. At 4 a.m., the Prussians 
opened fire from 102 guns, to which their adversaries could 
make little reply. At 10, the bombardment ceased, and 
the storming-columns rushed across the short space that 
separated them from the forts. The Danes hardly had time 
to man their parapets before the enemy was upon them; 
and in ten minutes all the six forts had been taken. The 
ever-increasing Prussian force pushed on and drove back 
the Danish supporting brigade, meeting it halfway between 
its camp and the captured forts and compelling it to fall 
back over the bridges across the sound, which were pro- 
tected by a work. The northern forts, turned by the 
troops that had taken the southern, and also attacked in 
front by other troops, were no longer tenable and had to 
be evacuated. By one o'clock the whole of the Diippel 
position was in Prussian hands. There were some 1200 
killed and wounded on each side, and the Danes lost also 
3500 prisoners. 

ii] Great Powers and the London Conference 169 

The storming of Diippel failed to produce the result at 
which the allies aimed — a change of attitude on the part of 
Denmark. The confidence of Government and people there 
was not yet broken. In the invitation to the Conference 
(which had not yet opened) there was no mention, in one 
way or another, of the Treaty of 1852 ; the Diet had agreed 
on instructions to its representative, judiciously formulated 
by Prussia in sufficiently general terms, and had chosen as 
their representative Beust, who was not, like von der 
Pfordten, bound to urge the immediate recognition of 
Augustenburg. In Germany, the military success, which 
meant the seizure of the whole of Schleswdg, had not 
sufficed to put an end to the ardent conflict of opinion. 
The old distrust of the Bismarck Government survived in 
Russia, who, though she held back, stood in a very close 
relation to the Treaty of 1852 ; and Austria had not gone 
back from her recent pronouncement to the neutral Powers 
in favour of preserving the integrity of the Danish monarchy. 
In England, though the influence of the course of events, 
strengthened by what was known of the views of Queen 
Victoria and King Leopold, was gradually making itself 
felt, Palmerston and the bulk of the newspaper press con- 
tinued to proclaim their hostility to the German designs. 
With France Great Britain was at this time in rather delicate 
relations^ ; and the Emperor was seeking to shape a policy 
of his own for use at the Conference. 

Before the actual opening of the Conference, which had 
as a matter of course been delayed, though not through 
Beust's fault, by the formalities of and after his election, 
military operations had continued. The allies remained 
under the necessit}^ of keeping in the Sundewitt a strong 
force to resist a possible Danish sortie from Alsen. Resort 
was also had to the course from the first recommended 

1 It was the time of the discovery of another Mazzinist plot and 
of the curtailed visit of Garibaldi to this country. 

170 Schlesivig-H ohtein and the Danish War [CH. 

by Moltke — the occupation of Jutland. A Prussian division 
was formed for the purpose under Count Miinster and 
advanced to Skive and Aalborg, while the Guard occupied 
Horsens, and, on April 29th, Aarhuus and Skanderborg. 

On March 17th, the Prussian captain Jachmann, with 
two corvettes, a smaller steamer and a flotilla of gunboats, 
had ventured out from Swinemiinde and engaged the Danish 
blockading squadron; but only the superior speed of his 
ships secured his retreat into harbour. On May 5th, too, 
the gallant Austrian captain Tegetthoff, with two Austrian 
frigates and a small Prussian flotilla, risked an encounter 
with a Danish squadron near Heligoland ; but his flagship 
was badly damaged and his squadron was lucky in escaping 
to the neutral waters of that island^. 

The London Conference had opened on April 25th. The 
presiding plenipotentiary, Lord Russell, was in a very 
literal sense supported by Lord Clarendon, whose sentiments 
towards Prussia were an open secret. Of the other neutral 
Powers, Russia was represented by Baron Brunnow, whose 
discretion, though he had been one of the authors of the 
Treaty of 1852, was implicitly trusted by Gortchakoff, while 
Beust describes him as ' next to the Danes the most ardent 
champion of Denmark ' ; France, by Prince La Tour 
d'Auvergne, who showed a marked disposition not to 
incline too strongly to either side; and Sweden by Count 
Wachtmeister, whose instructions were simply to aid the 
Danish plenipotentiaries to the best of his power. These 
were the capable and moderate Minister G. J. Ouaade, and 
two other Ministers of declared Eider-Danish views, Baron 
Torben Bille and A. F. Krieger. Prussia herself was 
represented by Bernstorff, and by H. L. von Balan, formerly 
Prussian envoy at Copenhagen, who found no strenuous 
cooperation either in the hrst Austrian plenipotentiary, 

1 This (undecided) action was announced in some Englisli papers 
as a battle 'near Dunkelwerden.' 

ii] First Two Sittings of the Conference 171 

Apponyi, or in the second, Biegeleben, whose antipathy 
to Prussian pohcy has been already noticed. The cause of 
the duchies had an indefatigable supporter in Beust, who 
gallantly braved the unpopularity which he found attaching 
to it in England, both inside and outside the Conference, 
except in the liighest quarter 1. 

At the first meeting of the Conference the neutral 
Powers at once proposed the conclusion of an armistice; 
but, the belligerents differing as to the cessation of the 
Danish blockade, the question was adjourned. The appear- 
ance of an Austrian squadron off Deal, intended for the 
breaking of the blockade, caused much excitement in 
England, and Palmerston used some very strong language 
to Apponyi ; but, though the Austrians stopped the pro- 
gress of their ships, Xhey all the more resolutely joined with 
the Prussians in insisting upon the cessation of the blockade 
as a condition of an armistice. Hereupon, at the second 
sitting of the Conference (May 4th), Russell moved accord- 
ingly; but at its third sitting (May 9th), Quaade surprised 
the Conference by rejecting even this proposal. Finally, 
the Prussian proposal of a month's armistice, with cessation 
of blockade, was accepted. The armistice was to begin on 
May 12th; and it was afterwards arranged that hostilities 
should not be resumed until June 25th. 

The advance of the general political question which the 
Conference had been summoned to decide was, in the mean- 
time, very slow. Before the opening of the Conference, 
an address calling upon it to uphold the historic freedom 
of Schleswig-Holstein and to come to no resolution con- 
cerning the future of the duchies without or against their 
will had been drawn up by the Committee of the Thirty- 
six^, and covered with signatures from all parts of Germany. 

^ See his Memoirs (Engl, tr.), vol. i, chaps, xxiv and xxv. 
^ Cf. p. 145, ante. 

172 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [CH. 

About the same time, the Reformverein, the association of 
the Grossdeutschen, proclaimed its advocacy of the hberty 
of Schleswig-Holstein and the Augustenburg succession ; 
and a meeting at Rendsburg of 40,000 men from the duchies 
declared their readiness to shed their life's blood in the 
same cause. Bismarck gave instructions that the agitation 
should be kept up all through Schleswdg, whether or not it 
should write Augustenburg on its banners. His present 
purpose was to prepare the new settlement of the position 
of the duchies, to which in principle Austria had agreed on 
March 6th, and to begin by tearing up the Treaty of 1852. 
Accordingly, in the sitting of the Conference of May 12th, 
Bernstorff declared in the name of the German Powers that 
the Treaty of 1852 was extinct, and that they were ready 
to consider any new combination that would lead to an 
enduring peace. After discussion, the Conference agreed 
to receive the new German proposals at its next sitting. 
Thus a great step in advance — to which the adhesion of 
Austria had only with difficulty been obtained — had been 
taken. It may be doubted whether Bismarck would have 
ventured on the next, had he not been encouraged by the 
likelihood of British acquiescence to some extent, this again 
being partly due to the clear refusal, on May 14th, of the 
Emperor Napoleon to join in a demonstration against 
Germany proposed by Palmerston. Accordingly, at the 
sitting of May 17th, Bernstorff read a declaration by the 
German Powers, purporting that the only satisfactory 
guarantee of an enduring peace could be found in the 
complete political independence of the duchies united with 
each other by their common institutions. 

The author of this declaration, but few besides, knew 
what was meant by it. Bismarck had on the 15th informed 
Bernstorff (in a rescript soon afterwards made public) that 
the Treaty of 1852, after the many violations which it had 
undergone, was no longer binding upon Germany. And he 

ii] The ' Personal Union ' abandoned 173 

had telegraphed to the plenipotentiary, on the same day, 
that he was ordered by the King to state that the actual 
object of the policy of Prussia was the total severance of 
the two nationalities, the dynastic question, which was of 
only secondary importance to Prussia, being kept in reser^'e ; 
but that, in order to reach this end, the plan of a personal 
union between Denmark and the duchies must in the first 
instance be considered, but not allowed to be adopted, 
though its failure must not appear to be attributable to 
Prussian action or influence. Rechberg, though in favour 
of the personal union, had, in view of the unpopularity of 
this expedient in Germany, consented that it should not 
be expressly mentioned in the declaration. Bernstorff's 
declaration, therefore, left the Conference completely in the 
dark, nor was its perplexity much relieved b}" his further 
statement that the lawful sovereignty of the duchies re- 
mained a question for elucidation — so that the solution of 
a personal union was for the present neither rejected nor 
approved. Clearly, the reason for this lay in the fact that 
Austria and Prussia were not agreed on this head. Here- 
upon, the Danish plenipotentiaries eagerly rejected the 
German proposals, even in the event of Christian IX being 
declared the legitimate successor in the duchies. The 
Conference adjourned; and, though Bernstorff's proposal 
had failed, Bismarck's design had been carried a step 
further. For the idea of the personal union was now dead ; 
even Austria accepted this fact; and Russell informed 
Bernstorff that at the next meeting of the Conference he 
would propose on behalf of Great Britain the adoption of 
a partition according to nationalities as the only practical 
solution of the problem. 

Thus, though at the next sitting of the Conference 
(May 28th), the external situation remained unaltered, 
the outlook on the future had become a very different one. 
The idea of a personal union having received its quietus, 

174 Schleswig-Hohtein and the Danish War [CH. 

Bismarck could in his communications with Rechberg 
treat the Schleswig-Holstein succession as an entirely open 
question, to be virtually decided by the two Great German 
Powers between them. The Augustenburg claims were, no 
doubt, in the forefront, if trustworthy guarantees of a really 
conservative government could be secured in this quarter. 
But there were also the Oldenburg claims, which Grand- 
duke Peter had hitherto considerately refrained from press- 
ing. And there was the proposal of annexation to Prussia, 
no longer without support in the duchies themselves. Of 
course, the military protection of northern Germany and 
the creation of a German maritime power could be secured 
without annexation by means of limitations of the sovereign 
authority of the new ruler of the duchies and modifications 
of the existing Federal law. What did the Austrian 
Government think as to these various ways? 

It seemed that Austrian statesmanship had, in full 
accordance with public opinion in the empire, quite made 
up its mind that the best, and indeed the only, way was 
to support the candidate of the duchies themselves and of 
Holstein in particular, who was also the candidate of the 
secondary states and of the large majority of the German 
nation. Annexation to Prussia was wholly repugnant to 
Austrian feeling; and the Augustenburg agent at Vienna 
(W. E. O. von Wydenbrugk, one of the most active ad- 
\-ersaries of Bismarck's Schleswig-Holstein policy) was 
informed that Austrian support of the claims of Duke 
Frederick depended on his refusing to accept any restrictions 
of his sovereign power without consulting Austria, who 
was in favour of the complete independence of that 
authority. At the same time, Rechberg, on a strong 
remonstrance by Bismarck, did not insist upon the passing 
at Frankfort of a motion in favour of the Augustenburg 
claims by which Beust was anxious to strengthen them. 

Inasmuch as the e\entual recognition of Augustenburg 

ii] British Proposal of Partition of Schleswig 175 

by the Diet of the Confederation seemed certain and his 
succession was favoured by the vast majority of the popula- 
tion of the duchies, the Prussian plenipotentiaries, at the 
sitting of the Conference on May 28th, sailing as near the 
wind as seemed possible, proposed a resolution for the 
establishment of Schleswig-Holstein as an independent state 
under the Hereditar}' Prince of Augustenburg. Prussia, 
while abstaining from declaring her own recognition of his 
rights, had thus, as it were, given the popular candidate the 
first chance, while, in the extremely probable event of no 
conclusion being reached by the Conference, retaining liberty 
of action. Hereupon, in accordance with the procedure 
agreed upon, Russell brought forward the British counter- 
proposal, of which the object was to save at least the 
Danish and the mixed districts of Schleswig for Christian IX, 
and which, as is truly observed by Emile Ollivier in his 
review of these transactions^, would, had it been adopted 
in 1852, have saved infinite trouble. Schleswig was to be 
divided by a line running from the mouth of the Schlei to 
the Dannevirke. The destiny of the German portion was 
not to be decided without the assent of its population ; but 
(to this clause the German plenipotentiaries at once 
demurred) no fortresses or harbours of war were to be 
constructed there, and there was to be no further German 
intervention in the affairs of Denmark. The Prussian 
proposal having been rejected, by all except the German 
votes, the British remained. It was not refused in prin- 
ciple by the Germans, although they took exception to the 
frontier-line proposed ; and, in the interval before the next 
sitting of the Conference, the Danes likewise accepted the 
principle of partition, so that the question actually at issue 
had now narrowed itself to the delimitation of the frontier — 
though Russia had taken the opportunity of the extinction 
of the provisions of the Treaty of 1852 to revive the Gottorp 
^ L'Empire Liberal, vol. vii, p. 96. 

176 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [CH. 

claims, the whole of which Tsar Alexander had graciously 
transferred to the Grand-ducal, or Oldenburg, line. 

At the sitting of the Conference on June ist, no progress 
was made, though there was much altercation, on the subject 
of the frontier-line, which Bernstorff would have fixed 
further north (say Flensburg-Tondern) and the Danes 
wished to fix as far south as Eckernforde-Friedrichstadt ; 
and the Danes, still trusting in the security of their islands, 
since Great Britain would permit no Austrian men-of-war 
to enter the Baltic, were not even disposed to a prolongation 
of the armistice, though (at the sitting on the 6th) they 
reluctantly consented to its continuance till the 25th. 
Meanwhile, in Schleswig the feeling was strong against the 
partition ; even in the northern, Danish-speaking, part of 
the duchy a large public meeting protested against it. In 
German}', a widespread agitation to the same end was set 
on foot, and not less than 350 protests to the same effect 
were deli\'ered by legislatures, associations and meetings 
through the length and breadth of the land^. Neither 
at Frankfort nor at Berlin was the proposal considered 
acceptable ; and the Prussian Government would not listen 
to the conditions by which it had been accompanied. On 
the other hand, negotiations had begun with the 'Hereditary 
Prince,' as he was still called at Berlin ; and on June ist 
he had had an interview there with Bismarck (as well as 
more than one with the Crown-prince), which led to no 
satisfactory result. The well-intentioned and highminded, 
but far from politic, Augustenburger was dutifully staunch 
to the principles impressed upon him b}' his Liberal advisers : 
without the approval of the Schleswig-Holstein legislatures 
he could consent to no diminution of either the dominions 
or the sovereign authority inherited by him ; for the rest, 
he desired to be treated with proper conlidcnce. Bismarck 
liad not the slightest intention of adopting any such line of 
* Kliipfel, Einheilshestrebungen , vol. i, p. 354. 

ii] Popular Vote in Schleswig proposed 177 

action, and made no secret to Rechberg of his regarding the 
personal question as of quite secondary importance in the 
settlement of the future of the duchies; there was no 
present reason for shutting the door against the Oldenburg 
claims. While Rechberg cautiously held his hand. Tsar 
Alexander, who about this time (June 9th) passed through 
Berlin, showed himself gratified by the attitude of Prussia ; 
nevertheless, a week later, Christian IX received a Russian 
dispatch urging him even now to accept the personal 
union. The Danish King and Crown-prince were fain to 
consent, though their opportunity had probably passed; 
but the Ministers opposed, and, when the King persisted, 
resigned in a body. It proved, however, impossible to 
form a new Government from the Moderates or otherwise; 
and, Monrad and his colleagues having returned to office, 
the Danish plenipotentiaries in London were instructed 
to accept the British proposal in the last instance, but to 
accept it only in toto. 

At the sitting of June i8th, the imperturbable Bernstorff 
astonished the Conference by a new move, the object of 
which can hardly have been any other than that of pre- 
serving the goodwill of France. On June 14th Drouyn de 
Lhuys had addressed to the French ambassador in London 
the notorious, almost cynical, dispatch, in which the 
question had been put whether France, on whom the 
burden of a war against the German Powers would fall, 
had anything to gain from an alliance with Great Britain 
for the purpose^. Now, the Emperor's desire was to apply 
his cherished expedient of the plebiscite in Schleswig not 
only to the question of nationality and the consequent 
desire of the population to be Danish or German subjects, 
but also, in the German portion, to the actual choice of 
sovereign. Though the Prussian proposal was confined to 

^ See the caustic chapter La Question Danoise in G. Rothan, 
La Politique Frangaise en 1866 (1884). 

w. M.G. II. 12 

178 Schlesivig-Holstein and the Danish War [CH. 

the former purpose, it met, virtually, with no approval — 
except a conditional one on the part of the first French 
plenipotentiar}'. The Austrian dissent was ingeniously 
wrapped up, but unmistakable. The proposal had thus 
fallen to the ground; but the Danes and their friends had 
been obliged to show their distrust of popular feeling. This 
was perceived by the British cabinet, which made one more 
attempt to save the situation before the Conference and 
the armistice alike came to an end. Russell's colleague at 
the Conference, Clarendon — and it is not the least of his 
titles to honourable remembrance — had, at the Paris Peace 
Conference in 1856, succeeded in inducing the signatory 
Powers to place on record their 'wish' that states between 
wliich a serious difference may arise shall, before taking up 
arms, so far as circumstances may allow, have recourse to 
the good offices of a friendly Power. Applying this prin- 
ciple, Russell now proposed that the German Powers and 
Denmark should make appeal to a friendly Power, to 
designate a frontier-line which should neither be north of 
the boundary desired by Germany nor south of that desired 
by Denmark; and, extending the principle of his Paris 
declaration. Clarendon added that the intention was to 
make the decision of the friendly Power ipso facto binding 
upon the belligerents. It was afterwards understood, but 
not stated at the time, that France was the Power in the 
minds of the British statesmen. 

Before the sitting of June 22nd, which was to decide on 
this last British attempt to bring about a peaceful solution, 
the Emperor Francis Joseph and Rechberg had met King 
William and Bismarck at Carlsbad, where the discrepancy 
between their views had become very manifest. Rechberg 
was for accepting the arbitration, which would signify 
peace; Bismarck, who knew that peace would signify the 
Augustenburg succession, was for rejecting it. Ultimately, 
it was agreed to do both — in other words, to accept it, but 

ii] Breakdown of the Conference 179 

in a form rendering it ineffectual. In Copenhagen, where 
diplomacy was under democratic control, it was resolved, 
though the King and even Hall were for acceptance, to 
reject the arbitration proposal. 

Thus, at the sitting of the Conference on June 22nd, 
three days before the expiration of the armistice, the British 
proposal of mediation was approved by the German Powers, 
provided that the decision of the mediating Power had no 
binding force, and pro\dded that this Power was not one 
of those represented at the Conference. The Danish refusal 
had been known beforehand; so that the farce had been 
played out, though angry words followed, and La Tour 
d'Auvergne, in order to make the good intentions of his 
Government manifest, now proposed that the inhabitants 
of the mixed districts of Schleswdg should vote as to their 
nationality, the presence of no military force being allowed 
during the plebiscite. The Danish plenipotentiaries de- 
clined to go back from the line proposed by Great Britain 
on May 28th, and, as at present advised, refused to consider 
a prolongation of the armistice. 

The sitting of June 25th was purely formal ; on the pre- 
vious day, however, the two Great German Powers had con- 
cluded a compact, the outcome of the Carlsbad discussions at 
the interviews between Emperor and King, by which not only 
had the plan of campaign been settled in outline, but it had 
been resolved to call upon the Confederation to agree to a 
joint administration of both duchies, and to inform the 
Great Powers that with the reopening of the war all former 
concessions as to the partition of Sclileswig fell to the ground. 

During the armistice, Wrangel had been succeeded in 
command of the allied armies by Prince Frederick Charles, 
who adopted the plan now urged by Moltke of a simultaneous 
landing in Fiinen and Alsen. With a view to this, it was 
arranged that on June 25th the 1st corps should be ready 
at Gravenstein in the Sundewitt, the Ilnd at Kolding and 

12 — 2 

i8o Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [ch. 

the Ilird at Randers ; and these were their actual positions 
on that day. But the consent of the Austrians to a landing 
on Fiinen could not be obtained; and, in the compact 
signed on June 24th at Carlsbad, it had been settled that 
Alsen and Jutland north of theLiim fiord should be occupied, 
but no troops be landed in Fiinen, the allies to administer 
Jutland, as well as Sclileswig and Holstein, in common. 
Prince Frederick Charles was accordingly informed that 
there must be no landing in Fiinen. 

Before the armistice ended, the Danish Government 
instructed its Commander-in-chief that his task must be to 
defend Fiinen, Alsen and the part of Jutland north of the 
Liim fiord. The Danish army was disposed so as to have four 
brigades in Fiinen, three in Alsen and two in north Jutland. 

Elaborate preparations had again been made by the 
Prussian troops for a landing in Alsen, and, on June 27th, 
General Herwarth von Bittenfeld, who had charge of the 
operation, determined not to attempt the crossing of the 
Augustenburg Fohrde from Ballegaard to Meels, but, 
instead, to cross the northern part of the much narrower 
Alsen sound. He had ready two divisions, 24,000 men, 
double the strength of the whole Danish force in Alsen. 
The Danish troops had to be scattered, in order to guard 
a number of points. Two battalions stood in the peninsula 
of Meels, four in reserve near Wollerup and six watching 
the Alsen sound, of which four guarded its southern and 
two its northern half. The Prussians had prepared four 
points of embarkation and four columns of boats and 
pontoons, together ferrying over 2500 men at a time. The 
start was made on June 2gth at 2.0 a.m. ; and the Danes, 
having no knowledge of the preparations, were completely 
surprised, not a sentry having seen the boats till they were 
halfway across, when it was too late to make any counter- 
moves. The first batch of Prussians easily overpowered 
and drove off the two battalions guarding the northern 

ii] New Campaign by Land and Sea i8i 

portion of the Kjar peninsula ; and, as fresh Prussian troops 
were constantly ferried across, their force was soon far 
superior to any that could be brought against them. The 
Danes were driven back to the south-east coast of the 
island, where they embarked in transports, the first batch 
at Horup-Haff, the remainder at Kekenis, and were con- 
veyed to Fiinen. The Prussians had 370 casualties, the 
Danes 700, and 2500 Danes were taken prisoners. 

On the expiration of the armistice the Ilird corps 
pushed a portion of its troops beyond Liim fiord and 
occupied the remainder of Jutland, the Danish troops 
retiring b}' sea to Fiinen. A skirmish at the village of 
Lundby, on July 3rd, revealed to the Prussians the greatness 
of the advantage derived by them from the breech-loading 
rifle. A company of 190 Danes attempted to charge 184 
Prussians lying behind the protection of a hedge. In a few 
minutes the Danes lost 3 officers and 85 men. 

During July, the Austrian and Prussian fleets, with the 
aid of small expeditions of troops from the mainland, 
occupied the islands lying off the western coast of Schleswig- 
Holstein, which were defended with skill and courage by 
the Danish captain Hammer, \nth a couple of small steamers 
and eight small boats each carr3'ing 22 men and a gun. 
Hammer's small force was eventually surrounded and com- 
pelled to surrender. 

The landing in Alsen was a great blow to the Danes, 
whose security depended on their fleet. The allies, from 
the first, had recognised the impracticability of disputing 
the Danish command of the sea, and the Danes had felt 
themselves protected by their fleet against any attack on 
their island homes. The unexpected descent upon Alsen 
showed that the fleet could not prevent the Prussians from 
crossing a narrow channel commanded by their guns. The 
Danes were therefore much alarmed by the demonstration 
that a landing in Fiinen was actually probable, and their 

i82 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [CH. 

faith in the inaccessibihty of Zealand and Copenhagen was 
rudel}^ shaken. 

All hope of British assistance had finally disappeared 
with the debate in both Houses of Parliament (July 4th to 
9th), which had ended with the approval, by a narrow 
majority, of a motion thanking the Queen for the pre- 
servation of peace^. Accordingly, on July 8th Monrad 
resigned, avowedly in order to enable the King to do the 
best he could for Denmark — in other words, to conclude 
peace. On the gth a new Ministry was formed under 
C. A. Bluhme, which, on the 12th, proposed at Berlin and 
Vienna an armistice with a view to the opening of negotia- 
tions for peace. On the 20th the new armistice began. 

Before this, the Prussian forces had pushed forward as far 
as Frederikshavn, and the Danish peninsula from its land's 
end was now in the hands of the foe. About the same time, 
an incident had occurred in Holstein which might have led 
to a serious conflict between the Prussian and the Federal 
forces. Since the end of May there had been much friction 
between the Federal and the Prussian troops which jointly 
occupied Rendsburg, where the Hanoverian colonel then 
in command had caused some Austrian and Prussian flags 
to be taken down. The incident had at first been treated 
by the Austrian and Prussian Governments as what it was, 
a piece of clumsy officiousness ; but when, in July 2, a brawl 
had taken place between the Saxon and Hanoverian troops 
on the one side, and the Prussian on the other, and some 

^ Palmerston's speech was in the main confined to a statement 
of the commercial prosperity of the British empire. Those who 
heard it, whichever side commanded their sympathies, could hardly 
believe their ears. In the House of Lords, Clarendon stated that, 
after France and Russia had declined to interfere, Denmark had 
been repeatedly informed that she had no British aid to expect. 

2 F. von Friesen, Erinnerungen aus meinem Leben, vol. 11. p. 99, 
in his account of the affair dates the brawl in June. 

ii] The Rendsburg Braid. Peace Negotiations 183 

stones had been thrown at the windows of a Prussian mihtary 
hospital, Bismarck deemed it necessary — or expedient — to 
take possession of the fortress.. On July 21st General von 
Goeben, who had been ordered by Prince Frederick Charles 
to collect 6000 troops for the purpose, sent word to the 
Saxon General von Hake, Commander-in-chief of the Federal 
forces, that he proposed to enter and occupy the town 
at noon. Hereupon, the Federals, rather than be over- 
powered, marched out of the town^. A long negotiation 
ended, in November, with a concession to the wounded 
honour of the Confederation, six companies of its troops 
being received back into Rendsburg with military honours 
by the Prussian garrison. 

Before July was out, Bismarck arrived at Vienna to 
discuss the bases of peace with Rechberg and Ouaade, 
having previously secured the general assent of Gortchakoff 
to his proposals. At the same time, notwithstanding the 
objections taken by the Austrian Government, he continued 
to exercise pressure upon the Danes by continued prepara- 
tions on the part of the Prussian troops for crossing to 
Fiinen, in the event of a resumption of the war. Although 
the two Great Powers were at one neither in this matter 
nor on the succession question, yet they were alike un\\dlling 
to allow the Federal Diet a share in the discussion of the 
peace preliminaries, although, as Beust ruefully observes, 
it had ' not only legally but also logically the right to have 
a voice in the matter'^.' And, indeed, the enthusiasm for 
Augustenburg had begun to calm down at Frankfort, where 
the majority was ready to invite both him and the Grand- 
duke of Oldenburg to submit a legal justification of their 

1 Hake's discreet conduct was afterwards, and justly, approved 
by the Federal Diet. 

2 Memoirs (Engl, tr.), vol. i, p. 267. It was at this time that 
Bismarck, by way of a cooling card, gave the above-mentioned order 
about Rendsburg. 

184 Schlesic'ig-Hol stein and the Danish War [ch. 

claims. The question of the compensation of Austria and 
Prussia themselves had reached a serious stage, when the 
Peace Conference opened on July 25th. 

Ouaade's protest as to the hardship of the sacrifice de- 
manded, and his and his colleague's attempt to insist once 
more on the legal aspect of the succession question, were 
alike waved aside, and no further objection was taken in 
principle to the cession to Austria and Prussia of the three 
duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg^. At the 
same time, Quaade pointed out the absolute impossibility 
of Denmark undertaking financial liabilities when deprived 
of so much territory. The Danish demand for the evacua- 
tion of Jutland, and finally that of the continuance of 
Danish civil administration there, were abandoned in the 
face of unmistakable menaces; and, on August ist, the 
preliminaries of peace were signed on the bases aforesaid. 

The further peace negotiations were carried on at Vienna 
after Bismarck's departure, by Werther, with Balan and 
Brenner, both formerly envoys at Copenhagen, as Prussian 
plenipotentiaries. Both Powers were agreed that the Con- 
federation should be excluded from the negotiations; and 
Bismarck put a stop upon Beust's intention to propose at 
the Diet that its participation in the discussion of the 
succession question at least should not be refused. But 
the displeasure of the Bavarian Government and of those 
of other secondary states, and the desire of the Austrian 
not to strain its relations with them too far, were not to be 
ignored; and at Schonbrunn, where towards the end of 
August King William paid a return visit to the Emperor 
Francis Joseph, and where the future of the duchies was 
necessarily discussed between the sovereigns and their 

^ The Danish plenipotentiaries succeeded in securing the retention 
by Denmark of the small Jutish enclave of Ribe in the extreme 
north-west, and of a small district and island in the extreme north- 
east, south of Kolding, in lieu of the other Jutish enclaves. 

ii] Terms of Peace 185 

Ministers, a distinct divergence once more made itself 
manifest. This was still rather between Bismarck and 
the Austrians, than between them and Bismarck's master, 
who had as yet made up his mind neither as to annexation 
nor as to Augustenburg. But on one point King William 
never wavered — he would on no consideration cede any 
part of his dominions, or accept an annexation accompanied 
by such conditions. Nor would he consent to a guarantee 
by Prussia of Austria's non-German concessions. 

On August 28th, and again on September 6th, the Peace 
Conference met, and the share of the duchies in the debt of 
the Danish monarchy was finally fixed at 29 million Danish 
dollars (about ;^3,ooo,ooo). It should be pointed out that 
this 'compromise,' in addition to which the Austrian and 
Prussian Governments reser\'ed to themselves the right 
of claiming repayment of the cost of the war from the 
duchies, in itself made it difficult for them to maintain their 
independence of one or both the Great Powers^. Various 
other outstanding points were settled : Rechberg's wish to 
carr^' through matters to a conclusion as rapidly as possible 
becoming evident. His position between Schmerling and 
Biegeleben, and in face of the unpopularity of the war in 
Austria, had become difficult, and was made more so by a 
matter which had already come to the front at Schonbrunn, 
and to which, in view of the direct consequences of the 
treatment received by it there, reference must be made. 
It will be remembered^ how, in July 1862, Rechberg, who 
still looked forward to the entry of Austria into the Zollverein, 
summoned representatives of the German Governments to 
Vienna, to impress upon them the objections against the 
commercial treaty with France which Prussia had invited 
the Zollverein states to join. His arguments had failed to 
achieve their purpose ; and even in the protectionist south- 
west there was a strong feeling in favour of joining the 
i Kliipfel, op. cit., vol. i, p. 35^. 2 Qf p yg^ ante. 

i86 SchlesK'ig-HoIstein and the Danish War [ch. 

reconstituted Customs Union. At a meeting between the 
representatives of these states and Austria in July 1864, 
it was merely agreed to bring about the conclusion of treaties 
between the Zollverein and Austria, with a view to the 
inclusion of the latter in the Union ; and this agreement 
was communicated to the Prussian Government, with a 
peremptory demand for the opening of negotiations on the 
subject between the two Great Powers. Rechberg, though 
the tone of this communication was out of keeping with his 
own desire to uphold the Prussian alliance, at Schonbrunn 
expressed the hope that the new commercial treaty between 
the two Powers would include Article XXV of the Treaty 
of 1853I, which provided that within twelve years negotia- 
tions should be renewed for a General German Customs 
Union including Austria. In view of Rechberg's statement 
that the refusal of these overtures would make his position 
in the Austrian Ministry untenable, both the King and 
Bismarck were willing to meet him halfway; but the real 
decision lay with M. F. R. Delbriick, director in the Ministry 
of Commerce. He was a free-trader, and to him was mainly 
due the hegemony which Prussia had secured in the com- 
mercial policy of the German states, so that he has not 
inaptly been called the Bismarck of German trade. Delbriick 
was opposed, root and branch, to the proposed conces- 
sion to Austria, and threatened to resign his office, if 
an\'thing like the obnoxious Article XXV were insisted 
on. Bismarck hereupon gave way, and a very interesting 
correspondence ensued between him and Rechberg, which 
went deeply into the nature of the relations between the 
two Great Powers. On the commercial question, to which 
Rechberg attributed a greater importance than Bismarck 
would allow to belong to it, the policy of Delbriick scored 
a notable success by the accession of Bavaria to the renewed 
Zollverein (Scliron(i< resigning post lioc, though King 
' Cf. p. 78, ante. 

ii] Fall of Rechberg 187 

Lewis II would not allow him to resign propter hoc) ; 
Wiirttemberg (where Varnbiiler became Minister) following 
suit. At the Conference held in Berlin all the states that 
had belonged to the Zollverein were duly represented. 

Hereupon, Rechberg repeated his threat of resignation 
if the confirmation of the much-vext Article XXV were 
refused; and Bismarck urged his sovereign to avert Rech- 
berg's fall, in view of the general political situation and of 
the danger that Prussia (for whom the pear was not yet 
quite ripe) would have to forgo any real advantage from the 
Schleswig-Holstein War. Much pressure was brought to bear 
on the Emperor Francis Joseph also to the same purpose ; 
but the fall of the Austrian Foreign Minister had become 
inevitable. The long-simmering discontent at the deference 
shown by Austria to her ally in Schleswig-Holstein had at 
last blazed up, and the Reichsrat quarrelled with the expendi- 
ture which the war had occasioned. Schmerling's opportunity 
for overthrowing his rival had arrived. Before a definitive 
answer as to Article XXV had come from Berlin, where 
Rechberg had not improved the chances of its acceptance 
by asking that (contrary to the intentions of Prussia) part 
of the Federal troops might be left in the duchies, his 
position had become untenable at Vienna. Schmerling 
had let loose the Liberal press upon him, nor was it over- 
looked that at this very time Bismarck was in conference 
with Napoleon III, and that the isolation of Austria in 
European politics was perhaps being rendered complete. 
Rechberg and Schmerling, accordingly, informed the 
Emperor that he must part with one or other of them ; and, 
on October 27th, Rechberg, who had enemies at court, was 
dismissed. But the Emperor Francis Joseph, who always 
reserved to himself the choice of his Ministers, let it be 
known on this occasion that he had no desire to change his 
system of policy — in other words that he proposed to adhere 
to the Prussian alliance ; and the statesman whom he chose 

1 88 Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish War [CH. 

as Rechberg's successor, was not Beust, who was suggested, 
for whom, however, the hour had not yet come, but Count 
Alexander Mensdorff-Pouilly, hitherto Governor of Galicia 
and a general in the army, a conservative and in favour 
with the King of Prussia. At the same time, the Emperor 
could hardly provide against Mensdorff' s falhng under the 
anti-Prussian influence of Biegeleben ; and the inclusion in 
the new Government of Count Maurice Esterhazy, who 
remained a Minister without portfolio, added to it an in- 
calculable, but steadily anti-Prussian, element. 

Rechberg's fall counts for something in the change which 
before long was to befall the relations between the two 
German Great Powers, though not till after they had, to 
outward seeming, become even closer than before. He 
thought, and as it proved rightly, that, from a military 
point of view, Austria was not strong enough to carry on 
war against Prussia, and he, therefore, held it best to go with 
her in the Schleswig-Holstein question, with a view to her 
ultimately obtaining the duchies in return for a guarantee 
of Austria's Italian dominions : his hope, as he confessed 
to Bismarck, was for a joint Austro-Prussian war against 
France. But, although he was a Minister of vigilant in- 
telligence, and had the unity of German political action at 
heart, he was not cast in the mould of a statesman who 
helps to determine the future of great nations, or is capable 
of arresting the currents of opinion and sentiment by which 
they are impelled. He was anything but a tool of Bis- 
marck's; but neither was he in any sense equal to the task 
of going just so far as he chose with his great Prussian 
colleague — and no further^. 

Three days after the dismissal of Rechberg, the Treaty 
of Peace between Denmark and tlic two German Great 

1 See Appendix to H. V\'\i'i\]\\ng, Der Kai)ip>f iiiii die Vorhcryxcliaft 
(Stuttgart, T897-8), vol. il, pp. 524 ff. for Rechberg's remarkable 
conversations with the aullior. 

ii] The Peace of Vienna 189 

Powers was signed at Vienna. Christian IX renounced 
all his claims on the three duchies of Schleswig, Holstein 
and Lauenburg, which he ceded to Austria and Prussia, 
recognising by anticipation whatever dispositions they might 
choose to make with regard to the ceded dominions. The 
aspirations of the two duchies for self-government were, 
so far as the Treaty of Peace went, passed over in silence. 
On the other hand, it contained no reference to the Danish- 
speaking or mixed districts in northern Schleswig. All 
these things were left in the hands of the conquerors. 

In Copenhagen, where the Rigsdag was assembled to be 
informed of the conclusion of peace, the Folkething may be 
excused for its vote implying, without expressing, its wrath. 
Its humiliation was not really so deep as that of the Ger- 
manic Diet, which had entered into the war as the legitimate 
agent of the national will, and which was now obliged to 
withdraw its troops from the liberated lands. 

Inasmuch as the Austrian Government, even before 
Rechberg's fall, had declined to join Prussia in a request 
to the Diet for the removal of the Saxon and Hanoverian 
troops from Holstein, Prussia made the demand on her own 
account. Hanover agreed; but Saxony declined to with- 
draw her troops, on the ground that their mission was not 
yet fulfilled. Prussia, therefore, kept back in Schleswig- 
Holstein 20,000 men of her field-army besides the garrison 
of about the same strength, which it was intended to leave 
permanently in the duchies. In November, Prussia and 
Austria laid the Treaty of Vienna before the Diet, and, on 
December ist, proposed the withdrawal of the Executive 
force. This resolution was carried, whereupon the Saxon 
troops were withdrawn, being taken round through 
Hanover, Hesse and Bavaria ; and the Prussian field-troops 
till then retained in Holstein were sent home. 



If the war which severed Schleswig-Holstein from 
Denmark had been carried on by a process bitterly resented 
by the German secondary states, and unsatisfactory to 
Liberal opinion in the nation at large, the peace which 
terminated that war had at least freed the duchies from the 
foreign yoke to which Holstein and the greater part of 
Schleswig had been long subjected, and had thus fulfilled a 
deeply-cherished national aspiration. An intolerable series of 
failures and disappointments had, at last, ended in victory ; 
and a change had, in consequence, come over public feeling 
that must be regarded as an element in the sequence of 
events which culminated in the national triumph of 1870. 
How speedily this change set in, is illustrated by two 
letters addressed, in May 1864 and April 1865 respectively, 
to Queen Victoria by her kinsman Prince Chlodwig zu 
Hohenlohe-Schillingsfiirst, now Bavarian Reichsrat and 
future Chancellor of the German Empire^. The Queen, 
desorientee by recent events, and no longer able to appeal 
to marital guidance, could have found no more clear-sighted 
instructor than her kinsman, who knew and understood 
Germany, both north and south. In the summer of 1864, 
he reported, public feeling had virtually become absorbed 

^ They are printed in the Prince's Detikwurdigkeiten (igoy), 
vol. I, pp. 139-147. 

CH.iii] Beginnings of Atistro-Prussian'Detenie 191 

in the Sclileswig-Holstein question. The Germans, he said 
— and said truly — were, naturally, a people that held by the 
law — indeed, he might have added they have only one word 
for ' law ' and ' right ' — and no grievance came home to them 
so nearly as one with a legal basis. He added that the 
Schleswig-Holstein movement had been so popular in the 
secondary states, with their nineteen millions of inhabitants, 
because throughout they, for the first time, had seemed 
called upon to take part in the settlement of a problem of 
European policy. But when, by the Peace of Vienna and 
the transactions which ensued, Austria and Prussia had 
arrogated that settlement to themselves, the problem, as 
the year 1865 went on, became one of might, not right ; 
and the wider and more difficult problem of the future 
of Germany once more confronted the nation. 

Up to the peace and the dismissal of Rechberg, the 
Austrian Government had adhered to a policy of cooperation 
with Prussia and refus ed to join the secondary states in 
re cognising the Augustenburg claims. With the new 
responsibility incurred by Austria through the terms of 
the peace, a cautious policy might have seemed imposed 
upon her, more especially since, on September 15th, 1864, 9- 
treaty had been signed between France and Italy, providing 
for the withdrawal of the French troops from Rome within 
two years, during which Italy would leave the Papal 
Government unharassed ; and a secret guarantee of French 
assistance, in case of an Austrian attack upon Italy, was 
supposed to have accompanied the treaty. About the 
same time, Roon and other Prussian officers were treated 
with great courtesy on the occasion of Emperor Napoleon's 
reception of them in the camp at Chalons^. But, notwith- 
standing these more or less ominous signs, the E mperor 

1 La Marmora, Uii po' piu di luce, pp. 33-4. See also Roon, 
Denkwiird-igkeiien, vol. 11, p. 275, where the meeting is said to have 
been King William's idea. 

192 Rupture hetiveen Austria and Prussia [CH. 

Francis J os eph desired a clear ex position of Austrian policy 
with regard to the duchies ; and , since IVlensdortl was still 
something of a novice in these matters, Biegeleben was 
charged with the task and executed it in a series of three 
dispatches addressed to the Prussian Governm ent. In 
these , annexation to Prussia and the establishment of a new 
s emi-suwrcii^n state were waived aside, and it was laid down 
that the succession to the conjoint and independent ducliy 
should be settled by legal process under the supervision_of 
the Confederatioii. Failing a com])letely satisfactory result, 
Austria and Prussia would transfer the duchies to the 
claimant best entitled to succeed ; and, since the Oldenburg 
claims had no foundation, this seemed to be Augustenburg, 
as had alread}' been made plain to the London Conference^. 
Simple, almost naif, as this statement might appear to be, 
it hardly had the virtue of sincerity; for Karolyi was at 
the same time instructed to let it be known at Berlin tliat 
Austria would not object to a Prussian annexation of the 
duchies, if a satisfactory territorial compensation could Jig 
found for her. A mere money-payment was out of the 
question ; but a cession suggest ed itself, such as that of th e 
Silesian county of Glatz. 

Biegeleben 's dispatches had been crossed by one from 
Bismarck, demanding the withdrawal of the Federal troops 
from Holstein. As has been seen, Austria ultimately 
joined at the Diet in this demand, which was carried out 
before the end of the year. But the joint responsibilities, 
on which the two Great Powers now entered in both duchiea. 
im])licd no harmony of purpose^ and no stage of the 
Schleswig-Holstein (juestion pnn'cd more thorny than that 
of the months following upon the peace which proclaimed 
their 'liberation.' Prussig. , though her declaration was on 
record that the Treaty of 1852 was no longer binding on 
the German Powers^, persisted in regarding herself and 
1 Cf. p. 173, ante. ~ Ct. j). 170, ante. 

Ill] The Secondary States and Augustenburg 193 

Austria as the lawful successors of the lawful sovereign of 
the duchies. Austria, after first taking the same view, 
while like Prussia continuing bound by the punctation of 
Janliary 1864, which required the two Powers to preserve 
the integrity of the Danish monarchy, unless in pursuance 
of a mutual understanding between them, now, except in 
the event of a satisfactory bargain with Prussia, once 
more leant to the Augustenburg claims. And the secondary 
states, which commanded a majority at the Diet, adhered, 
more or less firmly to Augustenburg. The Hanoverian 
Government, indeed, had no goodwill to spare for Duke 
Frederick, whom, because of his acceptance of the Danish 
constitutional law of 1848, it regarded as a democrat — he 
was, in truth, a Liberal of the oldest and most temperate 
sort^; and Oldenburg had its own pretensions to push. 
But in Bavaria, though Bismarck was still hopeful that the 
Prussian sympathies of von der Pfordten, now once more 
at the head of the Ministry, would dispose him to yield to 
the tempting offer of the military command in the south. 
King and people were for Augustenburg. As to Saxony, with 
its counsels guided by the protagonist of the Diet, Beust, 
there could be no manner of doubt ; nor as to Wiirttem- 
berg (though Varnbiiler personally inclined to Prussia) ; 
nor as to Baden, where, however, Roggenbach, who was still 
in power, and who had identified himself with the Augusten- 
burg interests, was prepared to urge concessions on the 
part of Duke Frederick which might reconcile Prussia to 
his accession. 

Accordingly, Bismarck, convinced that the French 
Emperor, who seemed favourable to a Prussian annexation 
of the duchies (except the Danish districts of northern 
Schleswig) , was really looking forward to a rupture between 

^ Count Platen's influence, as a member of the Holstein landed 
nobility, was against Augustenburg. See F. von der Wengen, Kriegs- 
ereignisse zwischen Preussen und Hannover, p. 8i. 

W. M.G. II. 13 

194 Rupture between Austria and Prussia [CH. 

the German Great Powers, still played for delay and the 
maintenance of the provisorium. Annexatiqii^ or at least 
the establishm ent of a Schleswig^oJstein sta te under 
conditions rendering it m essentials dependent up.on 
Prussia, was the end which he, more and more openly, 
pursued; but, since Prussia could not annex without the 
consent of Austria, it appeared better to wait and, wliile 
submitting to Austria a minimitm of the concessions which 
would satisfy her partner in the event of the establishment 
of a new state, pro\'ide for the testing of the claims to its_ 
sovereignty belonging, S( Aerally, to Augustenburg, Olden- 
burg — and Brandenburg-Prussia ! After this had been done, 
by calling, on December 14th, for an opinion from the 
Prussian Crown-syndicate, the Prussian minimum require- 
ments were at last, on February 22nd, sent to Vienna. 
They comprised the inclusion of Schleswig-Holstein in the 
Zollverein, and of its postal and telegraphic system in the 
Prussian. Prussia was to have the supervision of the canal 
to be constructed between North Sea and Baltic; and 
Friedrichsort, Sonderburg-Diippel and the mouths of the 
canal were to be placed in her hands. Rendsburg was 
to become a Federal fortress with a Prussian garrison. 
Finally, the Schleswig-Holstein military and naval forces 
were to be incorporated in the Prussian army and navy, 
and to swear allegiance to the King of Prussia as their 

The Austrian Government flatly refused to approve 
these conditions, which, in a dispatch of March 5th, 
Mensdorff formally declared to be absolutely irreconcilable 
with Federal law. This meant the prolongation of the 
provisional condition of things, which was quite in accord- 
ance with what Bismarck wished; and, for a time, the 
condominium of the two Great Powers continued in the 
duchies, inhabited as they were by a population, and 
administered by officers, of whom the large majority desired 

Ill] Augustenbtirg or Prussia? 195 

to see both Powers turned out. To the Prussian Com- 
missioner (formerl}^ for Schleswig only), Freiherr von 
ZedHtz, was now joined the Austrian, Baron Halbhuber, 
formerly Governor of Lower Galicia. The patriotic 
agitation rapidly spread from Holstein into Schleswig; 
and, though there were signs of the gradual formation of 
a party favourable to the Prussian designs in the duchies, 
more especially among the landed Holstein nobility, which 
might well dread the financial burdens autonom^^ would 
entail, this minority was all but lost in the constant flow of 
enthusiasm for Augustenburg kept up by the press, which 
the Austrian Commissioner could not see his way to take 
part in restraining. Still, the issue was becoming less 
certain. While at a general meeting of delegates of 
Schleswig-Holstein associations (February 26th) a majority 
of 120 to 88 declined to contemplate any kind of junction 
with Prussia, the Committee deputed by this very gathering 
to discuss the situation with the Frankfort Committee of 
Thirty-six and certain of the leaders of the Prussian 
Fortschritt party recognised some of the Prussian February 
conditions as reasonable, though the acceptance of them 
must be preceded by the enthronement of Duke Fre- 
derick VIIL Bismarck, true to the step-b37-step policy which 
he vigilantly pursued, was thus encouraged to entertain 
the idea of summoning the Estates of the duchies, and 
laying the Prussian case before them. 

Meanwhile, the tension increased, and the chances of 
a peaceable solution of the problem in the Prussian 
sense were passing away. On March 27th, 1865, Bavaria, 
Saxony and Hesse-Darmstadt joined in a resolution at 
the Diet expressing the confident expectation that Austria 
and Prussia would make over the administration of the 
auchies to the Duke of Augustenburg. In conformity with 
a motion of urgency carried by Austria against Prussia, the 
resolution was, on April 6th, put to the vote and earned; 


196 Rupture behceen Austria and Prussia [ch. 

the Austrian plenipotentiary adding to his affirmative vote 
a declaration that Austria was prepared to resign her claims 
on Schleswig-Holstein to the Duke, so soon as Prussia took 
the same step. The Augustenburg agitation, encouraged by 
Halbhuber, in consequence grew apace ; and Prussia, still 
proposing to summon the Estates of the duchies, opined that 
the ' Hereditary Prince ' should absent himself during the 
elections, a measure which Austria in her turn pronounced 
reasonable, but not one that could be enforced. Before 
long, Austria demanded, and Prussia refused, the reduction 
of the Prussian town garrisons in the duchies to 10,000 men. 
In Bavaria, and elsewhere, the convocation of the Schleswig- 
Holstein Estates was strongly approved ; and the word went 
round that no candidate should be elected on the occasion 
who was not in favour of the proclamation of Duke Fre- 
derick Vni at the first sitting of the body. In Baden, the 
controversy between annexationists and Augustenburgers 
was carried on with the utmost ardour b}' two very redoubt- 
able literary combatants, Ludwig Hausser and Heinrich von 

Thus, the crisis seemed to be becoming acute ; for 
Prussia held to her purpose, while Austria's action con- 
tinued to run counter to it. How could this provisorium, 
both particular and general, be indefinitely prolonged? In 
Berlin, a Ministerial Council was held on May 29th, to 
arrive, if possible, at a decision on the question whether 

1 See the first essay in Treitschke's Zehti Jahre Deiilscher Kampfe, 
1865-1874. It was the Schleswig-Holstein crisis of this year which 
effected his transition from the standpoint of one who believed in the 
destinies of Prussia, but strongly disapproved of her internal govern- 
ment, to that of her most thoroughgoing champion as a patriotic 
publicist. But it is to his honour that, when, in 1866, he removed 
from Freiburg, in the first instance to Berlin, and Bismarck twice 
sought to secure his services, he declined to bind himself, and retained 
his freedom as editor of the Preussische Jahrhucher, in which, and in 
the Grenzboten, his earliest literary successes had been gained. 

Ill] Austrian Ministerial Changes 197 

the concessions demanded on February 22nd, modified 
perhaps by omitting the requirement of the mihtary oath 
to the King of Prussia from the Schleswig-Holstein troops, 
or annexation, should be the choice^. Bismarck, supported 
by Roon and Moltke, spoke strongly in favour of annexation 
at the risk of war, and nearly all the Ministers signified 
their assent. But the Crown -prince (whose pacific views were 
known to be shared by his Consort, as well as by the Queen 
and the Queen Dowager) was strongh^ opposed to annexa- 
tion, which meant fratricidal war in Germany and foreign 
intervention. As the King, whose position must be allowed 
to have been one of extreme perplexity, reserved his decision, 
the result of the Council amounted to the maintenance of 
the February' demands without abatement. The die had 
not yet been cast ; but, from this time forward, Bismarck 
laid his plans, and Moltke and Roon continued to shape 
their preparations, for war. 

In Austria, the difficulties were of another sort. The con- 
dition of the empire was palpably such that, unless a speedy 
decision by the sword were deliberately sought, it was 
wiser, instead of pushing the dispute with Prussia to ex- 
tremes, to take advantage of King William's unwilhngness 
to provoke a conflict in arms. On June 27th, 1865, the 
Reichsrat had passed a resolution deprecating the issue of 
imperial ordinances without its consent under a special 
clause of the constitution, and had granted only a fraction 
of the loan demanded by the Ministry. A Ministerial 
crisis had, hereupon, declared itself. The elements of 
disturbance had been for some time gathering. While the 

1 Both the minutes (protocol) of this Council, and those of the 
even more important one of February 28th, 1866 (see p. 212, post), 
were taken by Moltke, and are to be found in the Appendix to 
vol. Ill of O. von Lettow-Vorbeck's Geschichte des Krieges von 1866 
in Deutschland (1902). Sybel's accounts are paraphrases, the ex- 
actitude of which is contested by Lettow-Vorbeck. 

198 Rupture heticeen Austria and Prussia [CH. 

Cecils and otlier Cisleithanian Slavs held aloof, Eduard 
Herbst and other GeiTnan Liberals had delivered a series 
of attacks in the Reichsrat upon the Ministry, both as 
to finance (the perpetual difficulty of Austrian Govern- 
ments) and because of Schmerling's unwillingness to 
propose a law asserting the principle of Ministerial re- 
sponsibility ; and the Hungarian constitutional party under 
Deak seemed inclined to make common cause against the 
unlucky Minister with Count Maurice Esterhazy and the 
Ultramontanes, who resented Schmerling's religious Liberal- 
ism, and his treatment of the first signals of the great papal 
campaign — the Encyclica and Syllabus of 1864 — as virtually 
expressions of private opinion. Undoubtedly, Rechberg's 
adhesion to the Prussian alliance had contributed to 
weaken the Ministry, and though Schmerling's desire was 
to remain on good terms with the secondary states, and 
accordingly to promote the Augustenburg claims, Mensdorff 
was without a definite policy of his own. Thus, public 
opinion was in an unsettled state, and Sclmierling fell. 
With him. Archduke Rainer and the other Ministers, except 
Mensdorff and General Ritter von Franck, hitherto Minister 
of War, resigned ; and a new Government was formed under 
Count Belcredi, hitherto Governor of Bohemia, a federalist 
who intended to govern without a parliament, but a states- 
man without constructive power. Esterhazy remained a 
member of the Grafcnminislerium, as the new Government 
was popularly called. Before long, the new Government 
showed its colours by the suspension of the constitution of 
February 1861 (September 20th) and the recognition of the 
Hungarian constitution of 1848 ; the Court took up its 
residence at Budapest, as if there lay the centre of the 
monarchy, while the Reichsrat remained dissolved. While 
the empire was passing through a crisis which only a coup 
d'etat had been held capable of averting, it would mani- 
festly have been more than hazardous to put the existing 

Ill] Blames Mission 199 

controversy with Prussia to the touch of war. It is credit- 
able to Esterhazy's insight that he should have used his 
influence in this sense; for he had no love for Prussia, 
whatever may have been his admiration for Bismarck's 
methods. Moreover, no equivalent had yet been found for 
Austria, if Prussia were to take both the duchies^. 

The Austrian envoy at Munich, Count Blome, a 
Holsteiner by birth, had, after being at first opposed to 
the Augustenburg claims and then advocating them 
as a diplomat, arrived at the plain conclusion that the 
easiest way out of the dilemma was a partition of the 
duchies between the two joint occupants. Blome was a 
man of much ability, adverse to anything that savoured 
of particularism or democracy ; and thus he inclined to the 
maintenance of the Prussian alliance, as Rechberg had 
before him. It was accordingly resolved to charge him 
with a special mission to King William, in order if possible 
to induce him to recognise the Augustenburg claims and, 
if he refused, to suggest a scheme of partition between the 
Powers in possession (July 26th). 

Of the former solution there was little or no chance. 
While the Austrian Government was drifting back into 
cooperation with Prussia, King William, with the cognisance 
of his ally, had written a letter, courteous in form, to Duke 
Frederick, requesting him to quit the duchies, but had met 
with a refusal. On June 30th, the King had called upon 
the Emperor Francis Joseph to demand the expulsion of 
the pretender, whose birthday (July 6th) had to be cele- 
brated very quietly, except for a rousing speech in the 
Kiel aula by Professor Forchhammer, the most inde- 
fatigable of the academical supporters of the House of 
Augustenburg. Armed measures were actually taken into 
consideration by the Prussian Government; overtures to 

^ For a summary of these events and transactions see 15. Fried- 
jung, Dev Kampf um die Vorherrschaft, etc., vol. i (1897), pp. 112 ff. 

200 Rupture between Austria and Prussia [CH. 

France and Italy were set on foot ; and an ultimatum to 
Austria insisting on the establishment of 'order' in the 
duchies was prepared. Such was the policy in contem- 
plation, when King William, accompanied by Bismarck 
and Manteuffel, betook himself to Gastein. On the way, 
Bismarck had an interview at Salzburg (July 23rd) with 
von der Pfordten, to whom he indicated that it lay with 
Bavaria to inherit the position of Austria in southern 
Germany. About this very time, the Prussian Crown- 
syndicate presented its opinion on the Schleswig-Holstein 
succession question, which put an end to all hesitation on 
the subject on the part of King William and his Govern- 
ment. The large majority of the eminent jurists who formed 
the syndicate, including the reporter, the famous jurist 
Heffter^, were, Sybel points out, as independent in position 
as was any member of the sixteen faculties of law in the 
universities which had pronounced in favour of the Augusten- 
burg claims. And indeed, as a matter of fact, the Crown- 
syndics were by no means at one, even on the main issue. 
Heffter's report was approved, with actual or virtual 
unanimity, so far as it pronounced that the Brandenburg 
claims (which went back to the Elector Joachim I and an 
expectancy confirmed by the Emperor Maximilian I in 
1517) could not be taken into account till after the extinction 
of the House of Oldenburg^; while the Gottorp claims 
had come to an end by renunciations. But his contention 

' A. W. Heffter, member of the Supreme Justicial Tribunal and 
of the Herrenhaus at Berhn, was called upon in these years for his 
opinion in several other political, as well as legal, questions of moment. 

^ At the London Conference (1864) the Russian plenipotentiary 
had declared that, in consequence of the London Treaty of 1852 
having become invalid, these claims had revived, but were by the 
Tsar transferred to the Grand-duke of Oldenburg. Grand-duke 
Peter had then formally laid them before the Diet (June 23rd, 1864). 
Whether, after this, the Grand-duke really counted on Bismarck's 
support of liis claims, is uncertain. On June ist and 2nd, he had 

Ill] The Gastein Negotiations opened 201 

as to the more important question of the Augustenburg 
claims was neither decisively stated nor received with ap- 
proval by the majority of his colleagues. Heffter considered 
that the compact into which Duke Christian August had 
entered^ was binding on him and his descendants during 
his hfe-time; but that, after his death, Duke Frederick 
(the present claimant) would not be bound by the paternal 
promise, and that Austria and Prussia would then be 
entitled to consider his claims to the dominions of which the 
disposal was in their hands. The majorit}^ of the Crown - 
syndics, on the other hand, took the view that Austria and 
Prussia were in no case bound to recognise any claims 
conflicting with the law of succession promulgated in 1853 
for the entire Danish monarchy; and, as if to make 
assurance doubly sure, the same majority pronounced 
that the Augustenburg claims themselves were invalid, 
inasmuch as Duke Christian August's undertaking bound 
his successors for all time. 

Henceforth, there was for Bismarck and his master no 
going back. Accordingly, when negotiations were opened 
with Blome at Gastein, it was soon made clear to him that 
nothing could be done with or for Augustenburg; so that, 
after Oldenburg had been discussed and put aside, he could 
broach his scheme of a joint sovereignty with a divided 
administration. From Gastein, Blome passed on to Ischl, 
to report to the Emperor Francis Joseph, who returned to 

interviews with King William and his Minister at Berlin, of the 
results of which Uttle is known. At Gastein, Bismarck seems once 
more to have put forward the Oldenburg claims against Blome's initial 
efforts for Augustenburg, but hardly with any serious intention. 
After Gastein, Grand-duke Peter seems to have given up all hope ; 
but after the War of 1866 he received, by a compact with Prussia, 
a small territorial compensation in Holstein and the sum of a million 
dollars. See Oncken, ' Grossherzog Peter von Oldenburg ' in Histor- 
ische und politische Aiifsdtze, vol. 11, pp. 68—73. 
^ Cf. p. 121, ante. 

202 Riipture between Austria and Prussia [CH. 

Vienna to consult his Ministers. There was, as always, a 
strong anti-Prussian party among them (Biegeleben was 
not consulted), which could reckon on much support in 
the army and in the public at large ; but Esterhazy threw 
the weight of his personal influence into the scale of those 
who shrank from risking a great war with an empty 
exchequer. Blome, therefore, came back to Gastein with 
an autograph letter from the Emperor Francis Joseph to 
King William, with whom and his Minister now actually 
lay the decision between securing temporarily an advan- 
tageous position in the north, and entering into a great but 
decisive war. There was as yet no dependence on Italy, 
or on the French Emperor, who vaguely approved of her 
awaiting the moment which had not yet come^ ; and there 
was good reason for showing Napoleon that the German 
Powers could manage their affairs for themselves. There 
was, moreover, von der Pfordten's civilities notwithstanding, 
very little doubt that the secondary states would, in case 
of a rupture on the Schleswig-Holstein question, side with 
Austria. When, therefore, on August loth, Blome began 
his final negotiation at Gastein, and Prussia had declined 
to discuss any definitive settlement of the future of the 
duchies till order had been restored there — in other words 
till the Augustenburg pretender had been forced to take his 
departure — the proposal of a temporary revision of the 
existing condominium was at once discussed. The principle 
of the scheme was that the exercise of the rights conferred 
by th e Peace of Vienna upon the two Powers should now 
pass, for Holstein to Austria, and for Schleswig to Prussia^ 
This implied a final abandonment by Austria of the 
position that her and Prussia's occupation of the duchies_ 

* La Marmora, p. 46. It is characteristic of tlic <-aution which 
Bismarck, when necessary, knew how to apply, that, for two 
months after Gastein, the Prussian envoy, Usedom, was invisible 
at Florence. lb., p. .\i. 

Ill] Convention of Gastein 203 

was only of the nature of a transitory arrangement, together 
with the acceptance of the principle that there had been a ' 
complete transfer of sovereignty by Denmark to the two 
Powers. They might agree to cede the duchies to some 
other ruler ; but they, and they alone, were the guardians of 
the existing order of things. On the other hand, since 
Holstein was, in extent and otherwise, more considerable 
than Schleswig, and since Prussia's sacrifices in men and 
money in the course of the war had been very much larger 
than those of Austria, Prussia was entitled to compensations. 
After much discussion, she was granted two military 
roads and a telegraph-wire through Holstein, permission _ti2 
construct a North Sea and Baltic canal (without rights of 
sovereignty over it), the command and garrison of the poit 
of Kiel (which was to be Federal, together with the fortress^f 
Rendsburg), and the admission of Holstein, with Schleswig, 
into the Zollverein. Lauenburg became Prussian, a com- 
pensation of 2\ million Danish dollars being paid to 

In this form, omitting further details, the Convention 
of Gastein was concluded_ by Bismarck and Blome oq 
August 14th, 1865, and ratified b}/ the two sovereigns at 
Salzburg on the 20th. By way of leaving no doubt as 
to their genuine feelings of amity. General Edwin von 
Manteuffel, Chief of the Military Cabinet and persona 
gratissima at the Austrian Court, was appointed Governor 
of Schleswigi, and General von Gablenz of Holstein, while 
Halbhuber was superseded as civil commissioner. The King 
paid a visit to the Empress Elisabeth at Ischl ; and Bismarck, 
who had feared to the last that, if the secret of the terms 
were not kept, the negotiation and with it the acquisition 

1 See Roon's Denkwurdigkeiten, vol. ii, pp. 321-2. The appoint- 
ment was a relief to Roon as War Minister, but Manteuffel deeply 
felt his removal from the personal entourage of the King, of whom he 
was one of the most highminded and independent counsellors. 

204 Rupture between Austria and Prussia [CH. 

of the control of Kiel would break down^, was made a 
count. To him, the Convention was an expedient trans- 
action, rather than a victorious achievement of Prussian 
policy, in which liglit it was regarded in the duchies, and 
throughout Germany. The large majority of the Holsteiners, 
still loyal to Augustenburg, declared that they would not be 
sold like the Lauenburgers. The Vienna journals con- 
cluded, as a matter of course, that their Government 
had been outwitted by Bismarck. At Frankfort, where 
some radical resolutions, passed at a general meeting of 
German parliamentary deputies on October ist (from which, 
however, several leading members of the Fortschritt had 
absented themselves), had caused the two Great Powers 
to protest strongly to the Senate against the recurrence 
of such proceedings, the Nationalverein, under Bennigsen's 
presidency, on the 28th, declared in favour of the February 
concessions to Prussia, but against the Gastein Convention. 
A month before this, Treitschke had launched his choicest 
in\^ecti\'e against the fatuous folly of the Nationalverein 
and the Augustenburgers ; and now Bismarck put forth a 
semi-official statement that the aims of the Nationalverein 
had never been those of the King's Government, and that, 
if Prussia were to accept the kind of hegemony proffered 
to her by that association, she would cease to be Prussia-. 

Among the secondary states there was great indignation ; 
and Beust could not reconcile himself to the rejection sub 
silentio of the plan, which he had suggested at Vienna, of 
enquiring whether the Confederation wished Austria to 
remain in Schleswig-Holstein or not, and thus identifying 
their interests. Among foreign Powers, the reception 
accorded to the Convention varied. Lord Russell described 

1 Gedinken und Erinnernngen, vol. 11, pp. 15 ff. 

* See Onckcn, R. vnn Bfnni^seti, vol. I, pp. 680-4. Ireitschke's 
essay 'Die Parteien vind die Hcrzouthiinier ' is printed in Zehn Jahre 
Deulscher K&ivpfe, pp. 33-.59 

Ill] The Convention and Napoleon 205 

it as ' infamous ' ; but epithets break no bones. La Marmora 
thought it as unreal as ' its very worthy sister,' the September 
Convention concerning Rome, but an excellent opportunity 
for entering into secret negotiations with the Austrian 
Government about the cession of Venetia^. To the French 
Government, whose military attache at Berlin (Comte de 
Clermont-Tonnerre) bluntly opined that Prussia had wasted 
time at Gastein, the Convention had been communicated 
through Metternich even before its ratification, being repre- 
sented as a definitive settlement in which Prussia had con- 
tented herself with the half instead of the whole^. The 
Emperor Napoleon reserved his judgment, and made no 
change in his friendly bearing towards Prussia ; but he could 
neither ignore nor conceal the drift of public opinion in 
France. His proposal of a European Congress in 1863 had 
been rejected; the Danish War of the following year had 
been undertaken against his wish; now, the two duchies, 
to preserve which ' undivided ' the war had been waged, had 
been split up between the victors, and foreign Powers, 
France in particular, had been clearly apprised that Austria 
and Prussia could manage their affairs for themselves. 
Thus, he felt bound to authorise Drouyn de Lhuys to issue 
a diplomatic circular (August 21st) expressing the imperial 
disapproval of the Convention, and attacking the German 
Powers for their arbitrary action in the Schleswig-Holstein 
question; and Lord Russell speedily followed suit with a 
dispatch of similar purport. At Berlin there was great 
disappointment, more especially as Napoleon had, only a 
day or two earlier, told von der Goltz that, had there been 
war between Austria and Prussia, he would have observed 
a benevolent neutrality towards the latter, whom he now 
advised to pursue a Liberal policy which would remove all 

^ T.a Marmora, j). 60. 

^ As to the general drift of French diplomatic reports on the 
subject see Les Origines Diplomatiques de la Guerre de 1870-1, vol. vii. 

2o6 Rupture between Austria and Prussia [CH. 

necessity for war. But the situation assumed a brighter 
aspect when the Emperor, on proceeding to Biarritz with 
the Empress on September 7th, invited the Prussian 
ambassador to accompany the court to its holiday retreat, 
and when, a fortnight later, a telegram'^ arrived at Berlin 
from the French Foreign Minister, indicating his satisfaction at 
the provisional character of the Convention, and his expecta- 
tion of a definitive settlement entirely acceptable to France. 

It was in these circumstances that Bismarck obtained the 
assent of his sovereign to his plan of a visit on his part to 
Biarritz, on the understanding that, for the present, no obliga- 
tions towards France should be entered into there. He was 
neither now nor at other times on the most cordial of terms 
with von der Goltz (who, for his part, was conspicuously 
self-reliant), though unable to ignore his ability; and it was 
natural that he should on this occasion desire to act for 
himself. On his way through Paris, he saw Drouyn de Lhuys, 
and also Rouher, who, while the Foreign Minister inclined 
to Austria, favoured Prussia and was, like Prince Napoleon, 
a decided partisan of Italy. On October 3rd, he arrived at 
Biarritz, where, on the following day, he was received by 
the Emperor Napoleon, who remained there till the 12th, 
Bismarck continuing his stay till the end of the month. 

In 1864 he had met with a cold reception at Biarritz; 
now. there seems every indication that he was made welcome 
by the Emperor, who was, from about this time onward, 
passing into the condition of irresoluteness and infirmity of 
will, largely due to physical suffering and debility, which 
were to become more and more grievous during the remainder 
of his days-. He was now confronted by a statesmanship 
free from all doubts as to either its ]:>urposcs or its needs. 
Before leaving Berlin, Bismarck had, with his usual frank- 
ness, expounded the situation to the French charge d'affaires 

• Not a dispatch, as stated by Sybel. See Ollivier, vol. vu, 
pp. -162-3. - Ih., pp. 490-2. 

Ill] The Biarritz Interviews 207 

Lefebvre de Behaine, pointing out precisely what Prussia 
required in Schleswig, what demands Italy should, in his 
opinion, make upon Austria, and what equivalent for Venetia 
Austria should secure upon the Danube. Prussia could 
not achieve what she desired in northern Germany — to 
which, it should be observed, he restricted his statement of 
her aspirations — without the countenance of France, while 
Austria might settle as she chose with the 'Calabria' of the 
German south. All this would be to the advantage of 
France, who, instead of a compact Confederation, would 
have two leagues on her borders, and who was merely 
asked to approve an alliance between Prussia and Italy. 
These were the objects to which Bismarck was desirous 
of obtaining the assent — not necessarily explicit — of the 
Emperor Napoleon at Biarritz. At the same time, he 
wished to find out — again, not necessarily to ask — whether 
the Emperor had in mind any contingent 'compensations' 
for France and, if so, of what they consisted. Whether, 
in the Biarritz interviews which followed, the Emperor's 
astute interlocutor actually made mention of Belgium, 
Luxemburg or French-speaking Switzerland, and whether 
he suggested an occupation of the Bavarian Palatinate, or 
a cession of the Rhine province or of part of it, is not likely 
to be ever known ; what may be taken as certain is that 
Bismarck neither promised nor offered to help bring about 
any of these results, and the last of them least of all. And, 
indeed, it is, at all events, open to question, whether Napo- 
leon had any such compensations in mind, and whether it 
was not enough for him to see the fulfilment of his heart's 
wish — the cession of Venetia — at last near at hand. In 
any case, it was in accordance with his principles and 
practice that he should be found unwilling to put a stop 
upon Prussia's policy of expansion in Germany, and have 
no objection to Austria's relinquishing Holstein, for a sum 
of money, to begin with. In the event of a conflict between 

2o8 Rupture between Austria and Prussia [CH. 

the two German Powers there was absolutely no fear of any 
interference by France, on behalf of Austria, whatever part 
she might play later ; and the Prusso-Italian alliance might 
now be concluded. 

Such seems to have been the nt-t outcome of the Biarritz 
interviews and of a supplementary audience granted to 
Bismarck on his way home by the Emperor Napoleon at 
St Cloud early in November ; and, while Bismarck may not 
have penetrated into the inmost thoughts of the Emperor, 
and not even a verbal understanding may have taken place 
between them, it seems clear that the Prussian Minister 
was on the whole encouraged by the results, positive and 
negative, of his visit of enquiry^. 

Meanwhile, the course of events had continucf.l to point 
to a renewal of the crisis which had been temporaril}^ 
averted by the Convention of Gastein. The administration 
of the duchies had not been carried on without friction — 
between Manteuffel's resolute rigour and Gablenz's per- 
sistent morigeration to Augustenburg sympathies, which 
in Schleswig even led to a fruitless intrigue with the Danes 
in the north of the duchy, and in Holstein manifested 
themselves with almost as much openness as in the pre- 
Gastein days. So matters went on to the turn of the year. 
At the Frankfort Diet, too, the outbreak of the conflict 
was yet a little longer delayed. Austria and Prussia held 
together in resisting the attempt of Bavaria, Saxony and 
Hesse-Darmstadt to bring at last to the vote a motion 
made by them, more than three months earlier, in favour of 
the summons of the Schleswig-Holstcin Estates and the 
admission of Schleswig into the Germanic Confederation ; 
and they were successful (November i8th) in consigning the 
motion to the form of burial called reference to a committee. 

' With Sybcl, vol. iv, bk. xiv, ch. iv (Bismarck's own account) 
should be compared G. Rothan, La Politique Franfaise en l866, 
I (1884), and E. Ollivicr, vol. vu, ch. xin. 

Ill] Proposed Piirchase of Venice 209 

The dissenting secondary states declared their intervention 
in the Schleswig-Holstein question at an end ; but this vote 
also put a full stop to the cooperation of the two Great 
Powers at the Diet. Meanwhile, the Prussian proposal of 
the transfer of Schleswig to Prussia, in return for a money- 
payment to Austria (to which Napoleon had taken no 
exception when Bismarck had mentioned it to him at 
Biarritz), was laid before the Emperor Francis Joseph. 

The Italian Prime-minister, as was seen above, had 
thought that advantage should be taken of the conclusion of 
the Gastein Convention, as displaymg the conciliatory inten- 
tions of Austria, to open the question of a peaceable cession 
of Venetia ; and, about the time of the Biarritz conversa- 
tions, he sent the Modenese Count Malaguzzi to Vienna, with 
secret instructions to offer 1000 million lire (£40,000,000) 
as purchase-money, in addition to certain further ' eventual ' 
concessions. La Marmora states thatvery few Italian generals 
had any belief in the solidity of the Prussian army^; but 
a Ministerial crisis was at hand in Italy, and he was more 
interested in the state of internal politics than in foreign 
alliances, and felt uncertain whether Napoleon would like 
Italy to acquire Venice before the French were out of 

When the Italian proposal for the purchase of Venice 
was laid before the Emperor Francis Joseph, together with 
the Prussian suggestion of the purchase of Sclileswig, 
he decisively negatived both. To follow up the bargain 
as to Austria's rights in Lauenburg by more extensive 
transactions of the same sort seemed more than the honour 
of the empire could bear. But, while the refusal of Prussia's 
offer implied a present determination not to yield in a 
contest which was rapidly becoming one for ascendancy in 
German politics at large, the rejection of the Italian proposal 
seems to have been neither meant nor understood as more 
^ La Marmora, Un po' piu di luce, p. 65. 

W. M.G. II. 14 

210 Rupture between Austria and Prussia [CH. 

than the satisfaction of amour-propre. Nevertheless, it 
could not fail to exercise its effect, especially when, in 
December 1865, all the Zollverein Governments, with the 
exception of Hanover and Nassau, were found ready, on 
the demand of Prussia and Bavaria, to accept the commercial 
treaty agreed upon with Italy — an acceptance implying 
their recognition of the Italian kingdom ^. 

Thus, when the new year — the year which was to settle 
finally the Austro-Prussian conflict and with it the future 
of Germany — began, a decision was perceived to be no 
longer far off. In the duchies, Manteuffel's patience, which 
could not be described as infinite, was so severely tried that 
he declared the expulsion of the 'Hereditary Prince' (whose 
consort had recently made a quasi-royal progress from 
Altona to Kiel) to be the sole test which could be applied to 
Austria's intentions ; and, if Prussia refused to insist on 
this, or, more broadly put, if she yielded in Holstein, she 
must yield to her rival all along the line. 

But, in the mind which guided the policy of Prussia, 
there was no thought of yielding. On January 20th, 1866, 
Bismarck apprised iVIcnsdorff that Prussia had not been 
prepared for such a violation by Austria of the rights 
common in the duchies to both the Powers as was implied 
by the continued presence and conduct of the Augusten- 
burg prince in Holstein ; but he was informed in reply 
that the prince had always borne himself as a private 
person, and that, in any case, Prussian control over the 
Austrian administration in Holstein was inadmissible. 
A few days later (January 23rd), a large public meeting 
was held at Altona in support of the convocation of the 
Estates; and, though, in accordance with a promise made 
in return for the revocation of the prohibition of the 
meeting by Gablenz, no resolutions were proposed, cheers 
were caJled for and given in honour of 'our beloved lawful 
* Cf. Memoir!, oj Sn l\ . Moiit), vol. ii, p. 15. 

Ill] Preparations for the Rupture 211 

sovereign Duke Frederick.' An angry exchange of notes 
followed, in which Bismarck dwelt on Austria's encourage- 
ment of the revolutionary tendencies which the Gastein 
Convention was to have served to repress ; and Mensdorff, 
while harking back to the resolution proposed at the 
London Conference on May 28th, 1864, in favour of 
Augustenburg, reiterated the refusal of his sovereign to 
allow himself to be called to account for any administrative 
act in Holstein. To this reply, dated February 7th, 
Bismarck contented himself with retorting, in conversation 
with Karolyi, that the relations between Austria and 
Prussia had been taken back to the point at which they 
stood before the Danish War — in other words, that the 
alliance between the two Powers was at an end. The 
question of an open rupture was now one of time only 1. 

Before, however, formal expression could be given to the 
change which had definitively taken place, it was necessary 
that other alliances should be found, or at least other com- 
binations attempted. From the German secondary states 
there was little to hope, though von der Pfordten gave it 
to be understood- that, unless Austria really designed to 
uphold the Augustenburg succession, he would prefer the 
annexation of the duchies by Prussia to any third solution ; 
while, as to the future of Germany at large, he still hoped 
for a tripartite di\' ision which would imply the ascendancy of 
Prussia in the north. As to France, the Emperor Napoleon's 
tone in his conversations with von der Goltz was still 
friendly as to the annexation of the duchies by Prussia and 
as to her ulterior aims ; but Benedetti at Berlin was at a 
loss how to reply to the quasi-confidences with which he was 
favoured by Bismarck, and beyond a benevolent neutrality 
there was nothing to be expected in this quarter. Italy, 

^ As to this stage of the quarrel, and the conviction on both sides 
that the bridge between them was practically broken off, see Lettow- 
Vorbeck, vol. i, p. 17. 


212 Rupture between Austria and Prussia [CH. 

on tlie other hand, though Austria had only recently 
dechned the idea of a voluntary cession of Venetia, had of 
late been the recipient of divers unexpected favours from 
Vienna, and, more especially as the Emperor Napoleon's 
wishes on the subject were still secret, she was hesitating as 
to her attitude towards an Austro-Prussian conflict. If she 
was to be brought to a decision, there was not much time 
to be lost. 

The issue between the two German Great Powers was 
considered at a great Ministerial Council held at Berlin on 
Februar}' 28th. The King, in opening the proceedings, 
adverted to Austria's practice of 'keeping down Prussia,' 
and said that the possession of the duchies was the national 
wish of Prussia, the future action of whose Government, 
though not intended to provoke the outbreak of war with 
Austria, must not shrink from such a consequence. Bis- 
marck thought war with Austria inevitable sooner or later, 
and held it more prudent to enter upon the conflict in cir- 
cumstances favourable to Prussia, than to give Austria the 
advantage of the choice of time. He was vigorously sup- 
ported by Edwin von Manteuffel and others. Goltz, who 
had been specially summoned from Paris, reported favour- 
ably as to the attitude of the Emperor Napoleon. Moltke 
regarded an active participation in the war by Italy as an 
indispensable condition of certain success. The Finance 
Minister, Bodelschwingh, however, still hoped for a com- 
promise with Austria; and the Crown-prince, expressing 
sentiments which were still those of German Liberalism, 
adhered to his opposition to a fratricidal war sure to provoke 
foreign intervention. The King's final pronouncement was 
that, though his wishes were in favour of peace, his mind 
was made up, if it must be so, for war in what he believed 
to be a just cause. Accordingly, no change was made in 
the policy which the Prussian Government had definitively 
pursued since the Council of May 29th of the previous year. 

Ill] Prussian Negotiations with Italy 213 

Prussia continued to insist on either the whole of the Febru- 
ary demands or annexation, and Austria was left to resort 
to arms in order to withstand either issue. Since there 
could be no doubt as to Austria's response, it is not too much 
to say that this was the date at which Bismarck's German 
policy was formally constituted the Prussian Government 
policy, and that the Schleswig-Holstein business now became 
a mere episode of the German question at large^ 

In accordance with the course of the discussion at this 
memorable council, steps — which had already been duly 
prepared — were now at once taken to ascertain the actual 
prospects of French acquiescence and of Italian cooperation. 
An autograph letter of enquiry from the King to the 
Emperor was, after a long conversation with von der Goltz, 
answered by Napoleon, who, after offering assurances of 
friendship, observed that he could not for the present make 
any statement as to French compensations, but hoped that 
there would be no ultimate difficulty on this head — in 
other words, that he would not interfere in the question 
of the duchies, and reserved his treatment of the situation, 
should the action of Prussia result in her further aggrandise- 
ment. But, at the same time, von der Goltz sent word 
that the Emperor Napoleon had advised King Victor 
Emmanuel to lose no time in concluding an offensive and 
defensive alliance with Prussia; and, though not without 
misgivings on both sides, the relations between Prussia 
and Italy were drawn closer. This was probably largely 
due to the efforts of Usedom, the Prussian envoy at Florence, 
though he earned scant praise from Bismarck. Already, on 
January 28th, the Order of the Black Eagle had been 

^ Cf. the admirable summary of the evolution of Bismarck's 
German policy up to the foundation of the North-German Con- 
federation by W. Busch in Historische Zeitschrift, vol. cm (1909). 
For Moltke's protocol of this Council, see Lettow-Vorbeck, vol. iii, 
P- 473- 

214 Rupture hetween Austria and Prussia [CH. 

sent to King Victor Emmanuel ; now, before the com- 
mercial treaty on foot between Italy and the Zollverein 
was concluded and ratified (March 3rd-i2th), the Italian 
Government was invited to send a military officer of rank 
in confidence to Berlin, while a Prussian General (Moltke, 
to wit) was to take part at Florence in discussing future 
operations. General Govone, distinguished both as a politi- 
cian and as an officer, was accordingly sent, with instructions 
to announce the readiness of his Government to sign an 
offensive and defensive treaty, if proposed to it by Prussia. 
If not, he was to enter into no engagements, inasmuch as 
there could be no doubt that Austria would sooner or 
later propose to Itah^ the cession of Venetia. Indeed, as 
La Mannora frankly confesses, he took care to point out 
to his agent that the very fact of his mission to Berlin 
might render the Austrian Government wilhng to adopt 
a line of action favourable to Italy ; in which case, without 
her fault, the negotiations begun at Berlin would remain 
purposeless^. Nor did he speak witliout book; for at 
this very time the overthrow of Prince Couza of Roumania 
at Bucharest (February 24th) had suggested to the fertile 
brain of the Italian ambassador at Paris, Cavaliere Nigra, 
the offer of the Danubian Principalities as a compensation 
to Austria for the cession of Venetia. La Marmora was 
pleased with the notion, and the Emperor Napoleon 
approved it, although he urged the Italian Government 
in any case to hold fast by the Prussian alliance. While, 
therefore, suspicion was felt at Florence that Prussia, 
unless placed under clear obligations, might leave Italy 
in the lurch after she had secured Schlcswig-Holstein, at 
Berlin it was feared, with at least equally good reason, 
that Italy, if she could obtain Venetia without drawing 
the sword, would break off the negotiations with which 
General Govone had been charged, and sit loosely to the 

^ I.a Mariiinra, p. 77. 

Ill] The Rupture imminent 215 

negotiations into which she was entering with Prussia, if 
she did not break them off altogether. Moltke's departure 
for Florence was accordingly postponed. 

The Roumanian scheme, however, being vetoed bv the 
Tsar, came to nothing, and the Italo-Prussian negotiations 
continued, though at first very cautiously — it might almost 
be said tentatively. But at Vienna there was much alarm, 
and the air was already full of electricity. An enlargement 
of the plan of the annual review of the Berlin Landwehr 
led to rumours of Prussian mobilisation ; and, after certain 
preliminary orders had been given, a Council of Marshals 
(consisting of a number of generals and certain Ministers 
of State) was held at Vienna, at which, however, Mensdorff 
deprecated premature action. But fresh alarm was excited 
b\^ a downright warning given by Bismarck (hardly alto- 
gether in banter) to the wife of the Saxon envoy at Berlin, 
to whom he foretold the immediate outbreak of hostilities 
in Bohemia^. Beust, in communicating this intelligence 
to Mensdorff, declared that the hour had come for Austria 
to arm, unless she was prepared to forfeit the attachment 
of the secondary states for ever. The Council of Marshals 
now resolved to reinforce the troops in the provinces 
adjoining Prussia — Bohemia, Mora\Ta and Galicia. 'The 
prologue to the war,' as it has been said, had been found; 
for the responsibility of the first step could now be thrown 
on Austria. Austrian enquiry about Prussia's intentions 
as to the Convention of Gastein and the peace of the 
Confederation missed fire, and the real question at issue 
pressed itself to the front. A British offer of mediation,, 
made at Berlin on March i8th, was evaded by Bis- 
marck's suggestion that it had, perhaps, better have been 
made to Austria ; and a desire for peace expressed by the 
Tsar in his birthday congratulations to King William (22nd) 
fell flat. On the 24th, Bismarck, in a circular to the German 
^ Rothan, p. 114. 

2i6 Rupture between Austria and Prussia [CH. 

Governments, referred to the Austrian movements of troops, 
which must lead to Prussian counter-movements, and at the 
same time first announced his plans of Federal reform. The 
Prussian military measures were ordered by a Ministerial 
Council held three daj^s later, some ii,ooo further troops 
being called out to reinforce the garrisons of the Silesian 
and Elbe fortresses. 

At last, La Marmora, who had throughout insisted on 
an offensive and defensive alliance with equal rights, could 
see how far Prussia was in earnest; and the objection 
against leaving her, notwithstanding, to choose the time for 
the outbreak of the war, was now met by the proposal of 
Count Barral (the Italian envoy at Berlin) to restrict the 
binding force of the proposed treat}^ to two, or (as he 
amended his suggestion in deference to Bismarck) to three 
months. Thus, on April 8th, the momentous treaty was con- 
cluded that secured to Prussia the aid of Italy, without which 
Moltke had held the waging of war with Austria questionable, 
while it made open hostility to Prussia virtually impossible 
for Italy's protector. The treaty purported to be one of 
'offensive and defensive alliance' — words which Barral had 
succeeded at the last moment in substituting for 'unity 
and friendship'; it was to hold good for three months, 
unless within that period Prussia had declared war against 
Austria; and its essential clause was that, after Prussia 
had done this, Italy was, so soon as she was apprised of 
the fact, to follow suit. No peace or armistice was to be 
concluded without mutual consent ; but this consent was 
not to be withheld, so soon as Austria should have agreed 
to cede to Italy the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom and to 
Prussia neighbouring territories equivalent to that kingdom 
in population^. Thus, Bismarck had secured to Prussia 
what was of supreme importance to her, the right of 

^ For the text of the treaty, see OUivier, vol. viii, pp. 60-1, and 
Sybel, vol. iv, pp. 229-30, 

Ill] Bismarck's Proposed National Parliament 217 

deciding for herself the time for beginning the war, except 
in the highly improbable event of an Austrian attack upon 
Ital}^ and had provided against the intervention, at the 
end of the war, of Italy's imperial protector. 

Before the conclusion of the treaty with Italy, which 
remained secret, the King of Prussia had given his consent 
to the initial step towards mobilisation; but it had been 
adjourned over Easter. Meanwhile, Bismarck had lost no 
time with regard to the Federal reform proposals announced 
by him in his circular of March 24th, of which the design 
was, in a word to unite against Austria all non-Austrian 
Germany. While he had taken care to inform the Emperor 
Napoleon of the essential purport of his proposals — the 
division of the military command between Prussia and 
Bavaria, and the implied exclusion of Austria from the 
Confederation — he had communicated to the Bavarian 
Government, on whose chief, von der Pfordten, he had not 
ceased to count, the scheme of a national parliament which 
was to be the crown of his proposals. Von der Pfordten 
was much pleased with the parliamentary scheme, direct 
elections and all, and had nothing to say against Bismarck's 
very questionable argument as to the monarchical spirit of 
the masses. But with regard to the military command he 
and his sovereign were, notwithstanding the representations 
of Hohenlohe^, not to be induced to go beyond the old 

^ Denkwurdigkeiten, vol. i, p. 15^. He begged King Lewis to 
reflect that now was the time for an understanding with Prussia, 
which demanded only the supremacy in northern Germany. Hohen- 
lohe had, after a brief inter-val of misgiving, returned to the political 
programme (adhesion to Prussia) which he had advocated so far 
back as November 1849, and by reason of which he had for seven- 
teen years been excluded from pubhc service in Bavaria. But the 
King shrank from politics : parties were distracted and mutually 
distrustful ; and von der Pfordten, though he combined high pur- 
pose with acuteness of insight, lacked both the clearness of purpose 
and the resolution which would have made him master of the 

2i8 Rupture beticeen Austria and Prussia [CH. 

Trias idea in a new form ; nor would they, in reply to 
Bismarck's statement that a prehminary understanding 
with Austria ^vas impossible, consent to the exclusion of 
Austria from the Confederation. On March 31st, von der 
Pfordten proposed to both the Great Powers to desist from 
further thought of hostile operations and to enter into 
negotiations for the maintenance of the Federal peace. 
Though Bismarck professed himself willing to accept this 
offer, he was at the same time made aware of the beginning 
of armaments in Bavaria itself, and proceeded with his 
Federal reform policy. On April 9th— the day after the 
conclusion of the alliance with Italy — Savigny proposed 
the summoning of a national parliament by direct election, 
before which would be laid the scheme of Federal reform 
to be agreed upon between the several Governments. 

The motion could not have been unforeseen ; but the 
effect created by it was general amazement. Even now the 
feeling of mistrust of Bismarck prevailed in Liberal quarters 
over any sense of satisfaction. At a meeting of the 
Nationalvcrein at Berlin (April nth), Schulze-Delitzsch 
condemned Bismarck's 'ridiculous' move in the German 
question as 'empty juggling.' In Wiirttemberg and at 
Munich the Fortsdiritt party, and at Hanover the National- 
verein, declined to lift a hand in favour of Bismarck's pro- 
posed Parliament ; only in Baden the Second Chamber 
was in its favour, though the Minister von Edelsheim was 
against it. Great Britain and Russia united in looking 
askance upon the proposal for universal suffrage; and the 
Emperor Napoleon's expressed sympathy with that hallowed 
expedient was shared by very few French politicians. 
Bismarck continued on his course unmoved. 

Von der Pfordten still temporised ; and it was owing 

situation. See K. A. von Miillcr, Bayern im J . i.S{)0 (1909). l'\)r a 
general, by no means unkindly, view of von der Pfordten's conduct, 
see Beust, Memoirs (Engl, tr.), vol. i. pp. 292-3. 

Ill] Outlines of the Scheme 219 

to him that, on April 21st, the Prussian motion at the Diet, 
instead of being rejected, was referred to a special committee. 
Austria assented, on condition that Prussia's proposals of 
Federal reform were made known before the matter pro- 
ceeded further. Although the Austrian armaments had 
rendered the continuance of peace extremely doubtful, the 
attitude of von der Pfordten, who, on April 22nd conferred 
at Augsburg with the other leading Ministers of the 
secondary states, remained friendly enough to induce the 
Prussian Government, in the end, to communicate to a 
committee appointed by the Diet the following confidential 
proposals, as settled at a conference in Berhn in which 
Savigny had been summoned to take part. A National 
Assembly was to be created whose resolutions would take 
the place of the unanimity in the Diet previously required 
for organic changes and certain other matters of high 
importance ; and the members of this parliament were to 
be chosen by direct election, one for every 100,000 souls. 
The competence of the new Federal authority — a reinforced 
Diet — thus instituted was to extend to all the matters 
entrusted to the Diet b}^ the Vienna Final Act, including 
the revision of the military constitution. Nothing could be 
more moderate, or in a sense more conservative than the 
sum-total of these proposals ; but care had been taken to let 
more than one Government know that, if they were rejected, 
Prussia would present a far more incisive scheme of reform. 
The Frankfort Committee, presided over by Schrenck (May 
nth), having permitted Savigny to explain his Govern- 
ment's scheme confidentially, resolved, against the votes 
of Austria and Darmstadt, before calling upon Prussia for 
a formal statement, to refer to the Governments for 
further instructions. But, before these instructions 
arrived and the first formal statement was made by 
Prussia to the Diet (May nth), the crisis had come 

220 Rupture between Austria and Prussia [CH. 

According to the reckoning of the Austrian War Office 
itself — and events showed that it was not greatly mis- 
taken — the mobilisation of the army and its transport 
to the frontier which required seven weeks in Austria, 
required only twenty-hve days in Prussia; and, before 
Austrian action at this time is condemned as rash, this fact 
should be remembered together with the impetus which 
mobilisation rarely fails to communicate to the tone and 
temper of a Government and a nation, and which in the 
present instance neither Russian good advice nor Bavarian 
suggestions of a better way were likely to restrain. After 
a previous exchange of notes, an Austrian dispatch, of 
April i8th, offered to recall, on the 25th, the troops which 
had been sent forward to the frontier in March, if Prussia 
would promise to reduce to a peace-footing by the same 
date the regiments increased by her at the end of the same 
month. In the face of Europe, it seemed impossible to 
return an unfavourable reph' ; but, at this very moment, 
the news of Italian armaments — the product, as La Marmora 
confesses, of fears even more than of hopes — reached 
Vienna. The reports were exaggerated and in part untrue ; 
but, before the explanations arrived, it had been formally 
resolved, on April 21st, to mobilise the army of the South 
for the protection of the whole of the Italian frontier, the 
Littoral and Dalmatia. The general plan of action had 
thus been completed ; and the supreme command of the 
southern army was conferred upon Archduke Albrecht, 
and that of the northern upon Feldzeugmeister Benedek. 
Although as yet there were no movements of Prussian 
troops, the Austrian army of the North was mobilised by 
successive instalments, the first executive order being given 
on April 27th. With infinite trouble, the Minister of Finance 
floated a loan of 60 million florins, soon followed by the 
proclamation of a compulsor}- circulation of notes for 115 
million. But public feeling was thoroughly in support of 

Ill] Austrian Offers and Prussian Conditions 221 

the rapid action of the Government ; and, to avoid dis- 
sension on the further side of the Leitha, it was settled, 
with Deak's approval, to adjourn the Hungarian diet 
during the course of the war. 

And, now that Austria was on the point of throwing 
down the gage, her statesmen, aware of what had been 
done and of what must follow, perceived that no time was to 
be lost if the struggle for which they were declaring them- 
selves ready was to be more than a mere war of defence. 
The original cause of the difference with Prussia — Schleswig- 
Holstein — had now become a mere encumbrance of a 
conflict for far wider and greater ends. On April 26th the 
Prussian Government was informed that, unless it were 
content with certain lesser concessions in the duchies, the 
whole question there must be decided by the Confederation 
and the Schleswig-Holstein Estates — in other words, that 
the Gastein Convention was at an end. Bismarck left 
this dispatch for the present unanswered. On the same 
date, the Austrian Government repeated the offer as to 
withdrawal of troops made on April i8th, if Prussia would 
disarm notwithstanding the mobilisation of Austria's 
southern army. Bismarck replied that a complete return 
to a peace-footing by Austria was the indispensable con- 
dition of a Prussian disarmament. On the same day, in 
reph^ to an enquiry from the Italian Government, Bismarck 
stated his intention to inform the Austrian Government 
that, unless it disarmed in Venetia and elsewhere, it was 
impossible for Prussia to disarm on her side. She could 
not, he said, remain indifferent to an attack upon Italy 
— which kingdom was necessary for the preservation of 
the balance of Europe. On April 26th, La Marmora ordered 
the mobilisation of the entire Italian army. 

The interval, so familiar in its recurrence to the student 
of modern wars, of futile proposals for disarmament passing 
backwards and forwards on the eve of the outbreak, was 

222 Rupture between Austria and Prussia [CH. 

coming graduall}' to an end. Orders were issued for the 
mobilisation of the Austrian army of the North from 
April 27th to May 5th. In reply, the several Prussian 
army corps were mobilised in succession — the final order 
(to the 1st and Ilnd) being given on May 8th, so that, 
even now, the Prussian army would be ready to take the 
field sooner than the Austrian — by the beginning of 

Meanwhile, the secondary and lesser states, whose own 
will could not in all instances determine their action, were 
seeking to meet the tide in German affairs, or were fairly 
overtaken b}' it. In Hesse-Cassel, the Austrian plan of 
uniting the Electoral troops with the Austrian brigade 
speedily expected back from Holstein had been anticipated 
by the mobilisation of the Prussian (Rhenish) army corps 
actually on the Hessian frontier. With Hanover there had 
been protracted negotiations. The anti-Prussian feeling 
which animated King George V and the counsellors in 
whom he put his trust, and which had been heightened by 
such incidents as the Prussian purchase from Oldenburg 
of the Jahde-bay (1853), and the frustration at the Federal 
Diet of the Hanoverian scheme for the defence of the 
North Sea coast (1861), had been to some extent counter- 
acted by the Liberal Opposition of which Bennigsen had 
become the acknowledged leader; moreover, in December 
1862 a Liberal Ministry — though not one of very pronounced 
views — which included the Catholic Windthorst, Platen 
still retaining Foreign Affairs — had taken office. At the 
end of 1865, however, the Liberal elements in this Ministry 
had been again excluded; and, outside the actual Ministry, 
the anti-constitutional influence of Staatsrat Zimmermann 
had become stronger than ever, while the press was manipu- 
lated by the redoubtable Meding. Still, there is no reason 
for supposing that, had moderate counsels ]jrevailed at 
Hanover, annexation to Prussia would have been the fate 

Ill] Hanoverian Decision 223 

of the kingdom, more especially as the Hanoverian Govern- 
ment had not opposed Prussian poHcy as to the Schleswig- 
Holstein succession. But Count Platen's visit to Berlin in 
January 1866 had shown that the Hanoverian Government 
would not bind itself even to neutrality ; and, by the middle 
of May, King George V had gone so far as to promise the 
Emperor Francis Joseph that, in case of war, the Hanoverian 
troops should unite with the Austrian Holstein brigade in 
the entrenched camp at Stade. Yet, at the council to 
which he made this announcement, the general feeling was 
for neutrality ; and it was at this very time that Bennigsen, 
who, while anxious to preserve the autonomy of Hanover, 
was exerting his influence in favour of neutrality in the 
coming war, had an interview with Bismarck. For a 
moment, it seemed as if the voice of reason would prevail. 
On the 20th Prussia formally proposed to the King of 
Hanover, whose action in advancing the date of the 
autumn manoeuvres of his army by several months had 
given umbrage at Berlin, a treaty guaranteeing his 
sovereignty in the event of his observing neutrality — which 
must be unarmed — in the expected war. But, on the same 
day. Prince Solms-Braunfels, the King's step-brother, ap- 
peared at Hanover, and the Austrian influence bore down 
all opposition; and on the 23rd the Council of Ministers, 
held under the presidency of the King, resolved to 
respond to any lawful Federal demands — i.e. to mobilise, 
if called upon by the Diet. On June 6th, Bennigsen 
made his last important speech in his native land, 
but it was too late ; and on the 12th the resolution 
was taken to join in the Federal vote for general 

^ See as to these events F. von der Wengen, Gesch. der Kriegseretg- 
nisse, etc., pp. 53 ff. ; and cf. Oncken, R. Bennigsen, vol. i, pp. 715 ff. 
On June 14th, the day of the vote, Bennigsen received from Bismarck 
(who did not yet quite know his man) an invitation to preside over the 

224 Ri^'pture betweefi Austria and Prussia [ch. 

Neither Bavaria, where von der Pfordten's hesitation 
was coming to an end after the mobihsation of the Prussian 
Rhenish army corps, although hardly any preparations had 
been made for military resistance, nor Saxon}^, where the 
fortifications of the Konigstein had been put in order by 
the middle of March, any longer veiled its intentions. 
On May 14th, one more conference of Ministers of the 
secondary states was held at Bamberg, where a proposal 
of neutrality, unwillingly made by the Baden Minister von 
Edelsheim in deference to the wishes of his sovereign, met 
with no support ; though the Ministers of the Thuringian 
Courts abstained from taking part in the general vote in 
favour of mobilisation of the armies of all the Governments 
represented. This course was preferred to that favoured 
by Austria — the mobilisation by the Confederation of all 
the Federal troops except those of the two Great Powers; 
and, in testimon}' of the end in view, a general motion for 
disarmament was to be brought forward at the Diet. 
Meanwhile, Wiirttemberg mobilised, as well as Hesse- 
Darmstadt and Nassau. All Germany was once more a 
camp of arms ; but, though the issues of the coming struggle 
were becoming clear to far-sighted minds — even to those 
whose political principles had not ceased to keep them 
opposed to Bismarck's sj^stem of government — the war had 
onl}' a very slowly growing number of supporters either in 
Prussia or in the rest of northern Germany. Bismarck's un- 
popularity was still at its height, and was only momentarily 
dissipated by the attempt made upon his life in the street 
Unter den Linden on May 7th, by a youthful fanatic (Karl 
Blind), which he met with imperturbable courage. Two 
days after this incident, the Prussian Chamber was dis- 
solved, after, if one may so say, amusing itself by declaring 

Prussian adininistration to be establislied in Hanover, after it liad 
been occupied by Prussian troops. The invitation was at once 
distinctly refused. 

Ill] Policy of Napoleon III 225 

the personal union between Prussia and Lauenburg irrecon- 
cileable with the constitution, and then engaging in a lengthy 
contention as to parliamentary freedom of speech; it had 
maintained an attitude of uncompromising hostility to the 
Ministrv', which had already given an indication of the 
financial policy it was likeh^ to pursue in the case of war. 
But, as even the most valiant of the supporters of the 
general policy of the Prussian Government, Heinrich von 
Treitschke. confessed^, to carry on war b}' means of a loan 
demanded from parliament without recognition of its 
budget-right, would be indefensible ; and certain obnoxious 
members of the Ministry ought to be sacrificed. But 
among these he could not bring himself to include either 
Bismarck or Roon. As to the former, the aversion or fear 
which he inspired in some members of the royal family 
was hardl}^ less strong than that which impelled the 
Chamber against him. The sympathy with southern 
Germany which filled the heart of the good Queen Dowager, 
and the reactionary prejudices of the King's brother, 
Prince Charles, were alike arrayed against the Minister; 
and more formidable was the steady opposition of the 
Liberal traditions cherished by Queen Augusta and 
bravely upheld by her son the Crown-prince, whose 
British-born consort was heart and soul at one with him 
in this matter as in all others. 

Resolute as was the great Minister's adherence to the 
line of action he had marked out for himself, he was aware 
of the danger which continued to threaten it from inter- 
vention on the part of the Emperor Napoleon, with whom 
he had throughout striven to maintain an understanding. 
But Napoleon, too, had a difficult course to shape between 
the policy which he desired and that which French public 
opinion from time to time inclined to force upon him. 

1 See his remarkable essay ' Der Kneg und die Bundesreform,' 
dated May 25th, in Zehn Jahre Deutscher Kdmpfe 

W. M. G. IT. 15 

226 Rupture betic'een Austria and Prussia [CH. 

Quite earlv in May, he had. in strictest confidence, informed 
von der Goltz that Austria had conveyed a hint to him of 
proposals which she was about to make to him and which 
it would not be in Prussia's interest for him to accept ; 
were there any alternative proposals for which he might 
look from Prussia? Almost at the same time, Bismarck 
received a formal enquiry through Bencdetti, calculated to 
prevent at the last moment the outbreak of war. The 
French Government had, in March, held aloof from the 
tentative suggestion offered at Berlin by Great Britain; 
Benedctti now asked whether Prussia would consent to a con- 
gress. Bismarck's answer to this question was courteous, but 
guarded ; as to von der Goltz's report, it seemed enough to 
reply that, if offers equivalent to the Austrian were desired 
from Prussia, she must be made acquainted with the Austrian 
offer. But, on May 3rd, the situation developed in another 
quarter. On that day Thiers delivered in the Legislative 
Body the famous speech denouncing the foreign policy of 
the Emperor's Government and demanding that its weight 
should be exerted against the Prusso-Italian alliance (as a 
matter of fact, already concluded) and the war which it 
implied. The Emperor's answer was the oracular delivery 
at Auxerre (May 6th), in which he avowed his detestation 
of the Treaties of 1815 and thereby increased immensely 
the apprehensions of war which filled Europe, and Germany 
in particular. But, on the day before this speech, the 
Emperor had informed Nigra of Austria's proposal — which 
he must assuredly have been considering with deliberation — 
that she would cede Venetia to him, so soon as she was 
herself in possession of Silesia. He was to transfer it to 
Italy unconditionally, except that she was to pay a sum of 
money, to be spent by Austria in fortifying her new frontier. 
In return, France and Italy would engage to remain neutral 
in the war between Austria and Prussia. Napoleon, who 
had replied that, in any case, the cession of Venetia must 

Ill] Proposals of A. von Gablenz 227 

precede the occupation of Silesia, now enquired whether it 
would be possible for Italy to free herself from her engage- 
ments. The merits of the double 'case of conscience' 
which arose out of this offer cannot be discussed here^. 
La Marmora, though in general prone to defer to France 
and anything but warml}' disposed towards Prussia, rightly 
interpreted Italian feeling in refusing the proposed indirect 
cession, as both unworthj^ of Italy and incompatible with 
her treaty with Prussia, and contented himself with King 
William's assurance that Prussia, though not bound by 
treaty to such action, would, in case of an Austrian attack 
upon Italy, at once take part in the war. As for the French 
Emperor, to whom Italy was very dear, it does him honour 
that he should have acquiesced in her decision, and, instead 
of turning against her at the last, should have directed 
his thoughts, though too late, to the preservation of 
peace and the congress (first suggested to him by Lord 
Cowley) . 

Yet it was now that, before either the congress proposals 
had assumed more definite shape or the gates of the temple 
of Janus had been closed, a singular attempt, almost of the 
nature of a private enterprise, was made to prevent such a 
conclusion. Freiherr Anton von Gablenz, whose name calls 
for more general remembrance than seems to have been 
accorded it^, was brother to the distinguished Austrian 
general, the charm of whose manner, due to great amiability 
of disposition, he may be presumed to have shared. The 
family was of Saxon origin; but Anton was a Prussian 
landed proprietor and had sat in the Prussian Chamber. 
In April he found an opportunity of laying before Mensdorff 
his project of an arrangement between Austria and Prussia 

^ I.a Marmora deals with the ItaUan side of the question at great 
length; as to the French, see OUivier, vol. viii, ch. viii TUn Cas de 

- I cannot find it in Allgenieine Deutsche Biographie. 

i^ — 2 

228 Rupture between Austria and Prussia [CH. 

which should put an end to their existing differences. 
Schleswig-Holstein, ungedeelt, was to become an independent 
state under a Prussian prince. As to the military con- 
stitution of the Confederation, it was to be reformed in 
the sense that, in both peace and war, Austria should have 
the supreme command over all the southern, and Prussia 
over all the northern, German contingents. Prussia should 
acquire Kiel harbour, pajnng a sum of 5 million dollars 
(c. £700,000) to Austria, who should also receive 20 million 
[c. £3,300,000) from the duchies, for her expenditure in the 
recent war. Rendsburg was to be a Federal fortress with 
a Prussian garrison ; on the other hand, Austria was to 
have exclusive garrison rights in Rastatt, and the command 
of the Hohenzollern contingent. On this basis, the two 
Governments were to enter upon a general scheme of 
Federal reform. 

Early in May, Gablenz arrived at Berlin with an intro- 
duction from Mensdorff, who had, naturall^^ given him a 
friendly reception and advised that the Prussian Govern- 
ment should in the first instance be consulted. It might 
seem strange that the Austrian Government, in the midst 
of its armaments, should have paid any attention to these 
proposals. But they contained nothing fundamentally 
adverse to the ideas of Bismarck (who can hardly be 
supposed to have been absolutely wedded to the principle 
of a national assembh^) or unacceptable to King William. 
After conference, Bismarck, therefore, apprised the Austrian 
Government that, while rejecting all Federal interference in 
the Schleswig-Holstein question, the Prussian Government 
was not adverse to a direct negotiation with Austria con- 
cerning it, and that there was no objection on the part of 
the Prussian Government to proceeding on the basis of 
Gablenz's proposals He pleasantly added that, if there 
was any Austrian intention of gratifying the French desire 
for German territory, it would be easy to crush this by an 

Ill] Failure of the Gahlenz Scheme 229 

appeal to national feeling. But the negotiations, thus 
begun not without promise, came to nothing. Though 
Mensdorff and Esterhazy were conciliatory, and though 
the alarm created by the Auxerre speech was a strong 
argument in favour of a reconciliation with Prussia, the 
feeling of the war-party was too strong ; and in Gablenz's 
scheme there was an element of great uncertainty — the 
acceptance by Bavaria and the other south-German states 
of the Austrian military command. Still, on Gablenz's 
return to Berlin, Bismarck went further into the proposals ; 
Prince Albrecht of Prussia was suggested as the new ruler 
of Schleswig-Holstein, and, besides some lesser changes, it 
was proposed to safeguard the sovereignt}^ of the rulers of 
the secondary states and to summon to Weimar a conference 
between their Governments and the Prussian to discuss the 
amended scheme. On the whole, Bismarck favoured it, and, 
under the influence of von der Goltz's reports, let Austria 
know that he thought it should be followed by an Austro- 
Prussian combination against France. Manteuffel, who had 
conferred with General von Gablenz on his brother's plan, 
was at least for adopting a decisive course with regard to 
it. But the Austrian Government was not to be tempted 
by the prospect of a French war, though Strassburg was held 
out to it as the prize of victory^. Nor would it consent 
once more (as at Gastein) to turn its back on the secondary 
states, and to agree to a bipartition of the imperial authority 
with Prussia. At this ver}- moment, Austria was carrying 
on the struggle against Prussia on behalf of those states, at 
the Frankfort Diet, where, on May 19th, a more or less 
formal proposal of a general disarmament having been 
brought forward by the Bamberg group (it was passed on 
the 24th), her representative had directed attention to the 
pressure being put upon the Hanoverian Government by 
Prussia. About the same date (May 20th), a resolution 
^ Cf. W. Busch, Bismarck, etc., p. 71 

230 Rupture hetu'een Austria and Prussia [CH. 

passed by the deputies of German Chambers [Abgeordneten- 
tag) assembled at Frankfort anathematised those who should 
imperil German territory in their negotiations with foreign 
Powers ; and the united associations of Schleswig-Holstein 
explicitly assailed the unpatriotic and humiliating policy of 
the Prussian cabinet^. 

On May 22nd, Mensdorff announced at Munich Austria's 
intention to refer the final decision of the future govern- 
ment of Schleswig-Holstein to the Diet, and at the 
same time to summon the Holstein Estates. To continue 
indefinitely two lines of policy diametrically opposed to 
each other was impossible ; the financial difficulty, which 
was always present with Austria, demanded decisive action ; 
and, on May 28th, the Gablenz scheme was ' for the present ' 
laid aside. An attempt at mediation by the Grand-duke of 
Weimar had the same fate. 

There now remained only the Emperor Napoleon and 
the congress, for which his invitations were issued on 
May 24th, followed immediately by similar notes from the 
Russian and British Governments. The day originally 
named for the meeting of the congress was June 12th, 
little more than a month before the date of the expiration 
of the Prusso-Italian treaty. There were doubts at Berlin 
whether the Italian Government would adhere to the 
Prussian alliance which the Emperor liad advised it to 
conclude, if the tenour of his counsels were to change. 
And such a change, with the opportunity of the congress 
for urging a European policy in accordance with it, seemed 
far from improbable. The time appeared to have at last 
arrived when France might speak a decisive word as to 
that policy. The Danish War had been undertaken against 
her wish, and she had had no say as to the peace, except 
concerning the treatment of the Danish inhabitants of 
northern Schleswig. After the Franco-British suggestion of 
' K. Ollivier, vol. viii, pp. 1.22-3. 

Ill] Proposed European Congress 231 

an exchange of Venetia for the Danubian Principahties 
had been allowed to drop, Prince Charles of Hohenzollern- 
Sigmaringen, an officer in the Prussian army, had, with 
the tacit consent of the King of Prussia as the head of his 
family, accepted the throne of Roumania, to which he had 
been elected on April 20th and of which he had taken 
possession on May 20th. The diplomatic anti-Prussian 
activity of the French agents at the secondarj^ Courts (such 
as Dresden) rose to its height and, among the ways of 
averting war that still remained open, the fall of Bismarck, 
perhaps with von der Goltz as his successor, was still thought 
quite possible^. 

Though neither Prussia nor Italy had many expectations 
to found on the congress, both Powers signified (Maj^ 29th 
and June ist) their willingness to attend it, in accordance 
with the invitations issued to them and the Germanic 
Confederation. On the other hand, Austria, armed like 
Prussia, though prepared on certain conditions to cede 
Venetia, was resolved not to allow this cession to be imposed 
on her by the deliberations of the proposed congress. The 
subjects to be discussed had been ultimately defined as the 
question of the Elbe duchies, 'the Italian difference' and 
the reforms to be applied to the German Federal pact, in 
so far as they might affect the balance of Europe"-. But 
the Austrian Government, though it could not be blind 
to the consequences of its decision, had resolved that it 
would not allow the question of the cession of Venetia to 
be brought up under the head of the 'Italian diffeience' 

^ For an interesting survey of these relations, from the French 
point of view, see Les Origines Diplomatiques de la Guerre de 1 8 70-1, 
particularly vols, viii and ix (from March to June 1866), Paris, 

2 The phrase 'Italian difference' had, at the request of Russia 
and Great Britain, been substituted for 'guarantee of the Temporal 
Power of the Pope,' inserted in deference to clerical feeling in France 
and as a timely warning to Italy. 

232 Rupture between Austria and Prussia [CH. 

for settlement at the congress. The cession could not be 
made till after a campaign and the satisfaction of Austria's 
military honour. This of course did not imply unwilling- 
ness on her part, in the event of a victorious campaign, to 
cede Venetia in exchange for Silesia ; and her offer to this 
effect — Venetia to be ceded to France, in the first instance, 
for transference to Italy — was repeated through Gramont at 
Paris on May 24th. On the 28th, Mensdorff accepted the 
congress, but on two conditions — the one, that the con- 
gress must abstain from discussing any territorial gain to 
a belligerent state; the other, that the Pope should be 
admitted to the congress. The former condition made 
the congress impossible ; the latter was an obstacle almost 
gratuitously added. 

Though he could make no secret of the failure of the 
expedient on which he had fallen back, or of his recognition 
of the quarter in which la}' the responsibilit\- of the failure, 
the Emperor Napoleon, apart from any cooling in his recent 
relations with Prussia, was still strongly impressed with the 
superiority of Austria's chances in the coming war, especially 
if she should succeed in bringing about a severance between 
the interests of Prussia and those of Italy. He therefore 
offered to Austria the conditions of a settlement which she 
had proposed to him early in May — the neutrality of France 
and, so far as France could assure it, of Italy, and the 
cession of Venetia to Ital}^ through France — with, however, 
the important omission of the provision making the cession 
of Venetia dependent on the conquest of Silesia. A clause 
was, also, added to the proposed treaty, b\- which Austria 
would bind herself not to seek to establish in Germany the 
supreme authority of a single state by territorial changes 
disturbing the balance of power in Europe. In return, the 
Emperor Napoleon undertook, in transferring the ceded pro- 
vince of Venetia, to maintain the Temporal Power within its 
present limits, and to recognise the inviolability of Austria's 

Ill] France, Italy and Germany 233 

new Italian frontier towards Itah'. This treaty, of which, 
as signed on June 12th, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg is said 
to have brought the news to Berhn, has been very diversely 
judged. Sybel's verdict that through it France sacrificed 
Italy's unity to Austria, and Austria Germany's indepen- 
dence to France is avowedly hypothetical, so far as the 
latter part of it is concerned, since no German compensations, 
eventual or other, are mentioned in the treaty^. On the 
other hand, for Italy and her future it was full of danger, 
and the revulsion of feeling which it produced in Italy, 
from King Victor Emmanuel downwards, against Napoleon 
and France would be wholly painful, did it not attest the 
patriotism of spirit which actuated the King and the 
national party^. 

With Prussia, the Emperor Napoleon abstained from 
concluding any treaty of neutrality ; and the triple alliance 
between France, Italy and Prussia suggested by Prince 
Napoleon, with the assent of the Prince de Carignan, was 
out of the question, even had Bismarck been induced to 
agree to the acquisition by France of Luxemburg and the 
frontiers of 18 14, or of French-speaking Switzerland and 
Piedmont, which were proposed as suitable accompaniments^. 
From Austria, the Emperor Napoleon had to gain the 
acquisition of Venetia for Italy, though he had mis- 
calculated the spirit of that nation in believing her ready to 

^ See Sybel, vol. iv, pp. 300 ff. ; cf. Rothan, pp. 166 ff. I notice 
no mention of the subject in the Duke's Memoirs, where he says that 
he left BerUn on May 29th; nor does he seem to have returned 
thither till July ist. Bernhardi, vol. viii, p. 359, mentions, on Max 
Duncker's authority, the communication by the Duke of Coburg on 
May 27th of an Austro-French agreement to the above effect. 

2 Concerning these relations, and the reserve of La Marmora, as 
a consistent partisan of the French alliance, see the vivid narrative 
of Bernhardi, vol. viii, ad in. 

' See Rothan, La Politique Frangaise, pp. 172 ff. These pro- 
posals were made known by Bismarck at the outbreak of the war 
of 1870. 

234 Rupture hcturen Austria and Prussia [CH. 

accept the prize, quocunque modo obtained. On June 6th 
Bismarck informed the French ambassador of the final 
revision of the Prussian plan of Federal reform — viz. : the 
exclusion of Austria from the Confederation. The Emperor 
perceived that his interference with the German War could 
only begin after it had reached a point which he could not 
at present determine ; in the meantime, the stronger his hold 
upon Italy, and the weaker Prussia's, the better seemed 
his chance of ultimately exerting a controlling influence. 
The Prusso-Italian treat}^ whether it existed or not^, was, 
from this point of view, against his interest ; and his advice 
to Italy was, in any case, to carry on war against Austria 
without energy. In the manifesto which he put forth on 
June 15th, in the form of a letter to Drouyn dc Lhuys, he 
stated that at the congress he would have desired to 
obtain for the secondary states of Germany a stronger 
organisation and greater power ; for Prussia, more ' homo- 
geneity ' and force in the north ; for Austria, the maintenance 
of her great position in Germany. But, if there was to be 
war instead of peace, no question affecting the interests of 
France should be settled without her assent-. 

In Germany, events had, in the meantime, rapidly 
succeeded one another. On June ist, Austria declared 
to the Diet, in reply to its motion for disarmament, that 
she had been obliged to arm in consequence of Prussia'^ 
attempt, with the aid of an Italian alliamc. lo cnlnrcr her_ 
claims on Schleswig-Holstein ; and thai she rduld not 
disarm until the restoration of a constitutional ^lalc oi 
things; pending wliii h, s he committed the affairs of 

' Nigra's circuitous statement (La Marmora, p. 310), that llie 
Emperor Xapoleon had told him that King WiUiam liad pledged his 
word of honour to tlie Emperor of Austria, that the real (vero) 
treaty between Prussia and Italy existed was — whatever view may 
be taken of it — made in a letter dated June 12th. 

* Sec for the letter Ollivier, vol. viii, pp. 186-9. 

Ill] Bismarck's Final Appeal 235 

Schleswig-Holstein to the Diet for settlement and had 
ordered the summons of the Holstein Estates. Though, 
hereupon, Moltke advocated the commencement of 
operations on June 5th, King Wihiam desired more solid" 
grounds for a declaration of war, and Bismarck had to 
content himself with a direct protest at Vienna against 
the violation of the Convention of Gastein. On June 4th, 
he followed up this protest by a circular asserting that 
Austria (who had made the congress impossible) was 
designedly forcing on a war, and on the 5th, more suo, he 
published, in the Berlin official paper, the clause in the 
secret treaty of January i6th, 1864, binding Austria and 
Prussia to joint action with regard to the future of the 
duchies ^ On the Qth followed an Austrian and a Prussia n 
statement to the Diet , with mutual recriminations which 
it woiild be useless to recapitulate, and, on the loth, 
Bismarck communicated to all the German Governments_an 
elaborate draft of the new Federal constitution proposed by 
Prussia — comprising the exclusion of Austria, the division 
of the military command between Prussia and Bavaria, 
aiid the summoning of a national assembl\- directly elected 
by vmiversal suffrage, which was to share the controJ_ of 
affairs with the Diet and concern itself chiefly with internal 
matt ers. . 

A thrill ran through the states of the north, whose 
populations, in their representative bodies, had either 
already declared their Prussian sympathies, or were on 
the point of avowing them ; but the Bavarian Government, 
with which Bismarck had, to the last, sought to keep in 
touch, still hesitated, together with Wtirttemberg. On 
June nth, von der Pfordten, while adjuring Bismarck to 
believe in his goodwill to Prussia, entreated him still to 
make war impossible by renouncing the annexation of 

^ Cf. pp. 147-8, ante; Rothan, La Politique FraiiQaise, p. i66 
and note. 

236 Rupture between Austria and Prussia [CH. 

Schleswig-Holstein. But it was precisely in this ' northern 
mark of Germany,' where the conflict had taken its origin, 
that the signal was to be given for its actual outbreak. In 
the Federal fortresses of the south-west, conflict between 
Austrian and Prussian troops had been avoided by a 
substitution for them of garrisons of Bavarians or soldiers 
of lesser states; but in Schleswig Manteuffel had 16,000 
Prussians under his command, while in Holstein Gablenz 
commanded a body of 4800 troops. Inasmuch as Prussia 
resolved to place a force of 5000 in observation in Lauenburg, 
and an ironclad and a few gunboats in the Elbe below Ham- 
burg, everything had been done to provoke a conflict here. 
On June 5th, Gablenz, in accordance with his instruc- 
tions from Vienna and an announcement made at the 
Diet four days earlier, summoned the Holstein Estates 
to Itzehoe for June nth. He at once (June 6th) received 
notice from Manteuffel that this summons could not be 
persisted in without the assent of the King, and that 
Prussian garrisons would immediately be laid into Holstein. 
O n the following day, the_Austrian comrnanderjnQiifid Jiis 
troops and the Holstein Government to Altona, and Prussian 
troops crossed the Eider into Holstein, On the loth, 
Manteuffel proclaimed that he would take the administra- 
tion of Holstein into his hands and named Baron K. von 
Schecl-Plessen civil head of its Government. On the fol- 
lowing night, Gablenz, threatened both by a Prussian 
land-force from Lauenburg and gunboats in the Elbe below 
Hamburg, withdrew his force across the river, and con- 
ducted it through Hanover, Hesse and Bavaria to Bohemia. 
The Schleswig-Holstein part of the war had not taken long 
to settle. With, or in the wake of, the Austrians, Duke 
Frederick of Augustenburg had quitted Kiel. The un- 
fortunate Prince's part was played out, though some time 
passed before he knew it^ 

' Cf. Holicnlohe, Denkwiirdigkeiten, vol. i, p. 163. 

Ill] Motion for Federal Mobilisation 237 

On June nth, the Diet was informed by Austria that 
Prussia, by her arbitrary action in Holstein^ had offend£.d 
against the provisions of the Final Act (of 1820) and had 
thereby made the interference of the Diet necessary. Austria, 
therefore, moved the mobihsation of the entire Federal army, 
with the exception of the Prussian army corps forming part 
of it, and the appointment of a Federal commander-in-chief. 
Thus, the Confederation was called upon to arm, becauje 
Prussia had broken a Convention (that of Gastein) to whicti 
the Confederation had not been a part}^ and which indeed 
had been adverse to its wishes. Beust, to his credit, 
perceived this; but the time had passed for a correction 
of procedure or for falling back, in the first instance, as the 
Final Act required, upon the Austrdgal or any other method 
of adjustment, which would undoubtedly have delaj^ed the 
outbreak of war for many a month. It can hardly be 
denied that Austria had by her motion placed herself 
formally in the wrong, and that Bismarck, therefore, could 
afford to allow a vote to be passed fixing the date of 
the decisive vote on the Austrian motion for June 14th. 
On the 12th, Karolyi was recalled from Berlin and Werther 
received his passports at Vienna; and, on the same day, 
it was made known to all the German Courts that a vote 
in favour of the Austrian motion would be regarded as 
tantamount to a declaration of war against Prussia. Again 
on the same day, Bismarck submitted to the King and the 
Ministerial Council proposals as to Prussia's action in reply 
to the threatened Federal execution, by wliich, before 
beginning operations against Austria, Prussia would make 
herself safe in the rear. An ultimatum was to be pre- 
sented to the Governments of Nassau, Hesse-Cassel, Han- 
over and Saxony on the day (June 15th) after the decisive 
vote, calling upon them to put a stop to their armaments, 
dismiss their mobilised troops, and accept the Prussian 
proposals of Federal reform laid before the Diet., If they 

23*^ Riil^tuvc hetween Austria and Prussia [CH. 

assented, their dominions and sovereignty would be assured 
to them, and the Prussian troops drawn up against them 
were to be without delay moved to Silesia. In the case of 
a negati\'e or evasive reply, war was to be at once declared 
against them. The King approved. Grand-ducal Hesse 
would, in the event of war, be neutralised by Electoral 
Hesse. As to Bavaria and Wiirttembcrg, the former was 
probably, and the latter certainly, insufficiently advanced 
in its armaments, and Bismarck's hopes in von der Pfordten 
were not quite extinct. 

Among the secondary and lesser Courts there was great 
disma\'', and not a little confusion, as to the action to be 
taken with regard to the critical vote. Napoleon's letter 
to the Legislative Body, rejecting any idea of the extension 
of the French frontier, unless the map of Europe should be 
changed for the benefit of a Great Power, was dated June 
13th, and can hardly have become known in time to 
exercise influence upon the decision ^ When the day for it 
(June 14th) arrived, Kiibeck brought forward the motion 
for the mobilisation, in consequence of Prussia's unlawful 
conduct, of the whole Federal forces except the Prussian 
corps d'armee included in them, and announced Austria's 
vote in its favour, merely adding that she had com- 
pleted the mobilisation of the three corps which it was her 
duty to furnish. Prussia, in her turn, protested against 
the discussion of any motion in both form and matter 
contravening the Federal constitution. Bavaria, with 
whom Saxony, Hesse-Darmstadt and, in substance, Han- 
over, afterwards concurred, declared herself in favour of 
the motion, in so far as the corps of the secondary and 
lesser states were concerned, but with the omission of the 
reference to Prussia's unlawful conduct in the matter of the 
Gastein Convention, with wliich the Confederation had no 
concern. Electoral Hesse, in substance, supported the 

• Uf)lliaii, jip. I 76 ft. 

Ill] Outbreak of the War 239 

motion ; so did Nassau, whose colleague in the Xlllth 
Curia, Brunswick, opposed it. The other Curiae — Luxem- 
burg, the grand-ducal and ducal Saxon Houses (except 
Meiningen), the Mecklenburgs, Oldenburg (with Anhalt and 
Schwarzburg) and the Free Towns (except Frankfort) — 
declared against it ; Baden was in favour of a Committee 
and reserved its vote; the petty states forming the 
XVIth Curia — Waldeck, the Reusses and the rest — were 
partly in disagreement with one another, and partly their 
plenipotentiaries were without instructions. The vote was 
hereupon taken on the motion as modified in accordance 
with the declaration of Bavaria; when nine votes were 
declared by Kiibeck to have been given in its favour, and six 
against (including Baden, but not including Prussia, who 
did not vote at all)^. Hereupon, Savigny at once rose to 
declare that the proposal, and still more the acceptance, 
of the motion contravened the fundamental laws of the 
Confederation. Prussia, therefore, regarded the Federal 
agreement hitherto obtaining as broken and extinct, but 
was at the same time prepared, on the basis of the proposals 
for reform which she laid before the assembly, to enter into 
a new Federation with those Governments which would 
join her for that end. Savigny then declared his duties at 
Frankfort at an end. Kiibeck, in reply, referred to the 
indissolubility of the Confederation, casting the whole 
blame for what had happened upon Prussia, against whose 
action he asked those present to join in a final protest. 
The majority assented, and the Federal Diet had held its 
last sitting — though the Rump, at Augsburg, did not 
separate till August 24th. 

In Berlin, so soon as Savigny's telegraphic message 
arrived, the instructions prepared went out to Hanover 
and Cassel. On the same day, a military convention was 

^ Cf. as to the unexpected items in this narrow vote Friesen, 
Erinnerungen, vol. ii, pp. 165-6. 

240 Rupture hetiveen Austria and Prussia [CH. iii 

concluded by Bavaria and Austria at Olmtitz, though it 
was kept secret for some days. Of the other Govern- 
ments, Baden alone had sought to act in this sense ; but 
she was speedily obliged to fall in with the majority. 
Thus, in the form of a division between north and south, 
though in the case of the north not with an unbroken 
front, the German Civil War had broken out at last. It 
was to decide the issue between the two Great German 
Powers which had at intervals been forcing itself upon the 
nation since they had made peace more than a century 
ago; it was to bring about the union of the north as a 
step towards a wider union ; and the effect produced by 
its result beyond the Rhine was, in the near future, to lead 
to yet another momentous struggle. 

Italy's declaration of war, sent by La Marmora to the 
Commander-in-chief of the Southern army of Austria, 
followed on June 20th, and the war opened three days 
afterwards on the Mincio. 



Before accepting the policj^ towards Austria and the 
other German states pressed upon him by Bismarck, 
King William I required to be satisfied that, in case of 
war, he could reasonably hope for victory. 

The quality and strength of his army he had himself 
secured. At seventeen, he had fought in the great campaign 
of 1814 against Napoleon. During the next ten years, he 
had served from major to lieutenant-general, commanding 
in turn every unit from battalion to army corps. During 
his brother's reign, he was the most influential personage 
in the army and had a large share in its supervision. His 
numerous military papers of that period show full know- 
ledge of its working, a shrewd judgment and a grasp of 
principles. In 1832-5, he had struggled hard, but in 
vain, for the retention of the three years' service with the 
colours. He had presided over the commissions which 
produced the modernised infantry drill book of 1847 ^^^ 
revised the cavalry training. In 1858 he had had the 
whole of the infantry armed with the needle-gun. By the 
reorganisation of i860, which had almost produced its 
fuU results by 1866, he had obtained a homogeneous field 
force of nine army corps, each of which could in a fortnight 
be fully equipped for the field and brought up to its war 
strength, numbering 37,000 men for the Guard and 35,500 
for each of the eight provincial army corps, without touching 
the Landwehr and supplementary reserve, which, between 

W. M.G.II. 16 

242 The Austro-Prussian War [CH. 

them, could furnish 129,000 men for garrisons and a reserve 
of 100,000 for the tield-army. This gave Prussia for her 
population of eighteen millions a total force of 550,000 
men ; while Austria with thirty -five millions had not more 
than 540,000. He had been very attentive to the training 
of the troops, especially of the officers. According to 
Napoleon, the ideal army would be one in which every 
officer knew what to do in any situation in which he might 
find himself in the course of a campaign. In Prussia, 
tliis kind of competence was aimed at by means of periodical 
manoeuvres, in which officers had to lead their commands 
one against the other, in conditions so far as possible 
resembling those of war. In 1843 Prince William wrote: 
'Our field manoeuvres, in which the leaders are merely 
given the general idea and are left free to make their own 
plans and movements, constitute the only right way of 
coming to know the officers in command^.' After a quarter 
of a century of such manceuvres, in the course of which 
he promoted or retired the leaders according to the proofs 
they gave of tactical skill or of the lack of it, the King 
might hope that his arm^^ came near to Napoleon's concep- 
tion. He meant to command it himself and had found a 
strategical adviser on whom he could rely. In March 
1865 his intimate, Edwin von Manteuffel, wrote to Roon: 
' the King has confidence in Moltkc as Chief of the General 
Staff. At the back of his mind is the idea that he may 
yet command the army in a war; and in this connexion 
he has grown accustomed to Moltke^.' 

The question of strategy in relation to the policy pro- 
posed by Bismarck was first raised at the Ministerial Council 
of May 29th, 1865, when, in reply to the King, Moltke said : 
'I have to ask myself, can Prussia undertake the conflict 

* Militarische Schriften wetland Kaiser Wilhelm des Grossen 
Majeatat, Berlin, 1897, vol. i, p. 580. 

* Koon, Dcnhwiirdigkciteu , vol. ii, p. 227. 

iv] Moltkes Plan 243 

with Austria? It would lead too far if I were to go into 
details here. But, as the result of my investigations, 
I may say that, apart from the excellence of our army, 
the numerical superiority at the decisive point can be 
obtained^.' At the Council of February 28th, 1866, Moltke 
set out the military strength of the states that would 
probably be engaged, adding, as was seen above, that 
the active advance of Italy would be indispensable. The 
highest effort of Austria in that case would be an army 
of 240,000 men in Bohemia, to which, without taking the 
Landwehr into the field, Prussia could oppose an equal 
number in Lusatia and Silesia, after leaving 52,000 men 
against Bavaria and South Germany 2. 

Moltke had thoroughl}^ thought out the war. He had 
considered, first, how to defend Prussia against an Austrian 
attack and, then, how to pass from defence to the invasion 
of Austria. Austria's object in such a war must be either 
to overthrow Prussia, in which case her army would aim at 
Berlin, or to reconquer Silesia, in which case it would aim 
at Breslau. An Austrian army in the angle of northern 
Bohemia would be in the position nearest to either. The 
move most dangerous for Prussia would be an advance 
towards Berlin. The best way to meet it would be by a 
Prussian army, placed with its back to the Elbe between 
Torgau and Wittenberg, facing eastwards and striking the 
left flank of the Austrian advance. The Austrian line of 
retreat would then be to the east towards Breslau, which 
the Austrians for the security of their communications 
during their march on Berlin would try to occupy with 
a small force, and which must therefore be defended by 
a minor Prussian force based upon the fortress of Glogau. 
This flank defence against an Austrian advance towards 

^ Lettow-Vorbeck, Geschichte des Krieges von 1866, vol. iii. 
p. 472 (cf. ante, pp. 196-7). 

^ lb., p. 474 (cf. ante, p. 212). 

16 — 2 


The Austro-Prussian War 


Berlin would be still more powerful if the Prussians could 
occupy Dresden before the Austrians and thus hold all 

The Theatre of War 

the crossings of the Elbe. If the Austrian main army 
should move on Breslau, Moltke would bring it back by 

IV] Moltke's Plan 245 

advancing with his own main army into Bohemia. In 
order to make sure of Dresden, the Prussians must invade 
Saxony by surprise. To that end, war must be declared 
suddenly, without notice, so that neither Saxony nor 
Austria could have begun to prepare. Saxony must be 
invaded instantly by Prussian troops still on a peace 
footing, and on the same day the whole Prussian army 
must be mobilised. The Prussian forces, in that case, would 
certainly be ready and on the frontier before the Austrians, 
for in Prussia each army corps could be made ready in its 
peace quarters in a fortnight, and the arrangements with 
the railway lines admitted of the movement of a complete 
army corps for any distance in from eight to twelve days, 
provided that each corps not near enough to the frontier to 
march there in that time could be provided with a through 
line to itself. Thus, on the 25th day from the order to 
mobilise, all the army corps could be at the railheads, one 
of which would be Dresden, to be seized on the second day. 
Of the nine army corps, one would have to be left on the 
Rhine to deal with the German states hostile to Prussia, its 
action being prepared by the seizure of the Federal fortress 
of Mainz on the day of declaration of war. The other 
eight would be sent against Austria and placed, on the 
25th day, three at Dresden (94,000 men), three at Gorlitz 
(99,000), and two at Schweidnitz (54,000). The two armies 
at Dresden and Gorlitz would be strong enough to defeat 
any Austrian army that might attack them; for the 
Austrians could not have their whole force put on a war 
footing and moved into Bohemia in less than six weeks. 
The Prussian forces therefore would march from Dresden 
and Gorlitz towards the Iser and then, side by side, towards 
the Elbe near Koniggratz, where the two corps from 
Schweidnitz would join them by way of Trautenau. In 
the region of the Upper Elbe, these combined forces would 
probably meet the Austrian army, not yet at its full strength 

246 The Ausfro-Prussian War [ch. 

of 240,000 men, and would after defeating it take the 
direction through Iglau towards Vienna. 

This was Moltke's plan, framed first in i860 and matured 
by 3-ears of reconsideration. He had kept the Austrian 
army under close obser\'ation since 1859 — ^^ ^^^^ ^^ 
published anonj'mously a critical account of the campaign 
of Magenta and Solferino — and had worked out every one of 
the Austrian moves possible during each phase of his own 
projected operations, never resting until he had seen his way 
to meet it with superior forces at the point of probable 
collision. He had thus done all that was possible beforehand 
to secure victory on each of the several hypotheses. 

But Moltke's plan was destined to receive rude shocks 
which would have upset a structure less compact. In Manb, 
1866, the Austrians began to prepare for their mobilisation, 
resolved upon as early as April 27th, and carried out by 
orders issued between that date and May 5th. In Prussia 
the order for five corps to mobilise was not given till May 3rd, 
and for the other four not till May 12th ; and, even then, 
there was no visible prospect of a declaration of war. The 
sudden irruption into Saxony and the collection of three 
Prussian army corps at Dresden was therefore out of the 
question. Still, Moltke held to his plan for an advance 
into Bohemia and for ultimately forming his right wing 
on the line Dresden-Goriitz ; but he had to be content 
with placing that wing in the first instance further back, 
in Prussian, not in Saxon, territory. The corps from 
Prussian Saxony, Brandenburg and Pomerania were placeci 
cast of the Elbe facing the northern border of Saxony, 
forming the First army under the command of Prince 
Frederick Charles. Those of Posen and Silesia marched 
to Landeshut and Waldenburg and became the Second 
army, under the command of the Crown-prince of Prussia. 
Then, the corps from Prussia proper was brought by train 
to Gorlitz, midway between the two armies, and the 

iv] Modifications 247 

Guard set marching from Berlin towards the First army. 
Finally, the corps from Rhenish Prussia and one of the 
two divisions of that in Westphalia were sent to Halle and 
Zeitz, close to the western border of Saxony. The other 
division of the Westphalian corps was kept at Minden. 

These last movements throw a flash of light on 
Prussian policy and German conditions. Hanover and 
Hesse-Cassel were Austrian in sympathy, and Moltke had 
planned the destruction of them both. Yet, during the 
period from May 27th to June 5th, at the height of the 
crisis when war may be said to have been in sight, twelve 
trains a day carr^dng a Prussian army corps from Coblenz 
to Halle passed through the town of Hanover, and eight 
trains a day carrying a Prussian division from Westphalia to 
the neighbourhood of Zeitz through Cassel, without remon- 
strance or interference on the part of the respective Govern- 
ments. Treaties, no doubt, existed entitling Prussia to 
move her troops during peace through the territories which 
separated her western from her central provinces ; and, 
probably, the two Governments feared that to stop the 
trains would precipitate Prussian military action against 
them. Possibly, too, the eastward movement of the bulk 
of the Prussian forces from the Rhine and Westphalia 
seemed to the Courts of Hanover and Cassel a deliverance 
from danger. But for the overthrow of these Governments 
Moltke did not need these troops. Each of the eight 
provincial corps had a regiment in garrison either at some 
fortress or in Schleswig — two of them had two ; and of these 
a field division was formed, under Manteuffel, in Schleswig 
and another, under General von Beyer, at Wetzlar, where, 
besides seeming to threaten Frankfort, it was, also, within 
a few days' march of Cassel. When it was agreed that 
the Austrian and Prussian troops should leave Frankfort 
and Mainz, the Prussian regiments from those cities were 
sent to swell Beyer's division. To make up for the absence 

248 The Austro-Prussian War [CH. 

of the division left at Minden a whole corps of Landwehr 
was sent from Berlin to reinforce the Elbe army. 

On the 25th of May, Moltke reported to the King: 
'On the 5th of June the deployment of all the troops of 
nine army corps along the frontiers of Saxony and Bohemia 
will be finished. From the mihtary point of view, there 
can be no doubt that after that we must not postpone our 
action for a day.' His plan involved the prompt advance 
of the Elbe and First armies through Dresden and Gorlitz 
into Bohemia, which would prevent an Austrian invasion 
of Silesia. But the King did not see his way to striking 
the first blow. Moltke then determined to bring his right 
nearer to his left. The Elbe army marched round the 
Saxon frontier to the Elbe at Torgau, keeping in Prussian 
territory; the Second army marched eastward towards 
Gorlitz and the 1st corps from Gorlitz to Hirschberg, to 
join the Second army. These movements were completed 
by June 8th; but there was still no immediate prospect 
of the King's consenting to the invasion of Saxony and 
Austria. On the 9th came a proposal from the head- 
quarters of the Crown-prince. The Austrians were gathered 
in force at Olmiitz and might any day invade Silesia. 
Would not the King approve of the Second army moving 
from Landcshut and Waldenburg to the line of the river 
Neisse, where it would be well placed for meeting the 
probable invasion, and might it not for that purpose be 
reinforced? This proposal upset Moltke's plan. He would 
have forestalled an Austrian invasion of Silesia by the 
advance of the two armies of his right into Bohemia. 
Yet he felt that, if this advance were delayed indefinitely, 
the local defence of Silesia might become necessary. He. 
tlicrefore, accepted the proposal and secured the reinforce- 
ment of the Second army, not only by the 1st corps but 
also by the Guard, which was pushed on by rail and road. 
On the 1 8th of June, the Second army stood on the line of 

iv] The Austrian Army 249 

the Neisse, and, at the same time, the First army, which 
had continued its eastward march, was passing Gorhtz. 
The three armies were several marches apart, the distances 
being ninety miles from Torgau to Gorlitz and no from 
Gorlitz to Neisse. 

In 1848 and 1849, the Austrian army in the strong hand 
of Radetzky had saved the monarchy. In the subsequent 
years it had been effecti\'ely reorganised, subject to the 
limitations imposed by the usual embarrassments of 
Austria's finance. The troops were raised, partly by con- 
scription and partly by voluntary enlistment, the men 
being engaged for eight years with the colours and two in 
reserve, but they were usually sent on furlough as reservists 
after two or three years' service. The diversity of nationali- 
ties was a difficulty. Ten different languages were spoken 
by the troops, and it was not thought safe to quarter a 
regiment in the province in which it was recruited. Accord- 
ingly, on mobilisation, men on furlough had to travel to 
their probably distant regiment, or the regiment had to 
move to its recruiting district to pick them up, either 
process taking a long time. The army corps system, not 
being on a territorial basis, did not facilitate mobilisation, 
and indeed had not been uniformly carried through. In 
1866 seven army corps existed ; but a great many troops 
belonged to no army corps at all. The peace strength 
was about 250,000 men, with 20,000 in the depots. The 
war strength was 380,000, with 160,000 in depots and 
garrisons. To call out 270,000 reservists and distribute 
them among their scattered regiments was a complicated 
business. In the north, only two railway lines connected 
the rest of the monarchy with Moravia, one from Cracow 
to Prerau and the other from Vienna to Lundenburg. 
From Moravia only one single track line, that from 
Bohmisch-Triibau to Pardubitz, led to Bohemia. It would 

250 The Austro-Prussian War [CH. 

take a long time therefore to collect a large army either 
in Moravia or Bohemia. The infantry was armed with the 
Lorenz rifle, a muzzle-loader. The men were well disciplined 
and trained, but had been practised chiefly in the evolutions 
of columns and taught to expect victory from bayonet 
charges in column rather than from the skilful use of the 
bullet. The artillery, after 1859, had been armed with 
rifled guns which it had been admirably trained to use. 
The cavalry was first-rate. The weak point of this army 
lay in the officers of high rank, who were selected for 
social rather than for militar}^ qualifications, the important 
posts being, for the most part, distributed among the 
members of the six hundred families of the high nobility^. 
These noblemen were not always examples of punctuality and 
exactitude. In 1859, the defeat of Magenta was due mainly 
to the careless delay of Count Gyulai, and that of Solferino to 
the impossibility, in the early hours of the morning, of finding 
the Emperor, without whom no orders could be given. 

After Bismarck's note of February 26th and Mensdorff's 
unconciliatory reply, it became necessary to face the 
probability of war. Early in March, conferences were 
held under the presidency of the Emperor to consider 
the necessary preparations. As there was no intention to 
make concessions either to Prussia or to Italy, two armies 
must be formed. It was decided to employ seven army 
corps against Prussia and three against Italy. The Ministry 
of War undertook to have all the corps ready and moved 
to the chosen regions in seven weeks from the order, and 
in the meantime pushed on its preparations. 

A \'ital matter was the choice of commanders. The 
Emperor had no thought of repeating his experience 
of 1859. In that year, it had been intended, in case of 
a campaign in southern Germany against the French, to 

1 rriedjurm, her Kampf um die Vorherrschaft, etc., vol. i, p. ^40. 

iv] Benedek 251 

give the command to Archduke Albrecht, who, as the 
son and pupil of Archduke Charles, had received not 
merely a liberal education, but also thorough instruc- 
tion in the larger aspects of war. He had since then 
studied the problem of a war against Prussia and had 
had prepared by his protege Major-general Krismanic an 
essay on the military geography of the probable theatre 
of war. But now, in 1866, representations were made to 
the Emperor that the appointment of the Archduke to 
the command against Prussia would, in case of defeat, 
occasion an outburst of resentment against the imperial 
house, and that it would be better to give the command 
to Benedek, at that time commander of the Austrian 
forces in Italy, the most distinguished and most popular 
of all the Austrian generals. 

Feldzeugmeister^ Ludwig Ritter von Benedek, born at 
Odenburg in Hungary in 1804, a Magyar protestant of a 
family of the lesser nobility, had risen from ensign to com- 
mander-in-chief by merit without connexions or influence. 
In 1846, when he was a heutenant-colonel on the staff 
at Lemberg, there occurred a dangerous rising. While 
the generals were all paralysed with terror, Benedek set 
out \vith less than 500 men to attack the insurgents, dis- 
persed them at Gdow and crushed the rebellion. In 1848-9, 
he played a brilliant part in the campaigns of Radetzky in 
Italy and of Haynau in Hungary, and won the admiration 
of both these commanders. In 1S59, ^^ the battle of 
Solferino, in which the French defeated the Austrians, 
Benedek's corps on the right wing beat off all the attacks 
of the whole Sardinian army. He had saved the honour 
of Austria. From that time onwards, he was the first 
soldier in the Emperor's service. Benedek, however, met 
the Emperor's offer of the command against Prussia with 

^ Feldzeugmeister and Feldmarschal-Lieiitenant are the Austrian 
equivalents of General and Lieutenant-general. 

252 The Austro-Prussian War [CH. 

a flat refusal. He knew himself and the limits of his powers. 
He was a thorough soldier, but no strategist. His whole 
soul was in the army; the traditions of the service were 
his religion. He once wrote, in a general order, that the 
army regulations were his creed and his philosophy. He 
was a first-rate leader of troops on the battlefield, where 
his eye was quick, his decision prompt, his will of iron. 
In his letters to his wife he attributed his success to his 
'superior courage' and his 'luck,' and repudiated all 
'pretensions to scientific strategy.' What he knew of the 
army and of war he had learned by experience, for he 
was neither a student nor a thinker and never read a serious 
book. In conversation with a cultivated officer like 
Ramming, who was a military historian and strategist, 
Benedek felt himself out of his depth. He thought more 
of dispatch in the conduct of military business than of 
the theory of war; and in 1861, when there was a question 
of appointing Ramming chief of the staff of the army, 
he opposed the selection and secured the appointment of 
his friend Henikstein on the ground that, though devoid 
of the 'strategic spark,' he had business-like habits, would 
see to it that letters were promptly answered and delivered 
and would put a stop to the unpunctuality and carelessness 
that had been the curse of Austrian headquarters in the 
field. In Italy Benedek felt at home. He knew the troops, 
who adored him ; he knew their generals ; he knew every 
inch of the ground, and he knew the enemy. The staff 
at Verona was a second family to him, and its chief. Major- 
general von John, had the needed 'strategic spark.' But 
to get to know a strange country, and in it to command 
an army of 200,000 men, was a new adventure to which, 
at sixty-one, he did not feel equal. Yet in his mental 
and spiritual orbit there was a centre and a sun — the 
Emperor in whose service his life had been spent. It was 
hard for him not to meet the Emperor's wish. This was 

iv] The Austrian Army in Moravia 253 

the fulcrum from which Benedek might be moved, and 
every lever was applied to it. His best friends among the 
generals, including Archduke Albrecht, urged him to take 
the post of danger; it was put to him that, as a loyal 
soldier, he could not leave his Emperor in the lurch. At 
last he accepted the command with the resignation of a 
man who submits to his fate, 

Benedek, keeping Henikstein at the head of his staff, 
required a director of the bureau of operations, and would 
have liked John, in whom he had faith. But John was 
wanted for the Archduke in Italy, and Benedek mistrusted 
Ramming and Kuhn, the two best-known strategists in 
the army. The Archduke recommended Major-general 
Krismanic, whom Benedek accepted. It was believed 
that Prussia would be first ready for the field and would 
assume the offensive, and it therefore seemed unsafe to 
fix the place .of concentration in Bohemia, where the 
Austrian army might be attacked before its preparations 
were complete. Accordingly it was decided to place one 
army corps in Bohemia, in order to support the Saxon 
troops if they should have to withdraw from their own 
country, and to assemble the other six near the great 
fortress Olmiitz in Moravia. 

On May 26th Benedek established his headquarters at 
Olmiitz ; and, by June loth, although there were only two 
railway lines to Moravia, six army corps, three cavalry 
di\dsions and the reserve artillery had reached Moravia. 
This was a most creditable achievement. The Austrian 
railways had moved twenty-two trains a day, while the 
Prussians even on their two-track lines had moved only 
twelve. But the troops were still spread out along the 
sides of the enormous triangle formed by the railways from 
Bohmisch-Triibau to Lundenburg and to Prerau, — four 
corps on the western line, sixty miles long, and two on the 
eastern with the cavalry divisions between Olmiitz and 


The Austro-Prussian War 


Briinn. Several thousand belated men came in between 
the loth and the 15th, and the supply trains were not 
quite ready till the 21st. 

XT , l-.iiL'lish IMllCS 

rlaniDurg o ,s 10 ^o 30 40 50 


Campaign against Hanover 

The Austrian plans of April made no provision for 
concerted action with the German states on the side of 
Austria. It was not till June 8th that it was arranged that, 
in case of a Prussian invasion of Saxony, the Saxon army 

iv] Austria's Allies 255 

corps should withdraw to Boliemia to join the Austrians. 
On June 14th an agreement was made at Olmiitz between 
Benedek and the Bavarian General von der Tann, who 
held out hopes that the Bavarian army might join the 
Austrian army in Bohemia by the end of the month; 
but, four days later, this plan was repudiated by the 
Bavarian Government. On June ist, at a conference at 
Munich, while Saxony and Bavaria announced that their 
armies were ready, Wiirttemberg, Baden and Nassau 
reported that their contingents could not complete their 
mobilisation before June 15th. Neither Austria nor 
Bavaria had any military understanding with Hesse- 
Cassel or Hanover. 

The 5th of June, the day when the Prussian army was 
ready for action, while Austria and her allies still needed 
ten days for the completion of their concentration, was, 
as has been seen, chosen by the Austrian Government 
for the political move in Holstein which precipitated the 
conflict^. The momentous vote of the Diet at Frankfort 
followed on the 14th; on the 15th Prussia delivered 
her ultimatum to the Courts of Dresden, Hanover and 

At Hanover^, on the 14th, Bennigsen urged in the 
Chamber the dismissal of the Ministry ; but the time had 
passed for any such remedies. On the morning of the 
15th, Prince Ysenburg presented the Prussian ultimatum, 
with a demand for an answer in the course of the same 
day. The blind King George indulged in self-delusive 
boasts about his army of 50,000 men — its effective force, 

1 Ante, p. 235. 

2 For a complete account of Hanoverian affairs from the last 
years of the reign of King George V to the establishment of the 
regency of Prince Albrecht of Prussia, see F. von der Wengen, 
Geschichte der Kriegsereignisse zwischen Preussen und Hannover, 1866 
(1886); and compare O. Meding (G. Samarow), Memoiren zur Zeit 
geschichte, vol. 11. Das ]ahr 1S66 (1881), passim. 

256 The Austro-Pritssian War [CH. 

as the envoy pointed out to him, amounted to less than 
one-third of that number ; and it was not till shortly before 
midnight that the declaration of war could be delivered 
to Count Platen on the stairs of his house. As no satisfactory^ 
reply had been obtained from Dresden or Cassel, war was at 
midnight declared upon Saxony and Electoral Hesse also. 
Orders had been given in advance to the Prussian com- 
manders, and the war began, on the i6th, by the simul- 
taneous invasion of the three states. 

The Hanoverian troops were on a peace footing, 
without ammunition, and on the march towards their 
camps of exercise. When the Prussian ultimatum was 
received, they were recalled to Hanover and hurried off, 
the infantry and artillery by train and the cavalry by 
road, to Gottingen, whither such munitions and equipment 
were sent after them as could be moved in a few hours 
from the depots at Hanover. At Gottingen, where the 
last troops arrived on the i8th, a great effort was made 
to put the army into condition to move. King George, 
with more spirit than judgment, accompanied his army, 
of which, under pressure from his oiftcers, he gave the 
command to General von Arendtsscliildt. The troops 
were equipped and provided with the limited ammunition 
at hand; but supplies and transport were sorely lacking. 
By the evening of the 20th the force was as ready as it 
could be made in the trying conditions, the total strength 
being about 17,000 men. 

The Prussian division at Minden, commanded by General 
von Goben, set out from that place on the i6th and, on 
the next day, reached Hanover, where it seized vast stores 
that had been left behind. On the 19th Goben started 
from Hanover towards Gottingen. Manteuffel, too, from 
Altona crossed the Elbe to Harburg on the i6th, and, on 
the 20th, his leading brigade reached Hanover and his 
second brigade Celle. Beyer's division from Wetzlar was 

iv] Campaign against the Hanoverians 257 

on the 19th at Cassel, where it made a prisoner of the 
Elector Frederick WilHam, whose troops, 4200 men, had 
been sent off by railway to Hersfeld and had thence 
marched to Hanau^. 

The imperfectly prepared Hanoverian army was hardly 
a match for a single one of the Prussian divisions. The 
only course open to it was to march southwards to Bavaria ; 
and there was evidently no time to lose. On the 21st, 
therefore, the Hanoverians set out from Gottingcn for 
Eisenach, by \\s.y of Miihlhausen. 

In order to secure cooperation between Goben, Man- 
teuffel and Beyer, they had all been put under the 
command of Vogel xon Falckenstein, the general com- 
manding the Vnith Prussian army corps. When Moltke 
at Berlin learned that the Hanoverian army had been 
collected at Gottingen, he divined that it would try to 
escape to the south and saw that Goben and Manteuffel 
at Hanover were too far away to interfere with its march, 
while it might have passed Eisenach or Gotha before 
Beyer from Cassel could be thereto bar its way. So 
Moltke proposed to Falckenstein to send Manteuffel's 
troops by railway through Magdeburg to Eisenach. This 
seemed an unorthodox proceeding to Falckenstein, who 
ordered all his three subordinates to march towards 
Gottingen. The consequence was that, while Beyer was 
mo\'ing from Cassel towards Gottingen, the Hanoverian 
army marched from Gottingen towards Eisenach, and on 
the 22nd reached Miihlhausen, with a clear road to the 
south, except for three or four thousand men, whom, in 
default of Manteuffel, Moltke had' ordered from Gotha to 
Eisenach and from Erfurt to Gotha. Falckenstein saw 
that his prey had escaped him, gave up the chase and, 
on a suggestion made without Moltke's knowledge by 

^ The Elector was removed to Stettin, where he remained till 

W. M. G. II. 17 

258 The Austro-Prussian War [CH. 

Bismarck, determined to march to Frankfort, the old 
imperial city being a special object of Prussian illwill. 

The Hanoverians had but to march on boldly, and they 
would have easily o^•ercome the few troops collected at 
Gotha and Eisenach. But their leaders hesitated, and 
grasped at a proposal for negotiations, made at the sugges- 
tion of King William, who wanted to gain time for his 
armies to come up with them. This was on the 23rd, 
when the Hanoverian army reached Langensalza, within 
a day's march of Gotha. There they halted and lost three 
days in negotiations which proved fruitless. By that time, 
Moltke's judgment and King WilHam's peremptory orders 
had brought to Eisenach a large part of Beyer's and 
Goben's forces and to Gotha a part of Manteuffel's, under 
General von Flies. A report reached Berlin that the 
Hanoverians were retreating towards the Harz mountains, 
and orders to attack them were sent both to Eisenach 
and to Gotha. On the 27th, when Goben was kept at 
Eisenach by a report that the Bavarian army was. 
approaching from the south. Flies fulfilled the King's 
instructions by marcliing to Langensalza and attacking 
the Hanoverians, though they had 17,000 men to his 6000. 
They were 'holding a position on the north bank of the 
river Unstrut, with one battalion on the south bank in 
the ^•illage of Langensalza. Flies struck on their centre, 
and drove their battahon out of Langensalza and across 
the ri\'er, of which however he failed to force the passage 
himself. The Hanoverian right then crossed the river, 
and, wheeling to the left, drove him out of Langensalza. 
Thereupon he began to retreat ; but the Hanoverian cavalry 
fell upon his retreating troops. He. was thoroughly beaten 
with a loss of 800 killed and wounded and as man}' prisoners. 
The Hanoverians had 1400 casualties, due chiefly to the 
needle-gun. They did not pursue. 

Next day Flies was reinforced. But the Hanoverians 

IV] The Prussian Armies 259 

were in no condition for another battle, as they were 
short both of ammunition and provisions. The bulk of 
Falckenstein's forces were now at hand ; and King George, 
at length aware that his position was hopeless, consented 
to a capitulation, which was signed on the 29th. The 
Hanoverian army laid down its arms, and officers and 
men were sent to their homes. 

The disarming of Hanover took more time than had 
been expected, and, until it had been effected, the King 
and Moltke remained at Berlin, whence they could best 
control the wayward Falckenstein, although a guiding 
hand and spur were, also, sorely needed in one part of the 
principal theatre of war. 

Prince Frederick Charles, who commanded the First 
army, was a good drill-master, but ovei^cautious as a 
commander in the field. Self-conscious and self-willed, he 
was not fond of advice. The chief of his staff, General 
von Voigts-Rhetz, though able and broad-minded, concealed 
neither his dislike of Moltke nor his disbelief in the plan 
of spreading the army along the frontier. He left the 
details to the ambitious and industrious quartermaster- 
general von Stiilpnagel, and the large movements were kept 
b}' the 'Red Prince,' as Prince Frederick Charles was 
popularly called, in his own hands. 

The Crown -prince, largehearted, openminded and gene- 
rous, had not had his chief interests in the army, and 
had strongly opposed the policy that led to the war. 
But, when the war came, he felt no doubt as to his duty 
and took up his command with a clear conscience. He had 
a great regard for Moltke, who had been for some time 
his personal adjutant and mentor, for his former tutor 
General von Blumenthal, now chief of his staff, and 
for General von Stosch, his quartermaster-general, an 
officer of rare good sense and knowledge of men and affairs. 

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CH. iv] Moltke's Determination 261 

The Crown-prince had the moral courage and the modesty 
which were not conspicuous in Prince Frederick Charles. 
As a result of the happj^ composition of its headquarters, 
the Second arm}- boldly faced its very real difficulties, 
while the First was often paralysed bj^ imaginarj^ foes. 

Moltke's plan, from the first, had been to advance 
into Bohemia ^^ith three corps from Dresden, three from 
Gorlitz and two from Liebau and Waldenburg. This plan 
had been upset by the ^\'ish of the Crown-prince, inspired 
by Blimienthal, to move to the Neisse and meet the 
Austrian army in its supposed advance from Olmiitz — a 
proposal in which, in the circumstances, Moltke had 
acquiesced. On the 15th of June, when the moment for 
action came, the Crown-prince was marching with four corps 
towards the line of the Neisse, where they were not due 
till the i8th. What was now to be done ? The great aim was 
still to unite the three Prussian armies for battle with the 
Austrians. In the analysis made by him during the winter, 
Moltke had expected the Austrian army to be assembled, in 
the first instance, between Prague and Pardubitz, and j^et 
had decided to unite his own armies by a rnarch through the 
mountain ranges into Bohemia. The eastward move of 
the Crown-prince had been suggested when the Austrian 
army was believed to be assembling, not in Bohemia 
but at Olmiitz in Moravia, much further from the mouths 
of the passes than Moltke had expected. This belief had, 
meanwhile, become a certainty ; for Moltke had in his hands 
an order of battle of the Austrian army giving the positions 
of the troops on June nth. The three armies could, 
indeed, be united, if the First and that of the Elbe were to 
march north of the mountains to Silesia, where the Second 
army could, if necessary, hasten the junction by retiring to 
meet them. But that plan would neglect Saxony, which 
it was desirable to occupy, so as to be in possession of the 
country when the time should come for negotiations. The 

262 The Aiisiro-Prussian War [CH. 

Elbe and the First armies, b}^ marching forward into 
Saxony and Bohemia, would be drawing nearer to the 
Second; and the shortest way for the Second to join them 
was still through the passes which it had lately faced. 
The Second army might be caught by a part of the Austrian 
forces, but hardly by the w^hole Austrian army, of which 
it was known that three corps on the nth had been so far 
behind as Briinn. Moltke decided to carry out his original 
plan and to let the Elbe army move at once, waiting a day 
or two to see what the Austrians would do before he ordered 
the Second army to return to the mountain barrier. The 
interference of Blumenthal had lost ten days, and the 
Crown-prince's army might find the passes held against 
it ; but in war risks have to be run, and if the Crown-prince 
sta\'ed where he was, he might have to face the whole 
Austrian army. 

Accordingly, on June 15th, after the delivery of the 
Prussian ultimatum at Dresden, telegraphic orders were 
sent that, unless countermanded. General Herwarth was 
to march next morning on Dresden, and Prince Frederick 
Charles to occupy the Saxon district of Lobau with a part 
of the First army. The Saxon anny, which had been 
mobihsed and collected at Dresden under the command of 
the Crown-prince of Saxony, marched on the 17th to join 
the Austrians in Bohemia. 

On the i8th Herwarth entered Dresden ; and on the 19th 
Moltke sent orders to him to march to Stolpen and there 
to come under the command of Prince Frederick Charles, 
who was to assume the offensive so soon as the Elbe army 
came up with his own and to advance v^dth his left wing 
close to the mountains. The Second army was instructed 
to move to meet the First in Bohemia and, for that purpose, 
to begin at once its return to the passes leading to Trautenau 
and Nachod. As it became clear that the Austrians were 
not invading Silesia, but marching into Bohemia, Moltke 

iv] Prince Frederick Charles 263 

telegraphed on the 22nd to both Princes the order to 
advance into Bohemia and to seek to unite in the direction 
of Gitschin. Prince Frederick Charles was instructed by 
letter : ' Since the weaker Second army has the more difficult 
task of issuing from the mountains, it is the more incumbent 
on the First army/ so soon as ever its junction with the 
force of General Herwarth has been effected, to shorten 
the crisis by its swift advance.' 

What Moltke expected from Prince Frederick Charles 
was nothing extraordinary. He had noted on the 19th, 
before sending the orders for an advance : ' General 
Herwarth marches on the 20th to Stolpen; on the 25th 
junction at Gitschin of 150,000 men,' i.e. of Prince Frederick 
Charles and Herwarth. The distances, to Gitschin were 
from Stolpen 75 miles or five marches of 15 miles, and from 
Gorlitz 57 miles, four marches of 14 miles. There were 
five roads available for five arm\^ corps. Both the First 
and the Second armies, therefore, might well reach the 
region of Gitschin by the afternoon of the 25th. It was 
known that up to the nth of June six of the seven 
Austrian corps had been in Moravia. It was supposed that 
the Saxon corps and one Austrian corps, possibly two, 
were on the Iser. But Frederick Charles on receiving 
the order of the 22nd telegraphed to ask for the 1st corps 
to be given to him — he had five — as he was too weak to 
meet the Austrian forces assembling in Bohemia. ■ Moltke 
replied by a letter to Stiilpnagel, ending: '100,000 men, 
with Prince Frederick Charles at their head and a reserve 
of 50,000 men a day's march behind them, have the 
greatest chance of victory.' 

Prince Frederick Charles was eager to open the campaign 
with a 'brilliant success'.' Rumour spoke of an Austrian 
force at Reichenberg, guarding the defile between the Iser 

^ ' Einen moglichst eclatanten Erfolg' (Prince Frederick Chades 
to the King. Lettow-Vorbeck, vol. ii, p. 109). 

264 The Austro-Prussian War [CH. 

mountains and the Lusatian mountains. Determined to 
crush this force, the Prince spent two days in marshalhng 
five of his six divisions to approach Reichenberg from the 
north, and sent one to cross and recross the Lusatian moun- 
tains so as to come upon Reichenberg from the south. 
When all was ready on the 24th, the swoop was made. 
The Austrian force proved to be three squadrons of cavalry, 
which withdrew in good time. But the First army was 
80 crowded round Reichenberg that its supply and move- 
ment alike became difficult. It halted on the 25th while 
the Elbe army came up to Gabel and Kunnersdorf, having 
marched thirty-five miles in five days. 

The Crown-prince, on receiving the order of June 22nd, 
continued the westward movement of his army, so that his 
three leading corps would be ready to move on the 27th 
through the mountain passes leading into Bohemia, the Vlth 
corps meanwhile being sent to Glatz to make a demonstra- 
tion to the south, after which it was to follow the Vth. On 
the evening of the 26th, the 1st corps had its divisions at 
Liebau and Schomberg, within a short march of Trautenau ; 
the Vth on the road from Glatz to Skalitz had pushed 
its vanguard to Nachod, a couple of miles from Wysokow, 
where the road emerges from the defile on to a plateau 
commanding the plain beyond. The Guard corps had its 
divisions at Dittersbach and Politz on two roads, one of 
which passes near to Trnutenau and the other within half 
a march of Skalitz. Tims cither wing corps could, in case 
of need, count upon the liel):* of a division of the Guard. 

The Austrian Emperor and Mensdorff, who should have 
endeavoured to put off the breach with Prussia until Benedek 
could report himself ready, allowed Gablenz on June 5th 
to raise the thorny question in Holstein. On that day 
the Emperor sent his adjiitant Colonel Beck to ask Benedek 
to take measures for resisting a Prussian attack. Krismanic 

iv] The Austrian Plan 265 

replied that it was 'possible only if our own most vital 
interests are sacrificed.' 

Benedek could trust liimself on the battlefield where he 
could see with his own eyes ; but for the large movements 
of the army he relied on Krismanic, who bj^ his instructions 
on the 8th and gth of June prepared orders for the event 
of the forward march of the army. By this time, the 
original positions of the several Prussian corps and the 
subsequent movements which they had begun had been 
correctly reported to Olmiitz, except those of the Guard 
corps, which were not known. These data pointed to an 
invasion of Bohemia from Gorlitz and Landeshut by 
Reichenberg and Trautenaii. In his plan of operations, 
drawn up in April, Krismanic had considered the event of 
the Prussians adopting this course, and had proposed to meet 
it by marching the army to Chnidim near Pardubitz. But the 
orders he now drew up were for a march, not to Chrudim but 
to Josefstadt, a long day's march further to the north. 

In 1778, the Emperor Joseph II had had his army on 
a high steep ridge between Koniginhof on the Elbe and 
Josefstadt, looking north-west across the Elbe, which 
flows at .its foot, and here awaited Frederick the Great, 
whose army came out of the defile at Nachod, a day's 
march away; while a second Austrian army under Daun 
lay on the Iser, to confront Prince Henry of Prussia, who 
was coming through the defiles of the Lusatian mountains. 
On that occasion, there was no battle ; for the Prussians 
did not attack. Krismanic had a fancy for the way in 
which these two Austrian amiies had been posted. In 
April, he had thought that 'in favourable circumstances,' 
which however he considered improbable, the position 
at Koniginhof would be suitable for the opening of an 
Austrian offensive by way of Trautenau and Reichenberg. 
This position was the destination of the march for which 
he now drafted the arrangements. 

266 The Austro-Prussian War [CH. 

The army was to march by three parallel roads— on 
the right, four army corps, one behind another, with a 
cavalry division at the head and another in the rear; in 
the centre, the two corps which were at and behind Briinn, 
followed by a cavalry division ; on the left, a cavalry 
division and the reserve artillery. After it had fnlly 
started, the army would be four marches from front to 
rear. Even if the front should be halted, the rear corps 
could not come up with it till the fourth da^^ Thirteen 
days from the start would be required to bring the entire 
army into the new position. 

It is difficult to understand how Krismanic could have 
proposed, or Benedek accepted, this scheme. The Prussian 
First army, of 100,000 men, was known to be about Gorlitz 
and the Second, of 54,000, near Landeshut ; they were 
therefore, each of them, nearer to Josefstadt than was the 
Austrian army. How could the Austrians expect to be 
there before the Prussians? The explanation seems to be 
that war was not yet declared, and that the Prussians 
must remain behind their frontier until it began. Yet 
the Emperor's message had shown that, on the 5th, he 
thought war might begin at any time. 

On June 15th, Benedek was informed of the Prussian 
ultimatum to Saxony. He had also heard of the march 
of the Vth and Vlth Prussian corps towards the Neisse, 
which might portend an advance in the direction of Olmiitz. 
Orders were, therefore, prepared for concentrating the army 
near that fortress. On the i6th the Emperor telegraphed 
that events in Germany made it urgent that the operations 
should begin, whereupon Benedek issued the orders for 
closing up towards Olmiitz. But, on the 17th, he was assured 
from Vienna that 'the main body of the enemy's. army 
still remained nearer to the Elbe, and that the movement 
of the Prussian corps to the Neisse could only be a demon- 
stration.' He then issued the previously prepared orders 

iv] Benedek's March to Josefstadt 267 

for the march to the position at Koniginhof- Josefstadt. 
Instructions had already been given for the 1st corps 
and the 1st cavalry division to await the Saxons at Jung- 
bunzlau and then to march \vith them to join the main 
army near Josefstadt. These were now confirmed, with 
the addition that there was to be no more resistance tc- 
a Prussian attack than was needed to ensure a junction 
with the Saxon forces. 

On the i8th Benedek learned from Vienna that the 
Bavarian oxvay would not join him in Bohemia. On the 20th 
he received important fresh news concerning the Prussian 
forces. Hitherto, he had believed the Second army, com- 
manded by the Crown-prince of Prussia, to consist only of 
the Vth and Vlth corps, of whose march to the Neisse he 
knew. But intercepted copies of telegrams passing between 
the Prussian commanders now revealed that the Prussian 
Guard, a cavalry division and the 1st corps formed part 
of the Crown-prince's army ; that they were marching back 
from the Neisse towards Waldenburg and Landeshut ; that 
the ultimate .destination of the 1st corps was Hirschberg, 
and that the commander of the First armv at Gorlitz was 
anxiousl}^ awaiting its arri\-al at Hirschberg, in order to 
begin his operations. This information confirmed the view 
that the march of the Vth and Vlth corps to the Neisse 
had been a mere demonstration, and made it probable 
that part at least of the Second army would shortlv 
enter the passes leading to Trautenau and Nachod. On 
learning this, Benedek issued revised orders for the later 
stages of the march, which were slightly accelerated. The 
leading corps was now due at Josefstadt on the 25th, 
the rear corps not till the 29th. Yet the Prussian Elbe 
army had reached Dresden on the 20th, and Dresden was 
within ten days' march of Josefstadt. The orders for 
the 1st and Saxon corps were now changed. Instead of 
marching off, so soon as their junction had been effected 

268 The Austro-Prussian War [CH. 

to join the main army, they were to hold the position 
of Jungbunzlau and Miinchengratz and not to fall back 
towards the main army, unless compelled by superior 
forces. The Crown-prince of Saxony was to take command 
of the two corps and their two cavalry divisions. 

On the 22nd, Benedek moved his headquarters to 
Bohmisch-Triibau, where he could conveniently supervise 
the march of his army, inspecting the corps as they passed. 
His heart was \\dth the troops and here he was in his element. 
But a commander's place is at the head of his army, and 
his thoughts should be of the enemy's doings and the future. 

On the 2ist, the Prussians handed in a declaration of 
war to the Austrian outposts^, and that afternoon the 
troops of the Elbe and First armies crossed the Austrian 
frontier. These events completely changed Bencdek's 
situation, making it certain that the Austrian army could 
not be collected as a whole in the position to which it was 
marching, before at least one of the Prussian armies could 
be within reach of that position. Benedek, however, 
remained at Bohmisch-Triibau until after his last army 
corps had gone by, and then, on the morning of the 26th, 
went by train to Josefstadt. 

The position in the whole theatre of war as it now dawned 
on him was this. In the west, the First Prussian army, 
100,000 strong, had entered Reichenberg the day before, 
and must now be approaching Turnau. The Elbe army 
of 50,000 must be close beside the First on its right. The 
Crown-prince of Saxony, with 60,000 men, could neither 
stop nor long delay these greatly superior forces; and his 
right wing at Turnau, of cavalry only, was all that lay 
in the direct line of advance of the First Prussian army. 
Reports showed that the Second Prussian army might 
next day emerge from the passes on the line Trautenau- 
Nachod. Of the long columns of the main Austnan army, 

^ Oesterreichs Kanipfe i»i Jahre /S66, vol. iii, ji. 37, note. 

iv] Benedek and Krismanic 269 

that on the right would by evening have its leading corps, 
the IVth, at Salnei behind Koniginhof and the next under 
Gablenz, late Governor of Holstein, at Schurz near 
Josefstadt. The other two were not yet up. The Vlth, 
under General von Ramming, would be that night at 
Opocno, nine miles behind Josefstadt, when the Ilnd 
would reach Senftenberg, more than two marches distant. 
The two corps of the centre column would, in the course 
of the day, reach Koniggratz and Tynist. One cavalry 
division was already at Skalitz; but the other three were 
more than forty miles behind. 

The situation was critical, for the Austrian army 
was dispersed and the enemy at hand. But Benedek 
now discovered the incompatibility between his own 
soldierly instinct and the ideas of Krismanic, upon 
whose superior knowledge his blind faith had been 
reposing. Benedek would have thrown the whole force 
at his disposal — on the 27th, three arm}' corps and, on 
the 28th, two more— against the nearest enemy, the Crown- 
prince of Prussia. But Krismanic thought that the main 
army should be sent against the Prussian main army, 
that of Prince Frederick Charles. How this was possible 
is not clear. Apparently, he would have placed two or 
three corps in the position Josefstadt-Koniginhof expecting 
them by sitting still to paralyse the Second Prussian army, 
while the remaining Austrian army corps came up, according 
to programme, into their positions, rested and then set off 
in a westerly direction, where they were to pick up the 
1st corps and the Saxons and attack the First Prussian army. 

Benedek mistrusted his instinct, while Krismanic was 
quite sure of himself. The result was a half -measure. 
Two corps were sent against the Crown-prince of Prussia, 
while the rest were to continue the prearranged march. 
Gablenz was ordered to Trautenau and Ramming towards 
Nachod. The orders sent off at 8 p.m. reached Gablenz, 

270 The Aiisfro-Prussian ll^r [CH. 

who was at Schurz, close to Josefstadt, in good time. He 
suggested, but in vain, that troops should be sent also to 
the position in front of Eipel, where the centre defile opens, 
since otherwise he might be attacked in flank. 

Gablenz was at Trautenau an hour before the Prussians 
and, after a hard fight which lasted all day, found himself 
master of the field; so that General Bonin, commanding 
the 1st Prussian corps, retreated at night through the 
pass to his starting-point of the morning. But the needle- 
gun had taken its toll. Gablenz had lost 4600 men, and his 
troops were worn out with fighting. He reported this and 
repeated his anxietj^ about his flank. 

Ramming, nine miles away from Benedek's headquarters 
at Josefstadt, did not receive his orders till half past one 
in the morning and they did not clearly explain the 
purpose. He was told to put his corps in position at 
Skalitz, four miles from the exit from the pass, with an 
advance-guard towards Nachod, which is within the 
pass. When the brigade sent by him towards Nachod 
approached the ridge that blocks the pass, it found the 
advance-guard of the Prussian Vth corps already there, 
in an extraordinarily strong position. The Austrian 
brigadier attacked, relying, as the Austrian army had been 
taught to do, upon massive columns and the bayonet. It was 
mown down by the needle-gun. Ramming lost no time in 
coming from Skalitz to its help, and repeated his attacks 
again and again. He had all but taken the position and used 
up two more brigades, when the Prussian main body came 
into action and restored the fight. Ramming renewed the 
attack with his last brigade ; but it was beaten off. He fell 
back to Skahtz, having lost 5400 men, and had to report 
that his corps would not be fit to fight next day. 

During the 27th, the combination of two incompatible 
courses was continued. Benedek sent a fresh corps to 
Skalitz to relieve Ramming, and a second to support it. 

IV] Battles of June 2yth 271 

Troops were ordered towards Eipel, to cover the exposed 
flank of Gablenz. But, at the same time, orders were prepared 
for a march on the 29th towards the Iser. By the morning 
of the 28th, Krismanic, full of self-confidence, had gained 
the ascendant. The Crown-prince of Saxony was ordered 
to fall back to Gitschin and told to expect Benedek there 
on the 30th. Only two corps were to be left to face the 
Prussian Second army, and the rest to start for Gitschin on 
the 29th. Gablenz was to fall back to Praussnitz opposite 
Eipel, without being supported by other troops; and two 
of the three corps at Skalitz were to be withdrawn. After 
this had been settled, Benedek and his staff rode off to 
Skalitz, where at 11 they found the Archduke Leopold, 
whose Vlllth corps had already relieved Ramming and 
was drawn up for battle. Its guns were replying to Prussian 
guns, which lay to the north of yesterday's battlefield. 
It was just possible that the Prussians were moving away 
towards support further north. 'There must be no serious 
action here,' said Benedek. 'I have other plans; my 
mind is made up, and I shall hold to my purpose.' Krismanic 
dictated orders to the effect that, if not attacked by two 
o'clock. Archduke Leopold and Ramming were to move 
back across the Elbe, leaving the-IVth corps only to assist 
Gablenz against the Crown-prince. Benedek, hereupon, 
himself ordered Archduke Leopold to move off his corps 
immediately, and tlien rode back with his staff to Josefstadt. 

To Josefstadt came word from the Crown-prince of 
Saxony that he was retreating from the Iser towards 
Gitschin, but no word from Gablenz, though there was a 
message from Koniginhof that his supply train had returned. 
The long-prepared orders for the march towards Gitschin 
were sent off about six o'clock to the several army corps. 
It was then that news of disaster arrived from Skalitz and 
from Praussnitz. 

Benedek had hardly left Skalitz and Archduke Leopold 

272 The Austro-Pnissian War [CH. 

had not yet issued the order for retreat, which he was no 
doubt reluctant to give, when the Prussians opened their 
attack. The position was an open gentle slope with broken 
wooded countr\' in front and a swollen and therefore unford- 
able river behind. In a wood in front of the left brigade, an 
Austrian battalion had been posted. It was attacked by 
superior forces ; and the brigade, without orders, moved for- 
ward to support it into the bad ground, abandoning its good 
position. It was driven back, and the next brigade, in 
turn, left the position to give assistance. Meanwhile, a 
whole Prussian division was moving down from the north- 
east against the thus disordered flank. The Archduke now 
ordered a retreat, which had become difficult and was made 
possible only by the coolness and courage of the artillery 
which covered it. When the Archduke collected his corps 
that night behind the Elbe, 5000 men, a quarter of its 
strength, were missing. 

Gablenz, on receiving the order to fall back to Praussnitz, 
had set his brigades in movement in that direction, but 
was attacked while on the march by the Guard corps 
from Eipel. He at once sent orders to his distant brigades to 
retreat to the Elbe, while, with the one in hand, at Burkers- 
dorf.he covered the withdrawal of his waggon train, and then 
himself retreated to Neuschloss. But one of his brigades, 
which had not received his order, had been caught between 
the two divisions of the Prussian Guard and surrounded, so 
that only a few stragglers escaped. 

The plan of a march to Gitschin was now wrecked, and 
Bencdek's faith in Krismanic shattered. Next day, the 
29tli, he wrote to the Crown-prince of Saxony to say that 
the march to meet him was abandoned, and that he must 
continue his retreat to the main army without risking 
serious engagements. Six corps were this day collected in 
the position Koniginhof-Josefstadt. to oppose the Prussian 
Second army. But the IVth corps, left for the time as 

IV] The Saxon Crown-prince and Clam-Gallas 273 

a rearguard at Schweinschadel, was attacked and driven 
back, with a loss of 1500 men, by the Prussian Vth corps. 
Gablenz had to march his corps from Neuschloss down the 
Elbe to his new post on the plateau behind Koniginhof. 
The Prussian Guard at Praussnitz was nearer than he was 
to that place, to which he marched by the south bank 
of the Elbe. But the road, just before Koniginhof, crosses 
the river into that town, which is on the north bank, and 
thence recrosses it. He posted troops on the north side of 
the town to cover the march through it, but his rear brigade 
was still in the streets when the Prussian advance-guard 
came up to the attack. The brigade made good its way, 
but the protecting force was eventually driven back across 
the river, with a loss of 600 men; and the Prussians 
occupied Koniginhof. 

Benedek had now his six corps together. But four of 
them had been roughl}- handled, and the men had learned 
to dread the needle-gun, while the generals had lost confi- 
dence in the columns and bayonet charges, for which alone 
the troops had been prepared. Henikstein had not suc- 
ceeded in securing that punctuality in the delivery of 
messages to which Benedek had rightly attached so much 
importance. The lack of dispatch had been unfortunate for 
Ramming at Nachod, and was fatal to the army of the 
Crown-prince of Saxony. 

Early in June, arrangements had been made that, in 
case of a Prussian invasion of Saxony, the Crown-prince 
should take the Saxon army, 20,000 men, forming an army 
corps, and 2000 horse, forming a cavalry division, to 
join the Austrians^ in Bohemia, his retreat being covered 
by Count Clam-Gallas (a great nobleman who, however, 
had not distinguished himself in 1859), ^^^^^ ^^^ ^st Austrian 
army corps, 33,000 men in five brigades, and the ist cavalry 
division, 4500 horse, under Freiherr L. von Edelsheim, a 
good leader. So soon as the junction had been effected, 

W. M.G.II. 18 

274 ^^^ Austro-Prussian War [cH. 

the whole force was to join the main army near Josef stadt. 
This arrangement was confirmed by Benedek's orders of 
June 17th for the march of his army from Olmiitz to 
Josefstadt. Thereupon, the Crown-prince and Clam-GaHas 
arranged, with Benedek's approval, to move the Saxon 
army, when it had crossed the frontier on the 20th, by 
railway from Lobositz to Prelautsch, whence it could march 
to Chlumetz. But, on the 22nd, when half the troops had 
reached Chlumetz and half were still at Lobositz, came 
Benedek's new order of the 20th, instructing the Crown- 
prince and Clam-Gallas to collect all their troops at 
Jungbunzlau and Miinchengratz, and not to retire towards 
the main army, unless driven back by superior force, in 
which case they were to make for Miletin. They then 
arranged for the two halves of the Saxon army and the 
Austrian brigade, which had met it at Teplitz, to march 
from where they stood to Jungbunzlau. The distances 
were long, and the troops reached Jungbunzlau, tired out, 
on the 25th. The Crown-prince, who arrived there on the 
24th, received a telegram instructing him to take command 
of both corps, but to consult Clam-Gallas, and, on the 25th, 
a letter to say that his task was to resist a Prussian 
attack from the direction of Reichenberg and Gabel. At 
this time, Edelsheim was at Turnau, Clam-Gallas at 
Miinchengratz, and the Saxons between Miinchengratz 
and Jungbunzlau. The First Prussian army had entered 
Reichenberg, whence Edelsheim's cavalry posts had fallen 
back halfway to Turnau. The Elbe army was beyond 
Gabel, on the way towards Jungbunzlau. The Crown-prince 
of Saxony, a clear-headed commander, ^saw that Turnau 
was the critical point; for there the straight road from 
Reichenberg to Gitschin crosses the Iser.' But his own 
troops were too much exhausted to stir, and Clam-Gallas 
saw no need for the movement. 

Prince Frederick Charles, having crowded his army 

iv] Austro-Saxon Retreat to Gitschin 275 

round Reichenberg on the 25th, ordered the bulk of his 
troops to wait on the 26th for the Elbe army, of which on 
this da^' the advance-guard of the right column reached 
Hiihnerwasser, nine miles from Miinchengratz. Here it 
attacked and drove out a large Austrian post, which suffered 
severely from the rapid fire of the needle-gun. Prince 
Frederick Charles, however, sent on one division, the 
8th, to reconnoitre the defile of Liebenau. This led to 
a skirmish with Edelsheim's forward cavalry post, which 
retired; whereupon, Edelsheim fell back from Tumau 
towards Miinchengratz, and Frederick Charles allowed two 
other divisions to go forward. They entered Eisenbrod 
and Turnau, while the 8th division, pushing on, came 
at nightfall with its advance-guard on an Austrian post 
holding the bridge of Podol. There was a sharp fight in 
the dark, in which the needle-gun at short range proved 
murderous. The Austrians had to fall back, and the 
Prussians secured the bridge. 

Prince Frederick Charles now knew that he was opposed 
by only two army corps, instead of three as he had imagined ; 
and his left wing at Eisenbrod and Turnau were within a 
march of his destination, Gitscliin. But he decided to 
attack at Miinchengratz the enemy whom he had found 
there, and, as the position was strong, devoted the 27th to 
elaborate arrangements for attacking on the 28th, though 
an advance to Gitschin would have turned the position and 
cut off the Crown-prince of Saxony from the main army. 
To prevent this, the Crown-prince retreated towards 
Gitschin on the 28th, and the great attack of Prince 
Frederick Charles hit nothing but the Austrian rearguard. 
This body would not have been hurt except for delay in 
recalhng its outposts, which it bravely stayed to defend, 
losing 900 killed and wounded and as many prisoners. 

Edelsheim's and part of Clam's corps reached Gitschin 
on the 28th, the remainder on the morning of the 29th, 

276 The Austro-Prussian War [ch. 

The Saxons had further to march, and very bad roads; 
and, by the afternoon of the 29th their two divisions 
were halted to rest at villages four and five miles south- 
west and south of Gitschin. 

Moltke was disappointed with the slow progress of 
Prince Frederick Charles, upon whom the need for a rapid 
advance had been impressed. Yet the Prince telegraphed 
to Berlin on the 28th for permission to halt and rest next 
dav. Most of his troops had never been engaged, and he 
had fought no battle ; his army had only advanced six 
miles a day. He had crowded it so closely that the troops 
could not be fed and could hardly be moved, and the men 
were plundering the villages, where however they found 
nothing to eat. Moltke replied that the Prince must push 
on, and next morning the King telegraphed ordering a 
speedier advance and Moltke repeated his instructions. On 
the 29th, therefore, the Prince put four of his divisions on 
roads towards the west and sent the Elbe arm}' to attack 
the Saxons, whom he imagined to be still at Jungbunzlau. 

The Crown-prince of Saxony and Clam-Gallas had had 
Benedek's orders of the 28th announcing his intended start 
for Gitschin, where they expected one of his corps or part 
of it on the 29th. When therefore, just before four o'clock, 
their cavalry reported Pnissians approaching on the road from 
Turnau. they determined to stand and fight to cover Gitschin, 
since they were expecting Benedek to join them there. 

The two roads from Turnau and from Miinchengratz 
are separated, until within a couple of miles of Gitschin, 
by a rocky ridge which conceals the one from the other. 
Clam-(iallas had two brigades across the Miinchengratz 
road and three across that from Turnau, where there was a 
gap in his centre, to be filled up by a Saxon brigade. The 
Prussian division on this road was able, while its right 
attacked the Austrian left, to move its main body unseen, 
so as to strike the Austrian right and centre; and this 

iv] Austrian Retreat to Koniggrdtz 277 

movement had made some progress, when the Saxon 
brigade came up just in time to check it. There was a 
pause during which each side prepared for a fresh effort. 
But at this moment, 7.15 p.m., the Crown-prince of Saxony 
received Benedek's letter written at eight that morning, 
announcing the abandonment of his own westward march, 
and instructing the Crown-prince to continue his retreat, 
without allowing himself to be drawn into a serious action, 
to the position where the rest of the army was now 
collected. The young nobleman who carried the letter 
had lunched and spent the afternoon at a country house, 
where he had been told that the Crown-prince of 
Saxony was expected. x\t the same moment came a 
message from the commander on the other road, stating 
that he was attacked by four times his own strength. 
The Crown-prince and Clam-Gallas decided to break off 
the engagement and retire to join Benedek. Just as the 
orders had reached the troops and the backward movement 
begun, the Prussians renewed their attack, which had to 
be withstood in difficult conditions. The troops were 
however withdrawn, and most of them had passed through 
Gitschin, when in the darkness Prussian troops from various 
directions approached the town. Some were beaten off, 
but one party made its way through an unguarded entrance 
and reached the market-place, just as Clam-Gallas was 
dictating the directions for further retreat. He had to 
escape as well as he could, and the orders never reached 
his troops. They had lost heavily in the action, and in 
the darkness and confusion no control was practicable. The 
Saxons made their waj^ to Smidar, joined b}^ some of the 
Austrians, of whom the bulk went to Horitz. Here they 
were disturbed by Prussian cavalry and continued their 
retreat, some to Miletin, others on to Koniggratz, arriving 
next morning exhausted and demoralised. 

For Benedek this was a crushing blow. It was impossible 


The Ausfro-Prussian War 


to stand and fight where he was, for Prince Frederick 
Charles was only a march from his now unguarded flank 

The Battlefield of Koniggratz 

and rear In the afternoon, he issued orders for a retreat 
towards Koniggratz, the troops to bivouac in the space 


iv] Austrian Retreat to Koniggrdtz 279 

between the Elbe and the Bistritz at Sadowa. Then he 
wrote a note to his wife in which he said : ' At the (Marshals') 
conference I told the Emperor frankly, between ourselves, 
that, at his wish, I was ready to sacrifice to him my civil 
and military honour — and that has now happened.' Then 
he telegraphed to Count Crenneville, the Emperor's chief 
adjutant : ' Debacle of 1st and Saxon army corps obliges 
me to retreat toward Koniggratz.' 

The retreat began at one in the morning of July ist. 
Benedek set out soon after, and, as he passed the troops, 
saw abundant signs of their depressed condition. At 
eleven, he reached Koniggratz, where he was met by 
Colonel Beck, the Emperor's adjutant, and received a 
telegram from the Emperor expressing confidence in his 
leadership. Beck suggested a further retreat to Pardubitz, 
and Henikstein and Krismanic agreed. Benedek privately 
told Beck that he had found Krismanic incompetent. At 
11.30, he telegraphed to the Emperor: 'Beseech your 
Majesty to make peace at any price. Catastrophe for 
army inevitable.' In the afternoon he rode round the 
bivouacs and found the troops in better spirits. The 
Emperor's reply to his telegram was : ' Impossible to make 
peace. If retreat necessary, start at once. Has there 
been a battle ? ' In the evening, Benedek decided to 
keep the army next day where it was. He received the 
Emperor's orders to send home Henikstein, Krismanic and 
Clam-Gallas, and to appoint a chief of the staff in whom 
he had confidence. 

On the morning of the 2nd, Benedek telegraphed to 
the Emperor : ' The army stays to-morrow in its position 
at Koniggratz ; a day's rest and sufficient food have 
had a good effect. Hope not to need to retreat further.' 
The question 'has there been a battle?' made him think 
that the Emperor wished him to stand and fight ; and this, 
perhaps against his better judgment, he determined to do. 

28o The Austro-Prussian War [CH. 

The country through which he had passed during the 
retreat of July ist seemed favourable ground. The hilly 
country between the Elbe and the Bistritz was everywhere 
suitable for the movement of troops and abounded in strong 
positions. The Bistritz, swollen by recent heavy rains, 
could be crossed only at the bridges and would offer a 
serious obstacle to the armies of Prince Frederick Charles. 
Riding from the north, Benedek had seen, from Zizelowes, 
the hill, crowned by two great lime-trees, that towers 
200 feet above the villages of Horenowes and Raschitz 
and bars half the space between the Trotina brook and 
the Bistritz. Further back lay the ridge which bars the 
other half, running out westwards from behind Horenowes 
to the high wooded promontory of the Swiepwald. He had 
ascended this ridge to Maslowed and thence crossed the 
gentle depression that separates it from the massive hill 
of Chlum, with that village nestling on its northern shoulder 
and the village of Lipa lying on its western slope, a hundred 
feet below the summit and a hundred feet above the 
Bistritz at Sadowa, a mile and a half away. He had noticed 
how the ground falls away in shallow troughs from the lime- 
trees overlooking Horenowes to Sendrasitz and from 
Maslowed and Chlum to Ncdelist. Later in the same day, 
he had reconnoitred the country south of Chlum, following 
the low crest-line from Lipa to Stresetitz that parts the 
steep western slope towards the Bistritz from the gentler 
eastern declivity towards Wsestar and the fiat ground 
towards Koniggratz. He had observed the high plateau 
which bears on its western rim the villages of Problus, 
Niedcr- and Ober-Prim, with a clear flat space behind 
them bordered by the wood of Briza. 

As the reports from the outposts came in during the after- 
noon it became plain that the Prussian Elbe and First armies 
were advancing, while the Second army gave no sign of 
movement. Late at night on July 2nd, Benedek issued 

IV] The Day before Koniggrdtz 281 

dispositions for the army in case it should be attacked 
next day. 

On June 29th, the Hanoverian army capitulated, and, 
on the 30th, King William and his staff went by train 
from Berlin to Reichenberg. On the way, Moltke tele- 
graphed to the Second army that it was to remain on the 
north bank of the Elbe, its right ready to join on through 
Konigirihof to the left of the First army, which was to 
advance towards Koniggratz without stopping. The Elbe 
army was to attack any bodies of the enemy on the right 
flank of the First army and drive them away from the enemy's 
main body. Next day, while the King went to Sichrow, 
Moltke moved on to Gitschin, where he received reports 
from both armies. He was disappointed to find that neither 
Prussian commander knew where the Austrian army was, 
and that the First army was crowded behind Horitz on 
a front extending only three miles to right and to left, 
while the Elbe army was massed behind Smidar. Late 
at night, he wrote an order, dated July 2nd, pointing out 
that the first thing was to find the enemy's army. The 
Elbe army must move to its right to Chlumetz and the 
First army extend its front from Horitz to Neu-Bydschow, 
sending a detachment towards Sadowa to reconnoitre 
the line of the Elbe between the fortresses. If there were 
large bodies of the enem}/ in front of that line, they were 
to be attacked at once with superior forces. The 1st corps 
was to advance through Miletin, while the rest of the 
Second army was to remain on the left bank of the Elbe 
and to reconnoitre southwards on that bank. Both armies 
were allowed to rest on the 2nd, and the above-mentioned 
orders were to be carried out on the 3rd. 

During the 2nd Blumenthal went to Gitschin to try 
to persuade Moltke that the Second army ought to cross 
the Elbe to unite with the First; but Moltke would not 
agree to this. He was prepared to find the Austrians 

282 The Austro-Prussian War [CH. 

behind the Elbe between the two fortresses, and might 
wish to attack their right with the Second army. Blumen- 
thal went back to the Crown-prince at Koniginhof. 

Soon after noon the King arrived at Gitschin, where he 
was met by Prince Frederick Charles, who returned in the 
evening to his headquarters at Kamenitz. There he learned 
that the bi\-ouacs of three Austrian army corps had been 
observed along the Bistritz near Sadowa. Moltke's orders 
of the 2nd required an attack upon them ; and at 9 p.m. 
Prince Frederick Charles issued orders for the troops of 
the First army to advance at dawn on both sides of the 
Koniggratz road, one division to Cerekwitz, and for the 
Elbe army to march to Nechanitz. He also wrote to ask 
the Crow^n-prince to send one or more corps from Koniginhof 
on the right bank of the Elbe towards Josefstadt, to protect 
his flank. 

Late that night General von Voigts-Rhetz brought a 
copy of these orders and the information upon which they 
were based to the King at Gitschin. Moltke saw that it 
was too late to stop the attack ordered and, with the 
King's approval, wrote to ask the Crown-prince to set off 
as soon as possible with his whole army in the direction of 
the Austrian right flank. The Crown-prince had wished 
to reph^ to Prince Frederick Charles that he would go to 
his help with his whole army ; but Blumenthal had objected 
that this would be contrary to the orders already received 
not to cross the Elbe. Moltke's letter settled the question, 
and orders were sent to all the corps of the Second army 
to start as soon as possible. 

During the early hours of July 3rd the Austrian troops 
moved into their places. The Crown-prince of Saxony 
took position at Problus and Xicder-Prim, with the 
Austrian Vlllth corps to sujijwrt him. On liis right from 
Stresetitz to the heights of Eipa and Chlum were the 
Xth and Illrd corps, their artillery posted so as to sweep 

IV] The Battle of Koniggrdtz 283 

the slope before them down to the villages by the Bistritz. 
Behind them, in resen-e, were the 1st and Vlth corps, 
the reser\'e artillery- and two cavalry divisions. The right 
wing was to be formed by the IVth corps, between Chlum 
and Nedelist, and the Ilnd, from Nedelist to the Elbe. 
This line, assigned to the right wing, followed no strong 
natural feature; the view to the front and the field of 
fire which it offered were alike restricted. When Count 
Festetics, commanding the IVth corps, reached the place, 
he changed position to the left, bringing his right to 
Maslowed. Count Thun, commanding the Ilnd corps, 
followed suit, so that his corps stood on the line from 
Maslowed to Horenowes. 

By eight o'clock the Prussian First army under Prince 
Frederick Charles had five of its six divisions, 60,000 men, 
approaching the Bistritz between Mokrowous and Sowetitz, 
while the remaining division, 13,000 men under General 
von Fransecky, was advancing from Cerek\\dtz towards 
Benatek. At eight. King William joined the Prince on 
the hill at Dub and gave the word to advance, while Moltke, 
who had received the Crown-prince's reply that he would 
come Mdth his whole army, sent a message to Herwarth 
telling him to push on with the Elbe army against the 
left flank of the Austro-Saxons. Three divisions of the 
First army crossed the Bistritz and soon drove back 
the Austrian infantry, which had come forward from its 
proper position to the villages by the stream. As these 
troops withdrew, they unmasked the fire of 160 Austrian 
guns in line from Lipa towards Stresetitz. The Prussian 
divisions could neither advance under this fire nor retire 
across the swollen brook. The shells played havoc ^vith 
their masses, which stood there making attempts to rush 
forward. All these broke down, until, after midday, Prince 
Frederick Charles ordered his last two divisions to cross 
the brook and go forward. Moltke, who by this time had 

284 The Austro-Prussian War [ch, 

a message that the Crown-prince was at Zizelowes, caused 
the order to attack to be revoked and sent a note to 
Herwarth to report the approach of the Second army and 
to urge him to press his movement against the enemy's 
left flank. 

Fransecky, on reaching Benatek, sent his advance- 
guard towards the Swiepwald, from which the Austrian 
outposts had not yet been withdrawn into their battle 
position. They fell back, fighting, through the wood 
towards Cistowes, where there was a brigade which 
supported them. The Prussians were driven back to the 
wood, where they in turn received supports. Further 
Austrian and Prussian troops were thrown into the fight, 
until, on the Prussian side, Fransecky's whole division 
and part of another were engaged. General Festetics was 
wounded, and his successor Count Mollinary, about 11.30, 
delivered an attack with all the troops of his own corps 
and half of those of the Ilnd. The Prussians were thrown 
out of the wood, and Mollinary was eager to push on and 
attack the left flank of Prince Frederick Charles. But 
Benedek, just before the attack, had received a telegram 
from Josefstadt which warned him that the Prussian 
Second army was marching towards the field. He ordered 
Mollinary and Thun to withdraw their corps to the position 
at first assigned to them on the line from Chlum to Nedelist 
and the Elbe. The order was repeated in the moment of 
Mollinary's success, but was difficult of execution. Troops 
recalled in the flush of a successful attack are necessarily 
disheartened. The troops had been hotly engaged, and it 
was doubtful whether, once recalled, they would be fit 
for another hard fight. It was past noon when the retro- 
grade movement began, and nearly two o'clock when it 
was finished. The two brigades of the Ilnd corps reached 
Nedelist exhausted and continued their retreat across the 
Elbe, so that at two o'clock only fragments of this corps 

IV] The Battle of Koniggrdtz 285 

were on their proper ground. Of the IVth corps three 
brigades were collected by this time, and two of them 
deployed between Chlmn and Nedelist, while the third 
stood near them in a rendezvous formation. 

The Elbe arm\^ began to file across the bridge at 
Nechanitz towards nine in the morning. At noon, while 
its advance-guard was moving towards the Austro-Saxon 
position at Problus and Nieder-Prim, its leading division 
was beginning to advance from Hradek towards Ober- 
Prim. The Crown-prince of Saxony made a counter-attack 
towards Hradek ; but it broke down so soon as the Austrian 
troops covering and supporting it on the left came in 
contact with the Prussian troops. These Austrians belonged 
to the corps which, six days before, had suffered so terribly 
at Skalitz. They could not face the needle-gun. The 
attempted counter-attack was renewed with more troops, 
but again failed in just the same way, leaving the Prussians 
masters of Ober-Prim and able to attack from the south 
the position at Problus, which Herwartli's next division 
was deploying to attack from the north. The Crown- 
prince of Saxony left a mere rearguard in Problus, while 
he posted his troops in the west edge of the wood of Briza. 
The Prussians attacked and took Problus from the north, 
repulsed a counterstroke made bv a brigade from the 
Austrian great reser\'e, and, about three o'clock, delivered 
their attack on the wood of Briza. Again, the Austrians, 
holding the southern part of the wood, could not stand, 
and the Saxons had to fall back. By four o'clock, they 
were in full retreat, and the Prussian Elbe army was 
holding the wood of Briza. 

While Mollinary and Thun had been reluctantly with- 
drawing their disappointed troops from the Swiepwald, 
the Second Prussian army was deploying its three leading 
divisions at Zizelowes, Raschitz and Rodow. While the 
Austrians were moving across the hollow plateau towards 

286 The A'ustro-Prussian War [cH. 

Nedelist, these Prussian divisions were swarming up the 
heights between Horenowes and Trotina. Forty-eight 
Austrian guns of the Ilnd corps, on the Ume-tree height, 
had resisted their approach, but 78 Prussian guns had 
replied ; the Austrian batteries ran out of ammunition 
and retired as the Prussian infantr\' approached. At two 
o'clock, the Prussians were formed on the line Maslowed- 
Sendrasitz-Trotina, more than half-hidden b\7 the ground. 
Then they went forward. In front of the Austrian infantry 
between Chlum and Nedelist were a couple of batteries 
entrenched; behind it was a line of 120 guns from the 
artillery reserve, which engaged the guns of the Prussian 
Guard at Maslowed. The Prussian infantry had moved 
forward and disappeared into a hollow. Suddenly, a 
hail of bullets, coming out of the standing corn, swept 
down the gunners of the two Austrian batteries, and 
immediately afterwards the Prussian infantry was upon 
them. There was a rush to the rear, and, as the fugitives, 
accompanied by flights of bullets, came upon the front 
Austrian brigade, its startled men turned and fled, carrying 
along the brigade behind them and bringing confusion into 
the line of guns, which had to be withdrawn. The Prussian 
right came up to the east side of Chlum, of which the 
defenders were on the west side. The Prussians were 
masters of the village before they could be met. The needle- 
guns poured bullets into the Austrian brigade waiting by 
the south end of the place ; it was shaken and went back. 
Meanwhile, the divisions of the Prussian Vlth corps were 
entering Nedelist and Lochenitz, where the fragments of 
Thun's corps, after he with his two worn-out brigades had 
departed, could not stop them. 

From Benedek's post of observation above Lipa nothing 
of all this could be seen. At a quarter to three, he was 
intent on the action in front of him, when a staff-officer 
rode up and told him that the Prussians were in Chlum. 

iv] The End of the Battle 287 

'Don't be silly,' said Benedek. But the officer asserted 
that it was the fact, and Benedek rode with his staff 
towards Chlum. They were met by bullets, and several 
of them fell. The brigades nearest at hand were at once 
ordered to retake the village, but, first one and then the 
other, were shattered in the attempt. The battle was 
lost and could not be restored, but in the stress of defeat 
Benedek showed himself a leader. 

His front line from Lipa to Stresetitz, taken in flank at 
both ends by the Second and Elbe armies, was retiring, 
covered by the artiller}'. To gain time, Benedek threw in 
his reserves. He ordered the Vlth corps to retake Chlum. 
It failed against Chlum, but drove the Prussians out of 
Rosberitz. Then he sent the 1st corps against Clilum. The 
attack was bravel}' made ; but in twenty minutes the corps 
was retreating leaving 10,000 men on the ground. The 
whole of the Austrian infantry was streaming away towards 
Koniggratz ; and, as the artiller}^ line withdrew, the Prussian 
First army advanced, preceded by masses of cavalry. The 
Austrian cavalry, hitherto in reser\'e, came forward and 
charged the Prussians, driving them back through their 
infantry. When the Prussian bullets forced the Austrian 
cavalry to move off the ground, its retirement disclosed 
behind it 200 Austrian guns in a line stretching from 
Stosser on the left to a mile or more beyond the K5niggratz 
high road. Before that line of guns the Prussians halted. 

Moltke was balked of his prey. He had hoped that 
the Elbe army would have met the Vlth corps and com- 
pleted the circle round the Austrians before they could 
escape. Benedek had, indeed, been defeated; his army 
had lost 40,000 men in the battle. But he had saved it 
from capture ; three-iifths of it, in fair order, had reached 
the space between the protecting artillery and the Elbe. 

In the exertions and fierce fighting at the height of 
the battle no orders for regulating the retreat could be 

288 The Austro-Prussian War [CH. 

written, and the messages sent to the corps-commanders 
were not all delivered. The order to avoid the fortress 
of Koniggratz had not been rescinded. The fortress had 
been strengthened bj- flooding the country, so that the 
Elbe could only be crossed on the roads running on dams 
through the inundation. Those through the fortress were 
closed, and all were completely obstructed by the retreating 
waggons of the army. There was no outlet for the hundred- 
thousand men crowded between the Elbe and the artillery 
which kept off the enemy. Some of the troops escaped 
to the south. Some had crossed the Elbe above Koniggratz 
before the Prussians had reached it. But the great crowded 
mass fell into confusion. 'This,' says the Austrian official 
historian, 'did more to ruin the army than the battle.' 
Late at night, the fortress opened its gates, and next 
morning, at Holitz, Benedek organised the retreat towards 

There was no pursuit. The Prussian armies coming 
on to the centre of the battlefield from three directions 
had their troops intermingled. All were tired out. Moltke 
was exhausted to fever-point, and had to be taken in a 
carriage to Gitschin to sleep. The only order issued was 
for a rest next day. The Prussian commanders had no 
idea of the completeness of their victory, for they had 
seen the Austrian army retire in good order. But, next 
day, when Gablenz came to ask for a truce, which was 
refused, his tone and bearing showed that the Austrians 
were crushed. On the 5th, the Second army marched to 
Pardubitz, the First to Prehiutsch, and the Ell)e army 
towards Prague, which one of its divisions occupied on 
the 8th of July. On the 6th, the Second army was directed 
towards Ohniitz, the First and Elbe armies towards Vienna. 

Benedek, by the nth, had seven of his corps back 
at Ohuiitz, and one was arriving by railway at Vienna. 
On that day the Emperor gave the command-in-chief of 

iv] Pressburg and Vienna 289 

all his armies to Archduke x'Mbrecht, who ordered two 
of his corps from Italy to Vienna, whither Benedek on 
the 13th was told to take his whole army. On the i8th 
Benedek sent off by railway the Ilird corps, and next day 
half of the Saxon corps, setting the remainder on the 
roads down the valley of the March. But, on the 15th, the 
Second Prussian army, now close to Olmiitz and marching 
southward by a road a day's march west of the town, 
sent forward part of a cavalry di\asion with a few infantry 
to Tobitschau. It struck on the head of the last Austrian 
army corps leaving Olmiitz, and caused it to halt. On 
the same day, troops pushed forward from the First army 
cut the railway line at Coding. Benedek now turned his 
columns from the March through the Carpathians to move 
on Pressburg by the valley of the Waag. The Prussian 
Second army marched south to join the First, and Moltke 
directed the First and the Elbe armies towards the Danube 
between Pressburg and Vienna, pushing on a corps towards 
Pressburg, to which town Benedek too was hurrying his 
foremost corps. Negotiations had begun at Nikolsburg and 
a five days' armistice was probable. If Benedek should 
gain Pressburg, his army could there cross the Danube, 
to join the Archduke at Vienna. But, if the Prussians 
should reach Pressburg first, Benedek's army must go 
round by Komorn, and the Prussians, crossing the Danube 
at Pressburg, might prevent its reaching Vienna. The 
race which followed was hurrying on, when, on the 20th, 
an armistice was arranged, to begin at noon on the 22nd. 
By that morning, the Austrians had the greater part of 
an army corps in and about Pressburg, with an advance- 
guard at Blumenau, which was attacked by the Prussian 
Ceneral Fransecky. But, at noon, the action was still 
undecided, and the armistice found the Austrians in 
possession of Pressburg, where during the next few days 
Benedek's army crossed the Danube and joined the 
w. M. G. II. 19 

■2 rt 

CH. iv] Campaign in Southern Germany 291 

Archduke, bringing up the total of his forces in and about 
Vienna to 275,000 men. If the Austrian Government had 
been at the head of a national state, this was the moment 
when popular feeling might have been roused to a resist- 
ance which the Prussian army would have found it most 
difficult to overcome. But the Emperor had been fighting 
only for his throne, the fear of losing which had misled 
him in the choice of a commander. The same fear now 
caused him to renounce the continuation of the struggle. 

While the chief Prussian army was reaping the fruits 
of its great victory in Bohemia, the three divisions which 
in June had hunted down the Hanoverian army were 
engaged in overrunning southern Germany, where a short- 
sighted policy and a feeble strategy' greatly facilitated 
their task. After the capitulation of the Hanoverian army 
on the 29th of June, Falckenstein collected and rearranged 
his army of 46,000 men for attack on the south-German 
states. On July ist Beyer's division was at Gerstungen, 
Goben's at Eisenach and Manteuffel's at Grossenbehringen. 

The Bavarian army, 45,000 men in four divisions, had 
moved north from Schweinfurt with the idea of meeting 
or helping the Hanoverians and on June 26th stood behind 
Neustadt on the Saale. The troops of Wiirttemberg, Baden, 
Nassau and the grand-duch}^ of Hesse, with an Austrian 
brigade formed of the troops from the garrisons of Frank- 
fort, Rastatt and Mainz, were gathering round Frankfort. 
They were to form the seventh' Federal corps, consisting of 
45,000 men, under Prince Alexander of Hesse, who was to 
follow the instructions of Prince Charles of Bavaria, com- 
manding the Bavarian army and also Commander-in-chief 
of the German Federal forces, a retired field-marshal 
of 71 — 'too old,' as Hohenlohe concisely put it. On the 
26th of June Prince Alexander had only 32,000 men, 
five brigades out of nine. On that day he went to 

19 — 2 

292 The Ai(stro-Pnissi(iii ]]af' [CH. 

Schweinfurt to see Prince Charles. It was known that 
Falckenstein's forces were acting against the Hanoverians, 
who at this time were expected to hold out for some days. 
It was arranged that both armies should start on June 30th, 
Prince Alexander from I'rankfort, by the roads skirting 
the western foot of the Vogelsgebirge, Prince Charles from 
Neustadt by Briickenau and Fulda, and should unite 
near Hcrsfeld on July ytli. On the 28th came an urgent 
appeal for aid from the Hanoverians, who had beaten the 
Prussians on the 27th. Prince Charles set out from Neustadt 
towards Eisenach ; but, on the 30th, when his divisions stood 
along the Werra from Wasungcn to Hildl^urghausen, he 
heard of the capitulation of the Hano\crians. On this 
day his headquarters were at Meiningen, and Prince 
Alexander's at Hungen, 65 miles distant. Hcrsfeld, the 
proposed point of junction, is 40 miles from Hungen, 32 
from Meiningen and only 25 from Eisenach. The Prussians 
must arrive there first. The right move was for both 
armies to march to meet at Briickenau, three marches for 
each of them, and at least four for the Prussians. But 
Prince Charles was afraid that this would look like a 
retreat and proposed a junction in the direction of Fulda, 
about 25 miles march for each army. The Bavarian army 
could not hurry. On July 3rd it was still traihng into 
the valley of the Felda, its main body reaching Kalten- 
nordhcim, only ten miles from Meiningen, and the head 
of its right wing Dermbach. Prince Charles had by this 
time tardily decided that he had better turn southwards 
towards Briickenau, and on the morning ol the 4th issued 
orders to that effect. 

Falckenstein had set out on the 2nd for Hiinfeld, and 
on the 3rd his left column under Goben brushed against 
the advance-guard of the Bavarian right and pushed it 
out of Dermbach. Moltke had instructed halekenstein to 
attack the Bavarian army, and (Joben, lia\ing found it. 

iv] The Bavarian Army defeated 293 

was eager to do so. But Falckenstein, since Bismarck's 
telegram to him, had had Frankfort on the brain. He would 
not go out of his way to attack the Bavarians, and allowed 
Goben to deliver only a short stroke in order to clear 
the line of march towards Fulda. On the 4th, therefore, 
Goben attacked the nearest Bavarian troops at villages 
south and east of Dermbach. Both sides fought well, 
but, as each had orders to march awa}^ from the lield, the 
armies parted without a real trial of strength. 

Prince Alexander had turned, as requested, towards 
Fulda and was within a march of that place, when he 
learned that Falckenstein's army was approaching it, that 
Prince Charles proposed now to wait for him at Kissingen, 
and that the Austrian army had been defeated at Konig- 
gratz. He decided to march back to Frankfort, in order 
to protect those of the south-German states whose troops he 
commanded ; and by the 9th his army was back again in 
the region from which it had started ten days before. 

When Falckenstein reached Fulda he halted for a day 
and telegraphed to Moltke for permission to march on Frank- 
fort. Moltke replied that Falckenstein's business was to find 
and beat the Bavarian army. Thereupon, he set out from 
Fulda in the direction of Schweinfurt and on the loth 
came across the Bavarian army scattered along the Saale 
from Neustadt to Hammelburg. Beyer defeated its left 
wing at Hammelburg, Goben its centre at Kissingen, 
and Manteuffel its right wing at Friedrichshall and Walda- 
schach. On the next day, Falckenstein was in pursuit 
towards Schweinfurt, but received a telegram from the 
King's headquarters in Bohemia, to the effect that in view 
of possible negotiations it was desirable to occupy as much 
territory north of the Main as possible. He, therefore, 
abandoned the chase of the shattered Bavarian army, and 
marched off towards Frankfort. 

By this time, Alexander of Hesse had reflected that the 

294 The Austro-PrKssian War [CH. 

best defence of Frankfort and sonthern German}^ would be 
to helj) the Bavarians to beat Falckenstein ; so he turnetl 
his army in the direction of W'iirzburg and sent the Hessian 
brigade in advance to Aschaffenburg. The Hessians, 
pushing forward to guard the exits from the defiles of the 
Spessart, came, at Lauffach, upon G5bcn's advance-guard, 
which they attacked ; but the}- were beaten off with hea\'y 
loss. By the next day, Alexander's Austrian brigade was 
posted at Aschaffenburg ; but Goben struck it with his full 
strength and drove it across the Main. On the loth, Falcken- 
stein made his triumphal entry into the defenceless city of 
Frankfort, upon which he laid a heavy hand. The city 
was ordered to provide all his men with their rations, 
besides, every day, a pint of wine, a quart of beer and eight 
cigars apiece, and to furnish them in the next twenty- 
four hours with a year's pay (52 million florins — c. 
£480,000), besides a vast cpiantity of necessaries. The 
Frankfort Go\crnment had always been Austrian in its 
S3'mpathies, antl, in sj)iti' of Bismarck's circular stating 
that Prussia would regard any vote in favour of the 
motion of June 14th at the Diet as a declaration of 
war against her, had voted on the Austro-Bavarian side. 
Falckenstein had hardly made his entry into Frankfort, 
when King William, annoyed by his disobedience during 
the Hanoverian cam})aign, recalled him and a]>pointed 
Manteuffel to succeed him in the command. Manteuffel 
immediately, by Bismarck's orders, increased the money- 
payment by the city of Frankfort to 25 million florins 
(^^2, 1 00,000) ^ 

Prince Alexander had meantime with the whole of his 
force, crossed the Main to the district between Darmstadt 
and Aschaffenburg and marched through the Odenwald 

* Bismarck, however, subsequently agreed to deduct the money 
contribution as first fixed, from the second, and thus to lower this 
to ly million florins (c. ;^i,58o,ooo). 

IV] Tatiherhischofsheim, Rosshriinn, Hettstadt 295 

to join the Bavarians on the Tauber. It was arranged 
that the now united armies should procec d through the 
Spessart towards Frankfort, the Bavarians taking the 
road through Lohr, the Federal troops that through 
Miltenberg, towards Aschaffenburg. The Bavarians, there- 
fore, moved into the loop of the Main between Wiirzburg 
and Lohr, while the Federal troops were starting from the 
Tauber towards Miltenberg. But Prince Alexander at 
once found himself confronted by Prussian columns, 
Manteuffel having immediately set out to follow him 
through the Odenwald. Prince Alexander, accordingly, 
fell back behind the Tauber to Grossrinderfeld, while 
Prince Charles ordered his scattered divisions to collect 
near Rossbriinn, the object being to bring the two 
armies within supporting distance of each other. But, 
on the 24th, Goben attacked Prince Alexander's rear- 
guards at Werbach and Tauberbischofsheim, and drove 
them back with heavy loss. Next day, while Beyer and 
Flies pushed back two of the Bavarian divisions from 
Helmstadt towards Rossbriinn, Prince Alexander had 
again to retreat before Goben's attack on his rearguard 
at Gerchsheim. On the 26th, Prince Alexander's troops, 
demoralised, continued their retreat across the Main to 
Wiirzburg, while Beyer and Flies drove Prince Charles 
from Rossbriinn towards Hettstadt. Here he made a 
stand, covered by his artillery, and succeeded in with- 
drawing his army also across the Main. The two armies 
were now united, at Wiirzburg, behind the river, where 
they could not easily be attacked. Manteuffel contented 
himself with bombarding the Marienburg, and negotiations 
began, which were so managed from Nikolsburg as to delay 
the final armistice in southern Germany until x\ugust 2nd. 
The purpose of this was to give time to the Grand-duke 
of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who had started from Leipzig on 
July 20th with an army corps of Prussian Landwehr, to 


The Aiistro-Pnissian ]Var 


carry his invasion of Bavaria as far as Niirnbcrt:;, wliich lie 
occupied on Ani^ust 1st. 


The success of Prussia in i8f)0 was not (hie to superior 
numbers. The Prussian armies which invaded Bohemia had 
a total strenf^th of 290,000 men, and the comliined Austro- 
Saxon forces opposed to them of 260.000. The superiority 

iv] Austrian Victory of Custoza 297 

was, therefore, not quite 12 per cent. The peace negotiations 
had only just concluded when the veteran historian Jomini, 
in a review of the war, wrote : ' These astonishing successes 
were brought about by a combination of the general causes 
which influence the fate of empires, in the first rank of which 
we may, on this occasion, place the neglect of the principles 
of strategv by the one side and their application by the 

Prussia's success was made possible b}' the cooperation 
of King Victor Emmanuel, whose forces, though unfortunate 
both by land and sea, yet kept an Austrian army away from 
the northern theatre of war. He had formed two armies, 
one of 110,000 combatants under his own command on the 
Mincio between Lake Garda and the Po, the other of 70,000 
combatants under General Cialdini near Ferrara. They 
were both to advance and unite near Treviso. Garibaldi, 
with 40,000 volunteers, collected at Como, was to invade 
Tyrol, his project for a landing in Dalmatia by wa}^ of 
support to an insurrection in Hungary having been rejected 
by La Marmora, the King's chief political and military 

Archduke Albrecht kept his three army corps, 75,000 
men, collected behind the Adige between Verona and 
Legnago, ready to strike whichever Italian army should 
move first. On June 23rd, the day on which Italy had 
notified that she would begin hostilities, the King's army 
crossed the Mincio at and above Monzambano. On that 
day, the Archduke marched his arm\^ through Verona and 
across the Adige and, on the 24th, continued the march into 
the hilly country to the south-east of Lake Garda, where 
it wheeled to the left and struck the flank of the Italian 
army advancing towards Villafranca. The Italian left 
wing was driven from the hills between Custoza and the 
Mincio ; and the rest of the army, too much scattered to 

298 The Ausfyn-PnissiiDi Wny [CH. 

help the left wing and paralysed for a long time by a charge 
of the Austrian cavalry near Villafranca, had to save itself 
by a hasty retreat across that river. 

The victory of Custoza was complete. Its first result 
was the abandonment of Cialdini's attempt to cross the 
Po from Ferrara. But the news of the defeat at Koniggriitz 
prex'ented the Archduke from pressing his advantage. On 
jiil\ 9th he sent away two of his army corps to Vienna, 
wliilo the third fell back to the Isonzo, slowly followed by 
Cialdini. General Kuhn repulsed all the attempts of 
Garibaldi to invade Tyrol. 

The Italian fleet, under Admiral Persano, attempted the 
reduction of the island of Lissa off the Dalmatian coast. 
On July iSth the forts of S. Giorgio were bombarded, and 
preparations made for landing troops. The bombardment 
was renewed next day; but, on the 20th, the operation 
was interrupted by the appearance of the Austrian fleet 
under Tegetthoff. The Italian fleet was superior in gun 
power, and Tegetthoff had (Ittirniinod to rely on the use of 
the ram. Persano deployed liis lleet to meet the Austrians, 
and, in the somewhat confused encounter which followed, 
the Italian ironclad Re d' Italia was rammed and sunk by 
Tegctthoff's flagship the Ferdinand Max, while the Italian 
ironclad Palestro took fire and afterwards blew up. The 
defeated Italian fleet retired to Anconn. 

Italy, as will be seen, w'as not a ]iarty to the armistice 
arranged at Nikolsburg on July 20tli, and was unwilling to 
make peace unless the Trentino as well as Venetia were 
ceded to her. Accordingly, when y\ustria had agreed upon 
terms with Prussia, Archduke Albrecht sent Unw army 
corps (155,000 men) from the Danube to the southern 
theatre of war. But this armv was nev(M- used, and Italy 
dropped her demand for the Trentino before concluding 
her pence with Austria. 

iv] Austrian Cession of Venetia 299 

The moral effect of the victory of Koniggratz was in 
proportion to the rapidity with which it had been gained 
and to the completeness which it soon proved to possess. 
In Austria itself, where the Government had hurried the 
monarchy into a war for which the military authorities 
were really ill prepared, an outburst of indignation inevit- 
ably followed, not against Benedek, but against the Belcredi 
Ministry ; and manifestos issued by the Emperor to encourage 
the people met with little response, while in Hungary similar 
appeals fell wholly dead. In the south-western states of 
Germany, the traditional illwill against Prussia could not 
remain unmixed with the respect due to her military 
prowess. The Vatican was overwhelmed by the news, 
which filled the rest of Italy with rejoicing — not unalloyed 
by envy, soon to be intensified bj^ the news of fresh disaster 
and accompanied by a trjn'ng sense of humiliation. 

It has been seen how, just before the outbreak of the 
war (June 12th), the Emperor Francis Joseph concluded 
a treaty with the Emperor Napoleon, in which the former 
promised to cede Venetia at the end of the conflict, what- 
ever its result. The notion was that, if victorious, Austria 
would compensate herself by the recovery of Silesia, while 
France would use her endeavour, probably not without a re- 
compense of her own, for the preservation of the vanquished 
Prussia. To save her honour, Austria had formed an army 
in the south, thereby materially diminishing her power 
of resistance in the north; but its commander-in-chief. 
Archduke Albrecht, after gaining the battle of Custoza, 
had been directed not to engage in any further operations 
on a large scale, since the main object of the campaign 
had been accomplished. Immediately afterwards (July 
2nd), Napoleon III had been asked by the Austrian Govern- 
ment to mediate an armistice between Italy and Austria; 
and, on the following day, he replied that, if Venetia was 
ceded to him at once, he would undertake the proposed 

300 The Aiistro-Priissidji IPWr [CH. 

mediation, and endca\'oiir, at the same time, to bring about 
an armistiee with Prussia. To von der (K)ltz he said that 
neither he nor the Tsar would allow the existence of 
Austria to be placed in peril. But he had not really 
contemplated any such event before the news of Koniggratz 
arrived, and broke through the whole scheme which he had 
built on his belief (partly due to his own experience in 1859) 
of the superiority of the Austrian arms. Metternich, on the 
same evening (July 4th), annoimced to the Emperor Napoleon 
that Austria now made the promised cession of Vcnctia to 
him, proposing that he should send an occupying force into 
the ])rovincc, so that the Austrian army might move north ; 
and at the same time use his good offices with Italy for a 
termination of tlie conflict witli .\ustria. In otlicr words, 
in return for the transfer to lier of the ceded Vcnctia, Italy 
was to agree, at the instance of Napoleon, to an immediate 
cessation of hostilities, and he was — ad bono? — to enable 
Austria to carry on the war against hoi- German rival. 

The King of Italy — re galantuonio in tlie crises of his 
public life- -replied that he must consult Prussia, to whom 
he was bound b}' a treaty concluded on the advice of 
his magnanimous ally. Napoleon, who loved Ital}', but 
had, in the first instance, to consider the gratification of 
the French public, now attempted the midtUe course of 
offering his mediation not onh' to the Italian, but also to 
the Prussian Government, and thus posing before Europe 
as the arbiter of her destinies. On the morning of July 5th, 
the Moniteur announced to exultant Paris that Venctia 
had been ceded by Austria to the Emperor of the French, 
and that he had proposed to the belligerents his mediation, 
which had already been accepted by Austria. On the 
evening of the same day, a council was held at St Cloud. 
Whatever may have been the precise proceedings at this 
important council, it is clear that in the course of it the 
Emperor's action underwent an entire change. Under the 

iv] French Offer of Mediation 301 

influence of Drouyn de Lhuys and the Empress, he had 
begun by adhering to the programme of the party of action 
and to the idea of imposing his mediation on Prussia, if 
necessary, by force of arms ; at the end, mainly in con- 
sequence of the protest of Marquis La Valette (Minister of 
the Interior), that the French army was as yet unprepared 
for a great war, he closed the sitting without a decision ; 
but the summoning of the Chambers was abandoned, and 
the numbers of the army were left unchanged^. Italy and 
Prussia were left to accept or reject the proposed mediation, 
which neither Russia nor Great Britain- approved ; so that 
the policy of France left her isolated in Europe. 

It was seen above, that, on July 4th, General von Gablenz 
had appeared in the Prussian headquarters to ask for an 
armistice ; on the following day the French offer of mediation 
reached King William at Horitz. He received it, at first, 
with an exclamation of incredulity ; then, however, at once 
set down on paper certain demands, which he thought 
Prussia should make in the event of a mediation for peace. 
The advice of Bismarck, though his mind was full of 
suspicions of both France and Italy, was to conciliate the 
French Emperor b}' accepting the mediation, but, at the 
same time, to decline an armistice unless accompanied by 
satisfactory assurances of peace. A reply in this sense was 
returned on the same day ; and von der Goltz was instructed 
to explain that an understanding between Prussia and 
Italy would be necessary for the conclusion of peace. 
Bismarck, using a favourite adjective, describes his reply 
as 'dilatory^'; and, in truth, except in so far as it was 
flattering to France, nothing was either gained or lost by it. 

^ See Rothan, L' Affaire du Luxembourg, p. 43, from La Valette's 
own account ; and cf. eimd. , La Politique Frangaise, etc., -p-p. 191 n., 193. 

2 The Tories had come into power in June, and Lord Stanley 
had succeeded Lord Clarendon at the Foreign Office. 

' Gedanken iind Eri}ineriingen, vol. 11, p. 33. 

302 The Auslro-Pnissian Way [CH. 

The Emperor Napoleon was gratified by the Prussian 
acceptance of his ofter of mediation, of which he could not 
have, by any means, felt certain. Meanwhile, it had been 
made quite clear to the Emperor Napoleon that no armi- 
stice would be granted to Austria unless she agreed to 
a basis of peace. Drouyn de Lhuys still held the seals of 
the Foreign Office, though the attitude assumed by him 
was no longer pro\'ocative, as it had been at the council 
of July 5th ; but Prince Reuss was sent to Paris with a 
letter from King William containing a general statement 
of Prussia's demands^. No objection was to be taken to 
the identity of the action of Prussia and Italy with regard 
to the armistice and the peace that was to follow, though 
in Italy, where Ricasoli liad taken La Marmora's place as 
Minister-president, universal indignation prevailed against 
the intervention of France at the moment when the Italian 
army hoped to redeem the humiliation of Custoza. The 
new Ministry under Ricasoli, who counted on a Hungarian 
rising", resolved that the cession of Vcnctia must be made 
direct to Italy, and that an armistice could only be con- 
cluded on terms agreed to by Prussia. To the Italian 
military movement on Padua which ensued. Napoleon 
retorted by proliibiting any invasion of Venetia, and 
insisting on the Italian acceptance of the armistice con- 
ditionally approved by her ally. The Italian Ministry, 
hereupon, telegraphed its terms, which included the direct 
cession of Venetia to Italy, together with tlie cession of the 
Italian Tyrol; and, on July 8th, the Italian troops slowly 
began their march into Venetia, while the Prussian forces 
were, da}' by day, approaching nearer to Vienna. 

Napoleon III seemed in an impasse. While his project 
of mediation, instead of leading to amiistice and peace, 

• of Prince Reuss's mission a firsthand account is to be found in 
Sidney Wliilnian's German Memories (191 2), pj). i<ji if. 

* Bernhardi, vol. vii, p. 260; cf. ib., p. 282. 

IV] French Designs and Suggestions 303 

was likely to end in collapse, besides giving offence to Italy, 
he continued, under the inspiration of Drouyn de Lhuys 
and his friends, to run counter to the policy on which, as 
Prince Reuss assured him, King William I had resolved, 
and which was openly based on the plan of Federal reform 
communicated to the Frankfort Diet on June loth. Had 
the Emperor been stronger in body and in mind, and had 
he been left to himself and to his cherished principle of 
great nationalities, he might have found it in his heart 
(in which there was no pettiness) to leave Germany, as he 
had helped Itaty, to realise his ideals. But he could not 
shut his eyes to the protests around him, that the creation 
of great monarchies around France made acquisitions of 
her own necessary to her^. Thus, while he abandoned 
Drouyn de Lhuys's policy of resisting the aggrandisement 
of Prussia, and turned a deaf ear to the insinuations of 
Gramont that, even if the opportune moment were not 
seized for striking a blow against her, a military demon- 
stration at least should be arranged on the Rhine to awe 
her into moderation'-^, he resolved upon countenancing her 
success in his own way, hoping to exact in return what, in 
the eyes of his own subjects, might seem an equivalent. 
It is impossible here to pursue in detail the evolution of 
this hopelessly self -contradictory course of action. At first, 
the Emperor, continuing his conversations with the patient 
von der Goltz, indulged in the impracticable suggestion 
of two German Parliaments — a northern and a southern — 
and treated the question of French compensations with 
something ver}^ like indifference. Contrariwise, Bismarck, 
penetrating with his usual acumen to the core of the 
situation, perceived what mattered and what did not. On 
the one hand, as he told von der Goltz on July gth, the best 

^ See the luminous exposition in Sorel's Histoire Diplomatique de 
la Guerre Franco- A llemande (1875), vol. i, p. 33. 
^ Cf. E. Ollivier, vol. viii, pp. 467-9. 

304 The Aiisfyo-PnissiiUi Wur [CH. 

solution would be the complete or partial annexation by 
Prussia of the lands conquered by her — Saxony and Man- 
over, with Nassau and Electoral and Upper Hesse ; on the 
other, the North-German Confederation, which it was pro- 
posed to establish, could not as yet be made to include 
southern Germany, nor could representatives be summoned 
thence to the Federal parliament. He added, as specially 
suitable to French feeling and Napoleonic principle, that he 
was prepared to recommend the King, should it be other- 
wise desirable, to let the political future of the districts 
of Schleswig north of Alsen depend on the vote of their 
inhabitants. Finally, he reciucsted von der Goltz to ascertain 
what non-Gcyman compensations would be demanded by 
the French Government in the event of the above-mentioned 
annexations, and gave it to be understood that, were 
Austria to prove recalcitrant and France to assume a 
menacing attitude, Germany at large must be called upon 
to rise to the cry of the Reichsvcrfassung of 1849. What- 
ever modifications might be made in these proposals, they 
were of the utmost moment for the final result of the 
struggle into which Prussia had entered. She renounced, 
for the present, the inclusion of the soutiu-rn states in the 
new Confederation ; but she insisted on such annexations 
as would make her strong enough to hold her own at once 
— wliile to the future was to be left the consununation 
which Bismarck never ceased to keep in \iew^ 

The Emperor Napoleon III, on learning the designs of 
Bismarck from the ambassador, showed himself, in the main, 
acquiescent. To the North-German Confederation he had 

' Sec W. iiusch, in the essay already cited, j). -jz. So early as 
July .^th, Bismarck privately declared himself ready to remain 
content, for the present, with the closer union of northern tiermany 
as ixn ilcpe ; so late as July 5th, King William I, in a hurried memo- 
randum US to Prussia's demands, claimed tiie hegemony over all 
Germany for Prussia. 

iv] Proposed Peace Preliminaries 305 

no objection, and it was, he added, a matter of indifference 
to him whether the conquered states of the north were an- 
nexed or merely subjected to the Prussian mihtary system, 
provided that Saxony was omitted from the list. When 
von der Goltz deprecated this notion, the Emperor proposed, 
as another way, the recognition of the right belonging to 
southern German^^ as an independent group of states, to 
conclude alliances and carry on war on their own account. 
To this, he said, he attached particular value, in deference 
to French public opinion, which feared the establishment 
of a new German empire under Prussian supremacy. As 
to compensation, he merely indulged in the futile enquiry 
whether the Rhine province might not be given to the 
King of Saxony ; as to Prussian annexations, he was 
indifferent, so long as the integrity of the Austrian empire, 
with the exception of Venetia, was preserved — in accord- 
ance with the declaration of the Emperor Francis Joseph, 
that in no case would he surrender another inch of his 

In a further audience (July 14th), von der Goltz brought 
up for approval a series of conditions — virtually the pro- 
posed peace preliminaries — which the Emperor had paid him 
the very unusual compliment of requesting him to draft, 
and which were in substance based on the results of the 
previous conversation. The integrity of the Austrian 
empire was to be maintained, with the exception of 
Venetia; but Austria was to recognise the dissolution of 
the old Confederation, in favour of a reorganisation of 
Germany in which she would have no share. She was to 
recognise the union of the states north of the Main under 
Prussian military headship, while those south of that river 
were to be at liberty to form a south-German union possessed 
of an international, independent existence, the national links 
between which and the northern union were to be regulated 
by common agreement. Schleswig-Holstein was to be 

w. M.G.ii. 20 

3o6 TJic Austro-PntssiiUi Wur [CH. 

incorporated in I'russia, except those districts of northern 
Schleswig which, by a free vote, declared their desire to be 
reunited to Denmark. Austria and her aUies were to pay 
part^ of the costs of war. On tlie same evening, the pro- 
posed basis of preliminaries was telegraphed to the Emperor 
Francis Joseph and King William. Time pressed, and at 
both the chief seats of the war there were anxious doubts 
as to the mediation of France, which Bismarck had at first 
suspected to be, if not in the interest of Austria, at least 
designed to give her time. He had, therefore, urged the 
Italian Government to go on with the war, and allowed the 
formation, so late as JuIn' I4t]i, of a Hungarian legion, 
under the celebrated (reneral Klapka, at Neisse in south- 
eastern Silesia. 

But, on the night from July nth to 12th, Benedetti had 
arrived from Berlin at the l^russian headquarters, which 
were then at Zwittau in Moravia. His instructions were 
only to bring about an armistice; he knew nothing about 
compensations, and, like his chief Drouyn de Lhuys, was 
ignorant of the basis of peace preliminaries, as settled between 
the Emperor and Goltz. Bismarck, on the other hand, who 
was familiar with the methods of procedure at the Tuileries, 
had no desire to discuss issues with Benedetti, before he 
knew the result of the (ioltz negotiations and the Austrian 
reception of it-. But he informed Benedetti that an 
armistice could only be granted with the consent of Italy, 
and if a satisfactory Austrian assurance were given as to 
the fmal conditions of peace; while at the same time he 
insist<'d to tlic Italian ri(t\-crnm(iit on its not arrc^pting the 

' This reduction was an anHiulincnl iii^titcd by llic I'lnjuTor 

* Cf. Kothan. I. a Politique I'ratifaise en 18O6, pp. 241-2. In 
Gedanken und Erinneruugeti, vol. 11, p, 42, Bismarck facetiously 
attributes Benedctti's comparatively punctual arrixal at Zwittau 
to the ' unskilfulness of our milit.n\ iioliio ' 

iv] Negotiations with Austria 307 

armistice. When, on the 13th, Benedetti was received by- 
King WilHam at Czernahora, whither the headquarters had 
moved on, he found that the Prussian demands had been 
much modified, in the sense of Bismarck's chspatch of the 
Qtli. The proposal of a three days' cessation of arms, 
suggested on the Prussian side, and an Austrian counter- 
proposal, fell to the ground. 

On the 14th, the basis of preliminaries settled between 
the Emperor Napoleon and von der Goltz reached Vienna, 
because of the easier telegraphic communication, two 
days before they reached Bismarck at the Prussian head- 
quarters. At Vienna, according to the accounts "of neutral 
witnesses, a general panic prevailed, and the city was 
speedily declared in a state of siege ; the Empress Elizabeth, 
with the imperial children, was sent to Budapest, although 
Hungary refused to move and the constitutionalists there 
would not allow recruiting till a Diet should have been 
convoked; the burgomaster of Vienna besought the 
Emperor not to expose the unfortified capital to the horrors 
of capture and to promise, if this were averted, to grant 
political concessions calculated to calm public feeling ; and 
the Minister of Finance had to borrow 60 million of paper 
florins from the Bank. In these circumstances, it is not 
wonderful that the payment of the costs of the war should, 
among the conditions of the proposed basis of prelimi- 
naries, have seemed the most difficult to accept. For the 
rest, the Austrian Government was not in a position to 
refuse; even Gramont pointed out the necessitv of the 
exclusion of Austria from a reorganised Gemiany; and 
Deak, when, a few days afterwards, he was received in 
audience by the Emperor Francis Joseph at Vienna, spoke 
in the same sense from the Hungarian point of view^. 

^ Deak's bearing was perfectly straightforward and, in the fullest 
sense of the word, loyal. He had taken no part in the efforts of 
Klapka ; what he now demanded was not more than he had 

20 — 2 

3o8 Tlic Austro-Prussiiui War [CH. 

The great sacrifice, it was felt, had to be made, and Austria's 
cohesion with Germany whose destinies slie had for centuries 
controlled, brought to an encU. 

For the moment, however, Mensdorff and the Austrian 
Government paused, as awaiting Prussia's decision ; and 
Bismarck, anxious above all to induce Austria to make 
peace before France swerved from her present line 
of pacific intervention, attempted to bring further pres- 
sure upon the Vienna Government. He proposed to 
Dr Giskra, burgomaster of Briinn, who, in the Frankfort 
days, had warmly advocated Austrian interests and had 
since been a leading member of the German party in 
the Austrian Rcichsrat, to bear to Vienna proposals for 
the conclusion of peace on a basis more favourable to 
Austria than that now under consideration. The main 
difference was that no payment of the costs of the war 
should be exacted from Austria, and that both tlie southern 
states and Austria should retain a free iiand as to their 
future relations. In other words, Germany was to be 
divided into two parts, under the Prussian and the Austrian 
hegemony respectively. The quid pro quo was to be the 
absolute exclusion from the peace negotiations of all 
intervention or mediation on the part of France. In 
Gramont's judgment, Bismarck's object in this move was 
to create illwill between Austria and France, and then, in 
conjunction with the latter and Italy, to deal the fuiisliing 
stroke against Austria. The latter supposition seems out 
of the (luestion, for Bismarck had no wish to d(Ntrov the 
Austrian nioiianliN - ; but lie inaw xcia' pi(ibahl\-, have 

(l(.'nianduil l^eforf Konif^^ratz — the restoration ol tin- (.onslitiitioii 
of which Hungary luul been deprived in i8.(S. 

' Anastasius (iriin declared Finis Austriae to have arrived ; and 
Grillparzer doubled whctlier he, a Cicrnian poet, could still call 
himself a (ierman. l-riedjunR, vol. ii, p. ^31. 

* Cf. O. Lorenz, Kaiser W'llhelm I, etc. ]>|i -j 1 H 

ivj The Giskra-H erring Terms 309 

intended a warning to France, if she went back from her 
present pacific attitude, or even if she dechned to assent 
to the inchision of sufficient Prussian annexations in the 
peace programme. 

Giskra executed his commission, though not in person, 
sending to Vienna, in his place, Baron Herring, president 
of the Briinn Tribunal of Commerce; and, on the news of 
a separate negotiation between Prussia and Austria affecting 
the future of the southern states being contemplated, von 
der Pfordten also betook himself to the Austrian capital. 
Had Herring's terms been ultimately accepted on both 
sides, the pacification would have meant the restoration 
of friendship between Austria and Prussia, though on a 
new basis without the old Diet, and France would have been 
confronted by a reunited Germany. But it was not to be. 
The scheme was unsympathetically received by Esterhaz}^ 
the most influential personage at Vienna with regard to 
foreign affairs; and the agent received the evasive reply 
that, if Prussia desired a direct negotiation with Austria, 
a plenipotentiary would be sent ; but that the matter could 
not be carried further as a more or less private transaction. 
Herring, on July 19th, hastened to Nikolsburg as fast as 
his horses could carry him — -to be informed, on his arrival, 
by Bismarck that he had come an hour too late. 

In the meantime, Bismarck, now in full possession of 
the terms settled by Napoleon with von der Goltz, had, on 
the 17th, telegraphed to the ambassador that the annexa- 
tions to Prussia, not mentioned in their draft, had become 
a necessity, if that draft were to be adopted as the basis 
of peace negotiations. Five days would be allowed for a 
suspension of hostilities ; but the assent of Napoleon to the 
acquisition by Prussia of north-German territory with from 
three to four million inhabitants would be indispensable to 
the acceptance of his programme as a basis of the armistice 
and of the peace which was to follow. The personal will 

310 TJic Aiistyo-Pnissiiin W'lir [cH. 

of King William counted for much in this demanrl. He had. 
at first, contemplated the cession to Prussia of portions of 
states only, un'accompanied by the deposition of an\- reigning 
house; but, now that Bismarck had persuaded liim to 
renounce for the present the hegemony over all Germany, 
he had made up his mind, if there was to be peace, to 
gather in more solid fruits of victory. Von der Goltz's report 
to Bismarck of the Emperor Napoleon's opinion was re- 
assuring. On the iSth, the Austrian Ministers held their 
last conference with Benedetti and Gramont, and showed 
themselves ready to fall in with the Prussian demand, 
provided that the integrity and independence of Saxony, 
the only state which had elTecti\-ely as well as faithfully 
supported Austria, were safeguarded. With the end for 
which he had energetically stri\cn at last secured \ Benedetti 
at once returned from Vienna to Xikolsburg, where (as 
Bismarck was unwell) the decisive meeting was put off till 
the following day. On the 19th, though the King had 
still spoken of the probability of a second great battle in 
which the Austrians would be able to make better use of 
their cavalr}' than they had at Koniggratz"-^, Benedetti was 
informed (without any mention of the Prussian annexations) 
that Prussia accepted the basis of preliminaries submitt(>d 
by France. An hour later, Baron Herring, in his turn, 
arrived at Nikolsburg. 

The formal Austrian acceptance, on which the Prussian 
had been made dependent, followeil on the 2()th, and on the 
22nd a suspension of hostilities began, which was to last till 
the 27th. Only a few hours after the light at Bhimenan had 

1 Bencdctti's abilities liavc been imicli umlcnated by German 
historians, influenced no doubt, as is well pointed out by Lettow- 
Vorbcck (vol. ii, ji. 624). by the popular tradition of the Knis episode. 
For himself, he felt far more deejily the sharpness with which his 
endeavours were criticised in France. 

■ Lcttow-Vorbcck, vol. n, p. 650. 

iv] Discussion of the Peace Preliminaries 311 

been stopped, negotiations at Count Mensdorff's castle of 
Nikolsburg began. Prussia was represented by Bismarck, 
Austria by Karolyi and Baron Brenner; and Moltke and 
General Count Degenfeld appeared as military referees. 
The Italian envoy at Berlin, Count Barral, took no part 
in the deliberations, though Bismarck suggested that he 
and Govone should be instructed to do so ; and Benedetti, 
whose functions as mediator were now declared at an end, 
remained at Nikolsburg mainly as an observer. Italy's 
possession of Venetia had now been secured ; and the main 
object of the negotiations was, in Bismarck's eyes, to 
obtain, with as much speed as possible, the indispensable 
gains due to the Prussian victories. From this point of 
view, it was necessary to moderate the Prussian demands ; 
and to this course, after a very contentious council of 
war held on the 19th, he, with the timely and, in the 
circumstances, magnanimous aid of the Crown-prince, 
succeeded in persuading the King on the following 

The actual discussion of the preliminaries of peace 
began on July 23rd. Immediate assent was given to the 
clauses providing for the integrity of the Austrian dominions 
(with the exception of Venetia), which Bismarck had per- 
suaded his master to accept ; the dissolution of the old 
Germanic Confederation, and the formation of a North- 
German and, if desired by the southern states, of a South- 
German Confederation (the concession to the latter of 
'an international, independent position' being omitted), 
as well as the incorporation of Schleswig-Holstein in the 
Prussian monarch}', with the retrocession to Denmark of 
such of the North-Schleswig districts as might desire it. 

1 The account of these transactions given above follows the 
order of events which seems established, bythe researches summarised 
in the note of Lettow-Vorbeck, vol. ii, pp. 661-2, as against Bismarck's 

312 The Anstiv-Pnissiiui Way [CH. 

But the question of the costs of the war called forth 
a strong protest on the part of the Austrian plenipo- 
tentiaries, who, very logically, rejected Bismarck's half- 
ironical proposal to snl>stitutc for these costs a cession to 
Prussia of territorx in Austrian Silesia. The discussion, 
therefore, passed on to the question of the Prussian annexa- 
tions in northern Germany, against which, as Bismarck 
had, just before the meeting of the plenipotentiaries, been 
informed by von der Golt/., the French Knijicror had nothing 
to say, save that he hoped the King of Saxony would be left 
in possession of at least part of his dominions. The Austrian 
plenipotentiaries, however, insisted, as on a point of honour, 
on the preser\ation of the integrity as well as the autonomy 
of the kingdom of their Emperor's faithful ally ; and, 
curiously enough, as in 1814, a critical difference seemed 
likely to prolong itself on the Saxon question. On the 
other hand, the Austrian assertion that, according to the 
treaty with Bavaria of June 14th, no peace could be con- 
cluded by Austria witlioiil her neighbour (von der Pfordten 
was in attendance at Vienna for the purpose) was met by 
Bismarck's offer to include Bavaria in the treaty, if she 
would consent to contribute part of the costs of the war 
and make a territorial compensation to the Grand-duke of 
Hesse for the northern ])ortion of his dominions, proposed 
to be annexed to I'iiissi;i. Karolyi, naturally, saw no 
objection; but \on der I'lordten, on reflexion, preferred 
a separate pacification with the conqueror. 

Between the hrst and the second sitting of the conference 
the difliculties in the way of a settlement rose to their 
height. Bismarck, it has been seen, had made up his mind 
that .Austria must be induced to make peace, before Tsar 
Alexander II, whose- insistence on tlie meeting of a European 
congress had been made known to the Prussian King and 
his Minister on the 24th, had his way, and before the 
Emperor Napoleon abandoned his attitude of assent to 

iv] Bismarck's Moderation 313 

the acquisition by Prussia of four millions of new subjects. 
With this object in view he was prepared to leave the 
kingdom of Saxony territorially intact, so long as its mili- 
tary forces were placed at the disposition of Prussia. In 
short, Bismarck was ready to give way, in face of the 
dangerous position in which Prussia might land herself 
by excessive demands, and from which she could only 
escape by trusting either to the uncertainty of a prolonged 
war or of discussions with the Great Powers at large. 
Moreover, it was no secret that the cholera had made its 
appearance in the Prussian army, and that an August 
campaign would have to be carried on under very un- 
favourable climatic conditions. These arguments he, on 
the 24th, in a most remarkable memorandum, laid at 
length before the King, who now saw himself definitely 
called upon to allow Austria to issue forth from the conflict, 
after her crushing defeat, without any loss of German 
territory, and Saxony, her best ally and Prussia's bitterest 
opponent, without any loss of territory at all. At no stage 
of their joint action, were Bismarck's high courage and his 
master's good sense made more conspicuously manifest^. 
The Minister prevailed; and the King contented himself 
with the conclusion that, ' if the just expectations of Prussia 
and her army must remain unfulfilled, the victor must give 
way to the vanquished before the gate of Vienna, and leave 
the judgment of his action to posterity.' 

To the last moment, the balance had been trembling 
between war and peace. Prussia might still, in accordance 
with the wish of her military leaders, determine to carry on 
the war. Austria was recovering something of her former 
self-confidence with the news of the naval success at Lissa, 
an Italian request on the 23rd for a cessation of arms, and 
the arrival of troops from the south to swell the force 

^ See Bismarck's memorandum in full in Sybel, vol. v, pp. 223—6, 
with the King's final decision. 

314 lilt' Anstro-Pnissiiui War \cu. 

waiting to defend Vienna. But Bismarck's long-sighted 
prudence liad changed the situation, and the conferences 
held on the 25th and 26th ran a smoother course. At one 
point only. when, after the integrity of the kingdom of 
Saxon\' had been agreed upon, Karolyi demanded its 
inclusion in an e\entual southern confederation, Bismarck's 
passion flared up uncontrollably, and he declared that, 
even if he were ordered by his sovereign to accept this 
demand, he would, rather than acquiesce, instantly resign 
his oflice. Thereuj)on, it was agreed that the future position 
of Sa\t)n\- in the Xorth-(ierman Confederation should be 
left to be settled by treaty between them. For the rest, 
the demand on Austria for the costs of the war, by means 
of various reductions, was fixed at 20 million dollars 
(c. ;f3,ooo,ooo) ; and there remained nothing to settle beyond 
the conditions, which Moltke and Degenfeld arranged, as 
to the four weeks' armistice which was to follow on the 
cessation of arms, prolonged to August 2nd, and which 
included the south-German allies of Austria. During its 
course, peace negotiations proper were to proceed at 
Prague. On the 26th, just before the Preliminaries were 
signed, Benedetti had presented himself l^cfore Bismarck 
with a dispatch from Drouyn de Linus, which pointed out 
that the assent to the Prussian annexations depended on 
a prior compensation for I""rance, and that the Emperor 
was prej^ared to enter into negotiations on the subject, so 
soon as his functions as mediator had cf)me to an end. He 
was proceeding to refer to territory <>n tlir left bank of the 
Rhine, when Bismarck begged him to make no official 
communication on this head 'to-day." The Preliminaries 
were signed accordingly. On the 27th the news arrived 
that the Russian proposal of a congress had been formally 
made at Paris and London. But the Pn>liminaries were 
(hily ratified on the 2<Sth. The lirst stage of the peace 
negotiations, and with it the intervention of I'^rancc and of 
Russia, had ])een I«ft l)ehind. 

ivj Proposed Prusso-French Treaty 315 

After the Preliminaries of Nikolsburg had been signed, 
Bismarck was, of course, ready to enter into a discussion 
with Benedetti on the question of French 'compensations,' 
as to the necessity of which the ambassador was now at one 
with Drou3'n de Lhuys. But he would not listen to any 
mention of lands between Moselle and Rhine, and, though 
he did not at first exclude the notion of an arrangement as 
to the Bavarian Palatinate, seemed rather to incline to his 
old idea of Belgium, which, he was good enough to point 
out, might unite her destinies to those of France, without 
forfeiting her autonomy. At the same time, he telegraphed 
to Petersburg, that Prussia could not enter a European 
congress without a basis securing to her the advantages 
gained by her arms; and, reassured by information that 
Lord Stanley had expressed the gratification felt in England 
at the success of the Prussian arms and saw no necessity 
for a congress, readily acquiesced in the request of the Tsar 
that a confidential emissary should be sent to him from 
Berlin. Manteuffel immediately received instructions to 
undertake this special mission ; and, as France soon followed 
the example of Great Britain in declining the congress, this 
dangerous expedient was finally averted. 

But the French problem remained. Public opinion waxed 
more and more eager for some territorial acknowledgment ; 
even Rouher agreed with Drouyn de Lhuys as to its 
necessity, and Prince Napoleon went at least so far as 
to consider a small 'compensation' requisite. At the 
close of July, the Emperor Napoleon was at Vichy — so 
distracted by his malady that he hardly had a will, though 
he might still cherish a policy, of his own. Here, it 
seems hardly too much to say, Drouyn de Lhuys extorted 
from him his consent to a draft treaty, by which Prussia 
was to restore to France the districts ceded by her 
in 1815, while Bavaria and Hesse-Darmstadt were, in 
return for suitable compensations, to cede to her their 

3i6 TJic Aiisfyo-Pntssidi! Wur [CH. 

possessions on the left bank of the Rhine — those of Hesse- 
Dannstadt being expressly stated to include Mainz. At 
the same time, there was to be an end to any connexion of 
Luxemburg or Limburg with the North-German Confedera- 
tion, and of the Prussian riglit of garrisoning the fortress 
of Luxemburg. Benedetti, to whom the draft treaty was 
sent on July 29th, reported on August 5th that he had laid 
it before Bismarck, and had met with a blunt refusal, which 
was subsequently conhrmed by the King, and expanded by 
the Minister — to the effect that, in the event of French 
insistence on these terms, Prussia would at once make peace 
with Austria, by leaving the south of Germany to her, on 
much the same terms as those proposed by Baron Herring 
at Vienna^. 

Manteuffel had, in the meantime, arrived at Peters- 
burg, no doubt with the draft treaty in his pocket, by 
way of an ()pi)ortune object-lesson. As a matter of fact, 
he contrived to secure the acquiescence of the Tsar in the 
Prussian acquisitions, though not his approval of them, 
with the aid of an undertaking that Upper Hesse (the 
section of the grand-duchy north of the Main) should 
not be taken away from his brother-in-law. Grand-duke 
Lewis HI, and that Wiirttembcrg, the monarchy of King 
Charles, another of his brothers-in-law, should be treated 
with consideration. It was now France who was becoming 
isolated, and had to consider \'ery scriouslv- llic cxentuality 

^ Cf. ante, p. 308. Tlic .situation, frimi tlic military point of 
view, is explained with the utmost clearness in a memorandum from 
Moltkc to Bismarck dated August 8th and printed, with a sujijile- 
mentary letter to Roon, in M.'s Militarischc Korrcspondotz, part 11 
(1866), Nos. 329 and 330. Moltke urged the speedy conclusion of 
peace with Austria, lest France should demand territorial cessions. 
If she insisted on these, she must ho withstood by a war in which all 
non-Austrian Germany might be induced to join. France, to carry 
on such a war, must have an understanding with Austria; a general 
war against both must be mainly defensive, but must not be shunned. 

iv] Treaties of Peace with the Southern States 317 

of a Prussian resistance to her demands leading to war. 
Marshal Randon did no more than his duty in reviewing 
the resources of his department ; but, though it is not to 
be supposed that the 30,000 men still in Mexico or the 
incompleteness of the supply of chassepots turned the 
balance, the Minister of War's scruples fell in with the 
real wishes of the Emperor. On August nth, he informed 
Benedetti that the draft treaty rejected by the King of 
Prussia would be abandoned, and that, on his return to 
Berlin, he was to request that the proposal was to be 
regarded there as non-avenu. Drouyn de Lhuys was, at 
last, obliged to resign his office ; and, until the arrival 
of his destined successor. Marquis de Moustier, from Con- 
stantinople, foreign affairs were entrusted to La Valette, 
the consistent advocate of friendly relations with Prussia, 
and Rouher, whose vital principle was that the Emperor's 
Go\'ernment must be carried on. There was now every 
hope of the speedy conclusion of peace on the basis of the 
Preliminaries ; though the compensation policy of France had 
really not been dropped, but only entered into another phase. 
Before this became manifest, Bismarck had begun his 
negotiations for separate treaties of peace with the southern 
states, which had not been included in the Preliminaries of 
Nikolsburg. They were, for the most part, carried on 
without much difficulty ; for the efforts of these Govern- 
ments to obtain the good offices of the Emperor Napoleon, 
to whom, following the example of Saxony, they had made 
appeal, had remained resultless, and Bismarck had declared 
to them that there could be no present question of their 
admission into the North-German Confederation^. The nego- 
tiation with Wiirttemberg, which was favoured in deference 
to the Tsar's interest in its Court, was concluded in a week. 

1 Morier {Memoirs and Letters, vol. ii, p. 86) rightly doubts 
whether, at this time, Bismarck would have taken the step in 
question, even if France and Russia had assented to it. 

3i8 The Aiisfro-PnissiiDi ]]'(!)' [CH. 

Shepaitl a war contiilnition of S million lloiins {c. £542,000), 
and the Zollvcrcin treaties with her were revived, with 
Hberty to her to give notice to (][uit. The really important 
part of the negotiations remained in the dark. The article 
in the Nikolsburg Preliminaries leaving the southern states 
free to enter into a union with one another^, having been 
interpreted by both Varnbiiler and Bismarck as conferring 
a right, but not implying an obligation, it was made clear 
by the former that Wiirttemberg (and, as it appeared, 
Baden likewise) had no intention of taking ad\'antage of 
the clause; and thus it became oln-ious that there was ^'ery 
little likelihood of the southern confederation e\'er coming 
into actual existence. In any case, the two Ministers 
resolved on the important stej) of enlarging the article in 
the treaty of peace between their states which provided 
for a mutual guarantee of their territories into a distinct, 
and for the present secret, treaty of offensive and defensive 
alliance, according to which, in case of war^, the troops of 
Wiirttemberg were to be placed under Prussian military 
command. Both treaties, that of peace and that of alliance, 
were signed on August 13th. 

Four days later, two similar treaties were concluded 

^ Ante, p. 305. 

* The question whctlicr it was open to \\ iirttenil)erg, ami to the 
other southern states, in tiie analogous treaties with them, to decide 
in each case whetiier the casus foederis liad arisen or not, was left 
unmooted in the conclusion of the treaty ; and the phrase ' in of 
war' remained without any restriction or specification. Cf. Ollivier, 
vol. VIII, p. 572. In iSfjy, \'arnhiiier ventured on the assertion that 
the right of deciding as to the existence of a casus foederis had been 
reserved to Wiirttemberg, and that, at the time of the I-uxemburg 
difficulty, Bismarck had actually enquired whether Wiirttemberg 
proposed to carry out the treaty of alliance or to remain neutral. 
Varnbiiler's view of the casus foederis question reappeared in Bavaria 
early in 1870. See O. Lorenz, Kaiser Wilhelm I, etc., pp. 144 
and 220. 

ivj Treaties with Baden and Bavaria 319 

with Baden. Here, again, there was no question of terri- 
torial cession, and the war contribution was fixed at the 
moderate sum of 6 milhon florins (rather more than 
£500,000), which Bismarck, notwithstanding the kindly 
interposition of the King, declined to reduce still further. 
Bismarck was, personally, not over-friendly to the Baden 
Court, partly perhaps because of its close intimacy with 
the Crown-prince and Crown-princess. In the war of 1866, 
he had advised Baden to remain neutral, obtaining, if 
necessary a guarantee of its integrity from France^. The 
Baden Government now wished to conclude a militar}/ con- 
vention with Prussia, placing its troops under Prussian 
control and admitting a Prussian garrison into Rastadt ; but 
Bismarck declined the offer as premature ; demurring, at the 
same time, to the suggestion of Roggenbach that Prussia's 
dealings with the south, to which the relative magnitude of 
Bavaria was a hindrance, would be facilitated by the ' ag- 
glomeration' of the Bavarian Palatinate with Baden, and 
perhaps by further rearrangements, involving the annexation 
of Ansbach-Baireuth to Prussia (a favourite notion with King 
William) 2. The treaties actually signed were therefore on 
the lines of those with Wtirttemberg. 

The settlements with Bavaria and with Hesse-Darmstadt 
went through several stages of discussion, complicated to 
such an extent by the exchanges which, for her own sake, 
had been suggested by France that they cannot be suc- 
cessively traced here. As a matter of fact, Bismarck's 
resistance to the alienation of any German territory saved 
both states from the surrender of any of their own ; but 
neither von der Pfordten, nor the grand-ducal Minister 
Freiherr von Dalwigk, one of the most persistent among 
the adversaries of Prussia in the Governments of the petty 

1 Cf. lb., p. 52. 

^ Cf. Gedanken mid Erinnerttnge)i, vol. ii, pp. 73-4. 

320 The Anstro-Prussian War [CH. 

states^ was aware of the history of the transactions with 
France, and the Hessian statesman stoutly resisted 
Bismarck's proposal for the immediate admission of a 
Prussian garrison into Mainz. On the other hand, von der 
Pfordten protested his patriotic sentiments, but took 
exception to the exorbitant war contribution of 30 million 
florins (over ;^2, 500,000) which it was intended to impose 
on Bavaria. In the end, after Bismarck had admitted 
von der Pfordten into his confidence as to the recent 
French overtures, the two statesmen embraced; and, by 
entering into an offensive and defensive alliance with 
Prussia on the same terms as those concluded by her 
neighbours, Bavaria, though her war contribution remained 
unreduced, made her peace on the same terms as theirs, 
without any further loss, beyond a (piite unimportant 
rectification of frontier (August 22nd)'-. Von der Pfordten's 
virtual success — for such it was — is, probably, to be ex- 
plained, not by any immediate fear of France, but by a 
certain nervousness traceable throughout Bismarck's earlier 
dealings with Bavaria-'. Hesse-Darmstadt, in her treaty, 
was allowed to retain Upper Hesse ; but (in accordance 
with her own offer), this province was to be included in 
the North-German Confederation. She was, however, to 
offer the little landgravate of Hesse-Homburg, which had 
recently fallen to her, to the lawful successor to Hesse-Cassel 
(the exiled Elector's cousin and namesake), in the event of his 
recognising the incorporation of the jiaternal electorate in 
the Prussian monarchy an arrangcnunt ;ni,iIi)gous to that 

' For Beusl's defence of l)al\vi}j;k sec Mcttioirs (E. tr.), vol. i, 
p. 333. ' Perhaps no one,' he says, ' except myself has ever been so 
violently and savagely attacked' as hahvipk. 

* KinR Lewis II characteristically indul^^ed iiis romantic fancy 
in inviting King William I to share with him the ownership of the 
castle at Niirnherg, 'the venerable citadel of your Majesty's 
ancestors.' The offer was afterwards, for legal reasons, withdrawn. 

• Cf. O. I.orenz. pp. 7'. ff. 

iv] The Peace of Prague. Italy 321 

by which the Brunswick succession was to be eventually 
reserved for the Crown-prince of Hanover (September 3rd). 

The most significant part of these arrangements remained 
a secret to the French Government till information on the 
subject reached it from Rothan at Frankfort in November, 
and to the world at large till Bismarck revealed the treaties in 
March 1867^. Before the negotiations had been completed, 
the conferences for the definitive peace between Austria 
and Prussia had opened at Prague. The two Powers were 
respectively represented by Brenner and Werther. Still 
intent upon hastening the conclusion of peace, Bismarck, 
from the first, instructed the Prussian plenipotentiary to 
maintain as conciliatory as possible an attitude towards 
France, who, though she had ceased to mediate, continued 
to interfere, and was still busily engaged in formulating 
her own demands for compensations. With these the 
Austro-Prussian pacification had no direct concern. In 
deference to the wish of the Emperor Napoleon, that the 
clause reserving to the confederation which might be formed 
by the southern states 'an international, independent 
existence,' these words, which had been omitted at Nikols- 
burg, were restored at Prague in an article of the Treaty. 
In reply to a protest by Benedetti against the intended 
omission of the clause as to the eventual conditional retro- 
cession to Denmark of certain North-Schleswig districts, 
Bismarck agreed to its reinsertion, and it was, likewise, 
included in the Treaty. 

A more serious difficulty was the relation of Italy tu the 
proposed Peace. With her, Austria insisted on treating sepa- 
rately ; whereupon, Prussia declared that the Austro-Itahan 
Treaty must formally mention the incorporation of Venetia 
in the kingdom of Italy. This was opposed by Austria, 
on the twofold ground that she had ceded Venetia to the 

^ Rothan, La Politique Fraiifaise, p. 392. 
W. M.G. II. 21 

322 TJic Aiistro-Pnissidii ]\'(iy [CH. 

Emperor of the French, and that she had not yet recognised 
the kingdom of Italy; but, in the end, it was agreed to 
state in the Treaty that, after the Emperor Napoleon 
had formally declared Venetia to have been, so far as it 
depended on him, acquired by Italy, the Emperor of 
Austria acceded to this declaration and assented to the 
union of Venetia with the Italian kingdom. Thus, with- 
out any further essential changes in the Preliminaries, the 
Treat\' of Peace between Austria and Prussia was signed by 
their plenipotentiaries on August 23rd, and ratified within 
a week. The Treaty between Austria and Italy hung lire 
for more than a month longer. 

The question as to the Italian share in the Austrian 
national debt had given rise to renewed discussion, but had 
been finally determined in a sense more favourable to Italy 
than had been desired by Austria, who, in the previous 
negotiations, had rejected the French suggestion that 
Italy should be liable only for the debt incurred on behalf 
of the ceded province of Venetia. To this principle Austria 
had, at last, after pressure from Bismarck, agreed, in 
the form that Italy accepted the liability for debts recog- 
nised as attaching to Venetia. The sum was finally fixed 
at 35 million silver florins (c. ^^3, 500, 000). As to the 
vote of the population of Venetia on the subject of in- 
corporation in Italy, it was avoided by the arrangement 
that the province should be transferred by a French 
commissioner to the municipal authorities of Venice for 
their free disposal. Thus quietly was the Venetian question 
in its last phase allowed to flicker out. The Austro-Italian 
Treaty was finally signed on October 3rd. 

It will be seen in a subsequent chapter how, con- 
currently with the negotiations for the Peace of Prague, 
the policy of France had never been more disturbing than 
in the day of settlement. But Bismarck had not hastened 
the peace negotiations in vain ; and, whatever might 

iv] The Gains of Prussia 323 

ensue, Prussia stood before Europe with a gain of 1300 
German (c. 27,500 English) square miles of territory, and 
nearly three million and a quarter inhabitants. She had 
obtained this result by sacrifices of life and limb which 
could not be termed abnormal, and without an excessive 
expenditure of her own^. She had not achieved the 
political unity of Germany, or even of the non-Austrian 
part of it, under her hegemony. But she was able to face 
the future awaiting her as mistress of northern Germany, 
in command of the military forces of the south-west, with 
Austria crippled, Russia and Great Britain amicable, and 
France uncertain of herself. 

1 See Friedjung, vol. ii, pp. 493-4 He calculates that in the 
war Prussia had lost 3473 dead, with 12,675 wounded and not more 
than 495 missing. The Prussian net cost of the war had, after 
deduction of the Austrian war contribution, amounted to 34^ million 
dollars (rather more than ^5,000,000) ; from which should further be 
deducted 15 millions due to Austria on account of the Schleswig- 
Holstein War, but renounced by her. 




On August 4tli, 1866, a week and a day after that on 
which he had ratified the PreHminarics of Peace at Nikols- 
burg, King \\'illiam I returned to his capital, wiierc he was 
received with jubilant acclamations. On the same day, 
a circular dispatch from Bismarck's hand informed the 
Go\-ernments whose adherence had been invited im- 
mediately after the critical vote at the Frankfort Diet, 
that, with two insignificant exceptions^, there had been 
a general readiness to adhere, and laid before them a draft 
scheme of alliance. The purpose of this alliance — the 
North-German Confederation in germ — was to preserve 
the independence and integrity, and the inner and outer 
security, of the allied states. The draft Federal constitution, 
communicated to the other Governments by the Prussian 
on June loth, provided for the exclusion of Austria, 
the assumption of the military command I)y Prussia in 
northern Germany, and the election, by universal suffrage, 
of a parliament. The several Governments were invited to 
send plenipotentiaries to Berlin for discussing and settling 
this constitution. The war had, momentarily, suspended 
the Zollvcrcin treaties of 1864 ; but the renewal of them was 
looked for on all sides. Representatives of the interests 
in\'olved^tlie Committees of the German Handclsfag 

^ Cf. p. 1.S5, ante. 

CH. v] The Prussian Crown and Parliament 325 

(Commercia] Union), of the Congress of Political Fxonomists, 
and of the Nationalverein — had, on the same August 4th, 
assembled at Brunswick. At one of their meetings, the quick- 
witted Braun of Wiesbaden (afterwards one of the founders 
of the National-Liberal party) moved that, although 
economic union should also be maintained with the states 
outside the proposed Confederation, the administration 
of the Zollverein should be unconditionally transferred to 
the central authority of the new Federal state, and its 
legislation to the Federal parliament, to which represen- 
tatives of the southern states should, in due proportion, be 
admitted for this special purpose. And it was further 
unanimously agreed at Brunswick, that this arrangement 
should only remain in force till 1870 at latest ; after 
which date the southern states must choose between 
joining the North-German Confederation and quitting the 

The Prussian diet was opened by the King on 
August 5th. The passage in his speech of most im- 
mediate interest referred to the question of a parliamentary 
indemnity for the unconstitutional action of the Govern- 
ment in the budgetless period, which it was felt must 
come to an end, now that a great war had been carried 
to a victorious issue without the imposition of extra- 
ordinary burdens. Before the lines could be laid down 
on which the greater part of Gennany was to be re- 
organised under Prussian headship, it was indispensable 
that a formal reconciliation should be effected between the 
Prussian Crown and Parliament. But, in the conservative 
part}^ a strong feeling existed against any acknowledg- 
ment of the constitutional demands insisted on by the 
majority of the Chamber during the period of conflict. 
Bismarck attributes to a conversation of many hours be- 
tween himself and the King on their journey from Prague 
the final assent of the latter to a policy of conciliation; 

326 The North-German Confederation [ch. 

but this account differs from that of Roon, not to mention 
other authorities^ 

So far back as the spring of 1865, wlien the outbreak of 
war with Austria had not seemed impossible, Bismarck, 
although far from conciliatory in the Chamber, had shown 
a passing inclination to approach the Liberals; but nothing 
of a positive nature had occurred before, on April 9th, 
1866, Savigny brought forward the Prussian Federal reform 
proposals at Frankfort. When he found that this, the 
first serious overture of the Go\'ernment to its Liberal 
adversaries, was not taken seriously by them, he pro- 
ceeded — very gradually, if only in consideration for the 
King — after a different fashion. Secret inters'iews with 
Old-Liberal and Liberal leaders followed in April, and, 
thereupon, conversations with Bennigsen and other chiefs 
of the National-Liberals (not yet formally calling them- 
selves b}' that name) outside Prussia. At the end of May 
the adroit von der Heydt, in succeeding Bodelschwingh 
as Minister of Finance, had taken office on the express 
condition that, after the War, the diet should be asked to 
grant an indemnity bill for the years of budgetless govern- 
ment; and, immediately afterwards, Bismarck, who had 
promised to support such a measure, ascertained from his 
old adversary Twesten that no war-loan would be granted, 
unless the Government formally acknowledged the right, 
claimed by the Chamber, of approving or disapproving the 
budget. But, in the draft speech from the throne suggested 
by Twesten, no mention is made of an indemnity; nor is 

^ See Gedanhen und Erinueruugoi, vol. 11, pp. 67 ff. and Roon, 
DenkwurdigheUen (5th ed.), vol. 11, pp. 480 ff. In this matter, which 
is one of much historical interest, it seems safe to follow the con- 
clusions of the careful enquiry by Gerhard Ritter, Die Eutstehung 
der Indemnitatsfrage von 1866, in Historische Zeitschrift, vol. cxiv, 
I. Heft. Sybel's narrative appears to need revision in some par- 
ticulars. Cf. also Keudell, Bismarck et sa Famillc (French tr.), 
pp. 276 ff. and Oncken, Beutiigsen, vol. 11, p. 114. 

v] The Indemnity Qttestion 327 

there an}' likelihood that, before the close of the War, 
Bismarck, like some of his colleagues, favoured the 

In the course of the War, Eulenburg and von der Heydt, 
also, prepared drafts of the coming speech from the throne ; 
but these differed from each other in their treatment of the 
budget question. Von der Heydt held that all moneys 
spent during the budgetless period were spent illegally. 
The conservative Eulenburg, while characterising the im- 
pugned action of the Government as 'apparently' uncon- 
stitutional, said nothing of an indemnit}'; and, indeed, 
the word and the notion were alike alien to Prussian con- 
stitutional law and, of course, derived from English prece- 
dent. He proposed a 'supplementary grant,' allowing that, 
in the matter of militar}' expenditure, the budget-right of 
the Chamber had not obtained full validity. 

The result of the War naturally disposed the Govern- 
ment, more than ever, to a policy of conciliation. On the 
day after Koniggratz, Bismarck promised the Crown- 
prince, whose constitutional principles never wavered, 
to meet the Opposition, so far as he could, in the 
matter of the speech from the throne, which had then been 
fixed for July 30th. On July i8th, the Ministry discussed 
the drafts and rejected von der Heydt's, adopting another 
(probabl}' Eulenburg's), but showing themselves on the whole 
conciliatory. Bismarck was, on this occasion, represented 
by Werther, who alone voted with von der Heydt. 

At Nikolsburg. in the critical days before the signing 
of the Preliminaries of Peace, Bismarck had read}' to his 
.hand the main argument for insisting on a policy of con- 
ciliation and unity at home. The danger of direct French 
intervention had been, for the moment, averted; but a 
Franco- Austrian alliance was still possible. After all, a 
Prussian indemnity was a less daring demand than had 
been the changes in the German constitution propounded at 

328 The Norlh-Gcnnau Coufcdcration [cH. 

the time of tlio rupture with Austria. Wliethcr Bismarck 
prcwiilod or whether, as one of the conservative Ministers' 
put on record, the King arrived at a conclusion witiiout 
consulting his chief Minister, the policv of taking advantage 
of the meeting of tlie Prussian diet to ask for a parliamentary 
indemnity carried (he (la\-. Hereupon, tlie conservative 
Ministers made one ukuc attempt to avert wliat they viewed 
as a surrender. Count zur I.ippe (Minister of Justice, and the 
most unpopular man in the Government), Count Itzenj^litz 
(Commerce). Miihler, Selchow and Eulenburg united in a 
protest, and the last-named and ablest of them asked for 
an audience from the King, to whicli he j^'oposed that \'on 
der Heydt should accompany him ; but Bismarck objected 
to the practice of departmental interviews. A deputation 
of conservatives, organised by Bismarck's 'die-hard' friend, 
but no longer the keeper of his conscience^, Hans von 
Kleist-Retzow, arrived at Prague to press their views 
on their sovereign ; it appears that cxcw legal ojiinions 
had been obtained, to the effect tliat llic recent large 
extension of his dominions would justify the King in 
suspending the constitution for future revision^. At last, 
on August 3rd — unless a supplementary victory had to be 
achieved in the train to Berlin — the King was persuaded 
to sign von der Heydt's draft of the speech from the throne, 
in which the passage asking for an indnnnity had been 
toned down to meet conservative feeling*; and, in this 

* Miihler, the Minister of Public Worship and Rducation, who 
was detested even more because of his religious than because of 
his political views. 

* See H. von Petersdoril, Kleist-Retzow : ciii I.eheusluld. Stutt- 
gart, 1907. 

' As to this deputation, rf. (iedaiike)! iduI liriiniciiDigoi, \n\. n, 
p. 62. 

* More especially, the phrase declaring that the Government 
'could and might not ' refuse to act as it had acted under the pressure 
of necessity was altered into an assertion that in such circumstances 
it 'can and may not' — refuse to overleap the law. 

v] Address to the King 329 

form, it was delivered at Berlin, two days later, to the 
assembled Landtag. 

Here, the general political aspect boded well for the 
Government. The Herrcnhaus, as a matter of course, re- 
joiced in the triumph of the Ministry, which was also that 
of the country ; though the majority regretted the indemnity 
demand as unnecessary and even dangerous. In the Chamber 
of Deputies, the conservatives, though numerous, were still 
a minority, even with the addition of the Old-Liberal rem- 
nant ; and everything depended on the measure of agreement 
which could be reached between the Fortschritt and the 
Left Centre. Inasmuch as the groups further to the left, 
and with them the Catholic and the Polish fraction, ahke 
remained in opposition, it was certain that the proposals 
of the Government would call forth a shower of amend- 
ments, and that Bismarck's patience would be severely 

After the delivery of the royal speech, in which the 
mention of an intended application for an indemnity was 
received with great applause, a committee was appointed 
by the Chamber to prepare an address in reply. Not less 
than five drafts represented the differences of opinion in 
committee and Chamber. The conservative draft ignored 
the proposed indemnity altogether; while that of the 
Fortschritt, which preponderated in the committee, deplored 
that the Reichsverfassung of 1849 had not been forthwith 
proclaimed. But the feeling that disunion at this moment 
was shameful now asserted itself ; and, on the motion of the 
veteran General Stavenhagen (August 23rd), a modification 
of the Fortschritt draft, softened in several important points, 
was adopted against a minority of about 25 votes (Poles 
and a few other Catholics, and the irreconcileable radical 
Jacoby). On the 25th, the King graciously received the 
address. It had, he said, been his duty, when no law could 
be passed, to act as he had acted, and he would always do 

330 The North-German Confederation [cH. 

the same in similar circumstances; 'but, Gentlemen, it 
will not happen again.' 

Meanwhile, the Indemnit\- bill had been laid before the 
Chamber. Indemnity was to be granted to the Govern- 
ment for its unlawful expenditure in the years 1862-5 1 
but, for 1866, it being now too late to prepare a budget in 
regular form, a credit of 154 million dollars {c. £22,000,000) 
was to be granted by the diet. In the budget-committee 
immediately appointed, decided opposition to this arrange- 
ment was offered only by members of the Fortschritt, 
who were willing to grant the necessary credit for 1866, 
but desired that, instead of being voted outright, an 
indemnity should be demanded afresh on the bringing 
forward of the budget for 1867. IJltimatel}', however, it 
having been pointed out that the military establishment 
would be henceforth fixed, not by the Prussian diet, but 
by the North-German parliament, a report in this sense 
was approved in committee by 25 to 8, and, after a 
memorable debate, was carried by 230 to 75, the minority 
being formed by the FortscJiritt, a few of the Left Centre, 
and the Catholics. In the discussion, Waldeck, Schulze- 
Delitzsch and Virchow spoke strongly in opposition to the 
Government ; but G. von Vincke, Lasker and, at the close, 
Twesten approved Bismarck and von der Heydt's middle 
way. The significance of the debate went beyond that of 
the question at issue ; for it created a permanent split 
between the Liberals of the Fortschritt and those of the 
Left Centre, and laid the foundations of a new, National 
party^ The HcrrcnJuuis on Soptoml)er 8th followed the 
lead of the Chamber of Deputies, with its usual unanimity, 
Kleist-Rctzow, however, lamenting the mean surrender of 
the Government. Thus, the constitutional conflict had 
at last closed ; a large proportion of the Liberals had rallied 
to the Government, and there had been no rupture between 
' Oncken, Beunigsen, vol. 11, p. 10. 

v] Indemnity granted. The Annexed Lands 331 

the conservatives and Bismarck. ' In verbis simus faciles ' 
is the maxim with which he takes leave of the whole 
transaction^; and it fairly expresses the method of the 
change from the uncompromising defiance of 1863 to 
the tentative constitutionalism of the later months of 

With the small states allied with Prussia during the 
War negotiations as to the future North-German Con- 
federation had, by August i8th, progressed so far that 
the formation of it could be definitely proposed to the 
Prussian diet, on the basis of Bismarck's circular dispatch 
of August 7th. Only the two Mecklenburgs were, according 
to their wont, behindhand; nor was it till a few months 
later that their joint diet approved the accession of their 
Governments to the new Confederation, while reserving for 
later consideration the safeguarding of their own constitu- 
tion, the right of acceding or not to the Zollverein, and 
certain other points. 

In the lands which the Peace of Prague was definitively 
to add to the Prussian dominions, the current of enthu- 
siasm, before which in Prussia itself party feehng had been 
obliged to give way, was necessarily far weaker. Even 
after the victory, the resistance of the higher nobility 
and the orthodox clergy, the chief pillars of the rule of 
the ousted dynasties, continued ; though in Electoral 
Hesse and Nassau, the Liberals remained firm in their 
adherence to Prussia, with more or less open aversion, 
and in Hanover with angry indignation. Here, the leaders 
of the Nationalverein, who were to play a signal part in the 
political reorganisation of the German north, could for the 
present, except in the formerly Prussian province of East 
Friesland, reckon on support only from the towns. In 
Schleswig-Holstein, political fervour had subsided even 
before the War, and, though the Augustenburg party 
^ Gedaukeii iiiid Erhuierungen, vol. ii, p. 70. 

332 The North-German Confederation [CH. 

reniainoil iinbroken\ tlio spirit h;ul largely gone out of it; 
so that a petition against annexation addressed by its leaders 
to the Prussian diet received hardly a tithe of the signatures 
whi(Mi had formerly welcomed the arrival of Duke Frederick. 

in the annexation bill brought before the Second 
("haniber on August 17th, Schleswig-Holstein was left 
unmentioned, because there had as yet been no formal 
settlement with Austria as to the future of the duchies-; 
and the Upper (or nortliern) portion of the grand-duchy 
of Hesse was likewise omitted, out of consideration for the 
Tsar. The ])i!l, therefore, provided for the assumption of 
the government in Hanover, Electoral Hesse and Nassau 
and Frankfort by the King of Prussia, in the form, for the 
present, of a personal union between these states and the 
Prussian monarchy. There was no doubt as to the accept- 
ance of the bill, after it had been examined by a special 
committee appointed for the purpose. 

In his speech on the annexations, Bismarck took occasion 
to point out that Prussia must keep her promise as to the 
limits of the North-Cierman Confederation, adding, with his 
usual frankness of statement, that it was (piestionable 
whether the desire for inclusion in that body was already 
sufficiently strong in southern Germany to call for immediate 
attention. Prussia must be made stronger, and this after 
a more satisfactory fashion than that adopted as to 
Saxony, either in 1815, when a part of it only was an- 
nexed, or now, when the ci\il and the military authority 

' .Ml tin- Sihlt's\vij4-I lolstcincrs elected for tin- lirst constituent 
Nortli-(ierinan Reichstag were Augustenburf^crs, except two Danes. 

* After the Peace f)f Praj^ue, a similar i)ill was passed for the 
annexation of Schleswig-Holstein. Kather later, on October 27th, 
Prussia concluded a treaty with (irand-duke Peter of Oldenburg, by 
which he renounced all his own claims on Schleswig-Holstein as well 
as those ceded to him by the Tsar (cf. pp. i3<)-40 and 200, note 2, 
ante), in return for a payment of three million dollars and a slight 
enlargement of his Eutin trrritory. 

vj Constitution extended to Whole Monarchy 333 

remained separate. To make a clean sweep of the 
petty states would have been to break faith with alhes; 
and to proclaim the Reichsverfassung of 1849, though 
a more logical course, would hardly have commended 
itself to the reigning Princes. The committee, while 
agreeing to the main provisions of the bill, made bold to 
substitute a real for a personal union between the different 
parts of the enlarged state, and, since an interval was 
clearly necessary, proposed that, on October 2nd, 1867, 
the Prussian constitution should come into force through- 
out it. After a very notable speech from the radical 
Waldeck^, extolling the annexations as the most important 
foundation for the completion of German unity, Bismarck 
agreed to the momentous change ; and, in this form, the 
bill was accepted by the Second Chamber, with 273 against 
14 votes. In the Herrenhaus — where a new faction was 
forming itself under the able leadership of Count Bethusy- 
Huc^, popularly known as the Young Right, and after- 
wards calling itself the Free Conservatives — after a futile 
attempt in the reactionary interest to fix the proportion 
of members from the new provinces, the Government bill 
was approved, with a single dissentient. 

The law determining the system of election to the parlia- 
ment, or Reichstag, as it was proleptically to be called, of 
the new North-German Confederation was subjected to 
much opposition, when, after four weeks' discussion in 
committee, it came up for approval by the Chamber of 
Deputies. It was declared absurd that a state with 
twenty-four million inhabitants, and several states with 
a total population of five millions, should be represented 
in a common 'federal' assembly, and something more than 
anomalous (apart from the burden laid upon individual 

1 Treitschke, Zehn Jahre, etc., p. 155, calls it a 'great speech.' 

2 The family is stated to be of Languedoc origin. 

334 -^ ^"' Noyfli-Cicruiiiii Coiifcdcvution [CH. 

members^), that this assembly slioukl sit simultaneously 
with the Prussian diet, which had been established as part 
of a constitution described by Treitschke^ as an ultra- 
Liberal draft sadly mutilated in order to please the Re- 
action. Yet the remedy of giving to the deputies of the 
lesser states, in matters of common interest, seat and 
vote in the Prussian diet, which would thus perform the 
functions of a North-German parliament, was inadmissible 
as ignoring the future development of the North-German 
Confederation. That the Reichstag was to be elected 
by univ'crsal suffrage, seemed alarming not only to many 
moderates, but to some radicals less sanguine than their 
leader Waldeck ; while the proposal that the voting should 
be secret was an amendment introduced by the radicals 
themselves, and not accepted by the Government without 
misgiving. Finally, Bismarck deferring to the unanimous 
opinion of all the Liberal groups, it was agreed that, since 
the North-German constitution could not become law with- 
out the assent of the Prussian and other diets, the first 
parliament of the new Confederation should be summoned 
for discussion of that constitution, not for final settlement of 
it ; and the Herrenhaus concurred, though adding a resolu- 
tion indicating grave objection to the adoption of universal 
suffrage. The diet had taken the leap in the dark, or, rather, 
in the chiaroscuro of Bismarck's hopes that the masses would 
prove more loyal than the middle classes^, and of the comfort- 
ing reflexion that the elective system now adopted was open 

^ Bennigsen refers to these, with the additiim, in many cases, of 
membership of the Zollparlament. 

* Zehn Jahre, etc., p. 159. Treitschke's view that the coexistence 
of the two assembhes must gradually come to an end has never been 
carried into effect. 

' Curiously enough, this view of Bismarck coincides pretty 
closely with that of the Guelf partisan Oscar Meding, which, how- 
ever, failed to commend itself to King George V at Hanover, about 
1864. See Memuiren, etc., vol. i, p. 343. 

v] Financial Arrangements 335 

to modification later ; and, though coming generations might 
see a Httle further into the future than either diet or Minister 
could at present, the venture had been made once for all. 

In the matter of finance, the demand of a credit of 
60 million dollars (c.;^9,ooo,ooo), in the form of a state loan 
for extraordinary military and naval requirements, signed 
by King William at Nikolsburg, when the ultimate issue 
of peace negotiations was still uncertain, was granted, after 
a long debate in committee and in pic no of the diet, but only 
as an exceptional law. Nearly half the sum (27^ millions) was 
to go into the Treasury as a reserve ; but the total there was 
not to exceed 30 millions, and so much of the whole grant as, 
by January ist, 1870^, had not been spent for extraordinary 
military purposes was, thereupon, to be employed towards 
the extinction of the public debt. Of this proposal, Bismarck, 
urged by an eminent economical authority, O. Michaelis — 
after Twesten, in a memorable speech, had denounced the 
permanent existence of a state treasure as irreconcileable 
with the principles of a parliamentary constitution — made 
a cabinet question ; he had been besought to take part in the 
debate, since, without his personal influence in the Chamber 
— so greatly had times changed — a successful issue was more 
than doubtful. It was carried by 230 to 88 votes, and the 
Herrenhaiis agreed on the same day. Immediately after, 
on September 27th, the diet had been prorogued, general 
military service was proclaimed for the annexed provinces, 
and three new army corps were formed. Together with 
Saxony, which would furnish a fourth, and the southern 
states, the treaties of offensive and defensive alliance with 
whom were still unpublished, this nearly doubled what had 
been the military strength of Prussia before Koniggratz. 

But with Saxony — and, for that matter, with Saxe- 
Meiningen and Reuss of the Older Line^ — Prussia was, 

1 The date will not be left unnoticed. 

? Each of these petty complications offered materials for a drama 

^^^6 The Nortli-Gcnmui Cofifcilcnition [ch. 

formally, btill at war; and the peace negotiations with her 
neighbour took some time to settle. Bismarck had requested 
that no part should be taken in them b}- Beust, who had 
ad\-ised King John to return to Saxony, which he had 
actually approached as near as Teiilitz. Hereupon, Beust 
sent in his resignation as Minister to his sovereign, whose 
grateful letter of acceptance was promptly published by 
its recipient in the Vienna papers. His successor, Freiherr 
R. \-on Fricscn, was then sent to Berlin with an assurance 
sueii as might have been expected from King John's 
highmindedness, that he was ready to become a member 
of the North-German Confederation and to keep faith 
with it, but would rather abdicate than accept a position 
in it not befitting his princely and personal honour. 
But his plenipotentiaries, Friesen and Count Hohcnthal, 
had no easy time of it at Berlin. The advice which Max 
Duncker had given to Bismarck to annex Hanover rather 
than Saxony was not wholly pleasing to King William, who 
would lia\-e liked to increase his dominions by at least 
a portion of the latter kingdom ; and Bismarck vigorously 
repelled the efforts of Drouyn de Lhuys, whose master's 
good offices King John had, as a matter of fact, invoked, 
like the south-German Princes. The Saxon plenipoten- 
tiaries were informed that their business was not to discuss, 
but to agree. They were not asked for any territorial 

or dramatic novel of the domestic type ; but not every court could 
boast its iMeding. After the middle of August, two companies of 
Prussian infantry were scnl to Creiz, whose valorous Princess- 
regent Caroline submitted, entering the North-German Confederation 
and paying 100,000 dollars into the Prussian Invalids' fund. Duke 
Bernhard of Mciningcn, after long maintaining his resolution not to 
resign in favour of his son and heir, was at last brought to the point 
by military execution, and no further conditions were exacted from 
the new Duke George on entering the North-German Confederation 
beyond the recognition of transferor the postal system of the duchy 
from Prince Thurn and Ta.xis to Prussia. 

v] Settlement with Saxony 337 

cession ; but the Saxon troops were, henceforth, to form an 
integral part of the Prussian army and to take the mihtary 
oath to the King of Prussia, who would appoint their 
officers and assign to them, as he might prefer, garrison 
duty in Saxony or in Prussia. During Bismarck's absence 
in Riigen, the negotiations were carried on by Savigny in 
a less moderate spirit ; and Friesen was confidentially 
informed that all would be well, if the Leipzig district were 
offered to Prussia. But the Saxons stood firm, and a 
letter from King John to King William, recalling their old 
friendship, had a good effect. By the middle of October, 
the course ran smooth, and, finally, a treaty was concluded, 
by which Saxony entered the North-German Confederation 
and promised to reorganise her troops according to the 
military system adopted by it. In the meantime, they 
were to be under the command of a Prussian general 
quartered in Saxony, while a Prussian garrison was placed 
in the fortress of Konigstein and a Prusso-Saxon in Dresden. 
Soon afterwards, the kindly King John and the martial 
Crown-prince Albert visited Berlin, where cordial relations 
were re-established. As a mark of goodwill, the Saxon 
troops were, while forming a separate army corps, allowed 
to retain their own standards and other insignia, and 
arrangements were made as to the gradual withdrawal 
of the Prussian troops from Saxony. The whole episode 
had been of great service to the cause of German unity ^. 
Thus, by the autumn of 1866, though the German south- 
west still remained in an attitude partly of indecision and 
partly of expectancy, in ignorance of the treaties which 
allied its Governments in offence and defence to the North- 
German Confederation, and though the day had not yet 
come for the realisation of the idea of a German kingship, 
which, a few months later the Prussian Crown-prince sought 
in vain to press upon his father, the nucleus of the German 
1 Kliipfel, Einheitsbestrebitngen, vol. ii. pp. 170-1. 
W. M. G II. 22 

338 The North-Cicn)hui Confederation TcH 

cMiipiio of the future was in existence. Moreover, the federal 
treaty between Prussia antl the lesser states, concluded on 
August i8th, had established the essential principles of the 
constitution on which the hopes of the nation were set, 
as formerl}' they had been on the Kcichsverfaasitng of 1849. 
We shall immediately examine the way in which the prin- 
ciples in question were definitely worked out, and enquire 
whether, unlike the Frankfort National Assembly, the 
statesman who laid the foundations of the new national 
edifice, while calling into life a reconstituted Diet, and 
reforming, root and brancli, the military constitution of 
the old Confederation, had pn-served (so far as they remained 
in existence as such) the independence of the particular states 
and the rights of their Princes. Any such enquiry must, 
perforce, leave aside the states which annexation had 
merged in the kingdom of Prussia itself, and with regard 
to which the rights of the dynasties had to be ignored, 
while the interests of their subjects, whether or not accord- 
ing with their preferences, were settled by the conquering 

The actual conclusion of peace between Austria and 
Prussia took place on August 23rd, 1866. After tedious, 
largely financial, negotiations, which Bismarck hastened 
by threats to delay the Prussian disarmament, the paci- 
fication between Austria and Italy followed (October 3rd). 
But there remained for solution a long series of difiiculties, 
both external and internal. For the time, Austria was no 
longer considered dangerous to the progress of the new Con- 
federation, although her affairs were now under the direction 
of Beust. There can be no doubt that, after the catastrophe, 

' At the same time, Ollivier (vol. viii, p. O23), who approves 
of the 'hbcration of Germans from Danish oppression,' goes beyond 
both his imperial master and the actual conditions of the problem, 
in asserting that the German proceedings against Denmark, far 
from furnishing a reason for applauding those against Frankfort, 
Hanover and Hcsse-Cassel, show that these call for condemnation. 

v] Beust's Services transferred to Austria 339 

he had ill no sense been an obstacle to the conclusion of peace, 
and that his resignation of his Saxon prime-ministership had 
been wholly in the interest of King John and his imperilled 
kingdom, which he had also sought to serve by his \'isit to 
Paris. We have it on his own statement, that there was no 
connexion whatever between the acceptance of this resigna- 
tion (i\ugust i6th) and his appointment (October 30th) as 
Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs; nor can his remark 
be gainsaid that, at all events from the point of view of 
maintaining the previous relations between Austria and the 
secondary states, he would have been far more useful in 
that office before 1866 than he could be after that date^. 
The wisdom of his advocacy of Benedetti's intervention at 
Nikolsburg, however, is, from a more general point of view, 
very doubtful. In any case, his last great opportunity 
for displaying his undoubted courage and skill had now 
arrived; for the task which required his chief attention 
at the beginning of his five years of Ministerial office was 
the compromise {Ausgleich) on which the Austro-Hungarian 
state depended for its endurance ^ But it was not in his 
nature to concentrate his political activity upon a single 
purpose; and it has been well observed^ that, after the 
Peace of Prague, the chief subject of Austrian diplomatic 
effort (and, it ma}^ be added, intrigue) was the future of 
the German south-west, while the North-Schleswig question 
was the favourite theme of France. 

^ Memoirs of Count Beitst (Engl, tr.), vol. i, pp. 307 n. and 313. 

2 His labours to this end lie outside the range of the present 
narrative. He succeeded Belcredi as head of the Austrian Ministry 
in February 1867, the Hungarian constitution being restored and 
Count Julius Andrassy becoming Hungarian Minister-president. 
The coronation of Francis Joseph as King of Hungary at Budapest 
on June 8th marked the completion of the Austro-Hungarian settle- 
ment ; and, in the same month, Beust was created Chancellor of 
the Austro-Hungarian empire, and Count. 

3 By O. Lorenz, p. 162. 

340 The North-German Coufederation [CH. 

In the states of the south-west forming as yet no part 
of the new Confederation, but, to borrow a happily applied 
but untranslatable term from Swiss federal life, standing 
in the relation of zngcivandtc communities towards it, 
public feeling ran its natural course. Yet it must be 
allowed that the prevailing antipathy to Prussia and 
Prussians was not wholly due to radical or clerical opinions, 
but was much influenced by differences of manners and 
habits of thought^. Predilection for Austria continued 
among the Catholic clergy and country nobility, even 
though the projects of Grossdeutsclitum were vanishing 
into thin air; and the republican party kept up its refusal 
to have anything in common with militar}' Prussia. On 
the other hand, the old members of the Nationalverein, 
unaware of the extent to which Bismarck's diplomacy 
had anticipated their designs by the secret treaties of 
alliance^, now deemed the day arrived for putting into 
practice the policy they had long had at heart, and 
for preparing the union of the south-west with the North- 
German Confederation, if Prussia could not grant it out- 
right. And more especially was their feeling strengthened 
by the conviction that the partition of Germany by the 
line of the Main had been a result of the French intervention 
invoked by Austria. 

On August 27th, \'on der Pfordten laid before the 
Bavarian diet the treaty of peace with Prussia and a demand 
for a credit of 30 million llorins. In so doing, he dwelt with 
satisfaction on the position of Bavaria, perfectly autonomous, 
but strong in the strength of the entire German nation. 
Von der Pfordten, while an honourable man and a patriot, 
had a strong imagination and was a loNcr of sonorous 
phrases, such as 'Finis B avarice ' ; and, though anxiously 

• On this head, the remarks of Sybel, at that time professor in 
Munich, are as authentic as they arc candid. 

* Cf. pp. 318 fi., ante. 

v] Fluctuations of Bavarian Opinion 341 

interested in the future of Germany and desirous of further- 
ing Prussia's hegemony of the north, had to show deference 
both to the old pohtical phantom of a tripartition of Germany 
and to the still older particularism under the house of 
Wittelsbach, intensified by the self-confidence of the Napo- 
leonic kingdom. Although adhering to Austria, Bavarian 
statesmanship had 'long speculated on her decrepitude^'; 
nor had Bismarck been wholly unsuccessful in keeping 
before von der Pfordten's eyes the notion of a Bavarian 
hegemon}' over the south-west. The Bavarian Minister 
had accordingly welcomed the Prussian plan of Federal 
reform, though he could not assent to the exclusion of 
Austria from the Germanic Confederation. After its break- 
up, there remained, it seemed to him, nothing but state- 
autonom}^ and a Prussian alliance. In the country at large, 
the feeling for peace had been strong; but the hatred of 
Prussia, fed by the fear of a Franco-Prussian bargain in the 
matter of the Bavarian Palatinate, had been stronger. 
After the great events of the War, a growing sense of 
impotence and isolation soon gave rise to a loud cry for 
peace, and, though the violent and bombastic abuse of 
Prussia in the ultramontane and democratic press in some 
measure abated, there was no desire to draw nearer to 
Prussia and the North-German Confederation, save on the 
part of some expert officers of the Bavarian army and some 
remnants of the Nationalverein. Public opinion for a time 
lost all self-reliance, and demanded the dismissal of the 
Minister who was accused of having brought about the 
existing coiP. But, before long, a change followed, and, 
by the end of August 1866, a compromise was brought 

1 Memoirs and Letters of Sir Robert Morier, vol. ii, p. 79. 

^ For an instructive survey of Bavarian policy in the period 
covered by the present volume, see K. A. von Miiller, Bayern tm 
Jahre 1866 imid die Berufung des Ministeriums Hohenlohe {Historische 
Bibliothek, vol. xx, igog). 

342 TJic North-German Co}ifcdcration [CH. 

about between the parties in the Second Chamber; and 
a motion by Marquard Barth demanding a close junction 
between Bavaria and Prussia for the purpose of the future 
union of Germany, and of common resistance to foreign 
encroachments, was carried by an ovcrwhehning majority 
(125 to II). 

But, as yet, tlic comphment was far from having been 
made good whicli the Baden Minister von Freydorf had 
paid to the Ba\-arians as 'better Gothaers^' than his own 
Government. In the Bavarian Rcichsral (Upper Chamber), 
the particularist Freiherr von Thiingen succeeded in docking 
Barth's motion of its earher half. The solitary voice 
raised in favour of the junction with Prussia was that of 
Prince Chlodwig zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfiirst, who (before, 
in 1846, on succeeding to the ownership of the district 
from which he derived his agnomen, he became a hereditary 
member of the Rcichsral) had chiefly resided in Westphalia 
and for a short time been in the Prussian military service-. 
The future Chancellor of the German Empire was one of 
the few mediatised Princes who remained in close contact 
with the political life of the nation; and, though a cosmo- 
politan through his family connexions and the refined 
tolerance of his mind and temperament, he could, in the 
end, both see and will very clearly. He now declared his 
belief that the German nation had, at last, come to 
years of maturitw Rut von der Pfordton was still for 
waiting, and oiiU lour Rcic/isriiic xoted with the Prince. 
And the rise of national against particularist feeling, to 
which Hohenlohe had made appeal, sank again, while 

' Cf. ante, vol. i, pp. 500 ff. 

* See vol. I of his Denhwurdigkcitcn (1907); and cf. p. 190, ante. 
In 1849, he had made a speech in which, though never heart and .soul 
a Prussian, he had advocated acceptance of the Prussian hegemony, 
and which, during a period of seventeen years, shut liim out from 
the public service of Bavaria. 

v] King Lewis II of Bavaria 343 

von der Pfordten continued to wait. The only occasion, 
after the Peace, on which he came forward in German 
affairs was his frustration of the Prussian proposal to 
maintain, by means of joint matricular contributions, the 
formerly Federal fortresses. Thus, while the old scheme 
of a southern Confederation (without Austria) was neither 
maintained nor dropped, the decision as to the future of 
Bavaria remained in abeyance, or, in other words, lay in 
the hands of the unfortunate King Lewis II. 

This Prince had been called to the throne at the age of 
eighteen. Badly educated, though the son of the learned 
Maximilian II, and untravelled, though the grandson of a 
royal patron almost as well known at Rome as at ^lunich, 
he had been intentionally kept back from military matters, 
and was without either experience or self-control. Thus, 
while he had a hard time before him^, he was intent only 
on the gratification of his fancies, chiefly decorative and 
theatrical. There was a great personal charm about him, 
and the first year of his reign passed like a dream of bliss. 
Political gifts he had none, and, after a while, he tried more 
and more to escape from his regal duties, into which he 
had at first thrown himself with youthful zeal. Soon, he 
became diificult of access to his Ministers and Council- 
lors, and all business with him had to be transacted 
circuitously through the royal Cabinet-secretary ; while 
the King's amusements at his castles among the lakes 
— disguisings and devisings of theatrical scenery, mid- 
night rides and the rest — -were exaggerated by inventive 
rumour. The favours heaped by him upon Richard 
Wagner, the great musician, who, formerly a republican 

^ See the Memoirs, by his son, of the Minister Eduard von 
Bomhard (1913) which contain an interesting, and indeed touching, 
picture of the perplexities of King Lewis II. (Heigel's memoir of 
the unhappy King is avowedly apologetic.) 

344 ^^'^' North-Germ mi Co)ifcdcration [cH. 

refugec\ had now become a king's chosen intimate and, 
as some thought, his counsellor in affairs of state, had added 
to the public distrust of King Lewis's rule ; and, by the end 
of 1S65, he had thought it ad\-isable to dismiss his guest. 
In Ma}' 1866, shortly before the outbreak of the War, he 
had suddenl}' left his kingdom for a few days, in order to 
pay a visit to Wagner in his Swiss retreat. But the 
catastrophe which followed, the losses in the field, and the 
dangers that gathered round liis throne, could not leave 
him indifferent. In Jul\ , he wrote to Wagner that, if 
Bavaria's outward autonomy could not be preserved, he 
declined to remain as a shadow-king under Prussian leader- 
ship. Yet, in August, as has been seen, he consented to 
the secret offensive and defensive alliance concluded with 
Prussia under the influence of the French overtures of 
August 5th, which Bismarck must ha^•e made known to 
von der Pfordten-^. That Minister had himself, however, 
entirely lost the King's confidence, and told R. von Mohl 
that he hardly ever saw the King, who could not abide 
him ; while public apprehension rose to such a pitch that, 
in October, it was thought that the slightest provocation 
might lead to a repetition of the events of February 1848^. 
The controversy for and against the return of Richard 
Wagner was mixed up with the King's aversion from 
von der Pfordten and his liking for Hohenlohe, both 
as a grand seigneur and as highly approved by Wagner, 
though the Prince axowcd himself undesirous of forming 

* Cf. vol. I, p. 491. Wagner was .iIIdwoiI to rr\isil Cirmany, 
except Saxony, in 1861, and Saxony in 180.:. In i8()4 (the year 
in which, probably, his poem Der Ring der N ibelungen became known 
to Lewis II), he, at the King's request, settled in Munich, which 
he quitted in December 1865 for Switzerland. He did not move to 
Baireuth till 1872. 

* Cf. Ollivicr, vol. viii, p. 571. 

' See Oncken's liennigscn, vol. 11, p. 70; and cf. vol. i, 
PP- 357 ff' «"'<'• 

v] Feeling in Wiirttemberg 345 

a Wagner Ministry. After some minor changes, and the 
rejection of the reactionary notion of placing Edelsheim 
or Dalwigk at the head of the Government, the strain of 
ideahsm, as in other crises of his reign, prevailed over all 
other tendencies in King Lewis's distracted mind ; and, on 
the last day of 1866, Hohenlohe was appointed Minister 
of the Royal House and President of the Ministry, thus 
achieving a moral, if not an actual, victory for his 

In Wiirttemberg, as has been seen, events ran much the 
same course as in Bavaria; though, notwithstanding the 
Russian connexion of the court, the Minister Varnbiiler was 
more mistrustful of Prussia, and though King Charles II, 
through the confidential reports with which he required 
Major von Suckow (afterwards himself an energetic Minister 
of War) to furnish him behind the back of his Minister, 
made himself full}^ cognisant of the military weakness of his 
kingdom. The offensive and defensive alliance with Prussia 
had, as was seen, been concluded on August 13th ; but the 
sturdy, if somewhat self-satisfied, consistency of the demo- 
crats had outlasted both the beginning and the end of the 
War, and the majority of the Chamber of Deputies continued 
to regard the development of constitutional freedom as 
Wiirttemberg's main need, coupled with a not too onerous 
system of military service. Varnbiiler's reply (October loth) 
was partly evasive, partly vague ; and, about the same time, 
his Government's conception of a progressive policy was 
shown in its treatment of the distinguished Professor 
Reinhold Pauli of Tiibingen who, because of an article by 
him entitled Wiirttemberg and the Federal Catastrophe, was 
driven into resignation of his university chair by being 
'translated' to a remote seminary of secondary education^. 

1 The article had appeared, in August, in the Prenssische Jahr- 
biicher ; and Cultus-Minister von Golther's proceeding was com- 
mented on by Treitschke in the November number of the same 

34^> i f^<^ NortJi-iiciDuui Coifcdcration [CH. 

In Baden, the national spirit had manifested itself 
all the more vividly. Minister von Freydorf (who had 
succeeded the reactionary Edelsheim), when, on October 
gth, submitting to the treaty of peace with Prussia, while 
he vigorously repelled the idea of a south-German Con- 
federation, still cherished by Varnbiiler, deprecated any 
immediate attempt to enter the North-German at once. 
The First Chamber, however, all but unanimously, agreed 
to the report, drawn up by Bluntschli, the celebrated writer 
on international law, in fa\Tjur of the Second Chamber's 
resolution advocating the entry of the south-German 
States into the Northern Confederation, and added a wish 
(already fulfilled), that, at all events, an offensive and 
defensive alliance might be concluded with Prussia by 
Baden, and the Zollvcrein converted into a permanent 
union. With Hesse-Darmstadt, now bipartite, no offensive 
and defensi\'e alliance had been necessary ; and even the 
tenacious Dalwigk had to acquiesce in the inevitable. 

Meanwhile, the time for summoning the Reichstag, whose 
duty it would be to agree on the constitution of the 
North-German Confederation, was gradually approaching; 
and, on November 21st, the Governments concerned were 
invited to send plenipotentiaries to discuss the draft. On the 
previous day, a Prussian Ministerial decree had introduced 
into the new dominions of the Crown all existing Prussian 
regulations as to freedom of settlement {Freizilgigkeit) and 
of exercise of trades and handicrafts {Gewerbefreiheit) ; but 
the cohesion of the whole depended on the goodwill of the 
parts, and, even in Prussia, and in the Prussian Landtag 
in particular, the old cpiarrels had left marked traces 
behind them. The foundation of a 'new fraction of the 
nati(Mial party,' brought about by the disruption of the 
Liberals so far back as September, was followed, in 

journal, in an article reprinted in Zelin Jahrc dcutscher Kdmpfe, 
pp. 163 ff. 

v] The National-Liberals. Dotations 347 

December, by a pronouncement on the part of its 24 
members, under the leadership of Hennig, Twesten and 
Unruh; and, while the general support of the National- 
Liberals, as they henceforth formally called themselves, 
was thus assured to the Government, it was mainly at 
the expense of the Fortschritt, of whom 15 had joined 
this new fraction. But the Fortschritt had no intention of 
allowing themselves to be extinguished, and, as against the 
Government, could always count on the support of the 
permanent malcontents. Thus, when the Government pro- 
posed to the Landtag, which had reassembled on November 
12th, the dotation with a million-and-a-half dohars (£225,000) 
of six generals (including Moltke and Roon) who had 
rendered conspicuous services in the recent war, and when 
the list was brought before the house with the name of 
Bismarck spontaneously added by its committee. Hover- 
beck, Virchow and other members of the Fortschritt moved, 
as an amendment, that the names of Bismarck and Roon 
should be omitted, because, as Hoverbeck bluntly put it, 
these Ministers had not deserved such rewards. A majority 
of 219 against 80, however, approved the proposal of the 
committee without debate and added an expression of the 
national gratitude^. Yet, in the debate on the budget, 
even the Liberals of the new fraction, while granting the 
sum demanded, agreed to the principle that the peace 
strength of the army must be fixed, not by royal ordinance, 
but with the consent of the diet. 

As to the annexed lands, Bismarck had at first thought 
of reorganising the whole political system of the Prussian 
monarchy in four great provinces ; but representations from 
the new parts of the state induced him to abandon so falla- 
cious an appeal to medieval ideas. He now, as in general 
throughout his greatest, or constructive, period of states- 
manship, resolved on demanding only what was necessary 
^ Roon, Denkwiirdigkeiten, vol. ii, pp. 503 ff. 

34^ The NortJi-Gcyman Confederation [CH. 

for the acciiniplishincnt of his main purpose. In Nassau 
and Eleetoral Hesse, the eradication of directly hostile 
feeling proceeded without much difficulty, though with the 
dubious aid of personal changes in the civil service and 
the judiciary, unscrupulously effected by the Ministers of 
the Interior and of Justice (Counts von Eulcnburg and 
zur Lippe). Duke Adolphus of Nassau, it may be added, 
on September i8th, concluded a treaty whereby he re- 
nounced his claims to the throne, receiving in return a 
compensation of i6 million florins {c. ;^2, 120,000), together 
with certain estates in the annexed duchy, the palace of 
Biberich among them. In Hesse-Cassel, a strong desire 
showed itself to maintain a measure of state autonomy, in 
the judicial and certain other branches of administration: 
the Hessians were proud of having given proof that ' there 
were judges at Cassel' as well as at Berlin. But root- 
and-branch resistance commended itself only where the 
influence of Hassenpflug and Vilmar had formerly been 
paramount among the country clergy, to whom Miihler 
was very long-suffering. The Elector Frederick William 
had, in order to secure the retention of his private 
property, lost no time in relieving his former subjects 
of their oath of allegiance, and had now withdrawn to 
his Bohemian estates ^ He could not (like his father 
before him) seek refuge at Frankfort, where the indignation 
excited by Prussia's exactions still smouldered under the 
ashes of an overthrown self-government, more especially 
among what had hitherto l:)een the privileged classes, the sena- 
torial families and their kin, some of whom emigrated rather 
than allow their sons to become liable to Prussian military 
service. In Schleswig-Holstein, on the other hand, absolute 
tranquillity prevailed, though the large majority of the 

• In February 1868, he issued an appeal denouncing Bismarck 
and admonishing all lilectoral-Hessians to hold themselves in 
readiness for an imminent foreign intervention. 

v] Anti-Prussian Agitation in Hanover 349 

population adhered to the Augustenburg cause, even after 
Duke Frederick had considerately relieved all his lieges of 
the obligations into which they had entered towards him. 
The most difficult of the annexed provinces to bring 
into line with the rest was Hanover, where only a small 
part of the population had been in favour of annexation; 
and even the leaders of the former Opposition, Bennigsen 
in particular, only with difficulty reconciled themselves to 
so drastic a change. The bulk of the nobility resisted it 
on legitimist principles, and 'boycotted' Bennigsen, whose 
political action they had always resented, as if he had been 
responsible for a consummation which he had sought to 
avert. Gradually, the accomplished fact began to be more 
widely accepted; although efforts, in which Bennigsen, 
Miquel and other Nationalverein politicians took part, were 
made to preserve what could be preserved of the institutions 
proper to the Hanoverian kingdom. On October ist, a 
numerous assembly of notables urged the Prussian Govern- 
ment to summon from the annexed kingdom ' men of confi- 
dence' for consultation on the subject of necessary reforms. 
But something like half the population were dominated by 
hatred of Prussia, sympathy with the unyielding blind 
King George V and loyalty towards the traditional thousand 
years' connexion with the house of Guelf^, together with 
the interests of the nobility and of the city of Hanover, 
the fears of the orthodox Lutheran clergy (who had no 
liking for the more liberal tendencies of the Prussian United 
Church) and the prejudices of their Ultramontane brethren. 
All these motives favoured the appeals of King George, in 
which the proceedings of Prussia were held up to the 
execration of the civilised world; and the loyal feelings of 
a considerable proportion of the officers and soldiers, who 

^ See Meding, part ii, pp. 209 fi., as to the plan of Count 
Miinster and some of the nobility to induce King George to abdicate 
in favour of his son. 

350 TJic NortJi-GoDuui Confederation [cH. 

rememboreil with pride tiic day of Langcnsalza, found an 
echo among the peasantry. Associations were formed in 
different parts of the country for a general rising ; and this 
prehminary organisation, to whicli influential noblemen 
offered their support, profited from the fact that nearly 
the whole ci\-il administration had, on promise of obedience, 
been left untouched by the Prussian Government. The 
object of the design was simply to hold ready a Hanoverian 
military force for the time of action, and there were no 
demonstrations beyond pilgrimages to Herrenhausen and to 
the Marienbnrg near Hildeshcim, where Queen Mary lingered 
by her consort's orders. The King himself, following 
Platen's dubious advice, had proceeded to Vienna, and set 
up house in the 'Villa Brunswick' at Hietzing. Hither an 
address followed him with a protest signed on November 
7th by no members of the Ritterschaften against unwar- 
ranted constitutional changes. Hereupon, though orders 
were given to the Prussian Governor-General, von Voigts- 
Rhetz, to proceed gently, and even the press was left 
untouched, street disturbances and insults against Prussian 
soldiers were of frequent occurrence. On December 3rd, 
the Governor-General was ordered to suspend every official 
on whose thorough cooperation he could not count, or who 
had signed the November decln ration, while a large number 
of officers military and ci\-il wh<-, had mixed HkmiiscIws up 
with the agitation were sent to the fortress of Minden. 
Necessarily, the organisation of the new arm}' corps, which 
elsewhere proceeded without obstacles, met with difticulties 
in Hanover, until, at last. King George relieved officers and 
men of his former army from their military oath ; where- 
upon, 425 officers entered the Prussian armw and 83 those 
of small states, only 81 holding aloof from new service. 
It may be noted at once^ that, in the elections for the 

' As to subsequent transactions, see the first, and more par- 
ticularly the second, chapters of vol. II of Oncken's Beumgsen. For 

v] Hanoverian Reorganisation 351 

first North-German Reichstag, Bennigsen and the National- 
Liberals in Hanover upheld allegiance to the King of 
Prussia as now a plain duty, and were joined by men of 
views very different from theirs, such as Count George 
Miinster, whose father had formerly rendered high services 
to the restored kingdom of Hanover. The result showed 
the Hanoverian electoral body to be all but equally divided 
in opinion — about 144,000 nationalists to about 130,000 
Guelfites. The process of administrative reorganisation 
was slow and much mismanaged, and it was not till the 
beginning of July 1867 that the long-desired 'men of 
confidence,' selected partly with Bennigsen's aid, were 
summoned to Berlin to expedite it by their advice and to 
accommodate it, in a measure, to Hanoverian opinion. The 
Prussian Crown-prince, always on the side of conciliation, 
took a warm interest in their endeavours, and sought to 
calm the irritation excited by a supposed insult to Queen 
Mary, who, about the same time (July 1867) was driven 
from the Marienburg by the demand that she should 
change her household for one of Prussian choosing^. Most 
of the counsels of the 'men of confidence' were accepted 
by the Government ; and in the elections of August 1867 
for the Reichstag, the Guelfs could not secure more than 
four seats. In the following December, the whole question 
of the reorganisation of Hanoverian administration gave 
rise to a series of important debates, in which Bennigsen 
did his best to preserve as much as possible of the former 
institutions of Hanover, and, in particular, to secure to 
the new province, in accordance with the promise of the 
Prussian Government to the Hanoverian provisional diet, 
an annual grant of half a million dollars for definite 
purposes of its own {Hannover' scher Pyovinzialfonds). This 

the other side, see the interesting, though long-winded, reminiscences 
of Meding, vols, ii and iii. 

^ See Oncken's Bennigsen, vol. in, pp. 295 ft. 

352 Tlic North-Gcr)}uni Confederation [CH. 

proposal, which opened the whole question for and against 
centralisation, acquired great political significance, as 
proving highly offensive to old-Prussian conservatism, 
while self-government and decentralisation on the English 
model had, largely through the teaching of Gneist, for 
some time been a cherished principle of advanced German 
Liberalism. It was ultimately (February yth, 1868) carried 
by 200 to 168 votes, but with the result of estranging the 
bulk of the Conservative party for a time from Bismarck^. 
Meanwhile, the ' Guelfic ' agitation in Hanover had under 
military influence continued during the earlier months 
of 1867 among the peasantry ; and the rumours of war 
which, as we shall see, filled the air about this time, led to 
the spread of a belief that, on the outbreak of hostilities. 
King George V would appear in Holland, to drive out the 

1 With regard to the property of the Hanoverian Crown, an 
arrangement had been made, with the aid of British good offices, 
in September 1867, by which King George, on returning the 2}, 
miUion dollars carried off to England at the outbreak of the war, 
was, in lieu of his former civil list of 400,000 dollars (c. ;^58,ooo) 
derived from the Hanoverian domains, to receive an annual income 
of 700,000 dollars (c. ;^io2,ooo), the capital being judicially de- 
posited. (This was exclusive of his very considerable private pro- 
perty invested in England and variously estimated.) The arrange- 
ment had, at first, been made conditional on his renouncing the 
rights to the Hanoverian throne which he had hitherto continued 
to assert. (See Diplomatic Reminiscences of Lord Augustus Loftus, 
2nd series, vol. i, pp. 142 ff.) When he demurred to this condition, 
Bismarck let it drop ; and the agreement was, in spite of much oppo- 
sition, carried in the Pru.ssian Chamber by a large majority (Febru- 
ary 1868). But, in the same month, a great Guelfic demonstration 
on the occasion of King George's silver wedding led to the renewed 
sequestration of the property of the House of Guelf. Inasmuch as 
King George continued to spend large sums on his designs for the 
recovery of his throne, and more especially on the Guelfic Legion 
mentioned in the text, the sequestrated income was by Bismarck, 
with the approval of the Prussian I.audtag. applied In the discovery 
and prevention of these operations. 

v] The Guelfic Legion 353 

Prussians from his kingdom with French aid. At Hietzing, 
it was expected that a force of 20,000 faithful Hanoverians 
would be in readiness, and arms and scarlet uniforms were 
ordered. King George V's political agent-in-chief, Regier- 
ungsrat Meding, now at Paris, glibly gave out that the 
moment was near at hand ; and, at the beginning of May, 
about seven hundred Hanoverians assembled at Arnhem, 
who called themselves the Guelfic Legion [Welfenlegion). 
When the political storm had blown over, and they were 
obliged to quit Holland, the legionaries were taken to 
Switzerland, and thence to France (January 1868). Here, 
they were, with polite assurances to the Prussian Govern- 
ment in reply to its protest, distributed, at a distance from 
the frontier, in small bodies modelled on the old Hanoverian 
regiments, but unarmed. Some local disturbances followed ; 
but, after further vicissitudes, the Guelfic Legion or its 
remnant was, in March 1870, disbanded by King George V, 
a financial crash having nearly overwhelmed the unhappy 
King, who, like a Stewart pretender, expelled from his 
banished court his most valuable agents, including the 
indefatigable Meding. The officers of the Guelfic Legion 
were pensioned off — by Bismarck's orders^. 

The task of supreme moment that awaited the meeting 
of the North-German Reichstag was the settlement of the 
future constitution of the North-German Confederation. 
Drafts had been prepared by Geheimrat Hepke, Max 
Duncker and Lothar Bucher (the converted radical who 
plays an important part in the confidential business of 
these years), and revised by Bismarck, who, so early as 
October 30th, in his retirement at Putbus began to dictate 

^ Bismarck cynically accounts for the breakdown of King 
George V's long-cherished scheme by the statement, that he was 
himself in receipt of full information as to the enterprise from 
persons in Hanover bribed by him to frustrate it. Cf. Gedanken 
and Erinnerungen, vol. ii, pp. 75-6. 

W. M.G. II. 23 

354 ^^'^' Nortli-Gcrman Coiijcdcvation [ch. 

instructions, insisting on the preservation of a federal 
character in the projected union — i.e. of so much of 
autononw as could be left to the particular states con- 
federated with Prussia. Then, on December 13th, he 
dictated to Bucher the substance of the most important 
chapters of the final draft, dealing with Biindesrat, Presi- 
dency and Reichstag; Bucher and Delbriick elaborated 
the whole; on the 14th, it was approved by a Ministerial 
Council, and, on the 15th, laid before the assembled 
plenipotentiaries of the Confederated Governments^. A 
number of amendments were suggested, among which 
the most important was the quer}^ of the Oldenburg 
plenipotentiary, with whom the Saxe-Coburger was in 
accord, whether the popular representative body ought 
not to be supplemented by an upper house of Princes : 
he also desiderated the formal institution of a Federal 
Minister, and certain other additions to the draft. The 
Prussian Government, however, desirous above all of 
presenting a united front towards the quarter where the 
Luxemburg cloud was alread}^ looming on the horizon, 
expedited the proceedings of the conference ; so that, after 
it had declared its acceptance of eighteen amendments and 
rejected all the rest, the draft to be laid before the Reichstag 

^ Compare, with Sybel's narrative, the probably authentic details 
in Keudell, Bismarck et sa Famille (Fr. tr.), pp. 297 ff. With 
Sybel's general account of the transactions preliminary to and in the 
Reichstag, and of their results, in chapters i, 11 and iv of his sixth 
volume, should be compared the briefer statement in Kliipfcl, 
Einhcitsbestrebungen, vol. 11, pp. 168 ft., and chapter viii (Die 
Griindung des norddeulschen Bundes) in Hermann Schulze's standard 
Einleilung, etc. (sec bibliography). See also the section Dcr Nord- 
deutsche Bund in Ottokar Lorenz, Kaiser Wilhebn ti. die Begritudung 
des Reichs, 1866-1871, pp. 96-120. For a contemporary criticism 
see Treitschke, Zehn Jahre, etc., pp. 175 ff., and, from a different 
point of view, Sir Robert Morier's extremely able Menwrandxim, 
drawn up for Lord Stanley and annotated by E. von Stockmar, in 
Morier's Memoirs, vol. 11, pp. 111-125. 

v] Debates on the Federal Constitution 355 

was settled by the beginning of February. On the 24th of 
the month that assembly was opened at Berlin. In the 
course of the same weeks, the transfer of the Thurn and 
Taxis posts to Prussia, as from July ist, 1867, was accom- 
plished; and, six months later, thanks largely to the great 
organising powers of Gehcimrat von Stephan, afterwards 
famous as Postmaster-general of the German Empire, the 
postal administration in the entire North-German Con- 
federation passed into the hands of the Federal Government. 

The elections to the Reichstag, quietly conducted, had 
produced a house corresponding in its composition, in the 
main, to the last Prussian Landtag, though lather more 
favourable, even in Hanover, to the Government and its 
national policy. The National-Liberals, the largest single 
fraction in the house (79 members), practically had the de- 
cision in their hands ; their support was becoming of great 
value to Bismarck, and was indispensable, whenever he could 
not carry the conservati\'es with him. The choice of officers 
— the worthy Simson, who had signed the Reichsverfasstmg 
in 1849, being elected President, and the Free-conservative 
Duke of Ujest and the National-Liberal leader Bennigsen 
Vice-presidents — showed that neither side of the house had 
a definite majority. 

The ensuing debates on the whole exhibited a breadth and 
an ability not inferior to those displayed by the United States' 
Convention of 17S7. But the problem to be solved — that 
of combining a federal system which, in spite of unavoid- 
able concessions to the principle of unit3% respected the 
sovereignty of the confederated states, with the hegemony 
of one of them — was hardly less difficult than that which 
the assembly of 1848-9 had set itself, of subordinating two 
Great Powers to a Central Authority of its own creation. 
Hence, the need of both a strong will and a politic flexi- 
bility of action to bring the whole to a practical and fairly 
acceptable issue, and to build up a constitution promising 


35^^ TJic Noyfh-dc'nniiii (^^iifcdcyntion [cH. 

to secure so nuuii oi unity as was necessary to its endurance 
anci dexelopnient, and so much of liberty as seemed com- 
patible with cohesion. 

Bismarck's admonition, in laying the draft constitution 
before the Reichstag on March 4th, 1867, that without 
dispatch everj'thing must go to pieces, seemed, notwith- 
standing the support of G. von Vincke, to meet with no 
adequate response, till, five days later, the general prelimi- 
nary discussion began. It was opened by the National- 
Liberal Twesten in an important speech, free from all doctri- 
nairism and demanding enough elasticity in the constitution 
to allow of the ultimate admission of the southern states. 
But, at the same time, he pointed to the cardinal defect of 
the draft — the absence of provision for the due participation 
of ])arliament in the government of the Confederation. 
Ministerial responsibility was, he allowed, impossible in the 
present case ; then, let parliament be assured its requisite 
influence by means of its taxing power, and, though for a 
limited series of years it might suffice to make a definite 
grant for a standing army of fixed size, let the Rcichstas; 
afterwards resume its full budget-right. After Waldeck 
had given voice to the uncompromising demands of the 
Fortschritt, Miquel followed in much the same strain as 
Twesten, but without making his acceptance of the draft 
conditional upon the Government's concurrence in his 
point of view, or pressing for the immediate introduction 
of an imperial tax, the indispensable sign of the unity 
of the Confederation. Of the other speeches at this stage, 
perhaps the most effective was that of Eduard Lasker, who 
made his mark by it, and whose intellectual grasp and 
legal acumen soon established him as the leading spirit of 
the National-Liberal party. He insisted on provision being 
made for securing, with a view to the future admission of 
the southern states, the permanent preponderance of 
Prussia in the Confederation. Bismarck, in his general 

v] Limits of the Confederation 357 

reply, disclaimed any intention on the part of the Govern- 
ment either to square the circle or to convert a federation 
of twenty-one Governments into a constitutional monarchy 
with a responsible Ministry. He waved aside the supposi- 
tion that the Prussian, any more than any other, Landtag 
could reject a constitution agreed upon by the representa- 
tives of thirty million Germans as the achievement of a 
tremendous war ; on the other hand, he denied that there 
was any objection on the part of the Governments to the 
growth of freedom, or to the grant of demands compatible 
with the national security at the present or any future 
time. Thus, on March i8th, the Government entered on 
the successive discussion of the several articles of the 
draft in no uncompromising or irreconcileable mood, and 
in obedience to the word of command given out by its 
head, who was aware that everj^thing in Germany's foreign 
relations and home condition depended on a united front, 
and who had the secret treaties between Prussia and the 
southern states in his keeping: 'Let us put Germany in the 
saddle — there is no fear of her not knowing how to ride.' 

Article P, dealing with the extent and limits of the new 
Confederation, formally excluded from these both Austria 
and 'the royal Netherlands' territories. That the latter 
term referred not only to the duchy of Limburg (which 
was under the same constitution as the kingdom of 
Holland), but also to the grand-duchy of Luxemburg, 
which was in merely personal union with the Dutch Crown, 
could hardly be considered doubtful, after Bismarck's 
emphatic declaration that Prussia had never demanded 
or desired anything likely to interfere with the independence 
of the Netherlands. But he was further pressed on the 
subject of the dangers which the German land of Luxemburg 

^ In the summary which follows the articles of the constitution 
are enumerated in the order finally settled, which is not always, as 
witli Article I, that of the draft. 

35^ ^^'i' North-Gcnnau Confederation [CH. 

\va> running from a powerful neighbour, and of alliances 
whirli might be formed l>y llie soutlicrn states prejudicial 
to the security of Germany at large. Only a few days 
earlier, on March 14th, in the Legislative Body -at Paris, 
1 Thiers had opposed the new French military law, on the 
groimd that it would be a mistake to seek at this moment to 
demolish by force of arms the power of Prussia ; but every- 
thing, he had continued, depended on preventing its further 
advance ; and a strong anti-Prussian feeling had manifested 
itself in the French Chamber, where the Government com- 
niamled a maiority. P>isniarck's reply on this head was one of 
the most characteristic acts of his political career : on March 
19th he published the treaties of offensive and defensive 
alliance secretly concluded ^ with Bavaria, Wiirttemberg 
and Baden — a step which he had been urged by Hohenlohe 
to take. (When informing Benedctti, shortly before, of their 
existence, he had found them to be not unknown to French 
diplomacy.) For the rest, Article I passed without difficulty, 
Bismarck taking occasion to denounce as fantastic the 
restoration of Poland, and, in reply to the demand of a 
North-Schleswig deputy, stating that the northern frontier 
of the Confederation could not be settled till after the in- 
habitants of the doubtful districts had, within limits to be 
fixed by Prussia, been consulted, in accordance with the 
provision of the Peace of Prague. The Emperor of Austria 
alone, he said, had the right to demand the execution of this 
clause. Article II provided that Federal laws should ha\-e 
precedence over laws of particular states belonging to the 
Confederation; and Article III established a common in- 
digenate in the whole of the Federal territory. Article IV 
defined the matters subject to the supervision and legislation 
of the Confederation, which, in the draft, were restricted 
to trade, communications and material interests generally. 
On this, Schulze-Delitzsch moved the appointment of a 
' Cf. pp. 318 ff., anie. 

v] Federal Legislation and Presidency 359 

committee to draw up the Grundrechte (fundamental rights) 
belonging to all Germans; but the experience of 1848, when 
the discussion on this head occupied the better part of two 
months^, was unforgotten, and the proposal was negatived, 
though onlv by the narrow majority of 130 to 128. In the 
minority were the Catholics, who desired that the rights 
and liberties of their church should be safeguarded in the 
Federal constitution. Among other amendments for ex- 
tending the competence of the Federal authority, Miquel's, 
which proposed to commit civil legislation in its entiret}^ 
to the Confederation, was rejected ; but Tw^esten's impor- 
tant motion, subjecting to it all military and naval affairs, 
was carried by a large majority. 

Of the greatest moment was Article V, together with 
Articles XI-XIX. Article \ , in its ultimate form, pro- 
vided that Federal legislation was to be in the hands 
of the Bundesrat and the Reichstag. For the passing of 
a Federal law, an agreement between the majorities 
of these two bodies was declared to be requisite and 
sufficient. Controversies concerning army or navy were 
to be decided by the Federal Presidency, if it pronounced 
in favour of the maintenance of existing arrangements. 
Article XI declared that the Federal Presidency apper- 
tained to the Prussian Crown, to which it fell to represent 
the Confederation internationally, to declare war and 
conclude peace in its name, to enter into alliances and 
other treaties with foreign states and to appoint, accredit 
and receive ambassadors. So far as such treaties came 
within the sphere of Federal legislation, they were to 
require for their conclusion the assent of the Bundesrat, 
and could not become valid without the approval of the 
Reichstag. The Presidency was to summon, open, adjourn 
and dissolve the Reichstag, which was, however, at no time 
to be summoned without the Bundesrat. In the latter, the 
1 Cf. vol. I, p. 477, ante. 

360 The Noyth-Cicnuiui Coifcdcyation [cH. 

cliairiliansliip aiul the coiuliut o{ business were to appertain 
to the Federal Chaneellor. He was to be noniinatetl by the 
Presidency, which was to ki}' all resolutions of the Bundcsrat 
before the Reichstag, where it would be represented by 
members of the Bundesrat or by special commissioners 
named by it. The Presidency was to publish and supervise 
the execution of T'ederal laws; and its ordinances and 
decrees were to be issued in the name ot the ('onfi'deration 
b}' the Federal Chancellor, who thereby undertook the 
responsibility for them. If members of the Confederation 
failed to meet their constitutional obligations, the execution 
against them, which might extend to sequestration of the 
territory in question and of its government, was to be 
decreed by the Bitndesrat and, in urgent cases, ordered and 
carried out at once b}^ the Federal Commander-in-chief. 

The matters and relations dealt with in these provisions 
involved considerations of the utmost importance for both 
the principles and the working of the constitution, and 
no portions of the draft were more anxiously discussed. 
The intention had, ob\-iously, been that the supreme 
authority in the Confederation should really lie with the 
Bnndesrat, and that, though the power of the Presidency 
should everywhere assert itself, the effective cooperation 
of the Bundesrat should never be absent. Thus, regard was 
to be had alike to the Prussian hegemony and to the rights 
of the particular states ; while the Reiclistag, in representing 
the Confederation at large, was to act both as a legislative 
factor and as an organ of public opinion. Now, in such 
a federal system of g()\'ernment, there was no jilace for a 
Ministry responsible in the legal sense; noi' had the con- 
servatives in the assembly any desire that pro\ision should 
be made for it ; but they were quite content with the 
committees for the several departments of the adminis- 
tration whirh, according to another article*, were to be 

' All. \ I I 1 in the ( oii^lilulKPii, as tin. illy settled. 

v] TA^ Bundesrat. The Federal Chancellor 361 

nominated by the Bunclesrat. The democrats, however, 
held a directly contrary opinion; and Schulze-Delitzsch 
accordingly proposed, while doing away with the com- 
mittees of the Bimdesrat, to substitute a clause declaring 
that the executive authority in Federal affairs was to be 
exercised through responsible Ministers, by one of whom 
every Government ordinance must be signed. Waldeck 
contended that, without this change, the new Confedera- 
tion would be nothing but a continuation of the old. On 
behalf of the National-Liberals, who were much impressed 
by a speech of the Hanoverian Planck, a high legal authority, 
Bennigsen, moved, as an addition to the article provid- 
ing for the appointment of a Federal Chancellor by the 
Federal Council, that it should also appoint responsible de- 
partmental commissioners. But Bismarck roundly resisted 
all proposals involving a divided responsibility; with the 
result that, in the end, after the democratic proposal had 
been rejected, the article providing for the appointment 
of a Chancellor, with Bennigsen's addition, met the same 
fate — though only by a single vote (128 to 127). It was, 
however, brought up again by the Free-conservative leader 
Count Bethusy-Huc, and carried by a good majority without 
Bennigsen's addition ; but, in the article requiring for the 
ordinances of the Presidency the counter-signature of the 
Chancellor, he secured the insertion of the words 'who 
thereby undertakes the responsibility for them.' Thus, the 
Federal Chancellor, and he alone, was to be the responsible 
officer of the new Confederation. 

Next came the almost e(|ually important Articles 
(XX-XXXII) which had reference to the Reichstag. The 
draft had assumed the s\'stem of universal suffrage and 
direct election ; and this was upheld by Bismarck, in 
accordance with his proposals of 1863 and 1866^, without 

^ Ante, pp. 87 and loi n., and p. 235. 

362 Tlic NnytJi-Goinan Confederation [CH. 

enthusiasm, but as preferable to any other electoral system 
with which he was acquainted, and, certainly, to the 'sense- 
less and miscralile' three-classes system of the Prussian 
constitution, which Sj-bel had desired to sec adopted in its 
place. Fries's proposal to add secret election (ballot) was 
opposed by Windthorst and rejected ; anotlier, to substitute 
household suffrage, met with little or no support ; and 
Zachariae's (of Gottingen) motion for the introduction of 
an upper house, which Bismarck deprecated rather than 
contravened, likewise fell to the ground. Finally, the 
exclusion of state officials from the Reichstag, proposed in 
the draft, was \'ery generalh' disappro\'ed — no wonder, if 
Windthorst's calculation was correct, that 190 such were 
sitting in the present assembly. On the whole, the 
RcicJistag had pro\'ed rather more Liberal than the Govern- 
ment, although the conclusion of the conservative Wagener 
probably represented the prevalent feeling of the House 
that, universal suffrage having once been introduced, there 
was little use in going back from it. The duration of the 
legislative period of the Reichstag was fixed at three years, 
as proposed in the draft, and not at five, as the conservatives 
desired; and Lasker's motion that no legal responsibility 
should attach to veracious reports of the Reichstag debates 
was carried by a large majority. Finally, the National- 
Liberals, after a lively debate, succeeded, by a vote of 
136 to 130, in carrying, against the provision of the draft, 
their proposal for the payment of members ; but, in accord- 
ance with a statement by Bismarck, the addition was after- 
wards struck out by tlie Bundcsrat. 

In one of tlie Articles on Customs and Conmierce 
(XXXIII-XL), the three Free Hanse towns were, as free 
ports, left outside the common customs boundaries, in 
accordance with a policy which, as Treitschke indignantly 
noted, was carried so far by a Hanseatic statesman in the 
Reichstag as to make him declare that a strong German navy 

v] Debate on Military Service 363 

would only endanger German trade. The Articles on rail- 
ways, posts and telegraphs (XLI-LII), likewise, including 
the Federal right of laying down military railway -lines, were 
passed unaltered. Among the provisions as to navy and 
navigation, and the consular system (Articles LIII-LVI), 
were those declaring the harbours of Kiel and the Jahde 
Federal harbours of war ; charging the Federal exchequer 
with the costs of constructing and maintaining the navy^, 
and placing the entire consular system, when fully organised, 
under purety Federal control. 

Of supreme importance, of course, were the proposals as 
to the military system of the Confederation (which took their 
final form as Articles LVII-LXVIII of its constitution) ; and 
here, in Sybel's words, a storm arose which had almost wrecked 
the vessel in sight of port. The debate lasted for a week, 
turning, first, on the old question of the length of military 
service, with regard to which, as part of the military reorgani- 
sation achieved by Prussia, and now to be adopted by the 
Confederation, the sanction of the Reichstag was asked by the 
Confederate Governments. The draft provided for general 
military service (from the completed twentieth year of age) 
without the admissibility of substitutes, to extend over seven 
years in the line — three of these, as was added after debate, 
with the colours and four in the reserve — and five in the Land- 
wehr. For the next ten years, the peace strength of the army 
was to be fixed at one per cent, of the population of 1867. 
When discussing the length of service, Waldeck asserted that 
what was needed was not a standing army, but a people's 
army ; while Moltke declared that three years were in- 
dispensable for efficiency, and that, from the economic 
point of view, no state could be productive that was not 

^ In this connexion, it was resolved (Art. LV) that the flag of the 
mercantile navy and of the ships of war should be black-white-and- 
red, which significant combination thus became the official colours 
of the Confederation. 

364 The North-German Confederation [CH. 

secure. In the matter of the numbers of the army, and the 
maintenance of the cherished budget-right invohed, the 
Fortschritt xi'licnu'iitK' (Icnouiii^'d the National-Liberals, 
should the}- gi\e way to the Government ; but they tirmly 
maintained their polic}', and Forckenbcck's motion that 
the Government demands should be adopted — but for a 
period of four years only (to December 31st, 1871) — 
and that, after the completion of the military organisation, 
the Federal Presidency should propose to Biindcsrat and 
Reichstag a comprehensix'c military law, was carried by 
a majority of more than 30 votes. G. von Vincke, Gneist, 
Lasker, Miquel and others had taken part in the debate, 
and the Prussian Minister of War, Roon, had intervened 
with the remark, that he regarded the temporary 225 
dollars per annum (under £33) for each soldier in the light 
of a minimum grant, and reserved to himself the right of 
demanding an augmentation of it from the Reichstag. 

Under the head of Federal Finance (Articles LXIX- 
LXXIII), Miquel had the satisfaction of securing the 
provision that a complete budget of income and expenditure 
must be presented before the beginning of each financial 
year, and passed into law. Under that of Settlement of Dis- 
putes, etc. (Articles LXXIV-LXXVII) the necessity of a 
Federal Tribunal, in accordance with the proposals of the 
old Federal Diet in 1834, of the Reichsverfassimg oi iS^g, 
of the Prussian scheme of Union of the same year and of 
the Austrian design of 1863, was strongly insisted on by 
Wachter and other eminent jurists ; but no enduring arrange- 
ment was made, and, though the Bundesrat was empowered 
to inter\^cne in cases of denial of justice in any particular 
state, a gap was here left in the constitutional system of the 
Confederation. The general Article (LXXVIII) demanding, 
on proposed constitutional changes, a two-thirds' majority 
in the Bundesrat, was virtually unopposed, except by 
Zachariae, who had advocated unanimity. 

v] Relations with the Southern States 365 

The final portion of the draft (to which the concluding 
Article LXXIX of the actual constitution corresponds) was 
brought up for deliberation on April loth. It differed from 
the rest in having a special, instead of a general, purpose, and 
dealing with a future eventuality, rather than with an exist- 
ing condition of things. Yet the relations of the southern 
states to the North-German Confederation had, from the 
opening of the Reichstag, been perhaps more in the minds 
of members than any other question, unless it were the 
eternal military budget. At an early stage of the debates, 
it had been repeatedly urged that the hope of an early 
admission of the southern states into the new Confederation 
should be more distinctly expressed, and the conditions 
under which it should take place more clearly formulated. 
On April 9th, Count Solms-Laubach had enquired why the 
two southern provinces of the grand-duchy of Hesse, 
Starkenburg (between Rhine and Main, with the capital 
Darmstadt) and Rhenish Hesse, should not, like Upper 
Hesse, be admitted into the North-German Confederation. 
Bismarck, who had previously shown himself well-disposed 
to such a measure, to which he knew the Grand-duke and 
his stiff-necked Minister Dalwigk to be adverse, replied that 
he was only waiting for a statement of the wishes of the/ 
grand-ducal Government ; whereupon its Federal Commis- 
sioner offered a half-promise, which, however, in spite 
of a favourable vote of the Darmstadt Second Chamber, 
came to nothing. The more general question, whether 
proposals for the extension of the Confederation were to 
require the assent of Bundesrat and Reichstag, gave rise to 
much difference of opinion. Bismarck expressed himself 
more or less indifferent whether admission of the southern 
states should take place after the transition stage of a south- 
German confederation had been passed through, or, if 
Austria consented, without any further ado^. After he had 

' Yet Bebel (who sat in the Reichstag, without as yet choosing to 

366 The Noy/Ii-dcrinitii Coiifcdcyation [CH. 

stated that the article concerning the rehitions of the North- 
German Confederation to the south-German states was not 
contrary to the wishes of the confederated Governments, it 
was passed with an addition, proposed by Miquel and Lasker, 
providing that the entrance of the south-German states, or 
of any one of them, should take place, on the proposal of 
the Federal Presidency, by means of Federal legislation. 

The constitution bill was, hereupon, read a second time 
and approved by the Governments, on the understanding 
that two \-ehemently debated articles should be included 
in tlie form which commended itself to them. These were 
the article concerning the payment of members, and that 
providing the financial basis for the military arrangements. 
When Bismarck, on April 15th, reported to the Reichstag 
in this sense, the results, already noted, were secured, in 
the former case, mainly through the exertions of Bennigsen, 
by a majority of 178 to 90 votes; and in the latter, 

, thanks to the conciliatory action of the same statesman, 
in conjunction with the Duke of Ujest, by a majority of 
202 to 80. The minority consisted of an odd mixture of 
conservatives, democrats, ultramontancs, particularists, 
Poles and — Bismarck. But he had declined to state that 
the proposed compromise would be unacceptable to the 
Governments. The entire constitution was, hereupon, 
passed by a vote of 230 against 53 ; and, on April 17th, 

i'Bismarck announced that the confederated Governments 
had, in their turn, signified their acceptance of it. On the 
same day, the Reichstag was dissolved, witli a royal speech 
expressing the hope that the product of its labours would 
prove a guarantee of peace. Of the diets of the several 
states, none (though Prussia and Mecklenburg had reserved 
their right of granting or refusing it) refused its assent. 

call himself a socialist) drew the conclusion that Bismarck did not 
desire the admission of the s(jutli-("ifrman stales. See also Lorenz, 
pp. ii6ff. 

v] Character of the Federal Constitution 367 

Although we may smile at Treitschke's contemporary 
boast that the constitution of the North-German Con- 
federation proved the Germans to be no longer, as in the 
Frankfort days, a mere people of professors, we cannot 
gainsay his assertion that this constitution marked the 
greatest measure of political progress which the nation had 
hitherto accomplished. Some of its features were, no 
doubt, anomalies in a federal constitution. Such, above 
all, were the virtually irresistible preponderance of Prussia, 
and the concentration of all moral as well as, nominally, 
all legal Ministerial responsibility in the single person of 
the Federal Chancellor, who, as Bismarck and the Prussian 
Ministry alike perceived, could be no one else than the 
presiding Prussian Minister and director of foreign affairs. 
Other features must be accounted imperfections in any 
constitution based on the principle of popular representation 
as one of its legislative elements. But, in both respects, 
nothing could have been made clearer by the chief builder 
of the work than the fact that the constitution, elastic and 
capable of accommodation, was like the Confederation for 
whose purposes it was built, not only capable of, but 
intended for, future development. And, with regard to 
that development, the constitution itself must largely help 
to bridge the Main. 

In this busy year 1867, when harvest and seedtime as it 
were coincided, there was, as Bennigsen repeatedly wrote 
to his wife, no rest for a politician in the midst of affairs. 
Nor was it in Berlin alone a time of constructive debate. 
In Bavaria, as has been seen. Prince Hohenlohe had at 
last assumed the conduct of affairs; but he was resolved 
to walk warily. By his advice, the advanced Liberals in 
the Chamber withdrew a motion for the entrance of Bavaria 
into the North-German Confederation ; and, early in May, 
Bavaria and Wiirttemberg concluded an agreement for 

3b8 ilic Noytli-iicyuhin ('otijcdcration [cH. 

joint negoti;ition with the Nortli-Gornian Confederation on 
the basis, not of admission of the south-western states into 
it, but of a wider league between it and the southern states 
under a Bundcsrat presided over by Prussia. An alhance 
between this wider league and Austria, now or later, was to be 
kept in xirw. This proposed compromise, wliich met with 
no encouragement at Vienna, Bismarck j)r()mptl\- announced 
(to Baden) his intention of declining, and it fell stillborn^. 
Meanwhile, Hohenlohe had lost no time in setting on foot the 
reforms which formed part of his programme of eiction. In 
the first instance, the Ministers of War of Bavaria, Wiirttem- 
berg. Baden and Hesse-Darmstadt met at Stuttgart, on 
February 3rd, to arrange for the reorganisation of their 
military forces on the Prussian model ; and, no sooner had 
the constitution of the North-German Confederation been, 
to all intents and purposes, settled than, on June 3rd, a 
conference was, on Bismarck's in\'itation, opened at Berlin 
on the subject of the renewal of the Zollvcrciv, which was 
attended by Holicnlolie and \'ariil)iiK'r (who liad previously 
met at Nordlingen), as well as by Fre^xlorf and Dalwigk. 
In the treaties of peace with the southern states, the 
Prussian Government had consented to the provisional 
'continuance of the Zollvcrcin and of their inclusion in it; 
but, manifestly, they could not be sure of the permanency 
of this arrangement ; and this uncertainty was a great 
disadvantage to thtMr trade and industries. After some 
hesitation on tlu' i);irt of Bavaria, which in llie ];iter stages 
of the negotiations was represented by Count Tauftkirchen, a 
definitive treaty was, on July 8th, concluded between the 
four Governments and the North-German Confederation, 
on the basis — which Bismarck had from the first had in view 
— of conferences between deputies of the southern states 
with Reichstag and Btindcsral, under Prussian presidency. 
These representative conferences were to hear tlie name of 
' O. Lorcnz, pp. 131 II. 

v] The Zollparlament 369 

Customs-parliament [Zollparlament), and the treaty con- 
stituting it was to come into operation on January ist, 1868. 
The Cnsioms-Bimdesrat was to consist of fifty-eight members, ' 
of whom Bavaria was to name six, Wiirttemberg four, 
Baden and Hesse-Darmstadt three each, and to appoint com- 
mittees deahng respectively with customs and taxes, trade 
and communications, and accounts. The Customs-parliament 
was to be elected on the same lines as the Reichstag. 

Not only the Baden Minister Mathy, who himself took 
part in the preliminary deliberations, but other members 
of the national party in the southern states, who assembled 
at Stuttgart on August 4th to give utterance to their views, 
regarded the proposed Zollparlament as a desirable advance 
on Article IV of the Peace of Prague. By this article, 
it will be remembered, Austria had, besides promising to 
acknowledge the Confederation about to be established by^ 
Prussia north of the Main, consented to the formation of a 
union (Verein) among the states south of this line, of which 
union the connexion [Verhindung) with the Northern Con- 
federation was to be reserved for a more special agreement. 
The article, it is clear, neither forced the southern states 
to establish a Confederation among them, nor obliged the 
two Great Powers to bring it about, although it bound them 
not to prevent it. On the other hand, was Prussia re- 
quired to decline the admission of the southern states into 
the North-German Confederation? The Prussian Govern- 
ment resolved, as Bismarck afterwards declared in his 
circular dispatch of September 7th, 1867, to the European 
Governments, not to take advantage of the opportunity 
offered by the Zollvercin negotiations, and to content itself 
with the Treaty of July 8th. For the rest, he stated that 
the North-German Confederation was at all times ready 
to meet the southern Governments in extending and con- 
firming its relations with them, but that they must be 
left to determine for themselves the steps in the process. 

W. RI.G. II. 24 

3/0 The North-German Confederation |CH. 

This was the standpoint taken up l)y Bismarck, when, on 
September loth, lie met tlie first or(hnar\' Rciclistai^. The 
majority was fa\'ourable to tlie GowinnK'nt, and not much 
notice was taken of the fact that the minority, for the fii"st 
time, inchided an avowed Socialist Xi'at^tion — consisting of 
Bebel, Liebknecht, von Schweitzer of Frankfort, and one 
or two others. Bismarck had, on Jiilv 14th, become Chan- 
cellor of the Confederation; and, under him, Rudolf 
Delbriick had, much to the dissatisfaction of the con- 
ser\'atives, been appointed President of the Federal Chan- 
cery, established on August 12th, with the control of ports, 
customs and the consular department. The Reichstag, 
without much demur, passed a series of laws supplementing 
the constitution adopted by its predecessor, as well as the 
Federal budget for 1868. Tt also, on October 18th (a historic 
date), adopted a military law which tixed the total of the 
field-anny of the Confederation, up to the close of the year 
1871, at one per cent, of the population of 1867^ — ^in other 
words, at 315,000 men, with a reserve slightly less, and a 
LandweJir slightly more, numerous ; so as to form a grand 
total of 955,000 men. King William I regarded this law 
as the completion of the work begun by him, nine years 
before, on the lines laid down by Roon, and thanked the 
veteran Minister of War in a memora1)le letter'. 

Meanwhile, the soutliern states had been greatly dis- 
tur])ed by the question, \'itally important for their future, 
whether their diets would approve the treaties, now no 
longer secret, of offensive and defensive alliance with 
Prussia and the Zollverein treaty with the North-German 
Confederation. In the two most important states, a violent 
agitation — the last to be noted in tlie history of the long- 
lived contention between north and south — arose against 

' Koon, Denkiviirdigkeitoi, vol. 11, p. 515. Cf. as lo the mili- 
tary law and Liebknccht's radical opposition, Ollivicr, vol. x, 
pp. 24 ff. 

v] Bavaria and the Zollverein Treaty 371 

approval. At Munich, Hohenlohe, on October 8th, laid 
before the Chamber of Deputies the Zollverein treaty ; the 
military treaty, according to the Bavarian constitution, 
needed no confirmation by the diet. In view of the wide- 
spread opposition to the 'sacrifices' required, as well as 
of the 'great anxiety' of King Lewis II on behalf of the 
independence of his crown and monarchy, Hohenlohe ex- 
pressed himself unwilling to propose the entrance of 
Bavaria into the new Confederation ; but he, likewise, de- 
clared himself opposed to any southern confederation either 
under the leadership of Austria, or self-dependent. He 
adhered to his policy of a national connexion {Verbindung) 
between the south-German states — not Bavaria only — 
and the federated north, and urged, in any case, the pre- 
servation of the bond of union which secured the material 
interests of Germany and was the indispensable antecedent 
of a national conjunction of any sort or kind^. This 
diplomatic speech, showing that its author had already 
learnt the lesson that the half may be greater than thev 
whole, had the effect of carrying the Zollverein treaty in 
the Chamber of Deputies by an overwhelming majority 
(117 against 17) ; but the Reichsrat, led by Freiherr von 
Thiingen (whom his friends would have liked to see in 
Hohenlohe's place), hesitated, and finally only approved 
the treaty on condition that the lihernm veto formerly 
possessed by Bavaria in all questions of Zollverein duties 
and taxes, but omitted from the present treaty, should be 
restored to her. Hereupon, Hohenlohe, who had assented 
to the amendment in his capacity of Reichsrat, sa\'ed the 
situation by suggesting that he and Thiingen should pay 
a visit to Berlin, in order to do their best to carry through 
the introduction of the libernm veto among the conditions 
of the treaty. Here, they found that the North-German 

^ See Hohenlohe's speech, and a full account of the ensuing 
transactions in Bavaria, in his Denkwiirdigkeiten , vol i, pp. 268 ft. 

24 — 2 

37- rhc North-German Confederation [cii. 

Rciclistiii; was on the point of passing the customs treaties, 
conditionally, however, on the acceptance by the southern 
states of the offensive and defensive alliances with Prussia ; 
and, on October 28th, it took this course by a majority of 
177 to 26, adjourning on the same day. The Bavarian 
\-isitors had their answer, accompanied by a warning from 
Bismarck that, if the Bavarian Rcichsrat should insist on 
rejecting the treaty as it stood, Bavaria would from May ist, 
1868, onwards, be excluded from the Zollverein. After 
the Second Chamber at Munich had, with virtual una- 
nimity, approved the unamended treaty, the Reichsrat 
followed suit by a vote of 35 to 13 in its fa\'our. 

About the same time, a decision was reached in Wiirt- 
temberg, where the protectionists, the ul tramontanes and the 
radicals of the Volkspartci had violentl\^ denounced both the 
treaty of alliance and the Zollverein treaty. The agitation 
was led by Moritz Mohl, in a pamphlet adjuring the Wiirt- 
temberg Chambers to stand out against the new Zollverein, 
and urging southern Germany at large to remain neutral, 
instead of becoming the whipping-boy of Prussia, who had 
torn Germany to pieces^. Finally, the two treaties were 
approved in ])oth Chambers by large majorities (the last 
stage being reached on November 4th), after a debate in 
the course of which Varnbiiler, perhaps not altogether 
unmoved by jealousy of Bavaria, (U'dancl that, whatever 
might have been his former views, the j-ear 1866 had 
solved the German question once for all. With Grand- 
ducal Hesse, notwithstanding Dalwigk's invective against 
Prussia, for the benefit of the French Minister at Darm- 
stadt, there was no difficulty ; and in leaden the treaties 
were approved with all but absolute unanimity in both 
Chambers. The ratifications of the customs treaties were 

* Mahnruf vor den dussersten Gefahnii. (A warning against 
extreme perils.) Cf. OUivier, vol. x, pp. 4 If. 

v] Baden's Application rejected 373 

exchanged on November 6th, on the condition laid down 
by the North-German Reichstag. 

The sum total of these transactions, and more especially 
the attitude of Varnbiiler at Stuttgart, who had declared 
that he spoke for his colleagues as well as for himself, 
seemed to Grand-duke Frederick of Baden and his Minister, 
the veteran Liberal Mathy, to indicate that the time had 
come for a further step in ad\'ance. On November i8th, 
Mathy wrote to Bismarck, stating the reasons which seemed 
to make it the duty of Baden to seek immediate admission 
into the North-German Confederation, insisting, among 
other arguments, on the influence which the fulfilment of 
this desire would exercise upon the imminent elections to 
the ZoUparlament. Mathy by no means stood alone in this 
wish ; but Bismarck, who was out of touch with the Baden 
as well as the Coburg courts and Governments, instead of 
returning a direct answer, sent word by the Baden envoy 
at Berlin, that he was unable to return the desired reply to 
Carlsruhe. The brave Mathy 's heart was broken — he died in 
February 1868^. Whether Bismarck was deterred by signs 
of a reaction in Wiirttemberg (where the King could not ob- 
tain the consent of the Chancellor to a three years' military 
service) , or whether he was not at present willing to run the 
risk of foreign intervention in what he had described as a 
purely internal concern, he still held his hand. His funda- 
mental position was that, the best way would be a joint 
movement for admission into the new Confederation on the 
- part of the south-western states, and that the admission of 
Baden alone was inexpedient. Not the less was the Germany 
of the future indebted to the persistent efforts of Baden 
and its highminded Grand-duke. The military conference 
of these states held at Munich in October, 1868, had no 
result of importance; but the reorganisation of the army 

1 See G. Freytag, Karl Mathy, pp. 410 ff., and the touching 
passage (p. 416), written just before the War of 1870. 

374 TJic North-German Confederation [cH. 

continuctl, in Baden under Matli\'s able and energetic suc- 
cessor, J. Jolly, and, more slowl}', in Wiirttemberg, under the 
successive Ministers of War, Freiherr von Wagner, and the 
resolute military reformer General von Suckow. But a far 
more potent impulse was needed, before the consummation 
could be reached which was to convert the North-German 
Confederation, united with its south-German allies in a 
common military system and by common material interests, 
into the new German empire. 

Both the Prussian Landtafi, whicii assembled on No\-em- 
ber 20th, 1867, and the North-German Reichstag, which met 
on March 23rd, 1868, displayed great acti\'ity, attesting a 
strong desire to strengthen the foundations of the uncom- 
pleted Federal state and, at the same time, to secure ade- 
quate parliamentary control over its institutions and govern- 
ment. But the Landtag in particular, following a tendency 
which, with the remedies afterwards sought to be applied 
to it in the shape of coalitions and hlocs, became a hindrance 
to the free development of German political life, was divided 
into an excessive number of fractions, led by men of con- 
spicuous debating ability, and mindful of their party tra- 
ditions or aspirations. The shij") needed wary steering. 
An old and still unsettled controversy, of which the origin 
was the prosecution of Twesten and another for speeches 
made in the Chamber so far back as 1865, led to the j^ass- 
ing of a motion by Lasker asserting the constitutional right 
of freedom of parliamentary utterance, and to the resigna- 
tion of Count zur Lippc, the tenacious Minister of Justice, 
whose part Bismarck had taken without fervour, and who 
was succeeded by the Hanoverian Lconhardt (December 
5th). The Hcrrcnhaus threw out Lasker's resolution; but 
the case against Twesten was stopped, with Leonhardt's 
connivance and Bismarck's approval. When, however, in 
the North-German Reichstag, T.asker jiroposed a resolution 
similar to that which he had moved in the Prussian Landtag 

v] Zollparlament Elections 375 

(April 3rd), and it was carried by a majority of nearly 
two-thirds, Bismarck induced the Bundesrat to throw it out 
unanimously. Thus, neither Conservatives nor Liberals had 
secured his whole-hearted support ; but, though Lasker's 
renewal of his effort in the Reichstag of 1869 met with the 
same result, so that Bismarck and the Confederate Govern- 
ments had not yielded on the principle of the dispute, no 
prosecution of the kind ever again occurred in Germany. 

A less formidable-looking proposal in the Reichstag by 
Miquel (April 22nd, 1868) really involved the more press- 
ing question of Ministerial responsibility. Moved as an 
addition to the law brought forward by the Bundesrat on 
the administration of the Federal debt, and asserting the 
right of prosecuting by law delinquent officials, it would 
have established an effective responsibility, on this head at 
all events, of the Chancellor himself. When, notwithstand- 
ing Bismarck's vigorous protest, the motion was carried, 
Bismarck promptly withdrew the whole law on behalf of 
the Bundesrat. 

Meanwhile, the elections for the Zollparlament, which 
was to meet on April 27th, boded ill for its success. Prices 
were high, burdens heavy and passions strong; and, except 
in Baden and Hesse-Darmstadt, the elections had gone 
against the national or ' Prussian ' party. In Bavaria, a 
vehement ultramontane effort had taken advantage of 
universal suffrage to secure 28 out of the 48 districts as- 
signed to that kingdom, while the supporters of the union 
had secured only one-fourth of the entire Bavarian con- 
tingent. In Wiirttemberg, six supporters of the concili- 
atory policy of the Government (including the Ministers 
Varnbiiler and Mittnacht themselves) had been elected, 
and eleven Grossdeutsche or democrats. The south as a 
whole, at this significant moment, sent to Berlin 50 pro- 
nounced particularists, as against 35 friends of the com- 
mercial policy of the North-German Confederation. 

37^^ The NortJi-GoDum Confederation [CH. 

These figures, significant of the poHtical as well as 
commercial opinions which still prevailed in southern 
Germany, were ominous of the proceedings in the combined 
Customs-parliament. A motion for an address to the King 
of Prussia, looking forward to a union of the entire 
German nation be\-ond the sphere of mere commercial 
interests, was elbowed out (by i86 to 150) in favour of the 
simple order of the day. Divers trade and navigation 
treaties were approved ; and, among them, a commercial 
treaty with Austria, showing free-trade tendencies on both 
sides, passed its earlier readings. On May 15th, how- 
ever, the tobacco-duties proposed by the Governments 
were reduced, by more than three-fourths, through a com- 
bination of National-Liberals, Fortscliritt and southern 
democrats. But when, on the motion for the third reading 
of the Austrian treaty, the quick-witted radical free-trader 
Bamberger introduced an amendment (ultimately carried) 
reducing the dut}' on imported wines, the southern cham- 
pion Moritz Mohl raised a stormy debate of principle. His 
assertion that the particular Governments retained the 
right of taxing foreign imports up to a certain maximum 
involved the fundamental question of the right of the 
Zollhundcsrat to interfere with territorial taxation. Anti- 
Prussian feelings found an opportunity for allowing them- 
selves free vent ; and the French terror was invoked, but 
loftily waved aside liy Bismarck. Next came the petro- 
leum-tax, which, like the increased tobacco-tax, was re- 
garded as cruel to the poor, and decisively rejected. The 
remaining taxes proposed were approved ; but when the 
Z oil pari ameni closed at the end of May, the southerners 
could congratulate themseh'cs on the spoke the\' had put 
in the wheel of national union ; though, significantly 
enough, one of their number (Sejiji) ;it Kiel, whither the 
members had Ix'cn taken to see tlie new Wvvt. declaimed 
against the French. 

v] Financial and Social Legislation 377 

More practically, the Reichstag, after reassembling on 
May 27th, adopted the proposal of Otto Camphausen, a 
moderate Liberal like his brother Ludolf 1, and long a lead- 
ing financial official, to commit the administration of the 
loan voted for naval purposes in the previous year to a 
joint board, representing Bundesrat, Reichstag and the 
Prussian Supreme Chamber of Accounts {Oberrechnungs- 
kammer). The decisive voice had been Moltke's, who took 
occasion to declare that he saw no prospect of putting an 
end to wars till a Power should establish itself in the centre 
of Europe strong enough, without being itself intent on 
conquest, to make war impossible to its neighbours. The 
remaining legislation of the session was chiefly concerned 
with economic and social questions, more especially the 
extension to the Confederation at large of the right of 
industrial association, which the efforts of Schulze-Delitzsch 
had established in Prussia. Socialism had, of late years, 
consumed much of its activity irnhtestine conflicts ; nor 
was it till the very eve of the war with France that the 
movement as a whole became frankly communistic, and 
that the great body of its supporters resolved to further 
its end by an active participation in both ReicJistag and 

In the parliamentary assemblies which crowded the 
period from November 1868 to the spring of 1870, the 

^ Cf. aide, \<)\. I, p. 454 et al. 

^ The disputes which had arisen since the death of Lassalle 
(August 31st, 1864) had ended in an open spHt at a general meet- 
ing of deputies from working-men's clubs, held at Nlirnberg early 
in September 1868. The majority (68), under the leadership of 
Bebel, adhered to the programme of the First International Con- 
gress at Geneva in September 1866, while the minority (the 
Lassalleans and the deputies of the clubs originated by Schulze- 
Delitzsch) declined to take part in politics proper. Another general 
social-democratic Congress, held at Eisenach in August i86g, only 
temporarily healed the rupture ; and it was only at a further Con- 
gress, held at Stuttgart from June 4th to 7th, 1870, that Bebel and 
Liebknecht finally had their way. 

378 The Nortli-GciDuui Confcdcvation [ch 

uppermost question was that of finance. Confidence in the 
maintenance of the peace of Europe had, as will be seen, 
not been permanently restored ; the harvest of 1867 had, 
in many parts, been bad ; and, throughout the following 
year, trade and industry had continued to stagnate. In 
addition to the heavy claims for military expenditure, in 
Prussia the provinces, old and new, demanded annual 
grants on the same lines as those allowed to Hanover and 
Electoral Hesse. Thus, when the Prussian Landtag met in 
November 1868, von der Heydt's budget showed a deficit 
of rather more than 5 million dollars (c. £750,000). This the 
Finance Minister proposed to meet in what Bismarck de- 
scribed as Austrian rather than Prussian fashion — namely, 
neither by new taxes nor by a loan, but by the sale of state 
property, chiefly Cologne-Minden railway shares ; and, 
notwithstanding the reluctance of both Bismarck and Roon, 
the dangerous expedient was adopted. When, in March 

1869, the Federal budget for 1870 was laid before the 
Reichstag, the estimated receipts of the Confederation were 
found to fall short of its estimated expenditure by 2 J 
million dollars more than in the budget for the current year. 
Of the contributions required from the (iovernments to 
cover this total, four-fifths would fall on Prussia; and the 
new taxes proposed by von der Heydt, among them one 
on brandy (another of the poor man's 'necessaries'), were 
rejected by the Reichstag, whose action was, in June, fol- 
lowed by the Zollparlament, more especially in the matter 
of the tax on petroleum. The two assemblies were dis- 
solved on the same day (June 22nd, 1869) - ^^<^' when, 
early in the following October, the Prussian Landtag re- 
opened, a deficit of 5.^ millions was announced to it for 

1870, which would necessitate heavy fresh taxation and 
a loan. Von der Heydt's Jiasco was complete, and he 
resigned his office before the month was out. Otto Camp- 
hausen, who, to the satisfaction of all parties, took his 
place, by a bold linancial oj)cration (consisting mainly in 

v] Close of the Reichstag 379 

the conversion of 223 million dollars, nearly half the exist- 
ing public debt, into irredeemable annuities) relieved the 
state of the compulsory annual payment of nearly 4I 
millions, and thus rendered the recurrence of a deficit 
unlikely for many years to come (December 13th). The 
radical Opposition had in vain pressed the alternative 
course of a reduction of expenditure by a diminution of 
armaments, which Virchow declared would accord with 
the pacific sentiments of the French nation. But the 
Prussian Chamber preferred to proceed after a different 
fashion, and, by approving Camphausen's proposal (by 
242 to 128 votes), wiped out the Prussian deficit and put 
an end to a constant source of controversy between 
Governments and Parliaments. 

Thus the Reichstag, which opened on February 14th, 
1870, and again on May gth, for a three weeks' session, 
could devote its main attention to social legislation^. 
Lasker's motion of thanks and encouragement to Baden was 
withdrawn (February 27th), after a speech from Bismarck, 
in which he demanded to be allowed to choose the right 
time for completing the work of national union. Early in 
May, the labours of the Zotlparlament, by means of a 
compromise as to taxation, contrived by the Old-Liberal 
von Patow, came to a satisfactory close. By midsummer, 
1870, when the Reichstag closed with a temperate royal 
speech, much had been done to advance the inner cohesion 
of the North-Gennan Confederation, to which the control 
of foreign affairs had now been formally transferred by the 
Prussian Government. But except in matters of trade and 
industry, and of military readiness, no effective progress 
had been made towards its union with the states of the 
south-west. Bismarck still resisted the efforts of Baden to 

1 The abolition of the penalty of death, except for attempts 
against the life of the sovereign, even in states where this abolition 
had hitherto been total, gave Bismarck a strange opportunity for 
denouncing particularism. 

380 The North-Gcrnuni Confederation [CH. v 

hasten her admission into the Confederation before the 
other southern states, Bavaria in particular, had declared 
their readiness to enter it. Of this there was no sign, and, 
so long as Hohenlohe had remained at the head of the 
Bavarian Go\-ernment, he had needed all his skill and self- 
restraint to keep both King and Chambers fairly well in 
hand. In February 1870, Hohenlohe (whose intervention 
in the matter of the Oecumenical Council, to be noticed 
below, had embittered the opposition to himV. and who in 
the previous November had already placed his resignation 
in the hands of the King) was forced by a vote of want 
of confidence in both Houses of the diet, in which nearly 
all the ro\-al princes joined, to resign finally ; and in March 
his place was taken by Count \'on Bray-Steinburg (hitherto 
envoy at Vienna), a man of moderate views and disposition 
but representing the party desirous of preserving the 
autonomy of the kingdom. In Wiirttemberg, the Minister 
of War, Wagner, had to quit office after a vote of the Chamber 
for military reduction (April) ; but he was succeeded by the 
King's energetic military adviser, Suckow. There was no 
change of policy in either kingdom ; but the prevalent 
popular feeling allowed no advance towards national union. 
When, in the early spring of this fateful year. Prince 
Anton of Hohenzollern paid a \isit to Berlin, the watchful 
Benedetti was informed that the Prince's })urpose was to 
lay before King William a proposal for his assunijition of 
the imperial crown, the Kings of Ba\aria and Wiirttemberg 
being cowed into submission'-. The stDiy was, as a matter 
of fact, wide of the mark ; for the Prince's \isit was concerned 
with a cpiite different project, out of which, however, was 
to grow the consummation i)ersistently feared in France. 

* Denkivurdigkcilen , vol. 11, p. 3. 

* The rumour, in a somcwliat (lilkTcnt form, uatlKd 1 ioln iilolir 
through Koggcnbach. //;., pp. 5 and 7. See also Ollivicr, vol. xiii, 
ch. I, sec. 2. 



The Peace of Prague, as has been seen, was concluded 
on August 3rd, 1866; and France, whose mediation had 
not extended to a share in the pacification, or in the re- 
sponsibihty for its terms, could not reconcile herself to 
its results^. The main motive which united imperialists, 
Orleanists and republicans in their dissatisfaction at 
Prussia's successes was national jealousy; and, unless 
something were done to meet this feeling, the Napoleonic 
regime, as it successively turned its back upon Germany, 
Mexico and Rome, was more and more in danger. After 
the achievements of 1866, Bismarck and many less fully 
informed observers in both northern and southern Germany 
gradually came to entertain no doubt but that the outbreak 
of war with France was merely a question of time. Pro- 
bably, they were right; since jealousy is at least as potent 
a force as interest in the relations between peoples. 

^ For the chief authorities used in the present chapter see 
Bibliography. Olhvier, whose value as a historical authority is 
belittled by Sybel, has been compared with him throughout. As 
to the earlier part of the transactions here summarised, special 
use has been made of the notes of a very shrewd and favourably 
placed observer, Rothan, then French consul-general at Frankfort. 
Vol. Ill of O. Meding's memoirs (already cited for Hanoverian 
affairs) shows a close knowledge of certain passages in the political 
history of these years, but ultimately loses itself in the quicksands 
of self -destructive intrigue. 

3S2 Frauco-Gcnnan Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

But the polic}' of Bismarck, wliose ascendancy in the 
counsels of his sovereign, though at no time absolutely 
uncontrolled or unchecked, was rendered more assured 
by his triumphs, was, in the first instance, directed to 
the postponement of that outbreak, till a stronger and 
more thoroughly organised Germany could confidently 
take the held. It was, therefore, desirable to seem to meet 
the wishes of France, if they could not be actually met, 
without affronting German national spirit, upon the en- 
couragement of which everything depended for the great 
final effort. Far more diflicult to decide than the attitude 
of Bismarck, who, as he himself repeatedly pointed out, 
could at any time go off the scene, or even than the bearing 
of his so\'ereign, or, again, than the pose of an irresponsible 
parliamentary luminary accustomed, like Thiers, to com- 
mand the applause of a listening Chamber, was the action 
of the French Emperor. Upon him, ageing and enfeebled 
by a mortal disease, there pressed on all sides the continuous 
demand for 'compensations' to France — a demand which, 
in the interests of his throne and dynasty, seemed impera- 
tive ; while, at the same time, with the magnanimity 
that fonnccl part of his nature, he still, amidst a flood of 
inxcctive and satire against him and his, cherished the 
political conception which, of all 'Napoleonic ideas,' lay 
nearest to his heart. The principle of nationalities, which, 
with his aid, Italy, and now, without it, Germany, had 
successfully asserted, was dear to him, as it was to them; 
what they could not understand was his wish that they 
should each place limits, of his choosing, upon its extension. 
The peace negotiations between Austria and Prussia had 
not yet come to a close, when, partly under the infUience of 
his own convictions, partly in response to von der Goltz's 
confident assurances of Bismarck's reasonableness, the 
Emperor Napoleon resolved upon a change of policy. For 
'compensations' were to be substituted, as the phrase ran, 

vi] The Neii) French Policy 383 

great 'agglomerations.' Drouyn de Lhuys, who, after the 
failure of his endeavours to bring about an alliance with 
Austria, had not succeeded in obtaining the ' compensation ' 
of Mainz and the Bavarian Palatinate, had now (August 
20th) sent in his resignation ; and the Emperor Napoleon, 
while still keeping in view the alternative scheme of a 
triple alliance with Italy and Austria^, sought, in the first 
instance, to arrive at a satisfactory mutual understanding 
with Prussia. Benedetti, who had opened negotiations 
with Bismarck in this direction, having declined the 
French foreign office, it was temporarily filled by the 
appointment of Marquis de Moustier, at the time French 
ambassador at Constantinople and formerly at Berlin, 
where his paternal and maternal grandfathers had likewise 
represented France. Pending his arrival, the direction of 
foreign affairs was committed to Marquis de La Valette, 
the statesman whose frank counsels had, on a momentous 
occasion^, determined the Emperor in favour of a pacific 
policy, of which, like Rouher at this time. La Valette 
steadily advocated the maintenance. In the form of a 
circular bearing his signature, the Emperor, on September 
i6th, published in the Moniteur the manifesto which re- 
vealed to its disappointed readers his views of the European 
situation and of the part France ought now to play. 

While vindicating to her the right of choosing her 
alliances, and bidding her regard without fear the dissolu- 
tion of the old Germanic Confederation, the aggrandisement 
of Prussia and the national consolidation of Italy, this 
document declared that France had no desire for annexa- 
tions, except of populations already united to her by 
identity of manners and national spirit. The thought of 
Luxemburg and Belgium cannot have been absent from this 
proposition, and it was in substantial agreement with the 

^ Cf. Gedanken und Erinnerungen, vol. ii, pp. 53—4. 
^ Cf. p. 301, ante. 

384 Franco-German Relations, 1866-1870 [ch. 

paper which, in August i86C), Benedetti had written down 
in Bismarck's presence, in the course of their conversations, 
as expressing what the Prussian statesman considered, or 
professed to consider, a possible agreement between his 
Government and the French. The (haft had been trans- 
mitted by Benedetti to the Emperor, who, through Rouher, 
had empowered his ambassador to 'accept in principle,' and 
added, on his own account, the futile suggestion that Prussia 
should annex Protestant Saxony, and compensate its King 
on the Catholic left bank of the Rhine'. Tliis document 
stipulated that France should recognise the recent Prussian 
annexations, and that Prussia should facilitate the French 
acquisition of Luxemburg; while France would not object 
to a federal union between the North-German Confederation 
and the southern states (except Austria), with a common 
parliament. Should France be led by circumstances to 
send troops into Belgium or conquer it, Prussia would give 
armed support to France; and, in order to assure the 
preceding arrangements, the two Governments would, as 
part of the present compact, conclude an offensive and 
defensive alliance. The question, now that the Peace of 
Prague had been signed (the treaties of alliance with the 
southern states were, of course, still a secret), was: What 
would be the decision of the King of Prussia on the pro- 
posals as returned to Bismarck in their final form? Public 
opinion in France, especially after the La Vah^tte circular, 
was expectant of acquisitions which, while in harmony 
with the principles of nationalities, might reconcile French 
interests and French ])ri<U' to the actual aggrandisement 
of Prussia ;ind the cxcntual extension of her influence, if 
not of her hegemony. 

^ See the preface to Benedetti's Essais Diplomaliques (1895), in 
which he seeks to bring home to Bismarck the primary responsibihty 
for the idea of a French acquisition of Belgium. For the text of 
Benedetti's draft see Sorel, vol. i, pp. 26-7. 

vi] The Luxemburg Question 385 

The grand-duchy of Luxemburg, which had formed part 
of the dominions of the first French repubhc and of the first 
French empire, had, in 1839, much against its will, instead 
of being transferred to Belgium, as was the ardent desire 
of the Cathohc Luxemburgers, remained subject to the King 
of Holland and included in the Germanic Confederation. 
But that Confederation was now dead, and the historical 
argument that Luxemburg had of old not only formed 
part of the Holy Roman Empire, but furnished Emperors 
to it, could hardly be held of account. On the other 
hand, the main language of the population was certainly 
German — an awkward fact for the application to the present 
case of the nationalit}' principle; but the La Valette 
circular laid stress upon bonds more trustworthy than 
communit}' of language^. Diplomacy would, therefore, 
have to devise the requisite bargain with King William of 
Holland for the transfer — not the first in the history of 
the grand-duchy — of his rights of sovereignty ; while the 
unconcealed desire of the Luxemburgers themselves to 
remain independent must be, more or less, ignored. While 
the acquisition of Luxemburg would go some way towards 
balancing recent Prussian gains, the union of Belgium to 
France, with the countenance and assistance of Prussia, 
was deemed a fair price for acquiescence in the development 
of her relations towards south-western Germany. 

With regard to Belgium, it had, in the later days of 
its history, been as much exposed to the covetousness of 
its neighbours as was now the grand-duchy, which it would 
itself have been glad enough to absorb. So early as 1821, 
Tsar Alexander I having sounded the French Government 

^ The case against the inclusion of the grand-duchy in the new 
German Confederation is well argued in the Belgian interest by 
P. Nothomb, Histoire Beige dii Grand Duche de Luxembourg, cited 
by F. Gribble in 'The Future of Luxemburg' in The Nineteenth 
Century and After, No. cccclxxiv, August 1916. 

W. M.G. II. 25 

386 Fycinco-Gcniiiiii Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

as to the gain France would expect in the event of the ex- 
pulsion of the Turks from Europe, Villele had suggested 
to the Due de Richelieu, then Prime-minister, that the 
sole desirable compensation for the gains of other Powers 
was to be found in ' Belgium and the departments of the 
Rhine.' Some three years later, Count La Ferronays, 
French ambassador at Petersburg, made the same sug- 
gestion, but ineffectually ; and, seemingly in 1828, after 
Navarino, he, as Foreign Minister, repeated it through the 
Due de Mortemart, his successor at the Russian Court, 
to Tsar Nicholas I. It formed part of the still more liberal 
'compensation' which, in the following year, General 
Richemont secretly laid before the Dauphin and the 
Ministry. Soon after this. Prince de Polignac had formed 
the administration in which he filled the office of Foreign 
Minister. With the aid of Count Bois-le-Comte, director 
of political affairs in this department, he worked out, and 
obtained the approval of the Royal Council for, a 'grand 
design,' which has its place among the curiosities of French 
history by the side — but longo intervallo — of that of a 
Bourbon more famous than Charles X. Its object was 
a revision of the map of Europe, which included certain 
drastic territorial rearrangements in Germany ; while to 
France was to be transferred (besides Saarbriicken and 
Saarlouis) Belgium, with Luxemburg, Zealand and North- 
Brabant. But the Peace of Adrianople (September 1829) 
had put an end to the primary project of the partition of 
the Ottoman empire ; and Polignac's grand design collapsed, 
even sooner than the throne it was to have glorified^. 

Bismarck, before going on leave early in September 1866, 
had pointed out to Benedetti the ()b\-ious suspicions which 

' Sec, for an account of the successive stages of the history of 
the Luxemburg-Belgian idea, Professor A. Stern's essay, 'Der 
grosse Plan des Fursten von Polignac v. J. 1829' in Reden, Vortrage 
und Abhandlungen (1914). 

vi] German Policy as to Luxemburg 387 

would be excited throughout Europe by the conclusion of 
an offensive and defensive alliance between Prussia and 
France. As to Luxemburg, whose future was the immediate 
point, he was magnanimously ready to recommend to the 
King the withdrawal of the Prussian garrison, if this 
would ensure the firm friendship of France. But in no 
case, he continued, could Prussia take the initiative at the 
Hague for inducing King William III to cede Luxemburg 
to France, and least of all could there be any question of 
a compensatory cession to him of German territory. On 
Bismarck's return to Berlin, Benedetti sought to learn 
from him the decision of the King of Prussia on the pro- 
posed Franco-Prussian agreement. Only a few days had 
passed since information had reached Paris of the conclusion 
of the secret treaties of alliance between Prussia and the 
states of the south-west. Apart from this, the fact of the 
confidential mission of General von Manteuffel to Peters- 
burg (August 7th) suggested, in the words of Benedetti, 
that Prussia had found a way of 'covering herself against 
the displeasure of France.' On the other hand, none of 
the Ministers or Marshals consulted by the French Emperor 
was prepared to take up a determined attitude in the crisis 
brought on by his diplomacy; and the report of the 
military commission which was made public about this time 
(December 12th), and which recommended the organisation 
of an army of 800,000 men — more than half of them to 
be called out by the simple fiat of the Ministry of War — 
was so unfavourably received that it had to be shelved. 

Thus, after an interview between Bismarck and Bene- 
detti on December 3rd, it soon became evident that, while 
the dilatory policy of the former continued to shelter 
itself behind the necessity of ascertaining the wishes of 
the King, the Emperor was unwilling to break off negotia- 
tions on the basis — or something like the basis — of the 
August draft. King William showed little inclination for 

388 Franco-G€r})iaii Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

a French alliance (against whom was it to be directed? the 
Crown-prince asked Bismarck, who in return suspected him 
of being influenced by 'the Government of his mother- 
in-law ') ; and, as to the Prussian garrison at Luxemburg, 
he regarded the retention of it there as a duty imposed 
upon him by treaty. Moltke was in favour of retaining 
the fortress, or at least of rasing it ; and Bismarck, though 
not afraid of war, seems to have stood nearly alone in 
preferring evacuation to the risk of a premature outbreak 
of what might pro\'e a prolonged struggle. At the begin- 
ning of the year, as the opening of the legislative sessions 
approached in both countries, a critical conversation took 
place between Bismarck and Bcnedetti. The King, 
Bismarck now stated, might perhaps be induced to offer 
France a defensi\-e alliance securing to her the benevolent 
neutrality of Prussia; an offensive alliance was out of the 
question. As to the Prussian garrison at Luxemburg, he 
was not disposed to recall it spontaneously; but France 
might, perhaps, think fit to bring about that result by 
means of a vote of the population, or by consenting to 
the rasing of the fortress. 

Napoleon was very wroth ; but he was now much pre- 
occupied with the internal changes announced by him in 
his open letter of January 19th, 1867. The notion of an 
alliance with Prussia, though it was not buried till a little 
later, was by this time really dead. As between France 
and the North-German Confederation, the matter at issue 
was reducing itself to Luxemburg; 'once at Luxemburg,' 
wrote Benedetti about the middle of February, 'we shall 
be on the road to Belgium.' As for the southern states 
of Germany, their right of determining their future for 
themselves was expressly allowed in the French yellow- 
book published early in the same month. Yet, in his 
speech at the opening of the Legislative Body on February 
14th, the Emperor boasted that the voice of France 

vi] Attitude of the Dutch Government 389 

had sufficed to prevent the entrance of the victorious 
Prussian troops into Vienna, and pointed out that, at the 
present day, the influence of a nation depends on the 
number of men it can put in the field, tlms indicating that 
his reforms were not to imply any stoppage in the reorgani- 
sation of the French army. On the other hand, the 
Reichstag was, on the 24th, opened by King Wilham with 
a speech conveving the assurance that, so soon as possible, 
north and south would, of their own free will and on the 
basis of the Peace of Prague, settle their mutual national 

The Dutch Government was, practically, ready to con- 
sider any solution of the Luxemburg question except the 
inclusion of the grand-duchy in the North-German Con- 
federation. Early in February 1867, however, the French 
Government, which had received favourable reports from 
its emissaries as to public opinion in Luxemburg, though 
Benedetti stated the desire there to be for independence, 
began to sound both the Dutch Government and the 
Luxemburg administration as to a possible cession of the 
grand-duchy to France; and the Emperor's policy was 
aided by the good offices of Queen Sophia of Holland 
(a Wiirttemberg princess well remembered as one of the 
cleverest great ladies of her day). The Dutch Court was, 
as often happens in neutral states, divided in its interests; 
the King's brother Prince Henry, who governed the grand- 
duchy and favoured Prussia, and his Minister Baron 
Tornaco, being opposed to any present action. But the 
Dutch Ministry, of which Count van der Zuylen was the 
head, would have been glad to get rid of the grand-duchy 
of Luxemburg in the best way possible, while, partly by this 
means, securing to Holland the duchy of Limburg. Such, 
too, was the opinion of the Prince of Orange. 

Meanwhile, the French propaganda in Luxemburg sought 
specially to prepare the population for a plebiscite on the 

390 Franco-German Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

future g()^'ernmcnt oi the country. Moustier now tlunight 
the time ripe for i)roposing to the Dutch (jo\-ernnient two 
treaties: the one guaranteeing to Holhuid, by means of a 
defensive alhance, the possession of Limburg, and the other 
assuring to France the cession of the grand-duchy. Benedetti 
took his departure for Paris under the impression that the 
King of Prussia would not object to the cession of the grand- 
duchy by Holland to France, and that, after this had been 
accomplished, the Prussian garrison would be withdrawn 
from the fortress. But there was, or ought to ha\'e been, 
no certainty in this impression. As to the Prussian right 
of garrison, it had undoubtedly come to an end with the 
dissolution of the Germanic Confederation, on whose 
behalf it had been acquired in 1815-16, and confirmed by 
a treat}' between the four Allied Powers and the Nether- 
lands in 1817, followed by a resolution of the Diet in 1820^. 
Notice to quit could only be given by the Power holding 
the sovereignty over the grand-duchy. This it was now 
proposed to transfer to France ; but the European Powers, 
which had allowed to Prussia the right in question, and 
which in 1839 had taken part in settling the relations 
between Belgium and Luxemburg, had to be consulted 
before they were altered. Neither Russia nor Great 
Britain, however, seemed to have any present thought of 
intervention; altliough, at Vioiuia, Beust declared himself 
unable to encourage the French Go\Trnment in a course 
which must offend German opinion. In any case, the 
French Government now proposed definitely to the King 
of Holland a convention, which was to remain secret 
till after a vote of the Luxemburg ])opulation, for the 
cession of the grand-duchy to France, in return for an 

^ In 1856, a convention between Prussia and Holland had 
substituted for the Prussian right of furnishing three-fourths 
of the garrison, that of furnishing the whole. Ollivier, vol. ix, 
p. 165. 

vi] Suspense 391 

adequate indemnity (from four to five million francs was tfie 
figure suggested), together with a secret treaty permanently 
guaranteeing the integrity of the rest of the Dutch dominions 
(Limburg, of course, included). The King of Holland 
replied to the French charge d'affaires at the Hague, 
Baudin, that he 'did not say no' to these proposals. 

So far matters had, on the whole, gone well for the 
success of the first instalment of the new French policy. 
On March i6th, 1867, Thiers had in the Chamber de- 
nounced German unity, but at the same time advised 
that nothing should be done at present to throw southern 
Germany into the arms of Prussia, and Prussia into those 
of Russia (in other words, that the imperial Government's 
military refomis should be rejected). Two days later, 
whether or not in reply to this oration, Bismarck published 
the secret treaties of alliance with the south-German states ; 
and no protest followed from either Austria or France. 
The King of Holland, determined to be on the safe side, 
immediately apprised Baudin that he thought the consent 
of the signatories of the Treaty of 1839 indispensable to the 
cession of the grand-duchy ; and the Dutch envoy at Berlin, 
van der Bylandt, was instructed, if interrogated on the 
subject, to state that his sovereign would not proceed to 
the cession without the consent of Prussia. An interval 
of uncertainty now followed, during which, in the face of 
the growing excitement in the Reichstag and in the country 
at large, the attitude of Bismarck stiffened, and he per- 
sistently declined to accord the desired consent in his 
master's name. As yet, both in the Reichstag and in his 
colloquies with Benedetti, he evaded any declaration of a 
decided policy in the Luxemburg affair; and, on March 
22nd, he went so far as to ask the French Government to 
prevent the King of Holland from making any communi- 
cation to the King of Prussia concerning the proposed 
cession, as if it were a design which, if made known, must 

392 Franco-German Relations, 1866-1870 [cH. 

lead to an explosion. The warning, which was, in all 
probability, sincerely meant — for Bismarck's wishes were 
at this time all in fax'our of peace — came too late. 

The King of Holland, pressed by his Ministers, had re- 
solved to request Count Perponcher, the Prussian envoy at his 
Court, to obtain the King of Prussia's assent to the proposed 
cession, and, on the jOth, sent his son, the Prince of Orange, 
to Paris, with a letter to the luiiperor, staling his intention 
to cede the grand-ducliy to h'rance, and urging the Mmperor 
to obtain the King of Prussia's consent to the transaction. 
King William telegraphed back, that he could not pronounce 
on the subject without knowing the \-iews of the other 
Powers who had signed 'the treaties.' While the air was 
full of fears or hopes of conflict, Bismarck's attitude con- 
tinued anything but bellicose; indeed, he seemed to be in 
search of fresh expedients for solving the problem. Among 
other suggestions, he re\-ived one which the French Govern- 
ment had already rejected: that, if the fortress were 
evacuated h\" the Prussians, the fortifications, of which 
the reconstruction had been partly defrayed by German 
money, shoukl be dismantled. Of this Benedetti would 
not hear; and, especially as Bismarck dwelt on the appre- 
hensions at Petersburg of difficulties arising in the way of 
the contemplated visit of the King of Prussia, and perhaps 
of that of the Tsar, to the great Paris Exhibition, the 
French ambassador inclined to the conclusion — doubtless 
correct — that Bismarck's present object was to disclaim 
any knowledge of the Franco-Dntch project. Thus, the 
Emperor Napoleon concluded that no time must be lost to 
make the cession an accomplished fact ; and, the telegrajihic 
consent of the King of Holland ha\-ing been obtained to 
the agreement, Baudin was summoned to Paris, and re- 
turned to the Hague on the same day (March 31st) with 
his final instructions. The King of Holland was now asked 
to sign the treaty of cession at once, the Emperor of the 

VI 1 The Crisis Imminent 393 

French taking upon himself the responsibihty of obtaining 
Prussia's assent to it ex post facto. 

The crisis now seemed imminent, if it had not yet arrived. 
PubHc opinion in Germany had settled down into a deter- 
mination not to allow the cession, and in France to insist 
upon it. Von der Goltz sent word from Paris that armaments 
were being carried on at high pressure, and Rothan from 
Frankfort that Prussia was forming three new army corps. 
In London, Bernstorff suddenly enquired from the Foreign 
Secretary, Lord Stanley, what would be the bearing of the 
British Government, should war break out between France 
and the North-German Confederation. Meanwhile, the 
Luxemburg Gazette, inspired by the wish of the Government 
and population of the grand-duchy not to be swallowed up, 
boldly denied that a treaty of cession had been concluded^. 
On April ist, the King of Holland — it is said under female 
influence (not that of the Queen) — declared himself ready 
to sign ; but the delay of a day was granted in order that 
information might be sent to Baron Tornaco. 

Rarely has the question of war or peace hung on so 
slender a thread of time. Benedetti, though fairly puzzled 
by Bismarck's ambiguous attitude, concluded that he would 
not advise the King of Piaissia to yield to military counsels 
or public opinion and go to war about the accomplished 
fact, if only it was clear that Prussia had neither given 
nor refused her assent to it ; and von der Goltz avowed that 
it would be absurd to fight on so unimportant an issue. But 
it had become necessary to tack once more. The agitation 
at Berlin was growing apace, and an interpellation in the 
Reichstag by Bennigsen had been arranged for April ist, 
to which Bismarck proposed to reply in a tranquillising 

1 Bismarck had, on March 27th, decHned the request of the 
Luxemburg Government, made so long since as October 12th, 1866, 
for an international alliance with Prussia, the existing garrison 
arrangements in the fortress remaining unaltered. 

394 Fnuico-Goinun RcUitiois, 1866-1870 [ch. 

sense. On the pro\ious d.ay, he had informed Benedetti 
of his intention, aiul had pointed out the necessity of delay- 
ing the signature of the treaty of cession. But the French 
ambassador had recei\-ed telegram upon telegram from 
Paris, announcing tliat the Emperor would not go back; 
and, on the morning of the fateful April ist^, he called 
upon Bismarck, who was on the point of proceeding to the 
sitting of the Reichstag. Bismarck, intent upon clearing his 
Go\'crnment from all responsibility as to the cession, with- 
out affronting military opinion and public feeling at home, 
pointed out to Benedetti, who accompanied him by a garden 
way to the parliament house, the inevitable effect of an an- 
nouncement to the Reichstag, on the authority of the French 
ambassador, that the treaty was as good as concluded; 
and Benedetti declined to take the responsibility thus im- 
posed upon him 2. On his return to the embassy, he found 
a further dispatch from Moustier, which stated explicitly 
that the treaty would be signed in the course of the day. 
Had Bismarck made this announcement to the Reichstag, 
it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to prevent 
an outburst of public fe(;ling which would have led to a 
declaration of war against France by the North-German 
Confederation. Instead, he answered Bcnnigsen's enthu- 
siastically received speech, denouncing this first attempt to 
tear away fragments of Germany, by a temperate exposition 
of the reasons which had induced the confederated Govern- 
ments to abandon any idea of admitting the grand-duchy 
of Luxemburg into the North-German Confederation, 
adding that the)' considered the Prussian right of garrison- 
ing the fortress to have expired, and desired to maintain a 

^ It was the day of the opening of the Great Exhibition at Paris 
by the Emperor Napoleon, who had, just before the ceremony, re- 
ceived the news of the imminence of the Mexican catastrophe. 

^ The whole episode, which admirably illustrates Bismarck's 
presence of mind, is excellently told by O. Meding, vol. in, pp. 206 ff. 

vi] Bismarck in the Reichstag 395 

good understanding with a pacific neighbour of equal rank. 
So far, they had no occasion to know that a treaty with the 
grand-duchy had been concluded by France, although they 
could not state the contrary with certainty, and were not 
aware whether its conclusion was near at hand. The view 
taken by the Governments of such a transaction could, 
therefore, not yet be declared ; in any case, they must first 
ascertain the views held by the other signatory Powers of 
1839, and by the German nation and the North-German 
Reichstag. Bismarck denied that any negotiations on the 
subject of Luxemburg were on foot between France and 
the North-German Confederation ; for the rest, since the 
confederated Governments hoped that no foreign Power 
would prejudice their rights, they trusted to be able to 
guard these by peaceful negotiation, the more so since they 
and the German nation were at one in the matter. 

By this speech, which was well received, and after 
which the Reichstag passed to the order of the day, Bismarck 
succeeded in clearing his Government from the widely-felt 
and, in the circumstances, extremely natural suspicion that 
the Prussian and French Governments had 'negotiated' 
on the subject of Luxemburg. In the technical sense of 
the term, this denial was so exact that the French Govern- 
ment, a fortnight afterwards, made a declaration to the 
same effect. But he was not equally successful in tran- 
quillising public and satisfying military opinion in Germany. 
An immediate explosion, indeed, had been averted here; 
and, though for a time the French Government kept the 
question of the cession in suspense, the King of Holland, 
after being formally advised by the Prussian Government 
to refrain from abandoning Luxemburg to France, con- 
fessed, through van der Zuylen, that he saw no way out of 
the difficulty but to yield ' in face of the threatening eventu- 
ality of a European war.' How near that ' eventuality ' had 
been suddenlv brought, was shown bv the rumours of war 

396 Franco-German Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

and by the ]■> reparations for it whicli continned, both in 
German\-, till the niidtUe of April, and in France, where 
Marshal Niel continued his efforts for the day when the 
chassepot should assert its superiority over the Zundnadel, 
while the gates of Strassburg citadel were kept jealously 
closed. Meanwhile, it was sought, on both sides, to secure 
the approval of tlu^ otlun- Powers for what had been done, 
and for what had Ihimi left undone. A circular dispatch 
by Bismarck appealed, as it were, to the goodwill of Napo- 
leon against the aggressive inliuences around him ; and 
Moustier, recognising the diflicullx- of carrying out the 
cession scheme, although neither Beust nor Lord Stanley 
had taken objection to it, fell back on the demand for 
removal of the Prussian garrison, as to which the support 
of the three Great Powers could scarcely fail the French 

Thus, Prussia seemed, after all, in a dilemma l^etween 
what, in northern Germany at all e\'ents, would be de- 
nounced as submission to a demand which the Prussian 
Government still professed to regard as contrary to the 
treaties of 1815-17 and 1856, and a refusal, which, in the 
existing temper of France and a great part of Germany, 
could hardly but lead to war. Bismarck could not give 
a more than passing consideration to Beust's impracticable 
alternative of transferring the grand-duchy to Belgium, 
with a compensation to France (consisting mainly of the 
duchy of Bouillon) ; and Beust himself would have nothing 
to say to the scheme suggested by Count von Tauffkirchen, 
as the agent of the Bavarian Prime-minister, Hohenlohe, 
of an alliance, with special reference to the Luxemburg 
question, between Austria and Prussia, to be joined by 
the south-western states^. Finally, while Gortchakoff at 
last made it manifest that Russia was preparing to inter- 
vene actively in behalf of peace. Lord Stanley, with the 
* See Hohenlohe, Denkiviirdigkeilen, vol. i, pp. 225 ff. 

vi] Prussia accepts a Conference 397 

aid of a personal letter to King William from Queen Victoria, 
pressed upon the Prussian Government the expediency of 
giving way in the matter of the removal of the garrison, 
to which the ostensible difference was now narrowing itself 
down, and which the French Government continued to 
urge. At the same time, Gortchakoff, averring that the 
other Great Powers were unanimous as to the expiration 
of Prussia's right of garrison, proposed a conference of the 
Great Powers in London, on the basis of the neutrality, 
to be guaranteed by them, of the grand-duchy. In face 
of the continued ferment of public opinion, and the eager- 
ness for war of the military chiefs at Berlin, Bismarck, 
on April 26th, yielded to the pressure brought to bear upon 
him by Great Britain, Russia and (though in a less degree) 
Austria. On April 26th, he expressed to Lord Augustus 
Loftus his willingness to accept the proposed conference 
on the basis indicated, which implied the removal of the 
Prussian garrison from the fortress ; he insisted, however, 
on the evacuation being treated, not as part of the basis 
of the conference, but as a consequence of its resolutions. 

Both before and at the Conference, which met in London 
on May 7th, Bismarck, through Bernstorff, adopted a 
very determined bearing. A few hours before the open- 
ing, Bernstorff demanded that Lord Stanley's presidential 
draft, in which there had been no mention of a general 
and individual guarantee of the neutrality of the grand- 
duchy, should be amended by the insertion, as indispens- 
able, of this requirement. The difficulty was solved, after 
a fashion, by the diplomatic ingenuity of the Russian pleni- 
potentiary, the veteran Baron Brunnow, at whose sugges- 
tion the requirement of a collective or common guarantee 
was proposed b}' Bernstorff; so that, the case arising, it 
would be left to a joint resolution of the signatory Powers 
to declare whether a violation of neutrality had occurred, 
and what steps should be taken in consequence. At 

398 FrLUico-Gcrniati Rclcitioiis, 1866-1870 [CH. 

the meeting of the Conference on May qth, Lord Stanley 
announced the assent of his Government to the new formula, 
and thus ensured the adoption of the treaty as a whole ^. 
Besides the neutrality of the grand-duchy, guaranteed 
in the abo\'e form, tiie treaty, signed on May nth, 
provided for the continuance of the sovereignty of the 
King of Holland over the grand-duchy, which retained 
its right to control its customs tariff and to conclude com- 
mercial treaties, and remained a member of the Zollvercin. 
The Prussian Government undertook to evacuate the 
fortress after the ratification of the treaty, and, this 
having been accomplished on May 31st, the Prussian 
garrison departed; and the King of Holland undertook 
to dismantle the fortifications. 

Europe could breathe again ; and all the nations could 
join in flocking to the great festival of peace, the Paris 
Exhibition, with their sovereigns at their head. It is true 
that, during the month of continuous diplomatic effort, 
France had gained time for organising her forces to resist 
the attack which, at the Prussian military headquarters 
was being, not less vigorous)}-, prepared ; and that Marshal 
Niel, who on April ist liad estimated the strength of the 
French army at 385,000, on Ma}' 15th reckoned it at 
455,000 men-. But, in spite of his efforts, and Moltke's 
counsels at Berlin, tlic note of peace had been sounded on 
both sides of the Rhine ; and the murmurs were silenced. 
In France, Napoleon's policy had, for the present, prevailed 
over military and clerical influence^; and in Prussia it was, 
not for the first or the last time, made clear that public 

1 He subsequently, in the House of Commons, minimised the 
responsibility undertaken by the British Government, comparing 
it to that of a member of a hmited habihty companj'. 

- Ulhvier, vol. ix, p. 345. 

' According to Meding (vol. in, p. 214) the influence of the 
Empress Eugenie was, in this instance, exerted for peace. 

vi] Bismarck and the Luxembiirg Affair 399 

feeling there might be overruled even where, as in this 
case, it had military authority on its side. 

Bismarck's action in the Luxemburg affair is not so easy 
to understand. As he afterwards said, he had required an 
accomplisJied fact, and had been asked to pronounce on a 
fact to he acconiplislied'^. He came out of the controversy 
victorious on the more immediate issue ; for the cession 
of the grand-duchy to France, which neither Russia nor 
Great Britain had sought to prevent, had been frustrated; 
and to the evacuation of the fortress by the Prussian 
garrison he cannot be supposed to have intended to offer 
a more than temporary resistance. On the other hand, 
Prussia had submitted to the decision of the Powers with 
regard to the neutrality of the grand-duchy ; and the 
connexion between Limburg and Gemiany was at an end. 
His treatment of the whole affair had not been altogether 
self-consistent ; it long exposed him to both military and 
political censure, and it has been differently judged even by 
some of the best-informed of historical critics 2. That it 
was sincere was the belief, to the last, of Benedetti, who 
had the best opportunities of observing its successive 
phases^. We have Bismarck's own statement that his 
reason for postponing the outbreak of war with France 
was the incompleteness of the military reorganisation of 
the dominions recently added to the Prussian monarchy, 
and that he had, at the time, too high an opinion of the 
efficiency of the French army^. The expression used by 
Lorenz^, that Germany was never so 'split up' as it was 

^ Ollivier, vol. ix, p. 448. 

2 See the appendix 'Bismarck's Politik' in the second (popular) 
edition of Sybel, vol. vi. 

* OlUvier, vol. ix, p. 326. 

* Gedanken und Erinnerungen, vol. 11, p. 53, and M. Busch, 
cited ih., pp. 342 ff. 

5 O, Lorenz, p. 121. 

400 Fratico-CuiDhDi Rclahons, 1866-1870 [CH. 

early in 1867, at least requires modification, in view of 
Prussia's recent treaties of alliance with the south-western 
Governments. It is true that the Luxemburg Conference 
coincided in date with the Bavaro-Wiirttemberg proposal, 
at once rejected by Bismarck, of a league with the North- 
German Confederation, which was designed to avert their 
actual admission into it, and to bring about an alliance 
between itself and Austria i; and it was at this very time 
that, in the Stuttgart Chamber, Varnbiiler ventured to 
assert that the treaty of alliance with Prussia left to Wiirt- 
temberg the right of deciding whether a casus foederis had 
arisen. On the other hand, the Bavarian Government 
informed the Prussian that, in the e\'ent of war with France, 
the treaty of alliance with Prussia would determine its 
own action. Thus, Bismarck can hardly have feared that 
the south-west would fail to stand by the side of Prussia 
in a war with France on so clear an issue as that of the 
cession of the grand-duchy of Luxemburg. It seems, there- 
fore, more reasonable to conclude that, apart from military 
considerations, neither he nor his sovereign was willing to 
risk a war of defiance rather than of defence, in which 
Prussia, with her northern confederates, and her southern 
allies, would have had the opinion of all the other Great 
Powers against her. Great as was already the power of 
Prussia, the statesman at her helm considered that it was 
not yet great enough to confront, together with the jealousy 
of France, the united pacific interests of the rest of 

Accordingly, the Emperor Napoleon, who had invited 
Tsar Alexander II and King William I separately to the 
great international festival, had the honour of entertaining 
them conjointly at Paris (June) ; and Bismarck accom- 
panied his master, having consented to do so when told 

* See O. Lorenz, p. 135, and cf. ante, pp. 367-8. 

Vi] The Salzburg Interview 401 

that assassins were lying in wait for him there. But, while 
it was the Tsar upon whose life an attempt was made, the 
King of Prussia and his IMinister were not ill received ; and 
the latter was confidential^ consulted by the French Emperor 
as to the expediency of carrying out the Liberal reforms 
promised by him to France in his letter of January 19th. 

The Austrian Emperor and his consort's visit to Paris 
(in which it had been attempted to advance Guelf interests 
by providing the Empress with a companion in the person 
of Princess Frederika of Hanover) was put off on the 
arrival of the tragic news of the execution of the Emperor 
Maximilian at Queretaro (May 15th, 1867) ; and Napoleon's 
cherished idea of a Franco-Austro-Italian alliance had, thus, 
likewise, to be postponed. On the suggestion, however, of 
the Empress Eugenie, a visit of condolence was paid by 
the French imperial pair to Salzburg (August i8th-23rd), 
whither the Emperor Francis Joseph was accompanied by 
Beust and his Hungarian colleague, Count Julius Andrassy. 
The long conferences held on the occasion between Napoleon 
and Beust did not advance beyond the drafting by the 
latter of a memorandum that professed to establish the 
maintenance of the Peace of Prague as the point of view 
from which Austria and France agreed in regarding the 
political situation. The south-western Governments, this 
was intended to imply, would not seek to go beyond their 
actual status. But, as a matter of fact. Article IV of the 
Treaty of Prague, though it had given to these Governments 
the right of entering into an 'international, independent' 
association of their own, had not imposed upon them any 
obligation to take such a step ; nor was Prussia in any way 
bound by the Treaty to refuse their states admission into 
the North-German Confederation if they desired it ; nor 
had either Austria or France any right to interfere with 
such admission. Was the French assumption, to which 
the attitude of Austria gave implicit support, to be accepted 

W. M. G. II. 26 

402 Franco-German Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

as an axiom? Grand-duke Frederick of Baden lost no time 
in declaring (September 5th) that he adhered to his desire 
to enter into a national union with the North-German 
Confederation; and Bismarck, while expressing satisfaction 
with the official denials of the Austrian and French Govern- 
ments that any alliance against Prussia had been concluded 
at Salzburg, declared that the process of settling the national 
relations between the German south and north must be 
left to the free decision of the former. 

In October, the Emperor Francis Joseph, after a per- 
functory interview with King William on the frontier, 
paid his deferred visit to Paris, where he was well received ; 
but the European political barometer was hardly more 
affected by the imperial meeting, than it had been by the 
general peace congress at Geneva in the preceding month. 
Before the Salzburg interview, French diplomacy, steadil}^ 
ignoring the fact that France had taken no part in the 
conclusion of the Treat}' of Prague, had attempted to hasten 
the execution of another of its provisions. By Article V, 
Austria transferred her rights in Schleswig-Holstein to 
Prussia, on the understanding that, 'should the inhabitants 
of the northern districts of Schleswig by a free vote 
signify their desire to be united to Denmark, (these districts) 
shall be ceded to Denmark accordingly.' This provision 
was interpreted by Prussia as imphing that a boundary- 
line must be fixed, before the inhabitants within it were 
asked to vote on its future ; and it was further determined 
at Berlin not to make over any German town populations 
to the Danish Go\-ernment without further guarantees. 
For the rest, although Bismarck mentioned that the coming 
elections for the first ordinary Reichstag of the North- 
German Confederation would indicate the bias of popular 
preference in North Schleswig, their actual result was that, 
in the whole of Schleswig, 25,598 Danish were recorded as 
against 24,664 German votes, though it was contrived that 

vi] Abortive French Congress Proposal 403 

only a single Danish candidate should be actually returned^. 
Bismarck declared that this result proved the expediency 
of postponing further action in the matter; and, to the 
discredit of Prussia, her policy in this question remained 
persistently unchanged. In 1867, the Danish Government 
asked advice in Paris; but Moustier's complaints (July) 
only called forth another circular from Bismarck, lirmly 
declining foreign interference 2. 

The year 1867, which had been one of much economic 
depression in Germany, was not to close without fresh 
political complications. The defeat at Mentana, with French 
help, of the Garibaldian attempt upon Rome (October 17th) 
had exasperated Italian public opinion to such an extent that 
Napoleon felt the Roman question to be soluble only by a 
European congress, and began at once to invite the partici- 
pation of the European Governments all and sundry — from 
Russia and Great Britain down to Saxony and Hesse- 
Darmstadt^. Bismarck's attitude towards the proposal was 
of the coolest, though King William courteously promised 
that his Government would bear in mind the desire of 
Catholics for the independence of the Pope; and, when, 
on December 5th, Rouher solemnly announced that France 
would never {jamais/) allow the Holy Father to be driven 
from Rome, the congress idea was already dead. Early 
in 1868, the French Emperor deviated into the open- 
ing of fresh negotiations with Italy which, if the accession 
of Austria could be secured, might lead to a triple alliance 
between the three Powers. But, before these attempts 
came to anything. Napoleon had to make up his mind 
whether to resist or to accept the union between the German 
north and south-west, towards which the course of events 

^ See as to this and the preceding election W. R. Prior, North 
Sleswick under Prussian Rule, 1864-1914, p. 7. 
' Cf. OlUvier, vol. ix, pp. 269 ff. 
^ lb., vol. X, pp. 183 ff. 

26 — 2 

404 Franco-Gcrnuni Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

seenu'il at this time more and more tending. Benedetti 
at Berlin, however, in vain pointed out the necessit}' of a 
decided poHcy on the subject, which Prince Napoleon had 
recognised as desirable immediately after Sadowa^. For 
Moustier's instructions wxn'e that the Emperor's intentions 
on this head should not be divulged; and Marshal Niels 
efforts to carry through his plans for increasing the French 
army met with a widespread and \-ehement opposition, 
which, by the autumn of the year, led to their curtailment. 
Thus, the French negotiations with Italy gradually came to 
be discontinued, as the latter Power grew more and more 
intent upon the possession of Rome. The Vatican, whose 
views as to the relations between Church and State 
had been promulgated in the Encyclica and Syllabus of 
1864, was now engaged in forging new thunderbolts. One 
of these was an allocution (June 22nd, 1S68), directed 
against the new Austrian constitution and the law 
(of the previous December) which accorded freedom of 
religious exercise to the adherents of the three Christian 
creeds acknowledged by the state. And, a week later, 
the Pope formally summoned, for the last month of the 
following year, an Oecumenical Council, which, being 
announced to heal all the errors of the times, could not 
but include their political principles among its subjects 
of discussion. The Bavarian Prime-minister Hohenlohe 
accordingly, by his circular of April qth, i86g, sought to 
induce the European Governments with Catholic subjects 
to consider the matter to be brought before the Council 
and, if necessary, to agree on a protest against the passing 
by it, without reference to themselves, of resolutions 
affecting the relations between Church and State 2. On 

* See the tribute to the Prince's extraordinary foresight in I-ord 
Newton's Life of Lord Lyons, pp. 129 ff. (popular edition). Lord 
Lyons had taken up the Paris embassy in October 1867. 

^ See, for this circiilnr, f)f \vlii( li the substance was written by 

vi] New French Devices 405 

this head, Beust showed becoming caution ; while his general 
policy at this time was largely swayed by that of the 
Hungarian Prime-minister, Count Julius Andrassy, and 
based upon the desire that the dual monarchy should have 
time to recover its strength, before entering into a new 
and most serious conflict. 

Thus left to himself and his uncertainties, the Emperor 
Napoleon is found catching at straws or sending up bubbles, 
in order, by increasing the influence of France in Europe, 
to soothe an irritated public at home. He listens for a 
moment to the absurd rumour of a projected confederation 
between the south-western states of Germany and Switzer- 
land. And he recurs to the pious offer of Queen Isabella 
of Spain to take upon herself the duty of protecting the 
Pope at Rome : when (September) the Queen's own throne 
is cast to the ground, the French public, of course, believing 
Bismarck to be at the bottom of the insurrection. As a 
matter of fact, he only took advantage of its occurrence to 
announce to the world, through one of his journals, that 
the North-German Confederation must recognise in the case 
of Spain the right of a nation to regulate its own affairs 
which the German claimed for itself^. 

Near the close of 1868, as will be seen immediately, 
the European Powers, more especially Prussia and Russia, 
agreed to the Emperor Napoleon's proposal of a conference 
at Paris on the affairs of the Near East, in which Prussia 
now took an interest mainly, though not altogether, of 
a dynastic character. Mention has already been made 
of Prince Charles Anthony, the head of the Sigmaringen 
branch of the 'probably elder' and Roman Catholic line 

Dollinger, and for his questions to the (CathoUc) Theological and 
Law Faculties of the Bavarian Universities, Hohenlohe, Denkwiirdig- 
keiten, vol. i, pp. 351-3. 

^ Ollivier, vol. xi, pp. 72-3. 

4o6 Franco-German Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

of the house of Holicnzollern^, which had for six centuries 
been separated from wliat was now the Brandenburg- 
Prussian hue, till in 1850 Prince Charles Anthony, and his 
Hechingen kinsman of whom he was the heir, formally 
ceded their so\-ereign rights and those of their descendants 
to the Prussian dynasty. The Prince, whose opportune 
alienation of a peculiarly \\orthlcss sovereignty had shown 
his good sense, had given evidence of his capacity as Presi- 
dent of the Prince Regent's Ministry in 1S58-; he was, as 
his letters remain to show^, distinguished by a wide and 
statesmanlike grasp of affairs, and on terms of intimacy 
both with King William and with the Emperor Napoleon, 
with whom he was connected bv both birth and marriage'*. 
His daughter Princess Steiihanie was married (in 1858) 
to King Pedro V of Portugal. Of his sons, all of whom 
served as officers in the Prussian army, the eldest, Leopold, 
was, in 1861, married to the infanta Antonia of Portugal. 
The third, Anthony, fell at Koniggratz. But it is the second 
son, Charles, with whom we are at present concerned. 

After the Roumanian revolution of Februar\' 1866, 
which deposed Prince Couza, the Porte had desired that the 
election of a native hospodar should testify to his Vcissal- 
ship ; and, though among the Powers represented at the 
Conference on Moldo-Wallachian affairs then sitting at 
Paris, only France took exception to this, the national 
party, headed by John Bratianu, for the opposite reason, 
desired the electitjn of a foreign prince. According to 
Prince Charles himsrlf, the of his name was 
inspired by France; iiiul, notwithstanding the Emp\>ror 

' On the c.xtinclion ol tlio 1 lochingcn branch, in September 1869, 
he assumed the simpHficd title of T'rince of (zu) llohenzollern. 

* Cf. p. 29, ante. 

' See the Reminiscences of the King of Rotiynavia, here cited in 
Sidney Whitman's English version (Leipzig, 1899). 

' His mother was a niece of Murat, and his mother-in-law, 
Stephanie Bcauharnais, an adopted daughter of Napoleon I. 

vi] Prince Charles of Hohenzollern 407 

Napoleon's disclaimers of selfish motives, and his unwilling- 
ness to take the responsibility of the proposal, it was 
certainly acceptable to him as likely to strengthen the 
influence of France in the Balkans. On the other hand, 
the King of Prussia personally disliked the scheme, and 
both Prince Charles and his father at first declared them- 
selves unable to signify the assent to which they inclined, 
without consulting the King as head of their house. 

Inasmuch as the question of the authority of the King 
of Prussia over the Hohenzollern Princes was, four years 
later, to become of European importance, it may be stated 
here at once that these Princes had, in 1851, been formally 
constituted a branch line of the royal house of Prussia. 
They were, therefore, not only bound to pay a general 
respect to the wishes and counsels of its head, the King 
of Prussia, as the head of the whole house of Hohenzollern, 
but, in accordance with their own house-law of 1821, the 
Sigmaringen Princes were debarred from certain acts until 
they had obtained the King's consent. These acts in- 
cluded marriage 1 and the entrance into foreign service, 
either civil or militar}^ ; but they did not include the 
acceptance or refusal of a proffered foreign throne. It is 
perfectly clear that no Hohenzollern Prince, though tech- 
nically free to take so important a step, could think of 
taking it without the assent, open or tacit, of the King of 
Prussia. It is equally clear that the King's own action 
would not leave reasons of state out of sight ; and that he 
would in this respect be advised by his Minister. 

'And s^^it came to pass. When, on March 31st, 1866, 
the Roumanian statesman John Bratianu announced, at 
Diisseldorf, that the Provisional Government at Bucharest 

^ Thus, Prince Charles, who visited France in 1863, with a view to 
marrying a Princess of the imperial house, desisted from his intention 
when objection was taken to it by King WiUiam. In 1869 he 
married the gifted Princess Elizabeth of Wied ('Carmen Sylva'). 

4o8 Franco-German Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

proposed to put Prince Charles forward as candidate for 
the Roumanian throne, he rephed not unfavourably, but 
reserved his definitive decision till he should have received 
the permission of the King of Prussia to take a step of so 
much importance. Not until, a fortnight later, Prince 
Charles Anthony received the news of his son's election, 
did the King give utterance to his opinion, which was 
doubtful and dilatory ratlur than negative. Prince 
Charles himself, hereupon, had an inter\'iew with Bismarck, 
who ad\ised him, since in this case he had no need for the 
King's permission, to ask for leave simply to go abroad, and 
then confront the Conference and Europe with an accom- 
plished fact. The Prince, howe\-er, found that the King 
still hesitated; while from Paris, whither Bismarck had 
suggested a visit, came the news that the Emperor Napo- 
leon, though he would be pleased to see the Prince on the 
Roumanian throne, could not commit himself. In the end, 
the King summoned Prince Charles Anthony to Berlin, and, 
while consenting to refrain from influencing Prince Charles's 
decision, agreed to allow the 'accomplished fact' process 
to take place. On May nth. Prince Charles vanished 
from Diisseldorf, and on the 20th (having resigned his 
Prussian commission) reached Bucharest with Bratianu, 
and amidst general rejoicing took charge of the government 
oi Roumania. The Conference at Paris pronounced the 
election illegal, but, in reply to a demand of the Porte, 
refused to use force against the Prince, whom the Prussian 
Government declared to have acted entirely on his own 

Bismarck and Prussia, as he was on occasion^ fain to 
confess, were at this time not sufficiently interested in the 
affairs of the East, whether Near or Far, for the political 

^ E.g., to Prince Napoleon on his visit to Berlin in March 1868. 
As to the significance of this visit, see Lord Augustus Loftus's 
Diplomatic Reminiscences, 2nd series, vol. i, pp. 216 ff. 

vi] Austria, Italy and France 409 

action of Prince Charles, who was very soon recognised as 
hereditary ruler of Roumania by the Porte, to seem of direct 
importance to them. The designs and aspirations, however, 
of Bratianu and the nationalists in the united principality 
caused great uneasiness to Beust and the Austrian Govern- 
ment, and troubled the French in its character of the pro- 
tector proper of Turkey ; though Prince Charles declined 
to countenance a rebellion in Hungary proposed to him 
by the versatile arch-rebel General Tiirr, or to respond to 
the prayers of a Serbian deputation urging a joint effort 
of all the Balkan Christians for their liberation from the 
Turkish voke. On the whole, he deferred to Bismarck's 
and his own father's ad\'ice to lean mainly on the goodwill 
of Russia, upon which Prussia herself continuously relied. 
France, meanwhile, would gladh' have entered into 
more intimate relations with Austria as well as with Itaty, 
from whom it was the constant endeavour of Bismarckian 
policy to keep her asunder. The efforts of Prince Metter- 
nich at Paris and of the vehemently anti-Prussian Due de 
Gramont at Vienna were constantly directed to this end. 
Throughout 1868, jealousy of the progress of Prussian 
policy was as strong as ever, while, on the German 
side of the Rhine, the idea of the recover}^ of Alsace- 
Lorraine was ominously rising to the surface 1. But 
Austria's financial condition was still so unsatisfactory, 
and her military preparedness so incomplete, that the 
Triple Alliance project had to be once more shelved, and 
the Emperor Napoleon's project of warning the North- 
German Confederation against crossing the Main abandoned. 

^ This idea, publicly proclaimed by Moltke (in the Deutsche 
Viertelsjahrschrift) so far back as 1841, was revived in the Kreuz- 
zeitung of October 15th, 1867 (cf. Ollivier, vol. x, p. 47); and 
Schleinitz (Minister of the Household, and formerly of Foreign 
Affairs) is stated to have declared in April 1868, that, within 
eighteen months, Alsace would be Prussian (ib., vol. xi, p. 217). 

4IO I-'yioico-GcrmiUi Rchdions, 1866-1870 [cii. 

Count Vitzthum, Beust's former Saxon and now Austrian 
colleague, whom he had sent to Paris to survey the 
ground and who was now Austrian envoy at Brussels, 
in September waited upon Napoleon at Biarritz, with a 
proposal for a general disarmament ; which, however, the 
Emperor, well aware that it would at once be refused by 
Prussia, rejected, both as suggested by Beust and as amended 
by Rouhcr. He seems about this time (October) to have 
made an effort to approach the Prussian Government on 
the subject through the British ; but Lord Stanley de- 
clined^. Yet Bismarck, who, in view of the incompleteness 
of the union of north and south-west in Germany, was still 
anxious to maintain peace, now made use of the paramount 
influence of Prussia upon the proceedings of the Roumanian 
Government, to insist (through Count von Keyserling, 
then Consul-General at Bucharest) on the dismissal of the 
Bratianu, and the appointment of a pacific administration. 
The ambitious design of a Daco-Roumanian empire was, 
herewith, extinguished ; and Russia and Prussia, this time, 
fell in^ with the Napoleonic proposal of a conference 
on Turkish affairs, which had been further complicated 
by an insurrection in Crete. The result of the Conference 
(Februar}' 1869) was that Turkey retaineil possession of 
Crete, Greece bowing to the decision of the Powers, and that 
the Near East was once more still. 

But, though this settlement had gratified the self-con- 
sciousness of France, it could not greatly affect her attitude 
towards the German policy of Prussia and its prospective 
advance. The feeling against Prussia was, at this time, not 
what could be described as bellicose — it liad n('\er been such 
with the Em})eror Napoleon or with Rouher, who was still his 
most trusted adviser; nor did the I'2mpress luigenie desire 
war for its own sake, or Marshal Niel feel assured that the 

1 See Life of Lord Lyons, p. 169. 

^ Great Britain without much confidence. //'., p. 147. 

vi] The Belgian Railways Dispute 411 

armaments of France sufficed for a war in whiich sfie seemed 
likely to stand alone. A conservative war-party, indeed, 
existed; but the 'Arcadians' were as yet far from being 
masters of the situation. The view still prevailed that the 
jealousy of Prussia's aggrandisement, present or future, 
might still be appeased, and French pride satisfied, without 
a war with the North-German Confederation and its allies 
in arms. The acquisition of Belgium by France was once 
more on the tapis ; and this time, an attempt was made to 
accomplish it in a semi-occult or roundabout fashion. 

In December 1868, two Belgian (and one Dutch) railways 
were induced by the French Eastern railway to sign a 
preliminary agreement by which they conceded to the 
French Government the virtual control and possession of 
important lines of transit to Brussels (and the Netherlands) . 
No sooner had this become known in Belgium than fears 
arose of annexation as the result of this 'peaceful penetra- 
tion ' ; and the ambitious vanity of the French envoy at 
Brussels, La Gueronniere, contributed to give colour to the 
suspicions which prevailed. The affair was debated in 
the Belgian Second Chamber, where the Liberal Minister 
Frere-Orban declared that the cession of Belgian lines to 
a foreign company without Government authorisation was 
impossible, and that such authorisation would never be 
accorded. One of the first notes of alarm was a letter 
written to Lord Clarendon by command of Queen Victoria 
on Januarj' 14th, 1869, which was followed b\- a memoran- 
dum from Gladstone, insisting on the fact that 'the inde- 
pendence of Belgium was an object of the first interest to 
the British people.' The Belgian railway-lines, however, 
adhered to their bargain, and, on January 31st, 1869, 
their agreements with the French Eastern railway were 
finally concluded. But they had ventured too far. Frere- 
Orban now proposed to the Second Chamber an uncompro- 
mising law making any alienation of the kind conditional 

412 Fra)ico-Gcr)}uni Rrlafioiis, 1866-1870 [CH. 

on the approval of tlio Government ; the law was almost 
unanimously passed ; and the railwa\' treaties had been an- 
nulled. In Paris, fuel was added to the fire by the report 
that the action of the Belgian Government had been in- 
spired b\' Bismarck — a report which Clarendon, one of the 
Prussian statesman's least friendly critics, characterised as 
'a complete mare's nest^.' The Emperor Napoleon chose 
to treat the proceeding as a soiifflct to himself ; but, although 
thoughts of ;m iinincdiate annexation of Bt'lgium passed 
through his mind, he \ery speedil}' abandoned them, and, 
summoning Metternich and Vitzthum to an audience, 
proposed to them, as 'something better,' the renewal of 
negotiations for a triple alliance between France, Austria 
and Italy. The Austrian diplomats, howe\er, fell back on 
the counter-scheme of a merely defensive alliance between 
the three Powers; and on this basis negotiations, here- 
upon, proceeded with Beust and the Emperor Francis 
Joseph, with every prospect of success, and also, through 
Count Vimercati, with the Italian Government. The 
Prussian Government, meanwhile, kejit (]uiet. 

The Belgian railways difficulty gradually subsided. Frere- 
Orban, who had arrived at Paris on April 2nd, declined to 
give way under the pressure of I'^rench demands for the 
revival of the offending railway treaties; and, as Prussia 
abstained from all provocation, while (ireat Britain coun- 
selled moderation, it was the Emperor Najioleon who at 
last yielded. On A])ril 27th, La Valette and iMere-Orban 
signed a protocol, whirh iiphrld the ;mnulim'nt of the rail- 
way-contracts and rL'lerrL'd the compensation of the French 
Eastern Company to a commission. The dispute was at an 
end, though a belated admonition to Belgium subsequently 
arrived from Beust, which was reprobated by Clarendon. 

Was the secret negotiation as to the alliance between 
France, Austria and Italy to have an ending similar to the 
* Life of Lord Lyons, pp. 148-50. 

vi] Pacific Tendencies and Efforts 413 

Belgian railways scheme? Rouher and Beust had agreed 
upon their draft defensive treaty, which reserved to Austria 
the right of declaring herself neutral if France began a war. 
But Italy had not gone so far: her policy being still to 
insist on immediate possession of Rome as an essential 
condition of her alhance, though with a guarantee on her 
part for the personal security of the Pope. Of the further 
concession to Italy of the Italian Tyrol, Beust would not 
hear. Thus, distracted as Napoleon was with the pressure 
of Liberalism at home (successful in the elections of May 
1869), and by the consequent gradual change in his system 
of government, while the Prussian Court was on friendlier 
terms with the Austrian (as shown on the occasion of 
the Crown-prince's successful visit to Vienna in October), 
the triple alliance scheme once more gradually vanished 
into air. On January 2nd, 1870, Emile Ollivier, hitherto 
consistently the friend of peace and ready to accept the 
national development of Germany, took office as head of 
a constitutional Ministry; and the political situation in 
Europe seemed to continue hopeful, so long as the broken 
health of the Emperor Napoleon held out. Yet, consti- 
tutional government in France was no guarantee for the 
preservation of peace, and, if anything, lessened the 
personal influence of the Emperor in its favour. 

In January 1870, therefore, one more effort, albeit 
tentative and hesitating, was made towards obtaining a 
better security for the prolongation, at all events, of the 
peace of Europe. The disarmament scheme of 1868 was 
taken up by Ollivier, who, though with the expressed 
consciousness that a rebuff from Prussia would mean war, 
engaged Great Britain's good offices with her for obtaining 
her consent to a partial disarmament. Early in February, 
in reply to a communication from Clarendon through Lord 
Augustus Loftus, Bismarck, who referred both to the recent 
danger of a French in\'asion of Belgium and to his fears 

414 Franco-German Relations, 1S66-1870 [ch. 

of a change in Russian feeling towards (KMiiiain' in the 
e\'ent of the accession of a new Tsar, professed himself 
unable to bring a disarmament proposal before the King, 
and begged (superfluously) that it might not be mentioned 
to the French (k)\ernment. Count Uaru, the new French 
Foreign Minister, hereupon informed Clarendon, through 
Lyons, that he intended, in any case, to reduce the French 
annual number of reservists from 100,000 to 90,000 men, 
which signified a total reduction of the army by the latter 
number. Further correspondence with Bismarck ensued; 
but it became perfectly clear that, if the disarmament 
proposal were accepted at all, it would be so hedged in as 
to become useless ; and it was accordingly abandoned with- 
out having been made public ^ 

The fateful year 1870 thus seemed to be pursuing its 
course without either much fear arising of an immediate out- 
break of war, or much hope of a final removal of the differ- 
ences, or of the moti\'es beneath the differences, which were 
likely, sooner or later, to provoke it. The apprehensions 
which had taken root in interested quarters showed them- 
selves on the occasion of a visit to Paris by Archduke 
Albrecht, the victor of Custoza, who communicated to the 
Emperor Napoleon a plan of military cooperation among 
the three members of the postponed triple alliance, in the 
event of a war against Prussia and her confederates and 
allies, and who, at the Emperor's request, left a copy of 
the plan with him. In March, there was some diplomatic 
friction between Daru and Bismarck on the subject of Baden's 
desire for admission into the North-German Confederation ; 
and 011i\'ier upheld his colleague by means of a balanced 
protest and veiled menace of I'rench interxention, should 

^ For a full and authentic account of it see chap, vii of the 
Life of Lord Lyons. OUivier (vol. xv, p. 403) thinks that its pub- 
lication would ha\-e left Britisli opinion no room for doubting the 
pacific intentions of l-'runce. 

vi] The Oecumenical Council. Gramont 415 

pressure be used to bring about the union of the south- 
western states with the Northern Confederation. But, for 
the present, France abstained from interference in German 
affairs, and left untouched the North-Schleswig question, 
in which she had taken so special an interest. Austria too, 
notwithstanding the warlike excursus of Archduke Albrecht, 
maintained for the present an unprovocative bearing, since 
her wishes as to the Near East had been treated with 
consideration by Prussia; while any joint action between 
Italy and France seemed less probable than ever. The 
Oecumenical Council (which had assembled at Rome in 
December 1869) was now in full activity; and Ollivier 
would not permit an open conflict either with the papal 
pretensions, as favoured by the Council, or the papal 
interests, as affected by the question of Rome. Thus, 
when the Pope (through Cardinal Antonelli) refused to 
lay before the Council Daru's memorandum safeguarding 
the rights of State against Church, though it was supported 
by the Austrian, Prussian and Bavarian Governments, 
the French, by Ollivier's advice, silently submitted to the 
affront, which could hardly fail to react upon the relations 
between France and Italy. 

The differences between the French Foreign Minister 
and his chief as to the need of a parliamentary sanction for 
the plebiscite which on May 8th, by an overwhelming 
majority, declared the adherence of the nation to the 
Emperor Napoleon's dynasty and policy, led to the transfer 
of the conduct of foreign affairs from Daru, not to the 
pacific Ollivier, as some had wished, but to the Due de 
Gramont, previously French ambassador at Vienna. The 
appointment of Gramont, who, while devoid of high states- 
manlike qualities, was a vehement adversary of the advance 
of Prussia in Germany, and who, already in 1868, had 
regarded a Franco-Prussian war as inevitable, was welcome 
to the Arcadians and the clerical party, and of ill omen 

4i6 Franco-German Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

for the preservation of peace ^. In the matter, indeed, of 
the St (lOtthard railway, when the North-German Con- 
federation had joined the Italian and Swiss Governments 
in contributing to the cost of the enterprise, and vehement 
jealous}' had, in consequence, been excited in France, he 
prudently avoided an explosion, by declaring it to be 
understood that no troops should be allowed to pass into 
Ital}' b}^ the line in question. But he soon showed 
whither his thoughts tended. It would seem as if his 
confidence in the result of a conflict with Prussia and her 
allies had been strengthened by the absence of any reports 
of an alarming nature as to military preparations in Prussia 
either from Benedetti or from the French military attache 
at Berlin, Colonel de Stoffel (whom Benedetti himself desired 
to see recalled from that post). With Italy, though sanguine 
as to an ultimate alliance, Gramont was in no haste about 
carrying on negotiations; but with his Austrian friends he 
was eager to come to an understanding. On May 19th, he 
laid Archduke Albrecht's plan of campaign before a group 
of French general officers (after Marshal Niel's death the 
bellicose General Le Boeuf had succeeded as Minister of 
War) ; and, soon afterwards. General Lebrun (who was on 
terms of intimacy with the Emperor Napoleon) arrived at 
Vienna to confer with the military authorities there. In the 
course of his enquiries, he was, on June 14th, informed by the 
Emperor Francis Joseph himself that, though he approved 
the plan of campaign in which the conference had resulted, 
he could not bind himself to declare war at the same moment 
as France. In the event of a violation of the Peace of 
Prague by Prussia, Austria must be warned in good time, 
as she required 42 days for mobilisation. The plan of 
campaign was, as a matter of fact, suited to these conditions ; 
for it suggested an immediate advance of the French into 
the heart of south-western Germany, where Austrian 
* As to this appointment, sec Ollivier, vol. .\ni, p. 437. 

vi] France left without Support 417 

interests would ha\-e been directly invoh^ed ; nor can 
there be any doubt that among the subjects of Francis 
Joseph the large majority would have rejoiced in an attempt 
to baffle Prussian ambition. But though xA.ustria was, pro- 
bably, willing to be ultimately driven into action by what 
she might regard as necessity — such as an attempt on the 
part of Prussia to force the south-western states into union — 
no immediate cooperation on her part, still less on that of 
Italy, was in sight. France had no reason for building on 
the active goodwill of Great Britain or (notwithstanding 
the mission of General Fleury) on the abandonment by 
Tsar Alexander of his friendship for Prussia^ — when the 
long-gathering conflict between France and Germany sud- 
denly burst into flames. 

Just a fortnight before the actual beginning of the Franco- 
German War, and on the day (July 5th) before the declaration 
made by the French Government to the Chambers rendered 
that war virtually certain^, the British permanent Under- 
Secretary for Foreign Affairs, in words which have been 
often quoted, observed that in his long experience he had 
never known 'so great a lull in foreign affairs' as at the 
present moment^. Whatever other conclusions may be 

^ Towards the close of 1869 he had even been credited with the 
design of preventing Austria from aiding France by a movement 
of troops on the Gahcian frontier. (OHivier, vol. xiii, p. 285.) 

2 See p. 448, post. 

* Mr Hammond's statement was made on July 5th to Lord 
Granville, who had been appointed Foreign Secretary after Lord 
Clarendon's sudden death on June 27th, and was repeated by him 
in the House of Lords on July nth. See Lord E. Fitzmaurice's 
Life of Lord Granville, vol. 11, p. 32. On June 30th, £mile Ollivier 
had, in still stronger terms, declared that 'never before had peace 
been so solidly assured.' 

The account which follows is, primarily, based upon the extremely 
useful chronology of data and their sources in R. Fester's Briefe, 
etc., compiled in connexion with his Neue Beitrdge zur Geschichte 
der Hohenz. Thronkandidatur (Leipzig, 1913). Sybel's narrative 

W.M.G. II. 27 

418 Franco-German Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

drawn from this statement, even a very brief summary of 
the transactions and events which immediately followed 
can leave no doubt as to the suddenness of the crisis which, 
in the course of the first fortnight of July 1870, o\'er- 
whclmed Europe. 

That Bismarck had long regarded war with France as 
an ultimate issue for which it behoved Prussia and her con- 
federates to be prepared ; that he was supported in this 
view by Moltke, Roon and the heads of the army in general ; 
that neither he nor they had regarded the Luxemburg settle- 
ment in any other light than that of a postponement ; and 
that, as time went on, and the Prussian militar}' prepara- 
tions became more and more complete, while the difficulty 
of securing union between the north and the south-west 

of these transactions is extremely elaborate, but needs modifioation 
in several respects. With it should be read both the supplementary 
Neue Mittheilnngeyi und Erlauierungen printed in vol. vi of the later 
editions of the work, and, more especially, H. Delbriick's singularly 
impartial essay. Das Geheimniss der N apoleonischen Politik im J. 
1870, in Preuss. Jahrbiicher, vol. lxxxii (1905). Ollivier's long 
apologia (in vols, xiii and xiv of L' Empire I.ihiral) cannot be perused 
without sympathy ; but, notwithstanding the enormous pains 
taken by the writer and the evident general sincerity of his pleading, 
it is beyond doubt the weakest part of his work. The publications 
of Gramont and Benedetti ('Ma Mission a Ems' in Es'iais Diploma- 
iiqwi), the Reminiscences of Lord .\ugustus Loftus, and more es- 
peciallj' those of the King (Charles) of Roumania and the Life of Lord 
Lyons (by Lord Newton) should be consulted, and reference made to 
the Gedanken und Erinneningen and the memoirs of Keudell and of 
H. Abeken, who was witness of the transactions at Ems. For 
later treatments, see A. Sorel, Histoire Diplomaliqne de la Gtierve 
Franco-Allemandc, vol. i : Rothan, L'Allemagne et I'ltalie, vol. i (la 
France et I'Allemagne en Juillet et AoM, 1870); I-a Gorce, Hisicire 
du Second Empire, vol. vi ; Oncken's Zeitalter des Kaisers Wilhelm, 
vol. I, ad fin. Cf. also Lord Acton's essay 'The Causes of the Franco- 
German War,' repr. in vol. 11 of his Historical Essays and Studies 
(1907), and Marx, Bismarck und die Hohemollernkandidatur (1911). 
For full titles of all these works, see Bibliography. 

vi] France and Germany before the Crisis 419 

by a pacific evolution seemed undiminished, he was ready 
to welcome any favourable opportunity of war with France — 
these are assumptions which seem incontestable. A favour- 
able opportunity would be one which should place France 
clearly in the wrong before the eyes of Europe, making it 
difficult or impossible for her to conclude the alliances for 
which she had paved the way, while to Prussia it would be 
one distinctly providing the casus belli that would secure to 
her the active cooperation of the German south-west. But, 
to await, or look forward to, such a consummation is not the 
same thing as to provoke it ; moreover, the King of Prussia 
was master of his own mind and not easily driven into war. 
On the other hand, while in France there was, before the 
plebiscite (May 8th) a strong though not universal wish, 
to which Lord Lyons testifies, for a war unmistakably pro- 
voked by Prussia, as ' a welcome diversion from internal diffi- 
culties,' this fueling was in some measure, at least for a time, 
abated by the vote of national confidence in the imperial 
Government. If the foreign policy of France were managed 
judiciously by the new Foreign Minister, both the head of 
the Government, Ollivier, sensitive as he was to the beat 
of the public pulse, and, above all, the Emperor, would 
continue to follow their genuinely pacific tendencies, what- 
ever confidence official as well as public opinion might have 
in the superiority of the French arms. So long, foreign 
alliances would remain, more or less, in abeyance ; and in 
the innermost imperial counsels, some hesitation would 
remain as to their actual conclusion. 

Such was the general state of the relations between 
France and Germany when, in the early days of July 1870, 
the Hohenzollern candidature for the Spanish throne first 
became a determining element in their progress. The 
previous history of that candidature has, intentionally or 
otherwise, been left more or less obscure. The first sug- 
gestion of it, as a possible consequence of a very possible 

420 FriUico-Gcyman Rchdioris, 1866-1870 [CH. 

vacancx", seems to date back to a conversation held at 
Biarritz, between certain Spanish poHticians, nearly two 
years before the dethronement of Queen Isabella of Spain, 
including Don Eusebio de Salazar y Mazaredo, a Councillor 
of State and Liberal-Unionist deputy, and Freiherr Georg 
von Werthern, then Prussian cn\oy at Madrid and formerly 
at Lisbon (from 1867 at Munich, where, during twenty-two 
years, he contributed materially to the consolidation of 
the new German empire). The same Prussian diplomat, 
in January 1867, informed Prince Charles Anthony of 
HohenzoUern at Diisseldorf that there was a fair prospect 
of the Spanish throne (if vacant) for his eldest son, the 
Hereditar}^ Prince Leopold, or for his youngest. Prince 
Frederick. The Portuguese connexion of Prince Leopold, 
through his wife, has been already noted^. In September 
1868, Queen Isabella of Spain fled across the frontier ; and, 
after a series of vicissitudes, a monarchical constitution 
having been appro\'ed by the Cortes and a provisional 
Gox'crnment established under Marshal Serrano, with 
General Prim as Minister of War, the Cortes was preparing 
to meet for settling the choice of sovereign. Among the 
possible candidates mentioned were the Due de Mont- 
pensier. Queen Isabella's brother-in-law, the titular King 
Ferdinand (formerly King-Consort) of Portugal, and his 
son-in-law. Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. 
The last name was, in the autumn of 1868, incident- 
ally discussed in this connexion in the unofficial press of 
Germany and other countries ; and, though the Prince's 
journey to Spain in October seems to have been a figment, 
a rumour that the Spanish crown was to be offered to him 
Wcis in that month reported by Lord Augustus Loft\is, who 
added that such a scheme would be viewed with disfavour 
at Paris. Soon afterwards, the Kreuzzeitnng had news 
from Sjxiin that Bismarck, who was said to be in favour 

• p. 406, ante. 

vi] Proposed Candidature of Prince Leopold 421 

of the Prince's candidature, had brought about King 
Ferdinand's refusal. In December, a Viennese paper 
reported that the 'Duke of Putbus' had paid a visit to 
Vienna, which was concerned with the candidature of the 
Prince whose name was unpronounceabje in Castile. The 
Hohenzollerns, however, had not themselves received any 
information as to the proposal, w^hen (on December 9th) 
Prince Charles Anthony declared it most unadvisable, 
and certain to be disapproved by France. Portugal, rather 
than Prussia, was in the minds of the promoters of the idea 
of King Ferdinand's candidature, on which that of the 
Hohenzollern Prince was, more or less, grafted ; and it 
was under the motto 'Gibraltar and Portugal' that in 
February 1869 Salazar, in an open letter to his electors, 
advocated the Iberian Union programme of ' Spain for Don 
Ferdinand, Iberia for his descendants' (beginning with the 
reigning King, Don Luis). But Ferdinand quickly made 
up his mind to decline, as did his son. Thus, the notion 
of Prince Leopold was now brought forward with renewed 
zeal, as that of an at least quasi-V or iuguese candidate. 

In March, Manuel Ranees y Villanueva, formerly Spanish 
envoy to Berlin, and now at Vienna, visited the Prussian 
capital, where he had two interviews with Bismarck, which 
Benedetti duly reported. Instructed by La Valette to 
enquire further, the French ambassador applied to the 
Under-Secretarj' for Foreign Affairs, von Thile, who declared 
(according to Benedetti, on his word of honour) that the only 
communication made by Ranees to Bismarck had referred to 
the probability of the election of King Ferdinand by the 
Cortes; that, if he dechned, the majority would be divided 
between the Dukes of Montpensier and Aosta ; and that there 
never had been, and never could be, any question of the 
candidature of the Hohenzollern Prince. On Benedetti's re- 
peating this at Paris (April) to Napoleon (who had formerly 
expressed himself in favour of King Ferdinand), the Emperor 

422 Franco-German Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

observed that, while the Montponsier candidature, as that 
of an Orleans prince, was 'antidynastic,' and therefore, as 
only affecting liiniself, might be accepted by him, the 
Hohenzollern candidature, as essentially 'antinationcd,' 
would not be tolerated by France, and must be prevented. 
Instructed to communicate cautiously with Bismarck 
direct, Benedetti was at once (May) answered, that the 
sovereignty of Spain, in the hands of the Prince, could 
only be ephemeral and unsatisfactory ; that, therefore, 
the King of Prussia would certainly abstain from advising 
him, if invited, to accept the candidature, and that this view 
was shared by the Prince's father. Prince Charles Anthony. 
When, however, Benedetti put it to Bismarck that the 
King would have absolutely to decide Prince Leopold's 
course of action, Bismarck gave no formal assurance that the 
King would in no case permit the Prince to defer to a vote 
of the Cortes. In the Cortes (June 12th) wliile expressing 
regret at the refusal of King Ferdinand, Prim declined to 
enter at present into the question of any other candidature. 
So far, then, everything was tentative. Bismarck's 
eyes, of course, were open to what was happening and 
preparing in Spain — it was in the spring of this year that 
he had attached that tried political observer, Bernhardi 
(whose extraordinary versatility included an intimate 
knowledge of Spanisli literature), to the legation there. 
But he had neither set on foot nor (so far as is known) 
as yet made up his mind to promote a candidature for the 
Spanish throne which (notwithstanding Napoleon's personal 
relations with Prince Leopold) could not but annoy France, 
and, if begun only to be withdrawn, must damage the 
prestige of Prussia. Again, he had abstained from con- 
tending that, though the King of Prussia as head of the 
house of Hohenzollern had no formal right to prohibit 
any but rcrtain s]iecitic acts^ on the jxut of one of its 
' Cf. p. 407, ante. 

vi] Salazar and the Hohenzollern Candidature 423 

princes, the latter might take so important a step as that 
of ascending a throne hke the Spanish without the King's 
cognisance and approvaL 

In the autumn of 1869 begins the second act of the 
drama of the Hohenzollern candidature, of which the 
preliminary stages had, if the expression may be used, 
been managed by irresponsible personages. The most 
active of these, Salazar, whose patriotic motives there 
seems no reason for questioning, in September paid a visit 
to Prince Charles Anthonv at his country-house of Weinburg 
in Switzerland, where his sons were staying with him. 
Coming from Vichy, Salazar had at Munich been joined 
by Werthern, whose company he required both as adviser 
and as interpreter. His object, as he told Werthern, was 
to make the acquaintance of Prince Leopold; but at 
Weinburg he was first introduced to Prince Charles, to whom 
he stated that the eyes of the Spanish people had been first 
directed to him, but from whom he received an equally polite 
refusal. He then came to business with Prince Leopold, 
who, without absolutelv declining the proposed candidature, 
made his acceptance of the crown dependent upon certain 
conditions, including an unanimous election by the Cortes. 
Salazar was on the whole satisfied with the result of his 
visit, although he felt that the really important condition 
was the approval of King William, without which Prince 
Leopold w^as quite unlikely to act for himself, as (in a 
measure) his brother Charles had done in the case of 
Roumania. He, therefore, thought that the time was ripe 
for the issue of a second pamphlet, and, in October, pub- 
lished his Soluciones de la cuestion dindstica. Passing in 
review all other possible and impossible candidatures, he 
dwelt on the advantages to be found in that of the eldest 
Hohenzollern Prince — a soldier, of fit age, married to a 
Braganza, with children to make the succession safe, well- 
educated and intelligent, a Catholic and imbued with that 

424 Fyanco-Gernuju Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

German Catliolicism whicli understands how to ally religious 
faith with the spirit of progress. He was a kinsman of the 
royal families of Prussia and Belgium, as well as of that of 
Portugal, and a relation of the Emperor Napoleon; he did 
not belong to the principal branch of the house of Hohen- 
zollern, and thus could not, like the Due de Montpensier, 
involve Spain in international complications. Rut — there 
was no time to lose. 

Bernhardi (of whose political doings in Spain little or 
nothing is known) must, of course, have soon come into 
touch with Salazar; and, in October 1869, the latter 
begged Werthern to keep Bismarck well informed of what 
was in progress in Spain. On the other hand, about the 
same time, Baron de Mercier, the French envoy at Madrid, 
informed his Government that he had made no secret to 
the Spanish Foreign Minister (Sagasta) as to the view which 
would be universally taken in France of a candidature 
certain to be regarded as that of a Prussian prince. But. 
so late as November 23rd, Prince Charles Anthony repeated 
his opinion that acceptance of the crown of Spain would 
be too grave a risk to run, before order and tranquillity 
had been completely restored in that country. In Decem- 
ber 1869, and January 1870, while the secret was, for 
obvious reasons, carefully kept at Madrid and even the 
able Spanish envoy at Paris, Olozaga, was left uninformed, 
speculation matured into design, and Prim was gained over. 

In Februar}-, Salazar took his departure for Berlin, with 
letters from Prim to the King of Prussia and Bismarck. On 
his way, he, though not in any official capacity, presented 
himself at Diisseldorf, whence, on the same day (February 
25th), Prince Charles Anthony wrote to the King and the 
Chancellor. In his letter to the former, he asked for 
the royal decision as to the acceptance of the Spanish 
offer from the point of view of interests of state only, since, 
from any other, his son and he had resolved on declining. 

Vl] Bismarck and King William 425 

And his letter to Bismarck was clearer still, for, while it 
stated that, in taking leave of Salazar, on his earlier visit, 
he had made the Emperor Napoleon's assent a necessary 
condition, it now designated the King's opinion alone as 
decisive, and added that, if this were in favour of Prince 
Leopold's entering upon this historic task, he (Prince 
Charles Anthony) would do everything in his power to 
induce his son to accept it. At the request of the King, 
who declared himself to have been wholly taken by surprise 
and to be prima facie adverse to the proposal, Bismarck 
reported to him on the merits of the case. The statement 
weighed the pros and cons against one another in Cecilian 
fashion, and concluded in favour of acceptance as the best 
way of preserving peace with the least danger, and of grati- 
fying Prussia's pride in her dynasty. The arguments used 
by Bismarck before the Hohenzollern succession had become 
a subject of contention between Prussia and France imper- 
fectly correspond to his later statement^ that he had at 
first thought of economic and pacific rather than of political 
results, feeling sure that no Spanish King, least of all one 
of foreign extraction, would be able to despatch a single 
regiment to the Pyrenees for the sake of Germany. We 
may credit his statement that he not only thought well of 
the Hohenzollern candidature, but saw no reason for ex- 
pecting it to lead to complications with France, whose ruler 
was only now coming to disapprove it ; but we can hardly 
accept his further assurance that he believed that King 
Leopold would be a guarantee to Spain of the friendship 
of France — so that the Hohenzollern candidature might 
almost have figured as a French one. 

King William was not convinced by Bismarck's argu- 
ments, and refused to receive Salazar, but summoned the 
Hohenzollern Princes to Berlin. Prince Leopold, who 
appears to have arrived before his father, was left to form 
1 See Gedanken und Erijinerungen, vol ii, pp. 79 £f. 

426 Franco-German Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

his own opinion, though the Crown-prince instinctively 
warned him against depending on Prussian aid in the future, 
should he accept the Spanish crown. On the arrival of 
Prince Charles Anthony in the capital, a dinner-party was 
given in his apartment in the Palace, preceded by a council 
held under the presidenc}- of the King, at which, besides 
the Crown-prince, Princes Charles Anthony and Leopold, 
Bismarck, Roon, Moltke, Schleinitz, Thile and Delbriick — 
the guides of policy, the directors of action, and the advisers 
of ways and means — were present, and which, therefore, 
was a combination of family council and council of state. 
Prince Charles Anthony reported to his son in Roumania 
that, on this occasion, 'the unanimous decision of the 
counsellors was in favour of acceptance, as the fulfilment of 
a Prussian patriotic duty'; but that 'for many reasons, 
after a long struggle, Leopold declined.' No reference 
was made to France, except casually and after the council. 
We have it on King William's own authority that the Prince 
could not make up his mind to exchange his present position 
for an utter uncertainty, unless he had the distinct command 
of the King to accept ; and this the King could not bring 
himself to give. It would seem that a special obstacle 
was found in certain pro\'isions of the family statutes 
concerning the position of Prince Leopold in the entail as 
Hereditary Prince. These of course did not apply to the 
eligibility of his youngest brother, Prince Frederick; and to 
him the attention of their father, who was now warming 
to the scheme, at once shifted. But this young Prince, 
when found, declined, in his turn, to undertake the task 
(for which he seems to have had no particular qualification) 
except on the express command of the King, which the 
latter, again, was unwilling to give. The King's view was 
that it behoved him, in the case of either Prince, not to issue 
any order or express any wish for the acceptance of the 
Spanish offer, unless an inner \-oice bade thern comply — a 

vi] German Agents in Spain 427 

characteristic turn of phrase, indicating that King Wilham 
refused to make himself responsible for forcing the con- 
science of either. 

Meanwhile, Bismarck was not content to let the matter 
drop or drift. Soon after the council, he sent out to Spain 
on a double, more or less secret, mission. Privy Councillor 
Lothar Bucher, for more than twenty years the best trusted 
agent of Bismarckian policy because he best understood it, 
and Major (afterwards General) von Versen, whose strange 
experiences in South America had familiarised him with 
the use of the Spanish tongue^. So late as April 22nd, 
Prince Charles Anthony, writing to his eldest son, had 
dwelt on the loss of a historic opportunity. But, doubtless 
under the influence of Bucher's reports, a change was 
gradually coming over the spirit of Prince Leopold, whose 
disinclination to accept the Spanish offer, as his father on 
May 23rd informed the Crown-prince, had diminished. On 
the 28th Bismarck (who had, shortly before, seen Versen) 
urged Prince Charles x\nthony to take up the Spanish 
question again, and a week later (about June 5th), he paid 
a rapid visit from Varzin to Berlin, where he at last found 
time to excuse himself to Prim for having left unanswered 
a letter received from him in the preceding Februarv, 
and hinted, in the postscript to his belated reply, that the 
Hohenzollern candidature — which Prim had never dropped 
— might again be taken up. At Salazar's request, Bucher 

^ That money was spent by these or other agents in Spain 
for promoting the Hohenzollern candidature, was asserted, on 
not very explicit evidence, by Sir Rowland Blennerhassett in an 
article on ' The Origin of the Franco-Prussian War ' in The National 
Review, vol. XL (October 1902). Here it is stated that 'indications 
of this are likely to be found in the papers of the late Lord Acton, 
and proofs, if I am not mistaken, might be produced by a certain 
financial house I might name.' — The visit to Spain of Bucher and 
Versen (of whom the former had seen Prince Charles .A.nthony on 
his way out) was not known to Mercier. 

428 Franco-German Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

had been again sent to Madrid, and everything was put in 

On June iitli, Prim intornuHl the Cortes that, after 
negotiations with King Ferdinand had come to a close, 
others had taken place with another most suitable candidate 
for the throne; but that, in consequence of the unsettled 
state of the country, they liad not at present l^een brought 
to a conclusion. A week later, Salazar and Bucher suc- 
ceeded in obtaining an inter\'iew with Prince Charles 
Anthony and the Hereditary Prince at Sigmaringen ; and 
the result was a formal request on the part of Prince Leopold 
to King William to authorise his acceptance of the Spanish 
offer which, if declined, the agents had been authorised 
to carry to another address; a telegram from the King, 
'Agreed' or 'Not Agreed' would, Prince Charles Anthony 
added, decide the matter. 

The King, who had arri\-ed at Ems on June 20th, 
accompanied by no representative of the Foreign Ofhce 
but Abeken, exhibited some annoyance at the negotiations 
in Spain carried on ' behind his back ' through Bucher 
(whom he disliked) by Bismarck. The latter, in return, 
wrote to Abeken that all he had done had been to send 
word to Spain that the King could not undertake to 
bring his influence to bear on the decision of the Hereditary 
Prince; and that, for the rest, he had withdrawn from 
the affair, which had caused him work and worry enough. 
But he had not taken his preliminary steps in vain. On 
June 2ist, the King, having previously telegraphed ' Agreed ' 
to Prince Charles Antliony, informed Prince Leopold that, 
since on maturer reflexion lie felt a calling (Vokation) to 
accept the candidature, he (the King), though with a heavy 
heart, agreed to this acceptance. 'The future alone,' he 
solemnly added, 'can show whether we have fulfilled the 
will of God.' On the 23rd Salazar left Sigmaringen with 
Prince Leopold's affirmati\-e reph*. Information liad been 

vi] French Protests 429 

sent from Berlin to Madrid that Salazar would return by 
July 9th; but, by a curious error in deciphering, this was 
read ' July 26th ' ; and the Cortes, which were to ha\'e sat 
on so as to hold the election, but could not be kept assembled 
so long, were adjourned to November. The secret had 
hitherto been well preserved ; but, now, the chance had been 
lost of provoking an 'accomplished fact,' before the official 
Hohenzollern candidature had become the theme of dis- 
cussion throughout Europe, and more especially in France. 
In a dispatch of the same date (June 23rd), Mercier made 
Gramont aware of his, still not very serious, suspicions; 
in another of the following day, he expressed more serious 
anxiety about the 'Prussian project, the snake in the 
grass,' and in a third, of the 25th, he adverted to Prim's 
desire to have 'a good talk' with the Emperor Napoleon. 

So the eventful month of July 1870 arrived; and the 
series of events threatening the peace of Europe soon had 
to be counted by days. On the 3rd, Gramont, whose 
'statesmanlike calm' impressed his colleague and nominal 
chief Ollivier, but who was himself in great anxiety, in- 
dignantly protested at both Madrid and Berlin against 
the objectionable candidature, which Prim declared to be, 
though naturally not very agreeable to the Emperor 
Napoleon, the result of no other eligible prince being dis- 
coverable in the entire Almanack de Gotha. On the 4th — 
and here we pass out of the region of frank sincerity — Thile 
informed Le Sourd, the French charge d'affaires at Berlin, 
in reply to a ' non-official ' enquiry, that the Prussian 
Government was absolutely ignorant of the whole affair, 
which had no existence for it ; but Le Sourd, as well he might, 
remained sceptical. On the same evening, Werther had a 
conversation with Ollivier and Gramont, in which the 
latter categorically informed him that France would not 
tolerate the seating of the Pnnce of Hohenzollern or of any 
other Prussian prince on the throne of Spain. Werther 

430 Franco-German Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

who was on his way to Ems, charged himselt with this 
information, and set out before a telegram reached him 
bidding him delay. ^Meanwhile there had appeared, in 
the Paris semi-ofhcial Constitutionnel, a statement of the 
offer and acceptance of the candidature, accompanied by 
an expression of wonderment that the sceptre of Charles V 
should have been conferred upon a Prussian Prince, grand- 
son of a Princess of the ]\liu-at family, whose name was so 
painfully remembered in Spain ^. The liood of journalism 
was now let loose at Paris, Gramont, though desirous of 
British intervention with Prussia, being evidently bent on 
committing the French Government to prevention of 
the candidature. On the next day, he instructed General 
Fleury to use his infiuence at Petersburg in the same 
direction, and told Lord Lyons that France would not 
resign herself to what had taken place ; ' and, when I say 
that, I mean that we shall not permit it, and that we shall 
use our whole strength to prevent it.' 

On July 6th, a Ministerial Council was to assemble 
at St Cloud, in order, primarily, to settle the terms of 
the Government declaration expected, later in the dzy, 
in the Chamber of Deputies in reply to an interpel- 
lation on the Spanish dilliculty announced by Cochery. 
This occasion must be taken to make clear the policy of 
the Government. But, while Gramont's mind was, more 
or less, made up, it is clear from Ollivier's account, 
though he takes as much responsibility on himself as 
possible and asserts Gramont's draft declaration to have been 
strengthened rather than softened by himself and some of 
his colleagues, that his own policy still wavered between 
war and peace; and there can be no doubt tluit the same 
was the case with the Emperor's. Napoleon's hopes still 
rested on the Tsar, while Gramont was for holding to Austria, 

* This allusion was, naturally enough, resented by the Emperor 

vi] French Government' s Declaration 431 

with whom and Italy, as Napoleon made clear to him and 
OUivier on this day, there existed no treaty, but only a 
'permanent moral alliance.' Thus, with a feeling, on 
Gramont's part, that war with Prussia was inevitable and 
that France, well prepared as the Minister of War, Le Boeuf 
asseverated her to be, was called upon to wage it, but, 
on Ollivier's, that at least an appeal should be made to 
Europe which might still avert the conflict, the declaration 
was launched. It was received by the Chamber with eager 
and, except for a few radical criticisms, general applause. 
After stating that the negotiation as to the candidature 
had been concealed from the French Government, it 
culminated in the statement of the determination of 
that Government not to suffer a foreign State to un- 
settle the existing balance of power in Europe, by placing 
one of its Princes on the throne of Charles V, and at 
the same time to imperil the interests of France. The 
hope was expressed that the wisdom of the German, 
and the friendship of the Spanish, nation would avert 
such an attempt ; otherwise, the Government would do 
its duty without hesitation and without weakness. No 
mention was made in this declaration of the supposed 
international principle that no scion of a great reigning 
house was free to ascend a foreign throne, or of Ollivier's 
other, and major, argument that, in any case, such an 
attempt was intolerable in view of the relations which had 
continued between France and Prussia since 1866. The 
head of the Government insisted that peace was its passion- 
ate wish, and its hope, if only France and the Assembly 
were unanimous in what they desired; and the warlike 
enthusiasm which at once spread from the Chamber to the 
capital, and thence to the country at large, showed their 
desire to be the humiliation of Prussia. King William 
had erred in thinking it possible that the excitement which 
had followed in France on the bursting of the bomb might 

432 France-German Relations, 1866-1870 [cH. 

be allayed; while his regret had been justified that Prinee 
Charles Anthony's advice to obtain the Emperor Napoleon's 
assent should have been o^•erruled by Prim's desire for 
secrecy, and by Bismarck's opinion that a nation should 
be left free to choose its own King. 

As the matter stood, after the French Ministerial de- 
claration. Prim and the Spanish Government, though all 
they had done was to select a candidate for proposal to 
the Cortes, felt that they could not withdraw his name, 
which was now unfortunately publicly known, unless 
the King of Prussia refused his approval. On July 8th 
Salazar republished his Soluciones, with a refutation of 
the 'commonplaces' and 'follies' which had been bruited 
abroad against the Hohenzollern candidature. With the 
King of Prussia, therefore, the responsibility more than 
ever rested; and Gramont, in reply to Thile, declared 
it incredible that a Prussian prince (which of course 
Prince Leopold was only 'practically') could accept the 
Spanish crown without the authorisation of the King as 
head of his family, and urged King William to follow the 
example of the Emperor Napoleon in publicly disapproving 
the Neapolitan candidature of Prince N. L. C. Murat. 

Thus, with the support of both the Austrian and the 
British Governments, it was hoped to induce the King 
of Prussia to bring about Prince Leopold's withdrawal, in 
face of the menaces of the declaration of July 6th. King 
William, who had taken the declaration in good temper, 
writing to his Queen that France could hardly make war 
upon Prussia because Spain looked for a King in a side-line 
of the Prussian royal house, thought that, perhaps, by a 
parliamentary manoeuvre like that which had ousted Mont- 
pensier, the choice of Leopold of Hohenzollern might be pre- 
vented in the Cortes, with which result he (the King) would 
be pleased. But though he might pri\'ately disapprove, 
he could not publicly prohibit, the candidature in deference 

vi] Benedetti's Mission to Ems 433 

to the will of France ; and Lord Lyons could obtain no 
assurance of a royal disapproval through the Prussian 
charge d'affaires at Paris. Meanwhile (most characteristic- 
ally for Bismarck's press-r^^m?) , at Berlin the 'officious' 
journals were ordered to dwell on the inexpediency of 
discussing the Spanish succession before the Cortes had 
made its choice; while the ' non-offtcious ' were to point 
out that the Spanish throne could not be disposed of at 
Berlin, and that at the bottom of the business was the 
wish of the Empress for a new war. On July 7th, Bismarck 
issued a diplomatic circular, stating that the succession 
to the Spanish throne was a question for Spain only, and 
that Prussia had no concern with it. This position, tech- 
nically correct, would have rendered the existing difficulty 
insoluble, had it not been for the moderation shown by 
the King at Ems, which, while maintaining the Ministerial 
view, made the withdrawal of the candidature still 

On July 7th, Benedetti was ordered to Ems, on as 
ill-fated an errand as was ever imposed upon a diplomatist. 
He was, in the first instance, instructed to induce the King 
to bring about the withdrawal of Prince Leopold, if not 
by his command, by his advice. A subsequent dispatch 
narrowed this down to his obtaining, as the only response 
that would be held satisfactory and prevent war, the King's 
categorical assent to the statement that his Government [sic) 
disapproves the Prince's acceptance, which it orders him 
to recall, as having been signified without its permission. 
A reply merely leaving the Prince to himself was not to be 
taken as enough. This, together with other militant ex- 
pressions in the dispatch, seemed an3^thing but pacific ; but 
Gramont seems really to have cherished a hope that the 
menacing tone which he enjoined Benedetti to take might 
secure peace — ' sinon, c'est la guerre.' The British Govern- 
ment cannot have erred in holding that the military 

W. M.G. II. 28 

434 Franco-German Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

preparations which were simultaneously in progress would 
place an amicable settlement out of the question. 

Not the least difficulty at this crisis lay in the continued 
\'acillations of the Emperor Napoleon. On July 9th, he told 
Gramont that it was not the Prince of Hohenzollern who 
should be influenced, but Prussia with whom France was at 
issue ; yet he, nevertheless, induced the King of the Belgians 
to send a secret message to his Hohenzollern namesake, 
appealing to him to end the existing difficulty by an act 
of self-abnegation. The Italian ambassador at Paris, 
Nigra (who enjo^-ed much of Napoleon's confidence), 
exerted himself in the same direction ; but no joint action 
of the Powers was at present possible. Beust's advice 
to the French Government, to prohibit Prince Leopold 
from passing through France and then prevent him forcibly 
from landing in Spain, can hardly have been serious ; but 
he made it quite clear to the French ambassador at 
Vienna (de Cazaux), who wanted something from him 
besides advice — of which there ' was plenty to get from 
Great Britain ' — that the Austro-Hungarian Government 
was unprepared to engage suddenly in a quarrel which did 
not concern it, and as to which it had not been consulted. 
A long Council of State held at Vienna on July loth, in 
which Beust and Archduke Albrecht were for intervention, 
but Andrassy against, was adjourned by the Emperor 
Francis Joseph; and, on tlic following day, Beust plainly 
informed Metternich tliat no casus belli had arisen for 
Austria-Hungary, unless Russia were to side with Prussia. 

On July gth Benedetti had his first audience with the 
King at Ems. The French ambassador had been previously 
informed by Werther (now at Ems) that, as the King had 
not thought it possible to refuse Prince Leopold's wish to 
accept the Spanish candidature, so now it would be very 
difficult for him to iiuitc tlie Prince to withdraw his name. 
The King stated lliat, on his arri\^al at Ems, the Prince 

vi] The King and Benedetti at Ems 435 

had asked his consent, when he had repHed that he did not 
think he could hinder the Prince's intention ; it was, however, 
as head of the family, and in no sense in his sovereign 
capacity, as King of Prussia, that he had been informed 
of the Prince's determination and, without consulting his 
Ministers, had given his assent : his Government had nothing 
to do with the transaction. Benedetti having permitted 
himself the observation that public opinion would regard 
this as a distinction without a difference, the King repeated 
that he could not recede from the position which he had, 
from the first, taken up, and that the efforts of the French 
Government had better be directed to an endeavour to 
decide the Spanish to abandon its project. Notwith- 
standing the King's adherence to the illusory position 
assumed by him, his intention was really pacific ; for, if 
as sovereign he had no concern with the question, why 
should he have discussed it at all with the ambassador ? And 
he closed the conversation by stating that he had communi- 
cated with Prince Leopold and his father, and that, if the}^ 
were disposed to withdraw the acceptance of the candida- 
ture, he would approve this intention. Benedetti having 
(very properly) withdrawn, a short delay unavoidably 
followed; for Prince Charles Anthony was at Sigmaringen 
and Prince Leopold somewhere on the Lake of Constance 
(unless, indeed, he was hidden in the Sigmaringen neighbour- 
hood), while, in the absence of a cipher, the telegraph could 
not be used. Gramont and others at Paris bore this delay 
with the utmost impatience, especially after the King, on 
meeting Benedetti again on the loth, had signified that he 
had not yet heard from Sigmaringen. 

But, on the same day, there arrived at the little Hohen- 
zollern Court Strat, the Roumanian charge d'affaires at 
Paris, who submitted to Prince Charles Anthony the French 
point of view and his own warnings. From the other side, 
the King of Prussia had sent Colonel von Stranz, with a 


436 Franco-Germmi Relations, 1866-1870 [ch. 

complete collection of dispatches and telegrams, and the 
news that the French Ministry — the King could not say 
whether the Emperor Napoleon — was resolved on war. 
On the same day, at St Cloud, Napoleon told Vimercati, 
the active Italian military attache at Paris, that, if a 
Prussian withdrawal ' in any form ' were obtained, there 
would be no war ; and Gramont, more guardedly, authorised 
Lyons to report that, if Prince Leopold were now, on the 
advice of the King of Prussia, to withdraw, the whole 
affair would be at an end. The King further sent word to 
Sigmaringen that, though he declined himself to order 
Prince Leopold to withdraw, yet, should he do so, he might 
again depend on the royal 'Agreed.' 

On the nth, pending the arrival of news from Sigmar- 
ingen, a further conversation took place between the King 
and Benedetti, in which the former, pressed for a prompt 
decision, remarked that he was well aware of the military 
preparations in progress in France, and that, in his turn, 
he was making provision for not being taken by surprise^. 
Admirable as his temper was throughout these transactions, 
the King may have been momentarily thrown off his 
balance by being, as he wrote to the Queen, informed of 
Gramont's statement to Nigra that, unless Prussia withdrew 
the candidature, promised never to cross the Main, settled 
the North-Schleswig difficulty and ceded Mainz, war was 
inevitable. In the course of the interview, Benedetti went 
so far as to assert that the distinction between the King's 
action as head of the house of Hohenzollern and as sovereign 
of Prussia was not only unsatisfactory but unsound, inas- 
much as he was head of the family because he was sovereign. 

1 As a matter of fact, the advice of I^oon and liis colleagues 
was followed, that no measures should be taken in advance, and that 
an immediate general mobilisation, in the event of a declaration 
of war, should be awaited. 

vi] Prince Charles Anthony's Withdrawal 437 

But the King woiiJd make no promise till he had the infor- 
mation for which he was waiting. 

As a matter of fact, Prince Charles Anthony was still 
hesitating, unwilling that his son should recede from his 
promise to Prim, and half-hoping that the Cortes might 
help him out of the difficulty by an insufficient vote. But 
Benedetti's hopes of a more rapid solution were high, till 
his dispatch describing his interview with the King was 
crossed by a telegram from Gramont, demanding that the 
King should forbid the Prince to persist in his candidature. 
More than this : in the Chamber, a strong disposition 
manifested itself to complicate the Hohenzollern question 
by raising that of the attitude of Prussia towards the Treaty 
of Prague, and to place her in the dilemma of having to 
choose between war or submission to a congress. In this 
motion, members of both Right and Left concurred, though 
its rashness was exposed by Thiers. 

Thus it came to pass that, when the hoped-for solution 
was at last reached, it proved to be no solution at all. On 
July 12th, convinced by the representations of Strat^ and 
his own reflexions, Prince Charles Anthony made up his 
mind to withdraw the candidature in his son's name. 
When the telegraphic announcement of this decision 
reached Gramont through Olozaga, the former was confer- 
ring with Werther, who had just arrived from Ems, and at 
once observed to him that, in his opinion, the withdrawal 
of Prince Leopold was a matter of secondary importance 
only. It should, he suggested, be supplemented by a letter 
from King William to the Emperor Napoleon, stating that, 
in authorising the Prince's acceptance, he had no thought 

^ It was due to Strat, the Prince wrote to his son Charles soon 
afterwards, that he 'pubhshed Leopold's renunciation twenty -four 
hours earlier, perhaps, than he should have done without Strat's 
urgent advice' (given in the Roumanian interest). Reminiscences 
of King of Ronmaina (Engl, ed.), p. 107. 

43^ Franco-German Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

of prejudicing the dignity of the French nation, and that 
he now associated himself with the withdrawal of the 
candidature, in the hope that any cause of discord between 
the two nations would be thus removed. Ollivier, who 
appeared during the interview, fell in with Gramont's 
proposal ; and Werther, instead of at once referring home 
for instructions before undertaking to submit to the King 
the letter of apology drafted by Gramont, sent it on to Ems, 
although declining to telegraph it. As for the Emperor 
Napoleon, although he regarded the news as meaning peace, 
he felt sure that the French nation would be ' disappointed ' ; 
in other words, he was himself disappointed at the loss of 
so exceptionally good a cause of quarrel, and, as we are 
informed by Gramont, at once took counsel with him as to 
further demands. Ollivier, with scant presence of mind, 
showed a copy of the telegram to several deputies in the 
lobby of the Corps Legislatif, so that the news spread at 
once in Paris and the stocks rose at the Bourse ; but an 
open discussion in the Chamber was, with some difficulty, 
avoided. On the same day, however, Gramont telegraphed 
to Benedetti to see the King immediately, and state that it 
was necessary for him to associate himself with the with- 
drawal, and to give an assurance that he would not, in 
the future, authorise any resumption of the candidature. 
Thus, the final step in the process leading to war had been 
resolved on by the French Government, immediately after 
its outbreak seemed to have been averted. The possibility, 
which Gramont had mentioned, of Prince Leopold dis- 
avowing his father's withdrawal on his behalf was at an end, 
when, after his return to Sigmaringcn on July 15th, the 
Prince took no step in this direction 1. 

* The dispute between father and son on this occasion must be 
fictitious. No trace of subsequent coolness between the Prus.sian 
Court and the Holienzollern Princes is discoverable ; Prince Leopold 
and Prince Frederick served in the war, and their father did what 
he could as a non-combatant. 

vi] French Ministerial Council 439 

At Berlin, where, before the arrival of the Chancellor, 
a Ministerial Council had resolved to send Count Eulenburg 
(Minister of the Interior) to Ems and to inform the south- 
western Governments of the condition of affairs, Bismarck 
himself appeared on the scene on the afternoon of Juh' 12th. 
The news of the King's continued conversations with Bene- 
detti awaited him, and, resorting at once to his wonted 
ultima ratio, he telegraphed to the King that if his Majesty 
were again to receive Benedetti, he must tender his resig- 
nation. It is not quite clear whether this message, which 
shows Bismarck's apprehension that the King might in 
some measure ^aeld to Benedetti's urgenc}', was sent before 
or after the sender had heard of the Hohenzollern with- 
drawal ; it must of course have been sent before he had 
become acquainted with Werther's dispatch to the King, 
which he immediately forbade Abeken to lay before the 
King, but which the latter insisted on seeing. 

On July 13th, a Ministerial Council was held at St Cloud 
under the Emperor's presidency, at which an impressive 
communication from Lord Granville was read, representing 
to the imperial Government the immense responsibility 
which it would incur, if it did not at once declare itself 
satisfied with the Hohenzollern withdrawal. The Minister 
of War, Le Boeuf, who had hitherto remained in the back- 
ground, now pressed the calling in of the reservists, and the 
Emperor pronounced in favour of the proposal, allowing 
himself the unguarded, or ill-timed, remark : ' We have 
other complaints against Prussia besides the Hohenzollern 
affair.' But both Gramont and Ollivier, desirous of not yet 
reaching the ultimatum stage, deprecated immediate action^ ; 
and Le Boeuf's proposal was, for the moment, dropped. 

1 Ollivier says that, had Benedetti pointed out the inexpediency 
of insisting on guarantees for the future, he would have rendered 
a great public service. But it was the head of the Ministry who 
was most directly called upon to urge such a caveat. 

440 Franco-German Relations, 1866- 1870 [CH. 

On the other hand, the two Ministers and the majority of 
their colleagues agreed to insist on a declaration that the 
King would not permit the candidature to be at any time 
resumed. The Emperor Napoleon acceded to the conclu- 
sion of the Council — to the indignation, it would seem, of 
the Empress, and certainly to that of public opinion in 

In the morning of the same day — the last of supreme 
moment in this strange series of transactions before the 
actual declaration of war — the King of Prussia met Bene- 
detti on the public promenade at Ems. The King had 
previously sent a copy of a journal announcing the with- 
drawal to the ambassador, who had already received the 
news. Benedetti at once hastened to do his errand, telling 
the King that, while the withdrawal if approved by him 
would serve as a guarantee for the present, a promise on 
his part that he would not allow any later candidature 
of Prince Leopold was requisite as a guarantee for the 
future. The King absolutely refused to give any guarantee 
of the sort, and, when Benedetti continued (' almost imper- 
tinently,' as the King told Queen Augusta) to press him, 
put an end to the conversation with the remark that it was 
necessary for him to preserve to himself freedom of action. 
He would, however, send for Benedetti to communicate to 
him the Hohenzollern decision, so soon as he had heard 
from Sigmaringen. Later in the day, on receiving personal 
information of the withdrawal from Prince Charles Anthony, 
he forwarded it to Benedetti through his aide-de-camp 
Prince Radziwill, requesting the ambassador to telegraph 
to Gramont that the King considered the whole affair at 
an end. At Benedetti's request, the aide-de-camp was sent 
to him again, with the statement that the King entirely 
and unreservedly approved of the withdrawal. Benedetti 
having, hereupon, asked for another audience in order to 
have an opportunity of renewing his request for a guarantee 

VI ! The ' Ems Telegram ' 441 

for the future, Radziwill was, for the third time, sent to 
him, with a message that the King had nothing further to 
say to him on the subject. Nothing remained for Bene- 
detti but to make his farewell bow to the King at the station, 
on the eve of his departure for Berlin, and to hear from him 
a repetition of this decision. King William had throughout 
behaved with perfect firmness and self-control. 

Meanwhile, Bismarck at Berlin was anxiously awaiting 
the progress of events. He had telegraphed to Werther 
his surprise at his dispatch, which he declined to lay offici- 
ally before the King, and in his wrath had gone so far as 
to tell Lord Augustus Loftus that it had now become 
necessary for Prussia to demand a formal declaration from 
France, stating her to be contented by the withdrawal and 
willing to give satisfaction for her menaces. In the late 
afternoon of the same day (July 13th), as Moltke and Roon 
were gloomily sitting at Bismarck's table, relief came to 
him in an unexpected form — that of a telegram from 
Abeken at Ems, reproducing a letter to him from the King. 
This letter gave an account of the morning's meeting with 
Benedetti and the demand made on the King by the 
ambassador, adding that the King left it to Bismarck to 
decide whether this new demand and its rejection should 
not at once be made known to the Prussian embassies 
and legations, and in the press. 

This was the 'Ems telegram' — the subject of so much 
commendation and so much censure, because of the altered 
form in which Bismarck, who had at once recognised his 
opportunity of making war a certainty, decided, with 
almost boisterous approval from Moltke and Roon, to 
publish it. Before altering the form of the telegram, 
Moltke, in reply to questions put to him by Bismarck, gave 
it as his opinion that immediate war would be more advan- 
tageous than delay. Bismarck, hereupon, made certain 
omissions — but not of essential facts — and contractions, 

44^ Fyanco-Gcrman Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

which, while changing the tone rather than the substance 
of the whole, unmistakably heightened the effect of 
the statement of Benedetti's urgency and the King's re- 
sistance. To describe this as ' forgery ' is childish ; and 
there was nothing in the altered telegram untrue to the 
spirit of the King's action', or to the indignation person- 
ally expressed by him c\Tn before he had read Werther's 
dispatch. Moreow 1 , on the face of it, the King had left 
the question of the publication of the facts narrated by him 
to Bismarck's judgment, and had expressed no opinion as 
to the form which it should take. On the other hand, it 
cannot be gainsaid that the publication of the telegram in 
its condensed form was certainly calculated to add to an 
excitement in both France and Germany which had already 
made war between them all but inevitable ; and Bismarck, 
con\'inccd, by the French demand of a guarantee for the 
future, that 'the real object of France was to avenge Konig- 
gratz,' had, with lightning rapidity, resolved to make the 
assurance of war, which Abeken's telegram brought home to 
him, doubly sure. He had long held the issue beyond doubt, 
and he preferred to have it sooner rather than later ; since 
he knew that all was ready. Not only was Germany, from 
the north to the south-west, aflame with indignation at the 
insulting demand made upon King William ; but in Paris 
the receipt of the Ems telegram as published by the Berlin 
official paper in the morning of Jul\' i4lh, caused the French 
Government to abandon the last hopes of a pacihc eniling. 
GranKjnt. tin 11, whatcxcr may have been his first expec- 
tations, had been foiled in his attempt to obtain from the 
King of Prussia his consent to furnish a 'guarantee for the 
future'; and, as he told Lyons, while there was no longer 
any difference witli the Spanish (i(n-ernment, which had 
formally announi ed llu' witlidrawal ol tlic ilohenzollern 

' The case is nowhere better put tlian by Lortl I-^. I'itzmaurice, 
in The Life of Lord Granville, vol. ii, p. 35. 

vi] French Councils 443 

candidature, 'from Prussia, France had obtained nothing, 
hterally nothing.' And to obtain something from or through 
Prussia had all along been the purpose of the policy which 
he represented. The ground was giving way under his feet : 
the advice of Great Britain had throughout been clear and 
consistent against further demands ; Gramont's trust in 
the Tsar was, at the best, a delusion ; and Beust's consola- 
tion was that he had done what he could to dissuade the 
French Government from driving matters to an extreme. 
On the 14th, Werther apprised Gramont that he had 
been severely censured for listening to and transmitting 
the French demands; and, in the afternoon, while the 
'Ems telegram,' as officially published at Berlin, was be- 
coming gradually known in Paris and the evening papers 
were expected to set public opinion on fire, a Ministerial 
Council was held in the Tuileries under the presidency of 
the Emperor, whom Gramont in the morning had found 
still in a state of indecision. After it had been resolved, 
in the first instance, to call out the reserves, and Le Boeuf 
had quitted the Council to issue the necessary orders, 
Gramont proposed the expedient of inviting a European 
congress^ to confirm the (supposed) international principle 
that no prince of any great reigning house may accept a 
foreign throne ; and the proposal, as formulated by Oliivier, 
was adopted. But at a second, or adjourned. Council held 
on the same evening, at which the Empress was present, 
Le Bceuf reappeared, and pointed out the discrepancy 
between the congress resolution and that calling out the 
reserves. A dispatch brought into the Council seems to 
have pro\-ed decisive ; but what this dispatch was — whether 
a communication (such as Gramont states himself to have 
received via Vienna) of Bismarck's last conversation with 
Lord Augustus Loftus, or a message from Beust himself, 

1 The idea of a congress had been first suggested by the Emperor 
in the Ministerial Council held on the 13th, but speedily dropped. 

444 Friuico-GoDuni Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

which, after all, was of an cncourai;ini,f nature — remains 
matter of conjecture only. Gramont and Ollivier were now 
charged with the drawing up of a bellicose declaration, to 
be laid before the Chambers on the 15th. Early on that 
day, it was read at a further Ministerial Council (at which 
the Empress was again present) and unanimousl}^ approved. 
This declaration, which was virtually a declaration of war, 
after refusing to admit the 'subtle' distinction between the 
King of Prussia's action, in the matter of the candidature, 
as 'head of the family' and as sovereign, referred to the 
moderate demand addressed to him, in equally moderate 
terms, by the French ambassador after the candidature 
had come to an end, to the King's refusal to see the 
ambassador again on the subject of this demand, and to 
the official communication of this refusal, by way of giving 
it unequivocal authority, to all the cabinets of Europe. 
Since any further attempt at conciliation w'ould have been 
undignified and imprudent, the reserves had been called out, 
and the further steps would be taken necessary for safe- 
guarding the interests, safety and honour of France. The 
declaration was enthusiastically acclaimed in the Senate; 
in the Corps Legislatif, where the Government demanded 
a credit of 50 million francs, Thiers's powerful (though 
egotistical) speech, declining to join in the responsibility for 
an ill-justified war, was answered b}' Ollivier, who declared 
that he and his colleagues accepted the great responsibility 
thrust upon them with an easy mind [caur legcry. Jules 
Fax're's amendment (a (leniand foi" i);ipers) was rejected by 
159 to 84 votes; and, at an evening sitting, the GoA'crnment 
having meanwhile submitted certain papers to a committee, 
its proposals as to mobilisation and credit were unanimously 
carried. On the next morning, Rouher organised a depu- 
tation of tJK' Senate to the Emperor, who showed little 

* See Ollivier's explanation and defence of his phrase, vol. xiv, 
p. 620. 

vi] Mobilisation of the North-German Army 445 

of the confidence displayed by the Empress; a counter- 
demonstration near the Porte St Martin proved a failure. 

From this date onwards, nothing could have stopped 
the war. The unrestrained fury of the Parisian press had 
hastened its outbreak even more effectively than the prompt 
action of Bismarck. On July 14th, Lord Granville had 
suggested to the two Governments that, if France would 
waive the 'guarantee for the future,' the King of Prussia 
might perhaps be willing to communicate to the French 
Government his approval of the withdrawal of Prince 
Leopold's candidature. Informally, he had alread}' signified 
this, and perhaps he might now have agreed to a formal repe- 
tition ; but Bismarck would have none of it, and Gramont 
likewise refused. Hereupon, on the 15th, Granville made 
a last attempt by proposing that the two Powers should 
have recourse to the good offices of a friendh' Power, under 
the provisions of the Paris protocol of 1856 ; but Gramont 
refused this office also, inasmuch as the question involved 
was one of honour. It is extremely doubtful whether 
Lord Clarendon himself, the originator of this memorable 
protocol, could have done more on the present occasion. 

On July 15th, King William had reached Berlin, where 
he was received with general enthusiasm, the Crown-prince, 
Bismarck, Moltke and Roon having met him at Brandenburg. 
Before the King could leave the Berlin railway-station, he 
had given orders for the mobilisation of the entire army — 
not, as he had at first intended, of the Western army only. 
This order, Prussia's answer to the French declaration of 
the same day, was published at Berlin on the next, when 
Bismarck went out of his way to furnish to the Bundesrat 
a statement of the case, as admitting of no choice between 
war and the proffer by France of a satisfactory guarantee 
against the repetition of her menaces to the peace and 
prosperity of Europe. The Chancellor's statement was 
promptly approved by the plenipotentiary of Saxony and 

44^^ Frauco-Gcrmau Relations, 1866-1870 [CH. 

those of the other confederate states. At Munich, where 
a clel)ate on mihtary expenditure iiad been in progress from 
July 13th to 15th, mobiHsation was ordered on the same 
day as at BerUn ; but it was not till the i8th, after King 
Lewis had made one of his rare descents upon the capital, 
that his Government pronounced a casus foederis to have 
arisen, which th(> 'German' or 'patriotic' party, led by 
Jorg, had to tlie last denied. A credit of 5,600,000 florins 
with a supplementar\' estimate for the period of the war 
was \'oted in the Chamber of Deputies by a majority of 
loi to 47, amidst much jniblic enlluisiasm, and unanimousl}' 
approved in the l^pper Ciiamber, after a speech from Hohen- 
lohe, on the 20th. We need not enquire too closely into the 
mixed motives which at this stage actuated the King and 
his Government, and upon which the subsetjuent course of 
events was to throw more light. In Wiirttemberg, the vote 
of credit was all but unanimous, and even the grossdcutsch 
fraction contented itself with an explanation of its afhrma- 
tive. In Baden, where Grand-duke Frederick refused to 
let the action of his Government depend on the establish- 
ment of a casus foederis, and repudiated all ideas of 
territorial aggrandisement, it was not even thought worth 
while to assemble the diet. The information which, on the 
French demand for further guarantees becoming known, 
the able French envoy at Stuttgart, Saint-Vallier, had given 
to Gramont, that the neutrality of the German south-west 
could no longer be counted on, had proved correct, and 
the belief that these states would nex'cr go to war on a 
purely dj'nastic question a hallucination. 

On July i8th, Bismarck, in a circular to the diplomatic 
representatives of the North-German Confedeiation, pointed 
out that the 'Ems telegram' communicated to them was 
simply a statement of the way, lirm hut courteous, in which 
the King had declined an arrogant demand, and thought 
it worth while to add that his own knowledge of Prince 

vij Declarations of War and Neutrality 447 

Leopold's candidature had been wholly private. On the 20th, 
the North-German Reichstag met, and Bismarck informed it 
that the first and sole notification bj^ the French Government 
to the North-German Confederation was an extract from 
the declaration laid before the French Chambers on the 15th, 
transmitted by Le Sourd on the igth. On this communi- 
cation, which must be regarded as the French declaration 
of war, there followed — first, another circular in which 
Gramont asserted the Ems negotiations to have been 
necessitated by Thile's statement to Le Sourd (which the 
former could not remember) that the Prussian Government 
knew nothing about the transactions as to the candidature 
with Prince Leopold or their result ; and, finally, the 
Emperor Napoleon's manifesto of July 23rd, proclaiming 
that France was carr\'ing on no war against Germany, whose 
independence she respected. Bismarck's answer, designed 
to uproot all trust in France, was the publication, in The 
Times of the 25th, of the draft agreement of August 1866^. 
France seemed to stand convicted, and she stood alone. 

The declarations of neutrality which followed on the 
part of the other European Powers, were, as a matter of 
course, strictly speaking, subsequent to the declaration of 
war; but it may be convenient to advert to them here, 
as they connect themselves closely with the circumstances 
of its outbreak. From Great Britain, notwithstanding 

^ See p. 384 and note, ante, and cf. Ollivier's contention (\'ol. xv, 
PP- 383 fi-). hardly to be gainsaid, that Bismarck, in his circular of 
July 2qth, designedly postdated the draft to the middle or latter 
part of 1867. On the same occasion, Bismarck stated that, had it 
not been for this publication, France would, on the completion of 
the armaments on both sides, have made an offer to Prussia that, 
after the first battle, peace should be concluded between the two 
Powers at the expense of Belgium. See, as to this ultimate 'secret 
of Napoleonic policy,' and its bearing upon the proposed French 
alliance with Austria and Italy, Delbriick, pp. 20 ff., and Egelhaaf, 
Bismarck, p. 254. 

44'*^ FyiDico-CioDhDi Rrldtioiis, 1866-1870 [cH. 

Gramont's assertion of her admission of the justice of the 
French case, no support was to be expected; and the 
British declaration of neutrahty (July 19th) was supple- 
mented (on August 9th) by treaties betw^een Great Britain 
and the two belligerent Powers, furnishing to Belgium a new 
and special guarantee of her territorial integrity. While 
maintaining all the guarantees of the Treaty of 1839, 
Russia — apart from the personal promise of a benevolent 
neutrality made b\^ the Tsar to his uncle — would have 
found the security of her Polish frontier seriously imperilled 
had Prussia been defeated by France ; and her great design 
(which plaved a most important part in the existing politi- 
cal situation and was encouraged by the renewal of the 
guarantee of Belgian neutrality), of putting an end to 
the closing of the Black Sea, might have been thwarted. 
She not only, on July i8th, declared her neutrality ; but 
she succeeded, even before the British Government had 
intervened in the same sense, in preventing Denmark from 
running the risk of a French alliance. Denmark declared 
her neutrality (July 25th), and Sweden within a few days 
followed suit. Spain, where Prim no longer exercised a 
supreme control, did the same, together with the lesser 
states, whose neutrality was a matter of course; the Sultan 
alone enquired from the Emperor Napoleon whither the 
Turkish armies should be despatched. 

More serious was the danger which, though the eleventh 
hour had passed, threatened Prussia and her allies from the 
long discussed scheme of an allianri- willi iMance on llie 
part of Austria-Hungary and Italy. 

On July 15th a meeting to this end had been held at 
Paris between Metterni( li and Nigra, assisted respectively 
by Vitzthum and \^ini<r(Mti ; wlien the conclusion had 
been reached to suniiiKni Prussia to observe in Germany 
the provisions of the Treaty of Prague, and, in the certain 
case of her refusal, to join in an advance in southern 

vi] Austrian and Italian Neutrality 449 

Germany. But no such action could take place, because of 
the time required for mobilisation ; and it was, therefore, 
in Beust's opinion, above all desirable to gain time. At a 
Crown Council held at Vienna on July i8th, attended by the 
Presidents of both the Austrian and the Hungarian Ministry, 
Beust proposed to carry on for the present a waiting policy, 
placing, however, the army in what was termed half- 
readiness for war. But Andrassy's counter-proposal of 
declaring neutrality, while making the military preparations 
which were in any case necessary, was appro\'ed by the 
Emperor Francis Joseph and the Council. Beust was 
reduced to making the best explanations he could in a 
private letter to Metternich, in which he further suggested 
that Italy's accession to the still contemplated triple alliance 
should be secured by the recall of the French troops from 
Rome. A day or two earlier, the Emperor Napoleon had 
actually made the same proposal to King Victor Emmanuel, 
but on condition that the Italian Government would allow 
no encroachment on the Papal dominions, in accordance 
with the Treaty of September 15th, 1864. To this require- 
ment the Italian ^Ministry was absolutely opposed; for, 
while some Italian politicians favoured, and others shunned, 
the French alliance, the hearts of all were set upon Rome. 
The result was that, on July 24th, Italy, too, with the 
King's acquiescence, declared her neutrality; and, when, in 
August, the French troops were withdrawn from Rome, the 
hour had passed. The maintenance of the Temporal Power, 
as Prince Napoleon chose to put it, cost France Alsace and 
Lorraine. In July, the negotiations referred to had not yet 
been broken off ; but the device of an Austro-Italian armed 
neutrality, which might have been capable of later develop- 
ment, had it not been restricted by a 'so soon as possible' 
clause, came to naught. Victor Emmanuel's endeavours 
had, in fact, been frustrated by Austro-Hungary, just as 
Austrian 'velleities' had been blocked by the well-under- 
w. M. G. II. 29 

43<) Fyiinco-Cicnudu Rcl tit ions, iS66-iSyo [CH. vi 

stood attitiulc of Russia. The resumption by the Italian, 
ami the approxal by the British, Government, in a new form, 
of the idea of the so-called 'League of Neutrals' first sug- 
gested by Visconti-Venosta so early as July 15th, were 
consequent upon the German victories of August 0th, and 
therefore belong to the history of the war itself. 

Lord Lvons was, no doubt, right in his belief that the 
iManoo-German War was not a foregone conclusion on the 
part of Prussia, and in liis certainty that it was not such on 
the part of France. This means that the Hohenzollern 
candidature, though not originated by Prussia, only gradu- 
ally became Prussia's opportunity, which, when once he 
saw it, Bismarck was resolved not to hjse. It likewise 
means that it was the excitement of h^rench self-conscious- 
ness which drove the Emperor Napoleon and his advisers — 
Gramont above all — into the fatal error of not accepting 
tlu' withdrawal of the candidature as a settlement. But 
it does not mean that, from 1866 onwards, either Prussia 
and her adherents in Gennany or predominant public 
opinion in France — for of accumulated historical feelings 
we are not here speaking — had come to the conclusion that, 
sooner or later, war between them must be. Prussian 
politicians, and those who thought with them in Germany, 
were gradually adopting Bismarck's view that without a 
national war with France German unity would not be 
accomplished. And the self-consciousness of the French 
nation might, if suddenly set on edge, demand a satisfaction 
such as nothing but a victorious war with Prussia could 
provide, and the weakness of the dynasty on the imperial 
throne would prove unable to resist. Great national wars — 
for the very reason that they are national — are among those 
which the world's experience his not yet discovered the 
means of averting. 




The battle of Koniggriitz arid the Treaty of Prague won 
the confidence of the people of Prussia for King William 
and his Government and were the justification of Prussia's 
claim to lead a united Germany. The King's reliance upon 
the statesmanship of Bismarck and the generalship of Moltke 
was confirmed. Moreover, the establishment of Prussia's 
supremacy in Germany was followed by a great increase of 
her forces. 

To the nine army corps of 1866 were added three fresh 
corps raised in the annexed provinces of Schleswig-Holstein, 
Hanover and Electoral Hesse ; the Saxon army had become 
an army corps ; the grand-duchy of Hesse supplied 
a division. The forces of south-western Germany, placed 
by treaty at Prussia's disposal, consisted of two army corps 
from Bavaria and a division each from Wtirttemberg and 
Baden. Thus, the nine army corps of 1866 had, by 1870, 
become sixteen and a half. The artillery, which had been 
inferior to that of Austria, was completelv armed with 
rifled breech-loading guns. The expansion of the army had 
given exceptional Opportunities for promotion, of which 
advantage had been taken to advance those who had given 
proofs of capacity in 1866. Mobilisation and railway 

29 — 2 

452 The Fnuico-Germiui War, 1870-1 [ch. 

transport had been so much accelerated that an army 
corps would be ready for movement on the tenth day and 
could be conveyed to the frontier on a single-track line in 
live, on a double-track line in three and a half, days. In 
1866, it had been a great achievement to place a quarter 
of a million men on the Austrian frontier in five weeks. 
In 1870, the arrangements admitted of assembling half a 
million men on the French frontier in three weeks. 

For thirty years Moltke had beeji thinking out a war with 
France. In an essay published in 1841 and entitled Tlic 
Question of the Western Frontier, he wrote : 

All the territory tliat France has gained on her eastern borders 
since the 13th century has been robbed from Germany; all the lands 
of Burgundy and Lorraine are our ancient possessions unlawfully 
stolen by France.... If language marks the natural borders of a 
nation, the whole Rhine on its left as well as its right bank belongs 

to us and we are entitled to demand Alsace and Lorraine The 

last treaties no doubt have given their sanction to the illegal posses- 
sion of Alsace and Lorraine by France ; but, if she should break 
them and begin a war... we ought not to sheathe the sword until 
we have obtained our whole right and France paid us her whole debt. 

This meant a war which should end by the German 
Government dictating its own terms. Before that could 
be possible, France must be disarmed and helpless, her 
armies destroyed and her capital occupied. Such was the 
programme that Moltke set before himself. But an in- 
vasion of France must start from a secure German} . Where 
should the German army be assembled in order to protect 
Prussia and the rest of Germany? Undoubtedly, at Mainz ; 
for there a Prussian army would cover its own communi- 
cations with Berlin and would be able to strike in time 
either on the flank of a French army marching towards the 
Lower Rhine and the fortresses of Coblenz, Cologne and 
Wesel, or on the communications of a French army invading 
south Germany. France would hardly be able to put into 
the field an army of more than 250,000 men. The EmjxTor 

vii] The French Military System 453 

Napoleon would not be likely to violate the neutrality of 
Switzerland or of Belgium, as that would absorb a part of 
his forces ; he would be compelled by the lie of the French 
railway-lines to assemble his troops at Metz and at Strass- 
burg. Moltke, therefore, proposed to collect all the forces 
of the North-German Confederation and south-western 
Germany to the south of Mainz, between the Moselle and 
the Rhine. When they were ready, they would advance 
towards the Moselle above Metz, and would be sure in a few 
days to meet the French forces. After defeating them, 
the German army would march upon Paris. The defeat 
of the French army in the field and the occupation of Paris 
would enable the King of Prussia to dictate his terms of 

The military institutions of Prussia in 1870 were the- 
direct outcome of those created by Scharnhorst for the 
struggle against Napoleon. The Prussian leaders found 
their inspiration in the traditions of the Napoleonic wars. 
France, on the other hand, had perforce broken with her 
past in respect both of her military institutions and of her 
military traditions. The first act of the restored Bourbon 
monarchy had been, at the prompting of the Allies, to 
disband Napoleon's army, to abolish conscription and to 
form a new army on the basis of voluntary enlistment. 
But military service was not popular; and, in 1818, the 
system had to be reconstituted under the auspices of Marshal 
Gouvion St Cyr, and it was again remodelled in 1832 by 
Marshal Soult. The system of 1832 was a combination of 
voluntary enlistment with a conscription, by which the men 
of military age drew numbers in a lottery. Those who 
drew 'good' numbers were exempt from military service 
and those who drew ' bad ' ones were required to serve for 
seven years with the colours. A recruit who drew a 'bad' 
number was allowed to pay a substitute to take his place. 

454 ^^'^ Fyanco-Gernian War, 1870-1 [CH. 

but reniainod responsible during the seven years for its 
being tilled. The system produced good troops, for the 
men, on leaving their families for seven years, learnt to look 
on their regiments as their homes. Many soldiers renewed 
their engagements and made excellent non-commissioned 
officers. But the practice of paid substitutes made the 
upper and middle classes strangers to the army, and soldiers 
became a class apart. This separation between the nation 
and the army was increased when, in 1854, Napoleon III 
permitted those who drew ' bad ' numbers to buy exonera- 
tion from service by a money-payment in return for which 
the Government undertook to find and pay a substitute. 

The expedition of 1830 to Algeria was the beginning of 
an almost continuous series of campaigns in that country, 
which, in the absence of regular mano-'uvres in France, 
became the training ground of the French army. It was 
a school in which the troops' grew hardened to marching 
and campaigning and the officers had scope for courage 
and presence of mind. But the conditions of campaigning 
in a sparsely populated country without roads, where the 
enemy was not an army but a half-civilised warlike popula- 
tion, without artillery, were widely different from those of 
warfare against regular armies in Europe. As a rule, 
officers in Algeria found it sufficient to rely on courage, 
coolness and improvisation — the characteristic precept was 
debrouillez-vous. The study of war languished ; and the 
idea that there was anything to be learned except by per- 
sonal experience grew unfamiliar. Governors and generals 
were tempted to magnify the importance of the engagements 
which they had to report. Every action not too discredit- 
able was announced as a victory; and the officers mentioned 
in dispatches were promoted and decorated. The door 
was thus opened not only for merit, but also too often for 
personal ambition, for jiatronage and for intrigue; and 
reputations and careers were often l)uilt up on slender 

vii] The French Army 455 

foundations of achievement. The Crimean War revealed 
excellent troops, but a generalship that had forgotten the 
ways of Napoleon and his marshals. The campaign of 1859 
in Italy showed an army that did not know how to move 
its masses; after the victory at Magenta it could not 
advance faster than six or seven miles a day. The expedi- 
tion to Mexico also displayed good qualities in the troops 
but no generalship. Yet its commander, Bazaine, came 
home as a popular hero. 

Napoleon III was prompted by a perhaps sound instinct 
to resist the aggrandisement of Prussia^. But he had 
neither the strength of will nor the assured authority 
required to carry out that purpose. In 1866, his army had 
not been ready for a war, in cooperation with Austria, 
against Prussia; and during the subsequent years, though 
he was fully informed by Colonel Stoffel, his military attache 
at Berlin, concerning the organisation, the training and the 
strength of the Prussian army, he failed to insist upon the 
measures of preparation indispensable for war. Yet he per- 
severed in the policy which was bound to lead to a conflict. 

The military preparations were entrusted to Ma.rshal 
Niel, whose recruiting law of 1868 aimed at the expansion of 
the army for war by the creation of a reserve. It altered the 
term of service from seven years to nine, of which only five 
were to be spent with the colours and the remaining four 
in the reserve. These terms applied to the greater part of 
each year's conscripts. The remainder, called the 'second 
portion,' joined the colours for a few weeks' training and 
then passed into the reserve. Those young men who were 

^ This instinct may seem to be justified by the words of Moltke 
written dehberately in 1881. 'The war of 1S66 arose not from any 
necessity of self-defence against a menace to Prussia, nor from pubhc 
opinion or the voice of the people. It was a conflict seen by the 
government to be necessary, long intended and quietly prepared... 
for Power.' (Moltke, Gesammelte Schriften ttnd Denkwiirdiqkeiten, 
vol. Lii, p. 436.) 

456 The Franco-German War, 1870-1 [ch. 

not conscripted and did not \'oluntarily enlist were enrolled 
in a 'mobile' national guard which was to be called up as a 
further resen/e in the case of war. But the Chamber would 
not vote the money required for training the mobile guard ; 
and in })ractice its men were called out only fifteen times a 
year, each time for one day only, which had to be spent in 
travelling to and from the place of assembly, in roll-calls 
and in the issue of equipment, so that the training could 
not be serious. Its officers and non-commissioned officers 
received no military education. Niel contemplated an 
army of 400,000 men with the colours, 400,000 in the 
reserve and 400,000 in the mobile guard ; but at least five 
years must elapse before the reserve could attain to its full 
strength. In i86g, Niel died leaving his work unfinished, 
and was succeeded by Le Boeuf, made a marshal early in 
1870, a gallant but not a highly instructed officer, who con- 
ciliated the Chamber by reducing Niel's estimates, especially 
those for the mobile national guard. 

As a result of the reforms of 1868, France had, in July 
1870, forces which, if judiciously employed, should have 
been sufficient to protect her. The regular army with its 
reserves numbered 535,000 men^, and the mobile national 
guard could furnish men enough to raise the total to 900,000. 

• With the colours : 

A. In depots and garrisons in Francf>, Algeria 

and Italy ... ... ... ... ... 206,000 

11 With the regiments available for held 

service ... ... ... ... ... 162,000 

Reserves : 

C. Niel's reserve, which would increase each 

year but was in 1870 only ... ... 61,000 

D. Men of the Second Portion ... ... n 2,000 

Total regular army ... ... ... ... 541,000 

Unless some of the garrison troops were withdrawn for the field 
and the depots reduced, the available field-army would be composed 
of B. C and D, giving a total of 335,000. 

vii] Archduke Albrecht's Plan 457 

But time would be needed to bring these forces into action; 
and, when time must be gained for preparation, the attitude 
ought to be defensive. 

The French infantry was armed witli the chassepot, a 
breech-loading rifle superior in range and accuracy to the 
Prussian needle-gun. The artillery had been rearmed in 
1858 with rifled guns which were however muzzle-loading. 
In 1861 General Le Boeuf had suppressed all but two of the 
vent-holes in the time-fuses issued, so that the shells could 
be caused to burst only at the two specific ranges of 1500 
and 3200 yards and were therefore ineffective against 
objects at ranges appreciably different from these. The 
twenty-four batteries of machine guns {mitrailleuses) pro- 
duced in 1868 were an experiment. Their use in battle 
had not been thought out, and they were too often exposed 
to the Prussian artillery at ranges at which they were 
themselves ineffective. The Napoleonic conception of the 
use of artillery in masses had been forgotten. 

In February 1870. Archduke Albrecht paid a visit to 
the Emperor Napoleon, who asked him for a plan of opera- 
tion for the French, Austrian and Italian armies, in case of 
a joint war against the North-German Confederation^. The 
Archduke promised to prepare a plan ; and, in June, 
Napoleon sent General Lebrun to Vienna, with returns to 
show that the French army would be able, with the troops 
of the active army, calculated at 400,000 men, to begin 
operations on the fifteenth day after a declaration of war. 
By the end of June, the plan was in the Emperor's hands. 
The Archduke assumed that the Austrian and Italian 
armies would require six weeks, and the Prussian army five, 
before they could be mobilised and assembled on the 
frontier. He proposed that the Emperor should form two 
armies ; one in Lorraine, of three corps of three divisions 
each, the other in Alsace, of five corps of three divisions 
^ Cf anle, pp. 414-5. 

45^ The Fyanco-German War, 1870-1 [ch. 

each. The first was to cross the Saar on the sixteenth day 
after the dcchiration of war and march towards Mainz, in 
order to draw against itself as large a part as possible of 
tiie enemy's forces. The second was to cross the Rhine 
near Strassburg and march by Stuttgart towards Niirnberg, 
where it was to meet the Austrian army, which would be 
ready on the Bohemian frontier six weeks after the declara- 
tion of war. On its way this French army would disarm 
the German states of the south-west. Austria would 
remain neutral until the end of the six weeks, by which 
time Italy would begin to in\'ade Bavaria through Tyrol 
with 50,000 men. 

This scheme was based on assumptions as to the time 
required to mobilise and concentrate the German forces, 
which the Emperor ought to have known to be inaccurate ; 
for one of his staff-offtccrs. Colonel Lewal, submitted a 
careful reckoning showing that the Prussian forces could 
be mobilised and concentrated in three weeks. But the 
Emperor Napoleon took the Archduke's plan seriously and 
made it the basis of his action. He thought that he could 
make up by speed what he lacked in strength, and that, 
by suddenly invading southern Germany, he might prevent 
the south-German contingents from joining the Prussian 
army, which he would turn to meet so soon as the south- 
German states had been dealt with. He hoped that success 
at the beginning would suffice to bring Austria and Italy 
into the field on his side. Accordingl3^ he would fonn the 
300,000 men whom he thought to be at once available into 
three armies; one of 150,000 men at Metz, the second of 
100,000 men at Strassburg and a third of 50,000 at the camp 
of Chalons-sur-Marne. On the sixteenth day the army of 
Metz would be relieved by the army of Chalons, and would 
join that of Alsace, and the two together would cross the 
Rhino and march njion Stuttgart. 

This plan left out of consideration tlie possibilities of 

vii] The French Commanders—The Navies 459 

a Prussian attack on France and the defensive action which 
might be imposed on the French army. It contemplated 
an invasion of Germany, to be undertaken with only one- 
third of the possible strength of France, and, even as to that 
force, took no account of the kind of preparations required. 
For the method contemplated was to begin at once the 
transport by railway of the regiments to the frontier, 
without their reservists, who were to be called out and sent 
to the depots to be equipped, after which they were to 
join their regiments on the frontier. This tardy and 
gradual arrival of reservists was inconsistent wdth the 
proposed prompt advance into Germany, and was sure tp 
cause confusion, unless it had been fully and minutel}' 
prearranged; which was not the case. 

Napoleon intended to keep the command-in-chief in 
his own hands and to have the assistance of Marshal Le 
Boeuf as chief of his staff. The army of Metz was to be 
placed under Marshal Bazaine, who had had the command 
in Mexico. The armies of Alsace and of Chalons were to 
be commanded by Marshal MacMahon, a brave and loyal 
officer, but hardly a strategist, and Marshal Canrobert, who 
had brought home a good reputation from the Crimea. 

Since France was a maritime Power while the German 
navy was insignificant, it was part of the French plan to 
send a fleet with a landing force to the North German 
coast. But the army could not spare troops for embarca- 
tion ; and, very soon, even the marines had to be landed in 
France to reinforce the land-army. French fleets arrived 
in the North Sea and the Baltic unhindered, and a blockade 
of German forts was undertaken, with limited success, 
at any rate in the Baltic. The Prussian Government told 
off sufficient forces for the protection of the coasts, along 
which elaborate defensive works were constructed. But no 
attempt was made to meet the French fleet, and the only 
action at sea during the war was an indecisive encounter 

460 The Fraiico-German War, 1870-1 [CH. 

oft' Havana on Xo\-emiber 9th between the Prussian gun- 
boat Meteor and the French chspatch boat Boiivet. 

When the crisis came in July, the reserve and second 
portion were called up, orders were given for the mobile 
guard of the frontier districts to be equipped and armed, and 
the levy of companies oi francslireurs was authorised. Each 
regiment of the line was to leave behind four companies 
to form a fourth battalion, and two to form a depot, while 
the rest of the regiment went to the front. 

The first movements began on July i()th. The regiments 
were sent bv railway from their peace stations to eight 
points near the frontier, where they were to be formed into 
eight army cor])s, improvised for the occasion, and to be 
afterwards joined by their reservists and provided with 
transport, supplies and auxiliary services. No commanders 
of armies were appointed; but each of the three marshals 
who had been selected for command was to have an army 
corps of four divisions instead of three (the normal strength) ^ 

' In 1870, in both the German and French armies, three battahons 
formed a regiment, two regiments a brigade, and two brigades with 
a rifle battaUon a division. At the beginning of the war, the German 
battalions had their normal strength of about looo men. The 
French battalions had hardly reached a strength of 700 men by the 
4th of August. A German division had 24 guns, a French division 
only 12 and 6 machine guns. A German division had a cavalry 
regiment, a French division none. A German army corps had two 
infantry divisions and a corps artillery of 36 guns, in five of the 
corps 48 guns. The French normal army corps had three divisions, 
the Guard only two, and the 1st, Ilird and \Tth each four. Each 
I-rench army corps had a cavalry division and a reserve artillery of 
48 guns. In the German army, the Guard and the Xllth (Saxon) 
corps each had a cavalry di\ision, the two Bavarian army corps and 
the Baden and Wiirttembcrg divisions each a cavalry brigade. 
There were also five cavalry divisions, independent of army corps, 
under the orders of the commantlers of armies. Vhv I'^rench army 
had a < :i\;i]rv reserve of 5J sciiiadions. ),'i<>u|)e(l into three < a\'alry 

vii] Napoleon joins the 'Army of the Rhine ' 461 

The places chosen for assembhng the several army corps 
corresponded to the plan of campaign. MacMahon's corps 
at Strassburg, with those of Douay at Belfort and de Failly 
at Bitche, might become the armj^ of Alsace for the invasion 
of south Germany. Bazaine's corps at Metz, with those of 
Frossard at Saint Avoid, of Ladmirault at Thionville, and 
the Guard corps under Bourbaki at Nancy, would constitute 
the army for the advance into the Palatinate, while the corps 
of Canrobert at Chalons would become the army of reserve. 
But these places were scattered along a line 240 miles 
long; and, before any offensive could be undertaken, the 
corps must be brought together into compact armies. 
That would occupy some days, and the whole plan depended 
upon promptitude in attack, its essence being an invasion 
of Germany before the German forces could be ready. 

On the twelfth day, therefore, July 28th, Napoleon, after 
transferring the supreme authority to the Empress Eugenie 
as Regent, travelled by railway to Metz, to take command 
of the assembling forces, which he named the Army of the 
Rhine. On his arrival, he found that the strength of the 
eight army corps was not 300,000 men, but only 187,000, 
since the bulk of the reservists had not yet reached their 
regiments, that no magazines had been formed and that 
there were great deficiencies in the departments of supply 
and transport. The fortress of Metz was in no condition 
to sustain a siege. There was endless confusion on all the 
railway-lines, which were congested with troops and stores. 
The generals were struggling to bring order out of the chaos 
caused by the movement of the regiments before they had 
been brought up to full strength and made ready for the 
field. Moreover, the negotiations with Austria and Italy 
were beginning to show that both these Governments would 
be neutral, and that France would have to fight without 

divisions. The new corps raised in France after September 4th had 
three divisions in each and battahons of 1000 men. 

462 The FriDico-Gcrman War, 1870-1 [CH. 

allies. The ICniperor wrote to MaeMahon, instructing him 
to undertake no mo\-ement for another week. A number 
of German patrols had crossed the frontier at various points ; 

but the Frencli caxalrx- had not Ih'cii trained in rcconnais- 


Weissenburg to Gravelotte « 

sance and was not pushed beyond the frontier. No large 
bodies of German troops had been seen ; and, though there 
were reports of the gathering of the German armies, they 
were not collated so as to yield a working hypothesis as to 
the distribution of the German forces. 

vii] Saarhriicken occupied 463 

By July 31st, the Guard corps had been brought from 
Nancy to Metz, and the corps of de Failly, Bazaine and 
Ladmirault were deployed from Bitche through Sarregue- 
mines to Boulay and Bouzonville, along a front of 43 miles, 
with that of Frossard in front of the centre of this line 
about Forbach. These four corps had a total strength of, 
perhaps, 130,000 men. Napoleon was still thinking of his 
projected advance into the Palatinate, but in his hesitating 
frame of mind could decide on no more than a recon- 
naissance in force towards Saarbriicken. He entrusted 
the conduct of the operation to Bazaine, putting under^ 
his orders for the purpose the corps of Frossard and 
Ladmirault besides his own. Bazaine left the execution to 
Frossard, with his single corps of 28,000 men ; and, on 
August 2nd, Frossard advanced to Saarbriicken. He was 
opposed only by a few Prussian outpost companies, which 
after a good resistance evacuated the town and disappeared 
in the country north of the Saar. 

This was the end of Napoleon's offensive campaign ; 
and he had no alternative plan. A number of reser\'ists 
had joined the different regiments, so that, by August 4th, 
the whole eight corps had reached the strength of 267,000, 
of whom 96,000 belonged to the army of Alsace, 131,000 
to that of Lorraine and 40,000 to the reserve at Chalons. 
But the corps were still independent units ; no commanders 
of armies had been appointed, and no plan of action settled 
or communicated to those concerned. The army was still 
arranged in two separate and widespread groups of anny 
corps. In Alsace, MacMahon had moved the four divisions 
of his own army corps towards a position chosen for defence 
between Niederbronn and Worth, and had pushed forward 
part of one of them, under Abel Douay, toWeissenburg. Felix 
Douay's nearest division was at Colmar, 75 miles from Worth ; 
and de Failly had one of his divisions at Bitche, 14 miles from 
Worth, and the others 20 miles away, at Sarreguemines. 

464 TJic Fratico-Gcvnuin War, 1870-1 [CH. 

The order for the mobiUsation of all the forces of the 
North-German Confederation was issued at Berhn in the 
night of July I5th-i6th. Similar orders were issued by 
the south-German Governments. The forces called out 
amounted to 519.000 men constituting the field-army and 
323,000 forming garrisons, and supplementary reserves, 
the total number of men to whom rations were issued in 
August being 1,183,000. Of the field-army, sixteen army 
corps were destined for the in\ asion of France and one 
regular division, with four of Lamhvchr, for the defence of 
the coast against French attack by sea. 

The mobilisation and railway transport, having been 
long prepared in every detail, were smoothly carried out 
according to the programme ; and, on August 3rd, in less 
than three weeks from the first order, 385,000 men, thirteen 
out of sixteen army corps, with four ca\'alry divisions, were 
moving through the Palatinate and Rhenish Prussia to- 
wards the French frontier. On the right the corps of 
Westphalia and Rhenish Prussia, with a cavalry division, 
60,000 men in all, forming the First army under General 
von Steinmetz, the victor of Nachod, had advanced from 
Trier to within a day's march of Saarbriicken and Merzig 
on the Saar. On tlie left, the troops of the south-German 
states, with the army corps from Posen and Hesse and a 
cavalry division, forming the Third army, 131,000 strong, 
under the Crown-prince of Prussia, lay between Landau 
and the frontier of Alsace, which followed the stream of the 
Latiter. The Second army, consisting of six army corps 
and two cavalrv divisions, 194,000 men, commanded by 
Prince Frederick Charles, which had been detrained for 
the most part on the Rhine between Bingen and Worms, 
was marching towards the Saar abo\'e Saarbriicken, its 
leading division being two marches distant from that ri\'er 
and its rear divisions two marches behind. 

On August 2nd, the dav of the demonstration at 

Vii] Battle of Weissenburg 465 

Saarbriicken, the King of Prussia, with his headquarters, 
arrived at Mainz. Moltke expected his First and Second 
armies to reach the Saar in full strength by August gth, 
when he intended the Third army to deploy upon the upper 
course of that river; so that, if the French stood on the 
Saar, he could on that day attack them in front with the 
Second army, on their left with the First and on their right 
flank with the Third, which was to detach a sufficient 
force against MacMahon in case he remained in Alsace. 
Accordingly, on August 3rd, Moltke "instructed the Third 
army to begin its advance, thus allowing it six da3's in which 
to move through the Vosges to the Upper Saar. 

On August 4th, the Crown-prince set his 130,000 men 
on the march across the frontier. Three of his army corps 
converged upon Weissenburg, where Abel Douay had posted 
his 5000 men, out of reach of support and with no instruc- 
tions to fall back if attacked by a superior force. The 
Bavarian corps, the first to reach the ground, attacked 
Weissenburg from the north and met with strong resistance f 
but, when the French right was attacked by two more corps 
coming from the east, Douay decided to retire, but was 
killed after giving the order. The retirement, however, 
was carried out under cover of a handful of French troops, 
who threw themselv^es into the chateau on the Geissberg 
protecting the right flank, and held it against the greater 
part of an army corps, until they were overpowered by 
the German artillery. A battalion in Weissenburg was 
surrounded and captured after desperate resistance. The 
remnant of the division made its way to Worth, leaving 
behind 1000 killed and wounded and 1000 prisoners. 
MacMahon, on hearing of the engagement in the morning, 
had set out towards the battlefield and reached the Col 
du Pigeonnier, from which he had a view of the action. 
He estimated the German forces which he saw at 80,000 

W. M. G. II. 30 

466 The Franco-German War, 1870-1 [CH. 

The news of the battle of Weissenburg ought to have 
convinced Napoleon that the German army was ready and 
was taking the offensive, that his plan for the invasion of 
southern Germany was impracticable, and that he must 
lose no time in disposing his forces for defence, not 
necessarily passive. But he had now no plan and felt 
unequal to the situation. On August 5th, he telegraphed 





, r., 

Nieder Wa/^/,\- 
Ibiechtshausdr fw' 

Guntershoffcn „ , 

' Morsbronn 

Weissenburg and Worth 

instructions to MacMahon to take command of the corps 
of de Failly and Felix Douay besides his own, but gave him 
no instructions. It would have been prudent for MacMahon 
to avoid battle until he had collected his three corps ; but 
he took counsel only from his courage. He sent for one of 
Felix Douay's divisions, but allowed the other two to remain 
in southern Alsace, because a German force was reported 
to be about to cross the Rhine and invade that district — 

vii] Battle of Worth 467 

a German report spread to deceive the French. He ordered 
de Failly to bring his corps from Bitche to Worth ; but 
de Failly sent onty one division, which made a late start on 
the 6th and did not reach Xiederbronn, behind MacMahon's 
position, till the afternoon. Thus, MacMahon had with him 
altogether only 32,000 infantry, not quite 5000 cavalr}', and 
107 guns. The Crown-prince had moved forward from 
Weissenburg ; and, on the evening of August 5th, three of 
his corps had their outposts in touch with the French, 
while the other two were within reach. He proposed to 
spend the 6th in moving his wing-corps into positions from 
which they could strike upon MacMahon's flank and rear, 
and to attack the French position on the 7th. 

MacMahon determined, if attacked, to hold his ground. 
His position, on a low spur of the Vosges running north and 
south, was very strong on its three mile front. It crowned 
a slope overlooking the flat vallej' of the Sauerbach. a brook 
swift and deep enough to be only just fordable, and the 
chassepot bullets could sweep the slope and the flat quarter 
of a mile between its base and the brook. The left flank 
could be attacked only through the great woods to the north ; 
but the right flank had no natural protection and could be 
approached over easy ground. 

The action began, in the morning of August 6th, with 
a reconnaissance sent by General von Kirchbach, of the 
Vth corps, through Worth village, to ascertain whether the 
French were retreating. When the French were found in 
position beyond the village the German party retired. But 
the Bavarians to the north, at Langensulzbach, had heard the 
firing and began to move against the French left ; thev broke 
off the action, however, by orders from the headquarters 
of the Crown-prince. Kirchbach, hearing the Bavarians 
engaged, ordered his corps to attack. When this became 
known to the Crown-prince, he determined to carry through 
the battle thus begun, and ordered up all his troops; for 


468 The Franco-German War, icS/o-i [CH. 

they were all within reach. Neither Kirohbach nor the 
Bavarians were at first able to push back the French ; 
but Kirchbach deployed 108 guns on the slope overlooking 
Worth from the east ; and, aided by their fire, his infantry 
made their way across the flat valley and pushed up the 
slope beyond. On the edge of the plateau crowning the 
slope they were stopped by the hail of bullets. Soon the 
Xlth corps, coming up through Gunstett, joined in the 
attack on the French front, also deploying its artillery, 
under cover of which part of its troops moved round the 
French right flank and attacked from the soutli. They 
were able to take a farmstead called the Allirechtshauscr 
Hof, battered to pieces by the guns, and to push forward 
towards the Niederwald. But they were Www cliargcd by 
Michel's brigade of cavalry. The ground was covered with 
obstacles and ill-suited for such a charge ; the horsemen 
were shot down by the needle-guns, and the brigade was 
virtually destroyed. Time was, however, gained for the 
French infantry to re-form their line along the edge of the 
Niederwald and to recover the Albrechtshauser Hof. 
Fresh German troops came on, which took Eberbach ; and, 
thus reinforced, the Germans rushed on and drove the 
French through and oiit of the Niederwald. The pressure 
thus brought upon the French flank enabled Kirchbach's 
troops to establish themselves on the plateau, and a com- 
bined attack of both German corps then put them in 
possession of the village of Elsasshausen. By this time a 
fresh Bavarian army corps had come up on the right of the 
Vth corps and was pushing back the French left, so that 
the centre of the French, their last position at Froschwiller, 
was attacked at once from north, east and south. Again, 
MacMahon threw in a mass of cavalry, Bonncmains's 
division, which charged bravely in spite of tlic liroken 
obstructed ground, of the deadly fire of the needle-guns 
and of the great semicircle of artillery. This brave division 

vii] Battle of Spicheren 469 

shared the fate of Michel's brigade. MacMahon had used 
up all his troops, and all had fought desperately. His 
armv was crushed. He gave word for the retreat to Saverne, 
ordering a last charge of a handful of his Algerian veterans 
to cover it ; and, hereupon, what was left of his army 
escaped, as best it could, from the battlefield, covered 
against pursuit by the division of de Failly's corps, which 
had at last reached Niederbronn. The Crown-prince had 
not brought up his cavalry division, as he had not intended 
to fight on that day ; so that MacMahon was able to make 
good his retreat through Saverne to Saarburg, where he 
was joined by de Failly's corps, which had also retreated 
from Bitche. The Crown-prince had lost 10,000 men. 
But, when MacMahon's rolls were called, there were 
20,000 missing, of whom 9000 were prisoners, while 4000 
had made their way to Strassburg and never rejoined their 

The plans of the Crown-prince, or of his mentor Blumen- 
thal, had been marred by the eagerness of his corps-com- 
manders, towards whom there had perhaps been too much 
reserve in the explanation of his intentions ; but the result 
was, in any case, a great victory, which put the French 
army of Alsace out of action for the next fortnight. 

On the same day, August 6th, the zeal of Steinmetz and 
his inability to grasp the nature of Moltke's design brought 
on a battle at Spicheren, contrary to Moltke's intention. 
Moltke meant to deploy the First and Second armies, not 
before August gth, on the line of the Saar, the First army 
below Saarbriicken and the Second at and above that place. 
But Steinmetz had moved his corps too far to his left, and 
they were, on the night of August 5th, within a day's 
march of Saarbriicken, as was also the Hlrd corps of the 
Second army, the bulk of which was still far behind. A 
report that the French were retiring from Saarbriicken 
induced Steinmetz to direct his troops ,_^ on August 6th, 

470 The Franco-German War, 1870-1 [CH. 

towards that town and Volklingon, a few miles lower down 
the river. Frossard had, on August 5th, withdrawn his 
advanced troops from Saarbriicken and occupied a position 
on the hills overlooking the town from the south. Within 
nine or ten miles from his position were the four divisions 
of Bazaine's corps, 43,000 men, at points on the road from 
Sarreguemines to Saint-Avoid ; and within a short march 
from Saarlouis was the corps of General Ladmirault. The 
French knew that the Germans were approaching Saar- 
briicken. Bazaine had this information in the early morning 
and, a little later, received a request from Frossard for sup- 
port, in expectation of which that general decided to hold 
his ground. The German attack was begun, about noon, 
by a division of the First army, which was sent forward 
against the position without reconnaissance, on the assump- 
tion that it was defended merely by a weak rearguard. 
This division made little impression and could hardly have 
withstood a counter-attack, which, however, Frossard, in 
expectation of reinforcements, postponed. In the after- 
noon, more German troops reached the field, a division of 
the Second army and another division of the First. Attack 
and defence were conducted with great courage and deter- 
mination. The German artillery, always to the front and 
always well handled, enabled the German troops to gain 
ground on the French left and centre, though the French 
repulsed the German left wing. But the non-appearance 
of any reinforcements, the ever-growing numbers of the 
Germans and at last, about se\en in the evening, the 
appearance of a fresh German division near Forbach, on 
the line of retreat to Saint- A\-old, induced Frossard to 
retire towards Sarreguemines. The French had lost 4000, 
the Prussians nearly 6000 officers and men. Frossard 
received from Bazaine neither orders to fall back nor 
reinforcements; and he had, therefore, needlessly fought 
a rearguard action against somewhat superior numbers, 

vii] Consternation in France 471 

though he had retired in time to avoid being cut off or 
hampered in his withdrawal. But the Germans were 
entitled to regard his retreat as a victory for themseh'es, 
and the French were correspondingly depressed, especially 
when the news of MacMahon's disaster at Worth arrived. 

The defeat at Worth, the subsequent precipitate and 
prolonged retreat, and the collapse of Spicheren, revealed the 
impotence of the authority directing the French armies. 
In Lorraine, the results were, first, that Napoleon ordered 
Bazaine to withdraw the army to a position behind the 
French Nied, a retirement which -Bazaine's ignorance of 
the mechanism of movement of large bodies of troops 
rendered incredibly slo^v, confused and exhausting ; secondly, 
that the Emperor began to think of a retreat to Chalons 
■ — he could not approve of Bazaine's idea of retreating 
to the plateau of La Haye behind the Meurthe between 
Frouard and Nancy — and, thirdh', that the Emperor 
realised his inability to command the army and was anxious 
to transfer its direction to stronger hands. On France the 
news fell like a thunderclap. Consternation spread every- 
where. The empire had been synonymous with victor}'. 
Defeat removed its foundations. At Paris, where the news 
was known on the 8th, the Chamber met on the 9th and 
demanded a Government capable of providing for the 
defence of the country. The Ministry of Ollivier resigned; 
and the Empress entrusted the government to a Ministry 
formed by General Cousin de Montauban, Count of Palikao, 
an officer of no special capacity, who had commanded an 
expedition to China and been decorated in consequence. 
In the debate, hints had not been wanting that the defeats 
were due to the military incapacity of the Emperor and his 
chief of staff, Le Boeuf ; and the wish had been expressed 
that the command should be given to Bazaine, the youngest 
Marshal, who was supposed to be a brilliant officer. The 
substance of these ideas and the wishes of the party- 

472 The Franco-German War, 1870-1 [ch. 

leaders and journalists reached the Emperor, who, on the 
nth, hurriedly withdrew the troops from the French 
Nied to the plateau commanded by the eastern forts 
of Metz, and on the 12th appointed Bazaine Commander- 
in-chief of the army. But, instead of giving Bazaine 
a free hand, he urged him to retreat at once to Chalons, 
a course which, while the Emperor remained with the 
army, Bazaine, though not convinced of its wisdom, 
could not frankly reject. On the 13th, he caused 
orders to be prepared for the retirement of the army 
through Metz to the plateau west of the fortress; but he 
did not allow them to be issued that day, and made no pre- 
paration to facilitate the movement either by sending off 
the waggon-trains in advance or by arrangements for 
crossing the bridges and for using all the available roads. 
By the 13th, the bulk of Canrobert's army corps from 
Chalons had reached Metz. 

After the battle of Spicheren, Moltke ordered the 
victorious troops to halt and await the arrival of the First 
and Second armies, which reached the line of the Saar on 
August 9th. By that time, the last three of the sixteen 
German army corps had joined the field-armies; so that 
the First army now had three corps, the Second seven, 
and the Third six, the total force amounting to 484,000 men. 
There was no need, for the moment, to reckon with the army 
of MacMahon, which, continuing the retreat from Saarburg, 
reached Luneville on the 12th. Hence, by Napoleon's 
orders, issued under the influence of a false report that the 
German troops were between his army and Metz, MacMahon 
continued his retreat westwards and took his troops by 
railway from Neufchateau to Chalons, where he arrived on 
August 17th, followed by de Failly's corps and, a day or 
two later, by Felix Douay's Vllth corps, brought round by 
railway from southern Alsace. On August 9th, Moltke 
directed the First and Second arnaies to resume their 

VI I ] Battle of Borny 473 

forward mo\'enient on the loth, the First army pushing 
its right wing towards Metz, while its left wing and the 
Second army were to swing round towards the Moselle 
south of Metz. The Third army would continue its advance 
in the direction of Nancy, and would act as a reserve and 
support in case of mishap. But, inasmuch as the French 
might make a counter-attack from Metz, the movements of 
the First army and the right wing of the Second were re- 
tarded until the course taken by the French should be 

On August 14th, the French army was crossing the 
Moselle at Metz, in accordance with Bazaine's delayed 
orders ; and, in the afternoon, four of its five corps were 
still on the eastern bank, with their rearguards in position 
about a mile and a half to the east of the eastern forts on 
the plateau of Borny, from a point south of Colombey to 
a point north of Nouilty. In this position the rearguards 
were attacked by the advance-guards of the German First 
army, assisted by the nearest division of the Second, which 
assailed the French right flank. Two of the French corps- 
commanders turned back to assist their rearguards; and 
thus began a battle in which the French, though their 
advanced posts were driven back, held their main positions 
till dark, when they resumed their interrupted retreat 
across the Moselle. Moltke was now relieved of the appre- 
hension of a French counterstroke from Metz, and ordered 
the First and Second armies to cross the Moselle, keeping 
only a single army corps to watch Metz from the south-east 
and intending to continue the right wheel beyond the river, 
until the roads from Metz to Verdun were reached. He 
expected to find the French army on those roads, and meant 
to prevent its retreat to Verdun or Chalons. 

A fortress astride of a river should give the defender 
a safe and easy passage from bank to bank, so that he may 
quickly collect his whole army on either and strike a blow 

474 ^^^^ Franco-German War, 1870-1 [CH. 

against the assailant, whose forces will necessarih^ be 
divided by the act of crossing the river. Prince Frederick 
Charles, by disregarding Moltke's instructions, gave 
Bazaine the opportunity of doing this. But Bazaine 
lacked the grasp of military operations, and his army the 

Battles round Metz 

suppleness of movement which would have enabled him 
to take advantage of the opening that was given him. On 
the evening of August 15th, four of the seven army corps 
of the German Second army had reached or crossed the 
Moselle, well above the fortress, on the stretch, sixteen 
miles long, between Noveant and Marbache. Instead of 

vii] The French Army at Rezonville 475 

ordering them all to march on the i6th towards the Metz — 
Verdun road and keeping them within supporting distance 
of one another, Prince Frederick Charles spread them out 
fanwise, as he did the caxzhy divisions preceding them. 
This was an appropriate disposition of the cavalry, of 
which the function was reconnaissance, but not of the 
army corps, each of which it exposed to the risk of 
encountering, alone, the whole* French army. The IVth 
corps he sent towards Toul, the Guards towards St Mihiel, 
the Xth corps from Pont-ii-Mouss6n along the road towards 
Verdun, which does not approach the direct route from 
Metz until St Hilaire, twenty-five miles from that fortress ; 
while the Ilird corps was to march its two divisions by 
the roads leading through Gorze to Rezonville and, through 
Buxieres, to Mars-la-Tour. 

In and about Rezonville, the greater part of the French 
army was encamped. Its march towards Verdun had 
begun, according to Bazaine's orders, about noon on the 
14th; and, if he had made use of the four roads at his 
disposal, the whole army might, by the afternoon of the 15th, 
have been on the plateau of Gravelotte where the high 
road to Verdun bifurcates. But Bazaine ordered all the 
five corps, 150,000 men, to follow the single high road to 
Gravelotte. Thirty-six hours were occupied by the cavalry 
and the corps of Frossard, Canrobert and Bourbaki in 
passing aiong this road ; and it was midnight on the 15th 
before the Guard reached its destination near Gravelotte, 
and the other two corps their bivouacs about Rezonville, 
and the cavalry the village of Vionville. The corps of 
Le Boeuf and Ladmirault, on retiring from the battlefield 
of Borny, waited at Metz for the road to be free. On the 
15th Le Boeuf set out by Amanvillers, which his leading 
division reached only by nightfall. Ladmirault did not 
start from Metz till the morning of the i6th, when he took 
the road through St Privat to Doncourt. 

4/6 The Framo-GcrnKUi War, 1870-1 [CH. 

Napoleon h;ul K-lt Metz on the I5tli and stayed at 
Gravelotte till the morning of the i6th, when he bade 
farewell to Bazaine, urging him to start as soon as possible, 
and then drove off by Conflans to Verdun. Bazaine, 
however, although his three corps were ready to start, 
determined to wait for the rest of the army, and ordered 
the tents to be pitched again and the horses watered. He 
had no intention of being caught by the enemy on tlie 
march at a distance from the fortress. He knew that 
(ierman troops had crossed the Moselle above Metz, and 
had received reports of crossings below the fortress. The 
cavalr\' divisions in camp at Vionville had reported encoun- 
ters with the German cavalry near Mars-la-Tour on the 
afternoon of the 15th, though they had not discovered that 
a whole German cavalry division was just beyond that 
place. No reconnaissance had been made, no position for 
defence chosen. The troops were encamped by divisions, 
to facilitate the resumption of the march, and were not 
covered by outposts. The men were at ease, under orders 
merely not to leave their camps. About 9.15 they were 
startled by the shelling of the cavalry camps at Vion\'ille 
from the direction of Tronville and the infantry camps near 
Rezonville from a point a mile and a half further to the south. 

One German cax'alry di\isi()n, sent In' the Xth corps, 
had passed the night near Tronxille, and another, sent by 
the nird corps, had come up in Ww morning from beyond 
the Moselle through Gorze. It was tlie guns of these two 
cavalry divisions that aroused the French army. (General 
von Alvensleben, commanding the Ilird corjis, was with the 
cavalry division he had sent forward ; and, on learning that 
the French army was before him, he determined to attack 
it in order to j^ri-vent its marching away towards Verdun. 
He had at his (lis]>()sal {hv qooo horse of the two cavalry 
divisions and tiie 21,000 infantry of his own corps, and 114 
guns. The Xth corps would help him. He knew that 

vii] Battle of Mars-la-Tour 477 

these forces might be beaten and even crushed, but felt 
sure that the risk was worth running, to serve Moltke's 
purpose of preventing the retreat of the French army. 

Alvensleben conducted the battle with skill and deter- 
mination. He brought up all his artillery and deployed it on 
the line of which the two groups of horse artillery marked 
the ends. He attacked with his right infantry division 
through the great woods to the south of Rezonville, and 
with his left infantry division along the Verdun — Metz 
high road towards Rezonville. The French troops had occu- 
pied Vionville and Flavigny in their first advance after the 
morning's surprise. The Prussians, aided by their artillery, 
took first Vionville and then Flavigny. The French retook 
Flavigny, and then lost it again about half-past twelve. 
The troops of the righthand German division had soon 
pushed the French advanced troops out of the great woods 
and gained the edge of them ; but beyond that they could 
not make way. All day long they tried to fight their way 
further; but, though here they received reinforcements 
equal to a whole division, all their attacks were repulsed by 
the French. By half-past twelve, Alvensleben 's lefthand 
division was also engaged ; and he had not a battalion 
or a battery in reserve. A charge of French cuirassiers 
against his centre failed ; a countercharge of Prussian 
hussars produced no result, although it came near to captur- 
ing Marshal Bazaine. Alvensleben's righthand cavalry 
division set out to charge, but was stopped by the French 
bullets. Half a brigade of the Prussian Xth corps marched 
up from Thiaucourt and was thrown into the wood of 
Tronville on the German left ; but Canrobert's guns were 
crushing the Prussian infantry line in front of the wood. 
Alvensleben ordered a cavalry brigade to charge the guns, 
and Colonel von Bredow, with 800 horse, starting from the 
east of the wood of Tronville, rode through an infantry 
line, sabred the gunners and charged through the infantry' 

47^ The Franco-Gcrniaii War, 1870-1 [ch. 

behind them ; then, seeing a mass of French cavalry 
approacliing, turned and rode back, leaving 363 troopers on 
the ground. After this daring charge the French in this" 
part of the field remained inactive for an hour. Hereupon, 
troops of Le Boeuf's corps having come from Amanvillers 
took the wood of Tronville. A fresh division of the Xth corps, 
which had marched up from Pont-a-Mousson, was sent into the 
wood and recovered it. Next, two divisions of Ladmirault's 
corps from Met/ came up by St Privat to ])rolong Le Boeuf's 
line to the right, and deplowd soutli of HruN'ille, threaten- 
ing to 'turn AlNciisleheirs Irtt. l)Ut the last l>rigade of the 
Prussian Xth corps, which had marched to St Hilaire, ten 
miles to the west, and then started to march again towards 
the sound of the guns, reached Tronville in time to be sent 
against Ladmirault. It was met by the close range fire 
of a long line of chassepots, and lost more than half of its 
4000 men ; its shattered remnant was saved only by the 
charge of a few stpiadrons which sacrificed themselves 
to cover the retreat. Ladmirault had but to press on, 
and the whole German line must retire. But a mass of 
German cavalr^• threatened his right flank, and he paused. 
His own cav^alry came up from behind his flank to meet this 
new threat, and there was a great cavalry fight, in which 
each side claimed the advantage ; but the net result was 
that Ladmirault's divisions stayed where they were. 

It was now growing dark. Prince Frederick Charles, 
who had reached the battlefield, order(>d a general attack; 
but the German troops were too much exhausted to deliver 
it. P2ach side remained in its positions. Bazaine had had 
on the field 100,000 infantry, 14,000 cavalry and over 400 
guns. He had lost 13.000 men. Alvensleben had employed 
altogether 52,000 infantry, 10,000 cavalry and 228 guns, 
and had lost 16,000 men. His troops were worn out ; they 
could liardh' ha\-e resisted an attack next day. But he had 
fulfillfd his jnnpf)se; he had barri-d the road to Verdun, 

vii] Battle of Mars-la-Tour 479 

and gained time for Moltke to bring up an army. If Bazaine 
had made enough use of his cavalry on the 15th to enable 
him to form a true idea of the situation, and if he had been 
in earnest with the march to Verdun, he would have pressed 
the attacks of Canrobert, Le Boeuf and Ladmirault against 
the German left, would thereby have defeated Alvensleben 
and might have marched on, covered by a rearguard. But 
his chief anxiety was nol^ to be cut off from Metz. He never 
went near his right wing nor sent any instructions to 
Le Boeuf or Ladmirault. He stayed all day at Rezonville 
and kept the bulk of the guard at Gravelotte, where there 
was no enemy; he even brought troops from his right to 
reinforce his unassailed left. 

The Germans did not suppose that they had won the 
battle. They passed an anxious night, and their troops 
were kept so prudently quiet next morning that not 
even a cavalry' reconnaissance was undertaken. It was 
a relief when the discovery was made that only French 
outposts were before them and that the French amiy 
had gone. Yet, even then, no step was taken to find 
out the direction of its movement. There was a skirmish 
with the French rearguard near Gravelotte, but it was not 
known whether the French army had retreated by Conflans 
and Briey or returned towards Metz. During the 17th, 
five army corps of the First and Second army reached the 
battlefield and were halted facing north, in a line eleven 
miles long, with its centre at Rezonville. Moltke issued 
orders that, on the i8th, the five fresh corps should advance 
in echelon from the left, followed by the Ilird and Xth, 
which had fought on the i6th. If the French had gone 
north, he would try to keep to the west of them; if they 
had stayed in front of Metz, he would make a right wheel 
to attack them. By ten o'clock on the i8th the five corps 
stood on the line from near Rozerieulles to Jarny, their 
order from right to left being Vllth, Vlllth, IXth, Guards 

480 The Fyanco-CiCDiiiui War, 1870-1 [CH. 

and Xlltli. By this time, French troops had been observed 
in position from Ro/.erieulles to Montigny la Grange, and the 
order was given for the Second army (IXth, Guards, Xllth) 
to wheel to its right and to begin the attack by moving 
against the French right flank, the First army (Vllth and 
VI 1 1 til) to attack so soon as the Second should be engaged. 

Montigny la Grange was not the French right flank. 
On the evening of the i6th, the French troops and their 
generals had been under the impression that they had that 
day won the battle of Rc/onville or, as the Germans cnll it, 
of Vionville — Mars-la-Tour. But, late at night, Bazaine, 
to the surprise of those who knew of the plan to join Mac 
Mahon at Chalons, issued orders for a return towards Metz, 
to the plateau of Gravelotte — St Privat. Here, during the 
17th, the army moved into a position extending from Roze- 
rieulles to Roncourt, about seven miles, which was occupied, 
from left to right, by the corps of Frossard, Le Bocuf, 
Ladmirault and Canrobert, while the Guards (under 
Bourbaki) were kept by Bazaine some distance in the rear 
at Plappeville, where he remained himself all day. The 
ground was very favourable for defence, the troops being 
posted on the crest of slopes falling westwards, with an 
open field of fire commanding the ground in front, except 
in the centre, where woods covered the approach. The 
left flank, in front of Fort St Oucntiii, was j^rotected by 
the guns of that fort 

Thus on the i8th the (icnnan l.Xth c()ri)S, making for 
Montigny la Grange, was striking not upon the French flank, 
but upon its well-pr(>parefl centre The attack was begun 
about noon h\' tlic aitilltrx' nl the l.Xth corps, deplo\-e(l 
in front of Montignx' la Grange. It was n^ceived by 
artillery and infantr\- lire which intli( tcil losses u])on it; 
and the infantry, sent forwaid to attack, maiU' no 
progress. This attack was at once followed l:)y that of 
the Vllth and Vlllth corps from Gravelotte against the 

vii] Battle of Gravelotte — St Privat 481 

French left. But here, too, the Prussians, though they 
reached the lower part of the slope on the crest of which 
the French were posted, could make no further progress, 
and spent the rest of the day in attacks which were re- 
pulsed with heavy loss, — even the last, delivered in the 
evening by the Ilnd corps, which had marched during the 
day from Pont-a-Mousson. 

The French right held the village of Ste Marie-aux- 
Chenes, in front of their line, with a couple of battalions. 
These were driven out, about 3.30, by the Prussian Guards 
and some of the Saxon troops, while the Crown-prince of 
Saxony, with the bulk of his corps, marched along the 
valley of the Orne to turn the French right at Roncourt. 
Without waiting for this turning movement to develop or 
for a deliberate artillery bombardment, the Guards formed 
for attack in front of Ste Marie, and, about 5.30, advanced 
up the slope against St Privat. The advance broke down 
with heavy loss under the murderous fire of the chassepot. 
The whole attack on the front, from end to end of the line, 
had failed; and a capable commander-in-chief on the French 
side might have turned the repulse of the Germans into 
a defeat. But Bazaine did nothing. A division of the 
French Guards was taken by Bourbaki towards the French 
right wing, but brought back again without being engaged. 
About six o'clock, the Crown-prince of Saxony began to 
develop his flank attack, deploying his troops so that his 
left wing from Malancourt should come up behind the 
extreme right of the French at Roncourt. The handful 
of French at Roncourt were facing northwards, and the 
Saxons advanced towards them from the north, the north- 
east and the north-west, their way being prepared by the 
fire of many batteries. There was a panic among the 
French, which spread quickly, so that Roncourt was aban- 
doned. Canrobert then formed a new flank, running east 
from St Privat. Thus St Privat became a salient. It was 
w. M.G. II. 31 

482 The Fvaiico-German War, 1870-1 [CH. 

bonibaidcd by 150 guns in a semicircle; and, as the Saxons 
and the Guards advanced simultaneously, the village was 
taken and tlieir combined troops moved southwards to roll 
up the French line, against which they brought 270 guns to 
bear. Canrobert withdrew his corps towards Metz, followed 
bv Ladmirault, and, next morning, b}/ the other two corps. 
Bazainc may ha\'e had 150,000 men and 428 guns ; but the 
four corps engaged had not more than 126,000 men. The 
Germans had over 200,000 men and 726 guns. The French 
casualties were 13,000, and the German 20,000. 

Bazaine was now in a difficult position, though, for a 
general in whom there were springs of action it would have 
been by no means hopeless. A commander who could look 
before and after might, on the 12th, have thought it wiser to 
cling to Metz than to attempt to reach Chalons, pursued by 
armies of more than twice his strength. But, in that case, 
he would have contrived, between the 12th and the i8th, 
to accumulate pro\-isions at Metz. As things stood on the 
1 8th, a good general would have found means to convey a 
true account of them to the Emperor, and could certainly, 
while leaving an ample garrison at Metz, have crushed the 
single German army corps which barred his way to Epinal. 
Not to attempt this was to acc]uiesce in an investment to 
which there could be only one ending ; for an army once 
surrounded cannot escape except by success in an attack to 
which every circumstance is unfavourable. The envelop- 
ing army has no flanks ; the enveloped assailant must 
present two ; the attack must be frontal and give every 
advantage to the bullets and shells of the defence, which 
can daily strengthen its front by fortification. 

On the morning of August 19th, Moltke, who per- 
fectly grasped the situation, issued orders for a fresh 
campaign. Prince Frederick Charles was to invest Metz, 
which was to be under, observation by 200,000 men — 
on the left bank of the Moselle six army corps, since 

vii] Napoleon III at Chalons 483 

Bazaine must on no account be allowed to escape on that 
side, and on the right bank one army corps and a Landwehr 
division, brought up from Germany. The advance towards 
Paris was to be continued by the Third army and by a 
Fourth, called that of the Meuse, under the command of 
the Crown-prince of Saxony, composed of the Guards corps, 
the IVth and Xllth corps and two cavalry divisions. Till 
the 22nd, the troops of the Fourth army were to halt on 
the line Conflans — Commercy, and those of the Third army 
between the Ornain near Ligny-en-Barrois and the Meuse 
about Vaucouleurs. B3/ the 21st, Moltke knew that a 
French arm}^ was assembling at Chalons, and on that day 
he instructed the Third and Fourth armies to begin their 
westward march on the 23rd, the Third keeping to the left, 
and a day's march in front, of the Fourth, his intention 
being to strike the army of Chalons by a concentric or 
enveloping attack from two directions — his ideal form of 
attack — and to drive it towards the north, away from Paris. 
While Bazaine was falling into the trap which Moltke 
had prepared, the Emperor Napoleon had travelled from 
Gravelotte through Verdun to Chalons, where he arrived on 
August i6th. Thither had been directed the three corps 
of MacMahon, de Failly and Douay, of which the last was 
still in process of transport by railway from Belfort. A new 
corps, the Xllth, had been made up of a division of marines, 
the regular division which had at first been watching the 
Pyrenees, and a division of new troops. On the morning 
of August 17th, the Emperor, knowing nothing of the battle 
of the i6th, discussed the situation with MacMahon and 
other generals. He nominated General Trochu Governor 
of Paris ; and Trochu at once left to take up this post. 
MacMahon was appointed Commander-in-chief of the army 
of Chalons, under Bazaine as generalissimo. It was de- 
cided that the army of Chalons should march towards Paris 
to cooperate in its defence and that the Emperor should 


4cS4 Ihc Franco-German War, 1870-1 [ch. 

return to the capital. But this phm, communicated to 
tlie Government at Paris, met with determined opposition. 
The Empress, anxious, al)o\-e all, to preserve the throne 
for her son, had lost faith in the Emperor and assured him 
that his appearance in Paris after defeat would mean a 
revolution. Palikao, ambitious and vain, had just been 
made the head of a new Ministry. MacMahon, in command 
of an army at or near Paris, would overshadow him ; he 
had, therefore, better march to the help of Bazaine. This 
project would fulfil the immediate purposes of the Empress 
and of Palikao ; it would gratify the politicians and the 
newspaper-writers, and so gain their support for the Regent 
and her Go\'ernment, while keeping away the Emperor and 
MacMahon. But it would not serve the purpose of defeat- 
ing the German armies or of helping Bazaine. The distance 
from Chalons to Montmedy is eighty miles — six or seven 
days' march. Two German armies were marching towards 
Chalons, between the Marne and the road through Verdun 
and Ste Menehould. The road to Montmedy by Grand Pre 
and Dun was only two days' march from the Verdun road, 
so that MacMahon's movement could hardly escape dis- 
covery by the Germans, who would then turn northwards 
to attack him. He would have his back to the Belgian 
frontier and in case of defeat would have no retreat. 
Palikao's idea that MacMahon might e\'ade the German 
armies, whose cavalry was known to be scouring the country, 
was absurd. Montmedy was four days' march from Metz, 
and there was no certainty that Bazaine could make his 
way thither. MacMahon felt that the project was wrong;- 
but he had not the strength of will to meet it with a 
flat refusal. He telegraphed to Bazaine for instructions ; 
but Bazaine replied that, at so great a distance, he could 
not offer advice or suggestions and referred him to the 
Minister of War. Between Palikao's objections to a 
march towards Paris and his own repugnance to Palikao's 

vii] MacMahon's Movements 485 

plan, MacMahon devised a half measure, which, at any 
rate, put off the decision. Hearing that Prussian troops 
were approaching Chalons — a report which was premature — 
he marched the army on August 21st to Reims. There, he 
was joined by Douay's corps brought round by railway, 
without having been detrained at Chalons. On the 22nd, 
he had prepared the orders for a march towards Paris when 
he received from Bazaine a telegram, dated the i8th, 
describing the battle of Gravelotte, but concealing his 
defeat and adding: 'I still count on taking the direction 
towards the north and then turning by Montmedy to the 
road from Ste Menehould to Chalons, if it is not strongly 
occupied. If it is so occupied, I shall go on to Sedan or 
even to Mezieres, in order to reach Chalons.' MacMahon 
inferred that Bazaine would shortly be on the march to- 
wards Montmedy, and, holding that loyalty required him 
to help his comrade if possible, detemiined to move towards 
Montmedy. He set out from Reims on August 23rd, 

It was clear that the chance of reaching Montmedy 
without having to fight the Prussian armies or having to 
deal with more than one of them depended upon the rapidity 
of the march. Two days had been lost by the detour 
through Reims, and more were destined to be wasted. The 
direction chosen was in the first place to the Aisne above 
Vouziers. The first day's march led to the Suippe. But 
here it was found that two of the corps had no provisions 
for next day. The direction was therefore changed and 
the left wing directed to Rethel, so that the army might 
be supplied with food by the railway. Two corps reached 
Rethel on the 24th, and halted there on the 25th, while 
the other two corps came up to the Aisne with the right- 
hand corps at Vouziers. Then, on the 26th, the righthand 
corps (Vllth) halted at Vouziers, while the other three 
made a right wheel, which brought the Vth corps to Le 
Chesne, the 1st behind it to the Aisne and the Xllth to 

486 The Franco-German War, 1870-1 [CH. 

Tourtcron. On the e\-ening of the 26th, German cavahy 
patrols came into contact witli troops of the righthand 
corps (Douaj^) near Vouziers. An advanced brigade at 
Grand Pre took alarm and stood to arms, sending word to 
General Uouay, who deployed his corps in a defensive 
position, where he kept it all night under arms in the rain, 


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and sent word to MacMahon that the enem\' was approach- 
ing him. MacMahon determined boldly to attack this 
enemy and, on the 27th, made a right wheel for the purpose 
of directing the Vth corps towards Buzancy in line with 
the Vllth at Vouziers and bringing the other two behind 
them in support. But, during the morning, it was discovered 
that there was no enemy in the neighbourhood except a few 

vii] German Counter -movement 487 

troops of cavalry. MacMahon, thereupon, countermanded 
the movement, to the disappointment of the troops, whose 
spirits had risen with the hope of a battle. That night 
found the Vllth corps still at Vouziers, the Vth at BrieuUes- 
sur-Bar, the Xllth at Le Chesne and the 1st at Voncq on 
the Aisne. That same night of the 27th, MacMahon learned 
that Bazaine was still at Metz, contained by 200,000 
Germans, an