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Lecture 1: What is the Nation. What were the contours and conditions of German unification?. End of the July Monarchy. Paris Barricades of February 1848. H. Vernet, Barricade in the Rue Soufflot, Paris1848. Republican Uprising in Baden, 1848.

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lecture 1 what is the nation

Lecture 1: What is the Nation

What were the contours and conditions of German unification?

end of the july monarchy
End of the July Monarchy

Paris Barricades of February 1848

H. Vernet, Barricade in the Rue Soufflot, Paris1848

republican uprising in baden 1848
Republican Uprising in Baden, 1848


on the barricades 1848
On the barricades, 1848


march demands
March Demands
  • A people’s army with freely elected officers
  • Freedom of the press
  • Trial by jury
  • Creation of a German parliament
rough breakdown of political associations
Rough Breakdown of Political Associations
  • Workers’ Associations
  • Democrats
  • Constitutionalists
  • Catholics
  • Conservatives
bundestag decrees
Bundestag Decrees
  • Press Freedom
  • Revision of the Federal Constitution
  • Recognition of the colors red, black, and gold as federal colors
  • Creation of the Committee of Seventeen to oversee the creation of a constitution

1850: Olmütz Agreement resurrects a conservative German Confederation and the balancing act between Austria & Prussia

friedrich christoph dahlmann
Friedrich Christoph Dahlmann


“Injustice has lost all sense of shame.”

otto von bismarck 1815 98
Otto von Bismarck, 1815-98

“Man cannot create or control the tide of time, he can only move in the same direction and try to direct it.”


The leading alternatives:

Greater Germany / Lesser Germany

Grossdeutschland / Kleindeutschland

crown v parliament
Crown v. Parliament
  • 1858: Wilhelm I becomes regent of Prussia to succeed Friedrich Wilhelm
  • Budget Crisis of 1860s
  • 1862: Prussian isolation in the Confederation and the Zollverein
shifting the balance of power
Shifting the Balance of Power
  • 1863: War of Danish Succession and the take-over of Schleswig-Holstein
  • July 1866: Seven-Week War against Austria over tensions concerning the adminstration of S-H & power plays in the Confederation; Koniggrätz victory for Prussia in July
making good
Making Good
  • 1866 Bill of Indemnity
  • Split among Liberals (Progressive Party & National Liberal Party)
  • Creation of North German Confederation: Prussia and 21 principalities
bismarck s concessions
Bismarck’s Concessions
  • King of Prussia held executive authority as president
  • Chancellor was named by King and responsible only to him
  • Two legislative houses: Federal Council, or Bundesrat, appointed by the state governments; and a lower house, the Imperial Diet, or Reichstag, elected by equal manhood suffrage.
  • Prussia controlled 17 votes out of 43 in the Bundesrat
revolution from above
Revolution from Above?

January 18, 1871: The German Empire is founded.

Lesser-Germany under Prussian domination (approx. 3/5 of the land area and 3/5 of the population).

shifting the balance of power1
Shifting the Balance of Power

Declaration of the German Empire

the constitution of the german empire 1871
The Constitution of the German Empire, 1871
  • The Emperor (Kaiser)
  • Always the King of Prussia
  • Could appoint/dismiss the Chancellor
  • Could dissolve the Reichstag
  • Could make treaties/declare war
  • Commander-in-Chief of the army
  • Had to approve all federal laws
  • Possessed the right to interpret the constitution
  • The Chancellor (Reichskanzler)
  • The ‘highest official in the Reich’
  • Also Minister-President of Prussia
  • Responsible to the Emperor, not parliament
  • Chairman of the Bundesrat
  • Appointed government ministers
  • Could ignore resolutions passed by the Reichstag




Centralised government with specific

Responsibilities for the Reich as a whole

(foreign policy, defence, customs etc.)


Regional government with responsibilities

For individual states (education, direct

Taxation, health, local justice etc.)

  • Bundesrat (upper house)
  • The Federal Council
  • Made up of 58 members nominated by states
  • Not directly elected
  • Consent required in passing new laws
  • 14 votes needed to veto legislation
  • Prussia had 17 of the 58 seats
  • Bavaria had 6, the other states had 1 each
  • Reichstag (lower house)
  • The National parliament
  • Elected by all males over 25
  • Limited powers to initiate new legislation
  • Government ministers could not be members
  • Members were not paid
  • Could approve or reject the federal budget
  • Elections normally held every 5 years
  • Did Germany need a strong statesman, namely Chancellor Bismarck, to unite?
  • Was this an indication of an underdeveloped civil society?
  • And, did the liberals acquiesce their political agenda in the face of successful unification?
  • What kind of state is this?
  • What tensions are relieved?
  • What new tensions emerge?