Franco-Prussian War

The Franco–Prussian War, from July 19, 1870 to May 10, 1871, was a war with the Second French Empire against the North German Confederation. It is known as one of the largest causes of World War I, and largely led to World War I.

Franco-Prussian relations only got worse, until 1868, over the issue of a Hohenzollern candidate for the Spanish throne. The public release of the Ems Dispatch, which showed “insults” between the Prussian king and the French ambassador, inflamed public opinion in France and Germany; part of the event was engineered by the Prussian Chancellor Bismarck.
In 1870, France mobilized and declared war on Prussia only, but other German states quickly joined on Prussia's side.
Prussia had better Krupp steel artillery and had the fourth densest rail network in the world at the time. France, however, only had the fifth densest rail network. 
The Battle of Sedan resulted in Napoleon III and his army being captured on September 2, because the German troops had penetrated the area with swiftness and surrounded his army - the same German tactics used in the Blitzkrieg of World War II.
The Third Republic was declared in Paris on September 4, 1870 and French resistance continued. Over a five month campaign, the German forces defeated the newly recruited French armies in a series of battles fought across northern France.
Ten days before the fall of Paris, the German states proclaimed their union as the German Empire under the Prussian king, Wilhelm I, uniting Germany as a nation-state, changing the history of Germany forever.
Following a prolonged siege, noted for the first use of anti-air artillery, Paris fell on 28 January 1871.
The final Treaty of Frankfurt was signed 10 May 1871. The settlement gave Germany the French territories of Alsace and part of Lorraine.
The Franco-Prussian War was the most important war fought in Europe after the Napoleonic Wars but before the First World War. The most important consequence was the unification of Germany into an empire in its own right. However, imperialist ambitions of these countries would spur further conflicts, as France’s determination to regain Alsace-Lorraine would lead to World War I.


  1. Grahams, Robert. "Robert Graham's Anarchism Weblog." Robert Grahams Anarchism Weblog. Word Press, 21 Apr. 2012. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.
  2. "Franco-Prussian War." Princeton University. Princeton, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.
  3. "Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and the Paris Commune." British Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.

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  1. The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War (German: Deutsch-Französischer Krieg, lit. German-French War, French: Guerre franco-allemande, lit. Franco-German War), often referred to in France as the War of 1870 (19 July 1870 – 10 May 1871), was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the German states of the North German Confederation led by the Kingdom of Prussia. The conflict was caused by Prussian ambitions to extend German unification. Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck planned to provoke a French attack in order to draw the southern German states—Baden, Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse-Darmstadt—into an alliance with the North German Confederation dominated by Prussia.

  2. Also I would like to add: A series of swift Prussian and German victories in eastern France, culminating in the Siege of Metz and the Battle of Sedan, saw the army of the Second Empire decisively defeated (Napoleon III had been captured at Sedan on 2 September). A Government of National Defence declared the Third Republic in Paris on 4 September and continued the war and for another five months, the German forces fought and defeated new French armies in northern France. Following the Siege of Paris, the capital fell on 28 January 1871 and then a revolutionary uprising called the Paris Commune seized power in the capital and held it for two months, until it was bloodily suppressed by the regular French army at the end of May 1871.
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