Bismarck’s Appointment
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Bismarck's aims in 1862 - Belmont House School

Bismarck’s Appointment

The Early Years 1862-63

Bismarck’s aims in 1862

• Read pp. 58-60 – which of the following most

accurately describe Bismarck‟s aims in 1862?

• To bring about German unity

• To weaken Austria

• To follow a traditional, military programme in


• To take advantage of opportunities presented to


• To follow an idealistic liberal / nationalist agenda

The Constitutional Crisis I

• Liberals were very concerned with Bismarck‟s

appointment – they didn‟t expect him to last long!

• “ Germany does not look to Prussian liberalism, but

to its power. Bavaria, Wurttemburg, Baden can

indulge in liberalism, but no one will expect them to

undertake Prussia‟s role….It is not through

speeches and majority decisions that the great

questions of the day are decided. That was the

great mistake of 1848-9. It is by blood and iron.”

Constitutional Crisis II

• This speech was meant

to appease the liberals.

For German

nationalism, Prussia

would need a strong


• The words backfired

though and provoked

the liberals into


Constitutional Crisis III

• Bismarck went ahead and financed the

plans out of existing taxation and when he

raised new illegal taxes he threatened the

liberals by saying that he had 200,000

soldiers ready to „persuade them‟!

• For 4 years, this continued and von Roon‟s

plans were fully followed through.

• The liberals were powerless as they had no

military force to do anything about it. They

also failed to organise a tax boycott.

The end of the crisis

• Bismarck hoped that success in foreign

policy would bring his opponents on


• After defeating Denmark in 1864 and

Austria in 1866, the Prussian

Parliament passed the Indemnity Bill

which effectively legalised

retrospectively, Bismarck‟s actions.

Bismarck’s prospects

• Take one section each of pp. 60-62.

Brainstorm the factors that were on

Bismarck‟s side in 1862.

– Army

– Economy

– Zollverein

– Nationalism

– International situation

The Polish Revolt I

• In the 18C. Poland had

been divided up

between Russia,

Prussia and Austria.

• In 1863 the inhabitants

of Russian Poland rose

up against the Tsar.

• Tsar Alexander II

ordered the protest to

be suppressed –

Britain, France and

Austria objected.

The Polish Revolt II

• Bismarck offered military assistance to

Alexander II to gain Russian friendship

• The Tsar refused, but agreed that Prussia

would hand over any Polish rebels who

crossed the Prussian border

• Britain and France protested strongly

• THINK – why was Bismarck prepared to risk

British and French hostility to gain Russian


Polish Revolt III

• Bismarck withdrew the offer to Russia

in the end which angered the Tsar.

• However the result was that although

Bismarck had angered both sides, the

likelihood of a Russian / French /

British alliance was now unlikely.

• THINK – why was this important for



• Discuss: how do

you rate Bismarck‟s

early decisions as

Chief Minister of


• Cooper argues that

Bismarck‟s first 3

years in office were

a failure. Do you

agree so far?

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