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.
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.
• Take one section each of pp. 60-62.
Brainstorm the factors that were on
Bismarck‟s side in 1862.
– International situation
The Polish Revolt I
• In the 18C. Poland had
been divided up
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
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?