Outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War

German Unification

Europe 1870.0901

Outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War

German Unification (1 September 1870)

Historical Map of Europe & the Mediterranean

In 1870 a Prussian prince accepted the Spanish throne. Outraged, the French made the prince back down, then tried to pressure the King of Prussia to never permit a Spanish candidacy. Bismarck immediately released this discussion to the press, carefully editing it to inflame both sides. The French declared war but the Prussians were better organized, surrounding and defeating Napoleon III's army at Sedan.

Main Events

Opening of Suez Canal

In 1854, the Egyptian government authorized a French company to build a canal linking the Mediterranean and Red Seas, dramatically cutting the time and cost of shipping between Europe and Asia, on the condition that the finished canal be open to all nations. The canal opened in 1869, by which time Egypt had taken advantage of a thaw in Ottoman-Western relations to obtain recognition as an independent state.

Bismarck releases edited Ems Telegram to the press

France declares war on Prussia, beginning Franco-Prussian War

France withdraws garrison from Papal States

Prussia defeats France at the Battle of Sedan

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