The Wars of German Unification

The Wars of German Unification were a series of three conflicts from 1864 to 1871 that led to the unification of the German states under the leadership of Prussia and the consequent formation of the German Empire. These conflicts include (1) The Second Schleswig War (1864), (2) The Austro-Prussian War (1866) and (3) The Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871)

Events

Start of The Wars of German Unification
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The Invasion of Schleswig
Jan 16, 1864

The Duchy of Holstein was a part of the German Confederation, while Schleswig was not. Denmark and Germany were fighting for control over these two duchies. Although the London Protocol of 1852 had tried to resolve the status of the duchies in relation to Denmark, there were continuous tensions between Denmark and Germany. In 1863, Denmark tried to integrate Schleswig more closely, violating the agreements in the London Protocol. Prussia and Austria, both seeking influence in the German Confederation and beyond, responded to this action by giving an ultimatum. Denmark rejected the ultimatum, leading to the invasion of Schleswig by Prussian and Austrian forces in early 1864.

Location:
Location: Schleswig
End of The Wars of German Unification
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The Battle of Dybbol
Apr 18, 1864

On April 18, 1864, the city of Dybbol, located in the Duchy of Schleswig, was attacked. The duchy had been attacked by Prussian and Austrian forces in January of that year, and  Dybbol, with its location overlooking the Flensburg Fjord and its fortifications, was an important strategic position. Despite the valiant resistance put up by the Danish soldiers, they were outnumbered by the Prussians and Austrians and forced to retreat.

Location:
Location: Dybbol
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The Battle of Als
Jun 29, 1864

After the fall of the Dybbol fortifications, the Prussians attacked the important defensive position of Als in the southeastern part of Jutland on June 29, 1864. The Danes were once again outnumbered, and the Prussians quickly gained control of the island. After the battle, the Danes retreated further into Jutland, and were not able to resist effectively and sought a peace settlement. Also other European powers, such as Great Britain and Russia, were concerned about the balance of power and sought to mediate an end to the war.

Location:
Location: Als
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The Treaty of Vienna
Oct 30, 1864

The Treaty of Vienna was signed on October 30th, 1864 by Denmark, Prussia, and Austria, which put an end to the Schleswig War. Denmark had to give up control of the duchies of Schleswig, Holstein, and Lauenburg to the Prussian and Austrian alliance.

Location:
Location: Vienna
End of The Wars of German Unification
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Declaration of War by Prussia against Austria
Jun 14, 1866

After Prussia and Austria emerged victorious in the Second Schleswig War, Schleswig and Holstein were ceded by Denmark and came under joint administration by Prussia and Austria. However, disagreements about the administration soon arose, leading to tensions. This conflict eventually led to a fight for dominance over the German states. Additionally, Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck diplomatically isolated Austria by securing alliances with Italy and neutralizing potential threats from France and Russia. These tensions and the desire for dominance ultimately led to the formal declaration of war by Prussia against Austria on June 14, 1866, starting the Austro-Prussian War.

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Location:
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The Battle of Langensalza
Jun 27, 1866

The Kingdom of Hanover was an independent state that existed until 1837 under the British monarch.  However, the union ended when Queen Victoria ascended the British throne, as Hanoverian law required a male successor. After Queen Victoria, Ernest August became the king of Hanover.

During the Austro-Prussian War, the Kingdom of Hanover sided with Austria. They were isolated in northern Germany and confronted the Prussian forces on June 27, 1866. Initially, the Hanoverian army achieved a tactical victory against the Prussians, but they were later surrounded and forced to surrender, leading to the annexation of Hanover by Prussia.

Location:
Location: Langensalza
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The Battle of Königgrätz
Jul 3, 1866

On July 3, 1866, Prussian forces led by King Wilhelm I defeated the Austrian army near Königgrätz, showcasing the Prussian army's military efficiency and modern tactics. This battle was the most decisive battle during the Austro-Prussian War and forced Austria to surrender.

Location:
Location: Königgrätz
End of The Wars of German Unification
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The Treaty of Prague
Aug 23, 1866

On August 23, 1866, the Treaty of Prague was signed by Prussia and Austria, bringing an end to the Austro-Prussian War. The agreement resulted in Austria being excluded from German affairs, the dissolution of the German Confederation, the formation of the North German Confederation under Prussian leadership, and the acknowledgement of Prussian annexations of several northern and central German states. As a result of the treaty, the Kingdom of Hanover, which had sided with Austria during the war, became a province of Prussia.

Location:
Location: Prague
End of The Wars of German Unification