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Historical Inquiries Group Essay

By the 1870’s, Europe was forever changed by the formation of Italy and Germany as new nation-states. Through this formation, Europe was shaken by the alteration in the balance of power. In Germany’s case, its unification was created through the leadership of Prussia, attempting to make a strong ethnic nation that could defeat Austria. Italy’s unification was made possible by the initial intentions of Sardinia. Europe witnessed how drastically the balance of power was shifted during World War I, when Germany and Italy proved they had both grown into powerful nation-states.

The creation of the nation-states of Italy and Germany was a key point in the history of Europe that changed that balance of power in Europe. There are several factors that lead to the unification of Germany. For example, the introduction of new nationalistic ideas during the Enlightenment, caused for such events like the Carlsbad Decrees, which were German youth movements that spread national and liberalistic ideologies.

These movements, however, were not too successful and eventually suppressed underground. The greatest factor that leads to the unification of Germany was most likely through Prussia under the control of Otto von Bismarck, who led Prussia to become the unifying power. The Danish-Prussian war in 1864 was the first step for Prussia, in which Prussia gained Schleswig, and Austria, which had an alliance with Prussia at the time, gained Holstein.

Due to Holstein geographical isolation from Austria, it created tensions between Prussia and Austria, and lead to the Austro-Prussian war. The results of the war ended up with Austria being defeated, and Prussia gaining Holstein. The Franco-Prussian war in 1870 lead to the Treaty of Frankfurt, allowing Prussia to gain Alsace and Lorraine from France; the loss of Alsace and Lorraine later becomes a reasons for tensions between France and Germany.


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