Napoleon III surrenders his sword to Otto von Bismarck, Prussian Chancelor.
Napoleon III, suspicious and fearful by the Prussian victory over Austria and its allies, in 1866, wanted to prevent Prussian expansion to rival French prestige and power.
The German nationalism was leaning towards Prussia, by victories over Denmark and Austria.
Napoleon III having a conversation with Otto von Bismarck after being captured in the Battle of Sedan
painting by Wilhelm Camphausen.
In 1868 there was a revolt in Spain, known as "La Gloriosa" that overthrew Queen Elizabeth II, who had been ruling over Spain since 1833. A joint provisional government offered the Spanish throne to Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, belonging to the dynasty that ruled Prussia. Napoleon III increased its jealousies and fears wound to be among the Prussians.
Napoleon III asked his ambassador in Berlin, Vincent Benedetti, to visit the King of Prussia, who was at the spa Ems, that summer of 1870.
The Prussian King Wilhelm I declined the demands of Ambassador Benedetti and then sent a telegram to his Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who was in Berlin. The Prussian Chancellor, upon receiving the message, found an opportunity to modify it and send it to the government of France. This episode is known as the "Ems Dispatch".
William I is proclaimed German Emperor in the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, France.Painting by Anton von Werner.
The result was that Napoleon III showed the telegram and made it public to the people of Paris, who immediately shouted "all to Berlin". Napoleon III declared war on Prussia on July 19, 1870. On September 2, 1870, Napoleon III and 100,000 of its soldiers were taken prisoners by the Prussian Army, commanded by General Helmuth von Moltke, at the Battle of Sedan.
The German Empire of 1871–1918.
Bismarck was right at achieving victory over France, which had become a common enemy for almost all the states of the German Confederation which were unified around Prussia. As a result, Wilhelm I of Prussia was crowned emperor of the Second Reich, in the hall of Mirrors in Versailles Palace: Deutscher Kaiser in German, in January 18, 1871.
Member states of the German Empire (peach), with Kingdom of Prussia shown in blue.
Otto von Bismarck was the Minister President of Prussia and Chancellor of the North German Confederation and who offered the title of "Emperor of Germany or Kaiser" to the Prussian King Wilhelm I.
|German Emperor Wilhelm I|
The First Reich was the Holy Roman Empire dissolved in 1806 by Napoleon I (Bonaparte). The title of Kaiser, was copied from the Czar of Russia, which in turn took the name from the Roman emperor Caesar.