Austro-Prussian War and German Unification –

The Austro-Prussian War – also known as the Seven Weeks’ War – took place in 1866 and pitted the strengthened Prussian kingdom against the Austrian empire over the territories of the duchies of Schleswig and Hosltein, which both countries had conquered from Denmark in 1864. during the War of the Duchies.

This war was another conflict in the military escalation led by Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck, whose objective was to achieve the unification of Germany, which would reach final triumph with the Franco-Prussian War.

Expelling Austria from the German Confederation was a necessity highlighted by the Prussians to gain control over the other Germanic kingdoms. Another of Bismarck’s intentions was to conquer the territories of the two duchies to integrate them economically with Prussia, as well as command their military and naval forces. There was also Prussia’s interest in having the Kiel canal on its territory, which was under construction and would connect the North and Baltic seas.

Austria managed to ally itself with some Germanic states, such as Bavaria, Hanover and Saxony. On the other hand, Prussia gained support from Bremen, Hamburg and Lübeck and other states, in addition to an alliance made with the Kingdom of Italy.

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The conflicts began in June 1866. The decisive action for the Prussians was the one that took place in Sadowa. On July 3, 1866, in the Battle of Königgrätz, Prussia definitively defeated Austria, putting an end to the fighting. Peace negotiations quickly began, mainly due to fear of interference from other European powers, notably France. On August 23 of the same year, the Treaty of Prague was signed, putting an end to the conflict and expanding Prussian borders. Italy also obtained the region of Venetia, after clashes against the Austrians.

The result of the war was the dissolution of the German Confederation, which was controlled by Austria. In his place, Prussia formed the North German Confederation under his command. Most of the kingdoms that made up this Confederation were of Lutheran origin, which was still separated from the southern states, which were mostly Catholic.

Just five years later, with the Prussian victory over the French, it was possible for Bismarck and Kaiser Wilhelm I to unify Germany.

By Tales Pinto
Graduated in History