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Chapter XXIII, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 9


The Treaty of Prague: Articles respecting Italy, Saxony, and the South-German States - Harsh Terms imposed on Bavaria - Treaties with Bavaria, Wurtemberg, Baden, and Hesse Darmstadt: Secret Treaties between Prussia and these States; not divulged till 1867 - Summary of Prussian Acquisitions in consequence of the War - Treaty establishing the North-German Confederation: Population of the States composing it - Deputation from Hanover to the King of Prussia to petition against annexation: He rejects their prayer - Formal annexation of Schleswig and Holstein to Prussia in disregard of the Treaty of Prague - Treaty between Austria and Italy - Austria will not yield the Trentino - Surrender of the Iron Crown - Voting in Venetia for annexation to Italy - The Emperor Napoleon asks for a strip of German territory: It is refused - French Circular of September 16 - Resignation of M. Drouyn de Lhuys - Execution of the September Convention at Rome - The Pope's Speech to General Montebello - Military Revolt in Spain: It is suppressed - Revolution at Bucharest: Prince Couza expelled: Prince Charles of Hohenzollern elected Hospodar - America: Prostrate Condition of the South: Discord between the President and the Congress: Measures framed to tumble the classes formerly Dominant at the South: Constitutional Amendments: Civil Rights Bill: Re-admission of Tennessee into the Union.
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The definitive treaty of peace between Austria and Prussia was signed at Prague on the 23rd August. Austria was represented in the negotiation by Baron Brenner, and Prussia by Baron Werther, Bismarck having been obliged to return to Berlin to be present at the opening of the Chambers. In substance the treaty did little more than put into precise and legal form the stipulations agreed to at Nikolsburg. The article respecting Venetia declared that, " inasmuch as His Majesty the Emperor of the French, by his authorised emissary to His Majesty the King of Prussia, officially declared, at Nikolsburg on the 29th of the same month of July, 'that, as far as the Emperor's Government is concerned, Venice is acquired for Italy, to be given up to her at the peace,' His Majesty the Emperor of Austria on his part conforms to this declaration, and gives his consent to the union of the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom with the kingdom of Italy, without imposing any other condition than the liquidation of those debts which have been acknowledged charges on the territories now resigned in conformity with the Treaty of Zurich." The fifth article transferred to Prussia all the rights which Austria had acquired in the Elbe duchies under the Treaty of Vienna; but the influence of the French Emperor, who would not miss what seemed to him so good an opportunity for the application of his favourite principle of the popular vote, obtained the addition of a clause, providing that " the people of the northern district of Schleswig, if by free vote they express a wish to be united to Denmark, should be ceded to Denmark accordingly." With regard to Saxony, the King of Prussia declared himself willing (Article VI.), "at the desire of His Majesty the Emperor of Austria," to allow the territory of that kingdom to remain within its existing limits, reserving to himself the right of settling in a separate treaty the share to be contributed by Saxony towards the expenses of the war, and the position which it should eventually hold within the North-German Confederation. This separate treaty was not concluded till the 21st October of the same year. Under it Saxony retains little more than a nominal independence. She agreed to pay a net war contribution of 9,000,000 thalers, to give up all her telegraphs to Prussia, and to enter the North-German Confederation; her troops were to form an integral portion of the North-German army, under the supreme command of the King of Prussia; Königstein, her strongest fortress, was to be given up to Prussia, and Dresden to be held by a garrison half Prussian, half Saxon. While Prussia was stipulating for the cessation of all common interests between her and Austria, and for the exclusion of the latter from Germany, the question naturally rose: What relations are to subsist hereafter between Prussia and the other South- German states - such as Bavaria and Baden - which are neither to join the North-German Confederation, nor yet to be excluded altogether from Germany? This question was answered in the fourth article of the treaty, in which the Emperor of Austria, after promising to recognise the North-German Confederation which Prussia was about to form, "declares his consent that the German states situated to the south of the line of the Main should unite in a league, the national connection of which with the North-German Bund is reserved for a further agreement between both parties, and which will have an international independent existence." The Treaty of Prague further settled that from the war indemnity of 40,000,000 thalers which Austria had agreed to pay, a sum of 15,000,000 thalers should be deducted on account of war expenses claimed by the Emperor from the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, and a further sum of 5,000,000 thalers on account of the maintenance of the Prussian troops in the Austrian states which they occupied till the conclusion of peace. The remaining net indemnity of 20,000,000 thalers was to be paid within three weeks of the exchange of ratifications. It is curious that this sum amounts to £3,000,000 of English money; almost the exact sum which England, after no defeat of Königgrätz, allowed herself to be mulcted of in order to assuage the irritation of public feeling in America. The ratifications of the treaty were exchanged at Prague on the 29th August.

The war was over, but the task of establishing the new internal relations which were henceforth to prevail in Germany remained. Armistices were agreed to on the 2nd of August between Prussia, on the one hand, and Bavaria, Baden, Wurtemberg, and Hesse Darmstadt, on the other, to last till the 22nd inst. At first Bavaria was very roughly dealt with. The Bavarian ambassador, Baron von der Pfordten, was some days at Nikolsburg before he could obtain an audience of Count Bismarck. At last, July 27, he obtained a few minutes' conversation with the Prussian Minister, who curtly stated as the terms of peace, the cession of all Bavarian territory north of the Main to Prussia, the cession of the Bavarian Palatinate to Hesse Darmstadt, and the payment of a war indemnity. Von der Pfordten pleaded that he had received no instructions to treat of the cession of territory, and tried hard to obtain easier terms; but the Prussian plenipotentiaries, Bismarck and Moltke, were inexorable; and when the Bavarian envoy refused to sign these preliminaries, orders were immediately telegraphed to General Manteuffel to press the war in Bavaria. During the day tidings reached Nikolsburg of the uninterrupted progress of the Prussian arms in Bavaria, and of the feebleness of the resistance everywhere; no ray of hope, no prospect of succour, could be discerned; the old Bund had crumbled to pieces beyond hope of restoration; and longer holding out would but result in saddling Bavaria with a heavier contribution. Von der Pfordten yielded, and signified before evening his acquiescence in the terms proposed. Orders were then sent to Manteuffel to stay all hostile operations, and the preliminaries of peace were signed. But the final treaty of peace, signed at Berlin on the 22nd August, was less onerous for Bavaria than the preliminaries; it imposed, indeed, a contribution of 30,000,000 gulden; abolished shipping dues on the Rhine and Main, where those rivers were under Bavarian jurisdiction; and transferred all the telegraph lines north of the Main to Prussian control; but it required no such cessions of territory as were exacted by the preliminaries. The causes of this apparent lenity, which to those acquainted with the Prussian character must have appeared inexplicable, will be explained presently. The treaty with Wurtemberg, signed on the 13th August, imposed a war indemnity of 8,000,000 florins on that kingdom, and provided for its re-entry into the Zollverein. A similar treaty with Baden, signed on the 17th August, burdened the Grand Duchy with a war indemnity of 6,000,000 gulden. Peace with Hesse Darmstadt was only concluded on the 3rd September. Great resentment was felt in Prussia against the Grand Duke, who had been throughout a staunch friend to Austria. On the other hand, the Court of Russia, for family reasons, intervened with urgency on behalf both of Wurtemberg and of Hesse Darmstadt; and the terms imposed on these states were consequently more lenient than had been expected. Darmstadt was required to give up Hesse Homburg and certain other portions of its territory to Prussia; it was, however, indemnified to a considerable extent at the cost of what had been the independent states of Hesse Cassel, Nassau, and Frankfort; the general effect being to consolidate and render more compact the territories both of Prussia and of Darmstadt, where they were conterminous. Hesse Darmstadt, moreover, though, in respect of that portion of her territories which lay south of the Main, she was a South-German state, agreed to enter the North- German Confederation. With regard to the little principality of Hohenzollern, the cradle of the royal house of Prussia, which, enclosed as it is within the territory of Wurtemberg, the troops of that kingdom had easily overrun during the war, its restitution was so completely taken for granted that, in the treaty with Wurtemberg, Prussia disdained to make the slightest mention of it.

Besides the public treaties with the states of South Germany which have been just described, Prussia concluded with them at the same time certain secret articles, which were not divulged until long afterwards. According to these, Bavaria, Baden, and Wurtemberg severally entered into a treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, with Prussia, with guarantee of their respective territories, and the concession of the supreme command in time of war to the King of Prussia. Count Bismarck knew that he had been playing a perilous game; he had mortified and exasperated the French Emperor, immediately after the close of the war, by refusing to cede to him a foot of German territory (a refusal on which we shall have more to say presently); French vanity had been wounded by the victories - French jealousy had been aroused by the aggrandisement - of Prussia. The whole North-German Confederation did but represent a population of 25,000,000; if Germany was to be safe against France, she must be able to dispose, at need, of the military resources of a population of at least equal magnitude. Weighing all these things with that profound forecast which characterised him, Count Bismarck would seem to have purposely imposed at first harsh conditions on Bavaria, in order that he might obtain, as the price of their subsequent remission, the adhesion of that kingdom to an arrangement which would bring its excellent soldiers into line with those of Prussia. Upon all these South- German states he is said to have skilfully brought to bear an argument derived from the recent demand of France for German territory - a demand which, he said, would infallibly be renewed; which it would be difficult under all circumstances to resist; and which, if it had to be conceded, could hardly be satisfied except at the expense of one or other of them. Isolated, they could not resist dismemberment; united with Prussia, and mutually guaranteeing each other's territories, they were safe.

These secret treaties between Prussia and the South- German states first came to light in April of the following year. Count Beust, who was then the Austrian Premier, commenting on the disclosure in his despatches to Austrian representatives at foreign Courts, remarks that Austria will make no complaint and ask for no explanations; at the same time, with much dry significance, he directs their attention to the fact, that the Prussian Government had actually concluded these treaties with the South- German states before it signed the Treaty of Prague, the fourth article of which is by them rendered null and meaningless. The Count justly points out that an offensive alliance between two states forces the weaker of the two to endorse the foreign policy and follow in the wake of the stronger, and practically destroys the independence of the former.

A French writer thus sums up the final results of the war, so far as Prussia was concerned: - " Entire supremacy in North Germany; the military direction of the South at once, and its direction in economic affairs prepared for the future; Austria overthrown, excluded from the German body politic, decisively weakened, an exclusive supremacy thus ensured over the whole of Germany - such were the political advantages. Hanover, Hesse Cassel, Nassau, Frankfort, and certain minor territories, in all 1,300 square (German) miles [about 32,000 square miles English], and 4,500,000 inhabitants annexed to the monarchy, its total population augmented by one-fifth, and raised to 24,000,000 souls; 61,000,000 thalers paid as war indemnities, military ports, an opening for maritime development, a continuous, compact, coherent territory - such were the material advantages which were joined, for Prussia, to the prestige of extraordinary successes, prepared with, such consummate ability, and used with such prompt and unscrupulous decision."

We have spoken of the treaties with South Germany; but the comprehensive Treaty of Confederation, by which Prussia welded together the Powers of North Germany for common political and military purposes, has still to be described. In August, in view of the speedy assembling of a North-German Parliament, the Governments of Prussia, Mecklenburg Schwerin, Mecklenburg Strelitz, Saxe Weimar, Oldenburg, Brunswick, Saxe Altenburg, Saxe Coburg-Gotha, Anhalt, Schwarzburg Sondershausen, Schwarzburg Rodolstadt, Waldeck, Reuss (of the younger line), Schaumburg Lippe, Lippe, Lübeck, Bremen, and Hamburg, concluded an offensive and defensive treaty for the maintenance of the independence and integrity, as well as of the internal and external security of their states, and undertook a common defence of their territory. In the pact then drawn up it was stipulated that the aims of the new Confederation should be defined by a Confederate Constitution on the basis of the Prussian outlines of the 10th June, 1866, f and that in the making of this constitution a common Parliament should co-operate. In the spectacle of Count Bismarck thus quietly proceeding - after having humbled a great empire and shattered Germany in pieces - to take up again "the Prussian outlines of the 10th June," and work them out as if nothing had happened, there is seen, it must be confessed, a colossal strength, a moral grandeur, which appeal wonderfully to the imagination. It was further provided that the troops of the Confederates were to be under the supreme command of the King of Prussia, and that the various Governments were to take the necessary steps for the election of deputies to sit in the common Parliament. Every North- German citizen who should have attained the age of twenty-five was to be entitled to vote, and deputies were to be elected in the ratio of one to every 100,000 of the population.

The only states north of the Main which, after the conclusion of this treaty, had not joined the North-German Confederation were Reuss (of the older line), Saxe Meiningen, and Saxony. But the Princess Caroline, Regent of Reuss, concluded a similar treaty with Prussia soon afterwards. Duke Bernhard of Saxe Meiningen disapproved of the new order of things; but as it was impossible for him to stand alone in his opposition, he abdicated (September 20), and the new Duke, George, gave in his adhesion to the Confederation. Saxony, as we have seen, entered the Confederation under its treaty with Prussia of the 21st October. Lastly, Hesse Darmstadt acceded to the Confederation, in respect of the portion of its territory situated north of the Main, by its treaty with Prussia of the 3rd September. With these accessions, the total population of the states composing the North-German Confederation was raised to about 29,000,000.

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Pictures for Chapter XXIII, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 9

General von Moltke
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Prussian troops
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