19th Century European Unification and Political Shifts

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Factors Leading to Unification:

  • Following the Congress of Vienna, the German Confederation was fragmented into 39 states.
  • The rise of liberal and nationalist ideologies.
  • The Frankfurt Parliament's attempt to establish a unified state with universal male suffrage during the Revolution of 1848.
  • The establishment of the Zollverein, a customs union, in 1834.

Otto von Bismarck's Role:

Otto von Bismarck, appointed Chancellor of Prussia in 1862, spearheaded the unification process. Prussia, with its strong nationalism, formidable army, and developed economy, played a pivotal role. Bismarck expelled Austria from the German Confederation and unified the northern states.

Second Phase and Formation of the German Empire:

In the second phase, Bismarck's victory over Napoleon III of France led to Prussia's annexation of Alsace-Lorraine. In 1871, the German Empire, also known as the Second Reich, was established, marking the culmination of the unification process. Wilhelm I ascended to the throne as emperor.

Consequences of Unification:

The unification of Germany significantly impacted European international relations, establishing the German Empire as the continent's dominant power. This event also influenced the Austro-Hungarian Empire and prompted the Russian Empire to seek expansion towards the Balkans to gain access to the Mediterranean Sea.


During the 19th century, Spain underwent political transformations similar to those experienced by other European nations. The reign of Fernando VII saw the restoration of absolutism, followed by a liberal period under Isabel II. A brief democratic phase emerged when Spain transitioned into a republic.


Following the defeat of Napoleon in the Spanish War of Independence, Joseph I was forced to abdicate, paving the way for Fernando VII's return. His reign can be divided into three distinct phases:

  • The Absolutist Phase (1814-1820):

    Fernando VII, initially enjoying widespread support from the Spanish people, the Cádiz Cortes, and absolutists, reinstated the Ancient Régime.

  • The Liberal Phase (1820-1823):

    This period was marked by numerous liberal uprisings.



  • The influence of Enlightenment ideas.
  • Colonies' aspirations for self-governance.
  • The emergence of a powerful bourgeoisie.

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