Before long, all the states except Austria had joined the union under Prussia’s leadership. In the long run, economic unity and prosperity promoted the urge to form a political union and led to the birth of Germany as a nation. Frankfurt Assembly In 1848, revolutionary movements forced German rulers to introduce democratic reforms.
The Frankfurt Assembly was set up to frame a constitution for a united Germany excluding Austria. It decided that Germany would come under a constitutional monarchy with the Prussian ruler Frederick William IV as the emperor. However, the Prussian ruler refused to tolerate the checks on his powers, and disapproved of any military confrontation with Austria.
The movement for constitutional monarchy, thus, failed. Bismarck’s role in 1861, William I succeeded Frederick William IV to the throne of Prussia. He appointed Otto von Bismarck, a Prussian aristocrat, as his prime minister. Bismarck wanted to create a militaristic empire under the Prussian monarch. He used methods of force, or the policy of ‘blood and iron’. With Austria’s help, Bismarck acquired territories from Denmark.
Then, in alliance with Italy, he defeated Austria in 1866. The German Confederation was dissolved, and Bismarck united 22 states to form the North German Confederation led by Prussia. The southern German states were a bone of contention between France and the North German Confederation. Bismarck realised that only a war could settle the matter. In 1870, he entered into a war against France and ultimately emerged victorious.
During the course of the war, the southern German states were absorbed into a united Germany, with King William I of Prussia as its emperor. By the end of the nineteenth century, Germany emerged as a strong industrialised nation.