Franco-Prussian War

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Flagge Großherzogtum Baden (1871-1891).svg Baden
Flagge Königreich Württemberg.svg Württemberg

The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War[7] (19 July 1870 – 10 May 1871) was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and Bavaria. The complete Prussian and German victory brought about the final unification of Germany under King Wilhelm I of Prussia. It also marked the downfall of Napoleon III and the end of the Second French Empire, which was replaced by the French Third Republic. As part of the settlement, the territory of Alsace-Lorraine was taken by Prussia to become a part of Germany, which it would retain until the end of World War I when it was given back to France in the Treaty of Versailles.

The conflict was a culmination of years of tension between the two nations, which finally came to a head over the issue of a Hohenzollern candidate for the vacant Spanish throne, following the deposition of Isabella II in 1868. The public release of the Ems Dispatch, which played up alleged insults between the Prussian king and the French ambassador, inflamed public opinion on both sides. France mobilized, and on 19 July declared war on Prussia only, but the other German states quickly joined on Prussia's side.

The superiority of the Prussian and German forces was soon evident, due in part to efficient use of railways and superior Krupp steel artillery. Prussia had the fourth densest rail network in the world; France had the fifth.[8] A series of swift Prussian and German victories in eastern France culminated in the Battle of Sedan, at which Napoleon III was captured with his whole army on 2 September. Yet this did not end the war, as the Third Republic was declared in Paris on 4 September 1870, and French resistance continued under the Government of National Defence and later Adolphe Thiers.

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