Franco-Prussian War
Location France
Result Prussian victory,formation of Germany, and German annexation of Alsace-Lorraine
Prussia Prussia
Bavaria Bavaria
Several Other South German States
Franceflag France
Commanders and leaders
Prussia Wilhelm I
PrussiaOtto von Bismarck
Prussia Helmuth von Moltke
Bavaria Louis II
Franceflag Napoleon III
Franceflag Patrice MacMahon
Franceflag Louis Trochu
Franceflag Leon Gambetta
Franceflag Jules Favre
The Franco-Prussian War (19 July 1870 – 10 May 1871) was declared by France on Prussia, which was backed by the North German Confederation and the south German states of Baden, Württemberg and Bavaria. The conflict marked the culmination of tension between the two powers following Prussia's rise to dominance in Germany, which before 1870 was still a loose federation of independent territories.

The war began over the candidacy of Leopold, Prince of Hohenzollern, a relative of King Wilhelm of Prussia, to the vacant Spanish throne following Isabella II's deposition in 1868. Leopold was strongly opposed by France, which issued an ultimatum to the King to have the candidacy withdrawn. King William complied. Aiming to humiliate Prussia, Emperor Napoleon III of France then required Wilhelm to apologise and renounce any future Hohenzollern candidacy to the Spanish throne. King Wilhelm, surprised at his holiday resort by the French ambassador, denied the French request. Prussia's prime minister Otto von Bismarck allegedly edited the King's account of his meeting with the French ambassador to make the encounter more heated than it really was. Known as the Ems Dispatch, it was released to the press. It was designed to give the French the impression that Wilhelm had insulted the French Count Benedetti, and to give the Prussian people the impression that the Count had insulted the King. It succeeded in both of its aims.

The French people and their parliament reacted with outrage; Napoleon III mobilised and declared war on Prussia only, but effectively also on the states of southern Germany. The German armies quickly mobilized and within a few weeks controlled large amounts of land in eastern France. Their success was due in part to rapid mobilization by train, to Prussian General Staff leadership and to innovative Krupp artillery. Napoleon III was captured with his whole army at the Battle of Sedan, yet this did not end the war, as a republic was declared in Paris on 4 September 1870, marking the creation of the Third Republic of France under the Government of National Defense and later the "Versailles government" of Adolphe Thiers. The immediate result was an extension to the war as the Republic proclaimed a continuation of the fight.

Over a five-month campaign, the German armies defeated the newly recruited French armies in a series of battles fought across northern France. Following a prolonged siege, the French capital Paris fell on 28 January 1871. Ten days earlier, the German states had proclaimed their union under the Prussian King, uniting Germany as a nation-state, the German Empire. The final peace Treaty of Frankfurt was signed on 10 May 1871, during the time of the bloody Paris Commune of 1871.

Literary commentEdit

The above took place in all of Harry Turtledove's fiction with a Point of Divergence after 1871, and also in Southern Victory.

Franco-Prussian War in Southern VictoryEdit

Prussia's victory in Franco-Prussian War and the subsequent unification of the German Empire in 1871 upset the balance of power in Europe. It resulted in the abdication of Emperor Napoleon III. France and Britain had insinuated themselves in the affairs of North America, supporting the Confederate States against the United States in the War of Secession in 1862. When Britain and France again supported the CSA against the US in the Second Mexican War, Germany presented itself to the United States as an obvious ally against and counter-balance to Britain and France.[1]


  1. How Few Remain, generally.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.