Blood and Iron Speech
In September 1862 there was a crisis in Prussia where the Prussian Landtag, or lower parliamentary house, was refusing to approve increased military spending in defiance of the King's wishes. King Wilhelm I was advised by his Minister of War, Roon, to send for Bismarck as a formidable personality who might secure the passing of the military budget in the Landtag.
On the 17 September the crisis had reached such a pitch that Wilhelm I seriously considered abdicating his throne. That evening Roon sent by telegraph to Bismarck suggesting that he, Bismarck, should hurry to Berlin and that there was danger in delay. The message in French and Latin read :- Depechez-vous; Periculum in mora.
On 22 September Bismarck met Wilhelm I and assured him that he could form a ministry and carry through the army reforms as he desired, if necessary against the will of the deputies in the Landtag. Given this assurance the Wilhelm I decided not to abdicate. Bismarck was appointed acting chief minister of Prussia.
Bismarck made an appearance before the Landtag on 29 September where he spoke expressing his regret at the hostility of the deputies to passing of the military budget and stressed the need for progress to be made on the military proposals favoured by the king. The next day at a meeting of a Budget Committee Bismarck went perhaps further than he his better judgement might have intended in asserting that:-
The position of Prussia in Germany will not be determined by its liberalism but by its power ... Prussia must concentrate its strength and hold it for the favourable moment, which has already come and gone several times. Since the treaties of Vienna, our frontiers have been ill-designed for a healthy body politic. Not through speeches and majority decisions will the great questions of the day be decided - that was the great mistake of 1848 and 1849 - but by iron and blood.
This Speech by Bismarck has entered into popular understanding of history as ending blood and iron rather than as iron and blood
Popular European History pages
The preparation of these pages was influenced to some degree by a particular "Philosophy
of History" as suggested by this quote from the famous Essay "History" by Ralph Waldo Emerson:-
There is one mind common to all individual men...
Of the works of this mind history is the record. Its genius is illustrated by the entire series of days. Man is explicable by nothing less than all his history. Without hurry, without rest, the human spirit goes forth from the beginning to embody every faculty, every thought, every emotion, which belongs to it in appropriate events. But the thought is always prior to the fact; all the facts of history preexist in the mind as laws. Each law in turn is made by circumstances predominant, and the limits of nature give power to but one at a time. A man is the whole encyclopaedia of facts. The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn, and Egypt, Greece, Rome, Gaul, Britain, America, lie folded already in the first man. Epoch after epoch, camp, kingdom, empire, republic, democracy, are merely the application of his manifold spirit to the manifold world.
|Ralph Waldo Emerson's Essay "History"|
|Italian Unification - Cavour,
the Unification of Risorgimento Italy
|Otto von Bismarck &
The wars of German unification
|Italian unification map
|Map of German unification|
- 1 The European Revolution of 1848 begins
- A broad outline of the background to the onset of the turmoils and a consideration of some of the early events.
- 2 The French Revolution of 1848
- A particular focus on France - as the influential Austrian minister Prince Metternich, who sought to encourage the re-establishment of "Order" in the wake of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic turmoils of 1789-1815, said:-"When France sneezes Europe catches a cold".
- 3 The Revolution of 1848 in the German Lands and central Europe
- "Germany" had a movement for a single parliament in 1848 and many central European would-be "nations" attempted
to assert a distinct existence separate from the dynastic sovereignties they had been living under.
- 4 The "Italian" Revolution of 1848
- A "liberal" Papacy after 1846 helps allow the embers of an "Italian" national aspiration to rekindle across the Italian Peninsula.
- 5 The Monarchs recover power 1848-1849
- Some instances of social and political extremism allow previously pro-reform conservative elements to support the return of traditional authority. Louis Napoleon, (who later became the Emperor Napoleon III), attains to power in France offering social stability at home but ultimately follows policies productive of dramatic change in the wider European structure of states and their sovereignty.