Seven Weeks War (Austro-Prussian War)

The Seven Weeks War was the brief struggle between two rising European powers, Austria and Prussia. This war took place in the summer of 1866 mainly in June and July. On the side of the Austrians were Saxony, Hanover, the Hesses, Bavaria and Baden, and Wurttemberg. Prussia was supported by only a few small North German states and Italy.

    The Seven Weeks War came about shortly after the capture and takeover of Schleswig and Holstein, formerly properties of Denmark. The future of these two properties was decided by the Treaty of Gastein (Aug. 14,1865) which both Austria and Prussia accused each other of breaking. This dispute brought up the issue of which power, Austrian or German, would dominate the German Confederation.

    The war officially began on June 14, 1866. Prussia was by far the more aggressive of the two powers and quickly occupied Hanover, Electoral Hesse, Nassau, and Frankfurt. The Prussians then pushed into Bohemia and utterly destroyed the Austrians in the battle of Koniggratz on July 3.

    A preliminary peace was signed on July 26, which was soon followed by the Treaty of Prague on August 23rd. The losses for Austria included the loss of Venetia to Italy, the expulsion of German Austria from Germany, the payment of 20 million thalers to Prussia, and the ownership of all the states Prussia now occupied. Austria also agreed to, rather reluctantly, the dissolution of the German Confederacy and the formation of the new North German Confederacy. Prussia not only won the brief war but also increased it’s population by an astounding 4,500,000 million people.

    Napoleon III, who had been increasing power rapidly and was at the time "eyeing" the feuding Germany, had his plans for Germany upset by the rapid growth of the German movement. Napoleon, upset with this new growth, demanded the Bavarian Palatinate and Rhenish Hesse.  When Bismarck was confronted with these demands, he flatly refused. Napoleon was not dissuaded; he then requested Landau and the Saar.

    Then after a second Bismarck refusal, Napoleon settled with Luxembourg and a possible French annexation of Belgium. Bismarck traded these suggestions by Napoleon as information to the South German states for a secret military alliance.

Nick Boyles

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