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What if France had won the Franco-Prussian War?

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    I could see the prussians like going together wit the low countries in the face of teh frenchies

    And having germany divided wouldn't necessarily slow economic growth, cause all the states would be economically competing

    And a Hitler like figure would prob rise up earlier with the whole, "they like destroyed us and we must kick Le Fagot ass""

    Cpl. Ace_General
    Last edited by Ace_General; 20 Aug 08, 15:52.

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  • Legate
    replied
    The first thing to remember is that Britain would not tolerate anyone becoming the dominant power on the continent. Napoleon,a committed Bonapartist,would certainly come into a conflict with Britain at some point. Not only would he seek to control the Low Countries but also Spain as well. Another thing,France was also a major naval power at the time,this would also be a cause of concern for Britain,remember the Brits freaked out when France launched the La Gloirein 1860. The British would certainly revive the coalition that brought down Napoleon I. We can call the "Second Napoleonic War".

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  • cecilia
    replied
    well, for one you would never hear the end of it.

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  • Full Monty
    replied
    Originally posted by lk_sidestep View Post
    Well if we use the Luxembourg Crisis as an example then I think its fair to assume that Napoleon III knew his limit when it came to agressive military action. With that in mind I don't think he would've made any serious attempts into the Low Countries because of their strategic importance to Britain.
    It was Bismarck who frightened him off, with that threat out of the way who knows? With France firmly established as the continent's premier power said limits may have headed skywards.

    Well I guess to me they seem like bigger military victories, because France actually won.
    Aye.


    They may have been paid off but the French economy faltered and stagnated becuase of the sudden shock of defeat and occupation and the outrageously harsh demands imposed on them by the Prussians. The low population growth may have been a major problem, but to me it seems only secondary.
    We might have to run a comparison with other nations who had their problems during the so-called 'Great Depression' of the end of the 19th C.

    What slack was that?
    Being divided for starters.

    As you said, if Germany had remained divided instead of united then the rapid economic growth experienced after the war would simply not have taken place. So my theory stands, Germany disunited could not have economically challenged a victorious France, who would probably have forced even harsher indemities on the defeated countries then Prussia/Germany had on France.
    Not sure about the latter, at least those in the North-Western area where France would have sought to expand its influence. But if the French controlled the Saar and the Ruhr, even indirectly, it would give them a lot of potential for economic dominance although whether they could exploit is another matter.

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  • lk_sidestep
    replied
    Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
    What I'm saying is that unlike Bismarck he would have been a force for instability. He sought to annex Luxembourg but was forestalled by Bismarck (1868) and he had designs on Belgium and The Netherlands - although whether he would have used force is open to question (I don't know which was why I left it open). I don't see why you'd think that defeating the Austrians in Italy and/or the Russians in the Crimea would be greater achievements than defeating the combined German armies in France. After all, the first two involved the assistance of allies whilst the last was France standing alone against a very powerful aggressive coalition.
    Well if we use the Luxembourg Crisis as an example then I think its fair to assume that Napoleon III knew his limit when it came to agressive military action. With that in mind I don't think he would've made any serious attempts into the Low Countries because of their strategic importance to Britain.

    Well I guess to me they seem like bigger military victories, because France actually won.

    As for the economy, Austria and Russia were never great economic powers, so you could rule them out. Meanwhile the handicap resulting in Prussiaís defeat would probably have forced their economy to lag until the 1890s like what had happened to France. So that really leaves only Britain on the continent, which would probably have always had a greater economy.

    That's one of those relative things that depend on how you present the case. But France's economy recovered far more quickly than the Germans expected. The swingeing reparations that were supposed to keep France relatively poor for decades were paid off within three years. France's problem was as much demographic as anything and their sluggish performance reflects that.
    They may have been paid off but the French economy faltered and stagnated becuase of the sudden shock of defeat and occupation and the outrageously harsh demands imposed on them by the Prussians. The low population growth may have been a major problem, but to me it seems only secondary.

    I'd disagree with this counter-factual for the reasons listed above. Germany simply had more slack to take up. But saying that, without the formation of the 2nd Reich and Bismarck's astute political machinations the German states may well not have attracted the foreign investment they did historically. So you could be right, albeit for different reasons.
    What slack was that?

    As you said, if Germany had remained divided instead of united then the rapid economic growth experienced after the war would simply not have taken place. So my theory stands, Germany disunited could not have economically challenged a victorious France, who would probably have forced even harsher indemities on the defeated countries then Prussia/Germany had on France.

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  • Full Monty
    replied
    Originally posted by lk_sidestep View Post
    By controlling the Low Countries, do you mean active military incursion? If so I highly doubt that would be the case, France and Britain cooperated closely on a level not seen until World War I. They both signed a free trade agreement (though Iím not saying it was entirely successful) and Napoleon III constantly sought an alliance with the UK. As for Italy he may have been against unification but seriously who would contend against him if he used military force against the Italians? As for being a loose cannon, that he was but I highly doubt that he would have precipitated another European war even if he had defeated Prussia. I mean you could take from his past victories (one could argue they were probably greater) at the Crimean War or the Second War of Italian Independence, he won but it never really caused him to launch an all out war against Europe.
    What I'm saying is that unlike Bismarck he would have been a force for instability. He sought to annex Luxembourg but was forestalled by Bismarck (1868) and he had designs on Belgium and The Netherlands - although whether he would have used force is open to question (I don't know which was why I left it open). I don't see why you'd think that defeating the Austrians in Italy and/or the Russians in the Crimea would be greater achievements than defeating the combined German armies in France. After all, the first two involved the assistance of allies whilst the last was France standing alone against a very powerful aggressive coalition.

    As for the economy, Austria and Russia were never great economic powers, so you could rule them out. Meanwhile the handicap resulting in Prussiaís defeat would probably have forced their economy to lag until the 1890s like what had happened to France. So that really leaves only Britain on the continent, which would probably have always had a greater economy.[/QUOTE]

    That's one of those relative things that depend on how you present the case. But France's economy recovered far more quickly than the Germans expected. The swingeing reparations that were supposed to keep France relatively poor for decades were paid off within three years. France's problem was as much demographic as anything and their sluggish performance reflects that.

    With this Iím trying to say that with such an advantage over Prussia/Germany, France couldíve remained second in regards to economy instead of a distant third like it wouldíve if it had been defeated. Also the Third Republic may have surpassed Napoleon IIIís economy by great lengths but the German Empire surpassed it even further, so if France had won it couldíve enabled the economy to be built up a lot faster and sooner than originally was the case.
    I'd disagree with this counter-factual for the reasons listed above. Germany simply had more slack to take up. But saying that, without the formation of the 2nd Reich and Bismarck's astute political machinations the German states may well not have attracted the foreign investment they did historically. So you could be right, albeit for different reasons.

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  • lk_sidestep
    replied
    By controlling the Low Countries, do you mean active military incursion? If so I highly doubt that would be the case, France and Britain cooperated closely on a level not seen until World War I. They both signed a free trade agreement (though Iím not saying it was entirely successful) and Napoleon III constantly sought an alliance with the UK. As for Italy he may have been against unification but seriously who would contend against him if he used military force against the Italians? As for being a loose cannon, that he was but I highly doubt that he would have precipitated another European war even if he had defeated Prussia. I mean you could take from his past victories (one could argue they were probably greater) at the Crimean War or the Second War of Italian Independence, he won but it never really caused him to launch an all out war against Europe.

    As for the economy, Austria and Russia were never great economic powers, so you could rule them out. Meanwhile the handicap resulting in Prussiaís defeat would probably have forced their economy to lag until the 1890s like what had happened to France. So that really leaves only Britain on the continent, which would probably have always had a greater economy. With this Iím trying to say that with such an advantage over Prussia/Germany, France couldíve remained second in regards to economy instead of a distant third like it wouldíve if it had been defeated. Also the Third Republic may have surpassed Napoleon IIIís economy by great lengths but the German Empire surpassed it even further, so if France had won it couldíve enabled the economy to be built up a lot faster and sooner than originally was the case.

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  • Full Monty
    replied
    What my further reading confirmed was that Napoleon III did have a major interest in 'controlling' the Low Countries, something that would have brought France into conflict with Britain once again. His policy towards the Italian peninsula was also suspect for although he supported Cavour/Piedmont in the conflict with the Austrian Empire he opposed the unification of Italy. It was only after his fall from power that French troops were withdrawn from Rome and the full Risorgimento took place. Given that he was not averse to a little sabre rattling to distract attention from economic difficulties at home and his rather adventuresome foreign policies (e.g. Maximillian in Mexico for one) a French victory over Prussia/Germany would surely lead to open conflict somewhere within a few years, especially with the economic difficulties of the late 19th Century just around the corner.

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  • Full Monty
    replied
    I checked some of the available online sources and what remains of my student days studies of the era and it's not clear as to how much of the growth was down to Napoleon as against the boom in the European economy generally. Managing the economy using Adam Smith's 'invisible hand' (i.e. doing very little) is easy during boom times but as things started to slow down, especially with the French economy being built on easy credit, there was no policy for intervention.

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  • lk_sidestep
    replied
    Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
    Let me throw my hat into the ring (BOOM! ........ it's a big hat). Prussia would remain the prime German power with a controlling influence over much of Northern and Eastern Germany. Western Germany, especially the area West of the Rhine would be under French control and Southern Germany would be likely to drift back to Austria-Hungary. This looks good for France until you consider that Napoleon III is a bit of a loose cannon come 1870. A victorious campaign against Prussia and its Germanic allies could well convince him, and much of France, that he had inherited his uncle's military genius. In this event another push for hegemony would occur, another anti-French coalition would form and France would be crushed. Even without such a disaster the continuation of the Second Empire would do France no favours. The Third Republic may have suffered a series of traumas as the 19th Century closed but economically it quickly surpassed the achievements of the Empire. Under the Bonapartes France would slowly fall further behind its neighbours and trade rivals. If, as has been suggested above, another Bismarck-esque figure emerged to make another attempt at unifying the Germans in a similar fashion the French would be even less capable of resisting than they were in 1870.
    Under Napoleon III, France had the second largest economy in the world and along with that he was instrumental in establishing the French railway system which helped develop the coal and mining industry.

    Granted one of the major reasons for defeat of the French during the Franco-Prussian War was because of the inadequate French rail system as opposed to Prussia's, but that was more of a result of negligence from past leaders.

    Also the banking industry along with the French stock exchanged flourished (mainly because of the coal and mine industries issuing stocks) during his reign.

    If anything, at least he was good for the economy, as he had very little else to contribute.
    Last edited by lk_sidestep; 16 Aug 08, 18:59.

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  • Full Monty
    replied
    Let me throw my hat into the ring (BOOM! ........ it's a big hat). Prussia would remain the prime German power with a controlling influence over much of Northern and Eastern Germany. Western Germany, especially the area West of the Rhine would be under French control and Southern Germany would be likely to drift back to Austria-Hungary. This looks good for France until you consider that Napoleon III is a bit of a loose cannon come 1870. A victorious campaign against Prussia and its Germanic allies could well convince him, and much of France, that he had inherited his uncle's military genius. In this event another push for hegemony would occur, another anti-French coalition would form and France would be crushed. Even without such a disaster the continuation of the Second Empire would do France no favours. The Third Republic may have suffered a series of traumas as the 19th Century closed but economically it quickly surpassed the achievements of the Empire. Under the Bonapartes France would slowly fall further behind its neighbours and trade rivals. If, as has been suggested above, another Bismarck-esque figure emerged to make another attempt at unifying the Germans in a similar fashion the French would be even less capable of resisting than they were in 1870.

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  • Carl Schwamberg
    replied
    Originally posted by MajorSharpe View Post
    If the French had won the war, Prussia would not of been unified by Bismarck, and basicaly there would have been no World War I.
    Not in the form we know it. Austria and Russia may have blundered into a war over some Balkans trivia, or in a threeway lovefest with Turkey (would Greece be necessary?). Were France to be drawn into some sort of Eastern European war then it is likely the German states will be at least marched over if not fought over.

    It is also possible another German leader with Bismarcks vision and ability may emerge later and push forward another round of unification.

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  • lk_sidestep
    replied
    Originally posted by MajorSharpe View Post
    If the French had won the war, Prussia would not of been unified by Bismarck, and basicaly there would have been no World War I.
    This was the sort of response I was aiming for.

    So, if Germany wouldn't have been united then would France have remained the dominant land power in Europe through the 19th century and into the 20th century?

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  • MajorSharpe
    replied
    If the French had won the war, Prussia would not of been unified by Bismarck, and basicaly there would have been no World War I.

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  • Legate
    replied
    France might have had a chance if they had stuck with Marshal Niel's plan to attack into the Prussian Rhineland,such an attack would have forced the Germans to respond to this rather than being able to be on the offensive as often. Alittle background on Niel:Minister of war 1867-1869,implemented reforms in the French army,including adoption of the Chassepot rifle,that were abandoned upon his death in '69.

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