When Diplomacy Fails

By Zack Twamley

On Going since May 2012 • Updated weekly

A weekly podcast covering the build up to, breakout of and consequences of various conflicts in history.

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  Direct Link   Download 158 Minutes 18 Jun 2020

Get your tickets to Intelligent Speech online, and catch your faves including me, as I do a Q&A!Make sure you head over to Patreon if you want more podding goodies, and to stamp your ticket for more Bismarck!Blood and iron, the Alvensleben Convention, and then the Congress of Princes – Bismarck’s first year as Minister President was certainly a busy one, yet it was about to become busier still. As a happy accident, the Danish crown became vacant upon the death of its king, and with this succession looming, Danish control over its German duchies, Schleswig and Holstein, loomed to the forefront of European politics once again, in a manner which it hadn’t done since 1848. The problem was that the Danes wished to retain their grip on the German duchies, through a constitution which would formalise the union between Danes and the duchies for good. The population of the duchies though, which was made up mostly of nationalist Germans, refused to have anything to do with such a scheme. The Danes refused to back down, but neither did the German Confederation – by a vote of one, in November 1863, the assembly at Frankfurt voted to return Denmark to its old constitution and protect the status quo of the duchies, by force if necessary. Just like that, a new crisis had fallen into Bismarck’s lap.The Schleswig Holstein War would only last a few months, but Bismarck quickly ensured that the interests of Prussia were tied up in it. Before Prussian soldiers got involved, Bismarck demonstrated his flair for coups of a different kind – in the diplomatic sphere, Bismarck had broken through his own principles apparently, and forged an alliance with Austria. This alliance made, the combined forces of the two powers were turned against the Danes, and the outcome of the war became only a matter of time. The key question was what to do with the duchies; Bismarck believed in annexation, since Holstein and Schleswig boasted some strategically important land, as well as valuable farmland, and the potential to craft the Kiel Canal and improve the prospects of a Prussian navy. Yet there were several complications that got in the way of this aim. One of the great pleasures of this episode is to marvel at how Bismarck overcame these complications and limits to his power, and made an unpopular option – the annexation of the duchies – into the accepted state policy of Prussia. What was more, Bismarck managed to drag Austria along with him for the ride. The outcome proved more beneficial than Bismarck could ever have imagined.Here we also say farewell to Bismarck for the moment, and we leave him in the aftermath of his great triumph until next time, when Hardcore WDF examines Bismarck’s next short sharp war, this time against Austria. I hope you’ll join me for that in the distant future, but I hope first and foremost that you have enjoyed listening to this series for the last few weeks or hours if you’re a patron! It took many months to make this, and 100,000 words of notes, fifteen hours of audio, and several headaches from reading too many Bismarck articles, but the end product is something I’m proud of, and something I’m happy to present to you listeners as a gift. From Zack to you, thanksss so much history friends, patrons, PhD Pals all, and I’ll be seeing you all, soon! 
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