German dualism

German dualism

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Austria and Prussia had a long running conflict and rivalry for supremacy in Central Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries, called ("German dualism") in Germany. While wars were a part of the rivalry, it was also a race for prestige to be seen as the legitimate political force of the German-speaking peoples. Relations were not always hostile; sometimes Austria and Prussia were able to cooperate, such as during the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

 and the Second Schleswig War.

The rivalry is largely held to have begun when Frederick the Great of Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 launched an invasion of Austrian-controlled Silesia
Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

 in 1741, starting the Silesian Wars
Silesian Wars
The Silesian Wars were a series of wars between Prussia and Austria for control of Silesia. They formed parts of the larger War of the Austrian Succession and Seven Years' War. They eventually ended with Silesia being incorporated into Prussia, and Austrian recognition of this...

. At the time, Austria still claimed the mantle of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 and was the chief force of the disunited German states. Austria and Prussia both would fight France in the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

; after their conclusion, the German states were reorganized into a more unified 37 separate states of the German Confederation
German Confederation
The German Confederation was the loose association of Central European states created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to coordinate the economies of separate German-speaking countries. It acted as a buffer between the powerful states of Austria and Prussia...

. German nationalists
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 began to demand a unified Germany, especially by 1848, but conflicted over the best nation-state to accomplish this - a question that became known as the German question
German question
The German question was a debate in the 19th century, especially during the Revolutions of 1848, over the best way to achieve the Unification of Germany. From 1815–1871, a number of 37 independent German-speaking states existed within the German Confederation...

. The "Little Germany" (Kleindeutschland) solution favored Protestant Prussia, while "Big Germany" (Grossdeutschland) favored Catholic Austria taking control of the separate German states. The Schleswig-Holstein Question
Schleswig-Holstein Question
The Schleswig-Holstein Question was a complex of diplomatic and other issues arising in the 19th century from the relations of two duchies, Schleswig and Holstein , to the Danish crown and to the German Confederation....

 also became tied up in the debate; the Second Schleswig War saw Denmark lose to the combined forces of Austria and Prussia, but Prussia would later gain full control of the province after the Austro-Prussian War
Austro-Prussian War
The Austro-Prussian War was a war fought in 1866 between the German Confederation under the leadership of the Austrian Empire and its German allies on one side and the Kingdom of Prussia with its German allies and Italy on the...

 which also saw Austria lose territory in Italy. After the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

, Germany was unified under Prussia to become the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

, and the rivalry is often seen as subsiding after the Congress of Berlin
Congress of Berlin
The Congress of Berlin was a meeting of the European Great Powers' and the Ottoman Empire's leading statesmen in Berlin in 1878. In the wake of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, the meeting's aim was to reorganize the countries of the Balkans...

 in 1878. Germany had become the superior power to Austria-Hungary.

See also

  • German question
    German question
    The German question was a debate in the 19th century, especially during the Revolutions of 1848, over the best way to achieve the Unification of Germany. From 1815–1871, a number of 37 independent German-speaking states existed within the German Confederation...

  • War of the Austrian Succession
    War of the Austrian Succession
    The War of the Austrian Succession  – including King George's War in North America, the Anglo-Spanish War of Jenkins' Ear, and two of the three Silesian wars – involved most of the powers of Europe over the question of Maria Theresa's succession to the realms of the House of Habsburg.The...

  • Seven Years' War
    Seven Years' War
    The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

  • War of the Bavarian Succession
  • Fürstenbund
    Fürstenbund
    The Fürstenbund was a union of German minor princes in the Holy Roman Empire. It was formed in 1785 under the leadership of Frederick II of Prussia, to oppose the ambition of Emperor Joseph II to add Bavaria to the Habsburg domains....

  • German confederation
    German Confederation
    The German Confederation was the loose association of Central European states created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to coordinate the economies of separate German-speaking countries. It acted as a buffer between the powerful states of Austria and Prussia...

  • Erfurt Union
    Erfurt Union
    The Erfurt Union was a short-lived union of German states under a federation, proposed by the Kingdom of Prussia at Erfurt, for which the Erfurt Union Parliament , lasting from March 20 to April 29, 1850, was opened...

  • Punctation of Olmütz
    Punctation of Olmütz
    The Punctation of Olmütz , also called the Agreement of Olmütz, was a treaty between Prussia and Austria, dated 29 November 1850, by which Prussia abandoned the Erfurt Union and accepted the revival of the German Confederation under Austrian leadership....

  • Kleindeutschland and Großdeutschland
  • Austro-Prussian War
    Austro-Prussian War
    The Austro-Prussian War was a war fought in 1866 between the German Confederation under the leadership of the Austrian Empire and its German allies on one side and the Kingdom of Prussia with its German allies and Italy on the...

  • Unification of Germany
    Unification of Germany
    The formal unification of Germany into a politically and administratively integrated nation state officially occurred on 18 January 1871 at the Versailles Palace's Hall of Mirrors in France. Princes of the German states gathered there to proclaim Wilhelm of Prussia as Emperor Wilhelm of the German...