History Main / FrancoPrussianWar

9th Jan '14 5:02:57 AM LongLiveHumour
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http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/FrancoPrussianWar.jpg
The '''Franco-Prussian War''' - known in Germany as the German-French War (''Deutsch-Französischer Krieg'') or War of 1870/71, and in France as the Franco-German War (''Guerre franco-allemande'') or "Guerre franco-prussienne" - was the last of three wars that led to the unification of [[AllTheLittleGermanies Germany]] (the first since the HolyRomanEmpire had any political power).

There were multiple causes of the war, including but not limited to, a potential sale of Luxembourg to France, the vacancy of the Spanish throne, and [[OttoVonBismarck the Prime Minister]] of {{Prussia}} modifying and publishing [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ems_Dispatch an insulting telegram]] about a meeting of the French Ambassador. For whatever cause, a dangerously underprepared France declared war on Prussia (and thus the North German Confederation) in July of 1870. These circumstances led the South German states (Bavaria, Baden, Württemberg) to join the side of the North German Confederation.

The result was a 10-month CurbStompBattle as the Prussians decimated the French in all but three battles (where the French won one at Broney-Colombey and fought to a draw in two others), captured the French Emperor, Napoleon III, and unified Germany.

Another result of the war was Germany's annexation of Elsaß-Lothringen (Alsace-Lorraine), which they held until UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne. Moreover, the French had to leave Rome, indirectly finishing the Unification of Italy.

The defeat of Napoleon III led to his fall and the proclamation of the Third French Republic, which continued the war longer than the Germans expected by continually raising new armies even as Paris was besieged. In a bloody epilogue after the signing of the definitive peace treaty French fought French as the forces of the conservative central government put down the Paris Commune, a short-lived revolutionary government which was in control by revolutionary members of the French working class. While short-lived and petty by that time, it would inspire a book by Karl Marx (''The Civil War in France'') and later VladimirLenin to start the [[RedOctober October Revolution]] and create SovietUnion, thus being responsible of communism's first steps as a major power through the 20th century.

This war also started a chain of events that led to UsefulNotes/WorldWarI. France, desperate and humiliated, formed a series of alliances in case they ever went to war with Germany again, and Germany did the same. With one exception, all of these alliances became the Allied Powers (France, Great Britain, and Russia and its Baltic allies, as well as the other countries they gathered after the war began) and the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary, and the countries they gathered). The newly-united Italy was the exception - Italy was in an alliance with Germany, but didn't enter World War I until the Allied Powers offered them parts of Austria.

----
!!Tropes Associated With This War Include:

* AwesomeButImpractical: The French regarded the Mitrailleuse (a primitive machine gun) as the secret weapon that would win the war for them. Emphasis on secret; security restrictions meant that no-one had a chance to train with the weapon and develop proper tactics. After the apparent failure of the weapon in the face of determined Prussian assults, the French believed that ''elan'' (fighting spirit) was more effective than machine guns. The Prussians (who'd been on the receiving end of the Mitrailleuse) decided to concentrate on firepower instead, with tragic results for the French in the beginning of UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne.
* BalanceOfPower: One of the wars that indirectly led to the basis of the Alliance system and thus, UsefulNotes/WorldWarI (which led to the Great Depression, which led to UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, which led to the UsefulNotes/ColdWar, which led to the WarOnTerror).
* BadassArmy: The Prussian (aka the North German) Army.
** The South German armies were in on it, too. One of the first heroes to make headlines through a daring reconnaissance raid was the Württemberg cavalry officer Count Zeppelin (yes, ''that'' [[CoolAirship Count Zeppelin]]).
* BookEnds: The German Empire was unified and proclaimed in Versailles. The Empire ended there also after UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne.
** From a German point of view the proclamation of the German Empire (which would include Alsace-Lorraine) in the palace of the king responsible for taking away Strasbourg etc. from the UsefulNotes/HolyRomanEmpire was also this.
** In 1840 French foreign minister Adolphe Thiers tried to escalate the current European political crisis in order to change the Franco-German border, annexing the German territories left of the Rhine to France. He did not succeed as King Louis-Philippe was not as bellicose as Thiers and dismissed him. However, Thiers had not been discreet about the desires of many French to push the borders forward to the Rhine, and this led to a resurgence of German nationalism. Among the various poems declaring readiness to defend the Fatherland against French aggressions was "The Watch on the Rhine" by the otherwise unknown Max Schneckenburger from Württemberg. At the time it passed almost unnoticed, but in 1870, set to a catchy new tune, it became the theme song for the war on the German side. Meanwhile, after the defeat of Napoleon III, Adolphe Thiers became the head of the first government of the Third Republic and as such had to negotiate the peace that changed the Franco-German border in a way rather differently than he had envisaged in 1840.
* CooldownHug: In one of the more bizarre episodes of the war, Bismarck gave one to Jules Favre, one of the leaders of the new French Republic, during the armistice negotiations at Ferrières in September 1870 when Favre got so worked up that he broke down in tears. Gambetta and the other French leaders did not think it funny at all because in his fragile state Favre [[WhatAnIdiot just plain forgot to include the fortress of Belfort and Bourbaki's Army of the East in the armistice]], which had disastrous consequences for the latter.
* CoolTrain : The chief German weapon was their trains. It enabled them to get tons of troops to the front in time. As a bonus it enabled them to use reserves as front-line units without worrying about them falling over with weariness after all the marching.
* CurbStompBattle
* CycleOfRevenge: The entire war was seen as an important episode in the sequence of wars between "hereditary enemies" France and Germany from the middle ages to World War 2.
* EagleSquadron: Giuseppe Garibaldi joined the war against the Prussians in late 1870 and formed his volunteer Army of the Vosges. They mainly fought in the southern regions of France around Dijon until the end of the war.
* TheEmpire: The Second French Empire was defeated, allowing for the rise of UsefulNotes/ImperialGermany.
* TheFederation: The North German Federation in alliance with four Southern German nations, and also in many practical ways, [[UsefulNotes/ImperialGermany the German Empire of 1871]].
* FreudianExcuse: The defeat led to the rise of revanchism in France. The French Army also amusingly refused to let go of the bright navy blue jackets and red pants they used in 1870 saying that they'd defeat the Germans wearing the same uniforms later. Catastrophic loses in the first months of UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne made them realize that keeping the same highly visible uniforms might cost them a second defeat, and they changed to pale blue (though only [[SeriousBusiness after several arguments]] among themselves).
* FromBadToWorse: Relations between France and Germany could not be said to have improved anytime soon after this war.
** For bonus irony points: Bismarck believed that even if he were to offer France a moderate peace conditions they would eventually seek revenge for the lost war anyway. Thus, he concluded that if the second war with France is inevitable, he might as well strengthen Germany and weaken France by annexing Alsace-Lorraine. However, it was the annexation of these territories that became the main cause of the enmity between France and Germany in the subsequent decades and possibly it was the reason why [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne the next war between Germany and France]] became inevitable.
*** Considering France's foreign policy for two and a half centuries had been to keep Germany weak, Bismarck probably was right.
**** Of course, he didn't do himself any favors by rubbing salt in the wound and Kicking or Shooting the Dog at just about every step of the war.
* GaulsWithGrenades: The French had more efficient weapons, including one of the first bolt-action rifles and machine guns, though the Prussians had already used both bolt-action rifles (needle-rifles) and rifled cannons with great success against Denmark during the war that they used to get Schleswig-Holstein under their control, as well as against Austria. It was just that the some of the other German states had not yet had equipped all their troops with such new technology.
** The rifled needle-gun was the standard Prussian infantry weapon since the 1840s (recall that in 1861 most Confederate and Union infantry units used muzzle-loaders, and a surprising number even still were equipped with smoothbores). The new French Chassepot rifle was somewhat superior (and already a second-generation weapon), but that advantage was more than offset by the breech-loading rifled artillery of the German armies.
* GeneralFailure: After a long and distinguished career, Marshal of France Achille Bazaine proved himself incompetent in his last campaign. His poor performance was a major factor in France's defeat. Notably, his army [[DirtyCoward stayed away from the fights against Prussians]] for he kept it intact [[GeneralRipper to crush republicans and/or revolutionaries]]. In the end, [[ThePiratesWhoDontDoAnything he didn't even do that]]. He was later judged and condemned for treason.
* HeyItsThatGuy: Among the crowd at the proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor was a Prussian guards officer, Paul von Hindenburg, later German supreme commander in the final years of World War 1 and, as president of the Weimar Republic, the man who - begrudgingly and out of other options - appointed Hitler chancellor. Meanwhile in Paris, Georges Clemenceau, the man who would head the victorious French government at the end of World War 1, witnessed the Paris Commune as mayor of Montmartre.
* LastStand: The Siege of Paris, which lasted for roughly half the war.
* MagnificentBastard: UsefulNotes/OttoVonBismarck, during the four years between the Seven Weeks War and this war he managed to isolate France while gaining an alliance with the Independent Southern German states to finish the unification process. Of course, this is the real life David Xanatos you're talking about.
** Von Moltke could qualify. Though perhaps he is more a FourStarBadass.
* ObligatoryWarCrimeScene: Whooooboy... the French guerrillas weren't angels, operating well outside of the laws and customs of war in place at the time. However, the German Armies behaved downright appallingly when it came to [[BerserkButton said Franc-Tireur.]] While the anger was somewhat justified, the retaliations tended to be gratuitous and far out of proportion to the Franc-Tireur and what they had done. Of course [[AppealToForce nobody was in a position to bring the greatest military power on the continent to account even if anyone had wanted to.]] It Probably doubles as foreshadowing for [[UsefulNotes/FirstWorldWar certain]] [[UsefulNotes/SecondWorldWar behavior patterns]] later.
** It is worth mentioning that the only international treaty relevant to defining war crimes at the time was the first Geneva Convention, which dealt with the treatment of sick and wounded soldiers and established protection for facilities marked with the Red Cross. It was only after the war of 1870/71 that international law regarding the use of arms etc. was codified, e. g. through the Hague Convention of 1899. At the time of the Franco-Prussian War there still was quite a bit of leeway of what was considered permissible under the "customs of war", as demonstrated by the wanton destruction during Sherman's March through Georgia and the Carolinas half a decade earlier (which to this day tends to be justified as a "military necessity"). When it came to fighting guerilla war, the French had shown themselves merciless in the wars against the Vendéen royalists in the 1790s and against Spanish guerilleros 1808-1814. And then there was...
** The "Bloody Week" that ended the Paris Commune, from which Lenin derived the lesson: "Expect no mercy from the bourgeoisie, so give them none."
* RockBeatsLaser: Despite the technological advantage of the French forces (they had far superior rifles, and even an early form of a machine gun), the Prussians still crushed them easily. Partially subverted, as the Prussians had a highly superior ''artillery'', though.
* TheScapegoat: Marshall Bazaine was a perfect one considering how he behaved during the war (see GeneralFailure above). Everyone, from royalists to republicans to even fellow Bonapartists were happy to put all the blame upon him for the defeat. Which was vastly exaggerating, after all.
** The thing that turned him into a scapegoat was not so much that he was put on trial and condemned to death (and immediately recommended for a pardon by the officers who sat on trial over him) for his behaviour during the war, including negotiating with the enemy in a ill-advised bid to preserve the monarchy. It was that most of the others whose failures had led to the French defeat were put on trial. But then another commander whose behaviour could have merited an inquiry was none other than Marshal Mac-Mahon, who was elected president of the Republic after the war.
* TheSiege: Beside the siege of Paris, there were several smaller ones, in particular the one of the fortress town of Belfort in Lorraine. Here the French forces succeeded in holding the place until the end of the war, which turned their commander, Colonel Denfert-Rochereau, into a national hero.
* SillyReasonForWar: ''Every'' technical reason used to declare war or justify it later was this. In reality, Bismarck needed a war against France to convince the other German states to join Prussia, and Napoleon III needed a victorious war against ''anyone'' to deflect the criticism gained as a result of the failed French intervention in Mexico. They baited each other, and Bismarck won.
* TheSpartanWay: The Prussian General Staff which was a number of [[TheSmartGuy gifted men]] who were originally trained to act as [[TheStrategist strategists]] that could theoretically institutionalize Napoleonic genius. They were picked from among the best officers, rigorously schooled, trained with war games and staff rides (taking them on a field trip into the country and asking them to evaluate the tactical ramifications of the terrain.
* UnderestimatingBadassery: Prussia was so much underestimated that even King William didn't have proper maps of France at first because he thought ''he'' was the one that was going to be invaded.
** Emile Ollivier, minister of justice and head of the Imperial French cabinet in 1870 declared in the assembly shortly after war was declared that it unpatriotic and criminal to even consider the possibility of a French defeat. He said it was impossible that the French army could be defeated by the heavy Germans, stuffed as they were with sauerkraut and beer ("gonflés de choucroute et de bière"), those slow-moving crybabies whose flat feet made long marches so hard to them.
* UnwittingPawn: Napoleon III
* WarriorPrince: Both William I of Prussia and Napoleon III of France had aspirations toward this. However, that kind of thing was [[GoodOldWays somewhat outdated]] and they looked rather out of place in the role. Although William perhaps deserves more credit then he is given. He had two {{Magnificent Bastard}}s, (von Moltke and Bismarck) working for him and managed to keep them working as a team to optimal level.
** The Prussian Crown Prince Frederick (later Emperor Frederick III) commanded the 3rd German Army, which contained most of the South German contingents. His cousin Prince Frederick Charles commanded the 2nd Army, while Crown Prince Albert of Saxony commanded the 4th.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen:
** The war started because of the ''proposed'' (but rejected) candidacy of a Prussian prince to the throne of Spain, of all things. What if that prince had become King of Spain? Would Spain and Germany have become allies and draw common plans to keep France down?
** The French had early machine guns in this war, but deployed them like artillery, making them ineffective.
----
!!Depictions

* ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTWddzIuhwU Bombardement d'une maison]]''(''Bombing of a house'', 1897), most probably the very first film to depict it (and probably the very first war film). It was directed by Georges Méliès (yes, [[Film/ATripToTheMoon that one]])
* In the alternate history ''[[http://www.alternatehistory.com/discussion/showthread.php?t=238352 The Legacy of the Glorious]]'', this war is known as the ''Hohenzollerns' War'', after the reigning dynasty in Prussia (although in [=TTL=]'s Spain it is called ''King Leopold's War''). Like it happened in RealLife, the most direct cause of the war was the Ems dispatch, but there is a difference: since Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was confirmed as King of Spain before the French caught wind of it, France declares war on Prussia and Spain. War ends even more disastrously for the French, because, apart from Alsace-Lorraine, they also lose the southern department of Rousillon and the Oranesado in north Africa to Spain, as well as paying a greater war indemnization.

to:

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/FrancoPrussianWar.jpg
The '''Franco-Prussian War''' - known in Germany as the German-French War (''Deutsch-Französischer Krieg'') or War of 1870/71, and in France as the Franco-German War (''Guerre franco-allemande'') or "Guerre franco-prussienne" - was the last of three wars that led to the unification of [[AllTheLittleGermanies Germany]] (the first since the HolyRomanEmpire had any political power).

There were multiple causes of the war, including but not limited to, a potential sale of Luxembourg to France, the vacancy of the Spanish throne, and [[OttoVonBismarck the Prime Minister]] of {{Prussia}} modifying and publishing [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ems_Dispatch an insulting telegram]] about a meeting of the French Ambassador. For whatever cause, a dangerously underprepared France declared war on Prussia (and thus the North German Confederation) in July of 1870. These circumstances led the South German states (Bavaria, Baden, Württemberg) to join the side of the North German Confederation.

The result was a 10-month CurbStompBattle as the Prussians decimated the French in all but three battles (where the French won one at Broney-Colombey and fought to a draw in two others), captured the French Emperor, Napoleon III, and unified Germany.

Another result of the war was Germany's annexation of Elsaß-Lothringen (Alsace-Lorraine), which they held until UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne. Moreover, the French had to leave Rome, indirectly finishing the Unification of Italy.

The defeat of Napoleon III led to his fall and the proclamation of the Third French Republic, which continued the war longer than the Germans expected by continually raising new armies even as Paris was besieged. In a bloody epilogue after the signing of the definitive peace treaty French fought French as the forces of the conservative central government put down the Paris Commune, a short-lived revolutionary government which was in control by revolutionary members of the French working class. While short-lived and petty by that time, it would inspire a book by Karl Marx (''The Civil War in France'') and later VladimirLenin to start the [[RedOctober October Revolution]] and create SovietUnion, thus being responsible of communism's first steps as a major power through the 20th century.

This war also started a chain of events that led to UsefulNotes/WorldWarI. France, desperate and humiliated, formed a series of alliances in case they ever went to war with Germany again, and Germany did the same. With one exception, all of these alliances became the Allied Powers (France, Great Britain, and Russia and its Baltic allies, as well as the other countries they gathered after the war began) and the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary, and the countries they gathered). The newly-united Italy was the exception - Italy was in an alliance with Germany, but didn't enter World War I until the Allied Powers offered them parts of Austria.

----
!!Tropes Associated With This War Include:

* AwesomeButImpractical: The French regarded the Mitrailleuse (a primitive machine gun) as the secret weapon that would win the war for them. Emphasis on secret; security restrictions meant that no-one had a chance to train with the weapon and develop proper tactics. After the apparent failure of the weapon in the face of determined Prussian assults, the French believed that ''elan'' (fighting spirit) was more effective than machine guns. The Prussians (who'd been on the receiving end of the Mitrailleuse) decided to concentrate on firepower instead, with tragic results for the French in the beginning of UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne.
* BalanceOfPower: One of the wars that indirectly led to the basis of the Alliance system and thus, UsefulNotes/WorldWarI (which led to the Great Depression, which led to UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, which led to the UsefulNotes/ColdWar, which led to the WarOnTerror).
* BadassArmy: The Prussian (aka the North German) Army.
** The South German armies were in on it, too. One of the first heroes to make headlines through a daring reconnaissance raid was the Württemberg cavalry officer Count Zeppelin (yes, ''that'' [[CoolAirship Count Zeppelin]]).
* BookEnds: The German Empire was unified and proclaimed in Versailles. The Empire ended there also after UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne.
** From a German point of view the proclamation of the German Empire (which would include Alsace-Lorraine) in the palace of the king responsible for taking away Strasbourg etc. from the UsefulNotes/HolyRomanEmpire was also this.
** In 1840 French foreign minister Adolphe Thiers tried to escalate the current European political crisis in order to change the Franco-German border, annexing the German territories left of the Rhine to France. He did not succeed as King Louis-Philippe was not as bellicose as Thiers and dismissed him. However, Thiers had not been discreet about the desires of many French to push the borders forward to the Rhine, and this led to a resurgence of German nationalism. Among the various poems declaring readiness to defend the Fatherland against French aggressions was "The Watch on the Rhine" by the otherwise unknown Max Schneckenburger from Württemberg. At the time it passed almost unnoticed, but in 1870, set to a catchy new tune, it became the theme song for the war on the German side. Meanwhile, after the defeat of Napoleon III, Adolphe Thiers became the head of the first government of the Third Republic and as such had to negotiate the peace that changed the Franco-German border in a way rather differently than he had envisaged in 1840.
* CooldownHug: In one of the more bizarre episodes of the war, Bismarck gave one to Jules Favre, one of the leaders of the new French Republic, during the armistice negotiations at Ferrières in September 1870 when Favre got so worked up that he broke down in tears. Gambetta and the other French leaders did not think it funny at all because in his fragile state Favre [[WhatAnIdiot just plain forgot to include the fortress of Belfort and Bourbaki's Army of the East in the armistice]], which had disastrous consequences for the latter.
* CoolTrain : The chief German weapon was their trains. It enabled them to get tons of troops to the front in time. As a bonus it enabled them to use reserves as front-line units without worrying about them falling over with weariness after all the marching.
* CurbStompBattle
* CycleOfRevenge: The entire war was seen as an important episode in the sequence of wars between "hereditary enemies" France and Germany from the middle ages to World War 2.
* EagleSquadron: Giuseppe Garibaldi joined the war against the Prussians in late 1870 and formed his volunteer Army of the Vosges. They mainly fought in the southern regions of France around Dijon until the end of the war.
* TheEmpire: The Second French Empire was defeated, allowing for the rise of UsefulNotes/ImperialGermany.
* TheFederation: The North German Federation in alliance with four Southern German nations, and also in many practical ways, [[UsefulNotes/ImperialGermany the German Empire of 1871]].
* FreudianExcuse: The defeat led to the rise of revanchism in France. The French Army also amusingly refused to let go of the bright navy blue jackets and red pants they used in 1870 saying that they'd defeat the Germans wearing the same uniforms later. Catastrophic loses in the first months of UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne made them realize that keeping the same highly visible uniforms might cost them a second defeat, and they changed to pale blue (though only [[SeriousBusiness after several arguments]] among themselves).
* FromBadToWorse: Relations between France and Germany could not be said to have improved anytime soon after this war.
** For bonus irony points: Bismarck believed that even if he were to offer France a moderate peace conditions they would eventually seek revenge for the lost war anyway. Thus, he concluded that if the second war with France is inevitable, he might as well strengthen Germany and weaken France by annexing Alsace-Lorraine. However, it was the annexation of these territories that became the main cause of the enmity between France and Germany in the subsequent decades and possibly it was the reason why [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne the next war between Germany and France]] became inevitable.
*** Considering France's foreign policy for two and a half centuries had been to keep Germany weak, Bismarck probably was right.
**** Of course, he didn't do himself any favors by rubbing salt in the wound and Kicking or Shooting the Dog at just about every step of the war.
* GaulsWithGrenades: The French had more efficient weapons, including one of the first bolt-action rifles and machine guns, though the Prussians had already used both bolt-action rifles (needle-rifles) and rifled cannons with great success against Denmark during the war that they used to get Schleswig-Holstein under their control, as well as against Austria. It was just that the some of the other German states had not yet had equipped all their troops with such new technology.
** The rifled needle-gun was the standard Prussian infantry weapon since the 1840s (recall that in 1861 most Confederate and Union infantry units used muzzle-loaders, and a surprising number even still were equipped with smoothbores). The new French Chassepot rifle was somewhat superior (and already a second-generation weapon), but that advantage was more than offset by the breech-loading rifled artillery of the German armies.
* GeneralFailure: After a long and distinguished career, Marshal of France Achille Bazaine proved himself incompetent in his last campaign. His poor performance was a major factor in France's defeat. Notably, his army [[DirtyCoward stayed away from the fights against Prussians]] for he kept it intact [[GeneralRipper to crush republicans and/or revolutionaries]]. In the end, [[ThePiratesWhoDontDoAnything he didn't even do that]]. He was later judged and condemned for treason.
* HeyItsThatGuy: Among the crowd at the proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor was a Prussian guards officer, Paul von Hindenburg, later German supreme commander in the final years of World War 1 and, as president of the Weimar Republic, the man who - begrudgingly and out of other options - appointed Hitler chancellor. Meanwhile in Paris, Georges Clemenceau, the man who would head the victorious French government at the end of World War 1, witnessed the Paris Commune as mayor of Montmartre.
* LastStand: The Siege of Paris, which lasted for roughly half the war.
* MagnificentBastard: UsefulNotes/OttoVonBismarck, during the four years between the Seven Weeks War and this war he managed to isolate France while gaining an alliance with the Independent Southern German states to finish the unification process. Of course, this is the real life David Xanatos you're talking about.
** Von Moltke could qualify. Though perhaps he is more a FourStarBadass.
* ObligatoryWarCrimeScene: Whooooboy... the French guerrillas weren't angels, operating well outside of the laws and customs of war in place at the time. However, the German Armies behaved downright appallingly when it came to [[BerserkButton said Franc-Tireur.]] While the anger was somewhat justified, the retaliations tended to be gratuitous and far out of proportion to the Franc-Tireur and what they had done. Of course [[AppealToForce nobody was in a position to bring the greatest military power on the continent to account even if anyone had wanted to.]] It Probably doubles as foreshadowing for [[UsefulNotes/FirstWorldWar certain]] [[UsefulNotes/SecondWorldWar behavior patterns]] later.
** It is worth mentioning that the only international treaty relevant to defining war crimes at the time was the first Geneva Convention, which dealt with the treatment of sick and wounded soldiers and established protection for facilities marked with the Red Cross. It was only after the war of 1870/71 that international law regarding the use of arms etc. was codified, e. g. through the Hague Convention of 1899. At the time of the Franco-Prussian War there still was quite a bit of leeway of what was considered permissible under the "customs of war", as demonstrated by the wanton destruction during Sherman's March through Georgia and the Carolinas half a decade earlier (which to this day tends to be justified as a "military necessity"). When it came to fighting guerilla war, the French had shown themselves merciless in the wars against the Vendéen royalists in the 1790s and against Spanish guerilleros 1808-1814. And then there was...
** The "Bloody Week" that ended the Paris Commune, from which Lenin derived the lesson: "Expect no mercy from the bourgeoisie, so give them none."
* RockBeatsLaser: Despite the technological advantage of the French forces (they had far superior rifles, and even an early form of a machine gun), the Prussians still crushed them easily. Partially subverted, as the Prussians had a highly superior ''artillery'', though.
* TheScapegoat: Marshall Bazaine was a perfect one considering how he behaved during the war (see GeneralFailure above). Everyone, from royalists to republicans to even fellow Bonapartists were happy to put all the blame upon him for the defeat. Which was vastly exaggerating, after all.
** The thing that turned him into a scapegoat was not so much that he was put on trial and condemned to death (and immediately recommended for a pardon by the officers who sat on trial over him) for his behaviour during the war, including negotiating with the enemy in a ill-advised bid to preserve the monarchy. It was that most of the others whose failures had led to the French defeat were put on trial. But then another commander whose behaviour could have merited an inquiry was none other than Marshal Mac-Mahon, who was elected president of the Republic after the war.
* TheSiege: Beside the siege of Paris, there were several smaller ones, in particular the one of the fortress town of Belfort in Lorraine. Here the French forces succeeded in holding the place until the end of the war, which turned their commander, Colonel Denfert-Rochereau, into a national hero.
* SillyReasonForWar: ''Every'' technical reason used to declare war or justify it later was this. In reality, Bismarck needed a war against France to convince the other German states to join Prussia, and Napoleon III needed a victorious war against ''anyone'' to deflect the criticism gained as a result of the failed French intervention in Mexico. They baited each other, and Bismarck won.
* TheSpartanWay: The Prussian General Staff which was a number of [[TheSmartGuy gifted men]] who were originally trained to act as [[TheStrategist strategists]] that could theoretically institutionalize Napoleonic genius. They were picked from among the best officers, rigorously schooled, trained with war games and staff rides (taking them on a field trip into the country and asking them to evaluate the tactical ramifications of the terrain.
* UnderestimatingBadassery: Prussia was so much underestimated that even King William didn't have proper maps of France at first because he thought ''he'' was the one that was going to be invaded.
** Emile Ollivier, minister of justice and head of the Imperial French cabinet in 1870 declared in the assembly shortly after war was declared that it unpatriotic and criminal to even consider the possibility of a French defeat. He said it was impossible that the French army could be defeated by the heavy Germans, stuffed as they were with sauerkraut and beer ("gonflés de choucroute et de bière"), those slow-moving crybabies whose flat feet made long marches so hard to them.
* UnwittingPawn: Napoleon III
* WarriorPrince: Both William I of Prussia and Napoleon III of France had aspirations toward this. However, that kind of thing was [[GoodOldWays somewhat outdated]] and they looked rather out of place in the role. Although William perhaps deserves more credit then he is given. He had two {{Magnificent Bastard}}s, (von Moltke and Bismarck) working for him and managed to keep them working as a team to optimal level.
** The Prussian Crown Prince Frederick (later Emperor Frederick III) commanded the 3rd German Army, which contained most of the South German contingents. His cousin Prince Frederick Charles commanded the 2nd Army, while Crown Prince Albert of Saxony commanded the 4th.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen:
** The war started because of the ''proposed'' (but rejected) candidacy of a Prussian prince to the throne of Spain, of all things. What if that prince had become King of Spain? Would Spain and Germany have become allies and draw common plans to keep France down?
** The French had early machine guns in this war, but deployed them like artillery, making them ineffective.
----
!!Depictions

* ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTWddzIuhwU Bombardement d'une maison]]''(''Bombing of a house'', 1897), most probably the very first film to depict it (and probably the very first war film). It was directed by Georges Méliès (yes, [[Film/ATripToTheMoon that one]])
* In the alternate history ''[[http://www.alternatehistory.com/discussion/showthread.php?t=238352 The Legacy of the Glorious]]'', this war is known as the ''Hohenzollerns' War'', after the reigning dynasty in Prussia (although in [=TTL=]'s Spain it is called ''King Leopold's War''). Like it happened in RealLife, the most direct cause of the war was the Ems dispatch, but there is a difference: since Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was confirmed as King of Spain before the French caught wind of it, France declares war on Prussia and Spain. War ends even more disastrously for the French, because, apart from Alsace-Lorraine, they also lose the southern department of Rousillon and the Oranesado in north Africa to Spain, as well as paying a greater war indemnization.
[[redirect:UsefulNotes/FrancoPrussianWar]]
29th Dec '13 2:52:08 PM LongLiveHumour
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Another result of the war was Germany's annexation of Elsaß-Lothringen (Alsace-Lorraine), which they held until WorldWarOne. Moreover, the French had to leave Rome, indirectly finishing the Unification of Italy.

to:

Another result of the war was Germany's annexation of Elsaß-Lothringen (Alsace-Lorraine), which they held until WorldWarOne.UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne. Moreover, the French had to leave Rome, indirectly finishing the Unification of Italy.



This war also started a chain of events that led to WorldWarI. France, desperate and humiliated, formed a series of alliances in case they ever went to war with Germany again, and Germany did the same. With one exception, all of these alliances became the Allied Powers (France, Great Britain, and Russia and its Baltic allies, as well as the other countries they gathered after the war began) and the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary, and the countries they gathered). The newly-united Italy was the exception - Italy was in an alliance with Germany, but didn't enter World War I until the Allied Powers offered them parts of Austria.

to:

This war also started a chain of events that led to WorldWarI.UsefulNotes/WorldWarI. France, desperate and humiliated, formed a series of alliances in case they ever went to war with Germany again, and Germany did the same. With one exception, all of these alliances became the Allied Powers (France, Great Britain, and Russia and its Baltic allies, as well as the other countries they gathered after the war began) and the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary, and the countries they gathered). The newly-united Italy was the exception - Italy was in an alliance with Germany, but didn't enter World War I until the Allied Powers offered them parts of Austria.



* AwesomeButImpractical: The French regarded the Mitrailleuse (a primitive machine gun) as the secret weapon that would win the war for them. Emphasis on secret; security restrictions meant that no-one had a chance to train with the weapon and develop proper tactics. After the apparent failure of the weapon in the face of determined Prussian assults, the French believed that ''elan'' (fighting spirit) was more effective than machine guns. The Prussians (who'd been on the receiving end of the Mitrailleuse) decided to concentrate on firepower instead, with tragic results for the French in the beginning of WorldWarOne.
* BalanceOfPower: One of the wars that indirectly led to the basis of the Alliance system and thus, WorldWarI (which led to the Great Depression, which led to WorldWarII, which led to the ColdWar, which led to the WarOnTerror).

to:

* AwesomeButImpractical: The French regarded the Mitrailleuse (a primitive machine gun) as the secret weapon that would win the war for them. Emphasis on secret; security restrictions meant that no-one had a chance to train with the weapon and develop proper tactics. After the apparent failure of the weapon in the face of determined Prussian assults, the French believed that ''elan'' (fighting spirit) was more effective than machine guns. The Prussians (who'd been on the receiving end of the Mitrailleuse) decided to concentrate on firepower instead, with tragic results for the French in the beginning of WorldWarOne.
UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne.
* BalanceOfPower: One of the wars that indirectly led to the basis of the Alliance system and thus, WorldWarI UsefulNotes/WorldWarI (which led to the Great Depression, which led to WorldWarII, UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, which led to the ColdWar, UsefulNotes/ColdWar, which led to the WarOnTerror).



* BookEnds: The German Empire was unfied and proclaimed in Versailles. The Empire ended there also after WorldWarOne.
** From a German point of view the proclamation of the German Empire (which would include Alsace-Lorraine) in the palace of the king responsible for taking away Strasbourg etc. from the HolyRomanEmpire was also this.

to:

* BookEnds: The German Empire was unfied unified and proclaimed in Versailles. The Empire ended there also after WorldWarOne.
UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne.
** From a German point of view the proclamation of the German Empire (which would include Alsace-Lorraine) in the palace of the king responsible for taking away Strasbourg etc. from the HolyRomanEmpire UsefulNotes/HolyRomanEmpire was also this.



* TheEmpire: The Second French Empire was defeated, allowing for the rise of ImperialGermany.
* TheFederation: The North German Federation in alliance with four Southern German nations, and also in many practical ways, [[ImperialGermany the German Empire of 1871]].
* FreudianExcuse: The defeat led to the rise of revanchism in France. The French Army also amusingly refused to let go of the bright navy blue jackets and red pants they used in 1870 saying that they'd defeat the Germans wearing the same uniforms later. Catastrophic loses in the first months of WorldWarOne made them realize that keeping the same highly visible uniforms might cost them a second defeat, and they changed to pale blue (though only [[SeriousBusiness after several arguments]] among themselves).

to:

* TheEmpire: The Second French Empire was defeated, allowing for the rise of ImperialGermany.
UsefulNotes/ImperialGermany.
* TheFederation: The North German Federation in alliance with four Southern German nations, and also in many practical ways, [[ImperialGermany [[UsefulNotes/ImperialGermany the German Empire of 1871]].
* FreudianExcuse: The defeat led to the rise of revanchism in France. The French Army also amusingly refused to let go of the bright navy blue jackets and red pants they used in 1870 saying that they'd defeat the Germans wearing the same uniforms later. Catastrophic loses in the first months of WorldWarOne UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne made them realize that keeping the same highly visible uniforms might cost them a second defeat, and they changed to pale blue (though only [[SeriousBusiness after several arguments]] among themselves).



** For bonus irony points: Bismarck believed that even if he were to offer France a moderate peace conditions they would eventually seek revenge for the lost war anyway. Thus, he concluded that if the second war with France is inevitable, he might as well strengthen Germany and weaken France by annexing Alsace-Lorraine. However, it was the annexation of these territories that became the main cause of the enmity between France and Germany in the subsequent decades and possibly it was the reason why [[WorldWarOne the next war between Germany and France]] became inevitable.

to:

** For bonus irony points: Bismarck believed that even if he were to offer France a moderate peace conditions they would eventually seek revenge for the lost war anyway. Thus, he concluded that if the second war with France is inevitable, he might as well strengthen Germany and weaken France by annexing Alsace-Lorraine. However, it was the annexation of these territories that became the main cause of the enmity between France and Germany in the subsequent decades and possibly it was the reason why [[WorldWarOne [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne the next war between Germany and France]] became inevitable.



* ObligatoryWarCrimeScene: Whooooboy... the French guerrillas weren't angels, operating well outside of the laws and customs of war in place at the time. However, the German Armies behaved downright appallingly when it came to [[BerserkButton said Franc-Tireur.]] While the anger was somewhat justified, the retaliations tended to be gratuitous and far out of proportion to the Franc-Tireur and what they had done. Of course [[AppealToForce nobody was in a position to bring the greatest military power on the continent to account even if anyone had wanted to.]] It Probably doubles as foreshadowing for [[FirstWorldWar certain]] [[SecondWorldWar behavior patterns]] later.

to:

* ObligatoryWarCrimeScene: Whooooboy... the French guerrillas weren't angels, operating well outside of the laws and customs of war in place at the time. However, the German Armies behaved downright appallingly when it came to [[BerserkButton said Franc-Tireur.]] While the anger was somewhat justified, the retaliations tended to be gratuitous and far out of proportion to the Franc-Tireur and what they had done. Of course [[AppealToForce nobody was in a position to bring the greatest military power on the continent to account even if anyone had wanted to.]] It Probably doubles as foreshadowing for [[FirstWorldWar [[UsefulNotes/FirstWorldWar certain]] [[SecondWorldWar [[UsefulNotes/SecondWorldWar behavior patterns]] later.
3rd Aug '13 11:32:27 AM Naram-Sin
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* EagleSquadron: Giuseppe Garibaldi joined the war against the Prussians in late 1870 and formed his volunteer Army of the Vosges. They mainly fought in the southern regions of France around Dijon until the end of the war.



* FreudianExcuse: The defeat led to the rise of revanchism in France. The French Army also amusingly refused to let go of the bright navy blue jackets and red pants they used in 1870 saying that they'd defeat the Germans wearing the same uniforms later. Catastrophic loses in the first months of WorldWarOne made them realize that keeping the same highly visible uniforms might cost them a second defeat, and they changed to pale blue (though only [[SeriousBusiness after several arguments]] among themselves).



* EagleSquadron: Giuseppe Garibaldi joined the war against the Prussians in late 1870 and formed his volunteer Army of the Vosges. They mainly fought in the southern regions of France around Dijon until the end of the war.


Added DiffLines:

* SillyReasonForWar: ''Every'' technical reason used to declare war or justify it later was this. In reality, Bismarck needed a war against France to convince the other German states to join Prussia, and Napoleon III needed a victorious war against ''anyone'' to deflect the criticism gained as a result of the failed French intervention in Mexico. They baited each other, and Bismarck won.


Added DiffLines:

* WhatCouldHaveBeen:
** The war started because of the ''proposed'' (but rejected) candidacy of a Prussian prince to the throne of Spain, of all things. What if that prince had become King of Spain? Would Spain and Germany have become allies and draw common plans to keep France down?
** The French had early machine guns in this war, but deployed them like artillery, making them ineffective.
11th Jul '13 6:45:24 PM Breakerchase
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Added DiffLines:

* EagleSquadron: Giuseppe Garibaldi joined the war against the Prussians in late 1870 and formed his volunteer Army of the Vosges. They mainly fought in the southern regions of France around Dijon until the end of the war.
14th Jun '13 7:48:59 AM Deusirae76
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* AwesomeButImpractical: The French regarded the Mitrailleuse (a primitive machine gun) as the secret weapon that would win the war for them. Emphasis on secret; security restrictions meant that no-one had a chance to train with the weapon and develop proper tactics. After the apparent failure of the weapon in the face of determined Prussian assults, the French believed that ''elan'' (fighting spirit) was more effective than machine guns. The Prussians (who'd been on the receiving end of the Mitrailleuse) decided to concentrate on firepower instead, with tragic results for the French in WorldWarOne.

to:

* AwesomeButImpractical: The French regarded the Mitrailleuse (a primitive machine gun) as the secret weapon that would win the war for them. Emphasis on secret; security restrictions meant that no-one had a chance to train with the weapon and develop proper tactics. After the apparent failure of the weapon in the face of determined Prussian assults, the French believed that ''elan'' (fighting spirit) was more effective than machine guns. The Prussians (who'd been on the receiving end of the Mitrailleuse) decided to concentrate on firepower instead, with tragic results for the French in the beginning of WorldWarOne.
7th May '13 3:51:21 AM Deusirae76
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The defeat of Napoleon III led to his fall and the proclamation of the Third French Republic, which continued the war longer than the Germans expected by continually raising new armies even as Paris was besieged. In a bloody epilogue after the signing of the definitive peace treaty French fought French as the forces of the conservative central government put down the Paris Commune, a short-lived revolutionary government which was in control by revolutionary members of the French working class. While short-lived and petty by that time, it would later on inspire a man named VladimirLenin to start the [[RedOctober October Revolution]] and create SovietUnion, thus being responsible of communism's first steps as a major power through the 20th century.

to:

The defeat of Napoleon III led to his fall and the proclamation of the Third French Republic, which continued the war longer than the Germans expected by continually raising new armies even as Paris was besieged. In a bloody epilogue after the signing of the definitive peace treaty French fought French as the forces of the conservative central government put down the Paris Commune, a short-lived revolutionary government which was in control by revolutionary members of the French working class. While short-lived and petty by that time, it would later on inspire a man named book by Karl Marx (''The Civil War in France'') and later VladimirLenin to start the [[RedOctober October Revolution]] and create SovietUnion, thus being responsible of communism's first steps as a major power through the 20th century.
7th May '13 3:46:42 AM Deusirae76
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* ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTWddzIuhwU Bombardement d'une maison]]''(''Bombing of a house'', 1897), probably the very first film to depict it. It was directed by Georges Méliès (yes, [[Film/ATripToTheMoon that one]])

to:

* ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTWddzIuhwU Bombardement d'une maison]]''(''Bombing of a house'', 1897), most probably the very first film to depict it. it (and probably the very first war film). It was directed by Georges Méliès (yes, [[Film/ATripToTheMoon that one]])
one]])
7th May '13 3:45:13 AM Deusirae76
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!!Depictions in fiction

to:

!!Depictions in fiction!!Depictions


Added DiffLines:

20th Apr '13 10:42:36 AM MysteriousF
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Added DiffLines:

This war also started a chain of events that led to WorldWarI. France, desperate and humiliated, formed a series of alliances in case they ever went to war with Germany again, and Germany did the same. With one exception, all of these alliances became the Allied Powers (France, Great Britain, and Russia and its Baltic allies, as well as the other countries they gathered after the war began) and the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary, and the countries they gathered). The newly-united Italy was the exception - Italy was in an alliance with Germany, but didn't enter World War I until the Allied Powers offered them parts of Austria.
19th Mar '13 3:26:24 AM Milarqui
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* In the alternate history ''[[http://www.alternatehistory.com/discussion/showthread.php?t=238352 The Legacy of the Glorious]]'', this war is known as the ''Hohenzollerns' War'', after the reigning dynasty in Prussia (although in Spain it is called ''King Leopold's War''. Like it happened in RealLife, the most direct cause of the war was the Ems dispatch, but there is a difference: since Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was confirmed as King of Spain before the French caught wind of it, France declares war on Prussia and Spain. War ends even more disastrously for the French, because, apart from Alsace-Lorraine, they also lose the southern department of Rousillon and the Oranesado in north Africa to Spain, as well as paying a greater war indemnization.

to:

* In the alternate history ''[[http://www.alternatehistory.com/discussion/showthread.php?t=238352 The Legacy of the Glorious]]'', this war is known as the ''Hohenzollerns' War'', after the reigning dynasty in Prussia (although in [=TTL=]'s Spain it is called ''King Leopold's War''.War''). Like it happened in RealLife, the most direct cause of the war was the Ems dispatch, but there is a difference: since Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was confirmed as King of Spain before the French caught wind of it, France declares war on Prussia and Spain. War ends even more disastrously for the French, because, apart from Alsace-Lorraine, they also lose the southern department of Rousillon and the Oranesado in north Africa to Spain, as well as paying a greater war indemnization.
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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/article_history.php?article=Main.FrancoPrussianWar