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The Catholics and German Unity

The Catholics and German Unity: 1866-1871

Copyright Date: 1954
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 324
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  • Book Info
    The Catholics and German Unity
    Book Description:

    The period of German history between the overthrow of the old German Confederation in 1866 and the establishment of the Second Reich in 1871 was critical and far-reaching in its influence upon subsequent events in Germany and in Europe. It is, therefore, a period that still merits close scrutiny and analysis in all its aspects by historians. In this detailed study, Professor Windell traces the development of political movements among German Catholics during those years and explores the relationship of the various streams of Catholic political action to the larger questions of German history. The War of 1866, which ended Austrian predominance in Germany, was a shattering blow to German Catholics. During the next five years they gradually adjusted to the new situations and were responsible for a series of political movements which exerted a powerful and generally underestimated effects on state governments, on other political parties, and on the domestic and foreign policy of Bismarck. Although a substantial amount of material was available on Catholic political activity in the individual German states, it had not, until now, been synthesized into a comprehensive, single work placing these events in proper perspective against the broader canvas of history. Of this book Hans Rothfels, professor of history at the University of Chicago and the University of Tubingen, Germany, says: “Without being partial to any side, in fact with considerable circumspection, the author analyzes and interprets a great nineteenth-century dilemma to which the foundation of the German Reich adds only a specific issue.”

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6493-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-2)
  3. Chapter 1 Catholic Germany and the Crisis of 1866
    (pp. 3-27)

    On July 3, 1866, Prussian arms defeated those of the Habsburg Empire at Königgrätz in what proved to be the decisive battle of the Seven Weeks War. Like many other victories on the battlefield, Königgrätz came to have political and psychological significance which far overshadowed the actual military results. For, although Austrian ability to wage war was far from destroyed, Prussian superiority in combat had been demonstrated. Rather than tempt fate by striving to bring troops from the Italian front in Venetia, and rather than face the possibility of more serious disasters within the Empire proper, including the everpresent possibility...

  4. Chapter 2 The Foundations of Catholic Strength
    (pp. 28-51)

    Despite the chagrin that German Catholics felt in the summer of 1866 over the outcome of the war, and despite the apparent weakness of organized political Catholicism, the situation was scarcely as desperate as they believed. Throughout the period between 1866 and 1871 Catholics were able to exercise considerable influence on the affairs of several of the states, and on those of the North German Confederation as well. Although one searches in vain for a Catholic political movement during these years, political activity of Catholics was actually widespread, and it was from these activities that later leaders of the Center...

  5. Chapter 3 The North German Confederation
    (pp. 52-83)

    Nowhere does Sybel’s dictum that the German Empire was founded in the fall of 1866¹ seemingly find more striking confirmation than in the shift of political forces and the resulting metamorphosis of political parties which took place throughout Germany immediately following the war. During those months many of the features which were to characterize the political pattern of the Empire during the first decade after 1871 originated. Among the most significant of them were the National Liberal and Free Conservative parties in Prussia, which gave Bismarck, for the first time, consistent parliamentary support for his national policy. Moreover, with the...

  6. Chapter 4 South Germany and the North German Confederation, 1866–1867
    (pp. 84-115)

    For the four south German governments, defeat in the War of 1866 made necessary a fundamental reorientation of policy. No longer could they use the hostility between Austria and Prussia to insure their own independence. No longer could they depend on Vienna for support againstkleindeutschnationalism. No longer could Austro-Prussian cooperation be counted on to thwart Napoleon’s dream of the Rhine frontier, although, ironically enough, it was France’s aspiration for the Rhine which was largely responsible for the nominal independence of south Germany. For Napoleon, foreseeing the likelihood that a separate union of the southern states would ultimately be...

  7. Chapter 5 Reichstag and Customs Parliament, 1867–1868
    (pp. 116-148)

    In north Germany, by the summer of 1867, public support for the feudal Conservatives, the Progressives, and the particularistic Catholics had declined to such a degree that effective opposition to Bismarck’s policy was for the time being impossible. In the elections for the first regular North German Reichstag, which took place on August 21, theFortschrittsparteiwon fewer than thirty seats. The number of Catholic deputies elected was not strikingly different from that of the Constituent Reichstag, although a number of the more important Catholics did not return. Among them were Michelis, Scherer, Seul, Rohden, and Father Thissen. Mallinckrodt, Windthorst,...

  8. Chapter 6 North and South during the Pause, 1868–1869
    (pp. 149-191)

    In the period immediately after the close of the firstZollparlamentsession, eagerkleindeutschnationalists and their bitter enemies alike found ample cause for wondering whether the War of 1866 had actually settled the German question decisively in favor of Prussia.¹ However, neither the dejection of the one group nor the elation of the other was completely justified. Both arose more from the failure properly to anticipate the results of the elections than from the results themselves, or from the subsequent effectiveness of the south German fraction. The improbable, even the impossible, had happened, and the ultimate outcome of the...

  9. Chapter 7 Bismarck and the Church, 1866–1870
    (pp. 192-229)

    Since this study seeks primarily to explore the growth of political Catholicism in Germany during the years of transition between the old Confederation and the new Empire, it has dealt only infrequently with the Papacy, the hierarchy, and their relations with the various German governments. Nevertheless, the mounting antagonism of the Roman Curia toward liberal and scientific intellectual trends of the nineteenth century, culminating in the decrees of the Vatican Council of 1869-70, had a, profound effect upon the relationship of German Catholics, individually and collectively, and of the Church itself, with those governments. Moreover, diplomatic relations between the Papacy...

  10. Chapter 8 Catholics and the Founding of the Empire, 1870–1871
    (pp. 230-275)

    In midsummer of 1870 the deceptively quiet interlude in Bismarck’s efforts to bring the German states under the Prussian mantle came to an abrupt end with the sudden outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War. It is not intended here to go deeply into the origin of the war — although a great many aspects of the problem are still obscure — except to explore the role which Catholic Germany played in forcing the Chancellor’s hand. For it seems probable that Bismarck’s relations with the Church and with Catholics had much more to do with his abandonment of inaction than has been realized. As...

  11. Chapter 9 Epilogue: The Center Party
    (pp. 276-296)

    Scarcely had the last stone in the Bismarckian edifice been laid when the Imperial Chancellor found himself again confronted with the implacable opposition of German Catholics, who appeared to him bent on undermining the foundations of the new structure before the mortar holding it together had solidified. During the last six months of 1870 and the first three of 1871 all the streams which have been followed in the foregoing chapters merged; the result was theZentrumspartei Deutschlands.In the first Imperial Reichstag, which convened in March 1871, its representation was second only to that of the National Liberals, the...

  12. Appendix
    (pp. 299-299)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 300-304)
  14. Index
    (pp. 305-312)