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.”
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