How was France so powerful historically?

Emser dispatch

But only the unification with the southern German states would create the optimal conditions for the establishment of a large German nation-state. So Bismarck was looking for an occasion for this union.

The welcome political prerequisite for this came when there were diplomatic quarrels with France in 1870. The dispute was about the occupation of the Spanish royal throne.

At Bismarck's endeavors, Hohenzollern Prince Leopold became one of the candidates for this vacant post. A deliberate provocation that France under Napoleon III. did not want to accept.

The French Emperor feared a strengthening of the Prussian and German power positions and reacted accordingly sharply. The French government demanded from the Prussian King Wilhelm I to renounce the occupation of the Spanish throne.

At a meeting with the Prussian king in the spa town of Bad Ems, the French ambassador even went a step further and demanded that he renounce the throne for all time. However, Wilhelm I did not want to agree to this.

It was an exchange of blows on a diplomatic level. Both sides had saved their faces, France formally protested, Prussia formally reacted. Further negotiations might have led to a peaceful solution. But it turned out differently.

Wilhelm I sent a dispatch to Berlin and informed Bismarck of the meeting and the outcome of the talks with the French ambassador.

Bismarck sharply reformulated the rather harmless content of this dispatch and had it published. Suddenly France stood there as a nation slapped in the face by Prussia. Napoleon III saw in this provocation a reason for an immediate declaration of war on Prussia, which was pronounced in July 1870.

Now the alliance provoked and desired by Bismarck had occurred. In the event of a declaration of war from outside, the southern German states also had to assist the North German Confederation due to an alliance treaty. Side by side, the German states won the Franco-German War.

Bismarck had achieved his goal with the proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor in Versailles Palace in 1871 and the establishment of an all-German nation state. The Emser dispatch had had its effect.