Franco-Prussian War

Results of the War

In the war's aftermath, Thiers was named chief of the executive power in France, and provision was made for the election of a French national assembly, which met at Bordeaux. The assembly accepted (Mar. 1) the preliminary peace agreement, which was formalized in the Treaty of Frankfurt (ratified May 21, 1871). France agreed to pay an indemnity of $1 billion within three years—an indemnity fully paid before the term expired. Alsace, except the Territory of Belfort, and a large part of Lorraine were ceded to Germany, which on Jan. 18, 1871, in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles had been proclaimed an empire under William I.

Paris refused to disarm and to submit to the Thiers regime, and the Commune of Paris was formed. The French troops loyal to Thiers began the second siege of Paris (Apr.–May, 1871). After the cruel suppression of the commune, peace returned to France.

Besides establishing the Third French Republic and the German Empire, the Franco-Prussian War had other far-reaching effects. Desire for revenge guided French policy for the following half-century. Prussian militarism had triumphed and laid the groundwork for German imperialistic ventures. The Papal States, no longer protected by Napoleon III, were annexed by Italy, which thus completed its unification. These and other effects were links in the chain of causes that set off World War I.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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