Delayed Franco Prussian War?

What if there was no offer of a crown to a hohenzollern prince in Spain so Napoleon III doesn't feel threatened? He avoids war with the North German Confederation and leaves France to his successor. But growing tensions with the NGC forces the new emperor into declaring war in 1886.

Unlike in OTL the French army was going through some reforms which were only completed years later. This time France and Prussia sould be on more equal footing. So who would win in such a conflict?
 
The political factors would determine the outcome- Do the smaller German states still back Prussia? The defection of the South German states would make Prussia's position very dangerous

Do Austria and Russia stay neutral?


Assuming the French fight a united Germany with Austrian and Russian neutrality, the outcome would depend on the fortunes of war, the strategy employed and the defense policies between 1870 and the outbreak. The French introduce the Lebel rifle in 1887. Does it development get sped up? If so, France would have had a crushing advantage

Using Otl as a guide, the French were often stronger than Prussia in the period 1870-1914. If the French had spent a little extra money and adopted better strategy, they would have easily beaten the Germans in 1914. We can be certain that France would be much stronger against Prussia in 1886 in the TTL than in OTl if for no other reason than not having paid the indemnity
 
The political factors would determine the outcome- Do the smaller German states still back Prussia? The defection of the South German states would make Prussia's position very dangerous
They are committed to Prussia by the treaties of alliance signed in 1867. Also, German nationalism is growing steadily in ferocity and any King who took the French side would risk losing his throne. Many Germans would prefer Austria to Prussia, but a choice is between Germany and France is no choice at all.

Do Austria and Russia stay neutral?
Probably. If Russia comes in it will be on the Prussian side. They have no reason to support France, and on this TL Prussia has probably taken their side in 1878, since it needs to keep them onside until unification is complete. Austria may be tempted, but that would risk bringing Russia in against her. Franz Josef has learnt caution.


Using Otl as a guide, the French were often stronger than Prussia in the period 1870-1914. If the French had spent a little extra money and adopted better strategy, they would have easily beaten the Germans in 1914. We can be certain that France would be much stronger against Prussia in 1886 in the TTL than in OTl if for no other reason than not having paid the indemnity
OTOH Germany's population has increased abt 15% since 1870, while France's has hardly changed. So the disparity in manpower is growing.

Also, even if France does manage to win, what can she do with the victory? By attacking Germany, she has whipped up a storm of hatred which will make unification inevitable if it hasn't already happened. And even if she annexes a chunk of the Rhineland, that won't change the balance of power enough to matter. Expect a German war of revenge before long, with public opinion in most of Europe favouring the German side.
 
They are committed to Prussia by the treaties of alliance signed in 1867. Also, German nationalism is growing steadily in ferocity and any King who took the French side would risk losing his throne. Many Germans would prefer Austria to Prussia, but a choice is between Germany and France is no choice
There is also the desire of the minor German princes to avoid being swallowed up and strong anti-Prussianism. For all the growing German nationalism, the south German states had retained their independence and are not likely to want to give it up.



Also, even if France does manage to win, what can she do with the victory? By attacking Germany, she has whipped up a storm of hatred which will make unification inevitable if it hasn't already happened. And even if she annexes a chunk of the Rhineland, that won't change the balance of power enough to matter. Expect a German war of revenge before long, with public opinion in most of Europe favouring the German side.
Not at all. A crushing French victory could easily lead to the French taking the Rhine, restoring the deposed monarchs and 1866 borders such as Hanover and expanding Saxony to her pre-1815 borders
 
It's really hard to say how the matchup would be by 1886 because there are so many variables from 1870-1886 that could change the balance of power.

The 1868 elections to the Zollverein parliament had seen the south German states mostly vote for regionalist representatives who resisted greater control by Prussia. Even without the Spanish issue Bismarck will still be scheming about ways to keep south Germany bound to Prussian influence. So what happens in the south german states between 1870 and 1886? Are they closer or further from Prussia? Are they all still independent states? There were ideas for a South German Confederation floated around in OTL. Are they still bound to the NGC by defensive treaties?

Napoleon III is still probably going to need his gallstone surgery. In OTL he was originally planning on putting it off until Napoleon IV reached his majority because he knew the surgery had a high probability of killing him. So most likely if Napoleon III is still in power then he will have his surgery in a few years when his son comes of age and most likely the surgery will still kill him as it did in OTL. Napoleon IV will have been reigning since the mid 1870s and will have come to power as a very young man. How will French politics develop under his reign? By 1886 has the Second Empire become substantially more democratic? The state of France's political system will influence its military.

What happened in Italy without the 1870 war? Does Austria still control Venetia? Are French troops still preserving Rome's Independence? If so then Italy may be France's enemy by 1886.
 
There is also the desire of the minor German princes to avoid being swallowed up and strong anti-Prussianism. For all the growing German nationalism, the south German states had retained their independence and are not likely to want to give it up.
Independence would not be on offer. Their choice would be between Prussian or French domination, and in an era of rising nationalism hardly any German will choose France.



Not at all. A crushing French victory could easily lead to the French taking the Rhine, restoring the deposed monarchs and 1866 borders such as Hanover and expanding Saxony to her pre-1815 borders
Why would it be crushing? Even if defeated, the Prussian and other German armies will put up a very stubborn resistance. And if such a total French victory did seem likely, it would cause panic all across Europe, and raise the spectre of another Napoleon. France was still assumed to be Europe's premier military power, and hence the principal threat to Europe's balance of power, whereas nobody would see Prussia in that light w/o her victories of 1870/1. Expect the other powers to come together and impose a moderate peace, which France must either accept or else risk fighting alone against a coalition.
 
What happened in Italy without the 1870 war? Does Austria still control Venetia? Are French troops still preserving Rome's Independence? If so then Italy may be France's enemy by 1886.
I think Italy has already captured Venice by now after France gave it to them in 1866. I don't see any reason for France to pull out of Rome unless Napoleon could figure out a diplomatic solution that was acceptable to French Catholics before he abdicates.

And the southern German states sould still be bound by a defensive treaty with Prussia.
 
I'm curious if the War was delayed and the Germans backed Prussia with Russia staying neutral what would happen. I don't think Prussia could improve their army to stay ahead of their counterparts.
 
I'm curious if the War was delayed and the Germans backed Prussia with Russia staying neutral what would happen. I don't think Prussia could improve their army to stay ahead of their counterparts.
My best guess is the war results in a stalemate resulting in the southern German states joining the NGC but France gets to keep Alsace-Lorraine. Assuming of course that the alliance system that came after OTL Franco-Prussian war isn't in effect.
 
My best guess is the war results in a stalemate resulting in the southern German states joining the NGC but France gets to keep Alsace-Lorraine. Assuming of course that the alliance system that came after OTL Franco-Prussian war isn't in effect.
Even OTL, it was 24 years after Sedan before France and Russia were able to sink their differences and ally. Without that it probably takes even longer if indeed it happens at all.
 
I thought the treaties binding the SOuth German states to Prussia had a time limit (at least the ones imposed after the 1866 war). Do I misremember?
 
My best guess is the war results in a stalemate resulting in the southern German states joining the NGC but France gets to keep Alsace-Lorraine. Assuming of course that the alliance system that came after OTL Franco-Prussian war isn't in effect.
Could this butterfly away French revanchism and the Entente?
 
I thought the treaties binding the SOuth German states to Prussia had a time limit (at least the ones imposed after the 1866 war). Do I misremember?
I'm the one who's probably misremembered because I'm not even sure if there is such a treaty now. All I can find was that the south german states had a customs union with the NGC and that Bismarck convinced them to join the war on his side through nationalism because Napoleon 1. was the aggressor and 2. demanded the Rhineland a few years before.

Still maybe they would join peacefully after 1871 for some reason or the other. I can't say.
Could this butterfly away French revanchism and the Entente?
I'm not sure. French revanchism yes, that's definitely gone however, on the other hand a French-Russian alliance seems to make too much geopolitical sense to me against the threat of a rising Germany. Even if it does lack the south states which I don't think they would lose that much anyways since their still tied to Prussia through the Zollverein. I think they variable we should be watching is Britain as without OTL's war it might not see Prussia as the prime threat to the balance of power and might be trying to play both France and the NGO against each other.
 
I'm the one who's probably misremembered because I'm not even sure if there is such a treaty now.
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The treaties definitely existed. Erick Eyck mentions them in Bismarck and the German Empire, Ch II, Section 15.

They were signed in August 1866 as the price of the Southern states being spared having to cede territory to Prussia. AJP Taylor and others also mention them. I've seen no mention anywhere of any time limit on them.
 
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