Compare and contrast the two main figures of the European history of the 19th century: Napoleon III and Bismarck

2124 Words Jun 17th, 2004 9 Pages
"Napoleon's tragedy was that his ambitions surpassed his capacities; Bismarck's tragedy was that his capacities exceeded his society's ability to absorb them. The legacy Napoleon left for France was strategic paralysis; the legacy the Bismarck left for Germany was unassimilable greatness"(statement made by Henry Kissinger) is in my opinion a correct statement. This statement can actually be separated into two parts. The first parts relates with the capacities, ambitions and successes of Bismarck and Napoleon. The second part is about the final result of their reign and how their reigns could be taken over after such changing of Europe.

Bismarck main objective was to bring together the German states and to form a powerful great German
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He wanted to create division in Europe, therefore he created crisis here and there, but couldn't control the outcomes afterwards! "Time and again, he would encourage a crisis - now in Italy, now in Poland, later in Germany - only to recoil before its ultimate consequence" (P.107 Kissinger) or "Napoleon made himself the prisoner of crisis he had himself engineered" (P.107 Kissinger). Those crises would finally result in Italy and Germany as Unification and new difficulties for Napoleon to cope with. His foreign affaires always came out to be failures and to finally work against him.

Napoleon destroyed by many ways all the other alliances that were made between France and other great powers, by supporting conflicts that wouldn't even benefit France. He supported the Italians in the war against Austria, this laid to Italian Unification which made one more power to deal with afterwards. He finally "concluded an armistice with Austria ... without informing his Piedmontese allies" (P.111 Kissinger), creating hatred among the Italians towards his country. Austria was considered by Napoleon as "repugnant", therefore he wouldn't try to collaborate with them: "As a Bonaparte, [Napoleon 3] never felt comfortable cooperating with Austria, whatever raison d'etat might dictate" (P.110 Kissinger). Napoleon lost the sympathy of Great Britain by annexing territory and by being repeatedly annoying. "Napoleon alienated Great Britain by annexing Savoy
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