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Question 4
How consistent were Bismarck’s aims and methods from 1862 to 1871? The key word in this question about Bismarck was ‘consistent’. Most of the answers deployed accurate knowledge about developments from 1862 to 1871. The most successful essays used this knowledge to examine how far Bismarck’s aims and methods changed or remained the same. Moderate answers sometimes asserted in an introduction or conclusion that he was consistent and otherwise relied on narratives of developments that were not linked directly to an argument. These could be acceptable because they were indirectly explanatory but could not deserve a high mark. The most successful candidates examined the various stages of policy during the relevant period and linked them to consistency or inconsistency. For example, it could be argued that Bismarck was consistent because he always saw the interests of Prussia rather than Germany as a priority. More evidence of consistency might be seen in his anxiety not to isolate Prussia but to find external allies to support his policies. On the other hand, it is likely that he did not set out to unify all of Germany. His first aim was to unify the northern Protestant states around Prussia. He was probably persuaded to accept the need to incorporate the southern Catholic states after the defeat of Austria. Another inconsistency was that, to 1867, he saw Austria as a rival but he then sought Austria’s friendship in the struggle against France. After using France as a friendly power in the struggle against Austria, Bismarck was to fight the final war for unification against Napoleon III. CAMBRIDGE AS QUESTIONS PAPER 1
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