Why Did Prussia Achieve Dominance in 1866

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In 1866, the North German Confederation was formed and Austria was to be permanently excluded from the affairs of the Kleindeutschland. It is possible to say that Prussia’s victory over its long term rival was due to its economic strength and relative stability of their society in comparison with Austria. However, in doing so, we would need to acknowledge that the Crimean War and the Hungarian uprisings had left Austria friendless and virtually destitute coffers, making their defeat all the more inevitable. Charismatic and talented individuals also paved the way to Prussian ascendancy in 1866: Bismarck’s ability to exploit political situations to suit his needs; William I and Roons’ intentions on reforming the Army bill, all of which were part of the events that can be said as reasons of the resulting Prussian dominance.

The Capitulation of Olmutz can be argued as the driving reason for Prussia’s desires to reassert its influence after many states deserted the parliament of Erfurt. It was seen in Prussian eyes as a national humiliation brought on by their more influential adversary Austria and thus politicians such as William I and Bismarck held ambitions for Prussian greatness in the near future. General Roon foresaw that a strong military would be required to accomplish such a task and sought to pass the Army bill.

Prussia’s monopoly in the Zollverein meant that as a society, it was far more better off than that of Austria. A large majority of the population were well educated, many holding university degrees. Combined with the raw resources provided by the Rhineland this meant Prussia had been able to industrialize, resulting in transportation and technological advances, placing it well ahead of its rival. This proved useful later such as the breech-loading gun which devastated Austrian troops at Sadowa in 1866, causing Austria to realize that their only option was back down from its position of power.

Leading up to 1866, Austria suffered from a host...
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