How Important Was Bismarck in the Unification of Germany?

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Bismarck contributed to a great extent in the unification of Germany. However, his amazing diplomatic skill wasn't in having perfect planning to achieve the aim of unifying German states, but instead, he was skillful in utilising favourite circumstances to create a united Germany. A.J.P. Taylor commented that "Bismarck's greatness lay not in mastering events, but in going with events so as to seem to master them. He had no rigidly defined programme when he became Prime Minister in 1862." Since 1848, there were several favourable international situations facilitated Bismarck in completing unification. First of all, Metternich’s resign in 1848 helped a lot as Austria was an obstacle to unification. Bismarck took advantages in the weakening Austria after the Crimean War and the Italian Unification. Second, Bismarck developed good relationships with numerous powers so that they would assist Prussia and help Bismarck to isolate its enemies. For example, Bismarck made an alliance, and the benefit was shown in 1870 when Italy refused to help France in the Franco-Prussian War. Thirdly, in the Schleswig-Holstein Affair, Bismarck pretended to be friendly with Austria and just get the two duchies. He succeeded in gaining support from the Germans in these 2 duchies. Lastly, Bismarck tricked Napoleon III at the meeting in Biarritz in 1865. He made vague promises, and in return, Napoleon III promised not to help Austria in any future wars with Prussia. However, Bismarck didn't keep his word and the Franco-Prussian relation deteriorated. In 1870, France and Prussia quarreled over the Spanish throne candidature, and this triggered the significant war in the history of Germany unification - the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. The victory brought the unification to an end in 1871. Bismarck didn't plan for the occurrence of such events. Bismarck's real goal was preserving and
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