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AP European History Period 3 Review Questions and Discussion

Source of the feature image

Introduction

Welcome to Period 3! There is much to cover in this section as there is ALOT going on in this era. From the creation of Germany and Italy to the colonization of Africa and even the establishment of a dual monarchy in the now Austrian-Hungarian Empire, the 19th century is hectic and a bit chaotic to say the least. New ideas swarmed the political scene (this period is called the Era of Isms for a reason) and revolutions became harder to controlled as they bubbled to the surface more frequently. Heck, 1848 is a year where revolution plagued Europe nonstop. It even ended Metternich's career as a matter of fact!

Speaking of revolutions, we see some in the Italian states, as people demanded for unification. Austria had to fan out the sparks of revolution constantly as that posed a deadly threat to her very existence. Even France with her very bloody revolution, went through a second revolution. Politics itself takes an interesting turn when it shifts from ideological to pragmatical. Don't worry, I'll explain more of that later. Anyways, politics aside, we see new developments in science and philosophy, whether it is Freud or Nietzsche.

As always, new ideas challenge the old. The Enlightenment (covered in the last post) prided itself on knowledge, science and certainty. In this period, we encounter Romanticism. Instead of critiquing and fearing human nature and the unknown, Romanticists embraced humanity with all its beauty and flaws. Nature and all of her complexities were deeply appreciated as well. For this review section, we will go over the Isms and its relation to European politics. There is much to discuss, so let's jump right in!

Stimulus 1

“The first, original, and truly natural boundaries of states are beyond doubt their internal boundaries. Those who speak the same language are joined to each other by a multitude of
invisible bonds by nature herself, long before any human art begins; they understand each other and have the power of continuing to make themselves understood more and more clearly; they belong together and are by nature one and an inseparable whole. Such a whole, if it wishes to absorb and mingle with itself any other people of different descent and language, cannot do so without itself becoming confused, in the beginning at any rate, and violently disturbing the even progress of its culture.

From this internal boundary, which is drawn by the spiritual nature of man himself, the marking of the external boundary by dwelling place results as a consequence; and in the natural view of things it is not because men dwell between certain mountains and rivers that they are a people, but, on the contrary, men dwell together-and, if their luck has so arranged it, are protected by rivers and mountains-because they were a people already by a law of nature which is much higher.”

--Johann Gottlieb Fichte

1A. Of which 19th-century ideology is the excerpt most representative?

A) utopian socialism

B) nationalism

C) conservatism

D) Zionism

Answer: B

Explanation: Nationalism is this ideology that promotes that a group of people sharing the same culture, language, religion and customs should be administered by a government that reflects these characteristics and values.

Why it's right

Nationalism plays an important role in this historical period. We can see a sweep of nationalistic fever sweep across Europe, particularly in Prussia, Italian states and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Keep in mind that until this time period, there was no Italy or Germany. The Italy we know today was primarily composed of various states. The same goes for Germany too, as in this time period Germany was made of Prussia along with several other German states. Towards the progression of this time period, nationalism will be the driving force to solidify the creation of Germany and Italy.

At the same time, nationalism was also a wedge that tore empires apart. The Austro-Hungarian empire is an excellent example of this. Ruled by a dual monarchy, the Austro-Hungarian empire ruled over countless cultures and ethnicities. As nationalism spread through Europe, multiple political upheavals occurred throughout the continent. In relation to the Autro-Hungarian empire, her people wanted to break away from the empire to have their own nation state. Despite  their collaborative efforts to break away, revolutionaries could not muster enough strength to defeat the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Ultimately, the Austro-Hungarian empire managed to squash these various political uprisings and kept the empire relatively intact.

In regards to the question itself, this question asks to pick the term that best fits the text. When we look at the text, we can see that the author speaks of forming a nation that best suits the people that inhabit it. For instance:

Those who speak the same language are joined to each other by a multitude of
invisible bonds by nature herself, long before any human art begins; they                  understand each other...belong together and are by nature one and an inseparable whole.

With that being said, the other option does not fit in as there is no call for a new socioeconomic system (A). C is the opposite of Nationalism as conservatism sought to end nationalistic movements given that it would disorient the old order. And finally, D is incorrect as there the text does not advocate for the creation of a Jewish state.

A charcoal sketch representing the industrial revolution. Gears turning, wheels spinning. Busy factory workers working and chatting

Source

2A. All of the following employed rhetoric similar to that presented in the excerpt in order to further their
political goals EXCEPT for

A) Giuseppe Garibaldi.

B) Camillo Cavour.

C) Otto von Bismarck.

D) Klemens von Metternich.

Answer: D

Explanation: Metternich was an Austrian statesman that sought to keep conservative ideals afloat in European politics. He advocated to maintain the status quo and vehemently opposed revolutions that popped up in Europe, as revolutions would bring chaos and upset the established order.

Why it's right

Looking back at the excerpt, the main idea that should stick out is Nationalism. A, B and C all advocated for state unification, whether it was Italy (Cavour and Garibaldi) or Germany (Bismarck), through nationalism. Metternich, on the other hand, frequently made sure to put down revolutions before it got out of control. Despite their different methods, A, B and C made great use of Nationalism, as it is an excellent unifying force to bring people together, and ultimately, form a country.

3A. Which of the following is most SIMILAR to the argument presented in the excerpt?

A) “The monarchs will fulfill the duties imposed upon them by [God] who has charged them
to watch over the maintenance of justice, and the rights of all, to avoid the paths of error,
and tread firmly in the way of truth.”

B) “That by ‘our country’ is meant, in this case, not the soil or the spot of earth
on which we happen to have been born; not the forests and fields, but that
community of which we are members...”

C) “I heartily believe that government is best which governs not at all; and when men are
prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.”

D) “​The will of the people, moreover, in practice means the will of the most numerous or the
most active part of the people...”

Answer: B

Explanation: Nationalism is this ideology that promotes that a group of people sharing the same culture, language, religion and customs should be administered by a government that reflects these characteristics and values.

Why it's right

If you had trouble with this question, don't worry! This is definitely a tricky one. Although theses small blocks of text appear similar and intimidating, they are not actually. Just take a deep breathe and read the options carefully.

Let's start with A. Now A speaks of kings and queens who chosen by God to lead the state. This sounds awfully similar to Divine Right, or a concept that God chooses monarchs to rule the land, hence making chosen monarch a legitimate and unquestionable ruler. After all, disputing the monarch legitimacy means to question God's decision. This can tie to Absolutism, or a political system where monarchs have absolute power over the state's government.

But if you need visual aid, whenever you think Divine right or Absolutism, think of this:

The cover of Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes, a pioneering writer in the philosophies of Absolutism and the Divine Right of Rulers

Source Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes

Or this fella right here

A painting of French king Louis XIV and his poofy hair

Source
King Louis 14th

Anyways, (A) would be incorrect for this question as absolutism and/or divine right does not necessarily fit with nationalism. The issue with (C) is that nationalism does not demand for less government intervention/control. Sure, nationalistic supporters wanted to break away from the government (Austro-Hungarian Empire!), but only because groups of people wanted to rule themselves with a government that best reflects their ideas and culture. We can cross this off.

(But for those of you who are interested, the text in C comes from Henry David Thoreau)

Now D may sounds extremely tempting to choose, as it is very adamant on carrying out the "will of the people". However, do not confuse this with nationalism. Although nationalists advocate for a government and country of their people, that does not equate to the majority. Take a closer look at (D):

  • D) “​The will of the people, moreover, in practice means the will of the most numerous or the
    most active part of the people...”

In short, (D) follows a more philosophical approach (Utilitarianism if anyone's curious) rather than a political perspective.

Stimulus 2

a hammer and sickle icon crossing each other. They are colored yellow over a red background

Source

*“Long before I came to reside among you, it had been my chief study to discover the extent,
causes, and remedy of the inconveniences and miseries which were perpetually recurring to every class in society…. It was evident to me that the evil was universal; that, in practice, none was in the right path… and that, in order to remedy the evil, a different one must be pursued.

That the whole man must be re-formed on fundamental principles the very reverse of those in
which he had been trained; in short, that the minds of all men must be born again, and their
knowledge and practice commence on a new foundation…

Will it not, then, tend to the welfare and advantage of this neighborhood, to introduce into it such a practical system [the Institution] as shall gradually withdraw the causes of anger, hatred, discord, and every evil passion, and substitute true and genuine principles of universal charity and of never-varying kindness…? This will be accomplished in two ways:

First, by showing to the master manufacturers an example… of the mode by which the characters and situation of the working manufacturers whom they employ may be very materially improved, not only without injury to the masters, but so as to create to them also great and substantial advantages.

Second, by inducing, through this example, the British legislature to enact such laws as will secure similar benefits to every part of our population… laws to diminish and ultimately prevent the most prominent evils to which the working classes are now subjected, laws to prevent a large part of our fellow-subjects, under the manufacturing system, from being oppressed by a much smaller part, to prevent more than one-half of our population from being trained in gross ignorance, and their valuable labor from being most injuriously directed….”*

--Robert Owen, ‘An Address to the Inhabitants of New Lanark,’ 1816

1B. Of which nineteenth-century ideology is the excerpt most representative?

A) nationalism

B) utopian socialism

C) conservatism

D) anarchism

Answer: B

Explanation: Utopian socialism was this idea that prided itself on creating a perfect and peaceful egalitarian-based community. In this ideal society, property was shared, but people were also entitled to own their own property. This ideology was a response to the visible class divisions in 19th century Europe.

Why it's right

It's all in the wording. The passage envisions a community where the average man is protected from harsh and overly demanding work environment. This becomes more apparent when the passage calls for:

Second, by inducing, through this example, the British legislature to enact such laws as will
secure similar benefits to every part of our population…. laws to diminish and ultimately prevent
the most prominent evils to which the working classes are now subjected, laws to prevent a large
part of our fellow-subjects, under the manufacturing system, from being oppressed by a much
smaller part, to prevent more than one-half of our population from being trained in gross
ignorance, and their valuable labor from being most injuriously directed….

Instead the wealthy harvesting all the benefits, this letter demands that laws should be passed to secure benefits for all citizens. The answer is not A as the passage is not considered about nationalistic sentiment among the people. Rather, the passage focuses on the socioeconomic aspect of society. B is definitely incorrect as conservatism seeks to maintain the current status quo and prevent radical changes from being implemented in society (in other words, total opposite of what Utopian socialism, given that it advocates radical change) And finally, D is wrong has the excerpt specifically asks for the government to implement these new changes. Anarchism bases its ideals on a society that exists without any form of government.

2B. The last paragraph of the excerpt provides evidence to support the argument that

A) reformers believed that a return to communal agriculture was the only solution to the
societal ills created by the Industrial Revolution.

B) leisure time centered increasingly on the family or small groups, concurrent with the
development of activities and spaces to use that time.

C) bourgeois families became focused on the nuclear family and the cult of domesticity, with
distinct roles for men and women.

D) industrialization caused socioeconomic changes that led to the development
of self-conscious classes, such as the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.

Answer: D

Explanation: The Industrial revolution had a sudden and visible impact on the social class structure of industrialized nations. It brought forth a growing bourgeoisie class, but also expanded a proletariat (workers) class. At the same time, the line that divided class divisions became more definite.

Why it's right

Although the Industrial revolution brought about innovation in science, business, and technology, it also had it's setbacks. Labor laws offered little protection towards workers. As a result, factories and mills offered very little pay in potentially dangerous work environments. Soon enough, it became apparent who worked in a factory and who did not. These visible differences eventually caught scholars' and intellectuals' minds. From their observation, they called for reforms in how society ought to be run. This is how we see the rise of new, competing ideologies, such as anarchism, utopian socialism and communism.

When we look at the other answers, we see elements of pure falsehoods or partial truths. For instance, there were people who vehemently opposed to the Industrial revolution as they saw as a curse towards society (A). Some saw technology as an evil that ought to be destroyed and avoided (Luddites). However, this passage does not place its quarrels with technology. Instead, the passage demands for greater protections and benefits for the working class. There was very little room for leisure time as families (namely, workers) had to work extremely long hours (due to low wages) to make ends meet (B). As for C, despite the societal expectation of women running domestic duties, women began to pursue jobs in factories to support their families, which is a shift from them only permitted or expected to work in the home setting.

Stimulus 3

“Union between the monarchs is the basis of the policy which must now be followed to save
society from total ruin....

The first principle to be followed by the monarchs, united as they are by the coincidence of their desires and opinions, should be that of maintaining the stability of political institutions against the disorganized excitement which has taken possession of men's minds…

Let [the governments] in these troublous times be more than usually cautious in attempting real ameliorations, not imperatively claimed by the needs of the moment, to the end that good itself may not turn against them - which is the case whenever a Government measure seems to be inspired by fear.

Let them not confound concessions made to parties with the good they ought to do for their people, in modifying, according to their recognized needs, such branches of the administration as require it. Let them give minute attention to the financial state of their kingdoms, so that their people may enjoy, by the reduction of public burdens, the real, not imaginary, benefits of a state of peace.

Let them be just, but strong; beneficent, but strict. Let them maintain religious principles in all their purity, and not allow the faith to be attacked and morality interpreted according to the social contract or the visions of foolish sectarians. Let them suppress secret societies, that gangrene of society.”

--Klemens von Metternich, Political Confessions of Faith, 1820

1C. Of which 19th-century ideology is the excerpt most representative?

A) liberalism

B) conservatism

C) anarchism

D) nationalism

Answer: B

Explanation: Conservatism was an ideology that sought to preserve the current status quo of European politics and society. In order to accomplish this, Conservative advocates frequently fought any attempts to change society. In other words, conservatives were adamant on social, economical and political change.

Why it's right

This passage talks about how society ought to be run. It establishes what is permissible in the author's society, but more importantly, sets boundaries on what isn't permissible. Given the relatively tight constraints this author places on society and his condemning view on establishment he considers threats, this man is a clear advocate for conservatism. If you still need convincing though, just take a look at this excerpt from the passage:

Let them be just, but strong; beneficent, but strict. Let them maintain religious principles in all their purity, and not allow the faith to be attacked and morality interpreted according to the social contract or the visions of foolish sectarians. Let them suppress secret societies, that gangrene of society.

Nonetheless, if you had a difficult time understanding the passage, fear not, as there is one more clue you could use to solve the question. It's simple: Look at the author's name !

Klemens von Metternich. Metternich was an Austrian diplomat whose policies dominated Europe for the first half of the 19th century. Metternich was the poster child for conservatism, as not only this he urged other countries to stick to conservatism, but frequently crushed any form of revolution (as it posed a serious threat to conservatism), whether it was in present day Italy or the Austrian empire itself.

2C. The excerpt serves as a direct response to the problems created by the

A) French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars.

B) French Wars of Religion and War of Austrian Succession.

C) Thirty Years’ War and Seven Years’ War.

D) English Civil War and Spanish Netherlands Revolt.

Answer: A

Explanation: The French revolution frightened Europe as it witnessed one of the great powers collapse into chaos. With members, supporters and alleged supporters of the Bourbon dynasty decapitated (guillotine) left and right, other European monarchs were scared that the same might occur to them. Even after the revolution ended and Napoleon came to power, Napoleon nearly brought all of Europe to her knees by defeating other continental powers in Europe. After Napoleon was finally defeated, the Congress of Vienna attempted to place countermeasures to avoid such a thing, regardless if its an ambitious country or revolution, from occurring again.

Why it's right

To successfully answer this question, you have to orient yourself time wise. If we focus our attention to when the passage was written, we can see that it was in 1820. B, C and D either take place in the 17th or 18th century, and despite all of these events taking place in Europe, they were fought for different reason. B and D were fought in the name of religion. D was fought over English politics and freeing the Dutch from Spanish control. Metternich is not concerned about religion nor is he concerned with power succession. Instead, Metternich seeks to keep to current order functioning. Answer A was this only option at the time that would get in the way of disrupting conservative values.

3C. The excerpt provides evidence to support the argument that

A) governments responded to the problems created by industrialization by expanding their
functions.

B) Austrian nationalists encouraged loyalty to the nation through liberal reform and political
unification.

C) mass-based political parties emerged as sophisticated vehicles for social and political
reform.

D) the Concert of Europe sought to maintain the status quo through collective
action.

Answer: D

Explanation: The excerpt provided by Metternich argues in favor of conservative policies. As a result, Metternich seeks to maintain the status quo by keeping the current order functioning and immune to change. To pursue conservative policies in this context means to avoid any radical change, albeit inspired by liberalism or nationalism. In addition, Metternich believed that the best method to maintain the current order was if all European nations followed the same collective policies. In short, the attempt to keep to current balance of power in Europe was known as the Concert of Europe.

Why it's right

Despite sounding redundant, the driving point of this excerpt was to maintain the Concert of Europe running via conservative values. To better illustrate, just consider the old saying:

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction

Remember (in reference to this class) that not too long ago Europe experienced the First French Revolution (yes, there are more than one) and an overly ambitious France (aka, Napoleon). Revolution in itself is extremely contagious. Once revolution brought down a powerful dynasty in France, it had leaders from other European countries wondering: "Could it happen to us?" Likewise, people from other European countries wondered if it was possible to change or even topple their own government. With Revolution, things can get extremely messy and chaotic, thus throwing a delicate order into total disarray. Furthermore, France had someone like Napoleon rise to power and nearly bring all of Europe onto her knees. Once again, one country ruling above all other countries disrupts the scales of balance.

With that being said, people like Metternich refused to experience such events ever again. He believed that the best way to protect the Austrian Empire was to prevent her from changing. Past experiences have shown that uncontrolled change has not worked in the Austrians' favor. For example, Marie Antoinette (Queen of France, Wife of Louis the 16th, and an Austrian princess) was decapitated during the French revolution. The Austrian empire herself was militarily humiliated by a significantly smaller French army (Battle of Auschwitz). Therefore, one could say that Metternich's policies were reactionary.

The other options to this questions involve some kind of change, whether it is industrialization and increasing current government functions (A), promote liberal policies (B) or advocate for political and social reform (C). All of these options essentially offer was Metternich's policies for Europe strived to stray away from.

4C. The author of the excerpt would support all of the following events EXCEPT for the

A) passage of legislation to protect labor unions.

B) passage of legislation to prohibit radical political gatherings.

C) restoration of hereditary monarchs.

D) issuance of decrees that abolished nationalist groups.

Answer: A

Explanation: Conservatism was an 19th century ideology that sought to maintain the status quo and opposed any kind of change, as change would disrupt the delicate balance of power in Europe.

Why it's right

This question is a classic "which does NOT belong?" type question. As previously established, this passage calls for Europe to maintain its conservative policies. Thus, we must select the question that does NOT promote conservatism. To begin with, A does not promote conservatism as calls for legislative reform in labor. Change and reform are red flags when it comes to conservatism. Because of that, let's keep that answer for now. B prohibits radical political gathering. Radical political gatherings are something that would certainly disturb the current status quo, as they promote radical change within the government. Prohibiting such activity would definitely work in favor of conservatism, but given that the question asks for the answer that does NOT support conservatism, we cross B out. C says to restore hereditary monarchies. This would be a return to an old order that was easier to maintain. Again, this promotes conservatism, so we shall cross this answer off. This leaves us with D, which banishes nationalist groups. Nationalism and conservatism mix as well as water and oil. And alas, we are left with A. Time to move on to the next question!

Stimulus 4

A map of pre-unified Germany with a dark blue outline showing what it will look like post-unification in 1871

Source

*“3. Extraordinary popular assemblies and popular festivals, namely those whose time and place
were previously neither customary nor permitted, may not take place, no matter under what name and to what purpose, in any Confederal state without prior approval of the competent
authority…

Even at permitted popular assemblies and popular festivals, it should not be tolerated that public speeches with political content are held; those who are guilty of this are to be forcefully punished, and whoever abuses any popular assembly in order to propose addresses or resolutions and have them approved by signature or oral consent is to have more severe punishment imposed on them….

6. The Confederal governments will have continuously provided the most exacting police surveillance on all local residents who have made known – through public speeches, writings, or actions – their activities or participation in seditious plans; …they will provide reciprocal support about all discoveries of subversive secret associations and the individuals involved in them, including following up on evidence in these cases.

7. Special attention is to be directed toward foreigners who have proceeded to one of the Confederal states owing to political offenses or crimes, as well as toward natives and foreigners who come from places or regions where associations for overthrowing the Confederation or German governments have formed and are suspected of participation therein…

8. The Confederal governments commit themselves… to deport without delay those who have committed political offenses or crimes in a Confederal state and who, in order to escape punishment, have fled to another Confederal land…

9. The Confederal governments reciprocally assure each other of the most prompt military assistance on demand….”

--the Ten Articles, German Confederation, 1832*

4A. The excerpt represents a reaction in opposition to

A) socialists’ attempts to introduce alternative systems of economic distribution.

B) nationalists’ attempts to unify those of German ethnicity into one political entity.

C) conservatives’ attempts to restore traditional monarchies after the Napoleonic Wars.

D) revolutionaries’ attempts to destroy the status quo in neighboring states.

Answer: D

Explanation: Conservatism was an 19th century ideology that sought to maintain the status quo and opposed any kind of change, as change would disrupt the delicate balance of power in Europe.

Why it's right

...Extraordinary popular assemblies and popular festivals, namely those whose time and place
were previously neither customary nor permitted, may not take place, no matter under what
name and to what purpose, in any Confederal state without prior approval of the competent
authority...

This snippet from the passage prohibits assemblies unless an approved authority figure says so otherwise. This is an example of conservatism, as people cannot freely organize without the government consenting to it. This passage opposes revolutionaries from disrupting the status quo in the nearby German states. Moreover, the fact that even some kind of organized assembly or speech has to be under surveillance shows that the state cannot risk any chance of chaos within the state. I'd like to take a moment to talk about option B. I understand that it was earlier said that conservatives were not too keen with the idea with nationalism. This was true with Metternich. He frequently had the Austrian army suppress revolution, such as the one in the Italian states. However, conservatives weren't always anti-nationalistic. Metternich dominated politics for the first half of the 19th century. As for the second half, it was a Prussian statesman by the name of Otto von Bismarck that unified Germany and played an imperative role in European politics. But more on him later...

4B. Which of the following is LEAST similar to the purpose of the excerpt?

A) legislation requiring the consent of a magistrate for large public meetings

B) legislation forbidding civilians to take part in any kind of military training

C) legislation that increased the power of local magistrates to search citizens’ property

D) legislation that lowered property requirements for suffrage

Answer: D

Explanation: See the passage

Why it's right

All of the answers can be found in the passage. In fact, let's break it down together to see which answer is least likely to fit within the context of the passage.

Extraordinary popular assemblies and popular festivals, namely those whose time and place
were previously neither customary nor permitted, may not take place, no matter under what
name and to what purpose, in any Confederal state without prior approval of the competent
authority….

In other words, people cannot freely assemble. They have to get permission from some local authority. A seems to describe this, so we can cross that out.

Although the passage does not explicitly talk about forbidding civilians from receiving military training, just stop and think about it. With a proposed government model (such as the one above) that strongly supports constant surveillance, limited assemblies and severe punishments for crimes, one can see that this document proposes to keep it's people on a tight leash. However, it is not that the passage seeks to actively harm people. Instead, the passage seeks to establish a strong, united nation, even if it means to restrict some rights.

So if the German government wants to keep internal conflict at a minimum, then it would make sense to prohibit civilians (not that I'm agreeing with this) from receiving military training. Such training could perhaps give rise to well trained rebels and rebellion is the very thing this passage seeks to eliminate. Based on the reasoning that this passage restricts civilians' rights, it would also make sense that government officials give themselves more power to keep its people under control.

Since D is the only answer left, we circle D and move on to the next question. In addition, it is worth noting that lowering the voting age would be a threat to the German government as it essentially allows more room for newer (perhaps liberal?) ideas, which again, threatens the stability of Germany.

Conclusion

As promised...

Otto von Bismarck, former German chancellor

Source Meet Otto von Bismarck

Despite not covering him in the review session, I believe that this man is worth discussing. For essentially the first half of the 19th century, we see Metternich based policies ruling the continent. Nevertheless, it would be Bismarck changing the game for the second half. Bismarck was a Prussian statesman that played a crucial role in the creation of Germany. A quick google search would show that Bismarck based his policies on conservative ideology. This is true. But you would also see that he advocated German nationalism.

Wait what?

Metternich, a conservative diplomat, frequently went out of his way to put down rebellions and revolutions. He found nationalism to be a threat to the Austrian empire and Europe as well. How can Bismarck, a conservative statesman, praise nationalism?

Well, Bismarck was also a profound believer in Realpolitik. Realpolitik is form of diplomacy that basis itself on factors and circumstances instead of ideology. Rather than sticking to some political ideology, realpolitik is pragmatic. Bismarck realized that nationalism could be a tool to unite the scattered German states and form one strong state. But he did not stop there. Bismarck saw that through war Germany could expand her borders and mark herself as a great power on Europe. Through the Franco-Prussian war (where Germany gained the Alsace Lorraine, an area filled with valuable resources) and the Austro-Prussian War, Germany successfully established itself a power not to be trifled with.

Nonetheless, power invites conflict.

Bismarck quickly realized that war between European countries was inevitable. Britain and France were wary of Germany, and soon there began an arms race between Germany and Britain. Although Bismarck was confident in securing Austria's aid in a time of war (Dual Alliance of 1879. Although Austria-Hungary was resentful of Germany and her methods, Austria-Hungary hated the Russians even more), Bismarck also wanted to avoid to have a two front war (France and Britain on the West, Russia on the East), as Germany had enemies on both sides. Ultimately, Bismarck chose to sign a treaty with Russia. Should war break out, Germany, Austria and Russia would be fighting as a united unit. Or at least, theoretically. Keep in mind, despite Bismarck's best efforts, Russia and Austria had an extremely fragile alliance (hint: they will fight each other in WW1). Not even Bismarck's elaborate house of cards could withstand the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

A map of Europe in 1914 before world war 1

Source

...If you like steampunk, this is Europe in 1914

A steampunk themed map of Europe in 1914 showing the major participating countries

Source Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld