France's population grows much more rapidly in the 19th century

Chlodio

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Aug 2016
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Would France have actually been willing to allow Germany to unify, though?
France might not have liked German unification, but I don't think they could have stopped it. What would they do? Invade Germany? That would be playing right into German hands since it was war that brought Germany together in 1871. Assuming Prussia could defeat Austria in 1866 and form the North German Confederation then I think it was too late for France to stop it. Could France do anything in 1866 to prevent German unification? They didn't historically, and I don't know that a larger French Army would make a difference. Napoleon III completely bungled that war by assuming it would be a long war and by offering to sell France's neutrality to both sides. France did not fully utilize her military potential in the 1860s. Napoleon wanted a larger army but could not overcome resistance to it, including from within the French Army who wanted a small but professional force.
 
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Oct 2015
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France had many problems in the F-P War beyond just a smaller population and army. The Second Empire was rotten to the core. The French general staff was hopelessly ineffcient. The French railroads were not designed with defense in mind. And Germany could still achieve unification some other way. The Germans really wanted to unify. They didn't need a war with France. That was just how it happened, but there were other paths to unification. I agree that without the Franco-Prussian War the 20th century would have seen a different system of alliances emerge.
The Prussians won the F-P War because they were able to get more artillery in the field via railway at a faster rate than the French
France might not have liked German unification, but I don't think they could have stopped it. What would they do? Invade Germany? That would be playing right into German hands since it was war that brought Germany together in 1871. Assuming Prussia could defeat Austria in 1866 and form the North German Confederation then I think it was too late for France to stop it. Could France do anything in 1866 to prevent German unification? They didn't historically, and I don't know that a larger French Army would make a difference. Napoleon III completely bungled that war by assuming it would be a long war and by offering to sell France's neutrality to both sides. France did not fully utilize her military potential in the 1860s. Napoleon wanted a larger army but could not overcome resistance to it, including from within the French Army who wanted a small but professional force.
In otl Bavaria was reluctant to join the F-P War, in fact it was reluctant to join German unification, so were alot of German states. Prussia losing the F-P War would amount to an "I told you so" moment and Bavaria not joining German unification. Without Bavaria, a unified Germany would not have been as powerful or as rich. I can see France forming an alliance with Bavaria as a buffer against Prussia and its German allies.

German unification would of course depend on how much of a victory France gets in the F-P War. If a total victory with Berlin being occupied, German unification will not happen. If victory entails the Prussians getting routed at Sedan but France unable to chase them back all the way to Berlin, German unification may still happen to a limited extent and definitely without Bavaria.
 
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Oct 2015
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Yeah, if Prussia will attempt to pick a fight with France in this scenario, it would likely become French mincemeat.
Which is why I think Prussia and GB would be close allies in this timeline assuming Napoleon III doesn't dismantle Prussian territory entirely with Silesia going to Austria. Total French victory would wreck the entire balance of power in Europe just as the Prussian victory in otl wrecked the balance of power in Europe. Also in the event of a total French victory in F-P War, Napoleon 3 would push for natural borders by annexing the entire Rhineland. At the negotiation table maybe Nap 3 could be persuaded to abandon his claim to the Rhineland in exchange for Belgium instead. To further weaken Prussia, maybe Schleswig-Holstein could be given back to Denmark.
 
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