A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 12

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THE WORLD DRIFT TO WAR


compelled to surrender with his whole force on September 1. The emperor would of necessity have accepted any terms, but the empire ended at Sedan. His ministry had already been swept away, and Paris for the third time proclaimed the French republic, with a "government of national defence." The empress with her son had taken flight to England, where she was ultimately joined by her husband. The republic wished for peace, but not at Bismarck's price, which included the cession of Alsace and Lorraine with Metz and Strasbourg. On September 19 the Prussian crown prince’s army was at the gates of Paris, which prepared itself as best it might for a long siege.

On September 27 Strasbourg fell. The government shut up in Paris could do nothhig outside the city; on October 7 Gambetta escaped in a balloon to Tours, where he became in effect the French government and the inspiration of the French defiance. He raised new armies in the provinces, but on October 27 Bazaine and his great host in Metz surrendered. Gambetta proclaimed a levée en masse. The raw troops fought with heroic devotion, but the desperate successes they won were counter-balanced by far more crushing defeats; while Paris held out grimly till sheer starvation forced her to capitulate on January 28, 1871.

The Germans dictated their own terms to the French government, to the head of which the veteran Thiers was called. The terms were crushing. The preliminaries were signed on February 26, and the definite treaty of Frankfort on May 10. Alsace and most of Lorraine, with Metz and Strasbourg, were ceded; and an enormous indemnity was extracted.

Bismarck's grand object was achieved. He had created a German empire with the king of Prussia, as hereditary emperor. While the war was in progress, one after another of the South German states had been admitted to the Confederation of which Prussia was the head. Bismarck had gradually overcome the opposition of the monarchs, including William himself, to the imperial project; and on January 18, ten days before the capitulation of Paris, William I was acclaimed German emperor by the assembled princes in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.

Incidentally the withdrawal of the French troops from Rome, necessitated by the war, enabled Victor Emmanuel, immediately after Sedan, to capture Rome and incorporate it with the Italian kingdom, and to make it the national capital, while the pope

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