Three Emperors’ League Is Formed Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

An informal alliance among the rulers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia, the Three Emperors’ League was an attempt to preserve the status quo in eastern and central Europe and maintain French isolation before it was superseded by the Dual Alliance of Germany and Austria and by another Three Emperors’ alliance in 1881.

Summary of Event

The formation of the Three Emperors’ League was a joint effort by Germany’s William I, Russia’s Alexander II, and Austria’s Francis Joseph I to adjust their foreign policies to the status quo of the year 1871. As a result of the victory of Prussia over France during that year, Otto von Bismarck, who was then the chancellor of the North German North German Confederation Confederation, achieved the unification of Germany and the coronation of William I, king of Prussia, as the first emperor of Germany. Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League] Germany;and Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League] Austria;and Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League] Russia;and Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League] Bismarck, Otto von [p]Bismarck, Otto von;and Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League] Schönbrunn Convention (1873) [kw]Three Emperors’ League Is Formed (May 6-Oct. 22, 1873) [kw]Emperors’ League Is Formed, Three (May 6-Oct. 22, 1873) [kw]League Is Formed, Three Emperors’ (May 6-Oct. 22, 1873) [kw]Formed, Three Emperors’ League Is (May 6-Oct. 22, 1873) Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League] Germany;and Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League] Austria;and Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League] Russia;and Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League] Bismarck, Otto von [p]Bismarck, Otto von;and Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League] Schönbrunn Convention (1873) [g]Germany;May 6-Oct. 22, 1873: Three Emperors’ League Is Formed[4690] [g]Russia;May 6-Oct. 22, 1873: Three Emperors’ League Is Formed[4690] [g]Austria;May 6-Oct. 22, 1873: Three Emperors’ League Is Formed[4690] [c]Diplomacy and international relations;May 6-Oct. 22, 1873: Three Emperors’ League Is Formed[4690] Alexander II [p]Alexander II[Alexander 02];and Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League] Andrássy, Count Gyula Francis Joseph I [p]Francis Joseph I[Francis Joseph 01];and Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League] Gorchakov, Aleksandr Mikhailovich William I (king of Prussia) [p]William I (king of Prussia)[William 01 (king of Prussia)];and Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League]

Bismarck was satisfied with his achievement at home. He had no further territorial ambitions. For him, the German Empire was a “saturated” power. Consequently, his domestic policy was aimed at consolidating the new Germany, but on the international front, he had to restore good relations with Austria-Hungary and continue Prussia’s friendship with Russia to ensure the perpetual isolation of France. Given Germany’s central location in Europe, the realization of such policies were, in Bismarck’s mind, essential for the survival of the state that he had created.

It was fortunate for Bismarck that the rulers of Russia and Austria-Hungary were also eager to cement relations among the three empires. Despite the defeat of Austria by Prussia in the Seven Weeks’ War of 1866 Seven Weeks’ War (1866)[Seven Weeks War (1866)] Prussia;Seven Weeks’ War[Seven Weeks War] Austria;Seven Weeks’ War[Seven Weeks War] , the Austrian emperor Francis Joseph I did not find it difficult to accept Bismarck’s offer of a rapprochement. He was conscious that Bismarck had treated the Habsburg Empire with consideration in the Peace of Prague in 1866, and he accepted Bismarck’s assurances that he had no designs for annexing the German provinces of Austria-Hungary.

In 1871, Francis Joseph appointed Count Gyula Andrássy, Andrássy, Count Gyula who was known to be pro-Prussian, as the new foreign minister of his Dual Monarchy. This appointment conciliated Bismarck, and it was also regarded with approval by Prince Aleksandr Mikhailovich Gorchakov, minister of foreign affairs and chancellor of the Russian Empire, who liked Andrássy personally and who also appreciated the legitimate interests of Austria in the Balkans. The willingness of Gorchakov to reconcile the rival Austrian and Russian claims in the Balkans enabled Bismarck in 1873 to create the Three Emperors’ League.

This alliance resulted from several imperial conferences and meetings of the emperors in 1872 and 1873. The most important was attended by all three emperors in Berlin from September 6-12, 1872, at which time Gorchakov Gorchakov, Aleksandr Mikhailovich and Andrássy Andrássy, Count Gyula agreed to promote the maintenance of the status quo in the Balkans. The fact that the meeting was held in Berlin and that Francis Francis Joseph I [p]Francis Joseph I[Francis Joseph 01];and Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League] Joseph of Austria and Alexander of Russia were eager to come not only added luster to William’s new imperial title but also served to exalt the major role of Germany in the international affairs of Europe.

Central and Eastern Europe

xlink:href="Central_Europe.tif"

alt-version="no"

position="float"

xlink:type="simple"/>

Together with other conferences, this meeting of the emperors led first to a Russo-German military convention, signed by William William I (king of Prussia) [p]William I (king of Prussia)[William 01 (king of Prussia)];and Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League] and Alexander in St. Petersburg St. Petersburg, Russia[Saint Petersburg, Russia] on May 6, 1873. The contracting parties to this pact promised mutual aid in the event that either was attacked by another power. One month later, on June 6, Austria and Russia signed the Schönbrunn Convention. Accepted by Germany on October 22, 1873, this convention provided for joint consultation and cooperation in the event of an attack on one of the empires by another country. The imperial states also agreed to preserve the status quo and repress any revolutionary movements. The Holy Alliance of 1815 was thus revived in a new and altered form.

Significance

More than an entente but less than a full military alliance of the type to come later, the Three Emperors’ League lasted only five years. The Balkan Crisis of 1877 and the subsequent Congress of Berlin Congress of Berlin (1878) of 1878 revived the Austro-Russian struggle for supremacy in southeastern Europe. Bismarck then realized that he would have to choose which power he wanted as his primary ally: Austria-Hungary or Russia. He chose Austria-Hungary, which was eager for German support of its new involvement in the Balkans. The result, therefore, was the conclusion of a much tighter and much more durable pact in 1879 between Austria and Germany, the Dual Alliance Dual Alliance (1879) , which lasted until the end of World War I.

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Beller, Steven. Francis Joseph. London: Longman, 1996. Part of a series of biographies of rulers, this volume examines Francis Joseph’s long reign and attempts to put it in a broad historical perspective.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Calleo, David. The German Problem Reconsidered: Germany and the World Order, 1870 to the Present. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1978. Argues that the “German Problem,” or Germany’s diplomatic culpability, has been distorted by favoring Germany’s victors. German aggressiveness can be best explained by the international order of nations. Places the league in its international context. Erudite and challenging.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Feuchtwanger, Edgar. Bismarck. London: Routledge, 2002. Brief biography that offers an accessible evaluation of Bismarck’s role in nineteenth century European history.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Langer, William L. European Alliances and Alignments, 1871-1890. 2d ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1950. Provides background of the league. Describes the goal of monarchical solidarity on one hand, with the inability of the league to address problems, especially those in the Balkans, on the other. Both descriptive and interpretative.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Lerman, Katharine Anne. Bismarck. New York: Pearson Longman, 2004. A contribution to the publisher’s Profiles in Power series, this volume examines Bismarck’s exercise of power as way to understand his complex personality and statecraft.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Moss, Walter G. A History of Russia. 2d ed. 2 vols. London: Anthem Press, 2002. General history of Russia that offers a useful overview of Alexander II’s government reforms and foreign policies.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Palmer, Alan. Twilight of the Habsburgs: The Life and Times of Emperor Francis Joseph. New York: Grove Press, 1995. Comprehensive biography of the ruler of Austria-Hungary that seeks to provide a balanced portrayal of Francis Joseph.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Waller, Bruce. Bismarck. London: Basil Blackwell, 1985. Brief but substantive account of Bismarck’s leadership in establishing the league, but at the same time, his difficulty in balancing the contrary interests of Russia and Austria, Germany’s partners in the league. A concise biography.

Second Peace of Paris

Bismarck Becomes Prussia’s Minister-President

North German Confederation Is Formed

Austrian Ausgleich

German States Unite Within German Empire

Bulgarian Revolt Against the Ottoman Empire

Congress of Berlin

Triple Alliance Is Formed

Franco-Russian Alliance

Related Articles in <i>Great Lives from History: The Nineteenth Century, 1801-1900</i>

Alexander II; Otto von Bismarck; Francis Joseph I. Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League] Germany;and Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League] Austria;and Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League] Russia;and Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League] Bismarck, Otto von [p]Bismarck, Otto von;and Three Emperors’ League[Three Emperors League] Schönbrunn Convention (1873)

Categories: History Content