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February 21, 2017


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Yes, very very interesting!

If the Zollverein had remained confined to Prussia and neighbouring states this would have had knock-on effects for France, Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria, Hannover and the southern German states. Assuming the Main convention of 1831 proceeds as happened historically, what happens then? Do the western and southern German states have an incentive to form their own customs union separate from the Zollverein? Perhaps including the Netherlands?

Or do we see a number of smaller customs unions scattered throughout Germany (Prussian Zollverein)? Historically I think there were 3 customs unions (Prussian-Hessian, Bavarian-Wurtt., and Middle German (Hannover, Thuringia , Saxony, Oldenburg, Brunswick)). But the Prussian-Hessian union managed to weaken the Middle German one by enticing some members away, leaving Hannover and Brunswick to form tariff/customs union.

But with the state of "New Saxony" in Rhineland and Westphalia, perhaps we see a customs union of Hannover, Brunswick, Oldenburg, New Saxony and some other northwestern states form in the 1820s and remain, while the south german customs union may eventually become closer to Austria.

Kind of ironic really that the UK helped to unify Germany when the creation of such a power was probably exactly what the UK was trying to avoid.

There are some vague parallels with the UK and the EU here too since initially the UK was trying it's best to undermine the nascent EEC through the formation of a wider free trade area (Plan G and the European Economic Association), only for the UK to join the EEC eventually and play a significant role in the formation of the Single Market that they are now intent on leaving.

“Long run” is pretty hard to say. But this *Prussia is a middleweight power with two difficult neighbors. It’ll continue the Prussian tradition of always trying to have at least one of the Western powers — France or Britain — as an ally. With Britain drifting into superpower isolation that means France. If there’s still a Bismarck, he has a much tougher row to hoe. Piecemeal aggression against the small states of western and southern Germany is likely to trigger a response from France, Austria, or both — which is sort of what happened OTL, except that *Prussia’s strategic position isn’t nearly as strong.

German industrialization is slowed down, and the excellent Prussian educational system may not get copied all over Germany in the back half of the 1800s. Ceteris paribus, it’s a slight slowdown in Europe’s economic growth and technological development, and therefore the world’s.

It is also possible that, given Napoleon III’s boundless incompetence, we could end up with German reunification anyway.

That's assuming Napoleon III isn't assassinated after becoming Emperor or thwarted in his rise in the first place....

There's also another thing that's missing from the map. The map has retained the Prussian eastern border in its historical 1815-1918 form. But the original deal was that Prussia would take all of Saxony, in exchange for Russia taking all of the former Grand-Duchy of Warsaw.

So, assuming that Prussia takes Saxony, the eastern border is further to the west, and cities such as Poznań and Gniezno would be part of the Russian-controlled Congress Kingdom of Poland.

Upshot: Congress Kingdom of Poland is much bigger with larger population resources, so the 1830-1831 Uprising against Russia is a much longer affair. Also, Prussia won't have much of a Polish minority.

Also, you'd have to do _something_ with those Western territories on the Rhine. Britain wanted to have the Rhine territories in the hands of a strong, sympathetic European power, to contain any potential French resurgence. And it's a territory which has only recently experienced a legal and administrative reform as part of the French Empire -- a reform which Prussia did not reverse. Assuming that Rhineland is not taken over by Prussia, the British will have to figure out something else. Not sure what exactly.

How to solve a problem like the Rhineland? Perhaps with an uncomfortably large Kingdom of the Netherlands? A German speaking pillar to balance out the Dutch and French ones might make it more of a stable figuration than we got in OTL, which might weather 1830.

Would the rest of Germany agree to a Big Hannover solution?

There's also the possibility of keeping the Napoleonic Kingdom of Westphalia as a going concern, make it even larger by including Rhineland, and then find some suitable client prince as its ruler.

Given that it would be a British bulwark against France, the King would probably be Leopold Saxe-Coburg.

The circumstances unified Germany, not the UK. I.e., Westphalia being part of a Prussian regime was the lower energy state available.

Moreover, ideologically, Prussia saw itself as the leader of all of Northern Germany and as one part of twin governance of the Germanic lands, leading with Habsburg Austria.

I think there is very little chance that the powers would have tolerated a second Belgium. It would undo the benefits of having the first one, and broadly become a great game piece that creates more instability than powers would prefer. The sort of geopolitical preference for stability that drove Italian unification over the years would have driven Westphalia into the arms of some larger power. Guess what, though. England? Continental Europe says hell no. France? Germany and England says hell no. Austria? Prussia says hell no, and Scandinavia/Russia has no ability to maintain the area.

So for me, to say that the UK unified Germany is a dramatic overstatement of any one element's causal culpability.

But shah8, in 1815 there wouldn't even have been a first Belgium, let alone a second Belgium for the powers to tolerate.

In any case, shah8 and Jussi Jalonen, I believe the authors of the paper had postulated that the Rhineland territories of Prussia in 1815 in this scenario would have become a "New Saxony" (presumably the King of Saxony, now being dispossessed of his Kingdom would be given these territories as a new domain):

'In this section we want to explore how the incentives to join the Prussian Zollverein would have looked like, if Britian would not have enforced the solution to give the Rhineland to Prussia, but instead Prussia would have gained the entire Kingdom of Saxony. Hence, we assume a counterfactual set of political boundaries in 1815, where Prussia consists of all territories except the Rhineland and Westfalia, but with the entire former Kingdom of Saxony, while we also assume that there is an independent state on the territory of the Rhineland and Westfalia (that can be thought of a ”‘New Saxony”’ as in the suggestion by Hardenberg from late 1814)'

So there would be a "New Saxony" and a larger Congress Poland (but still a Polish minority in Prussia if I'm not mistaken and an incentive in any case for both Prussia and Austria to assist in Russia putting down any Polish rebellions).

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