Published Jan 2010
To a contemporary observer in 1780, the outcome of the struggle for mastery in Germany was entirely open. The Holy Roman Empire (Reich) had never seemed more vibrant or less threatened. However, within a decade Germany was in tumult. The external assault on the Reich, begun by Joseph II of Austria, was taken up by Revolutionary France and completed by Napoleon. The old feudal society, already under attack from enlightened reform absolutism, finally succumbed. The Germany which emerged after the Treaty of Vienna was profoundly shaped not only by the experiences of the revolutionary era but also by the geopolitical revolution of 1815, which eventually made Prussia’s ultimate victory in the struggle for mastery possible.