History Files


Napoleonic Europe

The Confederation of German States 1815

by Peter Kessler, 3 March 2004



During the Napoleonic Wars, the French emperor conducted a radical restructuring of the minor German principalities, sweeping away many of the inconsistencies and consolidating tiny parcels of territory into larger kingdoms and duchies. He named his creation the Confederation of the Rhine.

After Napoleon was defeated in 1814, the Congress of Vienna took on board much of this vital restructuring, and retained many of the changes. However, the resulting Confederation of German States paved the way for the enlarged Prussia to eventually dominate and take over all of the German states, forcing the country towards unification in 1871 and 1918.


In Depth

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Map of Germany



Images and text copyright P L Kessler. An original feature for the History Files.