German Confederation

German Confederation

Deutscher Bund
The German Confederation in 1815 *   Member states *   Territory of member states outside of the confederation
The German Confederation in 1815
  •   Member states
  •   Territory of member states outside of the confederation
Common languages
Roman Catholic, Protestant
Head of the Präsidialmacht Austria 
• 1815–1835
Francis I
• 1835–1848
Ferdinand I
• 1850–1866
Franz Joseph I
LegislatureFederal Convention
8 June 1815
13 March 1848
29 November 1850
14 June 1866
23 August 1866
1815630,100 km2 (243,300 sq mi)
• 1815
ISO 3166 codeDE
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Confederation of the Rhine
Austrian Empire
Kingdom of Prussia
North German Confederation
Austrian Empire
Kingdom of Bavaria
Kingdom of Württemberg
Grand Duchy of Baden
Grand Duchy of Hesse
Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Principality of Liechtenstein
Today part of

The German Confederation (German: Deutscher Bund) was an association of 39 German-speaking states in Central Europe (adding the mainly non-German speaking Kingdom of Bohemia and Duchy of Carniola), created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to coordinate the economies of separate German-speaking countries and to replace the former Holy Roman Empire, which had been dissolved in 1806.[1] The German Confederation excluded German-speaking lands in the eastern portion of the Kingdom of Prussia (East Prussia, West Prussia and Posen), the German cantons of Switzerland, and Alsace within France which was majority German speaking.

The Confederation was weakened by rivalry between the Kingdom of Prussia and the Austrian Empire, revolution, and the inability of the multiple members to compromise. In 1848, revolutions by liberals and nationalists attempted to establish a unified German state with a progressive liberal constitution under the Frankfurt Convention. The ruling body, the Confederate Diet, was dissolved on 12 July 1848, but was re-established in 1850 after failed efforts to replace it.[2]

The Confederation was finally dissolved after the Prussian victory in the Seven Weeks' War over Austria in 1866. The dispute over which had the inherent right to rule German lands ended in favour of Prussia, leading to the creation of the North German Confederation under Prussian leadership in 1867, to which the eastern portions of the Kingdom of Prussia were added. A number of South German states remained independent until they joined the North German Confederation, which was renamed and proclaimed as the "German Empire" in 1871 for the now unified Germany with the Prussian king as emperor (Kaiser) after the victory over French Emperor Napoleon III in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.

Most historians have judged the Confederation to have been weak and ineffective, as well as an obstacle to the creation of a German nation-state.[3] However, the Confederation was designed to be weak, as it served the interests of the European Great Powers, especially member states Austria and Prussia.



The War of the Third Coalition lasted from about 1803 to 1806. Following defeat at the Battle of Battle of Austerlitz by the French under Napoleon in December 1805, Holy Roman Emperor Francis II abdicated, and the Empire was dissolved on 6 August 1806. The resulting Treaty of Treaty of Pressburg established the Confederation of the Rhine in July 1806, joining together sixteen of France's allies among the German states (including Bavaria and Württemberg). After the Battle of Battle of Jena–Auerstedt of October 1806 in the War of the Fourth Coalition, various other German states, including Saxony and Westphalia, also joined the Confederation. Only Austria, Prussia, Danish Holstein, Swedish Pomerania, and the French-occupied Principality of Erfurt stayed outside the Confederation of the Rhine. The War of the Sixth Coalition from 1812 to winter 1814 saw the defeat of Napoleon and the liberation of Germany. In June 1814, the famous German patriot Heinrich vom Stein created the Central Managing Authority for Germany (Zentralverwaltungsbehörde) in Frankfurt to replace the defunct Confederation of the Rhine. However, plenipotentiaries gathered at the Congress of Vienna were determined to create a weaker union of German states than envisaged by Stein.


The German Confederation was created by the 9th Act of the Congress of Vienna on 8 June 1815 after being alluded to in Article 6 of the 1814 Treaty of Paris, ending the War of the Sixth Coalition.[4]

The Confederation was formally created by a second treaty, the Final Act of the Ministerial Conference to Complete and Consolidate the Organization of the German Confederation. This treaty was not concluded and signed by the parties until 15 May 1820. States joined the German Confederation by becoming parties to the second treaty. The states designated for inclusion in the Confederation were:

  1. Anhalt-Bernburg (inherited by the Duke of Anhalt-Dessau, 1863)
  2. Anhalt-Dessau
  3. Anhalt-Köthen (inherited by the Duke of Anhalt-Dessau, 1847/53)
  4. Austrian Empire (including Crown of BohemiaBohemia, Moravia and Austrian Silesia – and Austrian lands – Austria, Carinthia, Carniola, the Littoral, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, and Vorarlberg)
  5. Baden
  6. Bavaria
  7. Brunswick
  8. Hanover
  9. Electorate of Hesse (also known as Hesse-Kassel)
  10. Grand Duchy of Hesse (also known as Hesse-Darmstadt)
  11. Hohenzollern-Hechingen (became part of Prussia in 1850)
  12. Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (became part of Prussia in 1850)
  13. Holstein and Lauenburg, held by Denmark
  14. Holstein-Oldenburg
  15. Liechtenstein
  16. Lippe-Detmold
  17. Luxembourg, held by the Netherlands
  18. Mecklenburg-Schwerin
  19. Mecklenburg-Strelitz
  20. Nassau
  21. Prussia
  22. Reuss, elder line
  23. Reuss, younger line
  24. Saxony
  25. Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
  26. Saxe-Coburg (ruler became Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha 1826)
  27. Saxe-Gotha (partitioned 1826)
  28. Saxe-Hildburghausen (ruler became Duke of Saxe-Altenburg, 1826)
  29. Saxe-Meiningen
  30. Schaumburg-Lippe
  31. Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
  32. Schwarzburg-Sondershausen
  33. Waldeck
  34. Württemberg
  35. Hesse-Homburg (inherited by the grand-duke of Hesse-Darmstadt, 1866) (joined by treaty in 1820)
  36. Lübeck (joined by treaty in 1820)
  37. Frankfurt (joined by treaty in 1820)
  38. Bremen (joined by treaty in 1820)
  39. Hamburg (joined by treaty in 1820)

In 1839, as compensation for the loss of the province of province of Luxemburg to Belgium, the Duchy of Limburg (held by the Netherlands) was created and it was a member of the German Confederation until its dissolution in 1866. The cities of Maastricht and Venlo were not included in the Confederation.

The monarchs of the member states of the German Confederation meet at Frankfurt in 1863

The Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia were the largest and by far the most powerful members of the Confederation. Large parts of both countries were not included in the Confederation, because they had not been part of the former Holy Roman Empire, nor had the greater parts of their armed forces been incorporated in the federal army. Austria and Prussia each had one vote in the Federal Assembly. Six other major states had one vote each in the Federal Assembly: the Kingdom of Bavaria, the Kingdom of Saxony, the Kingdom of Kingdom of Württemberg, the Electorate of Hesse, the Grand Duchy of Baden, and the Grand Duchy of Hesse. Three member states were ruled by foreign monarchs: the King of Denmark as Duke of Holstein; the King of the Netherlands as Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Duke of Limburg; and the King of Great Britain (until 1837) as King of Hanover were members of the German Confederation. Each of them had a vote in the Federal Assembly. The four free cities of Bremen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Lübeck shared one vote in the Federal Assembly. The 23 remaining states shared five votes in the Federal Assembly.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Duitse Bond
azərbaycanca: Almaniya ittifaqı
Bân-lâm-gú: Tek-ì-chì Pang-liân
беларуская: Германскі саюз
български: Германски съюз
čeština: Německý spolek
eesti: Saksa Liit
한국어: 독일 연방
hrvatski: Njemački Savez
Bahasa Indonesia: Konfederasi Jerman
Кыргызча: Герман союзу
latviešu: Vācu Savienība
Lëtzebuergesch: Däitsche Bond
Bahasa Melayu: Gabungan Jerman
Nederlands: Duitse Bond
日本語: ドイツ連邦
norsk nynorsk: Det tyske forbundet
Simple English: German Confederation
slovenčina: Nemecký spolok
slovenščina: Nemška zveza
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Nemački savez
Tiếng Việt: Liên bang Đức