Satiated and Satisfied? Bismarckian Germany

  • Richard Scully
Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)


The conclusion of the Franco-Prussian War marked a further shift in the representation of Germany by British cartoonists. However there is little sense of the supposed turn towards apprehension at the new nation of ‘Blood and Iron’ — and away from older views of Germany — which is supposedly apparent to historians with the benefit of hindsight. Just as in cartographic and literary sources of this period, any sense of 1870–1 being a watershed is far more subtle, and less laden with judgements regarding Germany as a potential threat or enemy. The perceptible shift is rather one regarding the characters representative of the new Germany, away from Wilhelm I and towards the man of ‘Blood and Iron’. No longer actively exercising the right of military command which had raised his profile in wartime, the Kaiser soon faded to become something of a Schattenkaiser (shadow-emperor), as he was firmly replaced as the personification of Germany by his nominal servant, Bismarck.1 Yet the image of Bismarck was not a straightforward one. In the 1870s and 1880s, Bismarck was often seen as the arch-troublemaker, the puppet master par excellence, who stage-managed Great Power politics with ease. Normally, this led to him being portrayed as a cynical, distasteful figure, yet when such manipulations served British interests (or accorded with British ideals), Bismarck could be seen as an overwhelmingly positive character, even a partner for John Bull.


Nominal Servant Military Command German Nation September 1880 Happy Family 
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Copyright information

© Richard Scully 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Scully
    • 1
  1. 1.University of New EnglandAustralia

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