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Negotiations at Nikolsburg (July 26, 1866)
At the armistice negotiations at Nikolsburg – three weeks after the momentous Prussian victory at the Battle of Königgrätz (July 3, 1866) – Prussia’s King Wilhelm I reluctantly agreed that the Austro-Prussian War (German Civil War) of 1866 should be concluded as quickly as possible, before possible intervention from Britain and Russia. France had already made it known that it expected any agreement to preserve the territorial integrity and political independence of the Kingdom of Saxony – a state that had lost over one-half of its territory to the victorious Prussians in the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and joined Austria among the defeated at Königgrätz. Wilhelm’s tortured decision to accede to the French demand was one of the most important aspects of the Nikolsburg accord. Wilhelm found this outcome particuarly difficult to accept because he regarded Saxony’s territorial integration into Prussia as a legitimate war trophy. Bismarck, however, understood that Saxony would play a vital role as Prussia’s junior partner in the North German Confederation. Moreover, Saxony’s valiant military efforts under the generalship of then Crown Prince Albert impressed the Prussians. Both King Johann of Saxony (1801-1873) and his successor King Albert (1828-1902) proved loyal Prussian allies in the North German Confederation and, later, the German Empire. Pictured from left to right are: Count Vincent Benedetti (French ambassador to Prussia); Baron Karl von Werther (Prussian ambassador to France); General Luigi Frederico Menabrea (representing Italy, which was allied with Prussia); Helmuth von Moltke (Chief of the Prussian General Staff); unknown; Bismarck; King Wilhelm I; Count August von Degenfeld-Schonburg (former Austrian minister of war and active general); Count Alois Károlyi (Austrian ambassador to Prussia); and Count Alexander von Mensdorff-Pouilly (Austrian foreign minister). Woodcut (c. 1870) after a drawing by Eichler.