In order to achieve success in the war against Austria, Bismarck decided to isolate Austria in the continent. He concluded separate treaties with Russia, France and Piedmont-Sardinia. By these treaties these powers assured Bismarck of their neutrality in the war.
(a) First of all, Bismarck made efforts along with Russia in this connection. He had come in close contact with the Czar of Russia when he was there as ambassador of Prussia from 1859 to 1862.
Bismarck reached the conclusion that the interests of Russia lay in the Eastern Question. Prussia had no interest in this problem. Thus, Prussia could easily gain the advantage of its friendship with Russia. In his own words:
“Prussia must never let Russia’s friendship wax cold. Her alliance is the cheapest among all continental alliances, for the eyes of Russia are turned only towards the east.”
In 1863, Bismarck helped the Czar of Russia in the suppression of the revolt of Poland. Though France, England, Austria and other European powers expressed themselves in favour of the Polish agitation, still Bismarck evinced his sympathy with Russia and declared, “Prussia would stand shoulder to shoulder with him against the common enemy (Poland).”
With the help of Prussia, the army of Russia cruelly crushed the revolt. As a result of this policy of Bismarck, Russia promised to remain neutral in the Austro-Prussian War.
(b) After that Bismarck decided to establish friendly relations with France. Bismarck knew the nature of Napoleon III, because he had remained there as an ambassador of Prussia for a few months.
In 1865, he met Napoleon III at Biarritz and concluded a treaty with him. Napoleon III assured Bismarck that his country would remain neutral in the Austro-Prussian War. As an earnest of this neutrality, Bismarck promised to give some western districts of Germany to France.
Napoleon III felt that the power of both Austria and Prussia would decline to a considerable extent and the frontiers of French Empire would easily be extended. Keeping this in view, Napoleon III gladly accepted the offer of Bismarck.
(c) After being assured by Russia and France, Bismarck concluded a military alliance with Piedmont-Sardinia. At that time, the patriots of Italy were also aiming for the unification of their country.
The state of Venetia was still under the domination of Austria. They wanted to make Venetia free in order to make unification complete. According to this alliance, Prussia and Piedmont promised to wage a war jointly against their common enemy, Austria.
Finally, war broke out between Austria and Prussia in June 1866. Austria could not get help from any other country of Europe due to the diplomacy of Bismarck. It was a conflict between the people of the Game race for determining the question of control.
Bismarck was of the opinion that either Austria or Prussia should have the right of control over the states of Germany. It should be decided at the battlefield. The war continued for seven weeks only and thus it is called the ‘Seven Weeks’ War’.
It was one of the shortest wars in history. The military power of Austria was very weak. She had to fight on two fronts Prussia and Piedmont-Sardinia.
The last and the most decisive battle were fought on July 3, 1866. It is called the battle of Sadowa. Austria was finally defeated in this battle.
The treaty of Prague was concluded between Prussia and Austria on August 23, 1866. According to this treaty the old confederation of German states, created in the Congress of Vienna was dissolved.
A new Federation was to be constituted by Prussia in which Austria was not to be included. All the twenty-two states situated in north Germany were made free from the domination of Austria and these states were to be included in the proposed North German Confederation. The state of Venetia was given to Italy.