Bismarck and William I

Taylor Bismarck

William I accompanied the armies, theoretically commander-in-chief, with Moltke as chief-of-staff; and Bismarck went along with him. Though only a lieutenant in the reserve, he was hastily made a temporary major-general and tried to behave as a soldier during the campaign. His real concern was to keep his hands on the king, and this proved difficult. The smell of powder made William almost uncontrollable. A small incident showed it. William refused to withdraw when under fire; and he was unmoved by the accusation that he was endangering the life of his civilian prime minister. Finally Bismarck gave William’s horse a sharp, unperceived kick in its flank; and William obeyed this protest. It was a perfect parable of relations between king and minister—outward obedience, secret kicks.


1. Taylor, A. J. P. Bismarck, the Man and the Statesman. New York: Knopf, 1955. Print.



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