January 18, 1871. Versailles, France.
“The boom of a gun … rolls above the voices in the Court hailing the Emperor King. Then there is a hush of expectation, and then rich and sonorous rise the massive strains of the chorale … as the King, bearing his helmet in his hand and dressed in full uniform as a German general, stalked slowly up the long gallery, and bowing to the clergy in front of the temporary altar opposite him, halted and dressed himself right and front, and then twirling his heavy moustache with his disengaged hand, surveyed the scene at each side.” (from an article by W.H. Russell, written for The Times)
On this date in 1871, Germany crowned its first emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm. The Kaiser’s army had just completed an invasion of France, defeating Napoleon and seizing the French palace at Versailles. Paris surrendered ten days after the Kaiser’s coronation, and on May 10 the French and Germans signed the Treaty of Frankfurt, under which the French paid Germany an indemnity of 5 billion francs and turned over the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. The Franco-Prussian War marked one of the greatest French defeats since the fifteenth century, and without Joan of Arc to save them the French would need to wait until the end of World War I to recover the lost provinces.
Kaiser Wilhelm was succeeded by his son, Wilhelm II, who abdicated in 1918 following Germany’s defeat.
So. What’s going on in your life today?