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WI the Franco-Prussian War went the other way?

Circle of Willis

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Historically, getting baited by Bismarck into the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 turned out to pretty much be an unmitigated disaster for France. The French army started the war with superior infantry equipment in the form of the advanced Chassepot rifle and an innovative pseudo-machine gun in the mitrailleuse, but their failure to deploy these (especially the latter) in a way that'd maximize their utility coupled with major Prussian advantages in mobilization, leadership and the long-range firepower of their Krupp guns = a recipe for catastrophe, and it showed with France going on to lose almost every battle (including every single one of the major battles) of the war.

The war ended with French Emperor Napoleon III being taken captive within two months, his empire falling altogether, the Paris Commune briefly rising up, and the unified German Empire emerging & taking Alsace-Lorraine from France, instilling a grudge among the French that lasted all the way up to WW1. The threat of German hegemony also forced France and Britain to increasingly set aside their ancient rivalry, with the weakened France generally conceding more to Britain than the other way around (ex. the Fashoda incident).

So, what if the French had managed to miraculously offset their numerous disadvantages and score a victory over Prussia & the rest of the German alliance instead, as Napoleon III thought he could pull off at the start? General Adolphe Niel's military reforms to increase & accelerate the pace of French mobilization being introduced earlier, Marshal Bazaine not being so criminally incompetent, Moltke the Elder & the rest of the Prussian general staff catching a severe case of stupidity-inducing brainworms - any or all of these and more can serve as the POD for the French victory. That victory doesn't necessarily have to include French cuirassiers parading in Berlin either, even 'just' thwarting German unification for a couple decades and camping on the Saarland would suffice. How would an enduring Second French Empire and a delayed German unification affect the rest of the 19th century and potentially the early 20th?
 

ATP

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I think,taht there would be no unification at all,becouse A-H with Bavaria/they fought against prussia in 1866 together/ would create South-germany state.
We would get two german states,fighting each other.With France supporting catholics,England protestants,and Russia...whatever they like.Or rather those who let them take Constantinopole.In that case,probably catholics states.
 

Circle of Willis

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I think,taht there would be no unification at all,becouse A-H with Bavaria/they fought against prussia in 1866 together/ would create South-germany state.
We would get two german states,fighting each other.With France supporting catholics,England protestants,and Russia...whatever they like.Or rather those who let them take Constantinopole.In that case,probably catholics states.
An alternate WW1 pitting a Franco-Austro-Russian 'Entente' against an Anglo-Prusso-Turkish 'Allies', huh? Sounds like an interesting mess. My gut instinct tells me that the latter is probably more likely to win, but Prussia/the North German Confederation would be completely surrounded on three sides in such a situation and I don't really see the Ottomans being able to hold up well against both Russia and A-H/the South German Confederation (as well as potentially the Balkan states who'd come along for the ride with them). If Britain isn't able to save Prussia, that'd leave them pretty isolated against the alt-Entente.

Also I just realized, as a counterweight to the Russians' & Austrians' probable Balkan allies, the Italians would most likely be a 4th alt-Allied power (for whatever that'd be worth) in such a situation because the Second French Empire was keeping the Papal States afloat around Rome. A French victory in the FPW and continued French garrison in Rome would deny Italy a chance to seize the Lazio region and complete the Risorgimento in 1870, so the Italians would have to ally with the Anglo-Prussians to take it later. Then again, while Italy might be able to take some pressure off Prussia in the short term, they also infamously did poorly when just fighting on one front against A-H in OTL's WW1 - would they be able to survive against both France and Austria for long?
 

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An alternate WW1 pitting a Franco-Austro-Russian 'Entente' against an Anglo-Prusso-Turkish 'Allies', huh? Sounds like an interesting mess. My gut instinct tells me that the latter is probably more likely to win, but Prussia/the North German Confederation would be completely surrounded on three sides in such a situation and I don't really see the Ottomans being able to hold up well against both Russia and A-H/the South German Confederation (as well as potentially the Balkan states who'd come along for the ride with them). If Britain isn't able to save Prussia, that'd leave them pretty isolated against the alt-Entente.

Also I just realized, as a counterweight to the Russians' & Austrians' probable Balkan allies, the Italians would most likely be a 4th alt-Allied power (for whatever that'd be worth) in such a situation because the Second French Empire was keeping the Papal States afloat around Rome. A French victory in the FPW and continued French garrison in Rome would deny Italy a chance to seize the Lazio region and complete the Risorgimento in 1870, so the Italians would have to ally with the Anglo-Prussians to take it later. Then again, while Italy might be able to take some pressure off Prussia in the short term, they also infamously did poorly when just fighting on one front against A-H in OTL's WW1 - would they be able to survive against both France and Austria for long?
A lot would depend on the circumstances, such as does the French empire survive, does Prussia/N Germany see the OTL dramatic economic growth and the like. A hell of a lot can change and it should be remembered it was only in 1904 that Britain signed the entente with France [and 1907 with Russia] because of the growing threat and hostility from Berlin. Before that France and Russia were still seen as the primary threats. Also another factor for this was the Russo-Japanese war as with both allied to France and Britain respectively and especially after the Dogger Bank incident both Paris and London found themselves pulled into an unwanted war to support their allies.

In terms of Italy I would suspect that the French presence in Rome wouldn't last and that Italy would achieve a large scale level of unification. As such its likely to be another member of the Anglo-German alliance if such a balance of powers occurs, along with probably a modernising Japan for geographic reasons. Italy did perform badly but this was partly due to one of the worst C-in-C's in the war [which is saying something] Luigi Cadorna - Wikipedia and also due to a very poor position for offensive actions. Italy on the defensive might perform markedly better, at least in terms of holding off hostile forces and inflicting heavy losses.

One other issue is that it could be difficult to see both Austria/S Germany and Russia in the same alliance as both have opposing designs in the Balkan region. That's why Germany ultimately decided it had to choose between the two and - in part guided by national/racial issues especially possibly by the Kaiser - picked Austria, which is seen as the worst case by many. The relatively moderate terms imposed on Austria after 1866 meant that its relations with Prussia/Germany were fairly good and in this scenario if Russia is aligned with France your likely to see Austria [+S Germany but call it that for simplicity] aligned with Germany. In which case it would probably be Britain-N Germany-Austria v France-Russia-Italy, although with the latter's reliance on coastal trade and imports Italy could decide to sit it out or see who offers the best bribes for the risk.

One other issue if France won big of course, although it sounds like you don't want to go there. It could end up crippling Prussia if say it restored Hanoverian independence, split off the Rhineland/Westphalia region as a separate state and/or cosied up to Austria by insisting on the latter getting Silesia from Prussia. A couple of those would seriously weaken Berlin as a rival to either Paris or Vienna and all three could end its position as a great power.

Anyway initial wild thoughts on what might be possibilities.

Steve
 

Airedale260

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While it would likely result in Bismarck getting sacked and the status quo of the 1850s, it probably only delays the rise of Germany rather than prevents it. German nationalism as a whole was on a serious rise, and anything that seeks to check it probably results in the Germans taking a swipe at the French down the line, though this war would be with British support since Britain has every reason to side with Prussia & Co.

Italy either won’t do jack or side with the Catholics because they’re caught between Austria (which, even when allied with them was still making war plans to invade Italy), Britain and the RN would absolutely crush their navy, and France (less of a threat, but still a threat).
 

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Papal States survive, Italian 'unification' thwarted. Holy Alliance restored, now with France, Bavaria, Serbia, Papal State, and Kingdom of the Two Sicilies as members in addition to Austria-Hungary and The Russias. Prussia dismantled between an expanded Bavaria and restored Poland-Lithuania. Serbia joins A-H as the third Crown in the now Triple Monarchy. HRE restored as an alternative to German unification.

Britain is kept out of the continent except for minor allies/dependencies in Lombardy, Sardina, Spain, and Portugal. The next war is in the East as Britain-Japan-America fight Russia and her allies for control of China and Tibet.
 
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Airedale260

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Papal States survive, Italian 'unification' thwarted. Holy Alliance restored, now with France, Bavaria, Serbia, Papal State, and Kingdom of the Two Sicilies as members in addition to Austria-Hungary and The Russias. Prussia dismantled between an expanded Bavaria and restored Poland-Lithuania. Serbia joins A-H as the third Crown in the now Triple Monarchy. HRE restored as an alternative to German unification.

Britain is kept out of the continent except for minor allies/dependencies in Lombardy, Sardina, Spain, and Portugal. The next war is in the East as Britain-Japan-America fight Russia and her allies for control of China and Tibet.
The only ways that France wins are 1) she doesn’t go to war with Prussia at all or 2) she fires all of her generals and replaces them with competent or better replacements. Problem there is, France is obsessed with a centralized chain of command and in routing all of its logistics through Paris, so that’s a very tall order (given that it nearly cost them the war in 1914 and did cost them the war in 1940).

At best, France annexes the Saarland and sets the stage for a different World War I (basically a repeat of the Napoleonic Wars). Russia has a huge population, but in 1870 they’re still a fair bit behind the 8-ball in terms of being able to field their army and keep it supplied. Not to mention that, as we saw in World War I, they largely suck at wars of maneuver and have incompetent commanders.

Most likely result of all this is that World War I is a giant replay of the Napoleonic Wars. What happens after is Germany winds up unifying in a different fashion, but likely still under Berlin’s aegis.
 

Navarro

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Papal States survive
They consisted of basically just the city of Rome at this point, so at best only last until the next time France gets distracted.

Italian 'unification' thwarted
Was already all but complete at this point and had been for a decade.

Holy Alliance restored, now with France, Bavaria, Serbia, Papal State, and Kingdom of the Two Sicilies as members in addition to Austria-Hungary and The Russias.
Why would this happen after Prussia loses its war? The Holy Alliance had been defunct since 1825 and its last vestiges had ended in 1853.

Prussia dismantled
Even WW1 and WW2 didn't end with the losers being completely erased from the map and neither did the OTL Franco-Prussian War, why would this? The 19th century was an age largely of short, limited wars for small, limited goals.

expanded Bavaria
This is where it really starts getting hilarious. Yes, just hand over the entirety of the Rhineland to Bavaria, lol.

restored Poland-Lithuania
Lolno, Russia and Austria are never gonna let this happen even if Prussia gets annihilated.

Serbia joins A-H as the third Crown in the now Triple Monarchy
What does this have to do with anything? The Serbs historically were endlessly hostile to the Hapsburg crown and neither did the Austrians particularly want them - they already had enough quarrelsome national groups in their empire. It took the assassination of the heir to the throne to get Austria to try and deal with Serbia OTL and even then they were uninterested in formally annexing it.

HRE restored as an alternative to German unification.
Again, why? Austria might well become suzerain of the German states if Prussia fails to defeat France; but the HRE had ceased to be for 70 years and prior to that existed in name only for two centuries before Napoleon put it out of its misery. Nobody was remotely interested in reviving it, as shown by the fact that no-one tried after Napoleon had been defeated and it had been gone for a mere ten years.

This is pretty much just a wish list of "what I want to have happened in the 19th century" and not anything remotely plausible from the POD.
 
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Circle of Willis

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A lot would depend on the circumstances, such as does the French empire survive, does Prussia/N Germany see the OTL dramatic economic growth and the like. A hell of a lot can change and it should be remembered it was only in 1904 that Britain signed the entente with France [and 1907 with Russia] because of the growing threat and hostility from Berlin. Before that France and Russia were still seen as the primary threats. Also another factor for this was the Russo-Japanese war as with both allied to France and Britain respectively and especially after the Dogger Bank incident both Paris and London found themselves pulled into an unwanted war to support their allies.

In terms of Italy I would suspect that the French presence in Rome wouldn't last and that Italy would achieve a large scale level of unification. As such its likely to be another member of the Anglo-German alliance if such a balance of powers occurs, along with probably a modernising Japan for geographic reasons. Italy did perform badly but this was partly due to one of the worst C-in-C's in the war [which is saying something] Luigi Cadorna - Wikipedia and also due to a very poor position for offensive actions. Italy on the defensive might perform markedly better, at least in terms of holding off hostile forces and inflicting heavy losses.

One other issue is that it could be difficult to see both Austria/S Germany and Russia in the same alliance as both have opposing designs in the Balkan region. That's why Germany ultimately decided it had to choose between the two and - in part guided by national/racial issues especially possibly by the Kaiser - picked Austria, which is seen as the worst case by many. The relatively moderate terms imposed on Austria after 1866 meant that its relations with Prussia/Germany were fairly good and in this scenario if Russia is aligned with France your likely to see Austria [+S Germany but call it that for simplicity] aligned with Germany. In which case it would probably be Britain-N Germany-Austria v France-Russia-Italy, although with the latter's reliance on coastal trade and imports Italy could decide to sit it out or see who offers the best bribes for the risk.

One other issue if France won big of course, although it sounds like you don't want to go there. It could end up crippling Prussia if say it restored Hanoverian independence, split off the Rhineland/Westphalia region as a separate state and/or cosied up to Austria by insisting on the latter getting Silesia from Prussia. A couple of those would seriously weaken Berlin as a rival to either Paris or Vienna and all three could end its position as a great power.

Anyway initial wild thoughts on what might be possibilities.

Steve
Yeah, honestly I can see Russia going with either the Austro-French or the Anglo-Germans here. With the former they can snatch at Prussian Poland, East Prussia and whatever they want from the Turks, in addition to trying to win their Great Game against Britain; the latter can promise them Austrian Galicia, the reassertion of their leadership over the Slavs as a whole, and almost total mastery over the Balkans (constrained only by the Turks and their British backers). I'd imagine what Russia ends up doing will come down to who the Tsars hate more, the British or the Austrians. Even if a Franco-Austro-Russian 'Entente' does form and defeat its enemies, I think it'd be easy for Russia to fall out with its former allies over the Balkans, Middle East (France did fight Russia in the Crimean War because of its own pretensions to becoming the 'Defender of Middle Eastern Christians' after all) and possibly Poland (the Bonapartes were big fans of the Poles, though since this would be a point of friction with Austria too, I don't think France would push too hard on this point).

Italy I could see only taking Rome and ending the Papal States if France pulls out its garrison at a later point in time. But tbh I don't see them doing so unless there's another emergency that would require such an evacuation of the Roman garrison, such as alt-WW1 starting anyway. To my understanding Napoleon III only kept the garrison in place because of the influence of his wife, Empress Eugenie de Montijo, who was a devout ultramontane Catholic; and Eugenie had a strong influence on their son Napoleon IV, who was similarly religious. As Napoleon IV wouldn't be in any position to join the British Army and get himself killed fighting Zulus in a '2nd Empire survives' timeline, I think he'd agree with his mother and keep the French in Rome for as long as possible, although that in itself could be an alternate spark for the ITL WW1 if the Italians ever get a government that's tired of waiting and decides to try seizing Rome while the French are still there (presumably they'd only risk it with British/Prussian support). Italy did seem to do better on the defensive, but that was while they only had one front to deal with, and the French were actively helping them rather than being at war with them IRL - if Cadorna is still in command, I shudder to think of all those Italian troops he's going to get killed as he tries to deal with both France and Austria.

Speaking of Nappy IV, I think it'd be fun to speculate what goes on with the politics of European royal marriages while he lives and becomes Emperor of France. Apparently he courted the British princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria's youngest daughter, but died before they could marry IOTL; such a marriage may well not pan out (and Napoleon might not even get to meet her at all) if France and Britain are hostile to each other, but if it did, it could either be a point toward Anglo-French reconciliation or (much like WW1's personal effects on European royalty) fail to prevent war and result in Napoleon fighting his nephew George V. There was also suggestion of a match to the Infanta Maria del Pilar, a daughter of the Spanish queen Isabella II, who historically died right after Napoleon IV himself did. Finally if France is looking to align with Austria, Napoleon could seek the hand of Franz Josef's eldest surviving daughter Gisela - she's the same age as him and it wouldn't be the first time a Bonaparte married a Habsburg princess.

Yes, I'm pretty doubtful of France winning such a stunning victory over Prussia in 1870 - just getting them to not lose the war and make small gains is tough enough, considering all the disadvantages they had going in. Instead such a partition sounds like the sort of thing France might demand of Prussia if they completely crush the latter in an alt-WW1, with the aim of permanently castrating its German rival and asserting itself as the uncontested continental hegemon.
While it would likely result in Bismarck getting sacked and the status quo of the 1850s, it probably only delays the rise of Germany rather than prevents it. German nationalism as a whole was on a serious rise, and anything that seeks to check it probably results in the Germans taking a swipe at the French down the line, though this war would be with British support since Britain has every reason to side with Prussia & Co.

Italy either won’t do jack or side with the Catholics because they’re caught between Austria (which, even when allied with them was still making war plans to invade Italy), Britain and the RN would absolutely crush their navy, and France (less of a threat, but still a threat).
I agree, Britain would feel threatened by a stronger & bolder France (which in turn is going to be less willing to accommodate British colonial demands) and seek out Prussia/the NGF as a counterweight to Bonapartist power on the continent. Even if France does manage to crush Prussia on the continent (if they can get Austria and even better, Russia on their side) I have a pretty hard time seeing them being able to land any army in Britain itself, thanks to the Royal Navy. They'd probably have to content themselves with nipping at Britain's colonies instead, particularly (if not entirely) in Africa.

Aside from the Anglo-French colonial rivalry and Prussian revanchism & desire to finally unite Germany, I think Italian nationalism and the desire to complete the Risorgimento is the next most likely trigger for the alt-WW1, unless France has returned Rome in which case (as you say) I don't think they'll have any strong enough reason to pick a fight with the French (they could seek French Savoy and the Austrian Littoral & Trentino, but these don't seem nearly as big a prize as Rome itself). Even then they surely wouldn't move without Anglo-Prussian assurances, since simultaneously fighting France and Austria with support from the greater powers will be hard enough; doing so alone would be obviously suicidal to even the most overconfident Italian nationalist.
Papal States survive, Italian 'unification' thwarted. Holy Alliance restored, now with France, Bavaria, Serbia, Papal State, and Kingdom of the Two Sicilies as members in addition to Austria-Hungary and The Russias. Prussia dismantled between an expanded Bavaria and restored Poland-Lithuania. Serbia joins A-H as the third Crown in the now Triple Monarchy. HRE restored as an alternative to German unification.

Britain is kept out of the continent except for minor allies/dependencies in Lombardy, Sardina, Spain, and Portugal. The next war is in the East as Britain-Japan-America fight Russia and her allies for control of China and Tibet.
The only ways that France wins are 1) she doesn’t go to war with Prussia at all or 2) she fires all of her generals and replaces them with competent or better replacements. Problem there is, France is obsessed with a centralized chain of command and in routing all of its logistics through Paris, so that’s a very tall order (given that it nearly cost them the war in 1914 and did cost them the war in 1940).

At best, France annexes the Saarland and sets the stage for a different World War I (basically a repeat of the Napoleonic Wars). Russia has a huge population, but in 1870 they’re still a fair bit behind the 8-ball in terms of being able to field their army and keep it supplied. Not to mention that, as we saw in World War I, they largely suck at wars of maneuver and have incompetent commanders.

Most likely result of all this is that World War I is a giant replay of the Napoleonic Wars. What happens after is Germany winds up unifying in a different fashion, but likely still under Berlin’s aegis.
They consisted of basically just the city of Rome at this point, so at best only last until the next time France gets distracted.



Was already all but complete at this point and had been for a decade.



Why would this happen after Prussia loses its war? The Holy Alliance had been defunct since 1825 and its last vestiges had ended in 1853.



Even WW1 and WW2 didn't end with the losers being completely erased from the map and neither did the OTL Franco-Prussian War, why would this? The 19th century was an age largely of short, limited wars for small, limited goals.



This is where it really starts getting hilarious. Yes, just hand over the entirety of the Rhineland to Bavaria, lol.



Lolno, Russia and Austria are never gonna let this happen even if Prussia gets annihilated.



What does this have to do with anything? The Serbs historically were endlessly hostile to the Hapsburg crown and neither did the Austrians particularly want them. It took the assassination of the heir to the throne to get Austria to try and deal with Serbia OTL.



Again, why? Austria might well become suzerain of the German states if Prussia fails to defeat France; but the HRE had ceased to be for 70 years and prior to that existed in name only for two centuries before Napoleon put it out of its misery. Nobody was remotely interested in reviving it, as shown by the fact that no-one tried.

Look, this is pretty much just a wish list of "what I want to have happened in the 19th century" and not anything remotely plausible from the POD.
Yeah...I think that's a bit much, even for the most optimistic scenario for a French victory, whether in the FPW or an alt-WW1. France mostly just desired the Left Bank of the Rhine I think (the 'natural borders'), not to completely wipe Prussia off the face of the planet - I could see them partitioning the North German Confederation, in particular Hanover (to try to regain British goodwill, though I think that'd be misguided since the British never seemed to particularly want it in the 19th century even while still under Hanoverian kings) and Westphalia (to buttress their own border) as Stevep suggested.

Empowering Bavaria or Austria to such an extreme would also run contrary to France's own aim to be the unchallenged continental hegemon. And as Navarro said, I don't think Russia or Austria would approve of liberating Poland when that'd require both of them to give up quite a bit of their own territory, either. The only really plausible thing they might try out of that list, IMO, is totally dismantling Italy, and even that might be too difficult for Nappy IV to try - it would basically require the French & Austrians to occupy every inch of Italian soil first, and that would require a huge number of soldiers and resources be redirected away from fighting Prussia and Britain, almost certainly more than they could afford.

Instead, after some thought a Catholic imperial hegemony over Western and Central Europe directed from Paris, with Austria as a junior partner and Prussia decisively crippled while Russia dominates everything east of the Elbe and the British (as you say) locked out of the continent, seems to me like the most realistic outcome of a maximum French victory over all its enemies. A defeated Italy would be looking at having to cede Lazio back to the Pope (if they occupied it), the rest of Savoy to France and Venice & maybe Lombardy back to Austria; I'd expect the House of Savoy to get overthrown in favor of a republican and ultranationalist regime led by someone like Gabriele d'Annunzio or Julius Evola if such a scenario occurs, but they'd have a hard time finding allies to help them realize their revanchist fantasy if France continues to dominate Europe (maybe Britain after a couple years or decades of rebuilding & rearming?).

In that case, to paraphrase Hastings Ismay an utterly triumphant 'Entente' would be looking to keep the Austrians in, the British & Russians out, and the Germans & Italians down across the continent. But odds are none of this would come to pass unless France & friends win an extremely quick and smashing victory in an alt-WW1, which is much easier said than done (as everyone who thought they could win WW1 before Christmas IOTL found out).
 
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DocSolarisReich

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Yeah...I think that's a bit much, even for the most optimistic scenario for a French victory, whether in the FPW or an alt-WW1. France mostly just desired the Left Bank of the Rhine I think (the 'natural borders'), not to completely wipe Prussia off the face of the planet
It's because France was fighting for limited aims that the fall out of Prussia crashing and burning (and the Romantic dream of low German unity with it) that Austria and Bavaria will together be able to shape the future of the Germanies. Remember the first Holy Alliance only failed because of Prussian dreams of a Reich of their own clashed with the dignity of both Vienna and Moscow. With the junkers put back in the box, the common front against liberalism and modernism re-emerges.
 
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Navarro

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It's because France was fighting for limited aims that the fall out of Prussia crashing and burning (and the Romantic dream of low German unity with it) that Austria and Bavaria will together be able to shape the future of the Germanies.
"It's because their goals were so limited that they'll be able to get everything they want". Not to mention that the "dream of low German unity" had been frustrated before in 1848 and that the POD is France barely managing to win a short war with Prussia, not crushing them in an alt-WW1 in the 1870s.

Remember the first Holy Alliance only failed because of Prussian dreams of a Reich of their own clashed with the dignity of both Vienna and Moscow.
No, it collapsed because of Russo-Austrian rivalry. Again, the alliance was de facto meaningless since 1825, having lasted just a decade. Even if it's revived, it'll fall apart again within two decades as it did IOTL as Russia and Austria squabble over the collapsing Ottoman Empire (which goes to show that when it wasn't in line with what they wanted to do anyway, "a common front against liberalism and modernism" definitively took a back-seat to the alliance members' personal interests).
 
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Circle of Willis

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It's because France was fighting for limited aims that the fall out of Prussia crashing and burning (and the Romantic dream of low German unity with it) that Austria and Bavaria will together be able to shape the future of the Germanies. Remember the first Holy Alliance only failed because of Prussian dreams of a Reich of their own clashed with the dignity of both Vienna and Moscow. With the junkers put back in the box, the common front against liberalism and modernism re-emerges.
I'm skeptical that Prussia losing in 1870 would spell the death of German nationalist ambitions right then & there, tbh. Such ambitions had been swelling upward for quite a while through the 19th century and if the French don't dismantle the North German Confederation (as they are unlikely to, at least in 1870) it's probable that Prussia (which had 80% of the NGF's population) would continue to lead it and to hatch a revanchist plot against France down the road - since they can make the argument that France started the war (Bismarck's provocative telegram aside) they'd have another reason to stir up nationalistic hatred for France, preventing the Little Germanies from turning against Prussia. France sitting on the factories & coal mines of the Saar would greatly hurt Prussia, of course, but probably not enough to make its hopes of revenge totally vain, especially if they can find allies like Britain to help them achieve it.

As for Austria & Bavaria, I'm even more skeptical either of them would be able or willing to break the NGF in the event of a Prussian defeat. Austria seems to have its hands full managing the rest of its empire already, hence the Ausgleich, and to my understanding Bavaria was one of the poorer and less industrialized of the major German states, so I'm not sure they even had the strength to assert control over the rest of the Germanies. I could see an Austro-Bavaro-Badeno-Wurttemburger coalition standing (either on its own or as part of a larger French alliance) to keep the Catholic South out of Prussian hands, but taking the fight to Prussia itself and breaking down the NGF might well be beyond them; IMO that'd be the task they need France for in an alt-WW1.
 

Navarro

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Bavaria was one of the poorer and less industrialized of the major German states, so I'm not sure they even had the strength to assert control over the rest of the Germanies.
That's one of the most bizarre suppositions, especially given how Bavaria's king at the time was completely absorbed in building fanciful palaces and residences for himself to the point he was declared insane to stop him wasting the treasury.
 

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A thing to consider is that Germany didn't/doesn't just have a Catholic South, but also a Catholic West.

Here is a map showing the antebellum situation, with the NGF in red:



Now, here's the same map, with a nifty green line added. Everything West of that line? Majority Catholic. And not a marginal majority, either. You turn that region into a separate country, and it's very much a Catholic country. Look at it:



If I'm in France's shoes, and by the grace of God, I've just won against Prussia, I'm going to seize this one opportunity that I'll ever have to undo Prussia's meteoric rise. Ever since the Napoleonic Wars ended, Prussia has been gobbling up the West of Germany. It's more recent re-organisation of Northern Germany (into the NGF) has consolidated that expansion. Note the formerly-separate states that are now just... more Prussia. The people living there weren't Prussian subjects until a few years ago. It can still be reversed. Most of them are Catholic, and wary of Protestant dominance.

The region West of the line contains Germany's primary industrial region. The fact that Prussia got its hands on it was a key factor in Prussia's ultimate ascendancy. Carve this region off. Deprive Prussia of its wealth. Turn this country into a French ally. (Since Prussia has gobbled up -- Protestant -- Ostfriesland, you can just claim that, and give it to Oldenburg in exchange for getting its Catholic Southern bits.) The opportunity to create a Catholic West German state is right there.

Not only it it a magnificent buffer state; it is also a promising economic partner. Its Catholic identity will turn it ever more firmly against Prussia, as Germany is now divided along generally religious lines. These divisions will grow. Germany will drift away from unification as regional identity becomes consolidated. The new West German state will ally with France, Austria and the South German states in a Catholic, anti-Prussian alliance. (In fact, it's quite possible for these 'smaller' German Catholic states to now ally into a true union of their own, becoming the third leg of a triple alliance with France and Austria.)
 

ATP

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An alternate WW1 pitting a Franco-Austro-Russian 'Entente' against an Anglo-Prusso-Turkish 'Allies', huh? Sounds like an interesting mess. My gut instinct tells me that the latter is probably more likely to win, but Prussia/the North German Confederation would be completely surrounded on three sides in such a situation and I don't really see the Ottomans being able to hold up well against both Russia and A-H/the South German Confederation (as well as potentially the Balkan states who'd come along for the ride with them). If Britain isn't able to save Prussia, that'd leave them pretty isolated against the alt-Entente.

Also I just realized, as a counterweight to the Russians' & Austrians' probable Balkan allies, the Italians would most likely be a 4th alt-Allied power (for whatever that'd be worth) in such a situation because the Second French Empire was keeping the Papal States afloat around Rome. A French victory in the FPW and continued French garrison in Rome would deny Italy a chance to seize the Lazio region and complete the Risorgimento in 1870, so the Italians would have to ally with the Anglo-Prussians to take it later. Then again, while Italy might be able to take some pressure off Prussia in the short term, they also infamously did poorly when just fighting on one front against A-H in OTL's WW1 - would they be able to survive against both France and Austria for long?
Italy in 1866 actuallu joined Prussia.Result? their armies was stopped by austrain second-class soldiers/best was send to fight Prussia/ ,and their superior navy defeated by A-H.
that remind me joke,that Italy exist only becouse even A-H could defeat somebody.
 

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Italy in 1866 actuallu joined Prussia.Result? their armies was stopped by austrain second-class soldiers/best was send to fight Prussia/ ,and their superior navy defeated by A-H.
that remind me joke,that Italy exist only becouse even A-H could defeat somebody.
Italy is not a nation, but a geographic expression. While a certain level of 'Italianess' is a thing, there's no compelling reason for Lombards, Ligurians, Romans, Venetians, Neapolitans, Sicilians, and Sardinians to be in political union, except perhaps as an alliance to keep the Germans out. But the problem is then that Germans have long been the ultimate guarantors of the Papacy going back to Charlemagne.
 
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Circle of Willis

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A thing to consider is that Germany didn't/doesn't just have a Catholic South, but also a Catholic West.

Here is a map showing the antebellum situation, with the NGF in red:



Now, here's the same map, with a nifty green line added. Everything West of that line? Majority Catholic. And not a marginal majority, either. You turn that region into a separate country, and it's very much a Catholic country. Look at it:



If I'm in France's shoes, and by the grace of God, I've just won against Prussia, I'm going to seize this one opportunity that I'll ever have to undo Prussia's meteoric rise. Ever since the Napoleonic Wars ended, Prussia has been gobbling up the West of Germany. It's more recent re-organisation of Northern Germany (into the NGF) has consolidated that expansion. Note the formerly-separate states that are now just... more Prussia. The people living there weren't Prussian subjects until a few years ago. It can still be reversed. Most of them are Catholic, and wary of Protestant dominance.

The region West of the line contains Germany's primary industrial region. The fact that Prussia got its hands on it was a key factor in Prussia's ultimate ascendancy. Carve this region off. Deprive Prussia of its wealth. Turn this country into a French ally. (Since Prussia has gobbled up -- Protestant -- Ostfriesland, you can just claim that, and give it to Oldenburg in exchange for getting its Catholic Southern bits.) The opportunity to create a Catholic West German state is right there.

Not only it it a magnificent buffer state; it is also a promising economic partner. Its Catholic identity will turn it ever more firmly against Prussia, as Germany is now divided along generally religious lines. These divisions will grow. Germany will drift away from unification as regional identity becomes consolidated. The new West German state will ally with France, Austria and the South German states in a Catholic, anti-Prussian alliance. (In fact, it's quite possible for these 'smaller' German Catholic states to now ally into a true union of their own, becoming the third leg of a triple alliance with France and Austria.)
An interesting possibility, but was such an ambitious measure realistic (well, more realistic than a French victory at all, considering how hobbled their army was by their many deficiencies) in 1870? The Saarland seems easy enough, but all of the Rhineland and Westphalia seems like it might be beyond the French army's ability to overrun even with better leadership (admittedly not a high bar considering what Bazaine and company were up to IOTL, even minimal competence would have let them avoid the calamities at Metz & Sedan) unless Prussia's army just totally collapses early on in the fighting, ironically much like the real French one did.

Further, to my understanding while the Rhineland & Westphalia were indeed largely Catholic, they were a different sort than the more conservative ones living in Bavaria & Austria - those regions were significantly more urbanized and industrialized, indeed being the industrial core of the Prussian and German state, and that meant bourgeois liberalism (which included German nationalism) was pretty popular there. IIRC the west was the birthplace of the 1848 German Revolution, and Frankfurt the capital of the proto-German Empire; they may not be willing to go along with a French scheme that so blatantly flies in the face of their national aspirations. And of course, in 1870 the Kulturkampf hasn't happened yet to antagonize the Western Catholics, so they have fewer reasons to resent the Prussian monarchy.

Also I just remembered, Britain would probably still be interested in making sure neither France nor Prussia get too powerful - maintaining the continental balance of power, and all that. They seemed to be fine with Bismarck IOTL because he took relatively little territory from France (just Alsace-Lorraine), but this seems more like the French equivalent to trying to carve out a puppet from Burgundy & Champagne. Wouldn't they consider a revival of the Napoleonic Westphalian state to be an overreach? My impression was that France could easily get away with the Saarland, less easily the Rhineland as a whole if they were really successful on the battlefield, but London would be hugely alarmed if it looked like Napoleon III was going to start restoring his uncle's client states left & right. (Heck, they didn't even approve of the guy trying to buy Luxembourg back in 1867)
 

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y impression was that France could easily get away with the Saarland, less easily the Rhineland as a whole if they were really successful on the battlefield, but London would be hugely alarmed if it looked like Napoleon III was going to start restoring his uncle's client states left & right. (Heck, they didn't even approve of the guy trying to buy Luxembourg back in 1867)
That's why you don't do it as Nappy III declaring that he is redrawing the map as Hegemon. You do your little Saarland grab and then wait for the Concert to meet where you can get Russia and Austria to help redraw the map, leaving Britain with a fait accompli.
 

Circle of Willis

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That's why you don't do it as Nappy III declaring that he is redrawing the map as Hegemon. You do your little Saarland grab and then wait for the Concert to meet where you can get Russia and Austria to help redraw the map, leaving Britain with a fait accompli.
Well I can see Austria approving, but why Russia? They were friendly to Bismarck and even warned that they'd intervene on the Prussian side if Austria joined in on the French side (as Franz Josef wanted to historically). Napoleon III himself had made huge diplomatic blunders by first involving France in the Crimean War and then voicing support for the Polish rising in the early 1860s, decisively alienating Tsar Alexander II. If they get involved at all I'd expect Russia to align with Britain for once and support Prussia against Napoleon's bigger territorial ambitions in this case, even if they were to reconcile with France against the Anglo-Prussian bloc later.
 

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An interesting possibility, but was such an ambitious measure realistic (well, more realistic than a French victory at all, considering how hobbled their army was by their many deficiencies) in 1870? The Saarland seems easy enough, but all of the Rhineland and Westphalia seems like it might be beyond the French army's ability to overrun even with better leadership (admittedly not a high bar considering what Bazaine and company were up to IOTL, even minimal competence would have let them avoid the calamities at Metz & Sedan) unless Prussia's army just totally collapses early on in the fighting, ironically much like the real French one did.

Further, to my understanding while the Rhineland & Westphalia were indeed largely Catholic, they were a different sort than the more conservative ones living in Bavaria & Austria - those regions were significantly more urbanized and industrialized, indeed being the industrial core of the Prussian and German state, and that meant bourgeois liberalism (which included German nationalism) was pretty popular there. IIRC the west was the birthplace of the 1848 German Revolution, and Frankfurt the capital of the proto-German Empire; they may not be willing to go along with a French scheme that so blatantly flies in the face of their national aspirations. And of course, in 1870 the Kulturkampf hasn't happened yet to antagonize the Western Catholics, so they have fewer reasons to resent the Prussian monarchy.

Also I just remembered, Britain would probably still be interested in making sure neither France nor Prussia get too powerful - maintaining the continental balance of power, and all that. They seemed to be fine with Bismarck IOTL because he took relatively little territory from France (just Alsace-Lorraine), but this seems more like the French equivalent to trying to carve out a puppet from Burgundy & Champagne. Wouldn't they consider a revival of the Napoleonic Westphalian state to be an overreach? My impression was that France could easily get away with the Saarland, less easily the Rhineland as a whole if they were really successful on the battlefield, but London would be hugely alarmed if it looked like Napoleon III was going to start restoring his uncle's client states left & right. (Heck, they didn't even approve of the guy trying to buy Luxembourg back in 1867)
That's why you don't do it as Nappy III declaring that he is redrawing the map as Hegemon. You do your little Saarland grab and then wait for the Concert to meet where you can get Russia and Austria to help redraw the map, leaving Britain with a fait accompli.
There are several things to consider. Perhaps the most important one is that creating a separate kingdom is very different from annexing anything for yourself. Napoleon annexed stuff left and right, and created puppet states with little real autonomy. The West German state (Kingdom of Rhenania?) is not supposed to be a powerless French ally, but a geopolitical ally that will oppose Prussia out of its own self-interest.

In the interest of appearing as modest and un-greedy as possible, I would personally opt to decline any plans to annex the Saarland directly. It's appealing, but presenting youself as the paragon of virtue who is dutifully hemming in the belligerent upstart kingdom Prussia is far more important. It's Prussia whose martial drums are disturbing the harmonious concert of Europe, and you are simply acting to restore balance.

Regarding liberalism in Western Germany: that is true. It is also not automatically a disadvantage. This same factor creates certain differences of opinion with the other Catholic German states, but at the same time creates such differences with Prussia. We shouldn't forget that Prussia openly scorned the Frankfurt Parliament, and that the King of Prussia outright rejected the parliament's validity altogether. This after they offered him an Imperial crown. ("I will not pick up a crown from the gutter.")

If this kind of plan is presented sensibly, Britain shouldn't be altogether negative about it. Naturally, the key thing is to get other powers on board, so it's not just a "French plan". But beyond that, it's Prussia that's been expanding wildly. The notion of either Prussia or Austria crafting a vast German Empire is a daunting one. If anything, such a power could really challenge the balance of power. Creating a "third Germany" creates a nice buffer, and reduces the risk of any one existing power unifying all the German lands.

Well I can see Austria approving, but why Russia? They were friendly to Bismarck and even warned that they'd intervene on the Prussian side if Austria joined in on the French side (as Franz Josef wanted to historically). Napoleon III himself had made huge diplomatic blunders by first involving France in the Crimean War and then voicing support for the Polish rising in the early 1860s, decisively alienating Tsar Alexander II. If they get involved at all I'd expect Russia to align with Britain for once and support Prussia against Napoleon's bigger territorial ambitions in this case, even if they were to reconcile with France against the Anglo-Prussian bloc later.
I don't see Russia getting involved in France's favour, either.

If anything, the long-term outcome is that Prussia and Russia cozy up, in opposition to Austria and France.

I wouldn't assume that Britain would certainly side with Prussia and Russia in a future conflict, though. As it turns out, the outcme I'm suggesting here really would create something resembling balance. Britain will invariably side against the bloc that seems most threatening and is most likely to wreck the balance and impose its own hegemony. So if Prussia crumbles as a result of this defeat and the Franco-Austrian-Rhenanian bloc clearly becomes the more powerful one, Britain will back Prussia and Russia against that bloc. But if Prussia keeps its act together and aims for revanchism in a pact with Russia, then Britain will back the "Catholic powers" against this militarist threat from the North-East.

It's all about preventing anyone from achieving decisive continental victory.
 
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