1815 continental Europe was in a state of overall turbulence and exhaustion, as a consequence of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The liberal spirit of the Enlightenment and Revolutionary era diverged toward the Romanticism of Edmund Burke, Joseph de Maistre and Novalis. The victorious members of the Coalition had negotiated a new peaceful balance of powers in Vienna and agreed to maintain a stable German heartland that keeps French imperialism at bay. However, the idea of reforming the defunct Holy Roman Empire was discarded. Napoleon’s reorganization of the German states was continued and the remaining princes were allowed to keep their titles. In 1813, in return for guarantees from the Allies that the sovereignty and integrity of the Southern German states (Baden, Württemberg, and Bavaria) would be preserved, they broke with France.
Main articles: German Confederation and North German Confederation
During the 1815 Congress of Vienna the 39 former states of the Confederation of the Rhine joined the German Confederation, a loose agreement for mutual defense. Attempts of economic integration and customs coordination were frustrated by repressive anti-national policies. Great Britain approved of the union, convinced that a stable, peaceful entity in central Europe could discourage aggressive moves by France or Russia. Most historians, however, concluded, that the Confederation was weak and ineffective and an obstacle to German nationalism. The union was undermined by the creation of the Zollverein in 1834, the 1848 revolutions, the rivalry between Prussia and Austria and was finally dissolved in the wake of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, to be replaced by the North German Confederation during the same year.
Society and economy
Between 1815 and 1865 the population of the German Confederation (excluding Austria) grew around 60% from 21 million to 34 million. Simultaneously the Demographic Transition took place as the high birth rates and high death rates of the pre-industrial country shifted to low birth and death rates of the fast-growing industrialized urban economic and agricultural system. Increased agricultural productivity secured a steady food supply, as famines and epidemics declined. This allowed people to marry earlier, and have more children. The high birthrate was offset by a very high rate of infant mortality and after 1840, large-scale emigration to the United States. Emigration totaled at 480,000 in the 1840s, 1,200,000 in the 1850s, and at 780,000 in the 1860s. The upper and middle classes first practiced birth control, soon to be universally adopted.