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Ems dispatch

Ems dispatch, 1870, communication between King William of Prussia (later German Emperor William I) and his premier, Otto von Bismarck. In June, 1870, the throne of Spain was offered to Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, a relative of King William. Leopold at first accepted the candidacy, but withdrew it in July after the French government had protested. During these transactions William and Bismarck were taking the waters at Ems, Germany. There the French ambassador Comte Benedetti, in an interview with the king, requested William's guarantee that the candidacy of Leopold to the Spanish throne would never be renewed. William rejected the request. Bismarck, intent on provoking war with France, made the king's report of the conversation public (July 13) in his celebrated Ems dispatch, which he edited in a manner certain to provoke the French. France declared war on July 19, and the Franco-Prussian War began.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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