If Bismarck built the German Empire, Napoleon cleared the way. Under French control, (1802–1814) the multitude of miniature principalities and enclaves strewn across the Holy Roman Empire, which was dissolved in 1806, were consolidated and eliminated. The Congress of Vienna left ‘just’ 39 states designated the German Confederation, but the component states, notably Prussia, were not necessarily territorially contiguous. ‘Evil, senseless’ tolls, local customs duties and tariffs on trade, which were levied between these states were recognized by reformers as a fundamental barrier to modernization. Nevertheless, the smaller states depended on the income they afforded, and feared being overwhelmed by customs union with the major powers, Prussia and Austria. Prussia eliminated customs barriers in its own territories (1818). Bavaria and Württemberg countered with their own union in 1828, at which point, Prussia persuaded Hesse and Darmstadt to join their union. A further union between the central German states swiftly followed.
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