Otto Von Bismarck was the Prussian Chancellor. His main goal was to further strengthen the position of Prussia in Europe. Bismarck had a number of primary aims:
In the 1850s, Bismarck and Wilhelm I wanted to build up Prussia's army to be ready if war broke out with the other German states or Austria
To do this they needed to raise money through taxation. The Prussian Parliament refused to allow money to be raised in this way.
Bismarck ignored the Parliament - he collected money for military reforms through direct taxation. These reforms included:
To counter Prussia's growing influence, Austria tried to strengthen its position in the German Federation.
Since it was the most influential member of the Bund, an increase in the power of the German Federation would strengthen Austria.
Bismarck thwarted Austria's plans by insisting on popular elections to the Diet (the Federation's Parliament). Austria refused and the reforms were discarded.
Bismarck had successfully ruined Austria's plans. Ironically as a defender of the Liberal nationalists.
There is much debate about Bismarck's aims to unify all German states under Prussian rule.
Some historians argue that Bismarck only intended to unify the north German states. According to this opinion:
However, other historians believe that unification would not have happened without him: