So, why did France fall so easily? It is too easy to point to the cause usually cited in textbooks--that Napoleon III's France was a hollow shell. That might have been true, but so was Austria, so was Russia, so was the Ottoman Empire, and they took much longer to fall from grace. It is possible that France fell first because of Prussia's absolute advantage in strength on the Continent; it was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the face of such a strong enemy.

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