Also known as the Second Reich, the German Empire was the new political entity that was founded in Europe by William I, Hohenzollern, and Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in the 2nd half of the 19th century. It was officially proclaimed on January 18, 1871, in the Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles, France, at the end of the Franco-Prussian War. The defeat of the Second French Empire in the hands of the Prussian Army, under Helmuth von Moltke, at the Battle of Sedan, allowed the Prussian King William I to establish the German Empire, concretizing the political unification of the German states, duchies, and principalities, under the powerful Kingdom of Prussia. They were legally united into one State by the new German Constitution approved on April 16, 1871.
The creation of German Empire was the result of the brilliant political moves of Otto von Bismarck, a very skillful and sagacious stateman in the service of the Prussian kings, ushering in a period of international political tensions or frictions with the British Empire known as the Armed Peace. During those years, Germany saw a rapid industrial and financial growth as it took part in the Second Industrial Revolution, with the development of a modern and powerful navy, which was fitted out with the new steam-powered armored battleships, and the establishment of colonies in Africa. The Treaty of Versailles, signed in 1919, officially put an end to the German Empire, which was succeeded by the Weimar Republic. The German Empire had been ruled by three emperors of the Hohenzollern Dynasty: William I, Frederick III (for only three months), and William II, who abdicated and escaped into exile in the Low Countries at the end of World War I.