In the wake of the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire, which was known in Germany as the First Reich, the German nobles created out of the Confederation of German States, the German Empire, or Second Reich, with Wilhelm, king of Prussia, as Emperor, in 1871. (Ten Horns, pg. 263).
“William [of Prussia], in 1861, succeeded to the crown. The autocratic spirit of King William was shown at his coronation. ‘The kings of Prussia,’ he said, ‘receive their crowns from God.’ … The King dissolved the House of Representatives [of the German Confederation], and called to his aid Otto von Bismark-Schönhausen, a gentleman of Brandenburg, known for his distrust of parliamentary institutions and his devotion to the principle of absolute rule. The policy of Bismark became the policy of the crown. Together King WIlliam and his minister created the Germany of to-day [written in 1903]. … ‘It is not Prussia’s liberality that Germany looks to, but her military power,’ said Bismark; and again: ‘The unity of Germany is to be brought about not by speeches, nor by the voice of majorities, but by blood and iron.’ …
“The union of Germany under Prussian leadership was accomplished by means of three wars: one with Denmark in 1864; the second with Austria in 1866; and the third with France in 1870. … [At the conclusion of the French war] In the Hall of Mirrors of the palace of Versailles, surrounded by a victorious army, the King of Prussia was crowned Emperor in the presence of the German sovereigns (January 18, 1871) receiving the crown ‘from himself and his equals.’ The Empire included all the German lands, save those of Austria.”
Merrick Whitcomb, A History of Modern Europe, pp. 214-218.