Before 1866 ‘Germany’ had been a loose term. Its political form was the German Confederation, set up at the Congress in Vienna (1815) to replace the Holy Roman Empire-the so-called ‘thousand-year Reich’ which had been founded in the ninth century by Charlemagne and ended in 1806 by Napoleon. The German Confederation had comprised most of Prussia, the Austrian and Bohemian provinces of the Austrian Empire and thirty-nine smaller states which had their own rulers. The Confederation had a central Diet, or executive council, but no overall executive apart from the nominal presidency of Austria.