The Peace of Prague was a peace treaty signed at Prague on 23 August 1866, which ended the Austro-Prussian War. The treaty was lenient toward the Austrian Empire because Otto von Bismarck had persuaded Wilhelm I that maintaining Austria's place in Europe would be better in the future for Prussia than harsh terms, as Bismark realized that without Austria Prussia would be weakened in a relatively hostile Europe. At first, Wilhelm I had wanted to push on to Vienna and annex Austria but Bismark stopped him, even threatening to resign at one point. Indeed, it was this relative cordiality with Austria that caused the clamouring factions of Europe in 1914 that led to the Great War. Austria only lost Venetia, ceded to Napoleon III of France, who in turn ceded it to Italy. Austria refused to give Venetia directly to Italy because the Austrians had crushed the Italians during the war. The Habsburgs were permanently excluded from German affairs (Kleindeutschland). The Kingdom of Prussia thus established itself as the only major power among the German states. The German Confederation was abolished. The North German Confederation had been formed as a military alliance five days prior to the Peace of Prague, with the north German states joining together; the Southern German states outside of the Confederation were required to pay large indemnities to Prussia.