The German Confederation (German: Deutscher Bund) was an association of 39 German-speaking states in Central Europe (adding the mainly non-German speaking Kingdom of Bohemia and Duchy of Carniola), created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to coordinate the economies of separate German-speaking countries and to replace the former Holy Roman Empire, which had been dissolved in 1806. The German Confederation excluded German-speaking lands in the eastern portion of the Kingdom of Prussia (East Prussia, West Prussia and Posen), the German cantons of Switzerland, and Alsace within France which was majority German speaking.
The Confederation was weakened by rivalry between the Kingdom of Prussia and the Austrian Empire, revolution, and the inability of the multiple members to compromise. In 1848, revolutions by liberals and nationalists attempted to establish a unified German state with a progressive liberal constitution under the Frankfurt Convention. The ruling body, the Confederate Diet, was dissolved on 12 July 1848, but was re-established in 1850 after failed efforts to replace it.
The Confederation was finally dissolved after the Prussian victory in the Seven Weeks' War over Austria in 1866. The dispute over which had the inherent right to rule German lands ended in favour of Prussia, leading to the creation of the North German Confederation under Prussian leadership in 1867, to which the eastern portions of the Kingdom of Prussia were added. A number of South German states remained independent until they joined the North German Confederation, which was renamed and proclaimed as the "German Empire" in 1871 for the now unified Germany with the Prussian king as emperor (Kaiser) after the victory over French Emperor Napoleon III in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.
Most historians have judged the Confederation to have been weak and ineffective, as well as an obstacle to the creation of a German nation-state. However, the Confederation was designed to be weak, as it served the interests of the European Great Powers, especially member states Austria and Prussia.
The German Confederation in 1815
|Religion||Roman Catholic, Protestant|
|Head of the Präsidialmacht Austria|
|Franz Joseph I|
|8 June 1815|
|13 March 1848|
|29 November 1850|
|14 June 1866|
|23 August 1866|
|1815||630,100 km2 (243,300 sq mi)|
|ISO 3166 code||DE|
|Today part of|
The War of the Third Coalition lasted from about 1803 to 1806. Following defeat at the Battle of Austerlitz by the French under Napoleon in December 1805, Holy Roman Emperor Francis II abdicated, and the Empire was dissolved on 6 August 1806. The resulting Treaty of Pressburg established the Confederation of the Rhine in July 1806, joining together sixteen of France's allies among the German states (including Bavaria and Württemberg). After the Battle of Jena–Auerstedt of October 1806 in the War of the Fourth Coalition, various other German states, including Saxony and Westphalia, also joined the Confederation. Only Austria, Prussia, Danish Holstein, Swedish Pomerania, and the French-occupied Principality of Erfurt stayed outside the Confederation of the Rhine. The War of the Sixth Coalition from 1812 to winter 1814 saw the defeat of Napoleon and the liberation of Germany. In June 1814, the famous German patriot Heinrich vom Stein created the Central Managing Authority for Germany (Zentralverwaltungsbehörde) in Frankfurt to replace the defunct Confederation of the Rhine. However, plenipotentiaries gathered at the Congress of Vienna were determined to create a weaker union of German states than envisaged by Stein.
The Confederation was formally created by a second treaty, the Final Act of the Ministerial Conference to Complete and Consolidate the Organization of the German Confederation. This treaty was not concluded and signed by the parties until 15 May 1820. States joined the German Confederation by becoming parties to the second treaty. The states designated for inclusion in the Confederation were:
In 1839, as compensation for the loss of the province of Luxemburg to Belgium, the Duchy of Limburg (held by the Netherlands) was created and it was a member of the German Confederation until its dissolution in 1866. The cities of Maastricht and Venlo were not included in the Confederation.
The Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia were the largest and by far the most powerful members of the Confederation. Large parts of both countries were not included in the Confederation, because they had not been part of the former Holy Roman Empire, nor had the greater parts of their armed forces been incorporated in the federal army. Austria and Prussia each had one vote in the Federal Assembly. Six other major states had one vote each in the Federal Assembly: the Kingdom of Bavaria, the Kingdom of Saxony, the Kingdom of Württemberg, the Electorate of Hesse, the Grand Duchy of Baden, and the Grand Duchy of Hesse. Three member states were ruled by foreign monarchs: the King of Denmark as Duke of Holstein; the King of the Netherlands as Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Duke of Limburg; and the King of Great Britain (until 1837) as King of Hanover were members of the German Confederation. Each of them had a vote in the Federal Assembly. The four free cities of Bremen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Lübeck shared one vote in the Federal Assembly. The 23 remaining states shared five votes in the Federal Assembly.
The German Federal Army (Deutsche Bundesheer) was formed in 1815 to collectively defend the German Confederation from external enemies, primarily France. Successive laws passed by the Confederate Diet set the form and function of the army, as well as contribution limits of the member states. The Diet had the power to declare war and was responsible for appointing a supreme commander of the army and commanders of the individual army corps. This made mobilization extremely slow and added a political dimension to the army. In addition, the Diet oversaw the construction and maintenance of several German Federal Fortresses and collected funds annually from the member states for this purpose.
The German Federal Army was divided into ten Army Corps (later expanded to include a Reserve Corps). However, the Army Corps were not exclusive to the German Confederation but composed from the national armies of the member states, and did not include all of the armed forces of a state. For example, Prussia's army consisted of nine Army Corps but contributed only three to the German Federal Army.
The strength of the mobilized German Federal Army was projected to total 303,484 men in 1835 and 391,634 men in 1860, with the individual states providing the following figures:
|State||Area [km²]||Population[A 1]||Matriculation class[A 2]
(proportion of total)
(in Austrian Gulden)[A 3]
|Army Corps||Troop Totals[A 4]|
|Austrian Empire[A 5]||[A 6]197,573||[A 6]10,086,900||31.44%||9,432,000||I, II, III||158,037|
|Kingdom of Prussia[A 7]||[A 6]185,496||[A 6]9,957,000||26.52%||7,956,000||IV, V, VI||133,769|
|Kingdom of Bavaria||76,258||4,120,000||11.8%||3,540,000||VII||59,334|
|Kingdom of Hannover||38,452||1,549,000||4.33%||1,299,000||X (1st Div., part)||21,757|
|Kingdom of Württemberg||19,504||1,547,400||4.63%||1,389,000||VIII (1st Div.)||23,259|
|Kingdom of Saxony||14,993||1,480,000||3.98%||1,194,000||IX (1st Div.)||20,000|
|Grand Duchy of Baden||15,269||1,175,000||3.31%||993,000||VIII (2nd Div.)||16,667|
|Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt||7,680||720,000||2.05%||615,000||VIII (3rd Div., part)||10,325|
|Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin||13,304||455,000||1.19%||357,000||X (2nd Div., part)||5,967|
|Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz||2,929||85,000||0.24%||72,000||X (2nd Div., part)||1,197|
|Grand Duchy of Oldenburg||6,420||250,000||0.73%||219,000||X (2nd Div., part)||3,740|
|Grand Duchy of Luxemburg (with the Duchy of Limburg)||2,586||259,500||0.40%||120,000||IX (2nd Div., part)||2,706|
|Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar||3,593||233,814||0.67%||201,000||Reserve (part)||3,350|
|Electoral Hesse||9,581||629,000||1.88%||564,000||IX (2nd Div., part)||9,466|
|Duchy of Anhalt-Dessau||840||57,629||0.19%||57,000||Reserve (part)||1,422|
|Duchy of Anhalt-Cöthen[A 8]||727||36,000||0.10%||30,000||Reserve (part)||325[A 9]|
|Duchy of Anhalt-Bernburg[A 10]||780||43,325||0.12%||36,000||Reserve (part)||616|
|Duchy of Brunswick||3,690||245,783||0.69%||20,000||X (1st Div., part)||3,493|
|Duchies of Holstein and Saxe-Lauenburg[A 11]||9,580||450,000||0.12%||35,000||X (2nd Div., part)||6,000|
|Duchy of Nassau||4,700||360,000||1.00%||300,000||IX (2nd Div., part)||6,109|
|Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg||1,287||114,048||0.33%||99,000||Reserve (part)||1,638|
|Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha[A 12]||2,688||156,639||0.37%||111,000||Reserve (part)||1,860|
|Duchy of Saxe-Hildburghausen[A 13]||0||0||0%||0||Reserve (part)||0[A 14]|
|Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen||2,293||136,000||0.38%||114,000||Reserve (part)||1,918|
|Principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen||906||42,341||1.40%||420,000||VIII (3rd Div., part)||356[A 15]|
|Principality of Hohenzollern-Hechingen||236||17,000||0.05%||15,000||VIII (3rd Div., part)||155[A 16]|
|Principality of Lippe-Detmold||1,133||77,500||0.23%||69,000||Reserve (part)||1,202|
|Principality of Schaumburg-Lippe||536||23,128||0.07%||21,000||Reserve (part)||350|
|Principality of Liechtenstein||159||5,800||0.02%||6,000||Reserve (part)||91|
|Principality of Reuß elder line||316||24,500||0.07%||21,000||Reserve (part)||1,241|
|Principality of Reuß younger line||826||59,000||0.17%||51,000||Reserve (part)||see Reuß elder line|
|Principality of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt||940||60,000||0.18%||54,000||Reserve (part)||899|
|Principality of Waldeck||1,121||56,000||0.17%||51,000||Reserve (part)||866|
|Principality of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen||862||51,767||0.15%||45,000||Reserve (part)||751|
|Landgraviate of Hessen-Homburg[A 17]||275||23,000||0.07%||21,000||Reserve (part)||333|
|Free City of Lübeck||298||45,600||0.13%||39,000||X (2nd Div., part)||669|
|Free City of Hamburg||410||154,000||0.43%||129,000||X (2nd Div., part)||2,163|
|Free City of Bremen||256||52,000||0.16%||48,000||X (2nd Div., part)||748|
|Free City of Frankfurt||101||54,000||0.16%||48,000||Reserve (part)||1,119|
Despite its name and intention, the German Confederation was not entirely populated by Germans; many people of other ethnic groups lived within its borders:
Between 1806 and 1815, Napoleon organized the German states, aside from Prussia and Austria, into the Confederation of the Rhine, but this collapsed after his defeats in 1812 to 1815. The German Confederation had roughly the same boundaries as the Empire at the time of the French Revolution (less what is now Belgium). It also kept intact most of Confederation's reconstituted member states and their boundaries. The member states, drastically reduced to 39 from more than 300 (see Kleinstaaterei) under the Holy Roman Empire, were recognized as fully sovereign. The members pledged themselves to mutual defense, and joint maintenance of the fortresses at Mainz, the city of Luxembourg, Rastatt, Ulm, and Landau.
The only organ of the Confederation was the Federal Assembly (officially Bundesversammlung, often called Bundestag), which consisted of the delegates of the states' governments. There was no head of state, but the Austrian delegate presided over the Assembly (according to the Bundesakte). Austria did not have extra powers, but consequently the Austrian delegate was called Präsidialgesandther and Austria the Präsidialmacht (presiding power). The Assembly met in Frankfurt.
The Confederation was enabled to accept and deploy ambassadors. It allowed ambassadors of the European powers to the Assembly, but rarely deployed ambassadors itself.
During the revolution of 1848/49 the Federal Assembly was inactive. It transferred its powers to the Provisorische Zentralgewalt, the revolutionary German Central Government of the Frankfurt National Assembly. After crushing the revolution and illegally disbanding the National Assembly, the Prussian King failed to create a German nation state by himself. The Federal Assembly was revived in 1850 on Austrian initiative, but only fully reinstalled in the Summer of 1851.
Rivalry between Prussia and Austria grew more and more, especially after 1859. The Confederation was dissolved in 1866 after the Austro-Prussian War, and was succeeded in 1866 by the Prussian-dominated North German Confederation. Unlike the German Confederation, the North German Confederation was in fact a true state. Its territory comprised the parts of the German Confederation north of the river Main, plus Prussia's eastern territories and the Duchy of Schleswig, but excluded Austria and the other southern German states.
Prussia's influence was widened by the Franco-Prussian War resulting in the proclamation of the German Empire at Versailles on 18 January 1871, which united the North German Federation with the southern German states. All the constituent states of the former German Confederation became part of the Kaiserreich in 1871, except Austria, Luxembourg, the Duchy of Limburg, and Liechtenstein.
The late 18th century was a period of political, economic, intellectual, and cultural reforms, the Enlightenment (represented by figures such as Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire, and Adam Smith), but also involving early Romanticism, and climaxing with the French Revolution, where freedom of the individual and nation was asserted against privilege and custom. Representing a great variety of types and theories, they were largely a response to the disintegration of previous cultural patterns, coupled with new patterns of production, specifically the rise of industrial capitalism.
However, the defeat of Napoleon enabled conservative and reactionary regimes such as those of the Kingdom of Prussia, the Austrian Empire, and Tsarist Russia to survive, laying the groundwork for the Congress of Vienna and the alliance that strove to oppose radical demands for change ushered in by the French Revolution. The Great Powers at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 aimed to restore Europe (as far as possible) to its pre-war conditions by combating both liberalism and nationalism and by creating barriers around France. With Austria's position on the continent now intact and ostensibly secure under its reactionary premier Klemens von Metternich, the Habsburg empire would serve as a barrier to contain the emergence of Italian and German nation-states as well, in addition to containing France. But this reactionary balance of power, aimed at blocking German and Italian nationalism on the continent, was precarious.
After Napoleon's final defeat in 1815, the surviving member states of the defunct Holy Roman Empire joined to form the German Confederation (Deutscher Bund)—a rather loose organization, especially because the two great rivals, the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia, each feared domination by the other.
In Prussia the Hohenzollern rulers forged a centralized state. By the time of the Napoleonic Wars, Prussia was a socially and institutionally backward state, grounded in the virtues of its established military aristocracy (the Junkers), stratified by rigid hierarchical lines. After 1815, Prussia's defeats by Napoleonic France highlighted the need for administrative, economic, and social reforms to improve the efficiency of the bureaucracy and encourage practical merit-based education. Inspired by the Napoleonic organization of German and Italian principalities, the reforms of Karl August von Hardenberg and Count Stein were conservative, enacted to preserve aristocratic privilege while modernizing institutions.
Outside Prussia, industrialization progressed slowly, and was held back because of political disunity, conflicts of interest between the nobility and merchants, and the continued existence of the guild system, which discouraged competition and innovation. While this kept the middle class at bay, affording the old order a measure of stability not seen in France, Prussia's vulnerability to Napoleon's military proved to many among the old order that a fragile, divided, and traditionalist Germany would be easy prey for its cohesive and industrializing neighbor.
The reforms laid the foundation for Prussia's future military might by professionalizing the military and decreeing universal military conscription. In order to industrialize Prussia, working within the framework provided by the old aristocratic institutions, land reforms were enacted to break the monopoly of the Junkers on land ownership, thereby also abolishing, among other things, the feudal practice of serfdom.
Although the forces unleashed by the French Revolution were seemingly under control after the Vienna Congress, the conflict between conservative forces and liberal nationalists was only deferred at best. The era until the failed 1848 revolution, in which these tensions built up, is commonly referred to as Vormärz ("pre-March"), in reference to the outbreak of riots in March 1848.
This conflict pitted the forces of the old order against those inspired by the French Revolution and the Rights of Man. The sociological breakdown of the competition was, roughly, one side engaged mostly in commerce, trade, and industry, and the other side associated with landowning aristocracy or military aristocracy (the Junkers) in Prussia, the Habsburg monarchy in Austria, and the conservative notables of the small princely states and city-states in Germany.
Meanwhile, demands for change from below had been fomenting since the influence of the French Revolution. Throughout the German Confederation, Austrian influence was paramount, drawing the ire of the nationalist movements. Metternich considered nationalism, especially the nationalist youth movement, the most pressing danger: German nationalism might not only repudiate Austrian dominance of the Confederation, but also stimulate nationalist sentiment within the Austrian Empire itself. In a multi-national polyglot state in which Slavs and Magyars outnumbered the Germans, the prospects of Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, Polish, Serb, or Croatian sentiment along with middle class liberalism was certainly horrifying.
Figures like August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben, Ludwig Uhland, Georg Herwegh, Heinrich Heine, Georg Büchner, Ludwig Börne, and Bettina von Arnim rose in the Vormärz era. Father Friedrich Jahn's gymnastic associations exposed middle class German youth to nationalist and democratic ideas, which took the form of the nationalistic and liberal democratic college fraternities known as the Burschenschaften. The Wartburg Festival in 1817 celebrated Martin Luther as a proto-German nationalist, linking Lutheranism to German nationalism, and helping arouse religious sentiments for the cause of German nationhood. The festival culminated in the burning of several books and other items that symbolized reactionary attitudes. One item was a book by August von Kotzebue. In 1819, Kotzebue was accused of spying for Russia, and then murdered by a theological student, Karl Ludwig Sand, who was executed for the crime. Sand belonged to a militant nationalist faction of the Burschenschaften. Metternich used the murder as a pretext to issue the Carlsbad Decrees of 1819, which dissolved the Burschenschaften, cracked down on the liberal press, and seriously restricted academic freedom.
German artists and intellectuals, heavily influenced by the French Revolution, turned to Romanticism. At the universities, high-powered professors developed international reputations, especially in the humanities led by history and philology, which brought a new historical perspective to the study of political history, theology, philosophy, language, and literature. With Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) in philosophy, Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834) in theology and Leopold von Ranke (1795–1886) in history, the University of Berlin, founded in 1810, became the world's leading university. Von Ranke, for example, professionalized history and set the world standard for historiography. By the 1830s, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology had emerged with world class science, led by Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) in natural science and Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777–1855) in mathematics. Young intellectuals often turned to politics, but their support for the failed Revolution of 1848 forced many into exile.
The population of the German Confederation (excluding Austria) grew 60% from 1815 to 1865, from 21,000,000 to 34,000,000. The era saw the demographic transition take place in Germany. It was a transition from high birth rates and high death rates to low birth and death rates as the country developed from a pre-industrial to a modernized agriculture and supported a fast-growing industrialized urban economic system. In previous centuries, the shortage of land meant that not everyone could marry, and marriages took place after age 25. The high birthrate was offset by a very high rate of infant mortality, plus periodic epidemics and harvest failures. After 1815, increased agricultural productivity met a larger food supply, and a decline in famines, epidemics, and malnutrition. This allowed couples to marry earlier, and have more children. Arranged marriages became uncommon as young people were now allowed to choose their own marriage partners, subject to a veto by the parents. The upper and middle classes began to practice birth control, and a little later so too did the peasants. The population in 1800 was heavily rural, with only 8% of the people living in communities of 5,000 to 100,000 and another 2% living in cities of more than 100,000.
In a heavily agrarian society, land ownership played a central role. Germany's nobles, especially those in the East called Junkers, dominated not only the localities, but also the Prussian court, and especially the Prussian army. Increasingly after 1815, a centralized Prussian government based in Berlin took over the powers of the nobles, which in terms of control over the peasantry had been almost absolute. They retained control of the judicial system on their estates until 1848, as well as control of hunting and game laws. They paid no land tax until 1861 and kept their police authority until 1872, and controlled church affairs into the early 20th century. To help the nobility avoid indebtedness, Berlin set up a credit institution to provide capital loans in 1809, and extended the loan network to peasants in 1849. When the German Empire was established in 1871, the nobility controlled the army and the Navy, the bureaucracy, and the royal court; they generally set governmental policies.
Peasants continued to center their lives in the village, where they were members of a corporate body and helped manage community resources and monitor community life. In the East, they were serfs who were bound prominently to parcels of land. In most of Germany, farming was handled by tenant farmers who paid rents and obligatory services to the landlord, who was typically a nobleman. Peasant leaders supervised the fields and ditches and grazing rights, maintained public order and morals, and supported a village court which handled minor offenses. Inside the family the patriarch made all the decisions, and tried to arrange advantageous marriages for his children. Much of the villages' communal life centered around church services and holy days. In Prussia, the peasants drew lots to choose conscripts required by the army. The noblemen handled external relationships and politics for the villages under their control, and were not typically involved in daily activities or decisions.
After 1815, the urban population grew rapidly, due primarily to the influx of young people from the rural areas. Berlin grew from 172,000 people in 1800 to 826,000 in 1870; Hamburg grew from 130,000 to 290,000; Munich from 40,000 to 269,000; Breslau (now Wrocław) from 60,000 to 208,000; Dresden from 60,000 to 177,000; Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) from 55,000 to 112,000. Offsetting this growth, there was extensive emigration, especially to the United States. Emigration totaled 480,000 in the 1840s, 1,200,000 in the 1850s, and 780,000 in the 1860s.
Further efforts to improve the confederation began in 1834 with the establishment of a customs union, the Zollverein. In 1834, the Prussian regime sought to stimulate wider trade advantages and industrialism by decree—a logical continuation of the program of Stein and Hardenberg less than two decades earlier. Historians have seen three Prussian goals: as a political tool to eliminate Austrian influence in Germany; as a way to improve the economies; and to strengthen Germany against potential French aggression while reducing the economic independence of smaller states.
Inadvertently, these reforms sparked the unification movement and augmented a middle class demanding further political rights, but at the time backwardness and Prussia's fears of its stronger neighbors were greater concerns. The customs union opened up a common market, ended tariffs between states, and standardized weights, measures, and currencies within member states (excluding Austria), forming the basis of a proto-national economy.
By 1842 the Zollverein included most German states. Within the next twenty years the output of German furnaces increased fourfold. Coal production grew rapidly as well. In turn, German industry (especially the works established by the Krupp family) introduced the steel gun, cast-steel axle, and a breech-loading rifle, exemplifying Germany's successful application of technology to weaponry. Germany's security was greatly enhanced, leaving the Prussian state and the landowning aristocracy secure from outside threat. German manufacturers also produced heavily for the civilian sector. No longer would Britain supply half of Germany's needs for manufactured goods, as it did beforehand. However, by developing a strong industrial base, the Prussian state strengthened the middle class and thus the nationalist movement. Economic integration, especially increased national consciousness among the German states, made political unity a far likelier scenario. Germany finally began exhibiting all the features of a proto-nation.
The crucial factor enabling Prussia's conservative regime to survive the Vormärz era was a rough coalition between leading sectors of the landed upper class and the emerging commercial and manufacturing interests. Marx and Engels, in their analysis of the abortive 1848 Revolutions, defined such a coalition: "a commercial and industrial class which is too weak and dependent to take power and rule in its own right and which therefore throws itself into the arms of the landed aristocracy and the royal bureaucracy, exchanging the right to rule for the right to make money." Even if the commercial and industrial element is weak, it must be strong enough (or soon become strong enough) to become worthy of co-optation, and the French Revolution terrified enough perceptive elements of Prussia's Junkers for the state to be sufficiently accommodating.
While relative stability was maintained until 1848, with enough bourgeois elements still content to exchange the "right to rule for the right to make money", the landed upper class found its economic base sinking. While the Zollverein brought economic progress and helped to keep the bourgeoisie at bay for a while, it increased the ranks of the middle class swiftly—the very social base for the nationalism and liberalism that the Prussian state sought to stem.
The Zollverein was a move toward economic integration, modern industrial capitalism, and the victory of centralism over localism, quickly bringing to an end the era of guilds in the small German princely states. This led to the 1844 revolt of the Silesian Weavers, who saw their livelihood destroyed by the flood of new manufactures.
The Zollverein also weakened Austrian domination of the Confederation as economic unity increased the desire for political unity and nationalism.
News of the 1848 Revolution in Paris quickly reached discontented bourgeois liberals, republicans and more radical working-men. The first revolutionary uprisings in Germany began in the state of Baden in March 1848. Within a few days, there were revolutionary uprisings in other states including Austria, and finally in Prussia. On 15 March 1848, the subjects of Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia vented their long-repressed political aspirations in violent rioting in Berlin, while barricades were erected in the streets of Paris. King Louis-Philippe of France fled to Great Britain. Friedrich Wilhelm gave in to the popular fury, and promised a constitution, a parliament, and support for German unification, safeguarding his own rule and regime.
On 18 May, the Frankfurt Parliament (Frankfurt Assembly) opened its first session, with delegates from various German states. It was immediately divided between those favoring a kleindeutsche (small German) or grossdeutsche (greater German) solution. The former favored offering the imperial crown to Prussia. The latter favored the Habsburg crown in Vienna, which would integrate Austria proper and Bohemia (but not Hungary) into the new Germany.
From May to December, the Assembly eloquently debated academic topics while conservatives swiftly moved against the reformers. As in Austria and Russia, this middle-class assertion increased authoritarian and reactionary sentiments among the landed upper class, whose economic position was declining. They turned to political levers to preserve their rule. As the Prussian army proved loyal, and the peasants were uninterested, Friedrich Wilhelm regained his confidence. The Assembly issued its Declaration of the Rights of the German people, a constitution was drawn up (excluding Austria, which openly rejected the Assembly), and the leadership of the Reich was offered to Friedrich Wilhelm, who refused to "pick up a crown from the gutter". Thousands of middle class liberals fled abroad, especially to the United States.
In 1849, Friedrich Wilhelm proposed his own constitution. His document concentrated real power in the hands of the King and the upper classes, and called for a confederation of North German states—the Erfurt Union. Austria and Russia, fearing a strong, Prussian-dominated Germany, responded by pressuring Saxony and Hanover to withdraw, and forced Prussia to abandon the scheme in a treaty dubbed the "humiliation of Olmütz".
A new generation of statesmen responded to popular demands for national unity for their own ends, continuing Prussia's tradition of autocracy and reform from above. Germany found an able leader to accomplish the seemingly paradoxical task of conservative modernization. Bismarck was appointed by King Wilhelm I of Prussia (the future Kaiser Wilhelm I) to circumvent the liberals in the Landtag of Prussia, who resisted Wilhelm's autocratic militarism. Bismarck told the Diet, "The great questions of the day are not decided by speeches and majority votes ... but by blood and iron" — that is, by warfare and industrial might. Prussia already had a great army; it was now augmented by rapid growth of economic power.
Gradually, Bismarck won over the middle class, reacting to the revolutionary sentiments expressed in 1848 by providing them with the economic opportunities for which the urban middle sectors had been fighting.
The German Confederation ended as a result of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 between Austrian Empire and its allies on one side and the Kingdom of Prussia and its allies on the other. The Confederation had 34 members immediately before its dissolution. In the Prague peace treaty, on 23 August 1866, Austria had to accept that the Confederation was dissolved. The following day, the remaining member states confirmed the dissolution. The treaty allowed Prussia to create a new Bundesverhältnis (a new kind of federation) in the North of Germany. The South German states were allowed to create a South German Confederation but this did not come into existence.
Prussia created the North German Confederation in 1867 covering all German states north of the river Main and also the Hohenzollern territories in Swabia. Besides Austria, the South German states Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden, and Hesse-Darmstadt remained separate from the rest of Germany. However, due to the successful prosecution of the Franco-German War, the four southern states joined the North German Confederation by treaty in November 1870.
As the Franco-Prussian War drew to a close, King Ludwig II of Bavaria was persuaded to ask King Wilhelm to assume the crown of the new German Empire. On 1 January 1871, the Empire was declared by the presiding princes and generals in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, near Paris. The Diet of the North German Confederation to rename the North German Confederation as the German Empire and give the title of German Emperor to the King of Prussia. The new constitution of the state, the Constitution of the German Confederation, effectively transformed the Diet of the Confederation into the German Parliament (Reichstag).
The current countries whose territory were partly or entirely located inside the boundaries of German Confederation 1815–1866 are:
The Austro-Prussian War or Seven Weeks' War (also known as the Unification War, the War of 1866, or the Fraternal War, in Germany as the German War, and also by a variety of other names) was a war fought in 1866 between the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia, with each also being aided by various allies within the German Confederation. Prussia had also allied with the Kingdom of Italy, linking this conflict to the Third Independence War of Italian unification. The Austro-Prussian War was part of the wider rivalry between Austria and Prussia, and resulted in Prussian dominance over the German states.
The major result of the war was a shift in power among the German states away from Austrian and towards Prussian hegemony, and impetus towards the unification of all of the northern German states in a Kleindeutsches Reich that excluded the German Austria. It saw the abolition of the German Confederation and its partial replacement by a North German Confederation that excluded Austria and the other South German states. The war also resulted in the Italian annexation of the Austrian province of Venetia.Bremen (state)
Bremen (pronounced [ˈbʁeːmən]), officially the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen (German: Freie Hansestadt Bremen), is the smallest and least populous of Germany's 16 states. A more informal name, but used in some official contexts, is Land Bremen ("State of Bremen").
The state consists of the city of Bremen as well as the small exclave of Bremerhaven in Northern Germany, surrounded by the larger state of Lower Saxony.Chancellor of Germany
The title Chancellor has designated different offices in the history of Germany. It is currently used for the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (German: Bundeskanzler(in) der Bundesrepublik Deutschland), the head of government of Germany.
The term, dating from the Early Middle Ages, is derived from the Latin term cancellarius.
The modern office of chancellor evolved from the position created for Otto von Bismarck in the North German Confederation in 1867; this federal state evolved into a German nation-state with the 1871 Unification of Germany. The role of the chancellor has varied greatly throughout Germany's modern history. Today, the chancellor is the country's effective leader, although in formal protocol, the Bundespräsident and Bundestagspräsident are ranked higher.
In German politics, the chancellor is the equivalent of a prime minister in many other countries.
The chancellor is elected by the Bundestag.The current, official title in German is Bundeskanzler(in), which means "federal chancellor", and is sometimes shortened to Kanzler(in).
The 8th and current chancellor is Angela Merkel, who is serving her fourth term in office.
She is the first female chancellor.Coat of arms of Germany
The coat of arms of Germany displays a black eagle with a red beak, a red tongue and red feet on a golden field, which is blazoned: Or, an eagle displayed sable beaked langued and membered gules. This is the Bundesadler (German for "Federal Eagle"), formerly known as the Reichsadler (German for "Imperial Eagle").
It is a re-introduction of the coat of arms of the Weimar Republic (in use 1919–1935), which was adopted by the Federal Republic of Germany in 1950. The current official design is due to Karl-Tobias Schwab (1887–1967) and was originally introduced in 1928.
The German Empire of 1871–1918 had re-introduced the medieval coat of arms of the Holy Roman Emperors, in use during the 13th and 14th centuries (a black single-headed eagle on a golden background), before the emperors adopted the double-headed eagle, beginning with Sigismund of Luxemburg in 1433. The single-headed Prussian Eagle (on a white background; blazoned: Argent, an eagle displayed sable) was used as an escutcheon to represent the Prussian kings as dynasts of the German Empire. The Weimar Republic introduced a version in which the escutcheon and other monarchical symbols were removed.Duchy of Brunswick
The Duchy of Brunswick (German: Herzogtum Braunschweig) was a historical German state. Its capital was the city of Brunswick (Braunschweig).
It was established as the successor state of the Principality of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel by the Congress of Vienna in 1815. In the course of the 19th-century history of Germany, the duchy was part of the German Confederation, the North German Confederation and from 1871 the German Empire. It was disestablished after the end of World War I, its territory incorporated into the Weimar Republic as the Free State of Brunswick.Duchy of Nassau
The Duchy of Nassau (German: Herzogtum Nassau) was an independent state between 1806 and 1866, located in what is now the German states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse. It was a member of the Confederation of the Rhine and later of the German Confederation. Its ruling dynasty, now extinct, was the House of Nassau. The duchy was named for its historical core city, Nassau, although Wiesbaden rather than Nassau was its capital. In 1865, the Duchy of Nassau had 465,636 inhabitants. After being occupied and annexed into the Kingdom of Prussia in 1866 following the Austro-Prussian War, it was incorporated into the Province of Hesse-Nassau. The area today is a geographical and historical region, Nassau, and Nassau is also the name of the Nassau Nature Park within the borders of the former duchy.
Today, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg still uses "Duke of Nassau" as his secondary title (of pretense), and "Prince" or "Princess of Nassau" is used as a title of pretense by other members of the grand ducal family. Nassau is also part of the name of the Dutch royal family, which styles itself Orange-Nassau.Flag of Germany
The flag of Germany or German flag (German: Flagge Deutschlands) is a tricolour consisting of three equal horizontal bands displaying the national colours of Germany: black, red, and gold (German: Schwarz-Rot-Gold). The flag was first adopted as the national flag of modern Germany in 1919, during the Weimar Republic, until 1933.
Since the 19th century, Germany has two competing traditions of national colours, black-red-gold and black-white-red. Black-red-gold were the colours of the 1848 Revolutions, the Weimar Republic of 1919-1933 and the Federal Republic (since 1949). They were also adopted by the German Democratic Republic (1949-1990), albeit, since 1959, with an additional ('socialist') coat of arms.
The colours black-white-red appeared for the first time only in 1867, in the constitution of the North German Confederation. This nation state for Prussia and other north and central German states was expanded to the south German states in 1870/1871, under the name German Empire. It kept these colours until the revolution of 1918/1919. Thereafter, black-white-red became a symbol of the political right, especially the radical right. The national socialists in 1933 re-established these colours along with the party's own swastika flag. After World War II, black-white-red was still used by some conservative groups or by groups of the far right - as it is not forbidden, unlike proper national socialist symbols.
Black-red-gold is the official flag of the Federal Republic of Germany. As an official symbol of the constitutional order, it is protected against defamation. According to §90 of the German penal code, the consequences are a fine or emprisonment up to five years.Free City of Lübeck
The Free and Hanseatic City of Lübeck (German: Freie und Hansestadt Lübeck, Danish: Lybæk) was a city-state from 1226 to 1937, in what is now the German states of Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.Grand Duchy of Hesse
The Grand Duchy of Hesse and by Rhine (German: Großherzogtum Hessen und bei Rhein) was a grand duchy in western Germany that existed from 1806 (the period of German mediatization) to the end of the German Empire in 1918. The grand duchy originally formed on the basis of the Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt in 1806 as the Grand Duchy of Hesse (German: Großherzogtum Hessen). After the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, it changed its name in 1816 to distinguish itself from the Electorate of Hesse, which had formed from neighboring Hesse-Kassel. Colloquially, the grand duchy continued to be known by its former name of Hesse-Darmstadt. It joined the German Empire in 1871 and became a republic after German defeat in World War I in 1918.Grand Duchy of Oldenburg
The Grand Duchy of Oldenburg (German: Großherzogtum Oldenburg) (also known as Holstein-Oldenburg) was a grand duchy within the German Confederation, North German Confederation and German Empire which consisted of three widely separated territories: Oldenburg, Eutin and Birkenfeld. It ranked tenth among the German states and had one vote in the Bundesrat and three members in the Reichstag.Its ruling family, the House of Oldenburg, also came to rule in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Greece and Russia. The heirs of a junior line of the Greek branch are, through Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in the line of succession to the thrones of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms after Queen Elizabeth II.
As common for German houses, the ruling branch of Oldenburg, which ruled as Dukes and later Grand Dukes, holds the headship by primogeniture of the entire House of Holstein-Oldenburg with all its cadet branches.Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia (German: Königreich Preußen) was a German kingdom that constituted the state of Prussia between 1701 and 1918. It was the driving force behind the unification of Germany in 1871 and was the leading state of the German Empire until its dissolution in 1918. Although it took its name from the region called Prussia, it was based in the Margraviate of Brandenburg, where its capital was Berlin.
The kings of Prussia were from the House of Hohenzollern. Prussia was a great power from the time it became a kingdom, through its predecessor, Brandenburg-Prussia, which became a military power under Frederick William, known as "The Great Elector". Prussia continued its rise to power under the guidance of Frederick II, more commonly known as Frederick the Great, who was the third son of Frederick William I. Frederick the Great was instrumental in starting the Seven Years' War, holding his own against Austria, Russia, France and Sweden and establishing Prussia's role in the German states, as well as establishing the country as a European great power. After the might of Prussia was revealed it was considered as a major power among the German states. Throughout the next hundred years Prussia went on to win many battles, and many wars. Because of its power, Prussia continuously tried to unify all the German states (excluding the German cantons in Switzerland) under its rule, although whether Austria would be included in such a unified German domain was an ongoing question.
After the Napoleonic Wars led to the creation of the German Confederation, the issue of more closely unifying the many German states caused revolution throughout the German states, with each wanting their own constitution. Attempts at creation of a federation remained unsuccessful and the German Confederation collapsed in 1866 when war ensued between its two most powerful member states, Prussia and Austria. The North German Confederation, which lasted from 1867 to 1871, created a closer union between the Prussian-aligned states while Austria and most of Southern Germany remained independent. The North German Confederation was seen as more of an alliance of military strength in the aftermath of the Austro-Prussian War but many of its laws were later used in the German Empire. The German Empire lasted from 1871 to 1918 with the successful unification of all the German states under Prussian hegemony. This was due to the defeat of Napoleon III in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71. The war united all the German states against a common enemy, and with the victory came an overwhelming wave of nationalism which changed the opinions of some of those who had been against unification. In 1871, Germany unified into a single country, minus Austria and Switzerland, with Prussia the dominant power.Prussia is considered the legal predecessor of the unified German Reich (1871–1945) and as such a direct ancestor of today's Federal Republic of Germany. The formal abolition of Prussia, carried out on 25 February 1947 by the fiat of the Allied Control Council referred to an alleged tradition of the kingdom as a bearer of militarism and reaction, and made way for the current setup of the German states. However, the Free State of Prussia (Freistaat Preußen), which followed the abolition of the Kingdom of Prussia in the aftermath of World War I, was a major democratic force in Weimar Germany until the nationalist coup of 1932 known as the Preußenschlag. The Kingdom left a significant cultural legacy, today notably promoted by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (SPK)), which has become one of the largest cultural organisations in the world.Kingdom of Saxony
The Kingdom of Saxony (German: Königreich Sachsen), lasting between 1806 and 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in Napoleonic through post-Napoleonic Germany. The kingdom was formed from the Electorate of Saxony. From 1871 it was part of the German Empire. It became a Free state in the era of Weimar Republic in 1918 after the end of World War I and the abdication of King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony. Its capital was the city of Dresden, and its modern successor state is the Free State of Saxony.List of German monarchs
This is about monarchs ruling over all of Germany; for the much more extensive number of monarchs ruling territories within Germany, see List of states in the Holy Roman Empire, Princes of the Holy Roman Empire, List of historic states of Germany.
This is a list of monarchs who ruled over East Francia, and the Kingdom of Germany (Regnum Teutonicum), from the division of the Frankish Empire in 843 until the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806.
The title used by the early rulers was Rex Francorum orientalium, "King of the East Franks", or Rex Francorum "King of the Franks". During the later medieval period (11th to 15th centuries), the title was "King of the Romans" (Rex Romanorum), and sometimes, interchangeably, "King of the Germans" (Rex Teutonicorum).
From 1508 until 1806, "King of the Romans" continued to be used by the emperor, while Rex Germaniae "King of Germany" or Rex in Germania "King in Germany" was used by the emperor's heir-apparent.
Also listed are the heads of the various German confederations between the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire (of which Germany was a part) in 1806 until the collapse of the German Empire in 1918.North German Confederation
The North German Confederation (German: Norddeutscher Bund) was the German federal state which existed from July 1867 to December 1870. Some historians also use the name for the alliance of 22 German states formed on 18 August 1866 (Augustbündnis). In 1870–1871, the south German states of Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, Württemberg and Bavaria joined the country. On 1 January 1871, the country adopted a new constitution, which was written under the title of a new "German Confederation" but already gave it the name "German Empire" in the preamble and article 11. As the state system largely remained the same in the German Empire, the North German Confederation continues as the German nation state which still exists.The federal constitution established a constitutional monarchy with the Prussian king as the bearer of the Bundespräsidium, or head of state. Laws could only be enabled with the consent of the Reichstag (a parliament based on universal male suffrage) and the Federal Council (a representation of the states). During the four years of the North German Confederation, a conservative-liberal cooperation undertook important steps to unify (Northern) Germany with regard to law and infrastructure. The political system (and the political parties) remained essentially the same in the years after 1870.
The North German Confederation had nearly 30 million inhabitants, of whom eighty percent lived in Prussia. Three quarters of the people of the 1871 Empire had already been "North German"'.Principality of Schaumburg-Lippe
Schaumburg-Lippe was created as a county in 1647, became a principality in 1807, a free state in 1918, and was until 1946 a small state in Germany, located in the present day state of Lower Saxony, with its capital at Bückeburg.Principality of Waldeck and Pyrmont
The County of Waldeck (later the Principality of Waldeck and Principality of Waldeck and Pyrmont) was a state of the Holy Roman Empire and its successors from the late 12th century until 1929. In 1349 the county gained Imperial immediacy and in 1712 was raised to the rank of Principality. After the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 it was a constituent state of its successors: the Confederation of the Rhine, the German Confederation, the North German Confederation, the German Empire and, until 1929, the Weimar Republic. It comprised territories in present-day Hesse and Lower Saxony, (Germany).Saxe-Altenburg
Saxe-Altenburg (German: Sachsen-Altenburg) was one of the Saxon duchies held by the Ernestine branch of the House of Wettin in present-day Thuringia. It was one of the smallest of the German states with an area of 1323 square kilometers and a population of 207,000 (1905) of whom about one fifth resided in the capital, Altenburg. The territory of the duchy consisted of two non-contiguous territories separated by land belonging to the Principality of Reuss. Its economy was based on agriculture, forestry, and small industry. The state had a constitutional monarchical form of government with a parliament composed of thirty members chosen by male taxpayers over 25 years of age.Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt was a small historic state in present-day Thuringia, Germany, with its capital at Rudolstadt.States of the German Confederation
The states of the German Confederation were those member states that from 20 June 1815 were part of the German Confederation, which lasted, with some changes in the member states, until 24 August 1866, under the presidency of the Austrian imperial House of Habsburg, which was represented by an Austrian presidential envoy to the Federal diet in Frankfurt.