Kingdom of Prussia

The Kingdom of Prussia (German: Königreich Preußen) was a German kingdom that constituted the state of Prussia between 1701 and 1918.[3] 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.[3] 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".[4][5][6][7] 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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[3] 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.[3] 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.[3] 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.[3]

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.[3] 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.[11]

History

Establishment

In 1415 a Hohenzollern Burgrave came from the south to the March of Brandenburg and took control of the area as elector.[3] In 1417 the Hohenzollern was made an elector of the Holy Roman Empire.[3]

After the Polish wars, the newly established Baltic towns of the German states, including Prussia, suffered many economic setbacks.[12] Many of the Prussian towns could not even afford to attend political meetings outside of Prussia. The towns were poverty stricken, with even the largest town, Danzig, having to borrow money from elsewhere to pay for trade.[12] Poverty in these towns was partly caused by Prussia's neighbours, who had established and developed such a monopoly on trading that these new towns simply could not compete. These issues led to feuds, wars, trade competition and invasions.[12] However, the fall of these towns gave rise to the nobility, separated the east and the west, and allowed the urban middle class of Brandenburg to prosper.[12]

It was clear in 1440 how different Brandenburg was from the other German territories, as it faced two dangers that the other German territories did not, partition from within and the threat of invasion by its neighbours.[3] It prevented partition by enacting the Dispositio Achillea, which instilled the principle of primogeniture to both the Brandenburg and Franconian territories.[3] The second issue was resolved through expansion. Brandenburg was surrounded on every side by neighbours whose boundaries were merely political.[3] Any neighbour could attack and consume Brandenburg at any moment. The only way to defend herself was to absorb her neighbours before they absorbed her.[3] Through negotiations and marriages Brandenburg slowly but surely expanded her borders, absorbing neighbours and eliminating the threat of attack.

The Hohenzollerns were made rulers of the Margraviate of Brandenburg in 1518. In 1529 the Hohenzollerns secured the reversion of the Duchy of Pomerania after a series of conflicts, and acquired its eastern part following the Peace of Westphalia.

In 1618 the Hohenzollerns inherited the Duchy of Prussia, since 1511 ruled by Hohenzollern Albrecht of Brandenburg Prussia, who in 1525 converted the Teutonic Order ruled state to a Protestant Duchy by accepting fiefdom of the crown of Poland. It was ruled in a personal union with Brandenburg, known as "Brandenburg-Prussia". In the course of the Second Northern War, the treaties of Labiau and Wehlau-Bromberg granted the Hohenzollerns full sovereignty over the Prussian duchy by September 1657.

In return for an alliance against France in the War of the Spanish Succession, the Great Elector's son, Frederick III, was allowed to elevate Prussia to a kingdom in the Crown Treaty of 16 November 1700. Frederick crowned himself "King in Prussia" as Frederick I on 18 January 1701. Legally, no kingdoms could exist in the Holy Roman Empire except for Bohemia. However, Frederick took the line that since Prussia had never been part of the empire and the Hohenzollerns were fully sovereign over it, he could elevate Prussia to a kingdom.

The style "King in Prussia" was adopted to acknowledge the legal fiction that the Hohenzollerns were legally kings only in their former duchy. In Brandenburg and the portions of their domains that were within the Empire, they were still legally only electors under the overlordship of the emperor. However, by this time the emperor's authority was only nominal. The rulers of the empire's various territories acted largely as the rulers of sovereign states, and only acknowledged the emperor's suzerainty in a formal way. In addition, the Duchy was only the eastern half of the region of Prussia; the western-half was held by the King of Poland. While the personal union between Brandenburg and Prussia legally continued until the end of the empire in 1806, from 1701 onward Brandenburg was de facto treated as an integral part of the kingdom. Since the Hohenzollerns were nominally still subjects of the emperor within the parts of their domains that were part of the empire, they continued to use the additional title of Elector of Brandenburg until the empire was dissolved. It was not until 1772 that the title was changed to "King of Prussia".

1700–1721: Aftermath of the Thirty-Years' War and the Great Northern War

The Kingdom of Prussia was devastated from the Thirty Years' War and poor in natural resources. Its territory was disjointed, stretching 1,200 km (750 mi) from the lands of the Duchy of Prussia on the south-east coast of the Baltic Sea to the Hohenzollern heartland of Brandenburg, with the exclaves of Cleves, Mark and Ravensberg in the Rhineland. In 1708 about one third of the population of the Duchy of Prussia died of bubonic plague.[13] The plague reached Prenzlau in August 1710 but receded before it could reach the capital Berlin, which was only 80 km (50 mi) away.

The Great Northern War was the first major conflict that the Kingdom of Prussia was involved in. Starting in 1700, the Great Northern War involved a coalition led by Tsarist Russia against the dominant North European power at the time, the Swedish Empire. Frederick William in 1705 tried to get Prussia involved in the war, stating it "best Prussia has her own army and make her own decisions."[14] His views, however, were not considered acceptable by those in power. It was not until 1713 that Frederick William gained full royal powers.[14] Therefore, in 1715, Prussia, led by Frederick William, joined the coalition for various reasons,[14] including the danger of being attacked from both her rear and the sea; her claims on Pomerania; and the fact that if she stood aside and Sweden lost she would not get a share of the territory.[3][14] Prussia only participated in one battle, the Battle of Stresow on the island of Rügen, as the war had already been practically decided in the 1709 Battle of Poltava. In the Treaty of Stockholm Prussia gained all of Swedish Pomerania east of the river Oder. Sweden would however keep Vorpommern until 1815. The Great Northern War not only marked the end of the Swedish Empire but also elevated Prussia and Russia as new powers in Europe.[15]

The Great Elector incorporated the Junkers, the landed aristocracy, into the empire's bureaucracy and military machine, giving them a vested interest in the Prussian Army and compulsory education.[16] King Frederick William I inaugurated the Prussian compulsory system in 1717.[16]

1740–1762: Silesian Wars

Preussen-FdG
Prussian territorial acquisitions in the 18th century

In 1740 King Frederick II (Frederick the Great) came to the throne. Using the pretext of a 1537 treaty (vetoed by Emperor Ferdinand I) by which parts of Silesia were to pass to Brandenburg after the extinction of its ruling Piast dynasty, Frederick invaded Silesia, thereby beginning the War of the Austrian Succession. After rapidly occupying Silesia, Frederick offered to protect Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria if the province were turned over to him. The offer was rejected, but Austria faced several other opponents, and Frederick was eventually able to gain formal cession with the Treaty of Berlin in 1742.

To the surprise of many, Austria managed to renew the war successfully. In 1744 Frederick invaded again to forestall reprisals and to claim, this time, the province of Bohemia. He failed, but French pressure on Austria's ally Great Britain led to a series of treaties and compromises, culminating in the 1748 Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle that restored peace and left Prussia in possession of most of Silesia.

Hohenfriedeberg - Attack of Prussian Infantry - 1745
Attack of the Prussian Infantry at the Battle of Hohenfriedberg in 1745

Humiliated by the cession of Silesia, Austria worked to secure an alliance with France and Russia (the "Diplomatic Revolution"), while Prussia drifted into Great Britain's camp forming the Anglo-Prussian Alliance. When Frederick preemptively invaded Saxony and Bohemia over the course of a few months in 1756–1757, he began a Third Silesian War and initiated the Seven Years' War.

This war was a desperate struggle for the Prussian Army, and the fact that it managed to fight much of Europe to a draw bears witness to Frederick's military skills. Facing Austria, Russia, France, and Sweden simultaneously, and with only Hanover (and the non-continental British) as notable allies, Frederick managed to prevent serious invasion until October 1760, when the Russian army briefly occupied Berlin and Königsberg. The situation became progressively grimmer, however, until the death in 1762 of Empress Elizabeth of Russia (Miracle of the House of Brandenburg). The accession of the Prussophile Peter III relieved the pressure on the eastern front. Sweden also exited the war at about the same time.

Defeating the Austrian army at the Battle of Burkersdorf and relying on continuing British success against France in the war's colonial theatres, Prussia was finally able to force a status quo ante bellum on the continent. This result confirmed Prussia's major role within the German states and established the country as a European great power. Frederick, appalled by the near-defeat of Prussia, lived out his days as a much more peaceable ruler.

1772, 1793, and 1795: Partitions of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

To the east and south of Prussia, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth had gradually weakened during the 18th century. Alarmed by increasing Russian influences in Polish affairs and by a possible expansion of the Russian Empire, Frederick was instrumental in initiating the first of the Partitions of Poland between Russia, Prussia, and Austria in 1772 to maintain a balance of power. The Kingdom of Prussia annexed most of the Polish province of Royal Prussia, including Warmia; the annexed land was organised the following year into the Province of West Prussia. The new territory connected the Province of East Prussia (the territory previously known as the Duchy of Prussia) with the Province of Pomerania, uniting the kingdom's eastern territories.

After Frederick died in 1786, his nephew Fredrick William II continued the partitions, gaining a large part of western Poland in 1793.

In 1795 the Kingdom of Poland ceased to exist and a large area (including Warsaw) to the south of East Prussia became part of Prussia. These new territories were organised into the Provinces of New Silesia, South Prussia, and New East Prussia.

In 1787 Prussia invaded Holland to restore the Orangist stadtholderate against the increasingly rebellious Patriots, who sought to overthrow House of Orange-Nassau and establish a democratic republic. The direct cause of the invasion was the Arrest at Goejanverwellesluis, where Frederick William II's sister Wilhelmina of Prussia, also stadtholder William V of Orange's wife, was stopped by a band of Patriots who denied her passage to The Hague to reclaim her husband's position.

1801–1815: Napoleonic Wars

Preussen-1806
Prussia (orange) and its territories lost after the War of the Fourth Coalition (other colours)

The Treaty of Basel (1795) ended the War of the First Coalition against France. In it, the First French Republic and Prussia had stipulated that the latter would ensure the Holy Roman Empire's neutrality in all the latter's territories north of the demarcation line of the river Main, including the British continental dominions of the Electorate of Hanover and the Duchies of Bremen-Verden. To this end, Hanover (including Bremen-Verden) also had to provide troops for the so-called demarcation army maintaining this state of armed neutrality.

In the course of the War of the Second Coalition against France (1799–1802) Napoleon Bonaparte urged Prussia to occupy the continental British dominions. In 1801 24,000 Prussian soldiers invaded, surprising Hanover, which surrendered without a fight. In April 1801 the Prussian troops arrived in Bremen-Verden's capital Stade and stayed there until October of the same year. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland first ignored Prussia's hostility, but when it joined the pro-French coalition of armed "neutral" powers such as Denmark–Norway and Russia, Britain started to capture Prussian sea vessels. After the battle of Copenhagen the coalition fell apart and Prussia again withdrew its troops.

At Napoleon's instigation, Prussia recaptured British Hanover and Bremen-Verden in early 1806. On August 6 of the same year, the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved as a result of Napoleon's victories over Austria. The title of Kurfürst (Prince-elector) of Brandenburg became meaningless, and was dropped. Nonetheless, Frederick William III was now de jure as well as de facto sovereign of all of the Hohenzollern domains.[17] Before this time, the Hohenzollern sovereign had held many titles and crowns, from Supreme Governor of the Protestant Churches (summus episcopus) to King, Elector, Grand Duke, Duke for the various regions and realms under his rule. After 1806 he was simply King of Prussia and summus episcopus.

1839 Krafft Siegesmeldung nach der Schlacht bei Leipzig 1813 anagoria
Frederick III of Prussia, Alexander I of Russia and Francis II of Austria after the battle of Leipzig, 1813

But when Prussia, after it turned against the French Empire, was defeated in the Battle of Jena–Auerstedt (October 14, 1806), Frederick William III was forced to temporarily flee to remote Memel.[18] After the Treaties of Tilsit in 1807, Prussia lost about half of its territory, including the land gained from the Second and Third Partitions of Poland (which now fell to the Duchy of Warsaw) and all land west of the Elbe River. France recaptured Prussian-occupied Hanover, including Bremen-Verden. The remainder of the kingdom was occupied by French troops (at Prussia's expense) and the king was obliged to make an alliance with France and join the Continental System.

The Prussian reforms were a reaction to the Prussian defeat in 1806 and the Treaties of Tilsit. It describes a series of constitutional, administrative, social and economic reforms of the kingdom of Prussia. They are sometimes known as the Stein-Hardenberg Reforms after Karl Freiherr vom Stein and Karl August Fürst von Hardenberg, their main instigators.

After the defeat of Napoleon in Russia in 1812, Prussia quit the alliance and took part in the Sixth Coalition during the "Wars of Liberation" (Befreiungskriege) against the French occupation. Prussian troops under Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher contributed crucially in the Battle of Waterloo of 1815 to the final victory over Napoleon.

1815: After Napoleon

Ac.prussiamap3
Expansion of Prussia 1807–1871

Prussia's reward for its part in France's defeat came at the Congress of Vienna. It regained most of its pre-1806 territory. Notable exceptions included much of the territory annexed in the Second and Third Partitions of Poland, which became Congress Poland under Russian rule. It also didn't regain several of its former towns in the south. However, as compensation it picked up some new territory, including 40% of the Kingdom of Saxony and much of Westphalia and the Rhineland. Prussia now stretched uninterrupted from the Niemen in the east to the Elbe in the west, and possessed a chain of disconnected territories west of the Elbe.

With these gains in territory, the kingdom was reorganised into 10 provinces. Most of the kingdom, aside from the Provinces of East Prussia, West Prussia, and Posen, became part of the new German Confederation, a confederacy of 39 sovereign states (including Austria and Bohemia) replacing the defunct Holy Roman Empire.

Frederick William III submitted Prussia to a number of administrative reforms, among others reorganising the government by way of ministries, which remained formative for the following hundred years.

As to religion, reformed Calvinist Frederick William III—as Supreme Governor of the Protestant Churches—asserted his long-cherished project (started in 1798) to unite the Lutheran and the Reformed Church in 1817, (see Prussian Union). The Calvinist minority, strongly supported by its co-religionist Frederick William III, and the partially reluctant Lutheran majority formed the united Protestant Evangelical Church in Prussia. However, ensuing quarrels causing a permanent schism among the Lutherans into united and Old Lutherans by 1830.

As a consequence of the Revolutions of 1848, the Principalities of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Hohenzollern-Hechingen (ruled by a Catholic cadet branch of the House of Hohenzollern) were annexed by Prussia in 1850, later united as Province of Hohenzollern.

1848–1871: German wars of unification

For the half-century that followed the Congress of Vienna, there was a conflict of ideals within the German Confederation between the formation of a single German nation and the conservation of the current collection of smaller German states and kingdoms. The creation of the German Customs Union (Zollverein) in 1834, which excluded the Austrian Empire, increased Prussian influence over the member states. As a consequence of the Revolutions of 1848, King Frederick William IV was offered the crown of a united Germany by the Frankfurt Parliament. Frederick William refused the offer on the grounds that revolutionary assemblies could not grant royal titles. But there were two other reasons why he refused: to do so would have done little to end the internal power struggle between Austria and Prussia, and all Prussian kings (up to and including William I) feared that the formation of a German Empire would mean the end of Prussia's independence within the German states.

In 1848 actions taken by Denmark towards the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein led to the First War of Schleswig (1848–51) between Denmark and the German Confederation, resulting in a Danish victory.

Frederick William issued Prussia's first constitution by his own authority in 1848. This document—moderate by the standards of the time but conservative by today's standards—provided for a two-house parliament. The lower house, or Landtag was elected by all taxpayers, who were divided into three classes whose votes were weighted according to the amount of taxes paid. Women and those who paid no taxes had no vote. This allowed just over one-third of the voters to choose 85% of the legislature, all but assuring dominance by the more well-to-do men of the population. The upper house, which was later renamed the Herrenhaus ("House of Lords"), was appointed by the king. He retained full executive authority and ministers were responsible only to him (indeed, as late as 1910, Prussian kings believed that they ruled by divine right). As a result, the grip of the landowning classes, the Junkers, remained unbroken, especially in the eastern provinces.

Frederick William suffered a stroke in 1857, and his younger brother, Prince William, became regent. William pursued a considerably more moderate policy. Upon Frederick William IV's death in 1861, he succeeded to the throne as William I. However, shortly after gaining the throne, he faced a dispute with his parliament over the size of the army. The parliament, dominated by the liberals, balked at William's desire to increase the number of regiments and withheld approval of the budget to pay for its cost. A deadlock ensued, and William seriously considered abdicating in favour of his son, Crown Prince Frederick William. He was, however, persuaded to appoint as prime minister Otto von Bismarck, his ambassador to France. Bismarck took office on September 23, 1862.

Georg Bleibtreu - 1868 - Die Schlacht von Koniggratz (section)
King Wilhelm I on a black horse with his suite, Bismarck, Moltke, and others, watching the battle of Königgrätz

Although Bismarck had a reputation as an unyielding conservative, he was initially inclined to seek a compromise over the budget issue. However, William refused to consider it; he viewed defence issues as the crown's personal province. Forced into a policy of confrontation, Bismarck came up with a novel theory. Under the constitution, the king and the parliament were responsible for agreeing on the budget. Bismarck argued that since they had failed to come to an agreement, there was a "hole" in the constitution, and the government had to continue to collect taxes and disburse funds in accordance with the old budget in order to keep functioning. The government thus operated without a new budget from 1862 to 1866, allowing Bismarck to implement William's military reforms.

The liberals violently denounced Bismarck for what they saw as his disregard for the fundamental law of the kingdom. However, Bismarck's real plan was an accommodation with liberalism. Although he had opposed German unification earlier in his career, he had now come to believe that it was inevitable. To his mind, the conservative forces had to take the lead in the drive toward creating a unified nation in order to keep from being eclipsed. He also believed that the middle-class liberals wanted a unified Germany more than they wanted to break the grip of the traditional forces over society. He thus embarked on a drive to create a united Germany under Prussian leadership, and guided Prussia through three wars which ultimately achieved this goal.

The first of these wars was the Second War of Schleswig (1864), which Prussia initiated and succeeded in gaining the assistance of Austria. Denmark was soundly defeated and surrendered both Schleswig and Holstein, to Prussia and Austria respectively.

Map-AustroPrussianWar-annexed
Aftermath of the Austro-Prussian War (1866)
  Prussia
  Prussian allies: Italy and 14 German states[19]
  Austrian allies: 11 German states[20]

The divided administration of Schleswig and Holstein then became the trigger for the Austro-Prussian War (1866—also known as the Seven Weeks' War), where Prussia, allied with the Kingdom of Italy and various northern German states, declared war on the Austrian Empire. The Austrian-led coalition was crushed, and Prussia annexed four of its smaller allies—the Kingdom of Hanover, the Electorate of Hesse, the Duchy of Nassau and the Free City of Frankfurt. Prussia also annexed Schleswig and Holstein, and also effectively annexed Saxe-Lauenburg by forcing it into a personal union with Prussia (which was turned into a full union in 1876). King William initially wanted to take territory from Austria itself, but Bismarck persuaded him to abandon the idea. While Bismarck wanted Austria to play no future role in German affairs, he foresaw that Austria could be a valuable future ally.

With these gains in territory, the Prussian possessions in the Rhineland and Westphalia were connected to the rest of the kingdom for the first time. Counting the de facto annexation of Saxe-Lauenburg, Prussia now stretched uninterrupted across the northern two-thirds of Germany. It would remain at this size until the overthrow of the monarchy in 1918.

Bismarck used this opportunity to end the budget dispute with parliament. He proposed a bill of indemnity granting him retroactive approval for governing without a legal budget. He guessed, correctly as it turned out, that this would lead to a split between his liberal adversaries. While some of them argued that there could be no compromise with the principle of constitutional government, most of the liberals decided to support the bill in hopes of winning more freedom in the future.

The German Confederation was dissolved as part of the war. In its place, Prussia cajoled the 21 states north of the Main into forming the North German Confederation in 1867. Prussia was the dominant state in this new grouping, with four-fifths of its territory and population—more than the other members of the confederation combined. Its near-total control was cemented in a constitution written by Bismarck. Executive power was vested in a president—a hereditary office of the rulers of Prussia. He was assisted by a chancellor responsible only to him. There was also a two-house parliament. The lower house, or Reichstag (Diet), was elected by universal male suffrage. The upper house, or Bundesrat (Federal Council) was appointed by the state governments. The Bundesrat was, in practice, the stronger chamber. Prussia had 17 of 43 votes and could easily control proceedings through alliances with the other states. For all intents and purposes, the new grouping was dominated by Bismarck. He served as his own foreign minister for virtually his entire tenure as prime minister of Prussia, and in that capacity was able to instruct the Prussian delegates to the Bundesrat.

The southern German states (except Austria) were forced to accept military alliances with Prussia, and Prussia began steps to merge them with the North German Confederation. Bismarck's planned Kleindeutschland unification of Germany had come considerably closer to realisation.

The final act was the Franco-Prussian War (1870), where Bismarck maneuvered Emperor Napoleon III of France into declaring war on Prussia. Activating the German alliances put in place after the Austro-Prussian War, the German states came together and swiftly defeated France, even managing to take Napoleon prisoner. Even before then, Bismarck was able to complete the work of unifying Germany under Prussian leadership. The patriotic fervour aroused by the war with France overwhelmed the remaining opponents of a unified nation, and on 18 January 1871 (the 170th anniversary of the coronation of the first Prussian king, Frederick I), the German Empire was proclaimed in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles outside of Paris, while the French capital was still under siege. King William became the first emperor of a unified Germany.

1871–1918: Peak and fall

Bismarck's new empire was the most powerful state on the Continent. Prussia's dominance over the new empire was almost as absolute as it was with the North German Confederation. It included two-thirds of the empire's territory and three-fifths of its population. The imperial crown was a hereditary office of the House of Hohenzollern. Prussia also had a large plurality of seats in the Bundesrat, with 17 votes out of 58 (17 out of 61 after 1911); no other state had more than six votes. As before, it could effectively control the proceedings with the support of its allies in the secondary states. As mentioned above, Bismarck served as foreign minister of Prussia for almost his entire career, and in that role instructed the Prussian deputies to the Bundesrat. The Imperial Army was essentially an enlarged Prussian army, and the embassies of the new empire were mostly old Prussian embassies. The constitution of the German Empire was essentially an amended version of the constitution of the North German Confederation.

Prussiamap
Prussia in the German Empire 1871–1918
Karte Deutsches Reich, Verwaltungsgliederung 1900-01-01
Administrative divisions of the German Empire on 1 January 1900

However, the seeds for future problems lay in a gross disparity between the imperial and Prussian systems. The empire granted the vote to all men over 25. However, Prussia retained its restrictive three-class voting system, in which the well-to-do had 17½ times the voting power of the rest of the population. Since the imperial chancellor was, except for two periods (January–November 1873 and 1892–94) also prime minister of Prussia, this meant that for most of the empire's existence, the king/emperor and prime minister/chancellor had to seek majorities from legislatures elected by two completely different franchises.

At the time of the empire's creation, both Prussia and Germany were roughly two-thirds rural. Within 20 years, the situation was reversed; the cities and towns accounted for two-thirds of the population. However, in both the kingdom and the empire, the constituencies were never redrawn to reflect the growing population and influence of the cities and towns. This meant that rural areas were grossly overrepresented from the 1890s onward.

Bismarck realised that the rest of Europe was skeptical of his powerful new Reich, and turned his attention to preserving peace with such acts as the Congress of Berlin. The new German Empire improved its already-strong relations with Britain. The ties between London and Berlin had already been sealed with a golden braid in 1858, when Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia married Princess Victoria of Britain.

William I died in 1888, and the Crown Prince succeeded to the throne as Frederick III. The new emperor, a decided Anglophile, planned to transform Prussia and the empire into a more liberal and democratic monarchy based on the British model. However, Frederick was already ill with inoperable throat cancer, and died after only 99 days on the throne. He was succeeded by his 29-year-old son, William II. As a boy, William had rebelled against his parents' efforts to mould him as a liberal, and had become thoroughly Prussianized under Bismarck's tutelage.

The new Kaiser Wiliam rapidly soured relations with the British and Russian royal families (despite being closely related to them), becoming their rival and ultimately their enemy. Before and during World War I (1914–1918), Prussia supplied significant numbers of soldiers and sailors in the German military, and Prussian Junkers dominated the higher ranks. In addition, portions of the Eastern Front were fought on Prussian soil. Prussia – along with Germany as a whole – experienced increasing troubles with revolutionaries during the war. The Great War ended by armistice on 11 November 1918.

Uprisings in Berlin and other centres began the civil conflict of the German Revolution of 1918–19 (German: Novemberrevolution). By late 1918, the Prussian House of Representatives was controlled by the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), which advocated Marxism. William knew that he had lost his imperial crown for good, but still hoped to retain his Prussian crown. However, this was impossible under the imperial constitution, which stipulated that the imperial crown was tied to the Prussian crown. In any event, he had lost support of the military who might have fought for him. William's abdication as both king of Prussia and German emperor was announced on 9 November 1918, and he went into exile in the Netherlands the next day. With armed revolts, mass strikes, and street fighting in Berlin, the Prussian state government declared a state of siege and appealed for imperial military aid. The Garde-Kavallerie-Schützen-Division, commanded by Waldemar Pabst, moved against the strikers in Berlin. By the end of the fighting on 16 March, they had killed approximately 1,200 people, many of them unarmed and uninvolved. The revolutionary period lasted from November 1918 until the establishment in August 1919 of a republic that later became known as the Weimar Republic.

Prussia was incorporated as a state in the Weimar Republic. Under the republic, undemocratic public institutions were abolished, including the disappearance "of the Prussian Upper House, [and] the former Prussian Lower House that had been elected in accordance with the three-class suffrage".[21]

State

Government

The joint authority, feudal and bureaucratic, on which Prussian absolute monarchy was based, saw its interests laid in suppression of the drive for personal freedom and democratic rights. It therefore had to recourse on police methods.[22] The "police state", as Otto Hintze described it, replaced the older system with its feudal squirearchy run in the interests of the ruling class, but which in its rudimentary form was a constitutional state.[23]

Politics

The Kingdom of Prussia was an absolute monarchy until the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states, after which Prussia became a constitutional monarchy and Adolf Heinrich von Arnim-Boitzenburg was appointed as Prussia's first prime minister. Following Prussia's first constitution, a two-house parliament was formed. The lower house, or Landtag was elected by all taxpayers, who were divided into three classes according to the amount of taxes paid. This allowed just over 25% of the voters to choose 85% of the legislature, all but assuring dominance by the more well-to-do elements of the population. The upper house, which was later renamed the Prussian House of Lords, was appointed by the king. He retained full executive authority and ministers were responsible only to him. As a result, the grip of the landowning classes, the Prussian Junkers, remained unbroken, especially in the eastern provinces. Prussian Secret Police, formed in response to the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states, aided the conservative government.

Constitutions

There were two constitutions during the kingdom's existence, the 1848 and 1850. The constitution of 1848 was enacted and set into effect on December 5, 1848, by Frederick William IV. This was set out in response to the revolutions of 1848. The second constitution was enacted on January 31, 1850, and was continually amended in the following years.

The Constitution of 1848 occurred under the rule of Frederick William IV who took power from his father after his death in the year 1840. After taking power, William set an appointment of committees to confer on points of various questions. With this the king believed that he could give a sense of unity without revolution. The government was then cautiously brought together, all members of the eight provincial assemblies, and split into two houses, a house of lords and a second house that enveloped the three estates of the knights, the burgesses and the peasants. Although they had no real power and the king did not consult them or allow them to veto or argue the legislatures that were being made, it was a step towards a constitutional state. Known as the "March Days", radical changes began to occur. When the king refused to add the United Diets into an actual representative institution, the people began to rebel. On March 18 the king made the decision to agree to some concessions. However, there were multiple stand-offs with soldiers as he had not been able to stop them from attacking even peaceful crowds. In March the king agreed to demands issued by the people and made a number of concessions. At the May 22, 1848, convention he put out the sketch of the new constitution. The people submitted a revised draft on July 26, 1848. When all discussions were finished, Frederick dissolved the convention and the constitution was officially put in place on December 5, 1848.[24][25]

The constitution was separated into 105 different articles headed under eight separate headings. The nine headings are titled The Territory of the State, The Rights of the Prussians, The King, The Ministers, The Chambers, The Judicial Power, Public Officials Not Belonging to the Judicial Class, The Finances and The Communes, Circuits, Districts, and Provincial Bodies. Each of these groups varies in numbers of articles with the seventh and ninth sections having only one article each and the second section having forty separate articles. There have also been fourteen provisions divided into General Provisions and Temporary Provisions.[24]

Religion

The Prussian constitution of 1850 allowed for the freedom of conscience, the freedom of public and private worship and the freedom of association onto religious bodies. It stated that all churches and other religious associations should administer everything independently and privately from the state and that no part of the government may affect the Church. The constitution also stated that all children should be taught their religion from people of their own religion and not by someone else.[26][27]

As a breakdown of the religion of the kingdom, according to a census taken in the early or mid 1800s, around the 1830s there was a division of six religions based on one million people. According to this census there were 609,427.0 practising Protestants, 376,177.1 practising Roman Catholics, 13,348.8 practising Jews, 925.1 Mennonites, 121.4 Greek Orthodox and 0.6 Muslims.[28]

Although dominated by Protestant Lutherans (along with some Reformed), it contained millions of Catholics in the west and in Poland. There were numerous Catholic populations in the Rhineland and parts of Westphalia. In addition, West Prussia, Warmia, Silesia, and the Province of Posen had predominantly Catholic Polish-speaking populations. East Prussia's southern region of Masuria was mostly made up of Germanised Protestant Masurs.

Subdivisions

Map-DB-PrussiaProvs-1818
The ten provinces of the Kingdom of Prussia, after the Congress of Vienna (1815). The other member states of the German Confederation are shown in beige. The Canton of Neuchâtel in the south-west was under Prussian administration until 1848
Germany former prussian lander
Current states of Germany (shown in darker green) that are completely or mostly situated inside the old borders of Imperial Germany's Kingdom of Prussia

The original core regions of the Kingdom of Prussia were the Margraviate of Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia which together formed Brandenburg-Prussia. A Further Pomeranian province had been held by Prussia since 1653. Combined with Swedish Pomerania, gained from Sweden in 1720 and 1815, this region formed the Province of Pomerania. Prussian gains in the Silesian Wars led to the formation of the Province of Silesia in 1740.

After the First Partition of Poland in 1772, the newly annexed Royal Prussia and Warmia became the Province of West Prussia, while the Duchy of Prussia (along with part of Warmia) became the Province of East Prussia. Other annexations along the Noteć (Netze) River became the Netze District. Following the second and third partitions (1793–1795), the new Prussian annexations became the Provinces of New Silesia, South Prussia, and New East Prussia, with the Netze District redivided between West and South Prussia. These three provinces were ultimately lost to Congress Poland after the Congress of Vienna in 1815, except for the western part of South Prussia, which would form part of the Grand Duchy of Posen.

Following the major western gains made by Prussia after the Vienna Congress, a total of ten provinces were established, each one subdivided further into smaller administrative regions known as Regierungsbezirke. The provinces were:

In 1822 the provinces of Jülich-Cleves-Berg and the Lower Rhine were merged to form the Rhine Province. In 1829, the Provinces of East and West Prussia merged to form the Province of Prussia, but the separate provinces were reformed in 1878. The principalities of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Hohenzollern-Hechingen were annexed in 1850 to form the Province of Hohenzollern.

After Prussia's victory in the 1866 Austro-Prussian War, territories annexed by Prussia were reorganised into three new provinces:

References

  1. ^ "German Empire: administrative subdivision and municipalities, 1900 to 1910" (in German). Retrieved 2007-05-02.
  2. ^ a b "Königreich Preußen (1701–1918)" (in German). Retrieved 2007-05-02.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Marriott, J. A. R., and Charles Grant Robertson. The Evolution of Prussia, the Making of an Empire. Rev. ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1946.
  4. ^ Fueter, Eduard (1922). World history, 1815–1920. United States of America: Harcourt, Brace and Company. pp. 25–28, 36–44. ISBN 1-58477-077-5.
  5. ^ Danilovic, Vesna. "When the Stakes Are High—Deterrence and Conflict among Major Powers", University of Michigan Press (2002), p 27, p225–228
  6. ^ [1] Aping the Great Powers: Frederick the Great and the Defence of Prussia's International Position 1763–86, Pp. 286–307.
  7. ^ [2] The Rise of Prussia Archived June 10, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Horn, D. B. "The Youth of Frederick the Great 1712–30." In Frederick the Great and the Rise of Prussia, 9–10. 3rd ed. London: English Universities Press, 1964.
  9. ^ Horn, D. B. "The Seven Years' War." In Frederick the Great and the Rise of Prussia, pp. 81–101. 3rd ed. London: English Universities Press, 1964.
  10. ^ Atkinson, C. T. A History of Germany, 1715–1815. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1969.
  11. ^ Langels, Otto: "Constitutional Reality: 50 years of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation", in German, Deutschlandradio, 25 July 2007
  12. ^ a b c d Carsten, F. L. The Origins of Prussia. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954.
  13. ^ Walker, Mack, The Salzburg transaction: expulsion and redemption in eighteenth-century Germany, (Cornell University Press, 1992), 74.
  14. ^ a b c d Feuchtwanger, E. J. Prussia: Myth and Reality: The Role of Prussia in German History. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1970.
  15. ^ Shennan, Margaret. The Rise of Brandenburg-Prussia. London: Routledge, 1995
  16. ^ a b Rothbard, Murray N. (1999). Education: Free & Compulsory. Auburn, Alabama: The Ludwig von Mises Institute. pp. 24–27. ISBN 0-945466-22-6.
  17. ^ When the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in 1806, the function of prince-electors electing its emperors had lapsed.
  18. ^ "History of Klaipėda (Memel) | True Lithuania". www.truelithuania.com. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  19. ^ Prussia allies in the Austro-Prussian War were: Anhalt, Bremen, Brunswick, Lauenburg, Lippe-Detmold, Lübeck, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Oldenburg, Saxe-Altenburg, Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, Waldeck-Pyrmont
  20. ^ Austrian allies in the Austro-Prussian War were: Baden, Bavaria, Hanover, Hesse-Darmstadt, Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel), Nassau, Reuss-Greiz, Saxe-Meiningen, Saxony, Schaumburg-Lippe, Württemberg
  21. ^ Rosenberg, Arthur (1936), A History of the German Republic, translated from the German by Ian Morrow and Marie Sieveking, London: Methuen & Co Ltd
  22. ^ Jacoby 1973, p. 34.
  23. ^ Hintze, Der Commissarius
  24. ^ a b Wilhelm, Friedrich and Robinson, James. Supplement: Constitution of the Kingdom of Prussia. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science Vol. 5 Supplement 8. pp 1–54. Publisher: Sage Publications Inc. in association with the American Academy of Political and Social Science (1894). found at https://www.jstor.org/stable/1009032
  25. ^ Chastain, James. Prussia (1998)(revised 2004) found at http://www.ohio.edu/chastain/ip/prussia.htm
  26. ^ Wilhelm, Friedrich and Robinson, James. Supplement: Constitution of the Kingdom of Prussia. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science Vol. 5 Supplement 8. pp 1–54. Publisher: Sage Publications Inc. in association with the American Academy of Political and Social Science (1894). found at https://www.jstor.org/stable/1009032
  27. ^ Burgess, John. "The Cultureconflict" in Prussia. Political Science Quarterly Vol. 2 No. 2. pp 313–340 Publisher: The Academy of Political Science(1887). found at https://www.jstor.org/stable/2139282
  28. ^ Hebeler, Bernard. Statistics of Prussia. Journal of the Statistical Society of London Vol. 10 No. 2. pp 154–186. Publisher: Wiley for the Royal Statistical Society (1847). found at https://www.jstor.org/stable/2337688

Bibliography

Brandenburg

Brandenburg (German pronunciation: [ˈbʁandn̩bʊɐ̯k] (listen); Low German: Brannenborg, Lower Sorbian: Bramborska, Upper Sorbian: Braniborsko) is a state of Germany.

Brandenburg is located in the northeast of Germany covering an area of 29,478 square kilometres (11,382 sq mi) and has a population of 2.5 million residents, the fifth-largest German state by area and tenth-most populous. Potsdam is the state capital and largest city, while other major cities include Brandenburg an der Havel, Cottbus, and Frankfurt (Oder). Brandenburg surrounds the national capital and city-state of Berlin, which together form the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region, the third-largest metropolitan area in Germany. Brandenburg borders the states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Saxony, and the country of Poland.

Brandenburg originated in the Northern March in the 900s AD from areas conquered from the Wends, and later became the Margraviate of Brandenburg, a major principality of the Holy Roman Empire, with Albert the Bear as prince-elector. In the 17th century Brandenburg came under the rule of the House of Hohenzollern, the rulers of Prussia, who established Brandenburg-Prussia to become the core of the Kingdom of Prussia. Brandenburg became the Province of Brandenburg in 1815, a province within the kingdom and later within the Free State of Prussia. Brandenburg was established as a state in 1945 after World War II by the Soviet army administration in Allied-occupied Germany, and became part of the German Democratic Republic in 1947. Brandenburg was dissolved in 1952 during administrative reforms and its territory divided into the districts of Potsdam, Cottbus, Frankfurt, Neubrandenburg, and Schwerin, but was re-established in 1990 following German reunification, and became one of the Federal Republic of Germany's new states.

East Prussia

East Prussia (German: Ostpreußen, pronounced [ˈɔstˌpʁɔʏsən] (listen); Polish: Prusy Wschodnie; Lithuanian: Rytų Prūsija; Latin: Borussia orientalis; Russian: Восточная Пруссия) was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773 to 1829 and again from 1878 (with the Kingdom itself being part of the German Empire from 1871); following World War I it formed part of the Weimar Republic's Free State of Prussia, until 1945. Its capital city was Königsberg (present-day Kaliningrad). East Prussia was the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast.The bulk of the ancestral lands of the Baltic Old Prussians were enclosed within East Prussia. During the 13th century, the native Prussians were conquered by the crusading Teutonic Knights. After the conquest the indigenous Balts were gradually converted to Christianity. Because of Germanization and colonisation over the following centuries, Germans became the dominant ethnic group, while Masurians and Lithuanians formed minorities. From the 13th century, East Prussia was part of the monastic state of the Teutonic Knights. After the Second Peace of Thorn in 1466 it became a fief of the Kingdom of Poland. In 1525, with the Prussian Homage, the province became the Duchy of Prussia. The Old Prussian language had become extinct by the 17th or early 18th century.Because the duchy was outside of the core Holy Roman Empire, the prince-electors of Brandenburg were able to proclaim themselves King beginning in 1701. After the annexation of most of western Royal Prussia in the First Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1772, eastern (ducal) Prussia was connected by land with the rest of the Prussian state and was reorganized as a province the following year (1773). Between 1829 and 1878, the Province of East Prussia was joined with West Prussia to form the Province of Prussia.

The Kingdom of Prussia became the leading state of the German Empire after its creation in 1871. However, the Treaty of Versailles following World War I granted West Prussia to Poland and made East Prussia an exclave of Weimar Germany (the new Polish Corridor separated East Prussia from the rest of Germany), while the Memel Territory was detached and annexed by Lithuania in 1923. Following Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II in 1945, war-torn East Prussia was divided at Joseph Stalin's insistence between the Soviet Union (the Kaliningrad Oblast became part of the Russian SFSR, and the constituent counties of the Klaipėda Region in the Lithuanian SSR) and the People's Republic of Poland (the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship). The capital city Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad in 1946. The German population of the province was largely evacuated during the war or expelled shortly afterwards in the expulsion of Germans after World War II. An estimated 300,000 (around one fifth of the population) died either in war time bombing raids, in the battles to defend the province, or through mistreatment by the Red Army.

First Partition of Poland

The First Partition of Poland took place in 1772 as the first of three partitions that ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth by 1795. Growth in the Russian Empire's power, threatening the Kingdom of Prussia and the Habsburg Monarchy, was the primary motive behind this first partition. Frederick the Great engineered the partition to prevent Austria, jealous of Russian successes against the Ottoman Empire, from going to war. The weakened Commonwealth's land, including what was already controlled by Russia, was apportioned among its more powerful neighbors—Austria, Russia and Prussia—so as to restore the regional balance of power in Central Europe among those three countries. With Poland unable to effectively defend itself, and with foreign troops already inside the country, the Polish parliament (Sejm) ratified the partition in 1773 during the Partition Sejm convened by the three powers.

Flag of Prussia

The state of Prussia had its origins in the separate lands of the Margraviate of Brandenburg and of the Duchy of Prussia. The Margraviate of Brandenburg developed from the medieval Northern March of the Holy Roman Empire, passing to the House of Hohenzollern in 1415. The Duchy of Prussia originated in 1525 when Albert of Brandenburg-Ansbach, a member of a cadet branch of the Hohenzollerns, secularized the eastern lands of the Teutonic Knights as a Polish fief. Prince-elector John Sigismund, Elector of Brandenburg, inherited the Duchy of Prussia in 1618, thus uniting Brandenburg and Prussia under one ruler in a personal union; the Elector's state became known as Brandenburg-Prussia. The Kingdom of Prussia formed when Elector Frederick III assumed the title of Frederick I, King in Prussia, on 18 January 1701.

Hohenzollern monarchical rule of Prussia ceased in 1918 after the fall of the German Empire in the aftermath of World War I; the Kingdom becoming instead the Free State of Prussia. The Allied Control Council decreed the formal abolition of the state of Prussia in 1947 following World War II.

List of monarchs of Prussia

The monarchs of Prussia were members of the House of Hohenzollern who were the hereditary rulers of the former German state of Prussia from its founding in 1525 as the Duchy of Prussia. The Duchy had evolved out of the Teutonic Order, a Roman Catholic crusader state and theocracy located along the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. The Teutonic Knights were under the leadership of a Grand Master, the last of whom, Albert, converted to Protestantism and secularized the lands, which then became the Duchy of Prussia.

The Duchy was initially a vassal of the Kingdom of Poland, as a result of the terms of the Prussian Homage whereby Albert was granted the Duchy as part of the terms of peace following the Prussian War. When the main line of Prussian Hohenzollerns died out in 1618, the Duchy passed to a different branch of the family, who also reigned as Electors of Brandenburg in the Holy Roman Empire. While still nominally two different territories, Prussia under the suzerainty of Poland and Brandenburg under the suzerainty of the Holy Roman Empire, the two states are known together historiographically as Brandenburg-Prussia.

Following the Second Northern War, a series of treaties freed the Duchy of Prussia from vassalage to any other state, making it a fully sovereign Duchy in its own right. This complex situation (where the Hohenzollern ruler of the independent Duchy of Prussia was also a subject of the Holy Roman Emperor as Elector of Brandenburg) laid the eventual groundwork for the establishment of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1701. For diplomatic reasons, the rulers of Prussia called themselves King in Prussia from 1701 to 1772. They still nominally owed fealty to the Emperor as Electors of Brandenburg, so the "King in Prussia" title (as opposed to "King of Prussia") avoided offending the Emperor. Additionally, calling themselves "King of Prussia" implied sovereignty over the entire Prussian region, parts of which were still part of Poland.

As the Prussian state grew through several wars and diplomatic moves throughout the 18th century, it became apparent that Prussia had become a Great Power in its own right. By 1772, the pretense was dropped, and the style "King of Prussia" was adopted. The Prussian kings continued to use the title "Elector of Brandenburg" until the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, reflecting the legal fiction that their domains within the empire were still under the ultimate overlordship of the Emperor. Legally, the Hohenzollerns ruled Brandenburg in personal union with their Prussian kingdom, but in practice they treated their domains as a single unit. The Hohenzollerns gained de jure sovereignty over Brandenburg when the empire dissolved in 1806, and Brandenburg was formally merged into Prussia.

In 1871, in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War, the German Empire was formed, and the King of Prussia, Wilhelm I was crowned German Emperor. From that point forward, though the Kingdom of Prussia retained its status as a constituent state of the empire (albeit by far the largest and most powerful), all subsequent Kings of Prussia also served as German Emperor, and that title took precedence.

Margraviate of Brandenburg

The Margraviate of Brandenburg (German: Markgrafschaft Brandenburg) was a major principality of the Holy Roman Empire from 1157 to 1806 that played a pivotal role in the history of Germany and Central Europe.

Brandenburg developed out of the Northern March founded in the territory of the Slavic Wends. It derived one of its names from this inheritance, the March of Brandenburg (Mark Brandenburg). Its ruling margraves were established as prestigious prince-electors in the Golden Bull of 1356, allowing them to vote in the election of the Holy Roman Emperor. The state thus became additionally known as Electoral Brandenburg or the Electorate of Brandenburg (Kurbrandenburg or Kurfürstentum Brandenburg).

The House of Hohenzollern came to the throne of Brandenburg in 1415. In 1417, Frederick I moved its capital from Brandenburg an der Havel to Berlin. Under Hohenzollern leadership, Brandenburg grew rapidly in power during the 17th century and inherited the Duchy of Prussia. The resulting Brandenburg-Prussia was the predecessor of the Kingdom of Prussia, which became a leading German state during the 18th century. Although the electors' highest title was "King in/of Prussia", their power base remained in Brandenburg and its capital Berlin.

The Margraviate of Brandenburg ended with the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. It was replaced after the Napoleonic Wars with the Prussian Province of Brandenburg in 1815. The Hohenzollern Kingdom of Prussia achieved the unification of Germany and the creation of the German Empire in 1871. As Prussia was the legal predecessor of the united German Reich of 1871–1945, and as such a direct ancestor of the present-day Federal Republic of Germany, Brandenburg is one of the earliest linear ancestors of present-day Germany.

The Mark Brandenburg is still used informally today to refer to the present German state of Brandenburg.

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"'.

Order of the Crown (Prussia)

The Royal Order of the Crown (German: Königlicher Kronen-Orden) was a Prussian order of chivalry. Instituted in 1861 as an honour equal in rank to the Order of the Red Eagle, membership could only be conferred upon commissioned officers (or civilians of approximately equivalent status), but there was a medal associated with the order which could be earned by non-commissioned officers and enlisted men.

Officially the Order of the Red Eagle and the Order of the Crown were equal. Most officials did however prefer to be appointed in the older Order of the Red Eagle. The Order of the Crown was often used as an award for someone who had to be rewarded while the Prussian government did not want to use the Order of the Red Eagle.The Order had six classes:

Grand Cross - wore the Grand Cross badge on a sash on the right shoulder, plus the star on the left chest;

1st Class - wore the badge on a sash on the right shoulder, plus the star on the left chest;

2nd Class - wore the badge on a necklet, plus the star on the left chest;

3rd Class - wore the badge on a ribbon on the left chest;

4th Class - wore the badge on a ribbon on the left chest;

Medal - wore the medal on a ribbon on the left chest.

Peace of Basel

The Peace of Basel of 1795 consists of three peace treaties involving France during the French Revolution (represented by François de Barthélemy).

The first was with Prussia (represented by Karl August von Hardenberg) on 5 April;

The second was with Spain (represented by Domingo d'Yriarte) on 22 July, ending the War of the Pyrenees; and

The third was with the Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel (represented by Friedrich Sigismund Waitz von Eschen) on 28 August, concluding the stage of the French Revolutionary Wars against the First Coalition.

Peace of Prague (1866)

The Peace of Prague (German: Prager Frieden) was a peace treaty signed between the Kingdom of Prussia and the Austrian Empire at Prague on 23 August 1866, ending 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 Bismarck 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 Bismarck stopped him, even threatening to resign, and, more drastically, to hurl himself out of the fourth story window of Nikolsburg Castle. 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.

Province of Prussia

The Province of Prussia (German: Provinz Preußen; Kashubian: Prowincjô Prësë) was a province of Prussia from 1829 to 1878. Prussia was established as a province of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1829 from the provinces of East Prussia and West Prussia, and was dissolved in 1878 when the merger was reversed.

Königsberg (present-day Kaliningrad, Russia) was the provincial capital.

Provinces of Prussia

The Provinces of Prussia (German: Provinzen Preußens) were the main administrative divisions of Prussia from 1815 to 1946. Prussia's province system was introduced in the Stein-Hardenberg Reforms in 1815, and were mostly organized from duchies and historical regions. Provinces were divided into several Regierungsbezirke, sub-divided into Kreise (districts), and then into Gemeinden (townships) at the lowest-level. Provinces constituted the highest level of administration in the Kingdom of Prussia and Free State of Prussia until 1933, when Nazi Germany established de facto direct rule over provincial politics, and were formally abolished in 1946 following World War II. The Prussian provinces became the basis for many federal states of Germany, and the states of Brandenburg, Saxony, and Schleswig-Holstein are direct successors of provinces.

Prussia

Prussia (; German: Preußen, pronounced [ˈpʁɔʏsn̩] (listen)) was a historically prominent German state that originated in 1525 with a duchy centred on the region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. It was de facto dissolved by an emergency decree transferring powers of the Prussian government to German Chancellor Franz von Papen in 1932 and de jure by an Allied decree in 1947. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organised and effective army. Prussia, with its capital in Königsberg and from 1701 in Berlin, decisively shaped the history of Germany.

In 1871, German states (notably excluding Austria) united to create the German Empire under Prussian leadership. In November 1918, the monarchies were abolished and the nobility lost its political power during the German Revolution of 1918–19. The Kingdom of Prussia was thus abolished in favour of a republic—the Free State of Prussia, a state of Germany from 1918 until 1933. From 1933, Prussia lost its independence as a result of the Prussian coup, when the Nazi regime was successfully establishing its Gleichschaltung laws in pursuit of a unitary state. With the end of the Nazi regime, in 1945, the division of Germany into allied-occupation zones and the separation of its territories east of the Oder–Neisse line, which were incorporated into Poland and the Soviet Union, the State of Prussia ceased to exist de facto. Prussia existed de jure until its formal abolition by the Allied Control Council Enactment No. 46 of 25 February 1947.The name Prussia derives from the Old Prussians; in the 13th century, the Teutonic Knights—an organized Catholic medieval military order of German crusaders—conquered the lands inhabited by them. In 1308, the Teutonic Knights conquered the region of Pomerelia with Gdańsk (Danzig). Their monastic state was mostly Germanised through immigration from central and western Germany, and, in the south, it was Polonised by settlers from Masovia. The Second Peace of Thorn (1466) split Prussia into the western Royal Prussia, a province of Poland, and the eastern part, from 1525 called the Duchy of Prussia, a fief of the Crown of Poland up to 1657. The union of Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia in 1618 led to the proclamation of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1701.

Prussia entered the ranks of the great powers shortly after becoming a kingdom, and exercised most influence in the 18th and 19th centuries. During the 18th century it had a major say in many international affairs under the reign of Frederick the Great. During the 19th century, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck united the German principalities into a "Lesser Germany", which excluded the Austrian Empire.

At the Congress of Vienna (1814–15), which redrew the map of Europe following Napoleon's defeat, Prussia acquired rich new territories, including the coal-rich Ruhr. The country then grew rapidly in influence economically and politically, and became the core of the North German Confederation in 1867, and then of the German Empire in 1871. The Kingdom of Prussia was now so large and so dominant in the new Germany that Junkers and other Prussian élites identified more and more as Germans and less as Prussians.

The Kingdom ended in 1918 along with other German monarchies that collapsed as a result of the German Revolution. In the Weimar Republic, the Free State of Prussia lost nearly all of its legal and political importance following the 1932 coup led by Franz von Papen. Subsequently, it was effectively dismantled into Nazi German Gaue in 1935. Nevertheless, some Prussian ministries were kept and Hermann Göring remained in his role as Minister President of Prussia until the end of World War II. Former eastern territories of Germany that made up a significant part of Prussia lost the majority of their German population after 1945 as the People's Republic of Poland and the Soviet Union both absorbed these territories and had most of its German inhabitants expelled by 1950. Prussia, deemed a bearer of militarism and reaction by the Allies was officially abolished by an Allied declaration in 1947. The international status of the former eastern territories of Germany was disputed until the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany in 1990, while its return to Germany remains a topic among far right politicians, the Federation of Expellees and various political revisionists.

The term Prussian has often been used, especially outside Germany, to emphasise professionalism, aggressiveness, militarism and conservatism of the Junker class of landed aristocrats in the East who dominated first Prussia and then the German Empire.

Prussian Partition

The Prussian Partition (Polish: Zabór pruski), or Prussian Poland, refers to the former territories of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth acquired during the Partitions of Poland, in the late 18th century by the Kingdom of Prussia. The Prussian acquisition amounted to 141,400 km2 (54,600 sq mi) of land constituting formerly western territory of the Commonwealth. The first partitioning led by imperial Russia with Prussian participation took place in 1772; the next one in 1793, and the final one in 1795, resulting in Poland's elimination as a state for the next 123 years.

Second Partition of Poland

The 1793 Second Partition of Poland was the second of three partitions (or partial annexations) that ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth by 1795. The second partition occurred in the aftermath of the Polish–Russian War of 1792 and the Targowica Confederation of 1792, and was approved by its territorial beneficiaries, the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. The division was ratified by the coerced Polish parliament (Sejm) in 1793 (see the Grodno Sejm) in a short-lived attempt to prevent the inevitable complete annexation of Poland, the Third Partition.

Third Partition of Poland

The Third Partition of Poland (1795) was the last in a series of the Partitions of Poland and the land of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth among Prussia, the Austrian Empire, and the Russian Empire which effectively ended Polish–Lithuanian national sovereignty until 1918. Accordingly, the partitioning powers agreed to permanently erase Poland's name from existence in any historical context, including from their respective encyclopedias, in an attempt to curb Polish dissidence and nationalistic fervor. When such sources or legal texts needed to refer to Poland or the Polish people, names of Poland's various historical regions, such as Masovia, were used instead. This prevarication ultimately resulted in numerous Polish uprisings during the period. The third partition, and the partitions of Poland in general, remains a controversial topic in modern Poland, in academic circles and public discourse alike; especially in context of Poland's relations with Russia, which profited the most from the partitions, by acquiring the most territory and wealth, thereby becoming one of Europe's foremost powers at the time.

Treaties of Stockholm (Great Northern War)

The Treaties of Stockholm are two treaties signed in 1719 and 1720 that ended the war between Sweden and an alliance of Hanover and Prussia.

Aspects of the conflict that remained unresolved would be dealt with by two further treaties: the Treaty of Frederiksborg between Sweden and Denmark-Norway in 1720, which was a pure renewal of four previous treaties, Treaty of Copenhagen 1660, Malmö Recess 1662, Treaty of Fontainebleau 1679 and the Peace of Lund (written in Stockholm in 1679); and the Treaty of Nystad between Sweden and Russia in 1721.

Frederick I began negotiating the Treaties of Stockholm following the death of Charles XII of Sweden in 1718. The death of the Swedish monarch heralded the impending conclusion of the Great Northern War.

Treaty of Chaumont

The Treaty of Chaumont was a series of separately signed but identically worded agreements between the Austrian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia, the Russian Empire and the United Kingdom dated 1 March 1814, although the actual signings took place on 9 or 19 March. The treaty was intended to draw the powers of the Sixth Coalition into a closer alliance in the event that France rejected the peace terms they had recently offered. Each agreed to put 150,000 soldiers in the field against France and to guarantee the European peace (once obtained) against French aggression for twenty years.Following discussions in late February 1814, representatives of Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Great Britain reconvened a meeting at Chaumont, Haute-Marne on 1 March 1814. The resulting Treaty of Chaumont was signed on 9 or 19 March 1814, (although dated 1 March), by Emperor Alexander I, Emperor Francis II (with Metternich), King Frederick William III, and British Foreign Secretary Viscount Castlereagh. The Treaty called for Napoleon to give up all conquests, thus reverting France to her pre-revolutionary borders, in exchange for a cease-fire. If Napoleon rejected the treaty, the Allies pledged to continue the war. The following day Napoleon rejected the treaty, ending his last chance of a negotiated settlement.The decisions were again ratified and put into effect by the Congress of Vienna of 1814–1815. The terms were largely written by Lord Castlereagh, the British foreign minister, who offered cash subsidies to keep the other armies in the field against Napoleon. Key terms included the establishment of a confederated Germany, the division into independent states, the restoration of the Bourbon kings of Spain, and the enlargement of the Netherlands to include what in 1830 became modern Belgium. The treaty of Chaumont became the cornerstone of the European Alliance which formed the balance of power for decades.

Treaty of Teschen

The Treaty of Teschen (German: Frieden von Teschen, i.e., "Peace of Teschen"; French: Traité de Teschen) was signed on 13 May 1779 in Teschen, Austrian Silesia, between the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy and the Kingdom of Prussia, which officially ended the War of the Bavarian Succession.

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