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The Kingdom of Prussia (german: Königreich Preußen) was a German
kingdom Kingdom may refer to: Monarchy * A type of monarchy * A realm ruled by: **A king, during the reign of a male monarch **A queen regnant, during the reign of a female monarch Taxonomy * Kingdom (biology), a category in biological taxonomy Arts an ...
that constituted the state of
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-Europ ...

Prussia
between 1701 and 1918.
Marriott, J. A. R. Sir John Arthur Ransome Marriott (17 August 1859 – 6 June 1945) was a British educationist, historian, and Conservative Conservatism is a Political philosophy, political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions. ...
, and Charles Grant Robertson. ''The Evolution of Prussia, the Making of an Empire''. Rev. ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1946.
It was the driving force behind the
unification of Germany The unification of Germany into the German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Benningto ...
in 1871 and was the leading state of the
German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
until its dissolution in 1918. Although it took its name from the region called Prussia, it was based in the
Margraviate of Brandenburg The Margraviate of Brandenburg (german: link=no, Markgrafschaft Brandenburg) was a major principality A principality (or sometimes princedom) can either be a monarchical A monarchy is a form of government A government ...
. Its capital was
Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the List of cities in the European Union by ...

Berlin
. The
kings of Prussia The monarchs of Prussia were members of the House of Hohenzollern who were the monarch, 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 State of the Teuto ...
were from the
House of Hohenzollern The House of Hohenzollern (, also , , german: Haus Hohenzollern, ro, Casa de Hohenzollern) is a German royal whose members were variously s, , s and of , , , the , and . The family came from the area around the town of in during the late 11 ...
.
Brandenburg-Prussia Brandenburg-Prussia (german: Brandenburg-Preußen; ) is the historiographic Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians wh ...

Brandenburg-Prussia
, predecessor of the kingdom, became a military power under
Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg Frederick William (german: Friedrich Wilhelm; 16 February 1620 – 29 April 1688) was Elector of Brandenburg and Duke A duke (male) can either be a monarch ranked below the emperor, king, and grand duke ruling over a duchy or a member o ...
, known as "The Great Elector". As a kingdom, Prussia continued its rise to power, especially during the reign of
Frederick IIFrederick II, Frederik II or Friedrich II may refer to: * Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor (1194–1250), King of Sicily from 1198; Holy Roman Emperor from 1220 * Frederick II of Denmark (1534–1588), king of Denmark and Norway 1559–1588 * Freder ...

Frederick II
, more commonly known as Frederick the Great, who was the third son of Frederick William I.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. Frederick the Great was instrumental in starting the
Seven Years' War The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) is widely considered to be the first global conflict in history, and was a struggle for world supremacy between Kingdom of Great Britain, Great Britain and Kingdom of France, France. In Europe, the conflict ar ...
(1756–63), holding his own against
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastli ...

Austria
,
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...
,
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Western Europe and Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Ame ...
and
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic countries, Nordic country in Northern Europe.The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names states that the country's fo ...

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 , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under an assembly-independent Directorial system, directorial republic , leader_title1 = Fe ...

Switzerland
) under its rule, and whether Austria would be included in such a unified German domain was an ongoing question. After the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major World war, global conflicts pitting the First French Empire, French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon, Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of Coalition forces of the Napoleonic W ...
led to the creation of the
German Confederation The German Confederation (german: Deutscher Bund) was an association of 39 predominantly German-speaking sovereign states in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common Histo ...

German Confederation
, the issue of unifying the German states caused a number of revolutions throughout the German states, with all states wanting to have their own constitution. Attempts to create a federation remained unsuccessful and the
German Confederation The German Confederation (german: Deutscher Bund) was an association of 39 predominantly German-speaking sovereign states in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common Histo ...

German Confederation
collapsed in 1866 when
war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (new ...
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 The North German Confederation (german: Norddeutscher Bund) was the Germans, German federal state which existed from July 1867 to December 1870. The Confederation came into existence after the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 over the lordship of tw ...
was seen as more of an alliance of military strength in the aftermath of the
Austro-Prussian War The Austro-Prussian War or Seven Weeks' War, known in Germany as ("German War") and by a variety of other names, was fought in 1866 between the Austrian Empire The Austrian Empire (german: Kaiserthum Oesterreich, modern spelling ') was ...
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 aside from Austria under Prussian hegemony; this was due to the defeat of
Napoleon III Napoleon III (Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte; 20 April 18089 January 1873) was the first President of France The president of France, officially the President of the French Republic (french: Président de la République française), is t ...

Napoleon III
in the
Franco-Prussian War The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War,, german: Deutsch-Französischer Krieg often referred to in France as the War of 1870, was a conflict between the Second French Empire (later the Third French Republic) and the North German Confeder ...
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 ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official language , languages = German language, German , demonym = Germans, German , government_ ...
. The formal
abolition of Prussia The formal abolition of Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian: ''Prūsa'' or ''Prūsija'' was a historically prominent Germans, German state that originated in 1525 with Duchy of Prussia, a duchy centered on the Prussia (region), region of Prussia ...
, carried out on 25 February 1947 by the
Allied Control Council , Berlin, 1945–1990 Headquarters of the Allied Control Council: View from the Kleistpark The Allied Control Council or Allied Control Authority (german: Alliierter Kontrollrat) and also referred to as the Four Powers (), was the governing body o ...
, referred to a tradition of the kingdom as a bearer of
militarism Militarism is the belief or the desire of a government or a people that a state should maintain a strong military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for war ...
and
reaction Reaction may refer to a process or to a response to an action, event, or exposure: Physics and chemistry *Chemical reaction A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the IUPAC nomenclature for organic transformations, chemical transformat ...
, and made way for the current setup of the German states. However, the
Free State of Prussia The Free State of Prussia (german: Freistaat Preußen) was a of from 1918 to 1947. It was established in 1918 following the , abolishing the and founding the in the aftermath of the . The was a direct successor to the , but featured a , ...
('), which followed the abolition of the Kingdom of Prussia in the aftermath of
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

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 The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (german: Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz or SPK) is a Federal government body that oversees 27 museums and cultural organizations in and around Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and L ...
('), which has become one of the largest cultural organisations in the world.


History


Background and establishment

FrederickFrederick may refer to: People * Frederick (given name), the name Nobility Anhalt-Harzgerode *Frederick, Prince of Anhalt-Harzgerode (1613–1670) Austria * Frederick I, Duke of Austria (Babenberg), Duke of Austria from 1195 to 1198 * Frederick ...

Frederick
, Margrave of
Ansbach Ansbach (; ) is a city in the German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality la ...
, sided with
Sigismund of Hungary Sigismund of Luxembourg (15 February 1368 – 9 December 1437) was prince-elector of Brandenburg Brandenburg (, also , ; nds, Brannenborg; dsb, Bramborska) is a state in the northeast of Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = ...
in his 1410–11 dispute with
Jobst of Moravia Jobst of Moravia ( cs, Jošt Moravský or ''Jošt Lucemburský''; german: Jo(b)st or ''Jodokus von Mähren''; c. 1354 – 18 January 1411), a member of the House of Luxembourg The Limburg-Luxemburg dynasty, one of several families from different ...
for the titles
King of Germany King of the Romans ( la, Rex Romanorum; german: König der Römer) was the title used by the German king following his election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple in ...
and
Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as ...
-elect. At the 1415
Council of Constance The Council of Constance was a 15th-century ecumenical council An ecumenical council (or oecumenical council; also general council) is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matte ...
Sigismund rewarded Frederick with the
Margraviate of Brandenburg The Margraviate of Brandenburg (german: link=no, Markgrafschaft Brandenburg) was a major principality A principality (or sometimes princedom) can either be a monarchical A monarchy is a form of government A government ...
and in 1417 he was made a
prince-elector The prince-electors (german: Kurfürst pl. , cz, Kurfiřt, la, Princeps Elector), or electors for short, were the members of the that elected the of the . From the 13th century onwards, the prince-electors had the privilege of who would ...
of the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
. After the Polish wars, the newly established
Baltic Baltic may refer to: Geography Northern Europe * Baltic Sea, a sea in Europe * Baltic region, an ambiguous term referring to the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea * Baltic states (also Baltics, Baltic nations, Baltic countries or Baltic rep ...
towns of the
German states The Federal Republic of Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official language , languages = German language, German , d ...
, including
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-Europ ...

Prussia
, suffered many economic setbacks.Carsten, F. L. The Origins of Prussia. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954. 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, , forced to borrow money from elsewhere to pay for trade. 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. 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 Brandenburg (, also , ; nds, Brannenborg; dsb, Bramborska) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...

Brandenburg
to prosper. 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. It prevented partition by enacting the Dispositio Achillea, which instilled the principle of primogeniture to both the Brandenburg and Franconian territories. The second issue was resolved through expansion. Brandenburg was surrounded on every side by neighbours whose boundaries were merely political. 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. Through negotiations and marriages Brandenburg slowly but surely expanded her borders, absorbing neighbours and eliminating the threat of attack. The
Hohenzollerns The House of Hohenzollern (, also , , german: Haus Hohenzollern, ro, Casa de Hohenzollern) is a German royal dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford U ...
were made rulers of the
Margraviate of Brandenburg The Margraviate of Brandenburg (german: link=no, Markgrafschaft Brandenburg) was a major principality A principality (or sometimes princedom) can either be a monarchical A monarchy is a form of government A government ...
in 1518. In 1529 the Hohenzollerns secured the reversion of the
Duchy of Pomerania The Duchy of Pomerania (german: Herzogtum Pommern, pl, Księstwo Pomorskie, 12th century – 1637) was a duchy in Pomerania on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark De ...
after a series of conflicts, and acquired its eastern part following the
Peace of Westphalia The Peace of Westphalia (german: Westfälischer Friede, ) is the collective name for two peace treaties signed in October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück Osnabrück (; wep, Ossenbrügge; archaic ''Osnaburg'') is a city in the ...
. In 1618 the electors of Brandenburg also inherited the
Duchy of Prussia The Duchy of Prussia (german: Herzogtum Preußen, pl, Księstwo Pruskie) or Ducal Prussia (german: Herzogliches Preußen, link=no; pl, Prusy Książęce, link=no) was a duchy A duchy is a medieval In the history of Europe The histor ...

Duchy of Prussia
, since 1511 ruled by a younger branch of the House of Hohenzollern. In 1525, Albrecht of Brandenburg, the last grand master of the
Teutonic Order The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem (official names: la, Ordo domus Sanctæ Mariæ Theutonicorum Hierosolymitanorum, german: Orden der Brüder vom Deutschen Haus der Heiligen Maria in Jerusalem), commonly the Te ...
, secularized his territory and converted it into a duchy. It was ruled in a
personal union A personal union is the combination of two or more states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The Stat ...

personal union
with Brandenburg, known as "
Brandenburg-Prussia Brandenburg-Prussia (german: Brandenburg-Preußen; ) is the historiographic Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians wh ...

Brandenburg-Prussia
". A full union was not possible, since Brandenburg was still legally part of the Holy Roman Empire and the Duchy of Prussia was a
fief A fief (; la, feudum) was the central element of feudalism Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe In the hist ...
of
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area of , and has a largely Temperate climate, temperate seasonal cli ...

Poland
. The Teutonic Order had paid homage to Poland since 1466, and the Hohenzollerns continued to pay homage after secularizing Ducal Prussia. In the course of the
Second Northern War The Second Northern War (1655–60), also First or Little Northern War) was fought between Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic countries, Nordic country i ...
, 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 War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) was an early-18th-century European war, triggered by the death in November 1700 of the childless Charles II of Spain. It established the principle that dynastic rights were secondary to maintaini ...
, the Great Elector's son, Frederick III, was allowed to elevate Prussia to a kingdom in the
Crown TreatyIn the Crown Treaty (also called Treaty of the Crown, ''Krontraktat'' in German) signed on 16 November 1700, Frederick IIIFrederick III may refer to: * Frederick III, Duke of Upper Lorraine (died 1033) * Frederick III, Duke of Swabia (1122–1190) * ...
of 16 November 1700. Frederick crowned himself "
King in Prussia King ''in'' Prussia ( German: ''König in Preußen'') was a title used by the Prussian kings (also in personal union Electors of Brandenburg) from 1701 to 1772. Subsequently, they used the title King ''of'' Prussia (''König von Preußen''). Th ...
" as
Frederick IFrederick I may refer to: * Frederick of Utrecht or Frederick I (815/16–834/38), Bishop of Utrecht. * Frederick I, Duke of Upper Lorraine (942–978) * Frederick I, Duke of Swabia (1050–1105) * Frederick I, Count of Zollern ...

Frederick I
on 18 January 1701. Legally, no kingdoms could exist in the Holy Roman Empire except for
Bohemia Bohemia ( ; cs, Čechy ; ; hsb, Čěska; szl, Czechy) is the westernmost and largest historical region Historical regions (or historical areas) are geographical Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, ...
. 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 A legal fiction is a fact A fact is something that is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In everyday language, truth i ...
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 state A sovereign state is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social relation, social relatio ...
s, 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 along with the title ''King of Prussia'' by the
King of Poland Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area o ...
. 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 "King ''of'' Prussia" was ceded along with
Royal Prussia Royal Prussia ( pl, Prusy Królewskie; german: Königlich-Preußen or , csb, Królewsczé Prësë) or Polish PrussiaAnton Friedrich Büsching, Patrick Murdoch. ''A New System of Geography'', London 1762p. 588/ref> (Polish: ; German: ) was a ter ...
to the King in Prussia by the Polish monarch, following the
First Partition of Poland The First Partition of Poland took place in 1772 as the first of three partitions that eventually ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian CommonwealthPolish–Lithuanian can refer to: * Polish–Lithuanian union (1385–1569) * Polish–L ...
.


1701–1721: Plague and the Great Northern War

The Kingdom of Prussia was still recovering from the devastation of the
Thirty Years' War The Thirty Years' War was a conflict fought largely within the Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Europe, Weste ...
and poor in natural resources. Its territory was disjointed, stretching from the lands of the Duchy of Prussia on the south-east coast of the
Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that a ...

Baltic Sea
to the Hohenzollern heartland of
Brandenburg Brandenburg (, also , ; nds, Brannenborg; dsb, Bramborska) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...
, with the exclaves of
Cleves Kleve ( , ; traditional en, Cleves ; nl, Kleef; french: Clèves; es, Cléveris; la, Clivia) is a town in the Lower Rhine region The Lower Rhine region in North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany ">Germany.html" ;"title="North Rhine-Westphalia ...
,
Mark Mark may refer to: Currency * Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark The Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark (Bosnian Bosnian may refer to: *Anything related to the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina or its inhabitants *Anything related to Bo ...
and Ravensberg in the
Rhineland The Rhineland (german: Rheinland; french: Rhénanie; nl, Rijnland; ksh, Rhingland; Latinised name: ''Rhenania'') is the name used for a loosely defined area of Western Germany along the Rhine, chiefly Middle Rhine, its middle section. Term ...

Rhineland
. In 1708 about one third of the population of
East-Prussia East Prussia (german: Ostpreußen, ; pl, Prusy Wschodnie; lt, Rytų Prūsija; la, Borussia orientalis; russian: Восточная Пруссия, Vostóčnaya Prússiya) was a Provinces of Prussia, province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773 ...
died during
Great Northern War plague outbreak During the Great Northern War (1700–1721), many towns and areas around the Baltic Sea and East-Central Europe had a severe outbreak of the Plague (disease), plague with a peak from 1708 to 1712. This epidemic was probably part of a pandemic affec ...
. The
bubonic plague Bubonic plague is one of three types of plague caused by the plague bacterium Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are a type of biological cell The cell (from Latin ''cella'', meaning "small room") is the basic ...
reached
Prenzlau Prenzlau (, formerly also Prenzlow) is a town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller than city, cities, though the criteria to distinguish between them vary considerably in different parts ...
in August 1710 but receded before it could reach the capital
Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the List of cities in the European Union by ...

Berlin
, which was only away. The
Great Northern War The Great Northern War (1700–1721) was a conflict in which a coalition led by the Tsardom of Russia successfully contested the supremacy of the Swedish Empire in Northern Europe, Northern, Central Europe, Central and Eastern Europe. The i ...

Great Northern War
was the first major conflict in which the Kingdom of Prussia was involved. 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 The Swedish Empire was a European great power that exercised territorial control over much of the Baltic region during the 17th and early 18th centuries ( sv, Stormaktstiden, "the Era of Great Power"). The beginning of the empire is usually take ...

Swedish Empire
. Frederick William in 1705 tried to get
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-Europ ...

Prussia
involved in the war, stating it "best Prussia has her own army and make her own decisions."Feuchtwanger, E. J. Prussia: Myth and Reality: The Role of Prussia in German History. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1970. His views, however, were not considered acceptable by those in power. It was not until 1713 that Frederick William gained full royal powers. Therefore, in 1715, Prussia, led by Frederick William, joined the coalition for various reasons, including the danger of being attacked from both her rear and the sea; her claims on
Pomerania Pomerania ( pl, Pomorze; german: Pommern; Kashubian: ''Pòmòrskô'') is a historical region on the southern shore of the Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the , enclosed by , , , , , , northeast , , and the . The sea stretches fr ...

Pomerania
; and the fact that if she stood aside and Sweden lost, she would not get a share of the territory. Prussia only participated in one battle, the Battle of Stresow on the island of
Rügen Rügen (; also lat. ; ) is Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official language , languages = German language, German , d ...

Rügen
, as the war had already been practically decided in the 1709
Battle of Poltava A mass burial of Russian soldiers who died in The Battle of Poltava, alt= The Battle of Poltava; russian: Полта́вская би́тва; uk, Полта́вська би́тва (8 July 1709) was the decisive victory of Peter the Great (P ...

Battle of Poltava
. In the Treaty of Stockholm Prussia gained all of Swedish Pomerania east of the river
Oder The Oder ( , ; Czech Czech may refer to: * Anything from or related to the Czech Republic The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name Czechia and formerly known as Bohemia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is ...

Oder
. Sweden would however keep
Vorpommern 130px, Coat of arms of the region Western Pomerania, in the narrower sense also called Hither Pomerania (german: Vorpommern), is the western extremity of the historic region of the Duchy A duchy is a medieval In the history of Europe ...

Vorpommern
until 1815. The Great Northern War not only marked the end of the Swedish Empire but also elevated Prussia and Russia at the expense of the demising Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as new powers in Europe. The Great Elector had incorporated the
Junker Junker ( da, Junker, german: Junker, nl, Jonkheer, en, Yunker, no, Junker, sv, Junker ka, იუნკერი (Iunkeri)) is a noble honorific An honorific is a title that conveys esteem, courtesy, or respect for position or rank when us ...
s, the landed aristocracy, into the empire's bureaucracy and military machine, giving them a vested interest in the
Prussian Army The Royal Prussian Army (1701–1919, german: Königlich Preußische Armee) served as the army of the Kingdom of Prussia. It became vital to the development of Brandenburg-Prussia as a European power. The Prussian Army had its roots in the cor ...
and
compulsory education Compulsory education refers to a period of education that is required of all people and is imposed by the government. This education may take place at a registered school A school is an designed to provide s and s for the teaching of ...
. King Frederick William I inaugurated the Prussian compulsory system in 1717.


1740–1762: Silesian Wars

In 1740 King
Frederick IIFrederick II, Frederik II or Friedrich II may refer to: * Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor (1194–1250), King of Sicily from 1198; Holy Roman Emperor from 1220 * Frederick II of Denmark (1534–1588), king of Denmark and Norway 1559–1588 * Freder ...

Frederick II
(Frederick the Great) came to the throne. Using the pretext of a 1537 treaty (vetoed by Emperor
Ferdinand IFerdinand I or Fernando I may refer to: People * Ferdinand I of León, ''the Great'' (ca. 1000–1065, king from 1037) * Ferdinand I of Portugal and the Algarve, ''the Handsome'' (1345–1383, king from 1367) * Ferdinand I of Aragon and Sicily, ''of ...

Ferdinand I
) by which parts of
Silesia Silesia (, also , ) is a historical region of Central Europe Central Europe is the central region of Europe. Central Europe includes contiguous territories that are sometimes also considered parts of Western Europe, Southern Europe and East ...

Silesia
were to pass to
Brandenburg Brandenburg (, also , ; nds, Brannenborg; dsb, Bramborska) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...
after the extinction of its ruling
Piast dynasty The Piast dynasty was the first historical ruling dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the un ...
, Frederick invaded Silesia, thereby beginning the
War of the Austrian Succession The War of the Austrian Succession () was the last Great Power conflict with the House of Bourbon, Bourbon-Habsburg Monarchy, Habsburg dynastic conflict at its heart. It occurred from 1740 to 1748 and marked the rise of Kingdom of Prussia, Prus ...
. After rapidly occupying Silesia, Frederick offered to protect Archduchess
Maria Theresa of Austria Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina (german: Maria Theresia; 13 May 1717 – 29 November 1780) was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions, ruling from 1740 until her death in 1780. She was the sovereign of Austria 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 Great Britain is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atoll An atoll (), ...

Great Britain
led to a series of treaties and compromises, culminating in the 1748
Treaty of Aix-la-ChapelleThere were three Treaties of Aix-la-Chapelle. Although "Aix-la-Chapelle", the French name of the German city of Aachen, is an exonym now rarely used in English, the name Treaty of Aachen is rarely used. *Pax Nicephori, also sometimes called Treaty of ...
that restored peace and left Prussia in possession of most of Silesia. Humiliated by the cession of Silesia, Austria worked to secure an alliance with France and Russia (the "
Diplomatic Revolution The Diplomatic Revolution of 1756 was the reversal of longstanding alliances in Europe between the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years' War. Habsburg Monarchy, Austria went from an ally of Kingdom of Great Britain, Britain to an al ...
"), 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 The Third Silesian War () was a war between Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian: ''Prūsa'' or ''Prūsija'' was a historically prominent Germans, German state that originated in 1525 with Duchy of Prussia, a duchy centered on the Prussia (regio ...
and initiated the
Seven Years' War The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) is widely considered to be the first global conflict in history, and was a struggle for world supremacy between Kingdom of Great Britain, Great Britain and Kingdom of France, France. In Europe, the conflict ar ...
. 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 Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the List of cities in the European Union by ...

Berlin
and
Königsberg Königsberg (, , ) was the name for the historic Prussian city that is now Kaliningrad, Russia. Königsberg was founded in 1255 on the site of the ancient Old Prussian settlement ''Twangste'' by the Teutonic Knights during the Northern Crusade ...

Königsberg
. The situation became progressively grimmer, however, until the death in 1762 of Empress
Elizabeth of Russia Elizabeth Petrovna (russian: Елизаве́та (Елисаве́та) Петро́вна) (), also known as Yelisaveta or Elizaveta, reigned as Empress of Russia The emperor or empress of all the Russias or All Russia, ''Imperator Vserossiysk ...

Elizabeth of Russia
(
Miracle of the House of Brandenburg The Miracle of the House of Brandenburg is the name given by Frederick the Great, Frederick II of Prussia to the failure of Russian Empire, Russia and Habsburg Monarchy, Austria to follow up their victory over him at the Battle of Kunersdorf on 12& ...
). 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 The Battle of Burkersdorf was a battle fought on 21 July 1762 during the Third Silesian War (part of the Seven Years' War). A Prussian army of 40,000 men fought an Austrian army of around 30,000 men. After the death of Elizabeth of Russia, czarina ...
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 The term ''status quo ante bellum'' is a Latin phrase meaning "the situation as it existed before the war". The term was originally used in treaty, treaties to refer to the withdrawal of enemy troops and the restoration of prewar leadership. Wh ...
'' 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 The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and, after 1791, the Commonwealth of Poland, was a country and bi-federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is ...
had gradually weakened during the 18th century. Alarmed by increasing Russian influences in Polish affairs and by a possible expansion of the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire, . commonly referred to as Imperial Russia, was a historical empire that extended across Eurasia and North America from 1721, succeeding the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad that ended the Great Northern War. ...
, Frederick was instrumental in initiating the first of the
Partitions of Poland The Partitions of Poland were three partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian CommonwealthPolish–Lithuanian can refer to: * Polish–Lithuanian union (1385–1569) * Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569–1795) * Polish-Lithuanian identity as ...

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 Royal Prussia ( pl, Prusy Królewskie; german: Königlich-Preußen or , csb, Królewsczé Prësë) or Polish PrussiaAnton Friedrich Büsching, Patrick Murdoch. ''A New System of Geography'', London 1762p. 588/ref> (Polish: ; German: ) was a ter ...
, including
Warmia Warmia (pronounced: , pl, Warmia, Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through ...
, allowing Frederick to finally adopt the title of the King ''of'' Prussia; the annexed land was organised the following year into the
Province of West Prussia The Province of West Prussia (german: Provinz Westpreußen; csb, Zôpadné Prësë; pl, Prusy Zachodnie) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Ro ...
. The new territory connected the
Province of East Prussia East Prussia (german: Ostpreußen, ; pl, Prusy Wschodnie; lt, Rytų Prūsija; la, Borussia orientalis; russian: Восточная Пруссия, Vostóchnaya Prússiya) was a province A province is almost always an administrative divisio ...
(the territory previously known as the
Duchy of Prussia The Duchy of Prussia (german: Herzogtum Preußen, pl, Księstwo Pruskie) or Ducal Prussia (german: Herzogliches Preußen, link=no; pl, Prusy Książęce, link=no) was a duchy A duchy is a medieval In the history of Europe The histor ...

Duchy of Prussia
) with the
Province of PomeraniaPomerania Province may refer to one of several provinces established in Pomerania, a region of Europe: *Swedish Pomerania (1630–1815), a historical province of Sweden *Province of Pomerania (1653–1815), a historical province of Brandenburg, late ...
, 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 1787, Prussia invaded Holland to restore the Orangist stadtholderate against the increasingly rebellious Patriots, who sought to overthrow
House of Orange-Nassau The House of Orange-Nassau (Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" ...
and establish a
democratic republicA democratic republic is a form of government operating on principles adopted from a republic and a democracy. Rather than being a cross between two entirely separate systems, democratic republics may function on principles shared by both republics a ...
. The direct cause of the invasion was the Arrest at
Goejanverwellesluis The Goejanverwellesluis is a lock in Hekendorp, Netherlands The Netherlands ( nl, Nederland ), informally referred to as Holland, is a country primarily located in Western Europe and partly in the Dutch Caribbean, Caribbean. It is the largest ...

Goejanverwellesluis
, where Frederick William II's sister Wilhelmina of Prussia, also stadtholder
William V of Orange William V (Willem Batavus; 8 March 1748 – 9 April 1806) was a prince of Orange Prince of Orange (or Princess of Orange if the holder is female) is a title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contex ...
's wife, was stopped by a band of Patriots who denied her passage to
The Hague The Hague ( ; nl, Den Haag or ) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd ed ...

The Hague
to reclaim her husband's position. In 1795, the Kingdom of Poland ceased to exist and a large area (including
Warsaw Warsaw, * la, Varsovia (Polish language, Polish: ''Warszawa'' ), officially the Capital City of Warsaw, is the capital and List of cities and towns in Poland, largest city of Poland. The metropolis stands on the Vistula, River Vistula in e ...

Warsaw
) to the south of East Prussia became part of Prussia. These new territories were organised into the Provinces of
New Silesia New Silesia (german: Neuschlesien or ''Neu-Schlesien'') was a small province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman '' provincia'', which was the major territor ...
,
South Prussia South Prussia (german: Südpreußen; pl, Prusy Południowe) was a Provinces of Prussia, province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1793 to 1807. History South Prussia was created out of territory annexed in the Partitions of Poland, Second Partition ...
, and
New East Prussia New East Prussia (german: Neuostpreußen; pl, Prusy Nowowschodnie; lt, Naujieji Rytprūsiai) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman '' provinci ...
. The Partitions were facilitated by the fact that they occurred just before the 19th-century rise of nationalism in Europe, and the national self-awareness was yet to be developed in most European peoples, especially among commoners. The Kingdom of Prussia was perceived in Poland more as nationality-neutral personal holding of the ruling
House of Hohenzollern The House of Hohenzollern (, also , , german: Haus Hohenzollern, ro, Casa de Hohenzollern) is a German royal whose members were variously s, , s and of , , , the , and . The family came from the area around the town of in during the late 11 ...
, rather than a German nation-state, and any anxiety concerned predominantly freedom to practice religion rather than rights to maintain national identity. The onset of Germanisation in the following decades, later joined by the
Kulturkampf ''Kulturkampf'' (, 'culture struggle') was the conflict that took place from 1872 to 1878 between the government of the Kingdom of Prussia The Kingdom of Prussia (german: Königreich Preußen) was a German Monarchy, kingdom that constituted th ...
, changed quickly this benign picture and alienated Poles from the Prussian state, ultimately boosting their national self-awareness and eliciting their national resistance against Prussian rule.


1801–1815: Napoleonic Wars

The (1795) ended the
War of the First Coalition The War of the First Coalition (french: Guerre de la Première Coalition) was a set of wars that several European powers fought between 1792 and 1797 initially against the constitutional Kingdom of France and then the French Republic ...
against France. In it, the
First French Republic In the history of France The first written records for the history of France appeared in the Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age system, three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of Homo sapiens, humanit ...
and Prussia had stipulated that the latter would ensure the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
's neutrality in all the latter's territories north of the demarcation line of the river
Main Main may refer to: Geography *Main River (disambiguation)Main River, more commonly simply ''Main'', is a river in Germany. Main River may also refer to: *Main River (Chukotka), a river in Far Eastern Siberia *Main River (Newfoundland), a river ...
, including the British continental dominions of the
Electorate of Hanover The Electorate of Hanover (german: Kurfürstentum Hannover or simply ''Kurhannover'') was an Prince-elector, Electorate of the Holy Roman Empire, located in northwestern Germany and taking its name from the capital city of Hanover. It was fo ...
and the . 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 The War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802) was the second war on revolutionary A revolutionary is a person who either participates in, or advocates a revolution. Also, when used as an adjective, the term ''revolutionary'' refers to so ...
against France (1799–1802)
Napoleon Bonaparte Napoleon Bonaparte ; co, Napulione Buonaparte. (born Napoleone di Buonaparte; 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) r ...

Napoleon Bonaparte
urged Prussia to occupy the continental British dominions. In 1801, twenty-four thousand Prussian soldiers invaded, surprising Hanover, which surrendered without a fight. In April 1801 the Prussian troops arrived in Bremen-Verden's capital
Stade Stade (), officially the Hanseatic City of Stade (german: Hansestadt Stade, nds, Hansestadt Stood) is a city in Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state (''Land'') situated i ...

Stade
and stayed there until October of the same year. The
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some f ...

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 Denmark–Norway (Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ancestr ...
and Russia, Britain started to capture Prussian sea vessels. After the 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 Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked Eastern Alps, East Alpine country in the southern part of Central Europe. It is composed of nine States o ...
. The title of ''Kurfürst'' (
Prince-elector The prince-electors (german: Kurfürst pl. , cz, Kurfiřt, la, Princeps Elector), or electors for short, were the members of the that elected the of the . From the 13th century onwards, the prince-electors had the privilege of who would ...
) of
Brandenburg Brandenburg (, also , ; nds, Brannenborg; dsb, Bramborska) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...
became meaningless, and was dropped. Nonetheless,
Frederick William III Frederick William III (german: Friedrich Wilhelm III.; 3 August 1770 – 7 June 1840) was king of Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian: ''Prūsa'' or ''Prūsija'' was a historically prominent Germans, German state that originated in 1525 with Duc ...
was now ''de jure'' as well as ''de facto'' sovereign of all of the Hohenzollern domains. Before this time, the Hohenzollern sovereign had held many titles and crowns, from Supreme Governor of the
Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of , but disagree among themselves ...
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''. But when Prussia, after it turned against the French Empire, was defeated in the
Battle of Jena–Auerstedt The twin battles of Jena and Auerstedt (; older spelling: ''Auerstädt'') were fought on 14 October 1806 on the plateau west of the river Saale in today's Germany, between the forces of Napoleon, Napoleon I of France and Frederick William III o ...
(October 14, 1806), Frederick William III was forced to temporarily flee to remote Memel. After the
Treaties of Tilsit The Treaties of Tilsit were two agreements signed by Napoleon I Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led Napoleon Bonaparte ...
in 1807, Prussia lost about half of its territory, including the land gained from the Second and Third
Partitions of Poland The Partitions of Poland were three partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian CommonwealthPolish–Lithuanian can refer to: * Polish–Lithuanian union (1385–1569) * Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569–1795) * Polish-Lithuanian identity as ...

Partitions of Poland
(which now fell to the
Duchy of Warsaw The Duchy of Warsaw ( pl, Księstwo Warszawskie, french: Duché de Varsovie, german: Herzogtum Warschau), also known as Napoleonic Poland, was a Poland, Polish client state of the First French Empire, French Empire established by Napoleon Bonapar ...
) and all land west of the
Elbe River The Elbe (, ; cs, Labe ; nds, Ilv or ''Elv''; Upper and dsb, Łobjo), historically in English also Elve, is one of the major river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake o ...
. 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 300px, The French Empire in 1812 The Continental Blockade (), or Continental System, was the foreign policy of Napoleon Bonaparte against the United Kingdom during the Napoleonic Wars. As a response to the naval blockade of the French coasts ...
. The
Prussian reforms The Prussian Reform Movement was a series of constitutional, administrative, social and economic reforms early in the nineteenth-century Kingdom of Prussia The Kingdom of Prussia (german: Königreich Preußen) was a German Monarchy, kingdo ...
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 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 Sixth is the ordinal form of the number six. * The Sixth Amendment, to the U.S. Constitution * A keg of beer, equal to 5 U.S. gallons or 1/6 barrel * A fraction (mathematics) A fraction (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical langu ...
during the "Wars of Liberation" (''Befreiungskriege'') against the French occupation. Prussian troops under Marshal
Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, Fürst von Wahlstatt (; 16 December 1742 – 12 September 1819), ''Graf (male) or (female) is a historical title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It ...

Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher
contributed crucially in the
Battle of Waterloo The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815, near Waterloo Waterloo most commonly refers to: * Battle of Waterloo, a battle on 18 June 1815 in which Napoleon met his final defeat :* Waterloo, Belgium, a municipality in Belgium fr ...

Battle of Waterloo
of 1815 to the final victory over Napoleon.


1815: After Napoleon

Prussia's reward for its part in France's defeat came at the
Congress of Vienna The Congress of Vienna (, ) of 1814–1815 was an international diplomatic conference to reconstitute the European political order after the downfall of the French Emperor Napoleon I Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) w ...

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 Congress Poland or Russian Poland, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland, was a polity created in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna as a semi-autonomous Poland, Polish State (polity), state and successor to Napoleon's Duchy of Warsaw. It was est ...
under Russian rule (though it did retain Danzig, acquired in the Second Partition). It also did not 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 The Kingdom of Saxony (german: Königreich Sachsen), lasting from 1806 to 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in French period, Napoleonic through German Confederation, post-Napoleonic Germany. The kingdom was ...
and much of
Westphalia Westphalia (; german: Westfalen ; nds, Westfalen ) is a region of northwestern Germany and one of the three historic parts of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It has an area of and 7.9 million inhabitants. The territory of the region ...

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. This left Prussia as the only great power with a predominantly German-speaking population. With these gains in territory, the kingdom was reorganized into 10 provinces. Most of the kingdom, aside from the Provinces of
East Prussia East Prussia (german: Ostpreußen, ; pl, Prusy Wschodnie; lt, Rytų Prūsija; la, Borussia orientalis; russian: Восточная Пруссия, Vostóchnaya Prússiya) was a of the from 1773 to 1829 and again from 1878 (with the Kingdom ...
,
West Prussia The Province of West Prussia (german: Provinz Westpreußen; csb, Zôpadné Prësë; pl, Prusy Zachodnie) was a Provinces of Prussia, province of Prussia from 1773 to 1829 and 1878 to 1922. West Prussia was established as a province of the King ...
, and Posen, became part of the new
German Confederation The German Confederation (german: Deutscher Bund) was an association of 39 predominantly German-speaking sovereign states in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common Histo ...

German Confederation
, a
confederacy Confederacy may refer to: A confederation, an association of sovereign states or communities. Examples include: * Battle of the Trench, Confederate tribes * Confederate States of America, a confederation of secessionist American states that existed ...
of 39 sovereign states (including Austria and Bohemia) replacing the defunct
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
. 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 Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an , based on the a ...
Frederick William III—as ''Supreme Governor of the
Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of , but disagree among themselves ...
Churches''—asserted his long-cherished project (started in 1798) to unite the
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Jesus Christ and was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology ...
and the
Reformed Church Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christianity, Christian practice set ...

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 A schism ( , , or, less commonly, ) is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization, movement, or religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a split in what had previously been a single religious body, s ...
among the Lutherans into united and
Old Lutherans Old Lutherans were originally German Lutherans in the Kingdom of Prussia The Kingdom of Prussia (german: Königreich Preußen) was a German Monarchy, kingdom that constituted the state of Prussia between 1701 and 1918.Marriott, J. A. R., an ...
by 1830. As a consequence of the
Revolutions of 1848 The Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Springtime of the Peoples or the Springtime of Nations, were a series of political upheaval A political revolution, in the Trotskyist Trotskyism is the political ideology and branch o ...
, the Principalities of
Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was a principality in Southwestern Germany. Its rulers belonged to the senior House of Hohenzollern#Swabian branch, Swabian branch of the House of Hohenzollern. The Swabian Hohenzollerns were elevated to princes in 1623. Th ...

Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
and
Hohenzollern-Hechingen Hohenzollern-Hechingen was a small principality in southwestern Germany. Its rulers belonged to the House of Hohenzollern#Swabian branch, Swabian branch of the House of Hohenzollern, Hohenzollern dynasty. History The County of Hohenzollern-Hechi ...

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

During the half-century that followed the Congress of Vienna a German Question, conflict of ideals took place within the
German Confederation The German Confederation (german: Deutscher Bund) was an association of 39 predominantly German-speaking sovereign states in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common Histo ...

German Confederation
between the formation of a single German nation and the conservation of the current collection of smaller German states and kingdoms. The main debate centered around whether Prussia or the Austrian Empire should be the leading member of any unified Germany. Those advocating for Prussian leadership contended that Austria had far too many non-German interests to work for the greater good of Germany. They argued that Prussia, as by far the most powerful state with a majority of German-speakers, was best suited to lead the new nation. The establishment of the German Customs Union (Zollverein) in 1834, which excluded Austria, increased Prussian influence over the member states. In the wake of the
Revolutions of 1848 The Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Springtime of the Peoples or the Springtime of Nations, were a series of political upheaval A political revolution, in the Trotskyist Trotskyism is the political ideology and branch o ...
, the Frankfurt Parliament in 1849 offered King Frederick William IV of Prussia the crown of a united Germany. Frederick William refused the offer on the grounds that revolutionary assemblies could not grant royal titles. But he also refused for two other reasons: 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, German Emperor, William I) feared that the formation of a
German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
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 The German Confederation (german: Deutscher Bund) was an association of 39 predominantly German-speaking sovereign states in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common Histo ...

German Confederation
, resulting in a Danish victory. Frederick William issued Constitution of Prussia (1848), 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-chamber parliament, the Landtag of Prussia, ''Landtag''. The lower house, later known as the Prussian House of Representatives, ''Abgeordnetenhaus'', was elected by all taxpayers, who were divided into Prussian three-class franchise, 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, later renamed the Prussian House of Lords, ''Herrenhaus'' ("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
Junker Junker ( da, Junker, german: Junker, nl, Jonkheer, en, Yunker, no, Junker, sv, Junker ka, იუნკერი (Iunkeri)) is a noble honorific An honorific is a title that conveys esteem, courtesy, or respect for position or rank when us ...
s, 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 Prussian throne as William I, German Emperor, William I. However, shortly after becoming king, 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 III, German Emperor, Frederick William. Ultimately, he decided to appoint as prime minister Otto von Bismarck, at that time the Prussian ambassador to France. Bismarck took office on September 23, 1862. Although Bismarck had a reputation as an unyielding conservative, he 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 it 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 form 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, and in which it gained the assistance of Austria. Denmark was soundly defeated and surrendered both Schleswig and Holstein, to Prussia and Austria respectively. The divided administration of Schleswig and Holstein then became the trigger for the
Austro-Prussian War The Austro-Prussian War or Seven Weeks' War, known in Germany as ("German War") and by a variety of other names, was fought in 1866 between the Austrian Empire The Austrian Empire (german: Kaiserthum Oesterreich, modern spelling ') was ...
of 1866—also known as the Seven Weeks' War. 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 A personal union is the combination of two or more states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The Stat ...

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 became geographically 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 Main may refer to: Geography *Main River (disambiguation)Main River, more commonly simply ''Main'', is a river in Germany. Main River may also refer to: *Main River (Chukotka), a river in Far Eastern Siberia *Main River (Newfoundland), a river ...
into forming the
North German Confederation The North German Confederation (german: Norddeutscher Bund) was the Germans, German federal state which existed from July 1867 to December 1870. The Confederation came into existence after the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 over the lordship of tw ...
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 the president. There was also a bicameral parliament. The lower house, or Reichstag (German Empire), 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, Bismarck dominated the new grouping. 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 came with the
Franco-Prussian War The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War,, german: Deutsch-Französischer Krieg often referred to in France as the War of 1870, was a conflict between the Second French Empire (later the Third French Republic) and the North German Confeder ...
(1870–1871), where Bismarck maneuvered Emperor
Napoleon III Napoleon III (Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte; 20 April 18089 January 1873) was the first President of France The president of France, officially the President of the French Republic (french: Président de la République française), is t ...

Napoleon III
of Second French Empire, France into declaring war on Prussia. Activating the German alliances put in place after the Austro-Prussian War, the German states, aside from Austria, came together and swiftly defeated France, even managing to take Napoleon prisoner (2 September 1870). Even before then, Bismarck was able to complete the work of unifying Germany under Prussian leadership. The patriotic fervour aroused by the war against France overwhelmed the remaining opponents of a unified ''Kleindeutschland'' nation, and on 18 January 1871 (the 170th anniversary of the coronation of the first Prussian king, Frederick I), the
German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
was proclaimed in the Hall of Mirrors (Palace of Versailles), Hall of Mirrors at Palace of Versailles, Versailles outside of Paris, while the French capital was still under Siege of Paris (1870–71), siege. King William became the first emperor (''Kaiser'') of a unified Germany. However, the titles of Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia were to be borne by the same man until the end of the monarchy.


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. 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 realized 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 Victoria, Princess Royal, Princess Victoria of Britain. William I, German Emperor, William I died in 1888, and the Crown Prince succeeded to the throne as Frederick III, German Emperor, 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, German Emperor, 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 House of Windsor, British and Romanov, Russian royal families (despite being closely related to them), becoming their rival and ultimately their enemy. Before and during
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

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 (World War I), 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 of 11 November 1918, 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; he believed that as ruler of two-thirds of Germany, he could remain a major figure in any successor regime. However, William discovered this was impossible under the imperial constitution. Although he believed he ruled the empire in
personal union A personal union is the combination of two or more states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The Stat ...

personal union
with Prussia, the imperial constitution 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".


Free State, Nazi era and final dissolution

The Kingdom of Prussia had been turned into the
Free State of Prussia The Free State of Prussia (german: Freistaat Preußen) was a of from 1918 to 1947. It was established in 1918 following the , abolishing the and founding the in the aftermath of the . The was a direct successor to the , but featured a , ...
, a state within the German Weimar Republic. It was somewhat stable and democratic in the post war years being mostly run by Otto Braun of the Social Democratic Party as Minister President of the state from 1920 to April 1921, then again from November 1921 to February 1925 and again from April 1925 to 1932 when he was forced out by Franz von Papen, an ally of Hitler in a coup ( Preußenschlag). After the Nazis gained power in 1933 they dissolved the Landtag of Prussia and later the free state itself, dividing Germany into new states called Reichsgaue in 1934 effectively ending Prussia. The Province of
East Prussia East Prussia (german: Ostpreußen, ; pl, Prusy Wschodnie; lt, Rytų Prūsija; la, Borussia orientalis; russian: Восточная Пруссия, Vostóchnaya Prússiya) was a of the from 1773 to 1829 and again from 1878 (with the Kingdom ...
was seen as independent Prussia’s successor state which was now ruled by two people, Erich Koch as Gauleiter of the Province and Oberpräsident, and Hermann Göring as Reichsstatthalter acting for Hitler. Goring was also the last Minister President of Prussia before Germany’s reorganization. After World War II Otto Braun consulted with the allies about restoring Prussia but was turned down as many allied leaders viewed the legacy of Prussia as the root of German extremism and militarism. The final Abolition of Prussia occurred on 25 February 1947, ordered by the
Allied Control Council , Berlin, 1945–1990 Headquarters of the Allied Control Council: View from the Kleistpark The Allied Control Council or Allied Control Authority (german: Alliierter Kontrollrat) and also referred to as the Four Powers (), was the governing body o ...
. Other end of war treaties gave nearly all of the former kingdom's land to Poland and the Soviet Union after the war, marking the official end of one of Europe’s most influential countries.


State


Government

The joint authority, feudal monarchy, feudal and bureaucratic despotism, 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. 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.


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 of Prussia, prime minister. Following Constitution of Prussia (1848), Prussia's first constitution, a two-house parliament was formed. The lower house, or ''Landtag of Prussia, Landtag'' was elected by all taxpayers, who were Prussian three-class franchise, 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 Constitution of Prussia (1848), 1848 and Constitution of Prussia (1850), 1850. The constitution of 1848 was enacted and set into effect on 5 December 1848, by Frederick William IV. This was set out in response to the revolutions of 1848. The second constitution was enacted on 31 January 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 18 March 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 22 May 1848, convention he put out the sketch of the new constitution. The people submitted a revised draft on 26 July 1848. When all discussions were finished, Frederick dissolved the convention and the constitution was officially put in place on 5 December 1848. 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.


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. According to a census taken in the early or mid 1800s, around the 1830s there was a division of six religions: this was, per million inhabitants, 609,427.0 practising Protestants, 376,177.1 practising Catholics, 13,348.8 practising Jews, 925.1 Mennonites, 121.4 Greek Orthodox and 0.6 Muslims. At this time the total population was 14,098,125 people, meaning there were approximately 8,591,778 practising Protestants, 5,303,392 practising Catholics, 188,193 practising Jews, 13,042 Mennonites, 1,712 Greek Orthodox, and 8 Muslims. Although dominated by Protestant Lutherans (along with some Calvinist), 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

The original core regions of the Kingdom of Prussia were the
Margraviate of Brandenburg The Margraviate of Brandenburg (german: link=no, Markgrafschaft Brandenburg) was a major principality A principality (or sometimes princedom) can either be a monarchical A monarchy is a form of government A government ...
and the
Duchy of Prussia The Duchy of Prussia (german: Herzogtum Preußen, pl, Księstwo Pruskie) or Ducal Prussia (german: Herzogliches Preußen, link=no; pl, Prusy Książęce, link=no) was a duchy A duchy is a medieval In the history of Europe The histor ...

Duchy of Prussia
which together formed
Brandenburg-Prussia Brandenburg-Prussia (german: Brandenburg-Preußen; ) is the historiographic Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians wh ...

Brandenburg-Prussia
. Province of Pomerania (1653-1815), 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 (1815–1945), 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 The First Partition of Poland took place in 1772 as the first of three partitions that eventually ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian CommonwealthPolish–Lithuanian can refer to: * Polish–Lithuanian union (1385–1569) * Polish–L ...
in 1772, the newly annexed
Royal Prussia Royal Prussia ( pl, Prusy Królewskie; german: Königlich-Preußen or , csb, Królewsczé Prësë) or Polish PrussiaAnton Friedrich Büsching, Patrick Murdoch. ''A New System of Geography'', London 1762p. 588/ref> (Polish: ; German: ) was a ter ...
and
Warmia Warmia (pronounced: , pl, Warmia, Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through ...
became the
Province of West Prussia The Province of West Prussia (german: Provinz Westpreußen; csb, Zôpadné Prësë; pl, Prusy Zachodnie) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Ro ...
, while the Duchy of Prussia (along with part of Warmia) became the
Province of East Prussia East Prussia (german: Ostpreußen, ; pl, Prusy Wschodnie; lt, Rytų Prūsija; la, Borussia orientalis; russian: Восточная Пруссия, Vostóchnaya Prússiya) was a province A province is almost always an administrative divisio ...
. Other annexations along the Noteć, 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 New Silesia (german: Neuschlesien or ''Neu-Schlesien'') was a small province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman '' provincia'', which was the major territor ...
,
South Prussia South Prussia (german: Südpreußen; pl, Prusy Południowe) was a Provinces of Prussia, province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1793 to 1807. History South Prussia was created out of territory annexed in the Partitions of Poland, Second Partition ...
, and
New East Prussia New East Prussia (german: Neuostpreußen; pl, Prusy Nowowschodnie; lt, Naujieji Rytprūsiai) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman '' provinci ...
, with the Netze District redivided between West and South Prussia. All the acquired Polish lands remained outside of the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
, and the latter three provinces were disentangled from Prussia following the
Treaties of Tilsit The Treaties of Tilsit were two agreements signed by Napoleon I Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led Napoleon Bonaparte ...
to be included in the Napoleonic Grand Duchy of Warsaw in 1806, and were ultimately lost to
Congress Poland Congress Poland or Russian Poland, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland, was a polity created in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna as a semi-autonomous Poland, Polish State (polity), state and successor to Napoleon's Duchy of Warsaw. It was est ...
after the
Congress of Vienna The Congress of Vienna (, ) of 1814–1815 was an international diplomatic conference to reconstitute the European political order after the downfall of the French Emperor Napoleon I Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) w ...

Congress of Vienna
in 1815, except for the western part of South Prussia, which would form part of the Grand Duchy of Posen, the latter however also remained outside of
German Confederation The German Confederation (german: Deutscher Bund) was an association of 39 predominantly German-speaking sovereign states in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common Histo ...

German Confederation
, the successor of the dissolved
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
, as did the
Province of East Prussia East Prussia (german: Ostpreußen, ; pl, Prusy Wschodnie; lt, Rytų Prūsija; la, Borussia orientalis; russian: Восточная Пруссия, Vostóchnaya Prússiya) was a province A province is almost always an administrative divisio ...
and the
Province of West Prussia The Province of West Prussia (german: Provinz Westpreußen; csb, Zôpadné Prësë; pl, Prusy Zachodnie) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Ro ...
. 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: * Province of Brandenburg *
Province of East Prussia East Prussia (german: Ostpreußen, ; pl, Prusy Wschodnie; lt, Rytų Prūsija; la, Borussia orientalis; russian: Восточная Пруссия, Vostóchnaya Prússiya) was a province A province is almost always an administrative divisio ...
(outside of
German Confederation The German Confederation (german: Deutscher Bund) was an association of 39 predominantly German-speaking sovereign states in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common Histo ...

German Confederation
) * Province of Jülich-Cleves-Berg * Grand Duchy of the Lower Rhine * Province of Pomerania (1815–1945), Province of Pomerania * Grand Duchy of Posen (autonomous, outside of
German Confederation The German Confederation (german: Deutscher Bund) was an association of 39 predominantly German-speaking sovereign states in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common Histo ...

German Confederation
) * Province of Saxony * Province of Silesia *
Province of West Prussia The Province of West Prussia (german: Provinz Westpreußen; csb, Zôpadné Prësë; pl, Prusy Zachodnie) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Ro ...
(outside of
German Confederation The German Confederation (german: Deutscher Bund) was an association of 39 predominantly German-speaking sovereign states in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common Histo ...

German Confederation
) * Province of Westphalia 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 Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was a principality in Southwestern Germany. Its rulers belonged to the senior House of Hohenzollern#Swabian branch, Swabian branch of the House of Hohenzollern. The Swabian Hohenzollerns were elevated to princes in 1623. Th ...

Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
and
Hohenzollern-Hechingen Hohenzollern-Hechingen was a small principality in southwestern Germany. Its rulers belonged to the House of Hohenzollern#Swabian branch, Swabian branch of the House of Hohenzollern, Hohenzollern dynasty. History The County of Hohenzollern-Hechi ...

Hohenzollern-Hechingen
were annexed in 1850 to form the Province of Hohenzollern. After Prussia's victory in the 1866
Austro-Prussian War The Austro-Prussian War or Seven Weeks' War, known in Germany as ("German War") and by a variety of other names, was fought in 1866 between the Austrian Empire The Austrian Empire (german: Kaiserthum Oesterreich, modern spelling ') was ...
, territories annexed by Prussia were reorganised into three new provinces: * Province of Hanover, Hanover * Province of Hesse-Nassau, Hesse-Nassau * Province of Schleswig-Holstein, Schleswig-Holstein


References

Notes Bibliography * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Prussia, Kingdom of Kingdom of Prussia, History of Prussia, Kingdom of Prussia Former kingdoms Former monarchies of Europe States of the German Confederation States of the North German Confederation States of the German Empire 18th century in Prussia, .Kingdom of Prussia 19th century in Prussia, .Kingdom of Prussia 1900s in Prussia, .Kingdom of Prussia 1910s in Prussia, .Kingdom of Prussia States and territories established in 1701 States and territories disestablished in 1918 1701 establishments in Prussia, .Kingdom of Prussia 1918 disestablishments in Prussia, .Kingdom of Prussia 1701 establishments in the Holy Roman Empire, Kingdom of Prussia 1701 establishments in Europe, Kingdom of Prussia 1918 disestablishments in Europe, Kingdom of Prussia Former countries sv:Kungariket Preussen