The black and white national colours were already used by the Teutonic Knights and by the Hohenzollern dynasty. The Teutonic Order wore a white coat embroidered with a black cross with gold insert and black imperial eagle. Suum cuique "to each, his own" , the motto of the Order of the Black Eagle created by King Frederick I in , was often associated with the whole of Prussia. Before its abolition, the territory of the Kingdom of Prussia included the provinces of West Prussia ; East Prussia ; Brandenburg ; Saxony including much of the present-day state of Saxony-Anhalt and parts of the state of Thuringia in Germany ; Pomerania ; Rhineland ; Westphalia ; Silesia without Austrian Silesia ; Lusatia ; Schleswig-Holstein ; Hanover ; Hesse-Nassau ; and a small detached area in the south called Hohenzollern , the ancestral home of the Prussian ruling family.
The land that the Teutonic Knights occupied was flat and covered with rich soil. The land was perfectly suited to the large-scale raising of wheat.
Teutonic Prussia became known as the "bread basket of Western Europe" in German, Kornkammer , or granary. Wheat production and trade brought Prussia into close relationship with the Hanseatic League during the period of time from official founding of the Hanseatic League until the decline of the League in about The expansion of Prussia based on its connection with the Hanseatic League cut both Poland and Lithuania off from the coast of the Baltic Sea and trade abroad.
In , he expelled them again, and they had to transfer to the Baltic Sea. Konrad I , the Polish duke of Masovia , unsuccessfully attempted to conquer pagan Prussia in crusades in and The final border between Prussia and the adjoining Grand Duchy of Lithuania was determined in the Treaty of Melno in The Hanseatic League was officially formed in northern Europe in as a group of trading cities that came to hold a monopoly on all trade leaving the interior of Europe and Scandinavia and on all sailing trade in the Baltic Sea for foreign countries.
In the course of the Ostsiedlung German eastward expansion process, settlers were invited, bringing changes in the ethnic composition as well as in language, culture, and law. As a majority of these settlers were Germans, Low German became the dominant language. The Knights were subordinate to the pope and the emperor.
The Thirteen Years' War — began when the Prussian Confederation , a coalition of Hanseatic cities of western Prussia, rebelled against the Order and requested help from the Polish king. Pursuant to the Second Peace of Thorn, two Prussian states were established . For the first time, these lands came into the hands of a branch of the Hohenzollern family.
The Hohenzollern dynasty had ruled the Margraviate of Brandenburg to the west, a German state centred on Berlin , since the 15th century. Furthermore, with his renunciation of the Order, Albert could now marry and produce legitimate heirs.
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Brandenburg and Prussia united two generations later. When Albert Frederick died in without male heirs, John Sigismund was granted the right of succession to the Duchy of Prussia, then still a Polish fief. From this time the Duchy of Prussia was in personal union with the Margraviate of Brandenburg.
The resulting state, known as Brandenburg-Prussia , consisted of geographically disconnected territories in Prussia, Brandenburg, and the Rhineland lands of Cleves and Mark. During the Thirty Years' War , various armies repeatedly marched across the disconnected Hohenzollern lands, especially the occupying Swedes. His successor, Frederick William I — , reformed the army to defend the lands. In January , during the first phase of the Second Northern War — , he received the duchy as a fief from the Swedish king who later granted him full sovereignty in the Treaty of Labiau November In the Polish king renewed this grant in the treaties of Wehlau and Bromberg.
With Prussia, the Brandenburg Hohenzollern dynasty now held a territory free of any feudal obligations, which constituted the basis for their later elevation to kings. Frederick William I became known [ by whom? Above all, he emphasised the importance of a powerful military to protect the state's disconnected territories, while the Edict of Potsdam opened Brandenburg-Prussia for the immigration of Protestant refugees especially Huguenots , and he established a bureaucracy to carry out state administration efficiently.
The state of Brandenburg-Prussia became commonly known as "Prussia", although most of its territory, in Brandenburg, Pomerania, and western Germany, lay outside Prussia proper. The Prussian state grew in splendour during the reign of Frederick I, who sponsored the arts at the expense of the treasury. Frederick I was succeeded by his son, Frederick William I — , the austere "Soldier King", who did not care for the arts but was thrifty and practical. In view of the size of the army in relation to the total population, Mirabeau said later: In the treaty of Stockholm , he acquired half of Swedish Pomerania.
The king died in and was succeeded by his son, Frederick II , whose accomplishments led to his reputation as "Frederick the Great". In , Prussian troops crossed over the undefended border of Silesia and occupied Schweidnitz. Silesia was the richest province of Habsburg Austria. He was succeeded to the throne by his daughter, Maria Theresa. In spite of some impressive victories afterward, his situation became far less comfortable the following years, as he failed in his attempts to knock Austria out of the war and was gradually reduced to a desperate defensive war.
However, he never gave up and on 3 November the Prussian king won another battle, the hard-fought Battle of Torgau. Despite being several times on the verge of defeat Frederick, allied with Great Britain , Hanover and Hesse-Kassel , was finally able to hold the whole of Silesia against a coalition of Saxony , Austria , France and Russia. Silesia, full of rich soils and prosperous manufacturing towns, became a vital region to Prussia, greatly increasing the nation's area, population, and wealth.
The Silesian Wars began more than a century of rivalry and conflict between Prussia and Austria as the two most powerful states operating within the Holy Roman Empire although both had extensive territory outside the empire. In the last 23 years of his reign until , Frederick II, who understood himself as the "first servant of the state", promoted the development of Prussian areas such as the Oderbruch. At the same time he built up Prussia's military power and participated in the First Partition of Poland with Austria and Russia , an act that geographically connected the Brandenburg territories with those of Prussia proper.
During this period, he also opened Prussia's borders to immigrants fleeing from religious persecution in other parts of Europe, such as the Huguenots. Prussia became a safe haven in much the same way that the United States welcomed immigrants seeking freedom in the 19th century. Frederick the Great, the first "King of Prussia", practised enlightened absolutism. He introduced a general civil code, abolished torture and established the principle that the Crown would not interfere in matters of justice. He also promoted an advanced secondary education, the forerunner of today's German gymnasium grammar school system, which prepares the brightest pupils for university studies.
Prussia took a leading part in the French Revolutionary Wars , but remained quiet for more than a decade due to the Peace of Basel of , only to go once more to war with France in as negotiations with that country over the allocation of the spheres of influence in Germany failed. Under the Treaties of Tilsit in , the state lost about one third of its area, including the areas gained from the second and third Partitions of Poland , which now fell to the Duchy of Warsaw.
Beyond that, the king was obliged to pay a large indemnity, to cap his army at 42, men, and to let the French garrison troops throughout Prussia, effectively making the Kingdom a French satellite. In response to this defeat, reformers such as Stein and Hardenberg set about modernising the Prussian state.
Among their reforms were the liberation of peasants from serfdom , the Emancipation of Jews and making full citizens of them. The school system was rearranged, and in free trade was introduced. The process of army reform ended in with the introduction of compulsory military service. The rest consisted of regular soldiers that were deemed excellent by most observers, and very determined to repair the humiliation of After the defeat of Napoleon in Russia , Prussia quit its alliance with France and took part in the Sixth Coalition during the "Wars of Liberation" Befreiungskriege against the French occupation.
These western lands were of vital importance because they included the Ruhr Area , the centre of Germany's fledgling industrialisation, especially in the arms industry. These territorial gains also meant the doubling of Prussia's population. In exchange, Prussia withdrew from areas of central Poland to allow the creation of Congress Poland under Russian sovereignty. The first half of the 19th century saw a prolonged struggle in Germany between liberals, who wanted a united, federal Germany under a democratic constitution, and conservatives , who wanted to maintain Germany as a patchwork of independent, monarchical states with Prussia and Austria competing for influence.
One small movement that signaled a desire for German unification in this period was the Burschenschaft student movement, by students who encouraged the use of the black-red-gold flag, discussions of a unified German nation, and a progressive, liberal political system. Because of Prussia's size and economic importance, smaller states began to join its free trade area in the s. Prussia benefited greatly from the creation in of the German Customs Union Zollverein , which included most German states but excluded Austria.
In the liberals saw an opportunity when revolutions broke out across Europe. When the Frankfurt Parliament offered Frederick William the crown of a united Germany, he refused on the grounds that he would not accept a crown from a revolutionary assembly without the sanction of Germany's other monarchs. The Frankfurt Parliament was forced to dissolve in , and Frederick William issued Prussia's first constitution by his own authority in This conservative document provided for a two-house parliament.
The lower house, or Landtag was elected by all taxpayers, who were divided into three classes whose votes were weighted according to the amount of taxes paid. Women and those who paid no taxes had no vote. The upper house, which was later renamed the Herrenhaus "House of Lords" , was appointed by the king. He retained full executive authority and ministers were responsible only to him. As a result, the grip of the landowning classes, the Junkers , remained unbroken, especially in the eastern provinces.
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Bismarck was determined to defeat both the liberals and conservatives and increase Prussian supremacy and influence among the German states. There has been much debate as to whether Bismarck actually planned to create a united Germany when he set out on this journey, or whether he simply took advantage of the circumstances that fell into place. Certainly his memoirs paint a rosy picture of an idealist [ citation needed ] , but these were written with the benefit of hindsight and certain crucial events could not have been predicted.
What is clear is that Bismarck curried support from large sections of the people by promising to lead the fight for greater German unification. He eventually guided Prussia through three wars, which together brought William the position of German Emperor. The Kingdom of Denmark was at the time in personal union with the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein , both of which had close ties with each other, although only Holstein was part of the German Confederation.
In , Denmark introduced a shared constitution for Denmark and Schleswig.
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This led to conflict with the German Confederation, which authorised the occupation of Holstein by the Confederation, from which Danish forces withdrew. The Austro-Prussian forces defeated the Danes, who surrendered both territories. In the resulting Gastein Convention of Prussia took over the administration of Schleswig while Austria assumed that of Holstein. Bismarck realised that the dual administration of Schleswig and Holstein was only a temporary solution, and tensions rose between Prussia and Austria.
The struggle for supremacy in Germany then led to the Austro-Prussian War , triggered by the dispute over Schleswig and Holstein. On the side of Prussia were Italy, most north German states, and some smaller central German states. The century-long struggle between Berlin and Vienna for dominance of Germany was now over. As a side show in this war, Prussia defeated Hanover in the Battle of Langensalza While Hanover hoped in vain for help from Britain as they had previously been in personal union , Britain stayed out of a confrontation with a continental great power and Prussia satisfied its desire for merging the once separate territories and gaining strong economic and strategic power, particularly from the full access to the resources of the Ruhr.
Bismarck desired Austria as an ally in the future, and so he declined to annex any Austrian territory. Prussia also won full control of Schleswig-Holstein. As a result of these territorial gains, Prussia now stretched uninterrupted across the northern two-thirds of Germany and contained two-thirds of Germany's population. Prussia was the dominant state in the new confederation, as the kingdom comprised almost four-fifths of the new state's territory and population. Prussia's near-total control over the confederation was secured in the constitution drafted for it by Bismarck in Executive power was held by a president, assisted by a chancellor responsible only to him.
The presidency was a hereditary office of the Hohenzollern rulers of Prussia. There was also a two-house parliament. The lower house, or Reichstag Diet , was elected by universal male suffrage. The upper house, or Bundesrat Federal Council was appointed by the state governments.
The Bundesrat was, in practice, the stronger chamber. Prussia had 17 of 43 votes, and could easily control proceedings through alliances with the other states. As a result of the peace negotiations, the states south of the Main remained theoretically independent, but received the compulsory protection of Prussia.
Additionally, mutual defence treaties were concluded. However, the existence of these treaties was kept secret until Bismarck made them public in , when France tried to acquire Luxembourg. The controversy with the Second French Empire over the candidacy of a Hohenzollern to the Spanish throne was escalated both by France and Bismarck. With his Ems Dispatch , Bismarck took advantage of an incident in which the French ambassador had approached William. However, honouring their treaties, the German states joined forces and quickly defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War in The two decades after the unification of Germany were the peak of Prussia's fortunes, but the seeds for potential strife were built into the Prusso-German political system.
The constitution of the German Empire was a slightly amended version of the North German Confederation's constitution. Officially, the German Empire was a federal state. In practice, Prussia's relationship with the rest of the empire was somewhat confusing. The Hohenzollern kingdom included three-fifths of the German territory and two-thirds of its population. The imperial crown was a hereditary office of the House of Hohenzollern , the royal house of Prussia. The prime minister of Prussia was, except for two brief periods January—November and —94 , also imperial chancellor.
But the empire itself had no right to collect taxes directly from its subjects; the only incomes fully under federal control were the customs duties, common excise duties, and the revenue from postal and telegraph services. While all men above age 25 were eligible to vote in imperial elections, Prussia retained its restrictive three-class voting system. In both the kingdom and the empire, the original constituencies were never redrawn to reflect changes in population, meaning that rural areas were grossly overrepresented by the turn of the 20th century.
As a result, Prussia and the German Empire were something of a paradox. Bismarck knew that his new German Reich was now a colossus out of all proportion to the rest of the continent. With this in mind, he declared Germany a satisfied power, using his talents to preserve peace, for example at the Congress of Berlin.
Bismarck had barely any success in some of his domestic policies, such as the anti-Catholic Kulturkampf , but he also had mixed success on ones like Germanisation or expulsion of Poles of foreign nationality Russian or Austro-Hungarian. Frederick III , became emperor in March , after the death of his father, but he died of cancer only 99 days later. He turned out to be a man of limited experience, narrow and reactionary views, poor judgment, and occasional bad temper, which alienated former friends and allies.
Prussia nationalised its railways in the s in an effort both to lower rates on freight service and to equalise those rates among shippers. Instead of lowering rates as far as possible, the government ran the railways as a profitmaking endeavour, and the railway profits became a major source of revenue for the state. The nationalisation of the railways slowed the economic development of Prussia because the state favoured the relatively backward agricultural areas in its railway building.
Moreover, the railway surpluses substituted for the development of an adequate tax system. Prussia was proclaimed a "Free State" i. Freistaat within the new Weimar Republic and in received a democratic constitution. Almost all of Germany's territorial losses, specified in the Treaty of Versailles , were areas that had been part of Prussia: Also, the Saargebiet was created mainly from formerly Prussian territories.
East Prussia became an exclave, only reachable by ship the Sea Service East Prussia or by a railway through the Polish corridor. With the abolition of the older Prussian franchise, it became a stronghold of the left. Its incorporation of "Red Berlin" and the industrialised Ruhr Area, both with working class majorities, ensured left-wing dominance. From to , Prussia was governed by a coalition of the Social Democrats , Catholic Centre and German Democrats ; from to , coalition governments included the German People's Party.
Unlike in other states of the German Reich, majority rule by democratic parties in Prussia was never endangered. Nevertheless, in East Prussia and some industrial areas, the Nazi Party of Adolf Hitler gained more and more influence and popular support, especially from the lower middle class starting in However, the democratic parties in coalition remained a majority, while Communists and Nazis were in the opposition.
The East Prussian Otto Braun , who was Prussian minister-president almost continuously from to , is considered one of the most capable Social Democrats in history. He implemented several trend-setting reforms together with his minister of the interior, Carl Severing , which were also models for the later Federal Republic of Germany FRG. Single parents having fun with the kids Single parents having fun with the kids Members. Hatboro Single Parents Meetup. Hatboro Single Parents Meetup 43 Single parents.
Prussia - Wikipedia
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